Archive

Art and Architecture

28 February 2014

Divas (like queers, like dancers) must be smart, or at least smarter than their abusers. They must suffer shame and ridicule and emerge triumphant, strong as steel and wholly themselves. Let alone being a queer performer, being a dancer is already pretty queer. It’s a bizarre, strict, bound life—at least in childhood, when time is eaten up by training. The dancer-in-training might love the rigor, or she might not; regardless, she goes to class every afternoon. More…

19 February 2014

But what’s the alternative to our formulaic norm? Far from uncovering some definitive ur-statement, the selective history of artist statements offered here shows them to be as varied and complex as the conditions that brought them forth. Comprehensibility, tastefulness, and brevity were clearly not always the goals. More…

24 January 2014

Timothy Johnson is six feet, two inches tall. One Monday last November, he stood before a cluster of microphones at his architecture firm on the twenty-fifth floor of 2 Rector Street, New York, and affirmed that by the standards of the international organization he chairs, The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a nearby building, now known as 1 World Trade Center, is 1776 feet tall. More…

6 January 2014

The new episode the n+1 podcast brings interviews about art and art criticism for the release of Paper Monument Number Four. First, an interview with Paper Monument editor Dushko Petrovich and contributors Julian Kreimer and Martha Schwendener to discuss politics and art criticism in the contemporary art world. Then, Chris Kraus joins us for an interview to talk about her recent piece in n+1 Issue 17, “Kelly Lake Store,” art communities, and “social practice.” More…

16 October 2013

All points in art panel discussions are points about making points, I thought, are phatic rhetoric, are rhetoric exhausting itself in the enunciation of the desire to speak and be heard, and most of all to propagate. To spread like kudzu across the social media, both the electronic and the archaic, the buzzing of a hundred openings and dinners and drinks with colleagues after work. More…

10 July 2013

It was here I discovered that the mystical 160th floor, the highest point, was inaccessible to the viewing public. . . . The entire point was to look out of from the highest tower in the world. To have been thwarted in realizing this goal, by a mere twenty-nine stories, was to be on the wrong end of a bait and switch with the building’s raison d’être. More…

28 May 2013

James: In Patrick you look at the face and you think / Egyptian portrait mask / Then you look at the hair and think / Where did the artist study? / Gallery Attendant: Considine did his graduate work at Yale University / Roger: I see early Lucian Freud here / here and in the work of / Peter Stitchbury / James: There have been no decent British painters / thus far in this century More…

20 May 2013

Cunningham’s own notes on choreography often look like cave paintings. Stick figures march unevenly across the page, followed by diagrams and phrases, some barely legible, scribbled beside leaning columns of numbers. They communicate the inspired tremor of the hand more than they convey information. More…

17 April 2013

Looking at the American Realness line-up, it’s easy to see that “experimental” choreographers might be characterized as “experimental” not because of what they make, but because of how they work. American Realness is not so much a fringe festival as a demand that major funding structures everywhere to stop ignoring their impact on the field. More…

12 July 2012

“Atomic-age” and “Jet-age” have become swingin’ signals for ring-a-ding-ding consumer goods made in swoopy and sexy plastic and chrome. And yet there is another side to this story, one in which the Smithsons are a kind of Yin to the Eames’ Yang, an eternally rainy Britain to their perpetually sunny California. More…

25 May 2012

The question posed by Wang’s Pritzker selection could be articulated like this: If you provide a particularly humane or humanist built environment within the context of occasionally inhumane political or economic conditions, to what extent are you reinforcing or resisting those conditions? Are you offering a tangible alternative or a mere respite? More…

29 March 2012

“Some twisted genius will stumble upon the ultimate solution to this art school chestnut: when it’s their turn to be critiqued they’ll just stand up and destroy the work of one of their classmates.” An excerpt from Paper Monument‘s “mischievous and nourishing” new book, Draw It With Your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment. More…

1 March 2012

These girls seemed immune to New York’s damning seasons, which always threaten to expose one’s tax bracket, especially if it is low. The summer sun didn’t melt their makeup, and the winter wind didn’t mar their manes. They were driven in cars and cabs that were kept at a constant 68 degrees. At night and on weekends, they attended galas, museum openings, and brunches in East Hampton. More…

