My Webster friends and I went to the Guggenheim Museum on snowy Saturday.
Truthfully, I had no idea what the Guggenheim was like other than the vast spiral structure with a huge circular design on the ceiling. I was embarrassingly unprepared for what we were going to experience or who/what the exhibition was about. This tends to happen pretty much every time I visit a new museum or see an unfamiliar play. In the back of my mind, I think that I’ll be satisfied with a first impression but the unpreparedness seems to take away the ability to interact with the art as an informed observer.
That being said, things turned out fine with the help of my friends. Our first impression came from the big and small paintings that looked more like prints with dates on them. For example;
Feb 3, 1933
This needed more of an explanation so we sat down at a bench and picked up a book about the artist; Kawara and figured it out.
Usually I try very hard to understand “atypical art” and vouch for artists no matter how abstract but it took me a bit to get to that point because the whole exhibition seemed to be all about him in a weird way. It wasn’t about his thoughts, people in his life or even experiences, just a catalog of dates.
I don’t want to say all he did but all he did was record every single date of his life for about fifty years and send postcards to people every single day for months at a time with the time he woke up that day. That’s it. Information could be deduced from the postcard such as where he was and where it was sent to but nothing more than that.
We concluded that the significance of the whole exhibit (and why it should be displayed as, the credibility seemed doubtful) was that he may be the only “artist” to document his life so methodically.
His art was the product of his thoroughness and consistency.
Even though it didn’t feel like we were going to get much inspiration from Kawara, or at least in the way we would expect from a painting, I can vouch for him for a core value that I personally stand by; art is simply living.
Yes, I never thought about it being displayed like that; through simply writing the date or sending a postcard with the time he woke up but in those details lies art and the possibility of something great. Even at the end of your life, you’ll know that, as Kawara recorded, you were alive and that, even that was an artistic accomplishment.
Stay tuned on my photography blog for more photos of the Guggenheim this week.