Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shows for the Holidays: Blockbuster ifs and buts

My biweekly gallery column for the National Post focuses today on a few shows to see over the holidays--mainly last-chance-to-view blockbusters at some of our major museums. I enjoyed these shows, a few worthy "if, buts" notwithstanding. Here's an excerpt:

Vanity Fair Portraits at the Royal Ontario Museum
100 Queen's Park
Many museums were created to house ancient artifacts. So given the multiple title closures and mass layoffs at magazine megacorp Conde Nast this year, one wonders if this museum show focused on Vanity Fair -- one of its centrepiece titles -- merely seals the company's status as analog-media dinosaur. Indeed, brand booster-ism throughout the show, both in text and image, produces warranted skepticism of the exhibition's artistic merit. Nevertheless, there's a lot of lovely photographs here, ones that are all the more appealing for the famed-yet-familiar faces they detail. Films of glamour-photogs Edward Steichen and Annie Leibovitz at work are also worthwhile, showing it takes a village to raise a Young Hollywood issue. Ultimately, what resounds is the way that different photographers make celebrities their own. Nan Goldin's commissioned photograph of a young Rob Lowe, for instance, is almost indistinguishable from Goldin's famed art pics of lithe, party-friendly pals, while Helmut Newton's severe black-and-whites hone in on fetishes of sex and power no matter who his sitter is. To Jan. 3. (Closed Dec. 25.)

Image of the Vanity Fair show at the ROM from Seems Artless


mashley said...

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Looks like you are attracting some serious malware aficionados.

Leah Sandals said...

Mashley - indeed the malware seems to be loving me right now.

I haven't put a lot of restrictions on commenting, but I think I'll start now.