New Orleans Museum of Art Jun 2016

I went for a visit at NOMA where the headliners were Bob Dylan and Vera Lutter. Links to the shows will be forthcoming once exhibits end.

First I went through the sculpture garden. I think the NOMA garden is the best one I’ve seen. It has more unusual (Okay curators listen up: everybody does NOT have to have a Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture) works and depth including Rodin.

First the setting:

city park

city park

That’s Looziana for ya!

tower of blind men

Tower of Blinded Men Rising into the Sky by Korean sculptor Do Ho Suh.

anish kapoor selfie

Selfie with untitled by Anish Kapoor

The Museum building has older square footage, a hokey Greek revival. The lobby is a white marble and tile extravaganza. When I walked in a pianist was playing.

pianist NOMA

The room reverb was astounding. The guy was playing his own music (CD’s for sale) a Wyndam Hill meets late Romantic mashup. It was really pleasant, even though I wouldn’t pick it for my playlist.

Bob Dylan’s paintings were in the lobby. They didn’t belong in a museum, but they weren’t a total embarrassment either. They exteriors were Utrilloesque perhaps, the figurative works weaker.

Here’s an Arneson getting the frame it always deserved.

arneson frame

Including an empty beer bottle in the back.


There was also more whimsy. My teacher Peter Dean link! has a painting in the permanent collection. It was not on display 🙁 …



The other headliner was Vera Lutter. Her work shown was huge photos printed in negative, sometimes with double exposure. I was not impressed with the complex factory like images. Here’s my favorite of what I saw.

vera lutter

(Sorry about the cropping)
There was a small review of last century experimental photographers also using negative prints. It was quite a thing with early photographers looking for a way to be expressive.

Here’s the painting I spent the most time on while there.

cosmosgraphia sculley

Cosmographia by Regina Scully link! It was medium size, perhaps four feet square.
Here’s the detail that I spent a lot of time parsing:

cosmo detail

What is going on in that square section on the left?
A mad inventor? Something more macabre or threatening?
As I was in front of this picture I thought about my own tendency towards complex pictures. Complexity often wears viewers out. Some people want to achieve calmness from art. Well, me too, but I don’t find it in pictures with content that is basic or stark. Simplicity in Complexity. It sounds like a hokey Zen saying, so sorry.

Another odd thing that struck me was that I like Lutter’s most simple pictures the best. I visually read her complex pictures as flat designs with no perception of space. I think that because of this reading,I did not get as clear a sense of complexity. I could see and recognize that the objects and scenes had depth but the negatives foreclosed that option for my actual vision.

I visited the Miros and Debuffets. While I liked the Debuffets at NOMA, nothing beats the beard paintings in Washington DC. Along the Art Brut tip, there was a small gallery with self taught artists’ work. I was glad to see Darger’s work in person, as I had always wondered how it looked apart from reproductions. Creepier for real than on the page or screen. That’s creepy.


There was a small gallery of Joseph Cornell, but hardly any boxes. Interesting, but the boxes are more popular for good reason. Here’s the image I liked best

cornell cat

When I first moved to Seattle and I realized the SAM was also the venue for Pacific Northwest, African, Egyptian, what have you other than Contemporary, I was doubtful that it could keep up high standards. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the SAM can pull off the different genres well. The NOMA is similar.

I imagine that the main horizontal stroke and the leftmost vertical were made in one motion. Wow. The calligrapher left the top of the inner upstroke as a suggestion that the next long vertical continued from the first stroke. I don’t think the brush could have been loaded with that much ink, but he left the masterful impression that the whole character except for the moon shaped stroke was done in one motion.


As I was leaving the first pianist had been replaced with a guy doing American Songbook standards – Smoke gets in your eyeyeyes….

There was a lot more I was taken with that I did not write about. Great visit.

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