Alison M. Gingeras

  • diary November 24, 2004

    Vendor Bender

    A few hours into a two-day visit to Warsaw, I took a short taxi ride to a primarily residential neighborhood just across the Wisla River from the city’s historic center but seemingly light-years from its “olde-world” charm. Thanks to an early snowstorm, an otherwise prosaic cityscape had taken on an almost festive winter ambiance. Perhaps because of this pristine dusting of white, Thomas Hirschhorn’s cardboard-and-Plexiglas sculpture was almost impossible to find. Installed on an empty patch of concrete not far from an outdoor fruit-and-vegetable stall, a newspaper stand, and a makeshift cubicle

  • diary November 18, 2004



    What with the swell of the art market and the previously unheard-of high-level private interest in contemporary art in Paris, Emmanuel Perrotin has plenty to celebrate these days. Still, the invitation from the ever-effervescent French dealer to join him and some three hundred VIPs on Tuesday night for a sit-down dinner followed by a concert and dance party—at Le Georges, no less, the overrated yet, one must admit, magically situated restaurant atop the Centre Pompidou—suggested an occasion. And the invitation itself provided the first clue: a pretty Deco building in Miami—formerly

  • Performing the Self: Martin Kippenberger

    Martin Kippenberger, to lift a lyric from Elvis Presley, “was born standing up and talking back.” At least that’s how the legend goes. Anecdotes concerning the countless misdeeds of this enfant terrible at times nearly eclipse the physical “substance” of his art. His lifelong campaign to shroud his work in an aura of rebellious behavior started early. Shuttled around various private schools in West Germany in the late 1960s, Kippenberger was the type of kid who performed outrageous acts to win the admiration of his peers, and masterfully taunted the teacher. But if Kippenberger was not the

  • A Roundtable

    “JEFF KOONS MAKES ME SICK.” The words are Peter Schjeldahl’s, and the occasion was a review in the SoHo weekly 7 Days, back in the ’80s, before Koons was quite the museum-certified star he is today. In the course of the write-up, Schjeldahl would turn his conceit around, explaining how undeniable, unstoppable, finally essential the experience of the artist’s work was for him. What makes Koons’s art simultaneously so toxic and so compelling? And why is it both institutionally embraced and yet seen by many as an art of diminishing returns, a symptom of all that is wrong with culture today? Koons

  • OPENINGS: hobbypopMUSEUM

    Everyone played at being terrorists when I was young,” confides Sophie von Hellermann, one of the founding members of hobbypopMUSEUM, an insouciant German artists’ collective that dared to romanticize terrorism even in the wake of 9/11. This group of young artists—von Hellermann, Christian Jendreiko, Matthias Lahme, Dietmar Lutz and André Niebur form the core—banded together in 1998 while studying at Düsseldorf’s famous Kunstakademie. Von Hellerman’s deadpan remark was intended to “explain” the inspiration for hobbypop’s installation Baader-Meinhof (also known by its subtitle, Hänsel und Gretel


    Urs Fischer is not Matthew Barney. The autonomous, if decidedly lo-fi, objects Fischer crafts are the very antitheses of the spectacular “sets” Barney creates to further his self-generated mythology. Barney’s practice literally trades in high production values: He typically fabricates secondary objects to finance the film extravaganzas that ultimately provide the narrative context on which his metasculptures depend. Fischer, on the contrary, is a “sculptor’s sculptor,” minus the backward-looking baggage the notion suggests. Like Dieter Roth, Franz West, Charles Ray, and Paul Thek, Fischer is

  • “Painting on the Move”

    To examine the history of painting during the past century as a whole is a daunting task, fit only for the historian or curator with kamikaze fantasies. While the definition of painting as a medium is still relatively clear—despite numerous technical innovations and self-inflicted wounds—it seems futile to speak of painting as such without isolating specific issues and practices. Successful single-medium exhibitions tend to break down their subject into bite-size morsels (e.g., Paul Schimmel and Donna De Salvo’s “Hand-Painted Pop” at LA MoCA, 1992, or Laura Hoptman’s timely matchmaking in her