This imaginatively conceived exhibition takes its title from Champfleury’s 1867 short story of a similar name, whose protagonist, having lost his money, amasses memories of clouds and sunrises as he once amassed art objects. Curated by Valérie Rousseau and Barbara Safarova, the show is a heterogeneous gathering of works by 18 artists, each of which, in some way, relates to the heavens.
An accompanying catalog classifies the artworks according to their points of view. In pieces belonging to the first category, the sky is seen from the position of an earthbound observer. Under this heading are Henry Darger’s incantatory weather journals, and an abstract composition of radiating red and orange lines by contemporary painter Ann Pibal that conjures sunbeams breaking through clouds. The second grouping features aerial perspectives, as in Arthur Mole and John D. Thomas’s 1918 photograph of solders assembled to form a living picture of the Liberty Bell, and Zdenek Kosek’s maplike inked diagrams, through which he charts his effect on the world’s weather. And in the third category, works such as Janko Domsic’s Spirograph-like drawings of gigantic, see-through angels, their feet on the earth and their hands touching the sky, present the firmament as the focus of spiritual aspiration or a screen for otherworldly visions.
A bonus is the show’s inclusion of artists lesser-known in New York, among them Montreal photographer Alain Paiement, represented by an overhead view of a trashed room in a junkies’ squat, and indigenous Australian artist Dorothy Napangardi, in whose dream paintings gridded lines of dots trace the journeys of ancestral beings. Negating distinctions between insider and outsider, fine and vernacular, Rousseau and Safarova’s exhibition puts the emphasis on what matters most in art: visual interest, conviction and a singular perspective.—Anne Doran