Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Off in Corner" Review by Tyler Mullan

Review: Adam Dwight & Dana Jeri Maier: Off in a Corner
Running until May 7th, Flashpoint Gallery presents “Off in a Corner,” an exhibition of work by local artists Dana Jeri Maier and Adam Dwight. Contending to “explore transitions made to adulthood and the role that drinking plays in them,” Flashpoint, which brands itself as a “creative laboratory for DC Arts Organizations,” is deliberately tackling a sensitive and controversial subject. In this curation, each of the two artists employ illustrative approaches to construct very different narratives - one autobiographical and vague, and the other expositive and didactic. Upon entering the gallery space, the viewer is confronted with statements about the distinct bodies of work by the two artists. Maier chooses to frame her work by posting a single drink coaster with the sketchy image of a seated, slouched, and frumpy woman. Dwight, on the other hand, chooses to direct his dialogue from the start with a long statement detailing his body of work.
In addressing Maier’s collection of drink coasters, one is immediately overwhelmed with imagery. Laid-out in a long, geometric composition on the wall, the work initially carries the eye horizontally as it would text, but distracts and disorients this mode of scanning with occasional anomalies in the mark and weight of individual pieces. The style of Maier’s drawings are hasty forms with cross-hatched modeling yet complex compositional organization. Most of the drafting is done in an unflattering manner through the use of shadow, texture, and emphasis of disproportionate and crooked silhouettes in both the object and figure. Occasional liquid stains that have obscured and damaged some of the drawings act as birthmarks on the coasters, reminding the viewers of the utility and experiential history that grounds each coaster drawing. One large and varied collection of coasters is flanked by two smaller arrangements focusing on color and the figure, respectively. A table at the end of the room displays even more coasters in their natural setting, laid out in a way that begs the viewer to touch and rearrange the works like pieces to a puzzle. 
The organizations of the wall coasters into columns and rows seems haphazard and random only at first glance, for if you allow yourself to read them as blocks of a comic book (a rather lonely and dark strip at that), they can be rationalized as a narrative. All in all, there are reportedly 400 coasters, signifying an obsessive and on-going practice of the artist to find something not yet resolved. Coasters with drafts of personal statements synergize with the fantastical and observational illustrations to establish themes of internality, autobiography, and identity. Several trends are easily apparent in these vignettes. Many of the coasters depict lonely figures, either solitary (literally isolated), or in cramped groups with cold body language and lack of eye contact between characters (psychologically isolated). Still life is another common tactic, with the compiled objects either acting as figures in an empty landscape, or creating suspense when the objects are compiled and stacked in delicately balanced architectural forms. Empty picture frames, overhanging umbrellas and lights fixtures, and the repetition of glass bottle imagery are crucial symbols in forming Maier’s narrative. 
Despite the collective nature of the coasters, a few individuals do feel out of place with the rest. For instance, one coaster consists only of ink embellishments around the red printed “Peroni”  text. As the only instance of Maier working on a non-blank slate, it seems detached from virtually all of the other coasters, even those with hand-written text. Additionally, the use of color in the coasters in the largest installation is too sparse and inconsistent, even within the flexible narrative. Nothing about these color interruptions comes through as noteworthy or necessary. Despite these gripes, the use of personal observations and real-life experiences pose interesting questions of both Maier’s and the viewers’ relation between psyche and the bar environment.
Dwight’s work is derisive, yet, serious as it addresses the historical trajectory of the organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and its relation to policy and popular culture. Responding to the creation of the non-profit organization in 1980 as Candy Lightner’s personal response to untimely death of her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, by a hit-and-run drunk driver, the extensive background of MADD interred in the artists’ statement contextualizes ideas of grief deferment and media sensationalization. Initially created to promote awareness and lobbying pertaining to the issues of drunk driving and victim support, MADD (with Cari Lightner as its poster child), would not only gain unforeseeable momentum and bureaucratic force, but transform into a crusade for “neo-prohibitionism” and the eradication underage drinking itself. This transformation ultimately caused even Candy Lightner to sever ties with the organization in 1995. Both sympathetic and interrogative, Dwight uses his art to address MADD through it’s own rhetorical strategies - the employment of grotesque and exaggerated illusions. Using scribbled and jittery contouring on twisted and satyrical figure development, Dwight uses uncomfortable imagery to express his struggles with understanding MADD within it’s personal and public implications.
Introducing his painting series with “Candy and Cari Lightner and the Birds,” this portrait, a collaboration with Lightner herself, sets up the unstable and tragic origin of MADD. In this depictions of mother and child, the flux of MADD’s agenda and its co-option of Cari’s identity is rendered through psychedelic and surrealist imagery. Although both characters are wearing fine dresses appropriate for a formal event, the two figures are situated in the foreground of a barren and desolate plain in which ominous and violent birds swoop and cut between their stances. Candy’s expression is catatonic and reserved as she extends her arms to her daughter who appears spiritually-absent. Cari’s strained facial expression and impossibly-limp posture implies that she had just been stunned or struck by something shocking and forceful. This painting renders the instances of Cari’s traumatic death and Candy’s state of bereavement static and inescapable, setting a tone of nostalgia and loss for the rest of the series. The progression of the paintings “Patron Saint of Drunk Driving (for Cari),” “Laughing Through the Bottom of the Barrel:Portrait of a Fanatic,” “M.A.D.D. The Movie,” and “National Uniform 21 Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984” each further the dialogue with similar shaky pen-lines, distorted figuration, and washy, contrasting color schemes. 
