Artbeat

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

When the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach opened its new wing almost two years ago, it added 14 galleries with more than 12,000 square feet of exhibition space. Much of that space is devoted to the museum's justly acclaimed collections of Chinese art and pre-1870 European art, as well as a splashy ceiling installation by glass master Dale Chihuly. What often goes unmentioned is that the expansion also lets the Norton showcase more of its contemporary collection. Right now, for instance, the wing's first-floor galleries feature nearly a dozen pieces worth viewing. Among them are three 1976 sculptures that toy with our perceptions: Young Worker, a life-sized man, made of polyester resin and fiberglass, who is slouching against the wall, that's one of Duane Hanson's most eerily lifelike creations; Soft Screw, Claes Oldenburg's big "elastomeric urethane" rendering of the title object; and Richard Hamilton's Guggenheim -- Tarnished Copper, a relief plexiglass sculpture that re-creates in miniature the famous New York museum. This vintage trio is complemented by more recent works. For Bowl-in-a-bowl (1999), Ursula von Rydingsvard fashioned a huge vessel of rough-hewn cedar accented with graphite. An untitled 1994 Alfredo Jaar installation combines an enlarged color transparency, a double-sided light box, and five framed mirrors. And Gregory Barsamian's Dipping Digits (Always Get Wet)(1991) is a surreal stroboscopic sculpture that creates the illusion of disembodied hands and a lizard moving in and out of an open book. But it's the wing's largest gallery that features the most imposing works: a pair of mixed-media pieces by Richard Long. In August 2004, the artist worked directly on an expanse of blackened wall using clay and water to create the abstract Seminole. For the 2002 piece Mohawk, Long challenged our notions of what constitutes a landscape by covering most of the gallery's floor space with a vast, oval-shaped installation that suggests a stream of smooth gray Mexican river rocks flowing through chunks of white marble. (On display through fall 2005 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-832-5196.) -- Michael MillsNow on Display

"Zhang Huan: Seeds of Hamburg," and "In Pursuit of Mists and Clouds: Masterworks of Chinese Painting" --The dozen large-scale color photographs that make up "Zhang Huan: Seeds of Hamburg" document a 2002 performance piece by the young Chinese artist, and they pack quite a wallop for such a small show. Zhang's subject matter, almost to the exclusion of everything else, is the human body, usually his own. Here, he enacts a ritual involving a large cage, honey and birdseeds (applied to his body), and 28 doves for a narrative evoking captivity and freedom, barrenness and fertility, life and death, rebirth and rejuvenation. Take in Zhang's work as well as "In Pursuit of Mists and Clouds: Masterworks of Chinese Painting" and you'll get a good general sense of Chinese art past and present. ("Seeds of Hamburg" is on display through February 20; "In Pursuit of Mists and Clouds" is on display through January 9. Both are at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-832-5196.)

"Cut: Film as Found Object"transforms the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami into a multiplex cinema of sorts. For each of 14 works in this dazzling show, the artist starts with existing footage, then subjects it to one or more modifications identified as "key gestures": to stretch, remove, arrange, systematize, erase, repair, continue, match. Douglas Gordon's 24 Hour Psycho, for instance, elongates the Hitchcock classic to play, frame by frame, over a full day. CNN Concatenated is an exercise in virtuous editing in which Omer Fast edits snippets of talking heads from the cable channel into terse sentences. And Christian Marclay's amazing Video Quartet uses four large, side-by-side screens to present countless film clips reassembled into a 14-minute concert that's a grand homage to maverick American composer John Cage. (Through January 30 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Joan Lehman Bldg., 770 NE 125th St., North Miami, 305-893-6211.)

 
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