The art at the Albright-Knox has gone extreme. Where static, muted paintings once hung, paint is splattered, loud and colorful, and not just on the walls; expansive sculptures rest on the floor, screaming to be looked at. Any trace of the mundane has vanished, replaced instead by abstract shapes and boisterous color.
Suffice to say, this isn't the Albright you remember.
"Extreme Abstraction," on view to Oct. 2, takes over the entire gallery space, both literally and figuratively. Turning each corner often brings a new surprise and a new way of experiencing art -- stepping in it, sitting on it, watching it. Most of the work is playful, and some is interactive. On the first floor, a room full of black and white optical art demands to be looked at numerous ways. In other parts of the gallery, pieces are on the floor, experienced best when walked upon; a staircase is covered with colorful tape ("ZobopStairs," Jim Lambie), making an entrancing pattern, while close by an ethereal video installation by Jennifer Steinkamp is projected onto the floor. Artist Jim Isermann has even created patterned floor mats displayed at the entrance to the gallery.
The real bulk of the show is upstairs, though, where there are a number of highlights; an imposing metallic cube sculpture by artist Liz Larner sits right in the middle of the sculpture court, and Lynda Benglis' "Fallen Painting," made of rubber, is akin to a piece by Jackson Pollock gone horribly wrong.
In the small sculpture gallery, sculptor John Beech takes skateboarding as an inspiration with his Rolling Platforms series, which are both absurdly impractical and compelling -- sloppily painted, some platforms have far too many wheels while others have them in out-of-the-way places.
One of the most memorable pieces of the exhibit is Todd Brandt's truly bizarre piece "Deposit," created solely for the Albright Knox. A room is packed with about 32,000 plastic cream containers, each one filled with a different color paint. It soon becomes a landscape of circular colors -- extreme abstraction indeed.
However, "Extreme Abstraction" isn't only for contemporary art. Abstract expressionists and other artists from the '40s, '50s and beyond are also represented, showing the roots of today's abstract art. This show proves that color, energy, and fun are present in contemporary art, and extremely so!
Max Pitegoff is a senior at City Honors.