St. Louis, MO to Kansas City, MO.
Rosie and Mr. Hawthorne left Saint Loo and traveled across the state to Independence MO., just outside Kansas City for the night. The next morn, we took off for Nebraska, but first, we stopped in Kansas City, MO., to check out the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. My AAA tour book said a Georgia O'Keefe exhibit was there and I luvs me some Georgia O'Keefe.
We go into the museum and the first room is an exhibit by the Gao Brothers: Grandeur and Catharsis. Well, that's the name of the exhibit, not the brothers. The brothers are Gao Qiang and Gao Zhen and they have been collaborating on their artwork since 1985.
Art makes the impossible possible. -- Gao Brothers "The Execution of Christ" (2009) is inspired by both the compositional structure of and political concepts behind ... Francisco de Goya's "The Third of May 1808" (1814) and, more explicitly... Edouard Manet's "The Execution of Maximilian" (1868-1869).
The firing squad is composed of identical executioners, depicted as Mao Zedong. Rifles are aimed at a frail-looking figure of Jesus Christ, symbolically suggesting the severe repression of religion that was part of the Cultural Revolution. On the periphery stands a more contemplative Mao, mimicking the pose of Manet's soldier portrayed in quarter-profile at the right edge of the canvas. This figure suggests a meditation on the difficult reality of what has transpired during the Cultural Revolution. In the sculpture "Mao's Guilt" (2009), Mao appears somber and contrite- an embodiment of the Gao Brothers' fantasy of seeing Mao apologize for the atrocities he was responsible for, allowing for a collective coming-to-terms with China's history. This life-size, visually arresting sculpture makes explicit reference to two politically charged, iconic paintings that depicted the horrors of war and heralded a modern approach to history painting that was staunchly non-heroic. The Gao Brothers continue this development and create a statue that depicts an impossible political apology.
Much of the Gao Brothers' work has been influenced by their family's experiences during China's Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). In 1968, their father was arrested as a counterrevolutionary, resulting in his death days later while in custody. The Gao Brothers' art seeks to understand China's complicated history and a government that has moved from Communism to a form of State Capitalism controlled by the Communist Party. At times, their work is politically charged, but in the end the brothers seek to forgive and understand. Featuring large-scale sculpture, painting , and photography, this is the Gao Brothers' first museum exhibit in the United States. China has so many stories that are like a dream. Every story is true, but we try to tell them in a fictional way. --Gao Brothers I saw this conglomeration - Outer Space Project - from across the room And I knew there was more to it. Upon closer examination, Outer Space Project depicts a varied group of individuals going about their daily business, compartmentalized within sections of a giant beehive. The beehive takes the shape of China's landform, appearing to float in the blackness of outer space. The digitally manipulated photographs by the Gao Brothers reflect many realities of everyday life, in a highly constructed and absurd manner. Simultaneously suggesting collectivity and urban alienation, the individuals populating the photograph appear to be largely self-contained despite the teamwork that is required to maintain a hive. A yearning for connection is suggested, as the isolation of the individual figures is palpable. It's inhabitants do not seem to acknowledge one another, and in the deep darkness there are no other hives in sight.
So I went up close and personal to check it out. I saw the individual photographs that were part of a whole 'nother work - one of them synergism things. I started taking pictures of the individual units. I was immediately reprimanded by an Art Nazi. "You must be at least 12 inches away from the artwork!" I complied, not without giving her the stinky eye.
Mao's Guilt Intermixed with cruelty and discrimination, we also managed to enjoy famil warmth and we have some fond memories. -- Gao Brothers "Mao's Guilt" (2009) is the culmination of many years of the Gao Brothers' attempts to make peace with their father's death during the Cultural Revolution. Gao Weh Chen, labeled a counter-revolutionary by the Chinese government, was sent to a labor camp in early October 1968 and was said to have committed suicide later that same month. The Gao Brothers and their family believe that he was shot and killed. They traveled to Beijing to petition the Chinese government for compensation, eventually receiving the equivalent of $290. This sculpture allows for personal catharsis as the Gao Brothers have created a repentant Mao, expressing guilt for the millions of deaths for which he's responsible. As the artists told curator Arthur Hwang, this may be their last image of Mao, as it encompasses their long process of working through the grief and anger associated with him. Surrounded by images of the Gao Family, this installation offers a very personal perspective on the Cultural Revolution and human losses associated with the period. Well, enough about the Gao Bro's. I went through that exhibit and I shot pics. NO FLASH! I respectfully stayed a full 12 inches away from the work.
I took a picture of this hanging thing. I don't know why. I guess it's "art." Then, guess what Rosie found!
Chihuly's on the wall! And you know, Rosie loves her Chihuly.
Mark Swanson exhibit. The sour/dour man cut to the quick: "Ma'am, NO photography is allowed in the Swanson Exhibit." As if I couldn't read the sign. "Not a problem, Mac. I wouldn't want to waste my memory card." Sheesh! I don't know why one couldn't shoot in there. They had brochures full of pictures of this guy's "art." Not my cup of tea. We walked into the Swanson exhibit, looked around, and immediately walked out. I saw another gentleman in the hall, speaking with the sour/dour one, and asked him, "Don't you have Georgia O'Keefe?" "They're here, but they're in storage." Mr. H.: "You don't have Georgia O'Keefe?" "Sir, as I just said, they're in storage." Well, bite my ass and spank me nekkid. Mr. Hawthorne and I immediately left - he to the truck, me to shoot the Chihuly's in the doorway and to shoot more outside pics.
I liked the lines here. I finally joined Mr. H. in the truck, mumbling something about "what a bunch of GD snooty pricks." Actually, I called them another word, but since Sister Hawthorne doesn't like for me to use that word in my blog, I deferred to her delicate sensibilities and used snooty "prick" instead. Words. Words. Words. They're just WORDS! Mr. Hawthorne decided he's going to make his own art: "I can do art, " he said. "Imonna do something really BIG and YOU CAN'T take pictures of it!" Heh.