A comparison of works by Allan McCollum and Carel Balth and an investigation of the meaning of still photos made from moving images. Presented at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, January 13, 2012 in conjunction with the exhibition “Videowatercolors: Carel Balth Among His Contemporaries,” curated by Professor Marek Wieczorek With thanks to Professor Wieczorek...
Gardens Contained and Floating
I am very proud to be a part of the Singapore-based UNDERSCORE Magazine, a beautiful publication “attuned to a simple rhythm;quality of life.” With every issue, UNDERSCORE surprises me with its glorious design and lush writing. The magazine also includes work by young creatives from all over the world, and I am grateful to be included in the mix. UNDERSCORE No. 3: THE FIGHT ISSUE...
The Seattle Scene
Please excuse the lull in postings. I’ve recently relocated from Greenpoint, Brooklyn to beautiful Seattle, Washington. With the change of scenery, this blog will surely take on a slightly different shape. In the meantime, I’m happy to receive tips you might be willing to share on the art scene in my newly adopted city. Please send any inside scoop to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BBC Your Paintings
Art belongs to everyone. This fact is bolstered by the continual (though increasingly threatened) support for the public experience of art by international governments, public museums, and cultural policy-makers, and the subject of access to art has provoked passionate discourse for hundreds of years. Ideas about the freedom of art have been alternatively impacted by morality, politics,...
Walt Kuhn's "Dressing Room"
A few months ago, I began giving a tour of American portrait painting at the Brooklyn Museum. The tour, titled “Fantasy and Reality in American Identities,” includes nine paintings in the Museum’s collection of American art. Though I find all nine works to be fascinating and valuable cultural documents, I must say that my very favorite painting in the collection is the last one I discuss on my...
Bye Bye Kitty!!!
When someone with only a peripheral knowledge of Japanese art is asked to think about the visual culture of Japan, a few themes might come to mind: nature, history, tradition, and cuteness. A lay discussion of Japanese contemporary art is generally influenced by Hello Kitty and 19th century woodblock prints in equal measure. The art of an entire culture is surely not contained by the two...
Minimalist director Kelly Reichardt has a certain predilection for wanderers in Oregon. In her film Old Joy (2006), two friends share a quiet hike through the Cascade mountains—weekend warriors fighting through a fog of regrets on their way to a secret hot spring. Her next picture, Wendy and Lucy (2008), is the agonizing story of a destitute young woman and her dog who are left stranded in...
Can there be love without sentimentality? What happens when biology and reason, instead of emotion or desire, are the driving forces in a person’s world? ATTENBERG, a new film by Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari, asks these questions while simultaneously riding on the new wave of cutting-edge contemporary Greek cinema. Featured as a selection in this year’s New Directors/New Films series at...
The Andy Warhol Monument
Yesterday, a fitting monument to Andy Warhol was unveiled in Union Square, not far from the site of the Factory at 33 Union Square West. The chrome-plated sculpture by Rob Pruitt is lovingly exact—it is clearly Warhol at his best. With a Polaroid camera around his neck and a Bloomingdale’s shopping bag in his hand, he is at the ready to take your picture at a party and leave you with...
On John Ruskin
These words, written by John Ruskin in Modern Painters in 1843, make for a succinct meditation on art and experience. Although Ruskin was urging young British artists to paint in nature and to paint honestly (while championing the work of JMW Turner), I’ve been thinking about this idea in a larger way. I believe that Ruskin’s words can effectively be applied to experiencing...
Kansas and Shrigley
In the wake of the recession and steep governmental budget cuts, many states are cutting arts funding. Both Michigan and Texas are looking to zero out arts budgets, but Kansas may be the first state which has succeeded. On February 7, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback killed the Kansas Arts Commission. Before the cuts, the Commission funded music, theater and art education for groups all across the...
FRED Talks: “The Invention of Children’s Clothing,” January 9, 2011 In January I had the pleasure of giving a lecture on the invention of children’s clothing at FRED Talks, a series of presentations based on the TED model which is run out of the cooperative at 3B Brooklyn. Through the course of my talk, I discussed the invention of childhood and the impact of...
