On April sixth I took a trip to The Getty with my sister who was visiting for the first time. I really wanted to see the Herb Ritts exhibition that would be there until August so I was happy when she said she wanted to go as well. I remember seeing his photographs for the first time a few ears ago on the internet while browsing Google images but I never knew his name until my senior year of high school. Herb Ritts is a photographer well known for his work in Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Rolling Stones. He’s worked with Chanel, Armani, and Versace and has a even created music videos for musicians that are now household names (Janet Jackson and Tracy Chapman to name a few) which was something that I hadn’t known until seeing the exhibition.
His photography was the main reason I went to the exhibition and it was breathtaking. He seemed to have so many of pictures of famous people before they actually made it in Hollywood or whatever profession they chose. There were pictures of Barack Obama long before he was president, Alek Wek, and Djimon and the themes ranged from highly sexualized, to soulful, and even funny. I found his earlier work to be the most though provoking for me because it amazed me that he was able to photograph such famous people when they were still “normal.” Did everyone really run in the same circle like that? And how was he able to be there at the right time and moment? He documented history, change and how to view things with more than just a hetero-normative lens. It blew me away but also gave me a little hope that it’s not impossible to pursue a career in photography if I work hard at it.
What also surprised me was how versatile he was. It was nice to see that his interest spanned more to more than just photography. We were allowed to hear about the reasoning behind his music videos and what he wanted to convey in them. Many of them dealt with sexuality, gender, androgyny, and breaking down stereotypes. It was nice to see the thought process and I left feeling like a knew more about his work than when I left. I wasn’t just looking at pretty pictures, I was looking at history and issues that were important and that’s what mattered to me.
I had a chance to go to the MOCA a few weeks ago and I was surprised by how small it was. Some of the areas were under construction though but it was still interesting to see. I think it made for a more intimate feeling. I didn’t come there to see a specific work of art nor did I know whose work was being presented so I browsed and found a few interesting pieces.
The pieces that I was most drawn to ended up being by a man named Wallance Berman Black. When I first saw it I thought I was looking at a hand holding a grenade and was a little confused. It wasn’t until I got a closer look that I saw grenade was actually a picture that changed with each new slide. There was a picture of an astronaut, someone dancing, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and more. Even after realizing what the pictures were, I still didn’t fully understand what I was supposed to be taking away from the grid of pictures. That being said, I did walk away form his work with a small smile on my face. I felt strangely happy after seeing it. For me it was like the person had the world in his hands (whoevers hand it was) and we as viewers were seeing different aspects of that world and history. I was curious enough about him and his work to google him and found a lot of things…and nothing.
He has a presence within in the art world and there are both positive and negative opinions on his work but you have to dig a little to find out the general history. That being said, he seemed like a cool Jewish guy that was raised in New York and had a passion for art, which is all we really need to know in the long run, right?
Donald Judd also had some interesting work with iron and paint that is more interesting than I’m making it sound. Pae White’s piece called Der Werk was interesting as well. It was actually incredibly trippy for me, reading layered words created by thread on a ceiling. I forget the whole sentence but it spelled out something along the lines of “I Like Pickles.” Here’s what the artist had to say about it. “Der Werks deals with transitions: it marks the passage between spaces and textures, generations and approaches — all loosely processed through the matrix of an abstracted hot dog. Every space is a puzzle; it’s the contingencies of the puzzle that interest me.”