Artforum International

An international contemporary art magazine covering sculpture, painting, mixed media, and installation works, as well as architecture, music, and popular culture. Includes artist interviews and reviews of individual artists and/or galleries; reviews of fi

Articles from Vol. 49, No. 10, Summer

AbEx and Disco Balls: In Defense of Abstract Expressionism II
I FEEL KIND OF BAD FOR AB-EX. At sixty-something, the old bird's gotten the gimlet eye from just about everybody: It's vulgar, it's the phallocracy, it's nothing but an empty trophy, it celebrates bourgeois subjectivity, it's a cold-war CIA front,...
Acting Out: The AB-EX Effect
THE WORLD WAS SUPPOSED TO END this past May, but we're still here. No Rapture, no Apocalypse. The same could be said of Abstract Expressionism: That dripping, demonstrative, unabashedly tactile practice has met its maker many times over. Yet its effects...
Acting the Part
"ARE THERE ANY READERS of ARTnews who wish to join me in sending a pair of sterling silver roller skates, suitably engraved, to Georges Mathieu so that he may redo his I WAS THERE dance routine of the Battle of Bouvines into a big Blitzkrieg production?"...
"A Hard, Merciless Light: The Worker-Photography Movement, 1926-1939": Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
AT FIRST GLANCE, it is not entirely obvious what the term worker-photography means. The phrase pivots on an enigmatic vinculum that, while insisting on a connection between the two words, fails to clarify the nature of this bond. Yet the question that...
Alice Channer: The Approach
Cascades of white silk satin drop from ceiling to floor to form Alice Channer's sculpture Tight Skin (all works 2011). Printed on the semitransparent fabric in delicate colors are enlarged images of snakeskin and lizard print, one borrowed from a stretched...
All-Time Favorites
BACK IN 1990, in an essay for the Oxford Art Journal, Griselda Pollock asked the question "What Can "We Say About Cezanne These Days?" Her answers--regarding the contributions that could be made through socio-historical, psychoanalytic, and feminist...
Alvin Baltrop: Third Streaming
Alvin Baltrop is that unsurprising wonder: an unsupported artist fully in touch with the preoccupations of his time. When he died of cancer at age fifty-five, in 2004, he had shown sporadically, at such places as the gay arts nonprofit the Glines,...
Andrei Molodkin: Galleria Pack
At the Fifty-Third Venice Biennale, Andrei Molodkin, a Russian-born artist living in Paris, made a splash with his installation Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black), 2009. Displayed in the Russian pavilion, it revealed the artist's signature...
"Are You Ready for TV?" Museu D'art Contemporani De Barcelona
"Are You Ready for TV?" is not the same old exhibition devoted to television. It is a complex, ambitious, and time-consuming experiment that critically explores the nature of an exhausted medium. If you expect this show to demonize TV as a mind-numbing...
Benjamin Patterson: Studio Museum in Harlem
Near the end of the 1960s, the artist, composer, and musician Benjamin Patterson began a twenty-year hiatus from making art, during which time he would live an "ordinary life"--but this in fact entailed several unusual careers: He was a the deputy...
Betty Woodman: Salon 94
Installations of Betty Woodman's works often have an element of theatricality, and in this exhibition, "Front/Back," her ceramic vase sculptures sang together like characters in an opera. Brilliantly united by their chromatic relationships, they evoked...
Christine Borland: Glasgow Sculpture Studios
With "Cast From Nature," Christine Borland continued her ongoing examination of medical practices, focusing on depersonalization and the use of teaching aids such as simulated patients. A residency at Glasgow Sculpture Studios allowed the artist an...
Dale Chisman: RedLine
Abstraction is central to the art history of Colorado. In 1948, fifteen progressive painters broke from the convention-bound Denver Artists Guild and organized their own exhibition, sparking such local newspaper headlines as "Modern vs. Traditional...
Depth Charge: Terry Winters Talks with John Elderfield about De Kooning
DESPITE THE UNDIMINISHED reputation of Willem de Kooning as one of America's preeminent gestural abstractionists, more than a quarter century has passed since his work was last afforded a comprehensive museum survey in the US. This fall, the Museum...
