I recently visited the contemporary art wing at the Baltimore Museum of Art, which opened in November 2012 after renovations. This visit was exciting for several reasons. First of all, this was my first time visiting the BMA because I did not know that admission is free, plus it was nice to leave Goucher for a few hours. It was also exciting because this was my first time going to an art museum with someone who studies art so I actually learned things and had an understanding of what I was looking at instead of thinking, “Oh yes, I think this is pretty.”
Toward the beginning of the wing, there were a series photographs taken by Oliver Herring called “Areas for Action.” For a month, volunteers came to Herring and took part in improvised performance art. Each picture is the result of these works. The photographs vary from a young girl covered in glitter to people spitting food coloring. What really makes this section interesting is the videos that accompany the photographs. They show the process of what Herring and his volunteers did. These videos helped emphasize the process and made the results much more stunning.
One of the most interesting parts of the exhibit was a piece commissioned by Sarah Oppenheimer that is intertwined throughout the wing. By using aluminum and reflective glass installed at different angles, museum-goers can view several galleries from unique angles. This piece is an interesting use of space as well as a creative way of incorporating art and architecture.
The Warhol exhibit was another intriguing part of the contemporary wing. According to its website, the BMA has one of the most extensive Warhol collections in the United States. I was actually surprised at how much Warhol was in this one room. One of his works that particularly stood out was a gigantic yellow print of the Last Supper. Another Warhol piece that stood out was a giant Rorschach inkblot that Warhol designed himself since he could not get a hold of an original test.
The contemporary wing has some very interesting sculptures in it. Olarfur Elisasson’s “Flower Observatory” is a particularly eye-catching structure. On the outside, it looks like a large metal sculpture made up of cones, however the inside looks like a kaleidoscope. Similarly to Oppenheimer’s piece, Elisasson’s work played with reflections as well as light. It was especially nice to stand so close to a piece without setting off any alarms.
In the past I have found it easy to just giggle at the ridiculousness of contemporary art; however, the BMA definitely changed my opinion of the style. Although the artists do not use the same classic techniques and presentations from the past, what they achieve is very impressive.