In addition to the five paintings, a mixed media sound sculpture and an animation complicate the storyline with modern-day-societal portraits of drinking and youth. “No Matter What,” consists of an amorphic wood panel painted with colorful, organic motifs and supporting a black and white ‘Rorschach-inkblot-patterned’ staircase. Atop of this alter sits a bone-colored figure of a mother cradling a chipped and damaged child - an obvious reference not only to Candy and Cari, but also to any other fractured parent-child relationship. The sound-loop accompanying this dream-like sculpture is a hyped-up and ridiculous ‘shout out’ to presumed peers and friends as performed ad-lib by the artists’ younger sister. Surprisingly candid and energetic, it’s hard to decipher, let alone make sense of this slew of references and proclamations of gossip to all of her “baby girls” and “homegirls” out there. By broadcasting and scandalizing these interpersonal relationships with such bravado, this naive and rebellious outburst seems to be compensating or propagating for something intangible. The audio is ironically reminiscent a drunken rant or an out-of-control media frenzy, though extrapolating this interpretation was not something that happened on the first visit to the gallery space.
The equally bizarre animation “RocketFuel” mimics the artist’s graphical style but tells the story of an alternate parent-child relationship strained by miscommunication and alcohol. The subject of the clip is a monstrously-drawn teenage boy with an equally-abrasive vocations. Sitting in an alley littered with unidentifiable debris that appears to be breathing at times, a playing television serves as a comfort item, though the character never actually watches the screen. Speaking of his dependent relationship to media and complaining about the tension that this viewership creates with his mother (who he addresses exclusively as Becky), a verbally-abusive and alcohol-stressed relationship is eluded to. While the clip reveals that both the adolescent character and his mother use alcohol, the child, though immature and apathetic, seems to be in more control of his personal relationship to alcohol than his mother, raising another failure of authority to mediate substances. 
When Dwight addresses his views on “over-idealized young adulthood now soaked in the ritual of binge drinking,” he addresses a situation with the potential to spiral out of control much like the Candy’s vision of the MADD organization has. Additionally, he critiques the inefficiency of exploitative groups to quash the issue of underage drinking and social and cultural temptations to drink that are only reinforced by this type of media. Dwight’s collection of work questions family relations, coping mechanisms, exploitation of ethos, and the power of authority, though he does not directly attack the grounds of MADD or promote a lessing in the severity of alcohol laws. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if the intentional distance from proposing solutions or clear agendas is realized in Dwight’s collection, as questioning didacticism with didacticism is a tricky concept to portray at a glance. Because of the aggressive manner that characterizes his work, the instant and, perhaps, more prevalent (although much less interesting) read on his work is that of hatred for the MADD Organization and underage drinking regulation. 
The two systems of work were worked symbiotically when displayed vis-a-vis on the opposing walls of the space. Maier’s coasters, though small and detailed, were able to talk back to Dwight’s large, colorful, and optically-jarring gouache paintings by shear virtue of quantity. Maier’s personal perspectives as sketched live-feed have a relation with Dwight’s socio-political meditations in the fact that nothing is glamorized in either collection. While I agree that each body of work employed narrative and stylized illustration that were both psychologically and visually stimulating, I’m not throughly convinced that the relations between the work are as obvious as the show’s mission statement implies. I do not necessarily direct that as a negative evaluation, however, because the delicate nature of the issues addressed lends itself to more mysterious and subliminal expression. I feel that Maier’s work initially reads as introspective and whimsical, even rustic, while Dwight’s reads as propaganda if just taken at a glance. Without the direction of show or artists available to the viewer, only someone who spent a bit of time evaluating the collection would be able address all of the nuances pertaining to adolescence and drinking present in both artists’ work. 
To exemplify the commentary drinking put forward in this show, an additional event scheduled for April 21 includes a gallery talk followed by an invitation to bar-hop with the artists as they drink and draw by candlelight. This unconventional gallery talk should provide an interesting supplement to the personal, romantic, and dark undertones of the bodies of work in question, and is definitely a way for Flashpoint to push the boundaries of the DC art scene.
Ultimately, “Off in a Corner” does help to bring the complicated implications of youth culture, the need for self-affirmation, the inherent feelings isolation and subsequent substance abuse out of the corner, albeit through somewhat convoluted means. While Maier actually drafts on the physical platforms that support drinking glasses, Dwight questions the legacy of one of the most established and bombastic platforms against drinking. The use non-realistic illustration and uncertain scenarios of “Off in a Corner” attempts to present opportunities for interpreting the complex relationship between alcohol and identity development, although unless a viewer spends a fair amount of time with the exhibit reading the bios of the artists, they may just get caught up in their personal emotional responses to the mark-making techniques. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Reviews #3: Heavy Metal Women at Gallery 555dc

