Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August 1, 2010: Washington - Sighting at the Farmer's Market, Hirshorn Museum

We spotted our new friend from Ripple at the Dupont Circle farmer's market (it was never entirely clear if he was the owner/chef/sommelier - he came by with our bottle of wine and chatted about where it was from, talked about shopping for green beans at the farmer's market, but he was definitely more than a waiter). We got a dozen eggs, some corn (which turned out to not be great - didn't seem that fresh), green beans, blueberries, peaches, and some fancy cheese. Happily it wasn't that hot, so we were able to enjoy strolling about and trying samples a bit more. We even tacked on a trip to the Whole Foods on P Street.

In the afternoon I went down to the Hirshorn Museum. It's a great building - a huge, formidable-looking cylinder that suddenly looks quite airy and light when you walk underneath into the central courtyard. The main exhibit was a retrospective of Yves Klein, who I only vaguely knew about from his signature use of ultramarine blue. He turned out to be quite fascinating: monochromatic paintings, development of and patenting of his particular shade of ultramarine blue, a fascinating with pattern-making both by imprints from human bodies and natural objects like sponges, flame paintings made by using gas torches and water leaving ephemeral markings on board, and selling 'experiences' with a payment made in gold, then throwing away half the earnings as part of the experience. And all by the age of 34, when he died of a heart attack.

The Hirshorn also had a good contemporary exhibit of Hiroshi Sugimoto photographs of the sea. I'd seen them before installed at the ROM in Toronto, where the annoying tendency of the tightly focused lights to vibrate with the passage of the subway underground (I blame this on the questionable construction of the new Crystal addition) was exceedingly distracting. Happily, the Hirshorn is more solidly constructed, and the long-exposure photographs of the ocean's surface were mesmerizing, glowing in the dark room. The photographs were paired with a video by Guido Van der Werve, a 24-hour time-lapse shot of him standing at the North Pole, rotating to the whole time to face his shadow ('The Day I Didn't Turn With The World' - great title).

Photos: View of the Mall from the Hirshorn viewing gallery; Kenneth Snelson's "Needle Tower" dismantled for repair; a view up "Needle Tower" not otherwise available; an eerily dark installation of Hiroshi Sugimoto photographs, all precisely lit to be glowing against the black walls

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