Don't Hold It against Me
LISTENING TO BRITNEY SPEARS's recent single "Hold It Against Me"--which launched this past January at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart--one can't help but think that aspects of its production and structural composition betray the year of its...
Dougal McKenzie: The Third Space Gallery
Dougal McKenzie's exhibition "Hot and Cool" explored both the continued significance of painting in an era characterized by the proliferation of screen imagery and the potential of history as a subject for painting. These concerns are neither new nor...
"Drawn from Photography": The Drawing Center
In 1927, critic Siegfried Kracauer wrote, "Never before has an age been so informed about itself, if being informed means having an image of objects that resembles them in a photographic sense." He didn't mean it as a compliment. To him, the seemingly...
Ellen Gronemeyer: Galerie Karin Guenther
Berlin-based artist Ellen Gronemeyer doesn't often show her paintings. But that's for good reason: Her pictures take time. She always works them over intensively, and her motifs emerge through this process. The small-format canvases in her recent show,...
Emil Michael Klein and Kaspar Muller: Circuit
Two artists, two rooms, five works each: Compare and contrast. At first glance, Emil Michael Klein's series seemed of a piece: a kind of allover (anti-)painting featuring decorous lattices of biomorphic shapes in a retro palette of Day-Glo orange,...
Emptied Gesture
REVIEWING THE 1961 PITTSBURGH TRIENNIAL in the pages of Art International, William Rubin lamented the shallow ubiquity of gestural abstraction within both the show and contemporary painting more broadly. "The dominant avant-garde mode of painting in...
Eyes in the Heat
IT IS 1946. The war has just ended, and Henri Michaux, an avant-garde poet turned painter, finds himself haunted by faces: "As soon as I pick up a pencil or a brush, ten, fifteen, twenty of them surge up to me on the paper one after the other. And...
Gabriele Di Matteo: Federico Luger
In the inventory of the Prado in Madrid, Velazquez's Las Meninas used to be called, rather, a "family portrait," and this is how Gabriele Di Matteo titled his exhibition: "Quadra di Famiglia." Five large replicas of the celebrated painting were exhibited...
General Idea: Musee D'Art Moderne De la Ville De Paris
According to Frank Zappa, "God made three big mistakes: The first mistake was called man. The second mistake was called wo-man. And the third mistake was the invention of the poodle." Seeing "Haute Culture: General Idea, Une retrospective 1969-1994"...
Geoffrey Farmer: Redcat
The stage is set and lights dimmed. Whenever you might have chosen to enter Geoffrey Farmer's complex theatrical environment Let's Make the Water Turn Black, 2011, the play had always already begun and you were late, again. Instead of actors, groups...
Glenn Ligon: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
THE LATE 1980s AND EARLY '90s is a time without a name. Eras become knowable after the fact: Only recently have scholars and younger artists turned their attention to that relatively undefined art-historical moment. The moment in question witnessed...
Hand Apart
THESE DAYS, artists don't paint with their fingers much--but since 2008, Albert Oehlen has not been afraid to get his hands dirty. To make his large-scale "Fingermalerei" (Finger Painting) works, the German artist jettisons the brush and instead applies...
Hans Hartung: Timothy Taylor Gallery
I never thought I'd have either the desire or the occasion to write about the paintings of Hans Hartung. No desire, because the few paintings I'd seen from his heyday in the 1950s, either on the walls of European museums or in the pages of art-history...
Heimo Zobernig
SINCE THE LATE 1970S, Heimo Zobernig has played a multilayered game, using a system of his own devising to pit various historical references, media, and artmaking strategies against one another. Deploying a reduced formal language based on basic geometric...
High Times
THE ARCHITECTURAL HISTORIAN Manfredo Tafuri famously claimed that "no better way exists of grasping what the American skyscraper is not than by studying how European culture has attempted to assimilate and translate [the skyscraper] into its own terms."...
Hope Ginsburg: Cue Art Foundation
Hope Ginsburg's ongoing work Sponge takes its title not from the cellulose rectangles found on supermarket shelves but from the marine animal, which, with its porosity, adaptability (its cells can repurpose themselves), and ability to attach itself...
