ArtSeen

YUN-FEI JI Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts

 Yun-Fei Ji is among the few remaining adherents to a once-great tradition now besieged from within and without. The arts of Chinese landscape painting and calligraphy evolved over millennia in symbiotic relationship to a culture now in the throes of its second massive revolution since the 1940s—communist, then capitalist.

ROBERT GROSVENOR

To make a sweeping generalization about Robert Grosvenor’s choice of materials across his career would be difficult or near impossible. There is little material continuity in his work, but rather conceptual outgrowths through material explorations.

READYMADES REMADE (AFTER CONSUMPTION): DETRITUS AS ART

Exhibitions like this happen rarely. A readymade collage of discarded trash sealed in plastic, as in Arman’s “poubelles” or in Cesar’s crushed cars, offers an alternative point of view relative to the highly polished, glittering multiplex items so frequently displayed in most galleries today.

DEAN MONOGENIS Above the Railing, Above the World

It was about two years ago that the Unmonumental show at the New Museum was drawing to a close, sparking hopeful chatter about the end of “Home Depot-chic,” “neo-Arte Povera,” or whatever your personal moniker is for it. It was the nail in the coffin for the nail-in-the-plywood-coffin school of art making.

KEITH HARING: 20TH ANNIVERSARY

If Keith Haring seems more ubiquitous today than ever before, a walk through the Miami Basel art fair last December would have been proof positive. This year was considered a “safe” year for blue-chip art galleries in Miami and stashed everywhere amidst the mid-century abstractionists, early modernist masters, and more recent art stars, was Haring.

JAMES CASTLE: A RETROSPECTIVE

“What’s missing is art that seems made by one person out of intense personal necessity, often by hand.” When New York Times critic Roberta Smith threw out this challenge as part of her sweeping Feb. 10 critique of New York’s depressingly uniform “post-Minimal” museum scene, she probably didn’t have James Castle particularly in mind.

JONATHAN GAMS (1951-2009)

When Jon Gams, proprietor of Hard Press Editions, died on November 7th at the age of 57, the world of independent publishing lost one of its most notable figures. It may take some time, but one day the contribution that Jon made to contemporary art and literature will be more widely recognized.

MICHAEL MAZUR (1935-2009)

The first poetry reading I gave after graduating from Bard College in 1972 was because of Gail Mazur. Although she didn’t know my poetry or me, she graciously invited me to give a reading at the Blacksmith House in Cambridge, Mass. It must have been in 1973 or ’74, as Gail founded the series in 1973 and ran it for many years. I remember being very anxious about making the most of this opportunity.

WHITNEY BIENNIAL 2010

Once avant-garde, the Whitney Biennial has become a perennial disappointment for audiences who look to it as a cultural barometer or beacon of innovation. The 75th edition, titled 2010, is no exception. Curator Francesco Bonami and co-curator Gary Carrion-Murayari set out to sample the country’s motley emotional pluralism.

WHITNEY BIENNIAL 2010

In the viewing room where Rashaad Newsome’s video plays, a couple of women in their seventies sat and discussed which of his vogue dancer’s poses were similar to the positions they took in their yoga class.

GLIMPSES OF A POST-ANXIETY ERA: TURNING OVER THE WHITNEY BIENNIAL

The more space a work of art is given, the more you are compelled to esteem it.

BRUCENNIAL 2010: MISEDUCATION

Click on the home page of the Bruce High Quality Foundation University and you’ll find this slogan, in red: “Don’t say can’t. Say canarchy.”

DOROTHEA ROCKBURNE Astronomy Drawings

For the better part of her life, Dorothea Rockburne has conducted investigations into subjects most often approached through the mathematical sciences and language, yet her avenues of approach have been through fluid gesture, the properties of material and precise forms.