(Originally written as a guest contribution for the Textile Art Center blog) Textile arts are rarely associated with the stillness, quietude, and self-conscious theatricality of minimalism and post-modernism. Often the phrase “textile arts” erroneously encourages on to conjure visions of patchwork, crazy quilts, and large swaths of bright weavings. One of the great successes of the Textile Art...
Grain of Emptiness
“Historically, Buddhist art has reflected the concepts of the Buddhist canon. What is interesting is the manner in which artists today internalize these concepts to create new art forms.”—Martin Brauen Some of the most moving and memorable works of contemporary art are those which are least tangible. I’ve found works like Paul Chan’s digital projections and James...
Esther Pearl Watson is a gifted painter, illustrator, and comics artist. Her lovely and naïve paintings of life in a small Texas town are poetic and layered in meaning. But, to most of her fans, Watson is better known for her illustration and comics than she is for her sweet and imaginative paintings. Once every couple months, I go to the newsstand to ecstatically paw at the new issue of BUST...
Japan Fashion Now
Japan has experienced countless revolutions in its material culture since the opening of Japan to the West by Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1853. Before Perry visited the nation on behalf of the Fillmore administration, Japan was pure, isolated, and left to its own devices in terms of aesthetic development. In 1854, the Treaty of Kanagawa confirmed the opening of Japan to the West and marked an...
Last week, MoMA presented the premier of Sharon Lockhart’s new film Double Tide (2009), a piece of endurance cinema meditating on labor, pace, and time. The 99-minute film, composed slowly of two long takes, is an intentional and contemplative portrait of a woman digging clams in Maine ocean mudflats. The film was made during a period in which a low tide occurs twice in daylight hours—once at...
Houdini and Contemporary Art
At the mention of Harry Houdini, one clearly envisions images of magic, impossibility, and sheer captivation. Even members of the millennial generation are prone to feeling remarkably moved, shocked, and inspired by archival films of Houdini’s performances. His legacy shows no sign of fading, and his great escapes have inspired countless tributes, impersonations, books, and films. Houdini’s life...
Tom Davie: Typographic
Tom Davie’s typographic posters are rare in their beauty and thoughtful consideration of type. For those of us who appreciate aesthetics and the meaning of content and form, his work is a rare gem. Davie is an artist, graphic designer and design educator whose work can be found at studiotwentysix2. As someone who works more on the editorial side of the arts, I find his posters to be...
Some artists mine great works from the world as it is. Others are able to reach through blackness, stars, and the typology of all creatures to show an imagined world. These imagined places have been built throughout the history of art, from the painted moral playgrounds of Hieronymus Bosch to the physical cells of Louise Bourgeois. Brooklyn artist Fred Tomaselli creates worlds, though his are...
David Shrigley at Anton Kern
Humor is sometimes overlooked as a significant aspect of contemporary art. But because art is so often visceral, it isn’t a surprise that wit is just as evident as violence and depravity in new artworks. Many artists today are using humor inventively, pushing the boundaries of both acceptability and standard practice. Some good examples of humorist/artists include Maurizio Cattelan, whose most...
Logos and Contemporary Art
Art and commerce react to society in tandem. Both facets of visual culture transform as cultural touchstones flex and shift. While art persistently desires to provoke and comment on culture, some elements of consumerism take the opposite tack: they stoke the engines of what we buy, sell, and desire—they form the basis of the culture which is so widely challenged by fine arts. Contemporary...
Wiseman at The Store
Throughout 2010, the Museum of Modern Art in New York is presenting a comprehensive survey of films by Frederick Wiseman. Celebrating the recent acquisition of many new prints of Wiseman films, the MoMA is screening a few films each month until the end of the year. So far, many well-known and controversial Wiseman films screened at the MoMA have included Basic Training (1971), Primate (1974),...
While recently reading some art magazines from the 1930s, I came across the work of Alexander Deineka, a wonderful Soviet painter whose works I hadn’t seen before. There’s something incredibly seductive about Deineka’s paintings from the 1930s— although he later became synonymous with propaganda works celebrating proletariat workers and the Red Army, his earlier works...
To fully appreciate and succumb to Rivane Neuenschwander’s art, the viewer must say “yes.” Neuenschwander’s works, ethereal, intelligent, and quiet, all thrive in an environment of acceptance and gratitude. In the contemporary art world where money trumps mindfulness, the Brazilian conceptualist’s work is refreshing and humane. In Neuenschwander’s first museum survey, “Rivane Neuenschwander: A...