4 November 2011

ARTSCENTER TALKSOURCE isn’t just an internet art replay talk show, co-hosted by Roger White and Dushko Petrovich, two of America’s leading art commentators. It’s much, much more. ARTSCENTER TALKSOURCE transports the at-home audience into the gallery. ARTSCENTER TALKSOURCE replays the art, gets inside it, shows how it works in real time. ARTSCENTER TALKSOURCE makes the scene. More…

26 September 2011

Before the memorial comes the checkpoint, an inevitable reminder of the days when the downtown concierge’s “Can I help you, buddy?” was replaced by security personnel’s “Please remove your belt, sir,” the less egalitarian mode of address putting a fig leaf of flattery over potential humiliation. Today, however, the guards are in a good mood. We’re waved through. More…

21 September 2011

Some artworks edify, some perplex, and some coerce, evacuating everyone who views them to a new and better reality. To watch the videos of Ryan Trecartin is to be led out of a cave of ignorance by a queer, 30-year-old Socrates. Burrowed in a couch at Any Ever, Trecartin’s “game-changing” summer exhibition at PS1, you become addicted to the Ryan-verse. More…

29 July 2011

The second argument is more articulate, and more troubling. It is that the price increase is not just unfair but purposeful, that it is part of a calculated marketing strategy on behalf of the Modern’s administrators—an upscaling of their product. There is the obvious evidence in support of this argument: the shops and products, the cafés and restaurants on three separate floors. More…

3 March 2011

On one of MoMA’s free Friday evenings in January, I went to see the room with the giant video projections where everyone lies around, which I’d heard about probably third-hand, since I don’t find time to read reviews and never know what’s going on, unless someone visits me from out of town, and then I assume that they want me to pretend like I do. More…

14 January 2011

7. Usually the rapid coming and going of people at an opening allows for quick conversational turnover, but if you get stuck in a bad conversation with someone and you’re outside, say, “I’m just going to pop in and look at the show.” If you’re inside, say, “I’m just going to pop out for some air/a cigarette.” If they’re still following you, go to the bathroom. More…

7 January 2011

As evidenced by the tremendous amount of real estate he holds down both here and over in Beacon, no one (of his generation) understood the nature of the large-scale institutional art project as well as Sol LeWitt. What he clearly perceived, and played with impeccably, were its limits. The resulting body of work is so successful precisely because it is so institutional. More…

23 November 2010

The noun and the verb are both painting, but there isn’t as much peach and silver as suggested. In fact, the best picture is black and white. It’s called Unravel, but it’s the most composed. As with jazz, the gap between the simple title and the unnameable experience can invite reverie. But the other perils of improvisation also abound. More…

20 August 2010

People want to have a new sense of voyeurism, they want a new level. This is something I’m really interested in. We still don’t know how this is going to grow or pop, but we know it isn’t going away. This is very important to me—I want to be in the middle of this. These other people have cracked something fundamental, and that’s what we’re looking for. We want to crack something fundamental. More…

8 July 2010

The come-on “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” applies equally to memory as to sexual license: the city as black hole, our experience entirely forgettable. Those promoters that don’t temper their praise—such as art critic Dave Hickey, who advocated for Las Vegas artists and the free-market sensibility the city engendered—wind up with their predictions inevitably burst. More…

8 June 2010

Post-critical: We made ourselves so familiar with the past, learned so much about its modes and movements, diligently collected and studied its images, that it made sense, this persistent desire to be judged as if from the omniscient future. We loved the past, and this (always-postponed) ideal critique would finally allow us to merge with it. More…

3 June 2010

Paper Monument‘s third issue is here! Dan Fox of Frieze says it’s “not all wry satirical sketches about the lives of young, full-sleeve-tattooed middle class MFA grads.” In fact, it’s much more! Bad behavior in nice museums, total immersion sculpture, Britain’s art empire. Travels with Dana Hoey, Matt Mullican under hypnosis, Corinna Schnitt’s minimalist films. Order now and be contemporary with contemporary art. More…

