Attend, please. Attend carefully. F. Scott Fitzgerald said that there are no second acts in American lives. If the works of Emma Bee Bernstein -- Polaroids, videos, poetry -- have anything to tell us, it is that we probably didn't really need a second act anyway. The first one was quite enough. These pieces, loosely woven together in Polaroids, a smash-cut, homemade DVD movie, and texts, tell a story that probably needs no tying up of loose ends because it is probably your story, and mine, and everyone else's, and whoever grew up America, and you know how these things end. Ms. Bernstein committed suicide at age 23 in Venice, Italy, in 2008. Read more »
John Mellencamp doesn't see himself as an activist, which I suspect is his humility speaking. There is no escaping the fact that Mellencamp is political artist. And I say this with the utmost respect, as his views are heartfelt, witnessed first-hand and lifelong. With work ranging from the alarming "Strange Fruit" (2006), which points to past, horrific atrocities; to the straightforward "Coast to Coast" (2005), which reveals the continuing problems and degradation more and more are facing across our once-great nation, we see the thoughts and concerns of a passionate creator. And like one of his greatest influences, Max Beckmann, Mellencamp paints powerful, impassioned, difficult, and haunting imagery that will find its way deep into the mind of the viewer as it picks and prods memories, moods, and impressions most would like to overlook. Read more »
In both his work and his life, Francesco Clemente has made a career of breaking down boundaries. His multimedia approach to art -- through painting, sculpture, photography, and bookmaking -- and his peripatetic, nomad-like lifestyle share a common theme of restlessness and ambiguity. In his recent exhibition at Mary Boone, he has created a suite of paintings that reinforce our impression of him, painting works that run through Colonial Baroque, Afro-Brazilian, Indian, and Modernist iconographies. The strategies employed here, drawing on a variety of sources and influences, seek to present some commonality of experience, of shared ideas. Read more »
The sitcom, or situation comedy, is a television show format that usually features a family scenario (for example, a husband and wife, like in The Honeymooners), or a larger, extended family (The Cosby Show), or some kind of surrogate family (Barney Miller, Cheers). In this weekly formula a mini-crisis or drama ensues, threatening to unravel the delicate fabric of the familial tranquility. Historically, theatrical comedies have often dealt with the concerns of human activities and conditions in ways that drama can't, cloaking tragedy with humor. Shakespeare, for example, often used his comedies to deal with subject matter that might have been problematic to present as drama; the entirety of Restoration theatre was based on the use of satire as a form of social and political critique. Read more »
Van Gogh wrote, "Ah, portraiture, portraiture with the thought, the soul of the model in it, that is what I think must come.... It is one's duty to paint the rich and magnificent aspects of nature.... Do I make myself understood? I am just trying to make you see this simple great truth: one can paint all of humanity by the simple means of portraiture." Rober Yoder, in his current show at Platform Gallery, seems to exemplify van Gogh's credo. Unlike van Gogh, however, Yoder uses the portrait not to paint all of humanity but, rather, to get inside the subject, using painting to examine each individual, well, individually. Read more »
The way I entered Eugene Lemay's exhibit was not the way I left it. At first glance I was baffled by what initially seemed like enormous black rectangles lining the gallery space. The size of the work left me feeling alienated and lost, aimlessly meandering through the gallery, not quite sure where it starts and ends, my eyes shifting from one enormous black abyss to the other. Read more »
Endurance is a character trait often overlooked in an artist. Ron Gorchov, who is exhibiting new paintings at Cheim & Read, is definitely a marathoner in the art world, and one to whom more attention should be given. Born in 1930, Gorchov has lived and worked in New York since the early '50s, where he had his first solo show in 1960, was included in the Whitney's Thirty American Painters Under Thirty-Six, and was friends with Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. His most recent museum exhibition, in 2006 at PS1, garnered the attention and support of Vito Schnabel and The Brooklyn Rail publisher Phong Bui, who curated this current exhibit. Read more »
From the Muses of Helicon, let us begin our singing, that haunt Helicon's great and lofty mountain, and dance on soft feet around the altar of the mighty son of Kronos. This from Hesiod's Theogony. "Night bore hateful Doom and dark Fate and Death, She bore Sleep, and she bore the Tribe of Dreams...."
