Art for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations: Nothing to Ruffle the Eagle’s Feathers

Gorchov, LeWitt, Benglis in US Mission
Colorful work by Ron Gorchov, Sol LeWitt, and Linda Benglis enliven the 22nd floor of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in NY. Offices and corridors feature mainly abstract prints that steer clear of social content. (Photo © Paul Warchol)
The art collection inside the new United States Mission to the United Nations, as curated by Yale art school dean Robert Storr, is American art at its least provocative. The decorative mix of mainly abstract prints by well-known U.S. artists is unadventurous and uniformly anodyne — about what one would expect for a government building: nothing to ruffle the American eagle's feathers.

The art collection inside the new United States Mission to the United Nations, as curated by Yale art school dean Robert Storr, is American art at its least provocative. The decorative mix of mainly abstract prints by well-known U.S. artists is unadventurous and uniformly anodyne — about what one would expect for a government building: nothing to ruffle the American eagle’s feathers. In a year when Allora & Calzadilla are bringing politically-charged, challenging art to the U.S. pavilion at the Venice Biennale, this reticence on the part of Storr — who was a controversial Biennale’s director in 2007 — suggests that the nature of the U.N. work requires a decorator’s eye and a Rolodex, rather than a scholar or critic.For slide show and my complete review click here or the image above.

The mission building, designed by the late Charles Gwathmey, dearly needs art, and it gets some courtesy of the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE), a private nonprofit that since 1986 has fitted out U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world. It must be said that FAPE does good work. Many bland government buildings would be even blander were it not for the organization, which claims to have raised $56 million toward art and logistical costs to decorate U.S. facilities in more than 140 countries. But their art programs are dictated by their official setting and function, which is to say that they tend to be serviceable and dull.

Distributed about the cramped offices, meeting rooms, and corridors of the upper floors, which house the U.S. Mission and other Department of State personnel, are benign abstractions, mainly prints and multiples in pleasing colors. If the installation were an exhibition, it might be titled “American Wall Candy.”

FAPE chairman Jo Carole Lauder — the wife of billionaire Ronald Lauder , former chairman of MoMA — led a recent tour of the building, and says the collection “captures the diversity and richness of our country’s unique culture.” But the selection represents a thin slice of the American pie, one that suggests the country’s culture is acritical and concerned mainly with aesthetics as decoration.

For slide show and my complete review click here or the image above.

Jason Edward Kaufman

 

132 views

4 Responses

  1. Thats because it is NOT creative art, it is glorified graphic design, and so sterile and consumer friendly. LeWittless noodling wasnt even done by him, it is over cerebralized, under felt and thought mind games. The Kenny G of visual art.

    art collegia delenda est

  2. Much of diplomacy, by its nature, tends to the least controversial. How refreshing a few bold strokes might be.

  3. OK, I am furious now. You just gotta write a response to that absurdly stupid article on your site about Cezanne being irrelevant. You dont see many youngsters because they have been brainswashed by the Academies of spoiled daycare brats into self absorbed, therapy driven, game filled stupidities of careerist nonsense. I see people who respond to Cezanne all the time, I teach art classes for intelligent well ballanced, purpose seeking young, and even my 22 year old son absolutely loves his watercolors. He is a film student, and they all hated the stupid Contempt nonsense at the Broad at LACMA except for Koons puppy and MJ with Bobo, and they were more as goofy backdrops for pics.

    The best show I ever saw was concurrently with van Goghs second period retrospective at the Met in the 80s. Back when I started painting and quit from the early 90s on to raise my kids, and came back to this totally and complete perversion of life I see now spewing out of our decadent academies. It was a show of ALL of Cezannes watercolors, OMG it was beautiful, and revelatory. AbEx painters especially loved his watercolors, they were Pollocks starting point. Energy and the pulse of life filling all space.

    I copied one of his oils, Mt St Victoire from Bibemus Quarry in the only art class I ever took, and hanging now in my dining room. People love it, young included. It is not Cezanne the young hate, but the art that is forced down our throats. Only art students go now to stupid vanity shows, as Contemptorary art has been found to be irrelevant, so 99% dont bother going at all. And music it terrible, the arts now are all about propigating the views and desires of the wealthy, it is dividing us, not binding us as true creative art does.

    As Cezanne did. It is these reviewers who are irrelveant, NOT Cezannes work. Though I must say his smokers are among the ones i find the least interesting, his work from the early 90s on were his greatest, and he died at his peak, or he may have still been growing, he died too early. His Great Bathers wasnt even done yet, the reason for Picasso to make Demoiselles at all were his bathers taken almost directly in poses from the small five women bathers in switzerland. The critical misunderstanding and attempt to put his work in words is what diminishes them, online. In person, he was and is the Father of Us all.

    You just ignore art now, and have replaced it with the mirror of Dorian Gray. It is now all about YOU, not Us. And We have walked away. Rather watch game 7 of the Stanley cup or NBA anyday, thats real passion, commitment, sacrifice and responsibility to ones teammates. Keystones of true art, and completely exorcised in todays vanity balls of art fairs. Creative art is and always was about defining who We are, binding us toegether, exploring our world, feeling nature, and reaching for what we call god, seeking purpose and meaning. Cezanne raised the bar to new heights of a universal humanity, it now no longer exists and commerce and amusements is every thing. Art is the highest common denominator, entertainment the lowest, yin and yang and both necessary. Contempt “art” is but decadent fashions of theose who are too thin and too rich, those bored and seeking conversation p;iceces as they truly have nothing to say.

    art collegia delenda est
    Fine art colleges must be destroyed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Us

Jason Edward Kaufman is an art historian and critic with expertise in museums and the international art world.

A complete list of past articles is available here.

Archive

2010 (1)

  • Gary Tinterow and Modern Art at the Metropolitan

    August 26, 2010, 1:16 am

    Gary Tinterow’s Contemporary Art Agenda for the Metropolitan Museum

    In a wide-ranging interview, the chief curator of modern and contemporary art discusses collection sharing, acquisitions strategy, renovation of the Wallace Wing, negotiations to lease the Whitney’s Breuer building, and more.

2016 (255)

2017 (1)

2019 (2)

2020 (1)

2021 (4)

Join our Mailing list!