In a sense, this progression leads directly to Mangold's most recent series, the "PTTSAAES." These geometric compositions link all the others together and share at least some attributes with just about everything that Mangold had done before them.

The sci-fi-ish moniker of the series stands for a "Point Traveling Through Space at an Erratic Speed," with the overall shape of the linear and tubular forms meant to suggest movement in a static way. These sculptures are Mangold's solid, three-dimensional renditions of the imaginary trajectories of particles moving freely through the air. The pieces are reminiscent of scribbled but straight lines (not unlike those early works on paper) that zigzag from anchors in the floors or walls. The viewer is meant to imagine that the paths of the particles continue on forever in both directions.

The "PTTSAAES" are installed in the small gallery in the back and in the soaring atrium gallery in the center. The enormous "PTTSAAES 8/09" takes control of the space and rises up more than a story above our heads. It's finished in a shiny red, like a race car, and it lays out the preposterous journey of some speck of the imagination, culminating at the top in a point like a pyramid. Also in the atrium is a piece done about a year ago, extending along the east wall for many yards. It's made of stainless tubes that have been scratched into a Florentine-like finish. It was important for Parson to include something Mangold had just completed to demonstrate that after more than fifty years, he's still got it. Case closed: Parson proved it.

"Paper Anemotive Model," by Robert Mangold, mixed materials.
"Paper Anemotive Model," by Robert Mangold, mixed materials.

As is the case with the "Anemotives," there is a "PTTSAAES" outside, as well, but this one has been there for some time and has simply been drafted into duty as part of the show. It's also in a natural stainless finish that's covered with scratches.

Parson has also included Mangold's sketches, presentation drawings, press clippings, awards, citations and, last but not least, his study models in this show. These maquettes, some of which were never realized, are among the most beautiful and interesting pieces here. All of these elements enrich the show immensely and are just the tip of the iceberg, with Parson hauling out for me several portfolios and boxes filled with other drawings, posters and presentation photos that there just wasn't enough room for.

From my point of view, in the hierarchy of art exhibitions, the top rank is given over to the career retrospective, the apotheosis of the artist solo, which is what Time, Space and Motion: Robert Mangold Retrospective is. Oh, sure, the sweeping group show, organized along historical or topical lines, is often eye-dazzling and chock-full of insights — think of Blink! or Overthrown at the Denver Art Museum. But what could be more satisfying than seeing a mature artist's stylistic development laid bare in a sequence of aesthetic and intellectual moves that cover a span of decades?

Surely one of the top shows this season was the Birger Sandzén retrospective at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center that only recently closed. And the spectacular Dale Chisman fete at RedLine is still vivid in our collective memory. Let's add to this distinguished list the Mangold show at the Arvada Center. Let me put a fine point on it: If you plan to see one show in the next year, make it this one.

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