"We live as we dream," wrote Joseph Conrad, "alone." Mira Schor's recent exhibition at Marvelli, Voice and Speech, makes a compelling argument against Conrad's existentialist notions with paintings that are interrogations of thinking, speaking, writing and, of course, the act of painting. Read more »
On the occasion of Joseph Nechvatal's upcoming exhibition at Galerie Richard in New York (April 12 through May 26), the recent publication of his new book Immersion into Noise, and a concert of his remastered viral symphOny in surround sound. Taney Roniger is an artist and writer who lives and works in Brooklyn.
Bradley Rubenstein: We really want to get into the new book, as well as the upcoming show, but can you take a minute and give us a little backstory? You have always slipped in and out of categories: actions, painting, sound art, writing.... Read more »
We are walking through a deserted town almost 500 miles from The City. We had been riding for days. Chancellor Nirenberg ordered all the major ports closed, walled off The Capital, and retreated to an undisclosed bunker, leaving us to deal with the Zombies. What he didn’t tell the survivors was that it was the Vampires we really had to worry about. “This set is amazing. It even smells like a street,” says Justine, who is 17 and who I picked up along the highway. She was camping, after having run away with her sister, Juliet, who used to work for some asshole Hollywood screenwriter (who once brought a roadkill squirrel to a party at Mario Batali’s house, who drunkenly cooked it and served it to Gwyneth Paltrow, who ate it, thinking it was tofu) before the Terror. What was left of Juliet had been roasting on a campfire and I was starving. Read more »
Let's begin with this, from Les fleurs du mal: "Everything, even the color black/Seemed refurbished, bright, iridescent/The liquid encased in its glory/In the crystallized ray..."
Although better known as a filmmaker, David Lynch, who is exhibiting his paintings, collages and photographs at Tilton Gallery, has for years walked the fine line between art and entertainment. Like Julian Schnabel, though, Lynch's paintings occupy a separate terrain, and offer a rare opportunity to see into the psyche of a very private artist who also happens to be a very public figure. Read more »
Vicki Sher has been using a reduced visual vocabulary in her drawings for many years, combining simple line and color drawings with text to create oblique narratives. In her recent exhibition, Yes/No, she elaborates on this strategy, weaving a story, both personal and symbolic, of her Grandmother Pearl's post-stroke search for a descriptive language, based on her diminished capacity for speech. Sher integrates Pearl's story with one of the great modernist tropes in both painting and literature: the ability to describe and illustrate complex thinking through limited means. Read more »
In the heart of Jersey City’s colorful and eclectic Little India neighborhood is a secret that is about to explode the art world. Mana Contemporary is more than a gallery, more than a studio, more than a sensation. It’s a burning impression on the mind, body, and heart -- an interior garden of sorts that stimulates the senses by creating sparks in a quiet, light, white space. Housed in a sprawling, abandoned, brick tobacco factory, the industrial exterior trimmed with concrete loading docks and the crunchy sound of aluminum garage doors rolling up and down serve as a gateway between the quotidian and the imagination.
From the deep warm belly of the earth, the boundless starry sky, or the walloping waves of the sea, Mana’s diverse collections seem to ask, “Where do we come from and when will we meet?” Let’s start on the sixth floor. A ramp with a fenestrated wall on one side and a series of large photographic panels of black sky and rising red sun that radiate heat leads to the Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation (ESKFF) Gallery. An avid art collector of American and international art, Kaminsky traveled the world selecting pieces that touched an emotion in her. Before entering, she shares a few words about what is inside: Read more »
Mira Schor is a painter and writer living in New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts. She is the author of A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life (Duke University Press) and the blog A Year of Positive Thinking. She is an associate teaching professor in MFA Fine Arts at Parsons The New School for Design. She is represented by CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles and Marvelli Gallery in New York. The exhibition Mira Schor: Voice and Speech opens March 29 at Marvelli Gallery at 526 West 26th Street, 2nd floor, New York, New York, and runs through April 28. Read more »
"Art demands fanaticism" -- Adolf Hitler, 1915
Georg Baselitz's (born 1938, Deutschbaselitz, Saxony, Germany) recent work at Gagosian, paintings on a monumental scale, presents the artist as a still-vital explorer, using both his personal history as well as myriad art historical references in a search for a unified, iconic image. Enormous canvases, measuring over twelve feet high, combine elements from his early works, such as "Die grosse Nacht im Eimer" (1962–63) and "A Modern Painter" (1966), remixed in a gambit designed to distance himself still further from the nearly thirty-year span of his signature, inverted, pseudo-Ab Ex work. A sense of nostalgia and reflection is evident here, as well as an undiminished appetite for new forms and styles. Read more »