Joan Waltemath is an artist who lives and works in New York City. She writes on art and has served as an editor-at-large of the Brooklyn Rail since 2001. She has shown extensively and her work is in the collections of the Harvard University Art Museums, the National Gallery of Art, the Hammer Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. She is currently the Director of the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting at MICA.
| Editor's Message
In an amalgam of ancient cultural memory there is a tiny thimble containing all the alternate universes, events, and possibilities that have not yet occurred, the majority of which may never occur though, in fact, one may never know what unknown occurrence will not occur.
What Ive always tried to do in relation to an artists work is to write something that can sit next to the work and not do violence to it, first of all, which is very difficult, and then to try to make something happen between them, between the visual work and the written, that is a third thing.
It seems to me that we are in an era now where it is not enough to be from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, or Indonesia or Mongolia, but you have to somehow take what that culture is about, and your own experiences within that culture, and to make it palatable on the level of a kind of global system of exchange.
On the occasion of her traveling mini-survey featuring 41 paintings, drawings, and sculptures, which began last month on February 23rd at the Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo, Rail contributing editor Joan Waltemath visited Karin Davies Lower East Side studio to discuss her life and work.
Sylvère Lotringer is professor of French literature and philosophy at Columbia University and general editor of Semiotext(e). He has a forthcoming book of interviews titled David Wojnarowicz: A definitive history of five or six years on the lower east side, as well as an augmented version of Overexposed: Perverting Perversions. He splits his time between New York and Baja, CA.
Two shows of Agnes Martins work afford a unique opportunity to view both her early and late works concurrently.
Jay Bernstein is Chair and University Distinguished Professor in Philosophy at The New School for Social Research. He received his BA in 1970 from Trinity College in Religion and his PhD in 1975 from the University of Edinburgh.
Michael Corris is an artist and writer on art. Corris holds a BA from Brooklyn College, an MFA in painting/media from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and a PhD from University College London.
Wilfried Dickhoff is an independent critic, curator, and publisher who lives in Cologne and New York. He has taught at several art academies in Europe and recently at Princeton University. Currently, he is working on monograph books, e.g. on Albert Oehlen and Rosemarie Trockel, and a new international art magazine, which will be published out of Istanbul.
Neither in concepts nor in language does anything ever stand isolated. But concepts actually become related only when the personality acts in inner unity, when full subjectivity radiates toward complete objectivity.
Hidden away on the third floor apartment on West 92nd Street, Leslie Heller presents various artists in the different rooms of an apartment. There's furniture to sit down on to look at the work, making the scene homey and allowing for an extended gaze.
In his current show at the Peter Blum Gallery in Soho, Rudolf de Crignis presents two groups of works, one essentially blue and one essentially gray. For de Crignis, like Yves Klein, ultramarine blue is his primary vehicle, but unlike Klein he uses it with other colors. Series of gray paintings emerge from a dialogue of complementary colors. A modest brochure details what information you need in order to be able to see the work. Everything has been done with an eye to precision.
The legacies of de Kooning, Franz Kline, and later, the reputations of Brice Marden and Louise Fishman, to acknowledge a few, were established at a time when style was territorial. An artist using stylistic elements associated with another artist would be considered derivativea criterion by which one could easily discount a work by saying it had already been done.
It might be called generational sparring that Wiser than God, a show of octogenarians, opened at the BLT Gallery right across from the New Museums catchy Younger than Jesus exhibition unveiled last April. On view through the end of July, Wiser than God was conceived by Adrian Dannatt after attending the New Museums press conference, and co-curated with the painter Jan Frank.
The more space a work of art is given, the more you are compelled to esteem it.
Two museum exhibitions in Germany give an in-depth look at the work of a New York painter, Alan Uglow.
Its been more than a few years since you last visited me in New York; you wouldnt believe the changes that have taken place since you were here on the Bowery. Galleries are opening all over the neighborhood, even on the first floor of my building where Simone Subal, former director at Peter Blum, has just opened a space.
Joanne Greenbaums new paintings are full of stuff; very few areas are left open or unattended. In many of these new pieces, colored pencil, marker, or crayon lines run over the surface, giving the feeling of a child let loose. On first impression this creates a powerful energetic field.