James Siena: The Pace Gallery
For his third solo show at the Pace Gallery, James Siena assembled graphic paintings, prints, and drawings made in the past three years. Executing premeditated compositional directives freehand and using the slick combination of sign painter's enamel...
Joan Semmel: Alexander Gray Associates
I first encountered works by Joan Semmel during my undergraduate education, in an introductory contemporary art class. The slides I was shown were of those canvases for which the artist is best known, produced in the mid-1970s, that portray sexual...
John McCracken: Castello Di Rivoli
The Manica Lunga, or "long sleeve," of the Castello di Rivoli takes its name from its shape. It is a long, relatively narrow wing of the building--a corridor studded with windows. Although the exhibition space is usually difficult to handle, it might...
John Sparagana: Corbett vs. Dempsey
At first it's hard to get past the intricate method of slicing and assembling multiple sheets of paper (ink-jet prints, magazine pages) that goes into John Sparagana's process. By this I mean that the wow factor--the impressiveness of the works' labor-intensive...
Jutta Koether: Moderna Museet, Stockholm
AT THE ENTRANCE to Jutta Koether's exhibition at Moderna Museet, a sculptural arrangement greeted the visitor. Comprising a metallic red platform and a partially framed glass pane placed at an angle to a video projection, it suggested that one should...
Ken Lum: Vancouver Art Gallery
"It's no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching." This methodological imperative, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, is strangely instructive in thinking through Ken Lum's mid-career survey, currently on view at the Vancouver...
Kenneth Noland: Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Once upon a time we accepted the dialectical "begats" of modernism on simple faith: how Abstract Expressionism emerged from the academic regionalism (both urban and Midwestern) of the 1930s; how the gestural Abstract Expressionism of the '40s was replaced...
Kim Seob Boninsegni: Hard Hat
"Where is this famous word which is said to be so important in present art?" So asks an upside-down figure in a 2007 drawing by Kim Seob Boninsegni. His buddy, in a Rastafarian knitted cap, breezily answers with stoner precision: "Hey we have not arrived...
Landmarks Preservation
ONE OF THE MORE POPULAR of Barnett Newman's oft-quoted aphorisms goes like this: "What I'm saying is that my painting is physical and what I'm saying also is that my painting is metaphysical. What I'm also saying is that my life is physical and that...
Leilah Weinraub: Born and Raised in Los Angeles, Leilah Weinraub Is a Film Director Currently Based in New York, Where She Recently Performed Ideas: Present Them, a Lecture Series about Independent Inventors. Her Feature-Length Documentary Shakedown Is Scheduled to Premiere in 2012
1 FATIMA AL QADIRI Born in Senegal and raised in Kuwait, composer Fatima Al Qadiri uses a complex set of references to create her mostly electronic-based music. In addition to her current musical projects--Ayshay, CHLDRN, and Future Brown--Al Qadiri...
Mancunian Rhapsodies Catherine Wood on the Manchester International Festival
AMONG THE TWENTY-PLUS new works that will debut this July during the third iteration of the UK's biannual Manchester International Festival, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic carries the most alarming title. But not to worry: Despite the artist's...
Mario Garcia Torrers: 45 Orchard Street
In May at 45 Orchard Street--a vacant storefront on the Lower East Side serving as a temporary exhibition space for "Itinerant," a series of curatorial ventures orchestrated by Marian Goodman Gallery's Rose Lord and 303 Gallery's Mari Spirito--Mario...
Marzena Nowak: Salzburger Kunstverein
In video, installation, and painted works, Marzena Nowak presents the human body as the site of psychic sensations and states of excitement. In the past, the artist has used a phrase from Freud, "Die Psycheist ausgedehnt" (The psyche is expansive),...
Matheus Rocha Pitta
FOR ALL THE MYSTERY of the commodity--its "phantasmagoria," as Walter Benjamin put it, or its "magic and necromancy," per Karl Marx (1)--its convertibility is surely its most spectacular sleight of hand. Commodities are at once solid things and ineffable...
