Step into the “Third Dimension” at new Brant Foundation show in East Village

View from the stairwell: Statue at left is “The Island” (2011) by David Altmejd. Hanging sculpture at right is “Three-Wheel Waggon-Wheel Chandelier” (2004) by Jason Rhoades. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

BY BOB KRASNER | After the blockbuster Jean-Michel Basquiat show that announced the presence of the Brant Foundation on East 6th St., the nonprofit organization has taken a step back to present a quieter show, “Third Dimension: Works From the Brant Foundation.”

Featuring sculptural works from the Foundation’s collection that they have not been previously shown, the exhibit runs the gamut from pop artists Warhol and Oldenburg to inventive contemporary figures such as Urs Fischer.

One can probably imagine Warhol looking up at Fischer’s 20-foot-high replica of Giambologna’s “The Rape of the Sabine Women,” looking like marble but cast entirely in wax, saying, “Wow.” Who knows what his reaction would be when the realization hit that it, along with two other wax pieces nearby, were burning slowly down through a system of wicks built into the works (probably another “wow”).

Allison Brant discusses the new show in front of two of the pieces which make up Urs Fischer’s “Untitled” (2011). The large piece is a twenty-foot-high wax candle. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

Allison Brant, director of the Brant Foundation Art Study Center who introduced the show to a preview group in front of the untitled Fischer work, estimated that it will be at least half gone when the show ends in September 2020.

Ms. Brant noted that her father, the formidable art collector Peter Brant, bought one of the first light sculptures by Dan Flavin (a similar piece is in this exhibit). “This show is a demonstration of his love of sculpture,” she explained. “Many of the pieces are works he has lived with.”

Mr. Brant, who could not be at the preview, later relayed his thoughts about the show and its relevance to the neighborhood. “With Third Dimension we wanted to honor the history of artists living and working in the neighborhood, such as the great sculptor Walter De Maria whose studio we are so fortunate to inhabit today,” he wrote. “With this show, we remember the past but also look to the future in such a culturally rich neighborhood.”

On wall: “Warm Broad Glow” (2005) by Glenn Ligon. On floor: “8 Shoeing Smith, Australia” (1973) by Carl Andre. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

Forty pieces — not all monumental in scale — are split between three floors, giving the work room to breathe. Materials range from the minimum — Carl Andre’s work utilizes only a galvanized steel sheet — while Jason Rhoades’ “Chandelier” comprises (get ready):  three wagon wheels, 18 neon phrases, 18 colored plexiglass panels, 18 transformers, 18 “S” hooks, three steel wires, three wooden dowels, artificial vegetables, bells, filament, twine, lace, copper wire, a three plug extension cord and a power strip. Dimensions for that piece are variable, by the way.

“alternate diagonals of March 2, 1964” (1964). (Photo by Bob Krasner)

East Village hero Basquiat is represented by two paintings that have sculptural elements, but they are subtle unlike the Julian Schnabel mashup of oil paint, plates, pots, burnt wood, plaster, styrofoam and antlers. While the previous show – though certainly worthwhile intellectually — sometimes became an Instagram selfie fest, “Third Dimension” provides a dialogue between styles, concepts and the decades that gives patrons something to think about without the carnival atmosphere that is sometimes unavoidable in a smash hit show.

“Third Dimension: Works From the Brant Foundation” runs from November 13th to September 3, 2020. Ticket info (this one’s not free) available at brantfoundation.org/tickets/

“Black Tow Truck Boom” (2010) by Nate Lowman juxtaposed with the view of the East Village, including two crosses. (Photo by Bob Krasner)
Andy Warhol, “Del Monte Peach Halves,” “Heinz Tomato Ketchup Box,” “Brillo Soap Pads Box,” “Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box,” “Kellogg’s Cornflakes Box,” (all 1964). (Photo by Bob Krasner)
Woman photographing one piece in Urs Fischer’s “Untitled” (2011). The wax sculpture of artist Rudol Stingel will slowly melt over the course of the show. Melted wax is already visible, as is the small flame at the top of the head. (Photo by Bob Krasner)
Yes, the exit is through the gift shop. (Photo by Bob Krasner)