In Dan Walsh’s current exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery in Chelsea, large-scale canvases are hung mostly below eye level. In the 1980’s in Soho Alan Uglow made it a point to position his paintings below eye level, a move which not only added a sense of gravity to their bearing, but reflected the position of abstract painting at that time as being below the radar.
Marcia Hafif’s mostly two-color paintings now on view in Chelsea were created in Rome, and are being shown for the first time in the United States after thirty-seven years in storage.
Originating as illustrations for 17th century tantric texts, tantra drawings have taken on autonomy through their dissemination for use in spiritual practice. In the center of each paper there is a form that has been handed down for generations, used over and over again to aid in meditation until it is worn, some accident befalls it, or a new practitioner arrives.
Interspersed in a two-person show in San Francisco, the work of Cary Smith and Don Voisine is heavy on black and white, with notes of color punctuating in concert and alone.
Utopian, Austin Thomass show of delicate constructions and drawings at the Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden in Chelsea is the first part of a three-month collaboration between the Hansel and Gretel Gallery and Thomass unique venue in the Lower East Side, Pocket Utopia. The collaboration will include exhibitions as well as events.
An exhibition of pencil, tape, and charcoal drawings by Christine Hiebert opened in November in Philadelphia at Gallery Joe and will remain on view through the month of December.
Its been a number of years since a solo exhibition by R H Quaytman has appeared in New York. It has been well worth the wait, however, to have the opportunity to view Quaytmans work at the Miguel Abreu Gallery, a small space on the Lower East Side in an area that has been relatively recently colonized by art galleries.
The Snakes Ghost, the kind of kinetic sculpture for which Rebecca Horn has become known, sits on the floor in the front room at Sean Kelly. It consists of a pool of gray water in a circular steel pan and a finely fabricated apparatus with a spiraling copper rod.
José Parlás first New York solo exhibition is on the fourth floor of an old Soho loft building; a manually operated freight elevator takes you up to a space that has been cleared of its usual offering of furniture to make room for his paintings, works on paper and ceramics.
I cant imagine John Singer Sargent typing. Maybe he did. His lush, fluid lines and his adroitness, however, make a good foil for James Siena, whose adroitness is a story of another kind.
The exhibition feels in tune with the present moment where uncertainty and restraint fill the lives of most Americans.
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Rockburnes timeless forms allow us a perspective from which to reflect on both her prescience and our predicament.
| Critics Page
In attempting to elucidate the possibilities of escaping the rational mind in order to have experiences with art, Georges Didi-Huberman describes a gaze that would not draw to a close only to discern and recognize, to name what it grasps at any costbut would, first, distance itself a bit and abstain from clarifying everything immediately.
David Cohen is the publisher & editor of the online magazine artcritical.com. He was well known to New Yorkers as art critic for the New York Sun until it closed in 2008, and as moderator of the Review Panel at the National Academy.
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.
Barry Schwabsky is an American art critic and poet living in London. His books include The Widening Circle: Consequences of Modernism in Contemporary Art (Cambridge University Press), Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting (Phaidon Press), Opera: Poems 1981-2002 (Meritage Press), and Book Left Open in the Rain (The Brooklyn Rail/Black Square Editions). He writes regularly for Artforum and The Nation, among others.
On the occasion of the painters recent exhibit at Moti Hasson Gallery, which will be on view until November 1, Joanna Pousette-Dart welcomed Rail Editor-at-Large Joan Waltemath to her Broome Street studio to talk about her life and work.
Ann Reynolds is Associate Professor of Art and Art History, and Womens and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Robert Smithson: Learning From New Jersey and Elsewhere (MIT Press, 2003).
Mira Schor is a painter and writer. She is the author of Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture, and the co-editor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artists Writings, Theory, and Criticism.
I write fiction, poetry and essays, generally thats what they would be called, and then I organize shows when Im asked. I am the publisher/editor of a small press,
Robert Whitman, whose new work, Passport, will be performed April 16 17 at Dia:Beacon and Montclair State University, N.J., speaks with Rail Editor-at-Large Joan Waltemath at Mimi Gross's TriBeCa loft.
Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe: I was born in the south of England and went to art school and then to London University Institute of Education for a year before coming to America, in 1968, first to study at Florida State and then to New York, where I first showed a painting in a group show at O.K. Harris in 1971.
