Odds & Ends: Art From All Over

I think I’ve seen every Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis exhibition since the institution opened in 2003. My favorite so far is Yoshitomo Nara: Nothing Ever Happens, which I caught over the weekend. I flipped through a binder of reviews while I was there, and one critic described the artist’s work as “charmingly demonic.” Right on. The colors are soft and beautiful, the figures’ limbs all rounded, but the expressions on these little girls and dogs are all Up Yours and Yeah Right and Just Wait. It’s the most I’ve smiled at something so menacing.

The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, next door to the Contemporary, is still inspiring to walk through no matter how often you’ve been or what’s on view. I preferred last summer’s Art and the Spiritual to the current Brancusi and Serra In Dialogue show, but time spent there is always calming and affirming.

Movies: “Million Dollar Baby” was surprisingly moving. The Iranian film “Crimson Gold” was memorable if unexciting and without much emotion. “Heaven,” written by “Three Colors” co-writers Krzysztof Kieslowski (R.I.P.) and Krzysztof Piesiewicz and directed by the German Tom Tykwer, was exceptional. I wrote my grad-school thesis on the “Three Colors” trilogy and for some reason hadn’t gotten around to watching “Heaven,” which was the first part (and the only completed part) of a planned trilogy on Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. I can’t imagine admirers of Kieslowski’s films not deeply enjoying this one. Tykwer brings KK’s visual spirit to the screen, but he remains his own director. He’s aided by Estonian composer Arvo Part, whose “Alina” – which I first heard in Gus Van Zant’s “Gerry” – plays throughout.

I came across this nice bit of text reading “The National Gallery Review: April 1999 - March 2000.” The writer’s reporting on the exhibition “Rembrandt by Himself,” noting the press’s reaction:

At an even higher pitch, Adrian Searle in the Guardian turned his attention to the room in which the late self portraits were gathered, including paintings from Vienna, Washington, Cologne, Amsterdam and the great Self Portrait with Two Circles from Kenwood House: “I can think of no other room of paintings in the world at this moment … so moving and disquieting as the central gallery of the Rembrandt show, containing the self portraits of the last half of his career. Standing in this room, I realized that you can’t review Rembrandt. Rembrandt reviews you.”