The Hirshhorn Museum of Art in Washington

The art galleries in Washington were amazing. Unfortunately, I could not do them justice only being there for four nights, but I spent my last day at the Hirshhorn Modern Art Museum and found it a revelation. Built in the round, it made for various interesting displays, although I was not always made aware of the buildings curve. One exhibition that made use of this facility was ‘Colour Wheel’ by Pat Steir. Large oblong canvases hung around an enormous circular gallery, each depicting in sequence the various colours of the wheel in vibrant dripping paint strokes. I noted a monumental perspective, which connected with the scale of the city outside the gallery.

I moved on to more and more galleries of artistic revelations, but the one that knocked me for six was a room where 13 enormous video screens hung. The video installation was a project made by Julian Rosefeldt b. Munich, 1965 called Manifesto – 2015. It was obviously a team undertaking of massive proportions depicting 13 films expressing the ethos of various art manifestos. Cate Blanchett who was terrific acted the main protagonist in each film, becoming unrecognisable ‘for instance’ as an angry tramp character which told a visceral story of Situationism.

Many of the ‘ism’s’ were new to me, such as Stridentism/creationism, yet the overall effect was spellbinding. Well, for me it was a unique experience. I perused other galleries – works that I had never seen before, by Duchamp, amongst others, but I remained mesmerised by the video effect.

On reflection it was as if art itself had subsumed me, rather than the mere results of its creators. Perhaps it was something to do with feeling in a strange place, and space, far away from home, or because of the circumference of the building adding a unique and slightly uncanny atmosphere to my perception. Whatever it was, I felt privileged to have had it. Thus I left Washington the next day to fly back to the UK feeling grateful that my trip to the States had gone so well. Now, I am especially pleased that I made it when I did, as travelling there now would be virtually impossible and unwise.

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