February 25, 2005

Carnegie International, 2-4

Second installment. See here for all my posts.

2. Mamma Andersson. Paintings

3. R. Crumb. Comics and sketchbooks; a career retrospective.

4. Robert Breer. Two short animated films.

2. Mamma Andersson. Andersson's paintings are representational in a post-impressionist way. In many of them there are areas of blotched color, somewhat like a damaged photograph, or (if I remember correctly) sometimes part of a scene is transparently overlaid over another part. (I think I'm thinking of Stairway to the Stars as described in the catalog--linked on Andersson's name above.) I think there's one painting, of seats in a theater, that contains no nonrepresentational elements.

Overall the feel is bucolic or domestic rather than urban. The non-representational areas don't create a feeling of threat or damage--rather of open-endedness. Travelling in the Family (click on the thumbnail here should give the impression of the peace of the family in a fragile bubble, as palls of smoke hover outside--but somehow it doesn't. The family is there, the landscape outside dissolves into abstraction, and that's that. I'd say that these abstract areas, as well as the pictures within the pictures cited by the artist's bio, "seem to give us a view to a dimension beyond the present."

3. R. Crumb. R. Crumb you know, right? It was nice to see Despair, panels of which I'd seen before--more disconnected and surreal than I'd thought. Dave White points out that the open letter to feminists makes less sense if you haven't seen the work that would provoke them--and that is by and large, not on display. Perhaps some of my readers will have something to say about White's paragraphs 1 and 3.

4. Robert Breer. Two short animated films, "Atoz" and "What Goes Up." "Atoz" was delightful. The alphabet may seem like an implacable structure, but Breer's ramshackle methods subvert any such thing--the film feels improvised. Some letters appear as letters followed by objects that begin with them--sometimes you see an object without the letter appearing--sometimes an image turns into a letter which turns into something else almost before you've noticed it--and a naked woman pops up every so often with no apparent alphabetical rationale. There are jumps and discontinuities throughout--an image that's morphing into another will be replaced by something seemingly unrelated for a few frames, then it's back to the morphing.

"What Goes Up," though it uses similar methods (with more live photography), didn't move me nearly as much. It may be that Breer needs the forward momentum that the alphabet provided. According to the bio, "What Goes Up cycles through several intervals framed by the drawn animations of an ascending plane and a variety of images that offer a succinct summary of the joys of being alive—photographs of the artist's family, home and studio, food, drink, the changing leaves, and a drawing of a voluptuous woman." But the plane's flight didn't structure the film for me--so what I was left with was more of a sequence of snippets.

Posted by Matt Weiner at February 25, 2005 01:29 PM

Um, Matt, I think Breer's "What Goes Up" is about an erection/sexual experience, and is rather funny. I forget whether it ends with a bang or a whimper.
PS It's not that I have a dirty mind! It's my training in literature!

Posted by: Matt's mom at February 26, 2005 03:07 PM