October 24, 2011

Mass MoCA Light

While we were up in Lenox, MA last weekend, we meandered 25 miles north to Mass MoCA, up in North Adams. I first visited this museum, which occupies the former Sprague Electric Company headquarters, during a German class field trip in middle school, but hadn't returned since. I had only faint memories of the space, and of Natalie Jerimijenko's Tree Logic piece in the museum's entrance, which challenges a handful of small maple trees to grow against the forces of gravity. When I learned that a major Sol Lewitt retrospective was going up last year, I knew that we would have to pay another visit.

Lewitt's exhibition spans three floors and encompasses his early, middle, and more recent years of work, which are largely defined by the choice of his predominant material during each phase --respectively, respectively, graphite, then inkwash, then acrylics. The work from the early and middle years is the work I'm most familiar with, but I'd only seen a few select pieces in-person prior to this exhibit. All three floors are an astounding execution of Lewitt's intricately detailed and mathematical drawing instructions applied directly onto the walls over the course of 5 months by 55 draftsman using countless pencils, crayons and other materials.

If you are anywhere near North Adams, I can't recommend seeing this show enough. These are a selection of images I made of the light observed in the museum during the hours we were there, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Like at Dia:Beacon, where an industrial space has been converted into a museum space, the textures of the original structure are an essential factor in one's experience of viewing the art. The space is predominantly lit by natural light, so the time of day you visit also has a major impact on how you experience the work.

Mass MoCA has put together amazing online resources to accompany the exhibit, so you can view his drawings by grid, view them by the floorplan, and watch timelapses of the drawings. (But, this is no excuse not to go see the show; it's on view until the year 2033!)

Also, have you seen: