Tuesday, February 7, 2012

art communion: smoke

My new goal is to spend 15 minutes each day in the galleries with ART, communing with an individual artwork. My hope is that this will help remind me why I work in art museums (which one sometimes forgets during moments of frustration and exasperation), and will also offer me at least one moment each day for quiet reflection and pseudo meditation. Art enriches the mind and soul, and there's TONS of it all around me if I only take the time to "look."

My first encounter is with Tony Smith's Smoke, 1967. Yes, it's obvious. I walk around and under it virtually every single day, as do many other staff members and visitors. It dominates the Ahmanson atrium, almost too massive and dynamic to be contained by its walls. It's big and black, bold and powerful, geometric and organic. It's scale and simplicity are pleasing visually, physically, and psychologically. It's my favorite type of sculpture: mid-century minimalism on a grand scale.

Smoke forces you to interact with it by its sheer size and imposition. It could be lovely outdoors, but in the atrium it confronts you, expanding within its limited space, bursting at the seams, ready to escape its holding cage. The hexagonal spaces it creates resemble honeycomb, and the continuous flow of people beneath its legs are like busy bees coming and going from the hive. I love this work, and I will cry if it ever leaves.

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