Nancy Graves in Chelsea - Amy Lu

During the trip to the Whitney, a group of seniors also went to the Chelsea galleries to get the most out of our New York City experience. Amongst the many galleries that we went to, the pieces of Nancy Graves, called Nancy Graves at the Ameringer, McEnery and Yohe gallery still sticks in my mind. Upon entering the gallery, all that I saw were little splashes of color in odd arrangements. This, unlike some pieces where huge pieces were on display, enticed me to come take a closer look. Being a color lover, it was interesting to see such vibrant colors in sculptural form, accented by the white walls. This gallery displayed bronze pieces in a variety of organic and manufactured items which were welded together and then painted with rich and color patinas which are oxide coatings. These pieces are designed to defy gravity and generate a balance from their imbalance. This tilting and shifting of perspective was enjoyable in its imperfection and the way that they were uplifting and, despite their metal material, did not seem extremely solid. The colors were pure and playful and form not representational. In fact, I did not even see a need to interpret a more recognizable shape onto them, but just saw them as they were.
The piece shown above, simply titled Untitled, was not only exhibited well, but embodied the “balance by imbalance” best for me. All of the pieces were sitting on small white blocks protruding from the wall near eye level so all of the pieces were straightforward. Because of the height of this piece, it seemed to tower over me, dangerously, since it seemed to curve. The colors on all of the pieces were like paintings and were enhanced, not inhibited by the 3D shape of the sculpture. Not only was I attracted to the colors, but there seemed to be more and more details to see in the bronze itself, just like how plaster holds the shape of the tiniest detail in the mold.
Upon researching more about Nancy Graves, I realized that she also has paintings which are 3 dimensional, her description including that her “…works represent Graves’ continuing exploration of the tensions that exist between painting and sculpture, as well as her juxtaposition of real and fabricated imagery drawn from nature, art history, and western and oriental cultures…” She has also produced work in film, costume design, glass, polyoptics in addition to welding, painting and sculpture. Her vast experience in world cultures and her interest in reality and artificiality in pushing the boundaries of art and knowledge of techniques are things that I want to explore.

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