Truth be told, I don't really know that much about art. I've had no formal training: a couple of art history electives while getting my bachelor's in English Literature is about it. Then, after moving into Manhattan and the world of magazine publishing, I became self-educated, attending media previews at museums around the city: I grew to know, and love, certain artists and particular works: Thomas Eakins' "The Thinker," the dribbles and plops of Jackson Pollock's abstract expressionism, the stately portrait of John Singer Sargent. Then, at some point in the 1980s, when I was living in a cramped apartment on the Upper West Side with my boyfriend, he brought home a print of Frank Stella's "Brooklyn Bridge.” I was mesmerized by the artist's use of blues, his strange and wonderful interpretation of the New York skyline, and the overall beauty of the painting.
So, when I walked into the Whitney Museum's "Frank Stella: A Retrospective" on Oct. 28, I expected to be wowed again, and I wasn't disappointed. The exhibit, which focuses mainly on the painters spectacular sculptures, made my heart beat faster. So much energy, so much color, so much breadth and scope to each piece! Stella lived in a larger-than-life world, was fascinated by chaos theory and was phenomenally prolific during his nearly 60 years as an American artist. Mixed media pieces that used fiberglass, aluminum, woodcuts, stainless steel, all with lush, vibrant colors, inspired and energized me. Pieces like "The Whiteness of the Whale" and “Eskimo Curlew” perplexed me with names that I didn't understand, but it didn't much matter: I loved them anyhow.
Oenophiles urge newbie wine drinkers to simply drink what they like. I think the same pretty much goes for art: do we always need to deconstruct the meaning of art? Must we understand the concept and vision of the artist to simply love the work? I think not. Art does not have to be an acquired taste. If the pulse quickens and you can't help smiling in front of a work of art, that's good enough for me.
» Whitney Museum of American Art, "Frank Stella: A Retrospective," Oct. 30-Feb. 7, 2016. 99 Gansevoort St., btw Greenwich & West sts., 212.570.3600