The National Gallery of Art East Building ( could they not have rebranded while they were at it?) threw open its doors last weekend after a three year renovation. While hard to pinpoint, new gallery spaces have been added and the space does feels fresh.
Of course the iconic atrium has not changed. Thankfully, the space remains defined by the giant Calder mobile, but the 2,000 pound, 40 foot, woven Miro-inspired tapestry that adorned the large wall (Woman, 1977) as far back as I could remember, has, alas, been banished and replaced by a series of “Color Panels for a Large Wall” by Ellsworth Kelly (see below).
Roof tops are de rigeur in rapidly gentrifying Washington, and the East building does not dissapoint in this regard, but first, I felt like a kid in the candy store in the new Calder-filled gallery at the top.
Then, I stepped out into the new Pei-all-the-way roof deck that seems like it was simply a plan of the architects all along. The first thing you will see, and absolutely cannot miss, is a giant Anish Kapoor-blue cockerel by German artist Katharina Fritsch. The bird apparently flew over from Glenstone, one of the best-kept secrets in the Washington DC area and has taken roost overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. The giant cockerel is so not Washington but now, with the all the political posturing and strutting about we’re seeing this election, it is sadly, so Washington. But what is art if not to enrich and enliven and this giant bird feathered in such a deep delicious blue does just that. Don’t walk, strut, over to the gallery and take it all in…