By David Brickman
Summer has arrived, and it’s usual for a spate of blockbuster art exhibits to open at our region’s major museums. But, alas, this year is a disappointment – there’s no Van Gogh and Nature (which smashed box-office records at the Clark Art Institute last year); there’s no Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George (which put The Hyde Collection – and Glens Falls – at the center of the art world’s focus in 2013); and there’s no Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera (which exemplifies the drawing and staying power of a well-formed exhibition, as it went on tour from Stockbridge’s Norman Rockwell Museum in the summer of 2010 and, since then, has generated over 12,000 page views of my review.
The closest thing we have this year to a summer blockbuster is the Clark Art Institute’s Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes from the Prado (which opened on June 11). However, in our age of ubiquitous Internet pornography, it is almost quaint in its outdated immorality, and rather uninspiring compared to the usual star-studded summer fare offered by Williamstown’s queen of art museums.
Instead, we seem to have a season of prints: The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls is presenting Dürer and Rembrandt: Master Prints from the Collection of Dr. Dorrance Kelly (set to open on Sunday, July 10) and the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown has Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in Bohemian Paris (which opened last month), featuring posters, prints and drawings – but no paintings.
We also have a summer of outstanding contemporary art, in venues as diverse as the Albany International Airport Gallery; The School in Kinderhook; libraries in Albany and at Union College; small galleries in Lake George, Hudson and Schuylerville; and the vast MASS MoCA in North Adams, where conservative skeptics are won over every day by consistently excellent selection and installation of today’s most challenging living artists.
Here are my recommendations for summer viewing, in approximate descending order of scale:
1. Explode Every Day: An Inquiry into the Phenomena of Wonder, MASS MoCA through April, 2017. I could recommend this show on the basis of the title alone – but it includes a grand swath of international artists, at least one of whom I know I love, so there’s reason to believe it delivers on the promise. And there are nine (count ’em) other current exhibitions there as well. Just plain go.