Russell Ferguson

By Ferguson, Russell | Artforum International, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Russell Ferguson


Ferguson, Russell, Artforum International


1 "REQUIEM FOR THE SUN: THE ART OF MONO-HA" (BLUM & POE, LOS ANGELES; CURATED BY MIKA YOSHITAKE) This revelatory exhibition of work from 1968 to 1974 by artists associated with the Japanese movement Mono-ha ("School of Things") offered up extraordinary pieces (many of them remade for the exhibition), including Phase--Mother Earth, 1968/2012, Nobuo Sekine's huge cement cylinder that sits next to an identically sized hole in the ground; Paper. 1969/2012, Susumu Koshimizu's block of granite in a paper bag; and Cut-off, 1969/2007, Katsuro Yoshida's cotton-stuffed steel pipe. Together with its catalogue, this show was a welcome reminder of how much is still left out of the standard art-historical narrative. MoMA.S "Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde" will no doubt continue the process of revision.

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2 MERCE CUNNINGHAM DANCE COMPANY (PARK AVENUE ARMORY, NEW YORK) Any sadness from the end-of-an-era subtext to these farewell performances by Merce Cunningham's company was postponed in the face of the joyous dancing itself, technically thrilling and deeply emotional. With the performances playing out simultaneously over three stages, the huge space was filled with resonant, overlapping movement.

3 MATHIAS POLEDNA, A VILLAGE BY THE SEA (RAVEN ROW, LONDON) Poledna's new film, just under six minutes long and shot in the lushest 35-mm black-and-white, was his contribution to a two-person exhibition with Florian Pumhosl. An elegant couple performs the title song in a perfect re-creation of a luxurious 1930s interior. Outside their window, a city skyline shimmers. Suffused with glamour, the film is also painstakingly artificial and thoroughly melancholy. As with all of Poledna's work, every moment is considered, and every moment counts.

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4 "ENDS OF THE EARTH: LAND ART TO 1974" (THE GEFFEN CONTEMPORARY AT MOCA, LOS ANGELES; CURATED BY PHILIPP KAISER AND MIWON KWON) This intensively researched exhibition and publication rewrites the standard narratives of Land art, positioning it as an international phenomenon and, more radically, arguing that it was profoundly engaged with its representation in photography, film, and the press. This is exactly the kind of paradigm-shifting historical show that established Museum of Contemporary Art's international reputation, and it was an emphatic reminder that the future direction of this museum matters far beyond LA.

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5 "THE RENAISSANCE PORTRAIT FROM DONATELLO TO BELLINI" (METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK; CURATED BY KEITH CHRISTIANSEN AND STEFAN WEPPELMANN) This astonishing exhibition traced the passage of portraiture from emblematic profiles into startling individuation and intimate likeness. Superb works followed one after the other, and it was worth struggling through the crowds to come face-to-face with each of them. The canonical artists of the period were here, of course, but even less familiar figures, such as Francesco del Cossa, proved compelling. His Portrait of a Young Man with a Ring, ca. 1472-74, combined haughty reserve with touching intimacy.

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Co-organized with the Gemaldegalerie, Berlin, and also on view at the Bode Museum, Berlin.

6 JEFF WALL (MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK) Wall continues to make "near-documentary" images that, once seen, seem completely necessary. …

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