“Closer to Life: Drawings and Works on Paper from the Marieluise Hessel Collection” manages to avoid the boredom so often associated with exhibitions built around the collections. The exhibit, which marks the 30th anniversary of the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS) at Bard College, will remain on view until October 17.
The Center for Curatorial Studies was the first graduate school for curators in North America and existed through a bequest from Marieluise Hessel in 1992. Its donation of 439 works of art has since grown to 1,745 items. Raised in poverty in post-war Bavaria, Hessel impulsively entered a beauty pageant at age 19, won and became Miss Germany. After a year of all-expenses-paid tours, she married industrialist Egon Hessel and moved to Mexico City, where her bicycle factory was located. When her husband died in 1980, Hessel moved to New York City, where she has lived ever since.
“Closer to Life” roughly follows the story of his life: one piece for Mexican art, one for German works, one for New York artists. A gallery is based on the exhibition of drawings in Hessel’s study.
There is a policy with the purchase of art. Hessel invested in female artists when they were considered second-rate, and in scruffy provocateurs like Raymond Pettibon, who began his artistic career drawing cartoons for punk rock posters. A collector can reward a new artist and rent him money. In fact, there are many Cinderella stories in the art world. Today, at the age of 82, Hessel acquires works with more avidity than ever. In recent years, she has focused on African diaspora art. The CCS encourages the museum directors of tomorrow to take similar risks: to go beyond a “biggest hits” approach to exhibition design.
Lorna simpson 7 mouths is a simple experience: seven photographs of the same mouth, arranged vertically, creating a sevenfold palpable silence. that of Kara Walker Look away! Look away! Look away! is a parody of Southern revisionist art, celebrating pre-war plantation life as an innocent paradise. Almost life-size silhouettes show soft and playful teasing between masters and slaves. The title – a quote from “Dixie,” of course – reminds us of all the American suffering we are turning away from.
The show is not entirely works on paper. There are several pieces of fabric, including Felt Suit, a gray jacket and felt pants that look both like a prison uniform and a shaman’s cloak. It is by the impassive trickster Joseph Beuys. Nick cave Hustle coat is an ordinary trench coat on the outside, with a full length baroque waistcoat encrusted with watches and glittering costume jewelry ‚representing, perhaps, the inner richness that we hide under our clothes? The whole is suspended from a hook in the shape of a hand. Untitled by Franz Erhard Walther is a large fabric book, without writing: a minimalist “novel” that a little one might love.
One of the roles of a curator is to inform you, as a gallery owner, about new or neglected artists. This is precisely what Hessel’s second show “With Pleasure” does. It celebrates the motif and the Decoration movement, an exuberant and festive art style that flourished in America in the 1970s and 1980s. Young artists and the arts public are drawn to the colors and saturated rhythms of this art, which sometimes cites tribal artifacts. Originally mounted at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the exhibition includes 12 pieces from the Hessel collection. It will last until November 28.