Journeys in New York – a trip to Beacon along the Hudson River

I took a trip on the metro North line from Grand Central Station in New York City to Beacon, a lovely town about eighty miles north. The train skirted the route of the Hudson River, and the views of the local landscape were astonishing. So too, the views of the many iron bridges that span the river along the way. The entire area is well-recognized for it’s architecture and engineering, and for anybody interested in bridges, as I have always been, a journey along the Hudson is not to be missed:
http://nyc-architecture.com/TEN/TEN-Bridges.htm

The Hudson River is famous for it’s history, especially with regard to the War of Independence. In April, 1778, a group of American Revolutionaries managed to string a cast iron chain across the river at West Point (famous for the West Point Military Academy). It sounds easy, but that chain was very heavy. Dubbed ‘General Washington’s Watch Chain’, it served it’s purpose well – no British ship managed to get through the unusual defensive strategy, and the stories of what happened to the chain subsequent to the War of Independence are legendary – see http://www.constitutionisland.org

The town of Beacon is home to Dia:Beacon – an extraordinary art gallery dedicated to abstract art and sculpture. The gallery is situated in an enormous building that used to house a Nabisco cracker factory, and is surround by luscious green grass and acres of trees http://www.diaart.org/sites/page/1/1003 The original building is red brick, with huge windows, pale wooden floors, and rows of north-facing glass in the mass-concrete roof – absolutely ideal for its purpose now – http://www.diaart.org/sites/main/beacon

The photographs were taken during my visit to Dia:Beacon. The Andy Warhol gallery is absolutely vast – with a row of invitingly plush couches down the centre of the room. The paintings are hung side by side all around the room, and the whole effect is calm and contemplative. The Flavin work is displayed at one end of the building, some of it alongside the original red brick factory walls and the huge windows, and the rest on purpose-built white walls, all of which serves his artistic vision extraordinarily well. Downstairs, there is a huge space dedicated to Richard Serra’s monumental works. I’ve always enjoyed interacting with Serra’s sculptures, and this room was the highlight of my visit. Walking in and around the work reminded me of Newgrange or Loughcrew in County Meath – there is something very ancient in Serra’s contemporary work.

It would be easy to overfill this vast space – which includes work by Beuys, Judd, Bourgeois, Kawara, le Witt, Nauman, and Agnes Martin – but the curators have resisted the urge to do that, and as a result, a visit to Dia:Beacon is refreshing, thought-provoking, inspiring and uplifting. What more could ask of a gallery space?

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About artanddiaspora

Art historian, curator, author, lecturer, visual artist, arts consultant. Insomniac. Early morning writer. Late night reader.
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