The circus has packed up, the actors have taken their curtain calls, and the tourists have stumbled back onto trains, planes, and automobiles. Hurray!
Usually home to a shade over 400,000 students, politicians, etc.; the ‘Athens of the North’ swells to over 4x that number in August. And for those of us ‘natives’, you either rent your flat or bolt the door. On the surface, that may appear to mean missing some of the greatest art on the planet. In reality, the best shows are held over.
I had my doubts about this years offerings – Adam Elsheimer, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Ron Mueck, Albert Watson, Robert Mapplethorpe, Harry Benson to name a few. But, a number of hidden gems have emerged:
Dubbed the “must see show of the season,” it was hard to get excited about hyper- or hypo- realistic nude sculptures. However, 90 minutes later Mueck’s process and attention to detail had me wondering – Would a survey of sculpture juxtaposing Canova’s ‘Three Graces’ (1819) and Mueck’s ‘A Girl’ (2006, pictured) invoke a re-examination of art? I marveled at the attention to detail - the wrinkles next to a subject's eyes down to the tiny follicles on a big toe. Amazing!
For more information: http://www.nationalgalleries.org/mueck/index.html
Up and coming Scottish artist, Jamie's third exhibition this year, ‘Secrets of Venice,’ was a mystical journey to one of my favorite cities. I’ve been following his career since I wandered into the Dundas Street Gallery one rainy afternoon three years ago and was immediately transformed by the depth of color and vivid horizons. (We're even on a first name basis.) I may even max my ‘happy plastic’ and bring one home in the coming months. Check out my favorite, unsold, work ‘Tuscan Farmhouse’ (pictured) or his website: http://www.jamieprimrose.com/
Not particularly one for fashion photography, I thought I’d give this exhibition a try because it was in the same building as a Toulouse-Lautrec poster exhibition. Talk about dumb luck. I was struck by the versatility of this Edinburgh-native and the scale of the works exhibited. Usually you go to a photographic exhibition and expect to see 8x10 or similar sized works. Of the over 200 on display, none was less that 2ft x 2 ft, most were at least 8ft x 8ft. My favorites were from his "Maroc" work (pictured), specifically ‘Hands of a Orange Orchard Workers’ (1998) and “Flower Sellers Hands’ (1989). They harkened back to the days of Dorothea Lang in their honesty and ability to tell a story. Absolutely brilliant transformation of black and white into tones which made you feel like you were experiencing the angst of his subjects’ existence.
I was admiring Mueck’s attention to detail in the hypo-realistic sculpture ‘Two Women’ (pictured) when I observed two elderly women both dressed in knee-length woolen coats; one in pants with the beige trainers your grandmother wears; the other a navy skirt and black patent leather heals. We've all seen this scene. As they discussed the exquisite detail of the work, I noticed that down to their nylons, bunched at the ankles, Mueck had beautifully captured the scene. Upon commenting to the middle-aged woman standing next to me, “Does life imitate art? Or, art imitate life?” we both eyed our elders and quietly chuckled.
As the seasons change, I’m reminded that life is mystifying. The simplicity of the human experience is joyous; something to be celebrated; and most of all, alive and well despite what we hear and see from the ‘talking heads’ on a daily basis.