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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One of our activities while everyone was in town for the LCA celebration was to visit the Albright-Knox. We are regulars there, but this was the first I knew that there is a cellphone audio tour. In its introduction it mentions that the average museum visitor spends less than five seconds looking at each work, and I know that I frequently breeze by stuff that I should look at more closely. Of course, a lot of the stuff at the Albright is worn smooth by my looking at it, but that makes things like the audio tour-- and the special exhibit of Calder, Miro and Arp works from the collection presently on display-- a great enhancement of the overall experience. The Calder, Miro and Arp exhibit is mainly stuff that is not usually on display, and you can see why. Some of it is ephemera: works on paper, studies for larger works, that sort of thing. It is nice to have it for scholarly reasons, and for special exhibits like this, but the major works in the collection for each of these artists are usually on view.

The great thing about the audio tour is that it forces you to slow down. Sometimes there is very little that is new conveyed in the commentary, and sometimes there is a detail or a bit of trivia which snaps the entire work into a new context. I like it when that happens.

I was thinking about this in the context of the gallery's big Jackson Pollack, "Convergence" which is one of my absolute favorite things anywhere. I always spend time in front of it, walking up, walking back, looking at the aging canvas and the dense layers of paint. What I love about it is maybe the least obvious thing about it, which is that it is so composed even though it doesn't appear to be. It reminds me of "Mingus Ah Hum", or the early work of Ornette Coleman, chaotic but with purpose and structure that becomes apparent as you become familiar with the work.

| Comments:
Have you found the matchstick in the painting? That's my favorite part.
 
I love thinking about that. Was it accidental? Probably, until Pollack saw it and decided to keep it.
 

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