Letter from TOKYO, GERHARD RICHTER New Overpainted Photographs

I didn’t make my most recent trip to Tokyo to see or write about a Gerhard Richter exhibition. It was a bonus, icing on the cake, if you will, that proved to me how important it is to take myself on occasion out of my comfort zone, especially when it comes to looking at the work of an artist who has changed art and has been heavily scrutinized for it.

SKIN FRUIT: SELECTIONS FROM THE DAKIS JOANNOU COLLECTION

Hedonistic virtue aside, what do artist-cum-curator Jeff Koons, billionaire collector Dakis Joannou and the 6th century Assyrian demon god of wind have in common? A lot, apparently, as is demonstrated in the most recent installation of testosterone-tinged excess at the New Museum.

JEFF KEOUGH Skullscapes

Known for over 25 years as a legendary director of exhibitions at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, Jeffrey Keough’s innovative curatorial vision has connected local artists in the New England region with international artists such as Xu Bing, William Wegman, Kiki Smith, Tony Oursler, and many others, while tackling diverse historical, social, and political themes ranging from the Holocaust, to AIDS, to the bombing of Hiroshima.

Letter from NAPLES, BAROCK-ART, SCIENCE, FAITH, AND TECHNOLOGY IN THE CONTEMPORARY AGE

Conceived on the premise that our life and culture in the early 21st century mirrors that of the Baroque Age, Barock - Art, Science, Faith, and Technology in Contemporary Age was organized by Museo d’Arte contemporanea Donna REgina (MADRE) in Naples as an unofficial companion exhibition to Ritorno al Barocco, a massive exhibition set in six different Neapolitan institutions, including the Museo di Capodimonte and the Certosa di San Martino.

TRACKS: ALLYSON MITCHELL, RADICAL CRAFT

Plush, crafty, lezzy, freaky, fun—that’s the work of artist Allyson Mitchell, who recently spent six months in Brooklyn on a residency at the International Curatorial and Studio Program ICSP on a Canada Council for the Arts Grant. I spoke with her once she’d returned to her home base in Toronto.

BILL JENSEN CHEIM & READ|FEBRUARY 18–MARCH 27, 2010

In an 1885 letter to Emile Schuffenecker, Gauguin describes Cézanne as someone who “passes whole days on the top of a hill reading Virgil and looking at the sky,” in whose work one finds “the essential mystic nature of the Orient.”

OTTO DIX NEUE GALERIE MARCH 11–AUGUST 30, 2010

The disorder and early sorrow witnessed by Thomas Mann in the early 1920s was visited upon what he called the upper middle class. Nothing would ever be the same for them after the debacle of the First World War. He depicted the characters in his 1920s stories with an edge of regret; an empathy probably born of his own class status brutally assaulted by postwar circumstances. Yet, since he was indisputably a great artist, his portraits were always nuanced.

BILL ALBERTINI Space Frame Redux

Question: What’s beige, 216 cubic inches, sits on a table, defies you to try to describe it in words, scares the hell out of you, and your corpus callosum wants to take out on a date to a sci-fi film festival in another dimension? Answer: One of Bill Albertini’s futuristic numbered “Space Frame” sculptures, at the Martos Gallery through April 24, 2010.

PLAYING WITH PICTURES: THE ART OF VICTORIAN PHOTOCOLLAGE

In the mid-19th century, a sudden cultural mix of early photography, science à la Darwin and fantasy by way of Lewis Carroll fueled an ironic response from certain educated Victorian ladies, whose pastimes included scrapbook diaries, parlor games (such as exquisite corpse) and—as on vivid display at the Met—photocollaged family albums. Witty, sarcastic, and surreal, the work in these albums comprises a collective portrait of Victorian British aristocracy and a time capsule of the arts, sports and fashions of the era.

DONALD JUDD AND 1O1 SPRING STREET

In his landmark essay, “Specific Objects,” published in Arts Yearbook 8, 1965, Donald Judd emphatically declares that “most of the best new works of the past few years have been neither painting nor sculpture.”

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APR 2010

All Issues