I took the kittens up to Boston to see the exhibit of Antonio López García in the MFA's Foster and Rabb Galleries. This is a picture taken by David Ryan at the Boston Globe's blog showing the installation of López's large scale sculptures. The exhibition is ending this Sunday, July 27 so we thought we'd squeeze in a trip.
The MFA show is accompanied by a stunning exhibition of seventeenth-century Spanish painting, El Greco to Velázquez, which uses the reign of Philip III as a common thread. In a bizarre review by Ken Johnson at the New York Times (which seems more a celebration of his own grasp of SAT words, and finely crafted rhapsody than a useful review about art) he writes that realism is the common, if unstated theme of that "saves the show from being merely a hodgepodge of Spanish treasures." Hmmmm, then he uses that as a way to describe his favorites in glorious, well-written detail. At one point he dismisses El Greco's "brushy, spectral paintings of white figures with weirdly elongated limbs." I prefer to think that you can learn more from spending a little time with "not great" El Grecos than you can from focusing on your beautiful sentence structure. I'm sorry. Poor Ken. I'm sure I'm just jealous he gets paid to write about art, but it's also that I don't think criticism has a place in art. There are artistic and intellectual merits in so many things that it's fruitless to try to grade or rank them.
By timing the Antonio López García exhibit with El Greco to Ve
lázquez, the MFA means to situate López within the pantheon of the great Spanish masters. Some writers have described him as the greatest living painter. You really have to get up close to appreciate his amazing technical mastery. Here's a good source of images. His work is so complex! In some sections it's so photorealistic I had to check to see if photography or collage was listed as medium, and in some sections you can see a very confident, painterly style of brushwork. He is known for depicting mundane subjects, like people eating dinner, a half eaten plate of food and a bathroom sink with incredible, formal lyricism. That is not unique in the art world, of course, but what sets López apart from so many of his contemporaries is the lack of irony he brings to his subjects. One gets the feeling that he's earnestly searching for beauty in our everyday surroundings. A friend pointed out that because of this he makes us see the mundane trappings of daily life in a new light.
If you miss the Spanish Masters show in Boston --as we almost did-- it will travel to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC in August. López's Baby Heads as we called them, or Night and Day are part permanent collection at the MFA and adorn the front lawn.