Alex Kitnick

  • Paintings for the Art Fund of the Museum of Artistic Culture in the Museum Bureau of IZO Narkompros collection, Moscow, 1919–20.  © Encyclopedia of the Russian Avant-garde. 

    REQUIEM FOR A DREAM

    THE IDEA OF AN AVANT-GARDE MUSEUM has something of the head-scratching quality of the oxymoron to it—because didn’t the avant-garde turn its back on institutions in hopes of engaging directly with life? (That said, why people consider institutions anathema to life has always been another head-scratcher for me.) In his 1909 Futurist Manifesto, F. T. Marinetti promised to destroy museums and other dusty sites of knowledge (“libraries, academies of every kind”) in order to make space for speed and dynamism. But ten years later, over in Russia, Kazimir Malevich used language similar to Marinetti’s

  • Liu Chuang, Bitcoin Mining and Field Recordings of Ethnic Minorities, 2018, three-channel 4K video, color, sound, 40 minutes.
    April 21, 2021

    “INFORMATION (Today)”

    Curated by Elena Filipovic

    Over the last number of years, curators have plumbed archives and restaged key postwar exhibitions in hopes of grasping the present. One of the more promising efforts in this vein is Elena Filipovic’s forthcoming reimagination of Kynaston McShine’s “Information,” presented in 1970 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “INFORMATION (Today)” will demonstrate how the technologies and systems-thinking that took hold of art practices worldwide in the late 1960s continue to fascinate us. But the occasion is not simply a golden anniversary (the show was originally scheduled

  • Pauline Boty posing with her painting Celia Birtwell Surrounded by her Heroes, 1963, London, October 29, 1963. Photo: Michael Ward.

    Style Counsel

    The Hidden Mod in Modern Art: London, 1957–1969, by Thomas Crow. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020. 200 pages.

    THOMAS CROW’S NEW VOLUME, The Hidden Mod in Modern Art: London, 1957–1969, is a meticulous account of the imbrications between artmaking and stylemaking in postwar London, flanked by a jeremiad against what its author perceives as received ideas in contemporary art history. Indeed, Crow’s street-level method—we are treated to a litany of place names, hairstyles, and vivid descriptions of magazines—is part and parcel of his complaint: If art is to be meaningful, Crow seems to insist,

  • Caravaggio, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew, 1602, oil on canvas, 9' 8 1/2" x 6' 2 1/2".

    Point of No Return

    “WHEN DISCONTENT WITH MUSEUMS is strong enough to provoke the attempt to exhibit paintings in their original surroundings or in ones similar, in baroque or rococo castles, for instance, the result is even more distressing than when the works are wrenched from their original surroundings and then brought together.” This is Theodor Adorno in his great essay “Valéry Proust Museum,” first published in German in 1955, a moment of reckoning and reconstruction. Though Adorno doesn’t specify why the attempt to return and repatriate is more upsetting than the original rift and reassembling of modernity,

  • Tom Burr, Deep Purple, 2000, wood, steel, paint. Installation view, FRAC Champagne Ardenne, Reims, France. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

    CROSSED PATHS

    THE MUSEUEMS ARE CLOSED but the sculptures are still there. Memorials and monuments, too. If you’re in Lower Manhattan, you can ramble along the Irish Hunger Memorial’s serpentine path, a rugged simulacrum of peat and stone. I’ve never been to Ireland, but I take it that parts of it look like this. The strangeness of the work is its location in Battery Park City, where since 2002 it has sat like a souvenir between corporate towers, with the Hudson River stretching out to the west. Robert Smithson called certain of his sculptures “nonsites” to denote their difference from the sites whence they

  • “Danh Vo: Take my breath away”

    In the Christian tradition, the “laying on of hands” is a way of transporting a spirit from one body to another. Danh Vo made a similar technique integral to his art. Starting with an array of scavenged objects, ranging from grand chandeliers to presidential pens, Vo alters them—in ways that are undetectable to the human eye—by imbuing them with an affective charge. At times, he cuts these items into pieces, as he did with Roman sculptures and, more metaphorically, the Statue of Liberty. And then there are the cardboard boxes that he

  • View of “Louise Lawler: Why Pictures Now,” 2017, Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Martin Seck.

