New York Dirt Water Light: Andy Goldsworthy @ Gallerie Lelong

It's been my lucky week. I've been to two galleries where the artists were present and unmobbed. First, Wendell Castle  with his sensuous "repurposed trees" at Barry Friedman. Then, the maestro of ephemeral sculpture, Andy Goldsworthy.

Andy is renowned for his transient sculptures constructed largely in nature - woven blades of grass forming a mesh with the sky completing the spaces; sticks marching in thin air;  petals arranged as a solid blaze of color on a pond before lazily dispersing. Quite simply, he's taken the simple rock cairn to the n+1th degree. The documentary "Rivers and Tides" brought his work to the ADHD attention of the masses. So it was intriguing to see him execute his shtick in the decidedly unnatural environment of the world's most celebrated city.

The exhibition consisted of sequences of photographs and real time video. A single water splash photographed over time; a serpentine mark on pavement gradually obliterated by passing feet; the even constant blur of traffic bookended by the bumpers of two parked cars. 

Key to these works is the fixed point of view, with the vanishing point and focal point - in the above example, the splash -  the common anchors tying the shots together. The fleeting appearance of people provide the illusion of movement and time passing.

In one video,  he (or was it a volunteer?) lays on the sidewalk in Times Square and is largely ignored. It would be interesting to see this side by side with a scene in a rural English village, or conversely, in the mega-populous India.

At one point a youth enters the frame and lies down foot-to-foot with the artist in mimicry. After a moment he raises his head to see no reaction at all from the artist, gets up, dusts off, gestures, scratches his head, walks away. It's a perfectly scripted silent movie.

A companion work shows a human-shaped dry spot left after rain. No one really pays much attention as it slowly fades over time.

It's interesting to see people walk along a long, snaking zig-zagging watermark on the pavement, as if subconsciously coralled - the effect of life in lines and lanes in NYC?

Unlike the green spectacled Wendell Castle, I had to get someone to point out the artist.

"Are you Andy?" I asked.

"Yes I am," came the soft, friendly and very British reply. There was a moment of warmth - it would be so incongruous for this artist to exhibit the slightest bit of imperiousness given the gentleness of his work.

So here I am with in an ephemeral moment with Andy Goldsworthy, sporting my "Princess Shining Moon" t-shirt, before Andy was whisked away by his entourage to a dinner deep in the bowels of Manhattan. I wonder if he will shift attention to the insides of a human, depicting the passing nature of nourishment? Anything comes and goes in art.

Andy on wiki - yes who needs a website when you have wikipedia?
 He's also on Facebook - where you can join his 11,000+ fans. I just did!

Gallerie Leelong
528 West 26th St
New York, NY, 10011
212 315 0470

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