Center Stage: Bill Viola’s art slows time to create mindful contemplation

Bill Violas The Fall into ParadisePerformers John Hay and Sarah Steben take part in Bill Viola's video art piece "The Fall into Paradise," part of his exhibit "The Moving Portrait" now featured at the National Portrait Gallery. COURTESY PHOTO

WASHINGTON D.C. — Moving pictures meet portraiture. Video, a popular media form used for almost any purpose, is rarely utilized for slow, perceptual contemplation often achieved in paintings or music.

Bill Viola’s work “The Moving Portrait” does exactly that. His work is more akin to portraiture rather than narrative stories often seen in video. His work focuses on facial language and slow-motion to allow a calmer, meditative attention to his footage.

These videos focus on the physical actions of his subjects rather than the promise of a narrative climax or conclusion to maintain interest. Examples include “The Raft”, a high-definition video projection of nineteen people suddenly hit by a high-pressure stream of water.


Center Stage: Getting on the “Hot Beat” at Smithsonian American Art

WASHINGTON — An exhibit of Gene Davis’ work “Hot Beat” is currently running at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. At “Hot Beat,” visitors can view Davis’ signature art, which is defined by his unprecedented use of multi-colored, rhythmic stripes.

The title of Davis’ exhibit is also the namesake of one of his artworks. “Hot Beat”, like many of his other paintings, has a repeating motif of one color surrounded by colors that pop out and play with the notions of the viewer.


Center Stage: Noguchi's art is perfect blend of the ancient and modern

WASHINGTON – At an exhibit entitled “Isamu Noguchi: Archaic/Modern”, the art of sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi is on display.

Noguchi, a biracial artist of western and Japanese descent built bridges between opposing ideas. Noguchi’s art reconciled the modernism of the 1960s and his own fascination of archaic structures. His art represented both western and Japanese themes, whether it was inspired by the ruins of Machu Picchu or Japanese lanterns.

His art, although sometimes comprised of simple geometric shapes, is not necessarily minimalist.

In each of his themes—outer space, the atomic age, his patents, or the landscape—there are many different, strong ideas represented through his fascination with ancient art pervading ideas of modernism.


Center Stage: A unique twist on contemporary art at Smithsonian


WASHINGTON D.C. – The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s “Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery” is an exhibit showcasing many different modes of art, with a unique twist.

Instead of ordering the art pieces by medium, artist, or time period into their own separate areas, “Connections” places the art randomly throughout the halls and connects each art piece with another through a common idea.

For example, next to the description of Viktor Schreckengost’s “Apocalypse ‘42”, a terracotta caricature of Hitler, Tojo, and Mussolini riding a berserk horse is a small icon of another art piece, “Batman 2”.

A dotted line leads to the “Batman” art in question: a full-body, knit costume by Mark Newport parodying Hollywood’s traditional view of the masculine superhero.


Center Stage: An exhibition of Romaine Brooks' revolutionary style

brooks ida rubinsteinRomaine Brooks' Ida Rubinstein.  PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  

WASHINGTON DC — The Smithsonian American Art Museum is holding an exhibition of Romaine Brooks, an early 20th century painter notable for her revolutionary depiction of women.

Unlike traditional paintings that depict female subjects with bright, flowery colors, Brooks’ paintings are characterized by her use of muted tones and portrayal of women in androgynous attire.

Brooks’ later works are notable for the bold outlines of her subjects mixed with lightly blended colors, giving her paintings a uniquely modern feel.

These techniques emphasize the assertive poses taken by many women in her paintings, allowing her subjects’ features to carry a distinct vibrancy that carries throughout her later works.

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