“Goldbatt’s way was always to go deeper, to find an oblique angle that went right to the heart of the matter: an image bespeaking loneliness, stunted aspiration, fragile pride on both sides of the racial divide, not infrequently with an intimation of imminent violence, or its result.”- Joseph Lelyveld, the New York Review of Books David Goldblatt is one of South Africa’s most highly...
Greater New York
You are young. You are making new art. You are drunk with energy. You are probably an emerging artist in New York City. “Greater New York,” the current survey of emerging New York artists at P.S. 1, both praises and questions the status of new work being made in our nation’s art capital. Unfortunately, the dizzying showcase is more invested in shock and revulsion than it is...
Dead or Alive
Living in an exceedingly inorganic world has pushed contemporary art towards the sphere of natural materials. In pursuit of the new, and in pursuit of the not seen, some artists now turn towards anti-technological methods and materials. Using natural substances, like hair, bones, fur, and feathers, more and more contemporary artists assert their visions of the new. “Dead or Alive”...
The Museum of Modern Art is currently screening its thirty-first annual showcase of contemporary German cinema. Under the banner “Kino! 2010,” the series highlights new German films at their first New York screenings, fresh from the Hof and Berlin film festivals. Included in the survey of new German feature films is a series of shorts from German film schools. A dozen films were...
It’s springtime. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and even the Brooklyn-Queens expressway seems to hum with refreshed energy. Indoors, away from the sunshine and reverie, Maira Kalman’s work brings springtime to bookshelves and computer screens, even in the dead of winter. An established force in design and illustration, Maira Kalman so perfectly evokes the joy and humor that best suits...
Chatroulette as Art
Will Chatroulette have an impact on our culture? Since its creation three months ago by a 17-year old boy in Moscow, the simple video chat program has become a source of fascination for millions. The program is basic and spare: upon logging onto the Chatroulette website, a visitor is greeted by two boxes, one labeled “Stranger,” the other labeled “You.” By clicking the...
Bonham's European Sale
Last night I visited the preview of the Bonhams European Paintings sale with a group of Courtauld alumnae/i. Occupying the former space of the Dahesh Museum of Art in the IBM Building, the new Bonhams space is ideally suited for the incredible collection of works currently on display. The sale, which takes place April 21st, is full of surprising, strange, and beautiful pictures. Standout works...
A Humanist Biennial
In recent years, the Whitney Biennial has come to be associated with shallow, grandiose, and grotesque gestures. Every other year, the Marcel Breuer-designed modernist building on Madison Avenue fills itself with works which beg the question, “But is it art?” Cynicism routinely holds court with barbarism, often provoking visitors to wonder if the curatorial staff are not having a laugh at the...
Talking About Otto Dix
I’m Lauren Palmor, writer of The Art Object, in conversation with Jordan Rothlein, NY DJ and music journalist. Coming from an art history background, I enjoy discussing artists and exhibitions with people in other fields. These conversations often bring up new ideas, parallel practices, and general questions which may not present themselves when art historians speak solely amongst...
Otto Dix at the Neue Galerie
In the wake of World War I, Germany was a playground of excess, viciousness, and sin. The war wounded mixed with prostitutes, and cabaret girls were household names. Red lips kissed scarred faces, and the music played loud and carelessly. Anything worthwhile happened at night, and artists were on hand to document any seediness, desperation, and violence which showed its face. Otto Dix...
Za Zelazna Brama
Had the modernist visions of Robert Moses and Le Corbusier been fully realized, the urban residential environment might be drastically different today. Instead, many past utopian visions for post-modern apartment life have not fulfilled their initial vision. The incredible cages of towering blocks found in most large cities have led to violence, crime, and acts of aggression in their...
Size Does Matter
Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Harold Koda, Okwui Enwezor, and Shaquille O’Neal. Finally, we can breath a collective sigh of relief and add the 7’1” Cleveland Cavalier to the list of the world’s great curators. Joking aside, it is true that Shaq has successfully curated his first exhibition of contemporary art— a move which seems only natural for a man who has been named...
