Today I went to the National Gallery to see the Afghanistan exhibit, because it's closing a week from Sunday. It was fine - the gold was really, really pretty - but, I don't know, it didn't blow me away.
What *was* exciting at the gallery today was the Martin Puryear retrospective. I'd never heard of this guy, but I'm a fan. He's a sculptor who works mainly in wood and makes big things, like sofa-sized and up. Most of the pieces have vaguely organic shapes. They're all lovely and warm and nice and beautifully made.
My favorite was a huge sculpture - it took up most of the space in one of the largest galleries - that was made up of a wheel, maybe 15 feet tall, attached by a very long pole to the top of a basket. (Go to the exhibit webpage, click on "gallery" and it's the second to last one in the series.)
I said to the guard, you know, I've been coming here since I was a kid, I know how to behave in museums, but I am *dying* to touch these things. He said, "You and everybody else." He said he thought the basket and wheel recall our agrarian roots, so we feel like we should be working with them. He also said he gets bored with some of the art he has to look at all day, but not this show.
Anyway, if you're in D.C., you've got until Sept 28. Go check it out! The main show is in the West Building, but there are a few pieces in the East Building, too, and one really cool one suspended in the rotunda of the West Building. If you're not in D.C., the show opens at SFMOMA in November!
Oh and to be complete, here's the tour for the Afghanistan exhibit: after here it goes to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and the Met in New York. It really is special stuff - in Afghanistan's decades of turmoil, a *lot* of priceless antiquities were destroyed. The national museum was bombed. Ancient statues are now neat piles of rubble in boxes. But a few treasures were hidden in vaults in the presidential palace, and that's the gold in this show.