On May 5, Joan Waltemath met with Raphael Rubinstein at his loft in TriBeCa to talk about Reinventing Abstraction: New York Painting in the 1980s, a show he curated at Cheim & Read (June 27 August 30).
The impact of Kim Joness work is visceral, its the kind of stuff we resist putting words to; often the moment we do they seem to reveal their limits as inadequate to all that the work evokes.
At his opening, where nearly 200 paintings and drawings are installed, I asked Howard Smith how much time there was in the room. At first he looked rather quizzically at me, but before long we lit on the figure of 17 years.
Since I first saw them a few weeks ago at Björn Ressle Gallery, a series of unusual ink on photograph drawings have lingered in my mind.
One of the most striking things about Frances Barths acrylic paintings is how clearly straightforward they are. Having stated as much, the complexity of her dialectical approach slowly starts to unfold.
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.
Text = Art = Text, an exhibition culled from Wynn Kramarskys renowned contemporary drawing collection, starts out with a piece by Cy Twombly. A series of cursory strokes, both scribbles and letters, run across the dense medium-gray, crayon-and-oil ground and remind us of the origin of the impulse toward mark making and its kinship to the marking of a letter.
David Diao and Walid Raad met at Hampshire College in the late 90s where they were both on the facultyRaad having just completed his Ph.D. and Diao, though born in Chengdu, a veteran of the New York art world with a history from the early days of SoHo, where he had the first one-person show at Paula Coopers gallery in 1969.
Walking up the museum’s central circular stairway one can approach New York Painting, an exhibition that has been on view all summer in Bonn, through any of three possible entrances.
After a few moments amongst the paintings in his recent exhibition at the Marian Goodman Gallery it becomes clear that Gabriel Orozco doesnt intend to take up a dialogue with the history and medium of painting; he is painting not as a painter, but rather employs the format of abstract painting as a possibility for depicting his geometrical thought.
Will we ever know Hedda Sterne as a painter of paintings and not primarily as the only woman and last surviving member of the “Irascibles”?
Suzan Frecons exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery is composed of two-panel paintings nine feet high generously spaced around a large room and a second room of smaller scaled works.
The story of Carmen Herreras life and work has been spreading. The talented and once undiscovered 95-year-old geometric abstractionist had a mini-retrospective in England with a handsome catalogue and a New York Times review last year that brought her story to the fore.
Lisa Daviss paintings are nothing if not complex. Its a complexity thats deeply embedded in her perception of how the world moves, shimmers, and stutters. Contrary to the non-casual present at MOMAs painting show, The Forever Now, Davis celebrates the machinations of time.
In the context of Joseph Kosuth's monumental installation at the Sean Kelly Gallery a quote from Michale Foucault (1969) that appears at the entrance to Kosuth's black sheet-rock maze seems pointed: "Aren't you sure of what you are saying? Are you going to change yet again, shift your position according to the questions that are put to you..."
Two exhibitions of Jill Nathansons work, Sacred Presence/Painterly Process at the Derfner Judaica Museum in Riverdale and No Blue Without Yellow at the Messineo Art Projects/Wyman Contemporary in Chelsea, give view to more than five years of her development.
At first glance the use of technology in simple processes sets up technology as a kind of ersatz or second nature in Jill Baroff’s Second Nature.
How to be Unique, an eclectic exhibition selected from the private collection of Jochen Kienzle, includes the work of thirty-two international artists from three generations and eight countries.
Nothing is obviousthere is no face, rather a series of brushstrokes fill in for a face, itself flanked by a flurry of criss crossed marks motioning the wind of a wing otherwise invisible on either side of the central form. There is something deeply mysterious and poignant in the immediacy of Lewczuk's Angels.
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The buzz about Barbara Takenaga’s recent show, Outset at DC Moore Gallery, had already reached me by the time I got back from my summer on the Great Plains and was standing in front of her lush new paintings.
| Critics Page
It is a good time now to consider the question “What is art?” as investment and career concerns have usurped the more profound communication traditionally found in works of Art.
| Art Books
Few institutions that would survive among the power structures of our culture can afford the presence of an individual who would challenge the merit of their rules, nor dare they embrace a code of conduct or administration that does not seek, and yield to, the collectivist denominators of this time.
