You would expect a publishing company that occupies a massive, eye-catching tower and includes in its portfolio names like Esquire, Town & Country, and Seventeen to boast plenty of visual art within said tower. The Hearst Galleries, just up the stairs from the Hearst Tower’s entrance, do just that, and on January 12th, they opened their contemporary artist showcase, appropriately titled, “The Art of Now.”
Featuring work from 17 New York galleries, the exhibition (and the gallery in general) is meant to “inspire all the creative people who work here,” said The Art Of Now catalogue. To set up the display, a synopsis of Oscar Wilde’s musings was chosen: “The past is for historians; the present is the realm of journalists; artists are the future.”
Whether you happen to agree with this sentiment or not (what good historian or journalist doesn’t at least glance forward in their work?), the art on display certainly showed a propensity for reflecting on what’s to come and the interaction between past and present. Embodying the latter, Matthew Pillsbury’s photographic prints show, in ghostly outline, a perhaps day’s worth of tourists viewing a Vermeer painting, a dinosaur skeleton at the Museum of Natural History, and years’ worth of cup noodles at the Cup Noodle museum in Yokohama—contemporary people passing through selected histories. Museum culture in a nutshell, this work may make you think about how we’ll preserve today’s “treasures” and how people in the future will interact with them.
Other easily labeled future-oriented pieces include Tightrope 2.2 by Elias Sime, made up of “reclaimed electronic components” and fiberglass, and David Kassman’s Lost #1, highlighting colorful detritus in a body of water. The title of Kysa Johnson’s piece from the Morgan Lehman Gallery says it all: “Blowup 254—the long goodbye—(hello, hello) subatomic decay patterns with star formation on The Scorpius Ophiuchus border.”
Of course, an art piece doesn’t have to overtly mention it to pertain to the future. What can one surmise from a black and white portrait of a woman, her face covered by an irregularly shaped, smooth stone, sitting atop a red oak shelf (a 2014 Marlo Pascual piece)? How about a darkened print of a river (Adam Katseff)? The interpretation lies in the eyes of the beholder, and anything that can make a person think differently constitutes “new.”
However, it’s hard to think much of the future when a lot of the pieces on display have been in and around New York’s contemporary art circuit, appearing at the annual Affordable Art Fair and The Armory Show at the Chelsea Piers. (At least, I could have sworn I’ve seen Will Kurtz’s paper mâché looking dog and young girl lurking around the city, along with others that looked familiar, as well.) However, the exhibition claims to bring this art to a new audience, and it surely is—it’s quite unlikely that every Hearst employee has seen these pieces before.
As with every art exhibition, there are certain standout pieces, London Tsai’s I Know Why Munch Screamed (The Beginning and the End) being one of them. Vaginal in shape, the aluminum, neon, steel, and mahogany piece also resembles the central figure depicted in Munch’s The Scream. It includes elements both extremely gaudy (neon) and natural (the wood stump), it evokes a classic painting and gives it a futuristic makeover, it looks like nothing and the place from whence life springs all at once. Tsai himself milled around the piece at the opening, looking fashionable and responding to another exhibited artist’s selfie-shy request that a circling photographer take a picture of them together, in front of both of their work (instead of him standing alone by his).
If you happen to be a Hearst employee or friend of one and make it to “The Art of Now” exhibition at the Hearst Tower, I would also recommend taking time to watch Lothar Osterburg’s entire Piranesi Video Version 3 as well as a cycle or so of Asya Reznikov’s Garden of Earthly Delights. Marco Maggi’s Color Paragraph and Stacking Alphabet are also not to be missed.
Leaving the exhibition, one can’t help but notice a painting (Green Interior, by Benjamin Senior) hanging right next to a poster for the exhibition featuring that same painting. Whether this was set up by someone with a sense of humor or a surprisingly inattentive crewmember, the placement serves as commentary on the future of art. With the current ease of digitally reproducing and sharing images, pairing a painting’s duplication with the original has to provoke some thought on evolving visual media and the importance of art that is physically and intimately touched by its creator. Are artists the future when the future of art can become so removed from the original artist? Or in the future, are we all artists (probably not)?
The exhibit is now available to the public by emailing and/or calling the below information and saying when you would like to come to the gallery-
For more information on “The Art Of Now”, check out their official site.