Written by Camden Place

With a title like “Heavy Metal Women” I entered Gallery 555dc with several preconceived ideas.  I assumed that all of the artists were female and worked with metal (they all do) which immediately piqued my interest as metal has been such a male oriented material in our culture and readied me for a feminist critique or at least work that addressed this supposed contrast.  I also wondered just how ironic the “heavy metal” allusion was meant to be and imagined possibilities involving rock star antics and creations that delved into the borders of popular culture where the taboo and obscene rub elbows with the familiar. 
However, the work presented by Joyce Zipperer, Joan Konkel, Minna Newman Nathanson, Donna M. McCullough, Leila Holtsman, and Julie Girardini was far more varied and outwardly demure than the title would suggest.  There are certainly commonalities in the work.  Yes all the artists use metal, but all the objects displayed also have a decorative aesthetic to them.  Everything displayed was crafted to look pretty, and to value that prettiness.  This is not just a reference to the mastery of craft displayed by these artists in handling their materials but to what I see as the intentions and aspirations of the work itself.  Some of the work embraces this fully and holds it centrally to its purpose, while others use their beauty as a lure, pulling in viewers for a closer read and allowing the work to build past its simple attractiveness. 
Joyce Zipperer’s exquisitely constructed women’s shoes and dresses demonstrated a deep familiarity with her medium as well as a desire to explore its boundaries.  Though her dress was clearly not functional, the shoes were far more subtle.  Not presenting them in matching pairs was completely reminiscent of how footwear is displayed in stores and almost had me looking under the podium for stacks of boxes filled with shoes.  The possibility of the shoes serving their supposed function was interesting, but I was far more captivated by the realization of their failure to perform this task. 
As it slowly becomes clear that this object cannot be put to use in conventional terms I was forced to readdress the piece and wonder at the correctness of my previous feminist read.  A gorgeous, alluring, woman’s shoe that intentionally fails its perceived function would seem to become critical of the potential user.  Even if it reconstructs itself as an art object, this perceived failure remains the initial read and chastises the viewer for potentially desiring it so incorrectly.  This manufactured misunderstanding stops the piece fully from making a human connection to the viewer and instead isolates and elevates it, forcing it be only experienced by sight, despite the desire for a more physical interaction.
Zipperer was not the only artist to play on the notion of failed function.  Donna M. McCullough’s dresses looked perfectly wearable, if only one was quite small enough to fit.  Crafted from a combination of found and bought materials, the two dresses displayed respresent two different bodies of work for McCullough.  The first, built from a variety of different metal tins, looks like a seamstress set about constructing a garment using an El Anatsui piece for cloth.  This intricate creation looks simultaneously flimsy and sturdy having both airy and chitinous aspects to it.   Though this piece has the slight allure of possible functionality to it, it is her second dress that truly confuses the viewer in a far more intriguing manner. 
Titled ”Team Sunoco Mercury” this dress is built from a discarded Sunoco Mercury oil drum.  The painted exterior of the drum is displayed outwardly, concealing the metallic nature of the piece.  Built in such lifelike proportions, it appears almost soft or pliable, belying its steely nature.  This double illusion raises the feasibility that one could truly wear this dress and become a cheerleader for the energy company. 
There did not seem to be a singular way to read this piece.  I would hesitate to take its intention as a garment representing or sponsoring this company honestly, as the artist has enthusiastically destroyed the original object and relocated the logo to an absurd location, the bust of a metal dress.  However powerful this critique of advertising or the influence of oil companies through absurdity may be, it is countered by the ironic fact that this piece of art is a commodity created to be sold, just like oil.  To fully embrace this I would hope that McCullough would not hesitate from creating a garment with her own name or logo emblazoned across the chest.  Then her viewers could truly join “Team McCullough” instead of just sponsoring it.
The other great commonality to the work displayed was that they generally defied the nature of the metal they were constructed with.  The metal present did not dominate the viewer and instead read more like a means than a purpose.  More often than not their metallic nature was obstructed, ignored, or obfuscated by the other aspects of the work that were far more interesting and appealing.  This is not to say that these objects should have been created with any other material, but simply that the medium was used gracefully and with nuance.  “Heavy Metal Women” may be something of a misnomer for this body of work, or perhaps I simply was not thinking ironically enough in my initial impression of the title.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


