COLUMNS

  • Diary

    Bad Madeleines

    IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (primary school to this Brit), when candy was currency, anyone who showed up with some new or unusual confection ruled the roost—at least until the prize was shared, stickily, among a dozen instant mates or wolfed down defensively by its owner. So it was particularly impressive when a classmate arrived one Monday morning with three never-before-seen treats. The brands were familiar, but the bars themselves were prototypes—experimental trial runs for yet-to-be-released products. To our sugar-addled minds, they were gold. The source of the bounty? A parent’s visit to a food

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  • Passages

    James Yood (1952–2018)

    IN 1989, the same year I started graduate school at Northwestern University, Jim Yood was hired as the college’s lecturer and assistant chair in the department of art theory and practice. He had stepped in to take the reins from the cantankerous art critic Dennis Adrian, who was proudly dispassionate about anything that diverged from a Chicago Imagist tradition. It was here where my deep and enduring respect for him began.

    For the past twenty-nine years, Jim has never stopped teaching me. He taught me the virtue of the art review. As a spirited advocate for Chicago, he underscored the cultural

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  • Slant

    Diamond Cutter

    SIX HUNDRED AND FORTY-FIVE YEARS AND SEVEN DAYS AGO, in the city of Norwich, a recluse named Julian beheld the whole of creation in the palm of her hand, in an orb the size of a hazelnut. It was here that W.G. Sebald taught for forty years, at the University of East Anglia, and where, in the opening pages of The Rings of Saturn, we find him prostrate in a hospital room—and then standing at the window there—having collapsed a year and a day after a summer’s walk across the county of Suffolk.

    I am writing you from my office at UEA, where, rereading The Rings of Saturn, I seemed to smell the rising

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  • Interviews

    Hermann Nitsch

    Hermann Nitsch, one of Viennese Actionism’s principal and last-surviving members, has been making his visceral and ceremonious work for decades. His art dives into the heart of human history and experience, plumbing its excruciating depths while celebrating its most ecstatic heights. The artist’s show at Massimo De Carlo in London, which runs through May 25, 2018, outlines the artist’s DAS ORGIEN MYSTERIEN THEATER performances, spanning almost sixty years. Here, Nitsch talks about the London show and the core philosophy of his work.

    MY LONDON SHOW, at Massimo De Carlo, features different types

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  • Diary

    Pretty Paper

    A COOL BREEZE carried the thick aroma of brick-fired pizza and the tunes of DJ Maxwell Sterling over tank-topped and shorted Angelenos as they shifted from booth to booth, tucking books into bright yellow totes under the setting sun. Here was the Acid-Free Los Angeles Art Book Market—as chill and cozy as a backyard BBQ—spread across a parking lot and two floors of Blum & Poe, the capacious commercial gallery hosting the inaugural edition, which opened May 4 and ran until May 6. With the tragic death of its organizer Shannon Michael Cane, Printed Matter postponed the 2018 edition of its wildly

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  • Interviews

    Gordon Hall

    Gordon Hall’s The Number of Inches Between Them, 2018, replicates a found sculptural bench and serves as a platform for choreography. It is on view at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, through May 20, 2018. Below, Hall addresses their integrative approach to object making and performance.

    THE SHOW AT THE LIST CENTER, which includes sculptures, a letter, and a performance, is quiet and slow. I think of it both as a space of grief and a space to grieve. The performance features four people in their seventies and eighties, who sit on and use a concrete bench in a variety

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  • Diary

    Some Like It Hot

    I OFTEN LAMENT how disparate visual art and music coverage can feel, save in pop-culture magazines, where the restrictive new-release plug rules, so it was an authentic pleasure to experience a four-day Coachella Valley arts journalism tour linking multiple cross-disciplinary events in this stark, gorgeous desert. With the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival as the intended centrifugal force, other excursions enlightened those wishing to visit this sand-duned, palm-treed, swimming-pooled, nine-city basin anytime of year, particularly when an extended winter tests one’s patience. Sun worship

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  • Diary

    Wouldn’t You Love to Love Her?

    TRUE CONFESSION: I’ve never been a Stevie Nicks fanatic, even though I adore some of the songs she recorded as a member of the iconic rock band Fleetwood Mac. It’s been years since I’ve felt the need to attend “Night of 1,000 Stevies,” the annual NYC love fest for her devoted fan following. The last time I went was when it was at the nightclub known as Mother, located in Manhattan’s then-desolate Meatpacking District. My memories are vague (and I’m showing my age)—Mother closed in 2000 and NOTS just celebrated its twenty-eighth anniversary.

    But I rejoined the fray on May 4, at the old-fashioned

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  • Film

    All Work and No Play

    IF THERE IS A SINGLE, OVERRIDING THEME in Tony Zierra’s Filmworker (2017), it is that the life of Leon Vitali, the subject of this documentary, has been more or less divided between the twenty-odd years before he met Stanley Kubrick and the nearly fifty years since. Every talking head in the film, including Vitali’s, testifies to this fact, so much so that it makes us question the reality of every aspect of the man’s life that is not related to Kubrick. Late in the doc, for example, we hear Vitali’s children voicing not very happy memories about their father’s psychological (when not physical)

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  • Interviews

    Nick Mauss

    For “Transmissions,” his first museum solo exhibition, New York–based artist Nick Mauss juxtaposes his own works with those from public and private collections to reinterpret New York modernism during the first half of the twentieth century. On view through May 14 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the show encompasses dance and visual art. Here, Mauss considers the connections to be found across artistic histories.

    I CONCEIVED OF TRANSMISSIONS as a new work for the museum that is continually in process. I wanted a title that immediately signaled away from received ideas about ballet, to open

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  • Diary

    The Empathy Exam

    “IT’S SO EASY TO LAUGH, it’s so easy to hate. It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” These lyrics from my earnest misspent youth dogged me the night of May 2 as I listened to a conversation between the New York Public Library’s leading interlocutor, Paul Holdengräber, and author George Saunders, whose batty 2017 novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, recently won the Man Booker Prize. The refrain bothered me: Morrissey had once been a hero of mine but is now just a walking alt-right-wing meme. The hypocrisy enraged me, though I thought I shouldn’t care.

    The idea of brave compassion, and the doubtful questions

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  • Music

    Hey Superstar

    FROM THE RECENT BROADWAY REVIVAL of the postmodern epic Cats (1981) to NBC’s live broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar (1970) starring Chrissy Teigen’s husband as the Son of God, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is everywhere these days. The tsar of the mega-musical has long been on the mind of the British experimental musician Klein, who recently graced New York with a live performance, her first since the premiere of her musical Care at London’s ICA this past February. Care, which was in part inspired by her appreciation for Lloyd Webber’s melodramatic, melodic storytelling, gave Klein a chance to work,

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