ROCK THE VOLT
Famous artists take on the lightbulb
From the premise of many blond jokes to an object of utilitarian style, the lightbulb has certainly had an illustrious history. And now it's getting the artistic treatment at a new gallery exhibit.
"Burning, Bright: A Short History of the Light Bulb" runs through November 26 at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea and features work from major 20th-century visionaries like Jasper Johns and Man Ray as well as contemporary artists like Kiki Smith and Claes Oldenburg.
Many of the pieces explore the lightbulb as subject. Roy Lichtenstein's Lamp on a Table and Alexander Calder's Under the Lamplight, for instance, address ways of portraying artificial light. Meanwhile, Picasso's Nature Morte Sous la Lampe more directly looks at the implications of a lightbulb on an artist's iconic still life.
Other works (such as French-born sculptor Arman's flowerlike chandelier) use the bulb itself as artistic medium.
Our favorite pieces, however, are those with a sense of humor. We love Jeanne Silverthorne's trash can full of Bad Ideas--we're pretty sure that's what our brain looks like some days--and Ugo Rondinone's five-foot-tall hanging lightbulb that serves as a supersized reminder that proportion is everything.
"Burning, Bright: A Short History of the Light Bulb" runs through November 26 at the Pace Gallery, 545 W. 22nd St. (between 10th and 11th aves.); 212-989-4258 or thepacegallery.com