Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Oakes Twins at CUE Art Foundation

56th Street and 1st Avenue, NYC, 2006
Pen on concave paper

Concave Easel deployed in Millennium Park, Chicago, 2008

Concave Easel, 2004, Head Stabilizing Device added 2008

New York based artist’s, Ryan and Trevor Oakes, recently exhibited a series of drawings that grapple with an issue continually revisited by artists. Breaking artistic process down to the physical and technical level, the twins produce mechanically assisted drawings that capture an accurate spatial perspective as it appears to the human eye. Also exhibited in the space was their vehicle of production, “a customized, curved easel and attached, rotatable head rest,” as quoted from the exhibition’s press release. By using this tool, the artists could harness a split-image vision that allowed them to render the most complicated cityscapes on curved canvases that mimic the shape of the eye. The Concave Easel, as it is titled in the CUE Foundation, ultimately meshes the arts and sciences into a set of undeniably remarkable perspectival drawings. Before undermining the legitimacy of the mechanically produced cityscapes, it is important to note that even Van Gogh was known to rely on an innovative perspectival frame.

The exhibition space itself, located at 511 West 25th Street, failed to justly present the twin’s inventive exploration of perspective. Communication between viewer and artistic intent was practically nonexistent, as it was evident that several gallery-goers were unimpressed or did not take the exhibition seriously. Had there been a more effective dialogue between the audience and the body of work, perhaps highlighting the innovation of a timeless artistic convention in terms of physics and human spatial perspective, the exhibition would stand as strong as the body of work that is housed within. "The Oakes Twins" is on view through October 29th.


  1. You have a good introduction, which presents from the start a potential conflict in the artists' work and invites the reader to find a resolution in the following paragraph. You follow through on substantiating the issue by developing the idea of art and science combined. Your paragraph, however, ends on a bit of an awkward and very vague note - primarily you are assuming that the reader is disagreeing with you. Although it is strategic to acknoledge an opposing view, adding that sentence (which also makes use of a very vague example) you cause him to doubt whatever his initial response was (good or bad!). It is a great idea to put the method of these artists' work in line with some of the great names of past centuries, but you could be more specific! You could equate it to contemporary use of computer software or even Renaissance use of the camera obscura! The example of the'innovative perspectival frame' does not do justice to a potentially strong argument.
    Your 2nd paragraph is a bit weaker. I am somewhat led astray by the words 'communication between viewer and artistic intent' - how do you mean? how should artistic intent be communicated in such a space? what were the underlying flaws of such an exhibition space? You do make a great suggestion of how dialogue between viewer and artist may be established, but perhaps you could make your earlier points slightly more concrete to give us an idea of where your thought train is going.
    Also, I don't think you should make such strong, subjective assumptions about the viewers' lack of responsiveness to the work. Of course it may be the work's presentation, but their lack of interest may lie at the heart of their aesthetic preferences. It is safe to keep in mind both possibilities, and not make such far-reaching generalizations from a very small pool of people - you may be running into a sampling error.

  2. I think you did a great job choosing this show and your first paragraph starts out very well. Since this review is only 250 words, I would get rid of the unnecessary information such as: the exhibition location, date, and the reference of the device title. And instead I would consider adding examples to allow the reader to have a sense of what they will be seeing. Your connection between the historical point about Van Gogh and the perspective concept in the end of the paragraph was interesting. But I totally agree with Elizaveta in how it sounds vogue! I think you need to explain more why you mentioned that? I am also wondering what you thought of the technique? Do you think great artists need a tool to help them tracing the reality? Other than that, I liked your account on the exhibition space and how you integrate it to the audience response. But I think you need to rephrase the second paragraph and explain more why you thought it failed.