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Life in Venice

Although visitors troop dutifully in and out of museums in Venice, as in every site of touristic pilgrimage, it’s really impossible for even the best art works to hold their own against the city outside. Venice itself is the most beautiful thing one can imagine. It is a survivor from a time when painting and sculpture was not set apart from the rest of life in special places but decorated houses and churches, and not just the interiors: every turning of a street leads to some pleasurable sight and it is only the wish for the next one that keeps one moving.

American Effect = Death Threat: The Art of Saira Wasim

Saira Wasim’s Mughal style paintings, part of the recent American Effect show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, are delicate, painstaking, intricate Persian miniature gouaches in layered tones laced with political and activist causes that use traditional spatial compositions with a photo realist overlay.

Allegories of Debris

In his spectacular installation in the fall of 2002, Swiss artist and intellectual provocateur Thomas Hirschhorn literally transformed Barbara Gladstone Gallery’s pristine, white, spacious interior into a claustrophobic shanty-cave made of cardboard and packing tape, the walls covered with graffiti, the floor littered with trash. Tinfoil cavemen resembling cheap, disposable Giacomettis lurked absurdly in cubbyholes.

In Conversation

David Rabinowitch

Joan Waltemath (Rail): We can discount everything that came before… David Rabinowitch: Yes, we begin in the middle. Virgil begins in media res as Homer did.

Edward Said

The death of Edward Said, after a long and valiant battle with leukemia, is a loss for the entire world community. An intellectual in the grandest sense of the term, professor of literature, music critic, activist, and great friend to many worldwide, he was an inspiration to many of us; he helped shape over and over again the meaning and the exigency of our "common project," political, intellectual, and artistic.

Kirk Varnedoe (1946 - 2003)

Art historian and writer Max J. Friedlander once said: "It’s easier to change your worldview than the way you hold your spoon." Many artists I know, myself included, grew accustomed to seeing all the works of art at the Museum of Modern Art in their respective places— everyone had his or her own favorite painting or sculpture, installed more or less in perpetuity for the duration of William Rubin’s tenure— until Kirk Varnedoe became Rubin’s successor in 1988 as the chief curator of painting and sculpture.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2003

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