REVIEW:  Blinky Palermo RETROSPECTIVE 1964-1977 (Hirshhorn Museum through May 15th)
By:  Samuel Scharf

    Upon entering the Blinky Palermo exhibition at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum here in Washington DC, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I have little knowledge of “Palermo’s” career if not more than I know his name is made up.  His work is at this point little more to me than every other minimalist color painter of the New York juggernaut production of dime a dozen minimalist color painters.  Walking into the exhibition I may not have known (what) to expect to see but that I did expect it to be predictable.
    A little background on Blinky is that he was born Peter Schwarze in Germany 1943.  He passed early in his life at 34 right when his work began to settle into the scope of relevancy.  He was quite a interesting figure who made was dubbed Blinky Palermo after looking like the boxing promoter who “owned” Sunny Liston.  Blinky was also a student of Joseph Beuys which may have contributed more to his personality than his artwork but we will soon see.
    As with most retrospectives the second floor of the museum is layed out in a chronological fashion.  When entering the early work, one can pretty much assume what they will see throughout the show.  A mixture of Elsworth Kelly and Joseph Albers was soon to come.  This premonition wasn’t far from the truth but with some interesting twists and turns along the way.  Initially there were heavy worked panels with marks of a certain expression I couldn’t put my finger on.  “Blue Bridge” especially was a work that really caught my eye for being so compositionally simple yet technically proficient.  I could see the work and strokes he put into that relatively elementary bi-plane relationship between the red and blue fields.  This initial room led into a opening of materials immediately as if there was no other way for Palermo to explore.  So simple yet so effective was a red totem work on a 30 degree tilt with a handmade metallic frame, I stopped in my tracks, two rooms into a show I “expected” nothing from.    This was it and I was hooked for the rest of the show, even with my doubts lingering, I knew that the show would provide.  Well done here to the curation and layout! 
    Materials, materials and more different materials soon began to hold my interests.  This artist painted on damn near everything from clothing stretched as canvas to steel painted and looking like wood.  Currently this wouldn’t stretch the imagination of a contemporary practice but then in the late 60’s, this work was surely pushing new boundaries.  Even though Palermo is often overlooked and died tragically young, by the middle of the exhibition its clear to find his place in the art cannon.  With a mixture of the color knowledge of Albers, tragic simplicity of Elsworth and a certain playfulness of Beuys, this guy really did his thing when he did it.  The exhibition lends itself to a certain amount of historical art knowledge, but then again a viewer owes it to oneself when entering a “historical” modern house of art.  The opening text and pamphlet for the show did more than enough to place Palermo in context.  After this introduction I really did feel like his explorations in materials and display were somewhat exciting to an artist (myself) that has seen many different exhibitions of modern art.  Palermo's main concerns were with shape, color, a real play in materials and form foremost.  Within this scope, regardless of my expectations I did find myself pleasantly surprise walking through what’s now the kicker of the show. 
    Entering the last 3/4s of the show the viewer hits two back to back large galleries with a scope of work large enough for most living artists with 40 years of production.  Beginning with a display of more of his larger works, the first large gallery houses many tri color canvases that show a clear knowledge of color relationships.  These works would surely lend themselves to any average collector wanting to fill a spot in their constructivism/minimalist collections.  Here I was shrunk in size by canvas’s all easily over 5x5 feet and most larger.  Along the room was a mixture of simple steel works, these large canvas’s and an intense amount of different colorings.  This pushed me eagerly into the next room which I did not see what was coming before it hit me.
