In honor of the Bloch Building’s 10th anniversary, we asked KC Studio’s visual arts writers to weigh in on their favorite works on display.
George Segal, “Chance Meeting” (1989)
“I went to New York University in the West Village for my doctoral studies. Walking the streets of New York was one of my favorite pastimes, and Segal’s sculpture brings back memories that stand in such contrast to the streets where I lived in a small town in Westchester County just to the north.” — Bryan Le Beau
Anselm Kiefer “Lichtfalle” (1999)
“‘Lichtfalle’ goes beyond ‘the big painting with a big message’ that Kiefer has churned out for decades. Instead there’s a deeply poetic metaphor of loss and redemption that triumphs over its bombastic size.” — James Brinsfield
John Chamberlain “Huzzy” (1961)
“Chamberlain’s ‘Huzzy,’ made from wrecked automobiles and women’s underwear, is a brilliant representation of the 20th century’s industrialization of sex and death.” — Neil Thrun
El Anatsui, “Dusasa I” (2007)
“The shimmering gold of the colored metal reminds me of Italian Renaissance gold-ground paintings as well as some masterpieces by Gustav Klimt. The beauty of this work belies its serious message about “connections between consumption, waste and the environment.” — Nan Chisholm
Nam June Paik, “Watching Buddha” (1979)
“It’s a great early example of his use of video in art. He was the first! It’s just sublime.” — Elisabeth Kirsch
Richard Diebenkorn “Interior With a Book” (1959)
“Despite its aura of nostalgia, or probably because of it, the painting resonates on many levels. It knocks on the door of the pure abstractions of his ‘Ocean Park’ series. It’s an invitation to contemplation, a meditation that vibrates between melancholy and wonder, and an evocative moment that seamlessly connects interior space with landscape. It’s easy to get lost in.” — Steve Paul
Walter De Maria, “One Sun / 34 Moons” (2002)
“Nature collaborates in the changing appearance of this monumental abstraction, which offers a bridge between heaven and earth through its references as well its reflective surface. It’s wondrous.” — Alice Thorson
Radcliffe Bailey “Mound Magician” (1997)
“I love its complex evocation of African-American culture and baseball. What would KC be without those!?” — Brian Hearn
Nick Cave “Property” (2014)
“Many of the objects Cave gathered in ‘Property’ would have been found in African American homes almost exclusively, while others may have been owned by people from other ethnic backgrounds. ‘Property’ presents an opportunity that seems to be becoming increasingly rare: for people from different backgrounds in our community to come together and share their experiences with sometimes-troubling material culture in a safe environment.” — James Martin
Pat Steir, “Double Waterfall for a Simple Afternoon” (1990)
“That painting is magical and I love her work.” — Dana Self
Following are some suggestions of artists our writers would like to see in the Bloch over the next 10 years.
Nan Chisholm: Ruth Asawa
Using a technique taught to her by a craftsman in Mexico, Asawa learned to bend wire to make baskets; she later adapted this skill to create ethereal hanging sculptures. The loops of wire encapsulate space while allowing the viewer to see through it.
Brian Hearn: Theaster Gates
Given the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art’s interest in engaging its neighborhood and reaching out deeper into the community, Theaster Gates would be a compelling choice as a socially engaged artist with an urban planning background.
Bryan Le Beau: Byron Browne
Browne was a very important figure of the Abstract Expressionist movement and a founding member of the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, a group influential in the American Abstract Artists movement. It included Adolph Gottlieb, one of the first artists one encounters in the Bloch contemporary galleries.
Elisabeth Kirsch: Louise Lawler
Besides being a terrific photographer, Lawler is the ultimate art deconstructivist. She shows us how the placement of visual art is at the mercy of patrons and the built environment and how vulnerable it is to chance and circumstance.
Neil Thrun: Stelarc
Stelarc is an artist ahead of his time, fusing performance art, cybernetics and plastic surgery to transform his body into, as he puts it, “a post-evolutionary projectile.” I’d like to see one of his sculpture projects that incorporates his body tissue, like the “Partial Head,” an incubator for skin grafts, or “Blender,” which uses his liposuctioned body fat. One of his exoskeleton suits or avatar robots would be great too.
Steve Paul: Teresita Fernandez
Teresita Fernandez is a contemporary artist I’d be eager to see in the Nelson collection. Her inventions and installations present thought-provoking confrontations about landscape, the natural world, history, technology and culture.
James Brinsfield: David Hammons
Trickster and Duchampian thinker David Hammons makes sly and effective art, from the gorgeous tarp-covered generic abstractions that he debuted in 2011 to his history of work that gnaws at the nation’s conscience by blowing up racial stereotypes. His work belongs in every American museum.
Dana Self: Ann Hamilton
I think she’s a genius. Her work touches on so many different practices and ideas: textiles, installation, performance, community, handwork, video, the ephemeral nature of art and being.
James Martin: Faith Ringgold
Ringgold’s story quilts reflect the importance of quilt making in the history of African American artistic expression. Many of them feature narratives of hope, which seem to hold a special appeal for young people.
Alice Thorson: Jarrett Mellenbruch
New York-based Robert Morris, creator of the “Glass Labyrinth” (2013), is a native son, but now, with the prospect of an expanded sculpture park, perhaps a stellar piece by an artist based in Kansas City could be considered. Jarrett Mellenbruch’s “From the Everywhere to the Here,” a levitating, spinning mirrored sphere, measuring 30 feet in diameter, would fit the bill nicely.