The first time was when I saw Basquiat's Untitled (1981) at PAFA's In Private Hands: 200 Years in American Painting show in Philadelphia. Oh, man. What a painting. Speaking of PAFA, I want to mention the current exhibition by Creative Time board member Vic Muniz. A warm magic that moves backwards and forwards at the same time. Two rooms and well worth the trip to Philly. It didn't make me cry but I was in full art swoon. But I've really digressed.
As I was about to say before I interrupted myself . . . Jenny Holzer's For the City. Light. Beauty. Crying. All that.
When I returned from Philly on Friday night I went right over to the NY Public Library to see Holzer's projections of poetry onto the face of this iconic building. After the artist's having exposed our darkness on the side of the Bobst Library at NYU, it was a welcome sight to see the same light bearing light again as it had the first three nights at Rockefeller Center. It was a powerful experience to see poetry usually constrained to the interior of a building thrust upon its exterior. It made me think of what Patti Smith said about Mapplethorpe: "He found it was as easy to hurl beauty as anything else."
Whether she was reminding us of our capabilities of destruction or creation, for nine nights Jenny Holzer was hurling beauty against the walls of a city that is both here and gone. We could not have been more blessed.
Here are the pics.