Hypnotic Hirshhorn

“Let’s go see some art, ” my friend suggested, “I’ll be at your house in twenty minutes. Pick a place.”

That was a tall order for my sleepy Saturday afternoon brain, but luckily some googling brought up a recent Post article on the “Gyroscope” exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum, and considering last week’s success with the Smithsonian, that was the winning choice.

“Gyroscope” is a rotating exhibit that highlights various works in seemingly haphazard groupings. It’s perfect for exploring a sort of “greater & lesser-known hits” of modern art. As you wander slowly through the rooms, the evocative pieces in various media are constantly challenging your eye.

Standouts for me were several skinny sculptures by Alberto Giacometti, a room of Francis Bacon’s luridly colored, eerie paintings, and an installation by Ann Hamilton called palimpsest.

It’s a small room filled with slips of yellowed paper – collections of memories – a beeswax floor that scents the room (to protect it, you have to wear dust booties to enter), and a glass case with snails slowly eating two cabbages. This piece divided my friend and I – he thought it was rather pretentious, and didn’t go in. I initially agreed with him, but then did go in. Once inside my feelings changed as the honeyed smell and the pencilled thoughts worked their introspective magic. The room took on an amber jewel-box allure.

Also intriguing was a multimedia piece that consisted of a short animated film projected from inside a medicine cabinet, images moving from the mundane to the imaginative as birds replaced bottles. I wish I’d noted the artist’s name, but by that point I was too hypnotised by the collection as we meandered quietly through…

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