Magazine article Artforum International

Lynne Cooke

Magazine article Artforum International

Lynne Cooke

Article excerpt

1 Jorge Pardo (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) Pardo's visually stunning, conceptually provocative reinstallation of LACMA's collection of the art of the ancient Americas proved, predictably, a lightning rod for debate. Taking archaeological excavation as his leitmotif, Pardo embedded these artifacts in a bravura display: Richly hued vitrines seem to morph in response to visitors' movements through the three galleries, luring them into a closer engagement. Overhead, lamps with forms reminiscent of feathered headdresses or luxuriant tropical plants gently illuminate the space. A vast curtain--in tones that range from overripe orange to faded crimsons and desert greens--binds the whole in its sumptuous embrace, coupling the conventions of historical museum display with the ceremonial.

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2 "Poussin and Nature" (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) This extraordinary and unprecedented exhibition of Poussin's arcadian visions (organized by Keith Christiansen and Pierre Rosenberg) fit right into current discourse on the environment, while providing an elegiac reminder of what is no longer viable: an ennobled rendering of landscape that conveys moral truths. Cezanne claimed that, like Poussin, he too "would like to put reason in the grass and tears in the sky." Poussin's classicism may have less currency today, but his ambition in addressing the natural world remains timely.

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3 Richard Serra, Promenade (Grand Palais, Paris) and Clara-Clara (Jardin des Tuileries, Paris) Composed of five steel stelae, each some fifty feet high, Promenade created an enfilade whose charge stemmed from the way the vastness of this light-filled nineteenth-century space provided a coherent response to visitors' meanderings. Commissioned for the Grand Palais by the French State, Promenade also provided the occasion for the Louvre to reinstall Clara-Clara, 1983 (on loan from the City of Paris), in the Tuileries. Axially aligned with the Place de la Concorde and engaging the historical references of the built terrain, this landmark sculpture is among the best sited of Serra's urban works.

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4 Michael Asher (Santa Monica Museum of Art, CA) One of the venerable fathers of institutional critique, Asher wittily inverted its deconstructivist modes with his decision to rebuild every temporary wall ever constructed at the Santa Monica Museum over a decade of exhibitions. Navigation through his labyrinthine installation, with its densely impacted skeletal framework of metal studs and two-by-fours, proved a feat requiring far closer engagement with material infrastructure than in the artist's other recent work.

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5 The Collections of Barbara Bloom (Steidl/ICP) At best reassuringly dependable, at worst drearily predictable or even cynically expendable, most exhibition publications feel like deadweight. Not so The Collections of Barbara Bloom. Elegantly designed and exhaustively informative, it is graced with an incisive essay by the inimitable Dave Hickey. In deftly revamping the conventional catalogue raisonne, Bloom more than compensates those who failed to see her retrospective in either New York or Berlin.

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6 "Cecilia Edefalk: CECI'' (Lunds Konsthall, Sweden) A jewel in the history of postwar Swedish modernism, Lunds Konsthall is a rewarding site for any artist prepared to engage its diverse split-level spaces and varying degrees of natural light. Edefalk rose memorably to the occasion with a nuanced installation that threaded images--lost and found, two-and three-dimensional, anonymous and authored, classical and contemporary--into a haunting ensemble.

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7 "Robert Rauschenberg: Travelling '70-76" (Haus der Kunst, Munich, and other venues) and Robert Rauschenberg's set and costume designs for Merce Cunningham's XOVER (Barbican Centre, London) Beginning in 1992 with Walter Hopps's revealing show "Robert Rauschenberg: The Early 1950s," several subsequent exhibitions have traced key periods in this artist's fertile practice; almost all focused on the first part of his long career. …

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