    Here in the next large gallery was a total refinement of his color and theory into a very simple display of near forty works.  People of New York City (1976), a fifteen-part work comprising thirty-nine aluminum panels painted in variations of cadmium red, cadmium yellow, and black really stopped me to the point of sitting on one of the provided benches.  I was challenged to sit wonder and figure why?  It seemed to me clear the relationships between the color changes and simple three part relationship.  What I couldn’t figure was why did a room with so many works feel so empty?  Thus his title People of New York City really made sense.  It was clear that they were all different but really in the end they were all empty and all the same.  The red wasn’t red an upon further examination it was more of a magenta next to the yellow made a red, and that black was actually a dark dark blue.  Impressive simplicity and a highly effective work when shown all together in a room such as the Hirshhorn put together for the show. 
    Leaving this room you enter the last works of his career and it showed a scope of some revisiting and mostly reiteration of the same note.  Except for one work which was blue over white above a chopped 3 part canvas of green and black.  That was it his last piece and you could see how his influence was soon to produce very relevant Rothko esq color field paintings had he not died. 
    My only gripe with the show was the labeling for the titles were trivialized off to the side of the rooms stacked awkwardly and hard to place.  This seemed a serious mistake because his titles were often playful and very reflective of his nature.  Though as for most minimalist work, they would have distracted from the work itself should they have been next to the works. 
    If you venture to see this show, please keep a low key expectation and take the work for what it was at the time it was.  Blinky Palermo is a very romantic example of the time in NYC (late 60’s, early 70’s) when this German born artist could roll into town, grab some brushes, hang out with Richter, and have a career blossom under ten years.
     Its nice to see him get such a strong retrospective but as for most artists, its far to late as the Hirshhorn uncovers yet again (after the Truitt and Klein) retrospective exhibitions much over due after 30 years.  But this was all thanks to GUCCI and their funding of the current exhibition which ran all over the country to show Palermo's importance from a collection surely housing some of his best works.
    A highlight to close on was my favorite work hands down and you can easily some the show up with.  About halfway through the exhibition is a work:
    Graue Scheibe [Gray Disk], 1970 | Oil paint and synthetic paint on cotton on wood-core plywood. 5 3/4 x 10 1/2 x 3/4 inches. Collection Olga Lina and Stella Liza Knoebel. 
     Walk right to that piece, inspect and see what Palermo was really all about.  I found this piece amazing in its “history” ever so present with edges beaten down to the other colors under the grey and simple in its minuscule strength.  Somewhat like the sucker punch I received from an exhibition that I had no “expectation” on what to expect.


Adam Hager
Calder’s Portraits: a new Language

I have to admit that I was caught a bit off-guard when I first entered the Calder exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. I have such an engrained idea of his mobiles that I did not expect to see such an enlightening view into one of Calder’s entirely different studio practices. Accompanied by the portrait gallery’s own photographs, the wire portraits bore striking resemblances to Calder’s subjects, and through his satirical style, Calder raised the question of the line between fine-art portraiture verses caricature.

Walking through the exhibit, we get to see Calder’s portrayals of entertainment, sports, and art-world figures, including Josephine Baker, Jimmy Durante, Babe Ruth, and Charles Lindbergh. We also see his friends and colleagues Marion Greenwood, Fernand Léger, and Saul Steinberg. The people Calder chose to portray were those that affected his life directly and because of Calder’s passionate sense of play and his buoyant personality, he continued to challenge the traditionally accepted sense of ‘sculpture’ throughout his entire career. Beginning with his circus figures and leading into his portraiture, he eventually laid the groundwork for kinetic sculpture that we associate the most with Calder’s famous name.

