Valery Oișteanu (born September 3, 1943) is a Soviet-born Romanian and American poet, art critic, essayist, photographer, and performance artist, whose style reflects the influence of Dada and Surrealism. Oișteanu is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, a book of short fiction, and a book of essays. Here are his selections for the best shows of 2013:
1. Picasso Black and White at the Guggenheim Museum, New York
“Picasso Black and White” was the first ever exhibit to explore the master draftsman’s use of black-and-white tones throughout his prolific career. Comprised of 118 paintings, sculptures and works on paper, with a large number of masterpieces, as well as 38 rarely and five never-before-seen works borrowed from family and private collections. “Color weakens,” said Picasso, purging it from his art in order to highlight structure and autonomy of form.
2. Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store & Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing at MoMA, New York
This exhibition, organized by Achim Hochdorfer, Curator of the Ludwig Museum of Vienna and Ann Temkin, MoMa’s Chief Curator constitutes the largest-ever presentation of Oldenburg’s earliest witty and gritty expressionistic sculptures, arranged within an immersive, oversized environment. The sixth floor gallery was filled with his sculptures and in the atrium a room shaped like a Ray-Gun and another like a Mickey Mouse Head was filled with art objects made from materials such as chicken wire, plaster, burlap, papier-mâché and newspaper were finished off in enamel paint.
3. Paul Delvaux at Blain/DiDonna Gallery, New York
Paul Delvaux (1897-1994) a mini retrospective of a major Belgian Surrealist whose last exhibition in New York was at the Julien Levy gallery in 1947 and it culminated in scandal. Back then Delvaux’s work created quite a stir; despite good reviews, the police raided the show, and all of the artist’s pictures were confiscated and declared obscene. Delvaux’s erotic art does not offend anymore; instead it attracts an aesthetic scrutiny in the course of a drastic re-evaluation. In that exhibition twenty hypnotic oil paintings and watercolors made between the mid-thirties and the mid-sixties adorned the walls of the uptown gallery.
4. Jindrich Styrsky Dreams at Ubu Gallery, New York
The story of Jindrich Styrsky (1899-1942) depicts a meteoric, renaissance-like figure who in less then two decades influenced surrealist artists and poets in his native Czechoslovakia, Paris and around the world, and also inspired Ubu’s owner, Adam Boxer, to introduce the artist’s magical masterpieces in three one-man shows and six group shows over the past two decades. His outstanding and varied oeuvre includes numerous book covers and illustrations for surrealist publications in Prague. Friendly with Andre Breton, he is credited as a pioneer of surrealism in art, literature, photography and theater in Prague as well as Paris. That small exhibit was an opening of a window on his dream-like art and life.
5. Drawing Surrealism at Morgan Library and Museum, New York
The grand retrospective was a scholarly researched, academically presented overview of an impressive 165 works on paper by 72 artists who shared their subconscious visions. Of course, surrealism proved to be not just a fashionable, passing trend in art, but a whole attitude toward life, for some even a way of life. For others, surrealism was a spiritual activity, representing the unrepresentable, visualizing forbidden dreams, exposing repressed desires. Erotic originality, collage imagination, dreams traveling and a whole plethora of imaginary beings and places made this exhibit a trip into otherworld.
See top 5’s from other NY Arts contributors here.