- contingency, probability and the void by Joan Waltemath
- DAVID COHEN with Joan Waltemath
- David Levi Strauss with Joan Waltemath
- David Rabinowitch by Joan Waltemath
- In Conversation with Robert C. Morgan by Joan Waltemath
- BARRY SCHWABSKY In Conversation with Joan Waltemath
- Karin Davie with Joan Waltemath
- Joanna Pousette-Dart with Joan Waltemath
- A Life in Theory: Sylvère Lotringer with Joan Waltemath
- Ann Reynolds and Eve Andrée Laramée by Joan Waltemath
- Agnes Martin: "...going forward into unknown territory..." by Joan Waltemath
- Mira Schor with Joan Waltemath
- Jay Bernstein with Joan Waltemath
- John Yau with Joan Waltemath
- Michael Corris with Joan Waltemath
- ROBERT WHITMAN with Joan Waltemath
- The Art of Parrying: Wilfried Dickhoff in conversation with Joan Waltemath
- Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe with Joan Waltemath
- Deep Space by Joan Waltemath
- RAPHAEL RUBINSTEIN with Joan Waltemath
- Nancy Haynes: Threshold by Joan Waltemath
- Kim Jones by Joan Waltemath
- Rudolf de Crignis by Joan Waltemath
- Howard Smith Stroke and Structure by Joan Waltemath
- Cora Cohen by Joan Waltemath
- Jene Highsten, Lines in Space by Joan Waltemath
- Wiser than God by Joan Waltemath
- FRANCES BARTH: Scale, Economy and Unnamable Color by Joan Waltemath
- GLIMPSES OF A POST-ANXIETY ERA: TURNING OVER THE WHITNEY BIENNIAL by Joan Waltemath
- DOROTHEA ROCKBURNE Astronomy Drawings by Joan Waltemath
- SHARING THE LIGHT: ALAN UGLOWS GENEROUS ECONOMY OF BEAUTY by Joan Waltemath
- ART = TEXT = ART curated by Elizabeth Schlatter by Joan Waltemath
- SONIA ALMEIDA The Angle of the Suns Rays by Joan Waltemath
- DAVID DIAO and WALID RAAD by Joan Waltemath
- JOANNE GREENBAUM Hallowed Laughter in a Hall of Mirrors by Joan Waltemath
- Means of Approach: New York Painting by Joan Waltemath
- Dan Walsh by Joan Waltemath
- Mediating the Void Gabriel Orozco by Joan Waltemath
- Marcia Hafif: The Art of Distillation The Italian Paintings, 1961 1969 by Joan Waltemath
- Architectures of the Mind: Hedda Sterne and Eve Aschheim by Joan Waltemath
- Field of Color: Tantra Drawings From India by Joan Waltemath
- SUZAN FRECON Recent Painting by Joan Waltemath
- CARY SMITH and DON VOISINE Orthogonal and Diagonal by Joan Waltemath
- Carmen Herrera at Frederico Sève by Joan Waltemath
- MAY DAY IN MARCH AUSTIN THOMAS Utopian by Joan Waltemath
- Theory Mapping in the Interregnum: LISA DAVIS, New Paintings by Joan Waltemath
- Christine Hiebert by Joan Waltemath
- Joseph Kosuth a labyrinth into which I can venture by Joan Waltemath
- R H Quaytman Chapter 12: iamb by Joan Waltemath
- JILL NATHANSON's Quiet Vision by Joan Waltemath
- Rebecca Horn: Cosmic Maps by Joan Waltemath
- Jill Baroff: Second Nature by Joan Waltemath
- José Parlá: Layered Days by Joan Waltemath
- HOW TO . . . IN BERLIN How to Be Unique by Joan Waltemath
- Mind Games: James Sienas typewriter drawings by Joan Waltemath
- Margrit Lewczuk: Angels by Joan Waltemath
- GORDON MOORE by Joan Waltemath
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- Barbara Takenaga and Patricio Guzmán: telescopes and other visions by Joan Waltemath
- Dorothea Rockburne's Visionary Installation at Dia:Beacon by Joan Waltemath
- bent reflections: a response to Judd’s writings by Joan Waltemath