Art, Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Research Institute

Yvonne Rainer in Her Own Words

An exhibition at the Getty Research Institute features the dances, films, and words of Yvonne Rainer, including fascinating (and funny) excerpts from her diaries. Listen to them here

Most exhibitions feature labels and gallery panels with just enough information to give visitors the basics. For curators, writing these concise gems is no easy feat! Deciding what goes in them can be an art form. In fact, some labels are themselves art.

Yvonne Rainer: Dances and Films at Getty Research Institute gives this approach a twist. While labels written by curator Glenn Phillips guide you through the exhibition, Yvonne Rainer’s writings—quoted extensively throughout both galleries—provide personal context. “She’s always put her life in her work,” says Glenn, who emphasizes that Rainer’s art, while abstract and conceptual, is far from dry or impersonal. “Her words give visitors something that is beautiful, funny, provocative.”

For the exhibition, Glenn also asked Rainer to record selected passages from her diaries, which begin in her teenage years and run well into adulthood. These reveal a different side of the artist, with topics varying from dreams, to arguments with schoolteachers, to thoughts about consumerism while shoe shopping. Nothing is off limits. One diary entry from the 80s, a list of shameful conditions and operations, seems positively Whitmanesque. Whether hilarious, violent, or despairing, there’s always clarity in Rainer’s voice.

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      #ProvenancePeek: Shark Attack!

      Every art object has a story—not only of how it was made, but of how it changed hands over time until it found its current home. That story is provenance.

      This dynamic painting of a 1749 shark attack in Havana, Cuba, by John Singleton Copley was too good to paint only once. The original hangs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. A second full-sized version of the painting, which Copley created for himself, was inherited by his son and eventually gifted to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

      The third version (shown here) is slightly reduced in size, with a more vertical composition. It resides in the Detroit Institute of Arts.

      A quick peek into the digitized stock and sales books of art dealer M. Knoedler & Co. at the Getty Research Institute shows the sale of Copley’s masterpiece. It was entered under stock number A3531 in July 1946 and noted as being sold to the Gallery by Robert Lebel, a French writer and art expert. The Knoedler clerk also carefully records the dimensions of the painting—30 ¼ x 36 inches, unframed.

      On the right side of the sales page you’ll find the purchaser listed as none other than the Detroit Institute of Arts. The corresponding sales book page gives the address: Woodward Ave, Detroit, Mich., still the location of the museum.

      Watson and the Shark, 1782, John Singleton Copley. Detroit Institute of Arts

      _______

      #ProvenancePeek is a monthly series by research assistant Kelly Davis peeking into #onthisday provenance finds from the M. Knoedler & Co. archives at the Getty Research Institute.

      02/10/16

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