Matthew Higgs

By Higgs, Matthew | Artforum International, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Matthew Higgs


Higgs, Matthew, Artforum International


1 "PACIFIC STANDARD TIME: ART IN L.A. 1945-1980" (VARIOUS VENUES) My 2011 ended with a weeklong road trip across Southern California, trying to take in as many as possible of the sixty-plus exhibitions in "Pacific Standard Time," arguably the most ambitious curatorial initiative of the twenty-first century. Highlights, too many to list here, included the second part of "It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973," a succinct account of Helene Winer's prescient two-year tenure as director of the Pomona College Museum of Art, and "Common Ground: Ceramics in Southern California 1945-1975," an illuminating and often wild survey of both studio and industrial ceramics at Pomona's American Museum of Ceramic Art. A decade in the making, "Pacific Standard Time," led and partly underwritten by the Getty Research Institute, is probably unrepeatable--but it's tempting to imagine what similarly scaled and equally ambitious curatorial surveys might reveal about the art produced in other locales during the same era.

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2 KLARA UDEN, S.A.D. (REENA SPAULINGS FINE ART, NEW YORK) The new year began with Liden's unforgettable installation S.A.D., 2012, a room tightly packed with abandoned Christmas trees that she had recovered and repurposed from the streets of New York. The titular acronym stands for "seasonal affective disorder," the "winter blues"--a phrase that perfectly articulates the profound melancholy the work induced. Among all the artists I can think of, Liden, and her deceptively casual work, best describes our present social, political, and emotional malaise.

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3 "ON KAWARA: DATE PAINTING(S) IN NEW YORK AND 136 OTHER CITIES" (DAVID ZWIRNER, NEW YORK) If I could own only one work of art, it would be a date painting from Kawara's ongoing "Today" series, whose workmanlike style has remained almost unchanged for nearly half a century. This extraordinary exhibition of more than 150 date paintings made between January 1966 and the present, arranged in chronological order throughout Zwirner's capacious galleries, felt like a once-in-a-lifetime event. With each passing year, Kawara's project gains in poignancy, so much so that it is hard to imagine that one day it will, inevitably, come to an end.

4 LUTZ BACHER (ALEX ZACHARY PETER CURRIE, NEW YORK; WHITNEY BIENNIAL, WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, NEW YORK) Over the past twenty-odd years, Bacher's work has slowly and persistently come into focus. For followers of Bacher's idiosyncratic approach to being an artist, 2012 was a vintage year, with her poetic and precise interventions into the Whitney Biennial and her J. G. Ballard--esque solo exhibition on the Upper East Side, where twenty-five tons of sand created the entirely plausible impression (pre-Sandy) that a nearby dune had somehow become untethered and drifted into Alex Zachary and Peter Currie's 1970s-era duplex space.

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5 JEREMY DELLER, SACRILEGE (5TH GLASGOW INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF VISUAL ART) Deller's life-size inflatable version of Stonehenge is perhaps the most successful work of public art I've ever encountered. Given that almost nothing is known about the origins and purpose of Britain's most beloved and celebrated prehistoric monument, Deller's homage--in the form of that pneumatic fairground attraction known colloquially as a "bouncy castle"--managed to amplify the elusive strangeness of the original site while simultaneously creating, literally, a public platform for unbridled fun. …

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