The Rose Art Museum has finally opened its fabulous collection of art this fall. The major exhibits feature artists like Mark Bradford, Magnus Plessen and Alex Hubbard, as well as some paintings from the Rose’s collection.
The entrance of the Rose now presents Chris Burden’s “Light of Reason,” consisting of three large rows of Victorian lamp posts, the addition of which has definitely been meaningful. It lights the usually unlit area of campus and brings a new focus to the area near the museum.
The first work of art in the Rose that can be seen from the outside is Jenny Holzer’s “STAVE.” Holzer designed a piece with LED lights that flashes quotes from the interrogation of prisoners of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She makes a poignant and well-presented point, which catches your attention from outside the museum itself. Holzer’s art is a part of the Rose’s initiative to display work by influential female artists. The Lee Gallery has been dedicated to this project. Elizabeth Murray’s “Duck Tales” is a large painting that takes up one entire wall in the wing. Its use of warm colors is extremely captivating and the ambiguous nature of the subject adds even more charm to the painting. Sharing this gallery space is Alex Hubbard’s video art piece titled “Annotated Plans For Evacuation.” It is a six-minute-long looped video that involves the artist making changes to the structure of his 1988 Ford Tempo by adding objects like cardboard, putty, barrels and such to it and then attempting to move the car forward. He crafts all the changes made in the structure of the elements in the video. The piece is technical and artful; it acts as a slight contrast to the gallery it is featured in, which works well with the layout.
The first floor of the Rose has been dedicated to Mark Bradford’s “Sea Monsters” exhibit. It contains five large canvasses and a number of large ornamental sculptures made of ocean buoys covered in a papier-mache style. The recently completed collection has been inspired by the concept of Renaissance cartography and uses some of those techniques to present a delightful fair of color. The paintings are named after various sea-related objects that act as an abstract tribute to societal conditions. The one I found most fascinating was titled, “Winged Turtle,” a chaotic burst of color on a black background.
At the back of the museum, the wall of the passage leading down to the lower gallery as well as the stairs has now been covered with graffiti-like posters, an interesting change from last year, which fits perfectly with the theme of the art this time around. Most of the lower gallery is closed since the John Altoon installation that it is supposed to be located there won’t arrive until Oct. 8. A small part of the lower gallery now holds some pieces from the Rose’s Collection in Focus, but it will only be there throughout the weekend. The collection includes paintings like Adolph Gottlieb’s “Rising,” James Brooks’ “Rodado” and Robert Rauschenberg’s “Second Time Painting” which has a clock jutting out of canvas. Hans Hoffman’s “Arcade” is a two-canvas piece with the lower part filled with dots of vibrant color while the top part has a large black blotch.
The Lower Rose Gallery features Magnus Plessen’s artwork. The walls of the gallery have been painted black to highlight the color and structure of Plessen’s art, which focuses on American soldiers returning from World War I, and it works brilliantly for that purpose. Plessen draws inspiration from war and brutality to produce a collection, which is a lesson in color, fluidity and abstraction. Each piece in the collection is marvelously unique and tells its own story that is powerful and engaging. A common theme for all the paintings is a skull-like figure that adds to the meaning of the art. As someone who was earlier unfamiliar with Plessen’s work, I left the gallery enchanted by his work. To focus on the aspect of war prevalent in the paintings, the museum also screens an early anti-war film in the corner. This section of the museum is perfectly curated, from the color of the walls and furniture and the use of video and photographs alongside the art; the end result shows the brilliant work of the minds behind the Rose.
The museum’s collection this fall is a must-see for every member of the Brandeis community for its color, vibrancy and general excellence.