Not About Textiles: Apfelbaum, Burr, Sandback

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Polly Apfelbaum at D'Amelio Gallery

Tom Burr at Bortolami Gallery

Fred Sandback at David Zwirner Gallery
I’m being perverse with this post, because the only thing these three artists have in common is the textile material they use: cotton velvet for Polly Apfelbaum, wool blankets for Tom Burr, and acrylic thread for Fred Sandback. For “textile artists” this would be reason enough to show together. I’m doing the opposite: showing them together to make the point about how different they are.  
Apfelbaum is by now so well known for her “fallen paintings”—floor installations of hand dyed and cut pieces of cotton velvet—that they hardly need explanation. She is something of the matron saint of self-described fiber artists because in dyeing and cutting fabric, she manipulates textiles in familiar ways. Yet in taking the medium and intent out of the textile arena, she has a larger, non-adjectival career.

Two views of Apfelbaum's installation, Flatterland Funkytown

Above: As you enter the gallery
Below: From the back of the gallery, looking diagonally across the space

In her show, Flatterland Funkytown, at the newly name-shortened D’Amelio Gallery, Apfelbaum places hundreds of textile elements around the gallery’s two support columns. Painting and sculpture, intent and chance, flatness in a dimensional space: all of these things come together in a visual feast of color and pattern that’s visually volumetric. You'll have to control your urge to dive in.  Funkytown is up through April 28.

I don’t know if Tom Burr would describe his work as painting, but his tacked blankets at Bortolami Gallery certainly read as gestural abstractions. The gallery press release describes Burr’s “visual exploration of the physical and psychological dimension of objects.” His blankets take the comfort of a familiar object and make the viewing experience compellingly uncomfortable. I love that.

Installation view of Burr's show, Deep Wood Drive

Below: Untitled Pink Piece, 2012, Wool blanket and upholstery tacks on plywood, 72 x 72 x 3 inches

Burr has been having a moment lately, both in New York and Miami (see here, here,and here). Deep Wood Drive is at Bortolami Gallery through April 26.

Fred Sandback defines space with the merest hint of linearity. In Decades: Works 1968-2000 at the David Zwirner Gallery, we see installations that represent each of the decdes in the sculptor’s career. Of all the minimalists, Sandback offers poetry and stringency in equal measure. In defining space in a way that’s sometimes barely visible, he offers a through-the-looking glass experience, putting you there but not there, and changing scale by the taut stretch of a thread. In addition to the installations I found interesting a vitrine of his notebooks,which offered a peek at the conceptualization of his work. I photographed one open page below.
I wrote a long blog post about Sandback's 2009 show at Zwirner, so here I'll just show you some installation shots.

16 Variations of 2 Diagonal Lines, 1972, yellow acrylic yarn

In vitrine: one of several drawings relating to the the 16 Variations installation

Another view of the 16 Variations installation

Through the doorway you look into the large gallery that holds the installation below . . .

Untitled (Sculptural Study, Four-part Mikado Construction), 1991/2011, aqua acrylic yarn

Detail below.

Untitled (Sculptural Study, Twelve-part Vertical Construction), 1987/2012; black, blue and light yellow acrylic yarn
All dimensions are situational.

Decades is at David Zwirner Gallery through April 21. If you don't get to the gallery, definitely check out the exhibition online; the gallery's pictures are much better than what could take with my little point-and-shoot, and there's much more information as well.


annell4 said...

Thanks for the post, I enjoyed seeing....

Lorrie said...

Joanne, I wasn't aware of Burr's work so thank you for bringing it to my attention. The Sandback show left me with my mouth wide open and Apfelbaum is on my list for tomorrow. I appreciate how you continually expand my art universe!

Lorrie said...

Joanne, thank you for bringing Burr's work to my attention. Apfelbaum is on my list for tomorrow's gallery visits and Sandback, well, the show left me with my mouth wide open. I appreciate how you continually expand my art world!