A Year in Art
Looking back at a year in pictures and paintings and sculpture, I realize that I've had the good fortune to take in a ton of great art this year. Listed below are some of my favorite local exhibits of 2007 -- and a few photo galleries to illustrate this jaunt down memory lane.
"Wolfgang Tillmans." The photos in this edgy Hirshhorn show came in all shapes and sizes, impishly hung in haphazard-looking arrangements around the galleries. And while the summer display was fun and whimsical, the photographs are obviously what made the show. An oversize shot of technicolor-ish gold coins and a teeny-tiny picture of a house below a rainbow stick out as some of my favorites. Photo Gallery
"Gene Davis: Interval." For those of us who like colorful abstractions, this year was a banner one. The ColorField Remix celebration gave us a bounty of exhibits showcasing new- and old-school takes on Washington's Color School movement. Of all of these, the Gene Davis show at the Kreeger was my favorite. The artist's bright stripe-y canvases pulsated in the museum's spare basement galleries -- some with electric energy and others with a soothing feeling of warmth.
"Punk Love." Punk is such a rich part of Washington's cultural legacy that Susie J. Horgan's photographs of the scene's early days seemed right at home in Georgetown's Govinda Gallery last February. In addition to framing some of the genre's most iconic images (see photos 8 and 12 in this photo gallery), Horgan also captured legends like Henry Rollins and Ian McKaye goofing off in a Georgetown ice cream shop. This show's opening night was one of my favorites of the year. A slew of 30-somethings who had been really into the scene descended on Govinda to relive some of those days -- bringing their children in tow.
"Edward Hopper." The fact that I feel almost like a voyeur every time I step into the Hopper show is probably a good thing. His paintings beg you to peek into the lives of others -- making up stories for how these characters got where they are. Luckily for all of us, the show is on view until Jan. 21. Photo Gallery
"Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005." This show winds its way through the Corcoran's galleries delivering Leibovitz's personal and professional work in equal measure. The professional shots are the ones we know; the personal ones are what I connected with. This show is on view until Jan. 13.
"Foto: Modernity in Central Europe." The National Gallery's Foto show didn't contain the most beauiful work I have ever seen, but it managed to accomplish something many exhibits attempt and fail. It offered a blend of history, politics and art -- with a side of science (in that it showcased many different photographic techniques). Photo Gallery
"Refract, Reflect, Project: Light Works from the Collection." Museums everywhere have more works in their collections than they have space to display -- and Washington museums (particularly the Smithsonian ones) are no exception. That's why I was glad to see the Hirshhorn pull some of its light works out of storage for this exhibition. Some humorous, deceptive and just plain cool artworks that use light were on display. The After Hours event associated with this exhibit was one of the museum's best. Who knew Lite-Brites were still so much fun?
"Tug of War" at Hemphill and "Art in Heat" at the Warehouse. I was glad to see a number of lowbrow/pop-surrealist shows on local gallery dockets this year. Even though the technique in most of the pieces on view was top notch, this brand of sometimes-cartoony art doesn't take itself too seriously and that's kind of refreshing when you go out for a night of art viewing. We have a great stable of locals who produce this kind of work, and it was great to see their pieces represented in the Warehouse show. Many of those same artists' names are now on the walls at Alexandria's newish Art Whino gallery.
"SiteProjects DC." A big shout out to Washington Project for the Arts\Corcoran for this summer's public art installation along 14th Street. The Compliment Machine was certainly a favorite, but all the projects on display were welcome. There's nothing like art to dress up a major city thoroughfare.
"Fernando Botero: Abu Ghraib." I didn't enjoy looking at most of the art in this show -- in fact, I initially recoiled from some of it. But the roly-poly figures painted in the postures of torture and abuse from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prision stayed with me long after I left the museum. And that's pretty much the definition of powerful art. Photo Gallery
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