    Louise Lawler

    IN THE VIDEO The Public Life of Art: The Museum, 1988–89, Andrea Fraser guides the viewer through the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Wearing a gray business suit, she twirls past paintings by Matisse and Kline as she breathlessly enumerates the benefits museums bring to their home cities, including business talent and tourist dollars. Her script is ironic and incisive, to say the least, but the way she is framed by the camera—beside brochures and under works of art—is also striking. In one shot, a fragment of a Roy Lichtenstein painting and a burnished metal trash can form a tense

  • Thomas Eggerer, Moonlight Slowdown, 2017, oil on linen, 65 x 64".

    Thomas Eggerer

    Thomas Eggerer’s recent exhibition marked a conspicuous shift in the artist’s practice. While architecture and the (almost always male) human figure have long been central to Eggerer’s paintings, both subjects typically appeared with a brushy unfinish that emphasized the paintings’ process. In contrast, Eggerer’s new compositions have a smooth, even-sealed quality to them. But perhaps the defining feature of the painter’s earlier practice was that his bodies almost always appeared in groups—clamoring in the ocean, working in the fields, traveling by bus, or lolling about on a playground.

  • Liz Glynn, Open House, 2017, cast concrete. Installation view. Photo: James Ewing.

    Liz Glynn

    The William C. Whitney House used to stand at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Sixty-Eighth Street, but like a lot of things in New York, it was torn down to make way for the future. (A large apartment complex occupies the site today.) For her project some ten blocks south, at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Los Angeles–based artist Liz Glynn has re-created portions of the lost building’s Stanford White–designed interiors out of concrete. Using photographic documentation as a kind of negative, Glynn cast a suite of armchairs and settees and sofas, as well as entryways and porticos, which gave the project

  • Rita McBride, Way Out West Wagon Wheel, 2010, laminate on wood, 59 × 59 × 12 5/8".

    “RITA McBRIDE: EXPLORER”

    At the beginning of their career, Bernd and Hilla Becher referred to the industrial structures in their photographs as “anonymous sculptures,” but eventually they dropped the phrase, worried that it sounded too arty. McBride’s artworks, which often take the form of quasi-architectural features such as vents and stadium seating, similarly wrestle with their relationship to sculpture, while simultaneously expanding its possibilities. Though the artist’s work might appear unassuming at first, its weight and power grow on the viewer, gradually revealing a subtle, pointed engagement

  • Jay DeFeo, untitled, 1987, Xerox, 11 × 73⁄8". From “Mechanisms.”

    “MECHANISMS”

    “Mechanisms” situates itself in a tradition of machinic shows, most famously Pontus Hultén’s 1968–69 encyclopedic presentation “The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age.” But where Hultén filled MoMA's galleries with hardware—ranging from a race car to Robert Rauschenberg’s metal assemblage Oracle, 1962–65—and emphasized the items’ autonomy as objects, the roughly one hundred sculptures, photographs, videos, paintings, and site-specific installations Huberman has selected for “Mechanisms,” by artists including Aaron Flint Jamison and Park McArthur,

  • Mathias Poledna, Substance, 2014, 35 mm, color, sound, 6 minutes 40 seconds.

    Mathias Poledna

    The kernel of Mathias Poledna’s exhibition was Substance, a six-minute, forty-second 35-mm film depicting the movements of a Rolex watch. The 2014 work was first shown at the Renaissance Society in Chicago that year, and in that exhibition, Poledna also removed the trusswork from the institution’s ceiling. Two portions of that metal structure appeared here, suspended by wire, like bits of a miniature railway bridge. Hanging in an otherwise empty white cube, these were the first things one saw before a mix of music and motorized projector noise ushered the viewer into the black box at the gallery’s