17 May 2010

The objects didn’t literally speak, but they always started conversations—down at the pub, in the cafeteria at the Courtauld, even the one our visitor was having now, in his head. The Victorian idea of a conversation piece had been reborn as an artwork that promoted itself. This was happening all over, but it occurred with a special fervor and skill in London, which didn’t seem coincidental to our visitor. More…

3 March 2010

A problem for Tino Sehgal as much as it was a problem for Plato is that performed conversation is still performance as much as it’s conversation. It’s one thing to perceive the stark whiteness and vertiginous openness of the Guggenheim as an ideal contemporary representation of the Athenian “agora,” and another to allow “the art of conversation” to take place unimpeded. More…

31 January 2010

It was at a conference some twenty-eight years ago, just before the moderator’s opening remarks, that the Rome-born architect and theorist Bruno Zevi pushed back from the roundtable and rose from his seat to declare, “I denounce the presence at this symposium of the fascist Philip Johnson.” The audience members shifted nervously in their chairs. More…

27 July 2009

Artists must first of all distinguish themselves from members of the adjacent professional classes typically present at art world events: dealers, critics, curators, and caterers. They must second of all take care not to look like artists. This double negation founds the generative logic of artists’ fashion. More…

9 February 2009

The problem that Shephard Fairey presents also leads to a fear: that he may be, in fact, the perfect portraitist to render Obama. The purveyor of radical aesthetics is rendering the visage of radical hope—neither of whom is very radical. His work is an instant exposure of all we might hope for from Obama, and all that we stand to lose. More…

22 September 2008

Like ants in a colony, the men and women in town for Fashion Week have thin black exoskeletons, specialized social functions and valuable cargo to transport. A swarm of these people has formed on a September afternoon in front of the West Village showroom where Z Zegna will exhibit its Spring-Summer 2009 collection. An invitation to the show is sandwiched between two candy bars in my purse. More…

16 June 2008

If you want to know how we ended up getting seduced by a woman in a plastic Viking hat chatting away through an already-encrusted bloody nose while holding a piece of Styrofoam cheese in an emergency room parking lot, or if you’re wondering why we fell in love as she cheese-guitared Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” on a mountaintop perch—well, that part is pretty hard to explain. More…

12 July 2006

We could look all day at the way form negotiates space in Marvin Gates’s Forwards and find in this a profound cerebral pleasure—but the moment we identify Death as such, our brains begin labeling the consequences of his arrival. The populace surrounding him takes on a meaning in this frozen moment, and we struggle to decipher it. More…

11 July 2006

The New York City street scene seems too demanding a subject for a contemporary painting. One hardly sees it anymore. There is something about its profusion of characteristic details—the taxis, hydrants, and kiosks, the carts and vendors, the small bits of trash—that embarrasses the painter seeking a sense of new ideas and visions. More…

10 July 2006

If the Grim Reaper were alive today, it seems he would be wearing sneakers. As the faceless city waits for cabs and hops in cars, he’s busy. He’s running around, jaw dropped—is he about to speak? Both his fists are clenched: one swings up in an even-paced trot, while the other grips a baby-blue case with fingerless gloves. What does he keep in there? More…

18 June 2006

Giants are big and ugly, and ugly because they are big. Marvel at their presence, but know that you would also marvel at a hair follicle, if only it were enormous. The art world’s current giant is at PS1, clamping its teeth on all five boroughs and New Jersey and calling itself Greater New York. More…

13 June 2006

All but a handful of stray citizens have given up on the City in On Things to Come. No buses, no dogs, no jackhammers, no hustle, no cramps, no squeezes. It is silent, Gates cranked the volume down. More…

25 April 2006

The avant-garde isn’t what it used to be. Our sprawling culture industry busies itself mainly in locating things in the network presented by the relatively recent past. Everybody is described as the love child of so-and-so and so-and-so, so everybody gets called neo this or neo that, unless the parents are divorced—then they get called post. More…

13 December 2005

He really had been a biker, before giving up everything about that lifestyle but the wardrobe. The room where I worked housed the coffee machine, and William would take refuge there from the noise, dust, and tedious solitude of the garage. By the time I left the job I’d heard most of his favorite stories. More…

