July 1, 2020
Galleries and museums are getting creative about presenting work online during the coronavirus crisis. Here are three shows worth viewing virtually.
Through July 24. Karma, 188 and 172 East Second Street, Manhattan; 212-390-8290,karmakarma.org (open by appointment).
Let me start with a disclaimer: Thaddeus Mosley’s sculptures are not best viewed virtually. Their hand-carved textures, beguiling balance of shape and form, and commanding presence don’t translate to digital images. But images are what we have (for now: art galleries, including Karma, have begun to reopen by appointment). And they give us an opportunity to meditate on his vital work.
Mr. Mosley, 93, began teaching himself to carve in the 1950s, inspired by displays of Scandinavian design. He continued while working a day job for the post office. A 1966 solo show at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh led to interest from New York galleries, but he “told them no,” he explained in an interview. Mr. Mosley has spent his life and career rooted in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, where he sources the wood for his art.
The exhibition, online as well as at Karma’s two locations, features 23 sculptures that both embrace and transcend their material. Taken as a whole, the most populous display looks like a forest, with the works’ grooves and marks recalling tree bark. Upon closer study, each one unfolds as a complex assembly of interlocking pieces, which sometimes, as in “Inclination” (2003), seem to defy gravity. Forms emerge — a gun in “Propelled Simulation” (2001), a pair of figures facing off in “Geometric Plateau” (2014) — remain suggested more than definitive. Mr. Mosley creates objects that feel natural yet mysterious, like handmade totems embedded with metaphysical knowledge.