Max Kozloff: Higher Pictures
Max Kozloff, once the executive editor of this magazine, is best known for his writings on modern art. Much of this work has explicitly focused on photography, a subject upon which he has trained his formidable intellect almost exclusively since the...
Milton Babbitt: (1916-2011)
BABBITT. For decades, that bouncy disyllabic signified two things: a man who was one of the most engaging presences in the New York musical world--composer, theorist, teacher (at Princeton and Juilliard); connoisseur of popular song from the golden...
One-Eyed Jack
WHEN I WALKED INTO the first gallery of the "Abstract Expressionist New York" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, I was stopped in my tracks by a green dwarf, waving to me from the back corner of the room. Actually it was a painting...
Out of School
THE TITLE IS A FALSE LEAD. Academy alludes to a tradition, a school, a set of accepted practices. Yet it is attached to a painting that writes itself out of art school and finds instead a territory unoccupied by official precepts or proscriptions....
Pablo Guardiola: Romer Young Gallery
Images of tree-lined beaches, oceanside resorts, and cityscapes limned by blue-water coastlines--these were some of the subjects of "Jet Travel," Pablo Guardiola's first solo exhibition at Romer Young Gallery. Rephotographing vintage postcards and...
Pablo Sigg: Ltd Los Angeles
In his 2010 essay "Tuymans, Loyola, Leibniz," Mexico City--based artist Pablo Sigg describes painter Luc Tuymans's canvases as involving a "suspension of the surface that is separated from the depth and weight of matter." The same could read as a description...
Per Billgren and Leigh Ledare: Reception
"Something Might Have Been Better Than Nothing ..." was the suggestive title of a two-person exhibition by Per Billgren and Leigh Ledare, childhood friends from Seattle and former art school classmates at Columbia University. It sounds like an oblique...
"Perverted Minimalism Nr. 2": Galerie Jahn Baaderstrasse
If you take the phrase "Perverted Minimalism" at face value, then the four artists in this group show which they themselves initiated--Claudia Djabbari, Hedwig Eberle, Anna Friedel, and Franka KaBner--are doing something twisted with a classic art...
Playing the Field
IT'S BEEN A WHILE since architects talked about paintings. The long relationship between the two disciplines--one that ran from their premodern symbiosis through modern architecture's entanglements with Purism, Constructivism, and De Stijl up to postmodernism's...
Rachel Whiteread: Luhring Augustine
Rachel Whiteread's basic project--to give substance to the void and endurance to the transitory, to fill in the blank--is both realized and contradicted by the main group of works in this show, which put clarity and color to ethereal effect. Whiteread's...
"Recovering Beauty: The 1990s in Buenos Aires": The Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin
Frankly, there is little beauty to be found in "Recovering Beauty: The 1990s in Buenos Aires," a survey of seventy works by thirteen representatives of one of the first post-dictatorship artistic formations in Argentina. Loosely known as the "Grupo...
"Reproductive Labour": The Showroom
Cinenova is a UK-based distributor of films and videos by women. Its complete collection--with works dating from 1920 to 2000 and ranging from artist's films to documentary and educational videos to narrative feature films--was presented for viewing...
Richard Hawkins: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, Richard Hawkins has emerged as a standard-bearer for a still-living tradition of renegade Los Angeles art. His work remains at best haphazardly known, making it an ideal candidate for the kind of elucidation and contextualization...
Robert Heinecken: Marc Selwyn Fine Art/Cherry and Martin
Employing sophisticated strategies of appropriation and montage, Robert Heinecken (1931-2006) developed a practice that anticipated the exploration of identity and mass media subsequently taken up by many younger artists, in particular, those associated...
Sharjah Biennial 10: Sharjah Art Museum and Other Venues, UAE
IN RETROSPECT, the curators of the Tenth Sharjah Biennial were probably asking for trouble when they decided to create an exhibition about conspiracy, subversion, and betrayal in one of the purest autocracies on earth. Suzanne Cotter, Rasha Salti,...
Sheela Gowda: Iniva
Stepping into Bangalore-based Sheela Gowda's first solo show in London, "Therein & Besides," organized by Iniva's senior curator, Grant Watson, one had to abandon the pose of the casual bystander. Two installations--Of All People, 2011, and Collateral,...
