Tyler Green and the Nelson-Atkins’ Bloch Building

Tyler Green has a fantastic review of the impressive new Bloch Building at Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins museum, pictured here at night. Here’s part of what he wrote:

In the last few minutes of full daylight Holl’s building seemed to be as much a glass pile as museum’s main building is an Indiana limestone pile, only whiter and cleverer. But as the sun began to set, a couple things happened: The building lit up. It lost weight. It gave away a second set of secrets (more on that as the week goes on).

The young men playing flag football stopped and stared. Out of nowhere about half a dozen photographers materialized, tripods at the ready. A taxi drove up, stopped, and out ran a man with a digital camera. He ran around snapping snapping, and then jogged back to his cab. Kids rolled through on bikes — not privileged kids from the ritzy neighborhoods to the east of the museum, but city kids. The photographers and the yuppie football players treated the new building with reverence, but these kids rode their bikes right up to it. They touched it, tapped it, yelled , “Hey, it’s glass!” They parked their bikes and ran around the exceptional Mark Di Suvero that sits in front of the Bloch Building — which seems just right because Rumi reminds me of a whirling dervish.

He’s going to write more about the new building this week. Green has a refreshingly populist view of art criticism. His review on NPR of the new Getty Villa was excellent as well.

Though most art is bought and sold in New York, Los Angeles, or London, we shouldn’t mistake those places as the center of the art world. Really terrific art exists everywhere. Green’s account of the impact this new building has on the regular people who live in the area strikes me as unique and a breath of fresh air. I think the cosmopolitan idea of spreading art and its influence when done respectfully holds a lot of promise. But to be truly cosmopolitan art and antiquities should be enjoyed everywhere, not just in New York or London. I guess that is why I’m skeptical of a lot of the criticism heaped on the new Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas. The idea of a World-Class art institution in Arkansas strikes me as exciting. I should note for the purposes of full disclosure that I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas just a short drive from the Nelson-Atkins. It’s where I first started to like art, so I’m very excited to get back there and see what all the excitement is about.

Also, I personally get quite frustrated with the idea that there should be centers to the art world.

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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