Belson, Smith, Whitney in NY Times & Guggenheim

From: C Keefer (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Feb 02 2009 - 17:05:37 PST

speaking of Harry Smith....

CVM was hired last year by The Guggenheim Museum, NY, to consult regarding the films for their new exhibition, The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989.

The exhibition opened Friday, Jan. 30 and runs through April 19, 2009. Jordan Belson's Samadhi is projected looped from DVD in its own black box room. Harry Smith's Film no. 11 (a new transfer from Anthology Film Archive's preservation) is looped from DVD on a monitor near the "Beat Room." James Whitney's Lapis is projected in HD.

From the New York Times review Sunday (dated Jan 30, 2009) by Holland Cotter:

“The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989” at the Guggenheim Museum is a strange show, mostly good-strange, often beautiful-strange, and for sure long overdue.

When I first saw the title, I thought: O.K., so we’re going to get Nature, cosmic consciousness and tons of Zen. All of which we do get, maybe too much, but we also get more, including enough revisionist thinking to muss up all standard accounts of 20th-century American art, always a worthy goal.


Where an artist like Harry Smith fits in is harder to say. Chronologically he was a Beat. But his short animated films blending Tantrism, Theosophy, Orientalist Pop and Alastair Crowley, all to a cool jazz score, don’t feel period specific. They could be hippie ’60s. They could be by young artists today. (It’s important to note that the show barely touches on Islamic Asia, specifically on Sufism, in which Mr. Smith was interested.)

There are a number of free-radical types like him in the show, which is one reason it has a patchy, scrapbookish look. Even the section devoted to Minimalism resists the sort of uniformity that art history, ever straightening and cleaning, tries to impose.


Into this charmed circle Ms. Munroe [the curator] also brings abstract artists working with sound and light, like Jordan Belson, James Whitney and La Monte Young. Whether you call Mr. Belson and Mr. Whitney optical scientists or psychic magicians, they are fascinating figures, very much in line with the Guggenheim’s own history as a museum of non-objective art rooted in diverse cultural and spiritual traditions.

best regards,
Cindy Keefer
Center for Visual Music

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