Jack Shainman

Leon Golub Two Heads (II) 1986 oil on canvas 21" x 68"

It's a terrific show, and don't let thoughts like that expressed in the remark of the guy we passed on our way across 20th Street deter you. We heard him tell his companion, "If there's one thing I don't like it's the politicization of art."

Full disclosure: If you've been reading these pages for even a little while you already know that I have no problem with the "politicization" of art - any more than I have a problem with art which addresses any other subject. Man is both the creator and the subject of all art, and the root of the word, "politics" is the Greek word for "people."

The Jack Shainman show was organized by Claude Simard and it will be up until March 12. The title is a mouthful to be sure: "The Whole World is Rotten: Free Radicals and the Gold Coast Slave Castles of Paa Joe," and the content may be a headful, but there's beauty and power in the images of the mid-twentieth-century activist reponse to centuries of racism, and the continuing engagement of contemporary artists, which are included in this exhibition.

And exhibition it is, at least so it is in the larger room, where the works are displayed almost as they might be in a museum of natural history. We were at the opening with our friend Karen who liked the work but complained that the show just wasn't messy enough. Then she immediately added that her complaint "might just be the Group Material in me." But I thought immediately when she said it that she was right about the room. The works were generally excellent, even at first sight (they will further reward a return), and the crowd was dynamic, but the walls were holding back.

Then we found the small gallery to the side, which was hung just right. There were posters, photographs and newspaper clippings hung imaginatively in something vaguely like salon style, and in the center one of Paa Joe's large coffin replicas (there are two in this show) of slave castles from the Ghanian coast. Dynamite.

I've finally accepted the fact that I really do enjoy going to (some) openings, and the major lure, aside from the ties of friendship, must the be the kind of energy created by the crowd at the reception for this show.

Cave Nick.jpg
Nick Cave The Day after Yesterday 2005 human hair on found beaded and sequined garment fabric 43" x 111" x 1" detail

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Published on February 17, 2005 11:26 PM.

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