Inventur, Culture Hustlers, and Sandrine Schaefer
Inventur: Art in Germany, 1943-55—Harvard Art Museums
Five years in the making, Inventur examines German artistic production in the decade-plus of recovery after World War II. It takes its name from a Günter Eich poem that describes his meager belongings, including a “precious nail / I keep concealed / from coveting eyes.”
That sets the tone for the work from the ’40s, executed in whatever media could be scrounged. Ruins figure prominently. Jeanne Mammen rendered them in cubism on cardboard. Erwin Spuler painted them isometrically on plywood, the wreckage seeming to extend forever. Wilhelm Rudolph recorded the dismal scene that was Dresden in furious ink lines, piled up like a nest of heartbroken twigs.
Liberalization of markets and taste in the ’50s enlarged the possibilities. Standing out among the abstractionists is Hann Trier, whose woodcuts—carved from tennis racket casings—are lively and urgent. A drawing from 1956 has him working with two hands at once, in a frenzy, as if making up for lost time.
Show runs until 3.6. Harvard Art Museum, 32 Quincy St., Cambridge. harvardartmuseums.org
Culture Hustlers: Artists Minding Their Business—Mills Gallery
Most artists, if they ever had the management acumen to sustain a creative career, would have run the numbers, recognized the fiscal ridiculousness of it all, and entered another field. Lucas Spivey’s mission is to bring business education to them in a form they can comprehend: an exhibition.
He divides Mills Gallery using vinyl silhouettes of five American states. Each area features the work of an artist or team found there, samples of their production, and descriptions of their business model. They range from the sensible to the wacky. You can buy a copper ladle, joining handicraft with modern sensibilities, from Smith Shop in Detroit. You can also commission revenge raps from Derek Erdman of Chicago.
Spivey gathered this sampling over the course of a cross-country tour with a 1957 Shasta camper in tow as his office. His project is an unusual example of art that aims to mend the world in some way: It is lighthearted and optimistic, its goals are specific and modest, and it succeeds.
Show runs until 4.8. Mills Gallery, 539 Tremont St., Boston. bcaonline.org/visualarts/mills-gallery/hours-and-information.html
Sandrine Schaefer: Pace Investigations No. 6—Mobius, Watch Factory Riverwalk
On Dec 21, a scant crowd of humans, a stream of commuting vehicles, and a sliver of moon witnessed a series of gestures aimed at lighting fixtures, a goose-shaped hunting decoy, and the ground. The small audience, bundled against the cold, trekked back and forth for 105 minutes between the Watch Factory Riverwalk’s Northern and Southern docks, where Schaefer repeats a cycle of enigmatic actions at varying speeds.
An assistant handed out tiny flashlights. It was hard to see what was happening without them, or even with them. Schafer lit a candle in a corner and faced the sky. Eventually it blew out. Cars honked on a bridge nearby. It’s durational work, made up of many micro-durations.
A goose head emerged from Schafer’s jacket neck, forming an enormous goose shadow on the ground. The jacket stored other components: a rock that skidded on the ice, a mirror, heavy breathing. Schaefer handed out lit candles, requesting that they be cared for. A digital gong rang to mark the end.
Show runs until 6.21. Watch Factory Riverwalk, 185 Crescent St., Waltham (on the public walkway near the North Dock). mobius.org
These shorts are being simultaneously published at Delicious Line, deliciousline.org. Franklin Einspruch is the editor in chief of Delicious Line. Heather Kapplow is a Boston-based conceptual artist and writer, heatherkapplow.com.