“Between the Earth and Sky” at Kasmin Gallery (New York) until February 27th, 2021

Installation view. Image courtesy of Kasmin Gallery.

A show I hate to miss due to current travel ban is “Between the Earth and Sky” as Kasmin Gallery, running until February 27th, 2021 at their New York City gallery. Luckily the online presentation of the exhibition is on point and can be explored here. This cool show brings together 22 “monolithic” sculptures from across times and cultures. The core is formed by contemporary artists such as Udo Rondinone and Bosco Sodi, with additional works by modern masters such as Ernst and Noguchi, but what interest us more is the fitting presence of a “selection of premodern sculptures”, “that embrace the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds”. Personally, I remain unconvinced if the term “premodern” is a proper nomenclature, but that’s another discussion – most of these cultures in their sustainable way of living within their environment were much more modern than us!

From Africa, we find a classic funerary post from Madagascar and a nice Kota from Gabon, while Oceania is represented by a couple of aripa hook figures from Papua New Guinea and an Abelam ancestor figure. Concerning the installation we read:

Guided by the architectural logic of the space, Between the Earth and Sky consists of an immersive installation of a field of vertical sculptures, highlighting both the universality and the diversity of the form in contemporary, modern, and premodern works of art. The poured concrete ceiling of the gallery is divided by 20 frustum-shaped skylights, forming a grid of 10 x 10 ft squares on the polished concrete floor below. Each square hosts one sculpture that draws a line of sight from the ground up toward the sky, creating connections between the object and the viewer, heaven and earth, and the cardinal directions.

Through the above link it is possible to make a virtual visit of the show. Personally, I think the juxtaposition works very well and the selection is neat. For the “premodern” selection Kasmin Gallery collaborated with Damon Brandt, art dealer and curatorial consultant – and son of the famous gentleman-dealer Alan Brandt (1923-2002). In 2015 Jonathan Fogel wrote about the latter:

Alan had a varied career. Born in Brooklyn, early on he ran a public relations firm that worked with Harry Belafonte, Mike Wallace, and television programs such as Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo. He was a prolific lyricist who wrote songs that were recorded by Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Mel Torme, and Tony Bennett, among many others, and he had a brief onstage acting career in the late 1960s. In 1960 he began managing Henri Kamer’s gallery at 965 Madison Avenue. By the late 1960s, he began dealing with African art in his own right from his apartment at 44 West 77th Street, and became an important source for major works of African and Oceanic art in New York City. In 1998, when he was seventy-five, his first play was produced Off-Broadway.