There are three days left to see the Nancy Rubins installation at Gagosian Beverly Hills and I urge anyone in the vicinity to take the opportunity to see it. The galling thing about blogging is to stay current and I promise to try to highlight exhibitions at the start of their run from here on in. Regardless of the last-minute nature of this post, don’t miss the chance to see this ambitious exhibition of two sculptures for the new space before they get dismantled.
Two short memories about Rubins’ amazing sculptures are in order. The most stunning for me was the fact that on September 11th, 2001 I was camped out in Santa Monica. I had just installed a one man exhibition of my paintings the prior weekend and the opening was slated for September 13th, that Thursday. The opening was held and the turnout was appreciative, apprehensive and remarkable. The scars of that tragic Tuesday were still raw. And my work, with black ink depicting anonymous urban pedestrians took on an elegiatic tone. The following day I visited the Gagosian Gallery with a dear life long friend to witness Rubins’ installation of a major work assembled out of airplane wings, fuselages and other aeronautical casts off. Needless to say the events of the previous week deeply changed the effect of seeing airplane carcasses being suspended in mid-air by the talented Ms. Rubins. Her gravity defying abilities of suspending objects which rise, jut and cascade in a myriad of directions from one single steel armature elicited awe and delight. The context of America’s newly felt vulnerability elicited unease.
The second memory was in New York, this time at the plaza in front of Lincoln Center. By 2006 when Big Pleasure Point was installed, Rubins had begun to use boats, specifically canoes and kyacks, as her primary compositional element. The graceful brushstroke-like vectors of the lean boats lent themselves perfectly to Rubins’ antigravitational antics. The colors of the salvaged and one might imagine freshly purchased boats were cheery and uproarious. The installation was in part made possible under the auspices and inspired ambition of the Public Art Fund.
Now segue to the current exhibition at Gagosian, Rubins has limited her palette to aluminum canoes. They are larger and work more cohesively. I went with my two and a half-year old son Wolfgang two times over the course of the exhibition this summer. He didn’t like it at all beseeching me to exit as soon as we entered the large room. The vertigo inducing cacophony surely made him reject the overpowering mise en scene. Seen from his 37 inch vantage point, I think I’d be apprehensive as well. But the exhibition has stuck in my mind handsomely and I would urge you to witness the bravado in person. Your aesthetic memory cache will be indelibly imprinted.
It must be added that Rubins was commissioned to do a fantastic piece, which I have not yet scene, at the new City Center complex in Las Vegas. Below is a quite fascinating video shot by Michael Rudnick of the installation of this piece.
Oh, and if all this was not enough, for those of you in Los Angeles, I was reminded that the Museum of Contemporary Art on Grand Street in Downtown has a Rubins sculpture permanently installed on street level. I’m not sure if this is the piece that was featured in Beverly Hills in 2001, however it is an airplane parts piece and the picture below doesn’t do it justice. The Title, for those of you curious enough, is Chas’ Stainless Steel, Mark Thompson’s Airplane Parts, About 1,000 Pounds of Stainless Steel Wire, and Gagosian’s Beverly Hills Space at MOCA, 2001.
Mario M. Muller, September 1st, 2010