Sheila Hicks: Institute of Contemporary Art
Vanishing Yellow (1964/2004) is very small, at least in comparison to the many works Sheila Hicks has made whose scale verges on the architectural. Yet, at barely 9 x 8 inches, this simple cotton-thread composition exemplifies the genius of the seventy-seven-year-old...
Signal Processing
I. CONVERTIBLE SIGNS Jackson Pollock's The She-Wolf, 1943, was the first painting one saw on entering "Abstract Expressionist New York" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York this past winter. As a compendium of signs, this canvas was an apt introduction--practically...
Singapore Biennale 2011: Various Venues
The Third Singapore Biennale, titled "Open House" and organized by curators Trevor Smith and Russell Storer under the creative direction of Matthew Ngui, attempted to delineate concepts of home and process within artistic practice. As an exhibition,...
Sonia Delaunay: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
In the first decade of the twentieth century, Robert and Sonia Delaunay together developed what their friend Apollinaire would baptize "Orphism" and what the couple named "Simultaneism"--the infusing of Cubism's fractured planes with side-by-side,...
Spatter and Daub
The Abstract Expressionists often insisted that their work had a subject, which meant that it was neither abstract (in the sense of being nonrepresentational, purely formal) nor expressive (in the sense of being immediate, crylike). The term must have...
Spring Rain
IN THESE DAYS of the Arab Spring, paradoxically hovering between revolution and repression, there is much hand-wringing in the global art world. Protests and petitions against arrests, dismissals, censorship, and labor rights have erupted, targeting...
Stain Resistance
EACH OF THE EIGHT LARGE PAINTINGS--all Untitled, 2011-that Christopher Wool is showing at this year's Venice Biennale is dominated by a bulbous central blotch, taller than it is wide. Yet it feels wrong to call these looming blotches "shapes": They...
Suh Yongsun: Hakgojae Gallery
New York subway riders waiting at the Union Square station, cafe-goers in Melbourne, and the environs of the Brandenburg Gate appear as subjects among thirty-six paintings and six sculptures by Suh Yongsun at the Hakgojae Gallery. The style is a mix...
Talia Chetrit: Renwick Gallery
There was nothing outwardly difficult about Talia Chetrit's second New York solo show; eight modestly scaled, soberly framed black-and-white photographs--all but one made this year--ranged evenly around the walls of a small gallery. The prints themselves...
Thornton Dial: Andrew Edlin Gallery
A former bricklayer, carpenter, and welder, Thornton Dial is an Alabama-based, self-taught artist known for his masterful assemblages and paintings--and his paintings are, in effect, wall-mounted assemblages. Featuring scavenged debris organized "formally"...
Thu Van Tran: Galerie Martine Aboucaya
La Tache, the French translation of Philip Roth's novel The Human Stain (2000), a gripping confrontation of race, religion, academia, and the Vietnam War in late-twentieth-century America, provided the title and starting point for Vietnamese-born artist...
Tube Boobs
ONE WEEKEND IN FEBRUARY 1969, the painter Wynn Chamberlain and his wife, Sally, were snowbound in their upstate New York cottage. There was nothing to do but watch television. As they switched from channel to channel, they were overwhelmed by the banality...
"Unpainted Paintings": Luxembourg & Dayan
Writing in Art News in 1958, Allan Kaprow eulogized Jackson Pollock, arguing that his "near destruction" of customary painting obliged its reevaluation, less as a medium than as a framework for conveying a multiplicity of sensory experiences. In a...
Until the Day Dawn
"IN MY COUNTRY, people ride around with guns in their cars," Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu remarked at last fall's New York Film Festival, by way of explaining how close to ordinary the protagonist of his extraordinary new movie Aurora is and, perhaps,...
Valerie Blass: Parisian Laundry
The sculptural modus operandi of Valerie Blass is hardly an unfamiliar one these days: She makes assemblages out of a wide repertoire of everyday objects and materials; the play of the Montreal-based artist's perception and invention reveals itself...