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Visual Arts

The Haas Brothers – Bright New World

The Los Angeles-based Haas twin brothers, Nikolai and Simon, are having a
banner year. “Madonna,” their first solo exhibition, perhaps the most cheerful, upbeat art show in New York City, recently opened at the Marianne Boesky Gallery on West 24th Street. Next, they will be the star attraction at Boesky’s Frieze London presentation.

five ton sculpture made of Portuguese Pele de Tigre marble
Madonna – installation view
courtesy of Marianne Boesky Gallery

A huge sculpture, weighing five tons and made of Portuguese Pele de Tigre marble, is the first thing you see as you enter the gallery. It is a monumental man’s hand that appears to be sinking and shrinking. What is it suppose to announce? One thought is that the artists’ view of masculinity is changing or at least requires new interpretations. Turn a corner and you are in the main gallery, not exactly a woman’s world, but a happy place, blazing with bright yellow walls, a fantasyland of biomorphic creatures, flora, and fauna that evoke femininity.

sculptures of fantasyland flora and fauna made with a variety of materials including colorful glass beadwork
Madonna – installation view
courtesy of Marianne Boesky Gallery

The immensely talented twins explore a variety of materials, especially beadwork. They were first introduced to beading in 2015 when they met a group of women artisans in a craft market in Cape Town, South Africa. Eventually, the brothers set up a women’s beading collaborative in South Africa and workshops in California. Some 50 women, known s the Haas sisters, worked on the glass beading in this incredibly tactile and playful show.

Along with beadwork, several sculptures demonstrate the brothers’ skill as master stone carvers, a skill they first learned from their father, Berthold Haas,
a painter and sculptor. Their mother, Emily Haas, is an established screenwriter.
The monumental stone work in this exhibition contrasts dramatically with the delicate, intricate, and finely detailed beadwork sculptures.

These contrasts make “Madonna” an eye-popping experience. “The art community rewards risk taking,” says Boesky. Once again, Marianne Boesky trusts that new and exciting work will be appreciated.

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