January 18, 2009

Jewel-encrusted vs. diamond-dusted

I spent a few hours rambling around the Met this week and saw the survey of Raqib Shaw's opulent jewel-encrusted paintings based on Hans Holbein the Younger's (ca. 1497-1543) paintings. They reminded me of my daughter's stained-glass craft kits, but of course those don't have the oppresive glut of obvious art historical references. If we're talking about jewel-encrusted, I'll take R.H. Quaytman's cool, modernist-inspired pieces at Miguel Abreu any day. Quaytman's new series, which creates a powerful retinal experience, explores "the blind spot," whether it be from a light source in the picture, an optical illusion, a trompe l’œil effect, or the absence of color in a black and white photograph. Seeing the diamond-dusted pieces together in the intimate space is, in fact, blinding. I had to close my eyes.

"R. H. Quaytman: Chapter 12: iamb," Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York, NY. Through February 1.

Raqib Shaw at the Met," curated by Gary Tinterow. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. Through March 1.


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