What happened to the nuances in art, the nuances of meaning, the images that allow for multiple interpretations? Too old-fashioned? This is my complaint about Tom Friedman’s new stainless steel sculpture, on view until the 19th. Walk in front of Rockefeller Center.
Friedman’s brilliant steel construction is not only a brilliant generalization, but also an illuminating title – you know, in case you miss the moment when the sculpture is born. I’m talking about the appearance of a ten foot tall man (described in the press as quasi-human) looking up under the title Looking Up.
When words have no meaning
There’s nothing for you to do. You don’t have to think. Friedman explains everything, not only with pictures, but also with words. Goodbye, metaphor, hello, insensitivity. What you see is all there is. But wait, this artist has another explanation.
Dictating the assessment of art
MSN quotes him saying that the character is meant to look beyond himself and engage in wonder, discovery, fear and positivity. That’s what you said, Tom. But can’t a head raised to heaven also mean that someone is distraught and asking heaven what’s wrong?
When less is more is not.
By the way, if you’re familiar with the Looking Up site, you may remember the three-foot-tall version that was temporarily erected at the corner of Park Avenue and 53rd Street five years earlier. Obviously, there can’t be too many of those positive things: The statues.
Of course, the art gallery representing Friedman thinks so.
According to a statement on the Stephen Friedman Gallery website, Looking Up and as sparkling sculpture has the style the artist is known for – playful and sophisticated. The title of the work is certainly ambitious, but playful? If you mean walking around… No.
Familiar objects are made unfamiliar
The gallery also states that Friedman embraces everyday life by taking a fresh look at familiar objects and their function. I mean what the statue is made of, crushed aluminum foil shells. But if visitors to the Rockefeller Center don’t read the gallery’s online statement, they may miss how Friedman reimagines familiar places.
Looking up is not a twilight zone.
Art Daily is a great work and a good example of Friedman’s interest in the supernatural. Does anyone see anything metaphysical or transcendental in the figure looking at Rockefeller Center?
The art of not doing art
Writer and critic Dennis Cooper interviewed Friedman to find out what lies behind his work. The first thing he thinks about art is abandoning the concept of making art and focusing on the process. By way of explanation, he told his friend John Waters: I try to make a logical connection between what matter is, how it is transformed and what it becomes.
Isn’t it the same to say that when Monet painted his water lilies, he stopped focusing on his garden to concentrate on the materials in his paint box?
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