Yesterday we went to the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham and I finally saw a few shows I mentioned a long , long time ago: Picasso and the Allure of Language, Africa and Picasso and Big Shot: Andy Warhol Polaroids. I hadn’t been to the Nasher yet, and I really like the space. It is a pentagon, with galleries on three of the five points (or maybe sides), and a gift shop, cafeteria, bathrooms and offices on the other points/ sides. The center is all skylights and it’s very beautiful.

The shows themselves were really cool. I drew a lot in the Africa and Picasso exhibit especially. Since that was a showing of a lot of traditional African arts, mostly from West Africa (Liberia, Nigeria, Benin), there were a lot of interesting shapes and patterns that I sketched out.

Because we saw it on the last day that it was up, Picasso and the Allure of Language was monstrously crowded. It was difficult to move freely through the show, but also difficult to stand still for any length of time to record a composition or read a plaque without causing a traffic jam. Because of this, I didn’t actually read much of the supporting material provided by the museum. So I saw a lot of work that was new to me, but I unfortunately didn’t learn much more than I already knew.

The Warhol Polaroids were interesting because they were like sketches. If you look at them like finished pieces, they just look like someone’s old photo album, but if you see them as sketches for larger works, I think they become more meaningful. In some cases, there were series of about 10 mounted pictures, all of the same model with very slight changes in posture or expression. I actually think I would prefer the format of a book for them. I understand that it is completely impractical for a gallery to have essentially a photo album on display, but I’d love to see the pictures gatehred into a printed art book.

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