Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hess Collection & Empire I

if you're looking for something to do over this holiday season, i recommend making the trip to the Hess Collection. art enthusiast, Donald Hess, has been amassing one of the finest private collections of contemporary art since 1966. currently on display, amidst the amazing campus of vines, wine & art, are some of Rauschenberg's pieces from different periods throughout his stellar & thought provoking career. my favorite among those on display, for free i might add, is Empire I. (which was showcased in a major Rauschenberg retrospective in 1997 at New York's Guggenheim Museum.)

Empire I, is a seminal work, both for the artist & for the direction of modern American art. brought to life in 1961, this piece explores the use of ordinary objects to portray (potentially) greater political & social narration. the brick that is attached, in a leash like manner, is imprinted with the word 'empire'. this found object was most likely etched by the original mason or masonry; which only fuels the speculation as to whether it was part of the inspiration or a serendipitous find along the way to achieving the final look of this brilliant work. i find the single wheel to be dialogue inducing. is the use of one wheel simply singular or is there a greater, almost easier definition of function or lack there of? it elicits visuals of a wheel barrow or perhaps that of a homeless cart, the last of ones belongings. the strong pull of sentiment & preconceived notions ring loudly from the star that appears on the inside of the hollow hole that hangs and the stripes that gleam upon the wood itself. these images can easily lead you down a path of American discourse.
i feel as though the images upon objects relate to, while at the same time contradict, the American dream. it's a beautiful piece of art to me because of the inner dialogues, questions & statements it may or may not make. some of those feelings are purely emotional, others stem from our own association of what those materials are & mean individually, as well as, what they convey when assembled into the finished project. on the subject of Rauschenberg's work, Hess once said that he, "...related to his incessant search for a challenge and was amazed by his innate ability to arrange ordinary objects in a way that looks so effortless and poetic. Rauschenberg was a master at making the complicated simple."

this collection stands as one of the best in the world. not only does the collection house this remarkable piece by Rauschenberg, it displays six other works spanning decades & mediums. for those of you who enjoy the spice of life that is variety, know that there are choice masterpieces from other artists such as: Anselm Kiefer, Robert Motherwell, Morris Louis, Andy Goldsworthy & a slough of other renowned names.

so whether you want a scenic drive, tasty wine or impeccable art, i suggest you take a day to explore the Hess Collection on Mt. Veeder to do it all in one serene location. the staff on hand is incredibly friendly & down to earth. even though this place ranks high on the social ladder, there is a refreshing lack of stuffiness amongst guests and employees. please find this place if you haven't already. you're sure to loose yourself in one way or another. enjoy!


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