Fred Wilson was born in The Bronx in NY City in 1954. He was a winner of the MacArthur “Genius Grant” Award in 1999 and the Larry Aldrich Foundation Award in 2003. He is an alumnus of Purchase College from its first graduating class in 1976. Wilson is another conceptual artist and describes his art as a combination of “performance, community engagement, sculpture and painting, history and anthropology.” He is one of three African-Americans on the Board of the Whitney Museum.
As you enter his exhibition space, you encounter two spectacular installations: No Way But This, 2013 (Murano glass, light bulbs, Edition 3 of 6) and Sale Longhi, 2011 (Black float glass, antiqued gold painted wood frames, Murano blown glass, and light bulbs, Edition 1 of 2). These two appear to be a combination piece. First there is the immense lighted black Murano chandelier, hanging in the opening for and inviting you into a separate room. The room is enclosed on three sides and includes another large and lighted chandelier (this one bright white) hung in the center of the back wall and surrounded behind and on both sides with black and white (white wall showing through) framed images that look like spots of light. They are seemingly floating around the room but, at the same time, completely bound by the frames.
The interplay of white and black seems to be part of a visual theme carried out in the larger space outside the room. There you find two black and white sculptured figures standing in contrast to each other in not only color, but in almost every other way including subject, attitude and pose: The Mete of the Muse, 2006 (bronze with black patina; bronze with white paint).
I have chosen one other figure in the exhibit to focus on: Snuff, 2003 (painted wood, plastic hoses, fire extinguishers, metal clamps). This is not a study in black and white only but rather includes a blazing red component. It is an mage of a woman, holding a very large but apparently unlit ornamental light, which is wrapped in hoses attached to a semi-circle of giant fire extinguishers. The woman seems African, and one can imagine the possible meanings of her struggle to keep the monumental light source aloft despite the bindings of equally monumental light extinguishers. But I will leave it up to you to ponder and enjoy Wilson’s message in all three of these works and the others in his exhibit.
If you want to learn more about Fred Wilson and his art work and the Neuberger Museum, please visit their Website: https://www.neuberger.org.
Please note again that this is my last post before a much-needed “blogrest.” But I will be back to seek more art at the Neuberger and the many other galleries and art museums in the Fairfield/Westchester area soon!