Pablo Bronstein manipulates history’s elasticity and human forgetfulness in his imaginiative and architectural works. The London-based artist addresses the history and potential futures of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in his current solo show “Pablo Bronstein at the Met,” his first in New York. Composed of large ink drawings, small etchings, and precise hypothetical...
Lord's Media Centre
Most of Future System’s designs look not unlike the pod cities of the Archigram group. Many of their programs look as though at any minute, they may sprout legs and walk away, perhaps even as far away as the next urban landscape. In 1999, the Future Systems-designed Media Centre at Lord’s Cricket Grounds was unveiled. It soon won the Stirling Prize, as well as the adoration of British cricket...
Austrian artist Markus Schinwald works with various ideas of prosthetics. In his first solo exhibition at Yvon Lambert, Schinwald built an installation of beams and pillars which serve not only as an artwork itself, but as an armature for other pieces in the exhibition as well. The beams, floating and crossing the white box space, act almost as a prosthetic, assisting the space in a visible...
The Delian Mode
Before synthesizers and laptop computers, electronic music was a purely analog labor. The first electronic composers of the 1950s and 1960s relied on real sounds committed to physical tape which could then be cut with razors and spliced with sellotape. Tones were fed through oscillators and equalizers, frquencies doctored in order to create new compositions. The epicenter for this field of...
Playing With Pictures
This is a true wave of the avant-garde: an exhibition of dizzying abstractions of photocollage, compositions made of photographs and watercolors in the guise of the whimsical and imagined. Human heads are pasted onto animal bodies, babies sleep on cribs covered by pen and ink blankets, and dramatic shifts of scale lend some works a feeling of having been imagined by Lewis Carroll. No, this is...
The Lee-Chin Crystal
The centerpiece of the recent Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) remodel is the beautiful Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, designed by Daniel Libeskind and Bregman + Hamann Architects. Out of 50 entries in an international competition, the Libeskind design is a striking Deconstructivist crystalline form. Made of glass and aluminium, the jutting, crystal-shaped atrium houses the new entrance to the ROM, as well...
Maximilian Toth uses agression as his medium, painting sketchy scenes of adolescent cruelty on the dusty ground of schoolhouse chalkboard. His figures suggest action and inaction simultaneously: his large works are dominated by images of beatings, ritualistic hazing,and phenomenal violance, all without the presence of conciousness or emotional awareness. Toth’s process suggests speed and...
Superflex: Flooded McDonald's
A McDonald’s restaurant is flooded: over the course of twenty minutes, water seeps beneath the door with such power and mass that the whole place eventually floods. The restaurant is empty, and as the waters rise, more detritus and fast-food ephemera rises to the top of the murky, grease trap waters. The surface is covered by an abstract gesticulation of half-eaten hamburgers, limp paper...
The London Mayor's Building
When the previous city hall was dissolved by Thatcher in 1986 (and subsequently turned into a hotel and aquarium), a void was left on the physical landscape of London politics. When London acquired a mayor once again in 1999, it needed a new center for the city government. That year, Norman Foster’s design for the new City Hall was unveiled, inviting comparisons to Lubetkin’s 1930s Penguin Pool...
Beeld end Geluid
The Beeld end Geluid Building, Hilversum, Netherlands. Designed by Neutelings Riedijk Architects with façade design by Jaap Drupsteen. Dutch architects Willem Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk draw on a wide variety of influence in their work. Their firm, Neutlings Riedijk Architects, draws from a wide variety of sources, ranging from primitive step pyramids to comic book illustration to the...
The de Young
If its possible for a surface alone to be a popular icon, then the dimpled copper-paneled walls of the new DeYoung Museum in San Francisco must be one of the most beautiful and striking. Rising beside the Japanese Tea Gardens and over the jaw-dropping California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, a languid copper box stretches out, punctuated by a wobbly tower and surrounded by a...
Swiss Re Tower
In using the term “instant icon” to describe successful popular architecture, the idea of “instant” can be subjective. While Holl’s chapel was quickly photographed and revered for its simple, colorful beauty after its completion, some buildings become icons before they are even finished. The best example of the building as pop imagery before its completion is 30 St Mary Axe, Swiss Re Tower,...