10 December 2005

In 1976 Ed Ruscha made the pastel drawing “Three Seconals, Three Darvons.” It’s a phenomenological sci-fi drug drawing of a phase transition. Out of a warm dust advance six clinically cold meds. Or else they drift into the dull smog. They simultaneously are and are not the same thing. More…

7 December 2005

Like any good hitter, Ruscha swings with precision. He has a smooth stroke, which often gets called “cool,” and is often misunderstood as dependable. But Ruscha swings at a lot—palindromes, gas stations, entire empires—and so he occasionally strikes out. The abstract nouns Truth and Hope, set on faded teal and ice blue, are too bland to trouble me visually, or philosophically. More…

3 December 2005

The financial and bureaucratic issues that complicated the selection of an artist to represent the United States at the 51st Venice Biennale are well known within the art world. Their choice of Ed Ruscha, among the most established and respected artists working today, was widely applauded. More…

1 December 2005

It’s always heartening to see an underappreciated artist get his due, but in Ruscha’s case, this development is particularly sweet. For many years, his decision to live and work in Los Angeles—until recently isolated from and neglected by the New York-centered art world—has worked against him. More…

2 October 2005

Mumford’s choice of subjects reveals how deeply the specter of the heroic haunts the representation of the ordinary; in viewing his work, we have to ask ourselves how far the myth of the hero has penetrated our conceptions both of wartime and the identity of the artist. Baghdad Journal plays into another heroic stereotype, that of the lone war reporter. More…

1 October 2005

No military units would consider taking me on as an embedded artist at that time, so I thought I’d better just buy a ticket to Kuwait City and see if I could find a way into Iraq. After a few frustrating days I finally hooked up with two French reporters who gave me ride to Baghdad; there I found a battalion from 3rd ID with an enthusiastic commanding officer who gave me free reign with his platoons. More…

29 September 2005

The intimacy, both of the situations Mumford painted and of his brush on the paper, gave us something we hadn’t seen from this war. As the publication of his Baghdad Journal approaches, some have begun to question the attention he’s received. Such questions would be more interesting if he had any competition. More…

3 August 2005

I had seen Rothkos before, and I had seen Texas before, but never in the same place at the same time. It wasn’t a pilgrimage, but I did expect the Chapel to be a quasi-religious experience, and it was—merely one in a weekend full of them, from the consumer mecca of Houston’s teeming Galleria Mall to the uncanny relics of the minor San Antonio Missions. More…

14 July 2005

In 1968, the Democratic Convention broke heads, so Guston broke out. Nixon swelled with lying, Guston drew him that way. Guston said he didn’t just want his paintings to sit on the wall. The world was horrible, and the art world was being polite. So Guston invited hairy limbs to the party. What are those limbs doing? Can anyone explain their behavior? More…

Originally published in Issue 1: Negation

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17 June 2005

Steve Mumford’s watercolors from Iraq are, paradoxically, the most topical and the most stylistically out of sync works in the show, which might explain their placement on the walls of the hallway near the staff offices. An impressive corridor of images that Winslow Homer or John Singer Sergeant could have painted shows us details from our occupation of Iraq. More…

16 June 2005

It’s impossible not to walk into Greater New York determined to sense the zeitgeist. But with over 160 artists represented, hardly a sliver of the emerging artist population of the five boroughs but still plenty to confound any amateur trendspotting, the more one tries to understand the rules the more everyone looks like an exception. More…

15 June 2005

A huge survey show like Greater New York reveals the twin perils of inclusion: gathered under the banner of art, a scene made up of distinct practices is unnecessarily harmonized; and by its very eclecticism, the institution asserts its neutrality by implying that nothing has been left out. More…

14 June 2005

Greater New York 2005 greets you as a wall of names behind a tall gate. The 163 identities are arranged, not surprisingly, in what Borges called alphabetical disorder. Undaunted and even inspired by the sheer incomprehensibility of something so very comprehensive, n+1 brings you “Art Week: Five days, five critics, numberless implications.” More…

Image: Steve Mumford.