August 26, 2012

Art Review: See Wegman in all his waggishness

By DANIEL KANY

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

“Water Damage,” a collage painting, from William Wegman’s “Hello Nature” at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

Courtesy of William Wegman Studio and Bowdoin College Museum of Art

click image to enlarge

The large-scale Polaroid “Crossing” from William Wegman’s “Hello Nature” at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

ART REVIEW

“WILLIAM WEGMAN:

HELLO NATURE”

WHERE: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 9400 College Station, Brunswick

WHEN: Through Oct. 21

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday (until 8:30 p.m. Thursday); noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: Free

INFO: 725-3275; bowdoin.edu/art-museum

It then becomes apparent the prints are performing a deceptive drama. There are only four dogs, and the boat isn’t so long. It’s a masterful play on painting.

The most revealing work is the 2010 oil and postcard “Room with a view.” It directly engages Richard Hamilton’s English Pop Art icon, “Just what it is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?” Wegman’s response shows a Puritan New England interior and a boyishly pretty, plaid-clad 1950s girl posing on a log cabin.

“Room with a view” is Pop Art as cultural decoder, and Wegman is flummoxed by the conscious local adoption of the rustic style. Were those postcards faux retro when they were originally designed? If so, are our rustic childhood memories real or the products of theater? Such questions are why Wegman exhumes the styles of 1960s encyclopedias such as “Childcraft.”

 “Hello Nature” might be thicker than blackflies in June with ideas about the production, consumption and distribution of the cultural codes of art, rusticity, nostalgia, outdoorsmanship, naturalism and the Maine landscape – but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

The show is conflicted, but it’s great fun and great art. It is Wegman’s vessel for trying to reinvent his entire career retroactively. Only time will tell, but I bet he succeeds.


Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:

dankany@gmail.com

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