Perhaps, though, I entered the exhibit with a chip on my shoulder because Calder’s mobiles are so well known that they have become cliché, and as a result, I was reluctant to see Calder’s portraits as anything more than three-dimensional illustrations. However, despite my skepticism, the very first portrait I encountered of Calvin Coolidge broke down my resistance, and I was immediately affected by the beauty in these objects.

Using single wires to draw lines in space, Calder captures Calvin’s essential qualities such as his large ears, cleft chin, hooked nose, and beady eyes in a way that is so gesturally accurate that I expected the portrait to start making faces at me. But it is not only the accuracy that holds my attention – it is also the humor Calder creates in the exaggerated features. These characteristics were also demonstrated extremely well in the Jimmy Durante portrait, however it is the exaggeration that is the danger point where the portraits could almost teeter into the realm of caricature, and though I personally do not believe the portraits step over that invisible line, I think there is one brief yet important point to be made before moving on.

The point I am eluding to is that I do not think Calder would have argued one for the other, and once arriving at this point, we are free to enjoy these objects for the beautiful things that they are rather than getting caught up in an argument that really would not have interested the artist nor altered the work. I believe that the issue of portrait verses caricature is more important to critics and the ‘art world’ than it is to the actual work. The pieces have an inherent liveliness that allows them to stand on their own, and according to what I have read about Calder’s light-heartedness, I think he would have shrugged off this argument and continued working on the next portrait without a care in the world.

While not as important as the work itself, the museum deserves some recognition for how well the work is displayed. Some of the portraits are suspended in vitrines and lit from above. In these displays, the line quality of the wire is translated clearly and sharply, and as the pieces rotate, they almost seem to float in the air while the shadows dance beneath them. Other portraits such as the Edgar Varese piece was suspended from the ceiling, and the shadows were cast on the wall behind as well as on the floor. In both cases, the result was dramatic and very effective.

The Edgar Varese piece, in particular, stood out because of its personal nature. Apparently, Edgar used to sit with Calder and watch him as he worked. In turn, Calder often listened to Edgar’s music compositions. The two men complimented each other well because they both were becoming known for their unconventional styles in material and sound. As we move through the rest of the exhibit, we encounter the portraits of entertainers and sports figures, but I mention the personal nature of the Varese piece because the portraits Calder made of his friends and colleagues had a much more heartfelt essence making them more successful. For example, Calder’s depiction of Babe Ruth was more superficial, and although I established the unimportance of caricature verses fine-art portraiture in Calder’s case, the superficiality of the Babe Ruth piece veered it more into the direction of caricature than portraiture.

The portraits of Calder’s artist and critic friends/colleagues seemed also to draw attention to his sense of humor and sarcasm. I noticed that all of these pieces were made and displayed in a static fashion standing from a stationary pedestal. I felt that the gesture could only have been a deliberate attempt to poke fun at taking themselves too seriously by being displayed as their own art objects.

My favorite piece in the show was on display in this same area of the exhibit, but unfortunately we only get to see it in photographic format. Calder did a wire portrait of his close friend, artist, and critic Fernand Léger, and though it is not the actual wire portrait on display, it is a photograph of Léger holding the piece across from his face as though looking into a mirror. The humor is inescapable, but beyond that, the portrait is a perfect example of Calder’s expert hand. We can see the intense control he has in getting the subtle yet precise bends and curves in achieving facial features that perfectly describe the subjects being depicted. He always includes just enough visual information to capture a personality, and he often seems able to accomplish this task with simply a few well-formed lines. He retains only the essentials to create the minimum gestural information while at the same time attaining the maximum amount of expressiveness.

We see Calder’s ever present sense of play juxtaposed with his incredible ability to capture a person’s essential qualities in this exhibition. I am always impacted when I see such a large quantity of work and know that it is but a small fraction of how much the artist actually produced. More importantly, though, the impact is always greater when the quantity of work is matched by its quality. Calder’s unique ability to hang onto his childlike nature is what gives his portraits so much of their power, and I greatly admire his artistic pursuit. The simplification Calder employs to arrive at such sophisticated products is best described by him when he said in a very minimal Calder-like fashion:

“Where you have features you draw them. Where there aren’t any, you let go.”