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, 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.”
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.
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/