Allese Thomson

  • interviews July 09, 2015

    Jimmie Durham

    Jimmie Durham is an American sculptor, essayist, and poet based in Europe, where he has lived since 1994. Durham spent most of the 1970s as a political organizer with the American Indian Movement, serving as director of the International Indian Treaty Council. “Here at the Center,” his latest solo exhibition, is on view at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (NBK) in Berlin through August 2, 2015. Additionally, his work can be seen in the Fifty-Sixth Venice Biennale through November 22, 2015.

    IN 1963, I was just out of the military and started my real adult life doing art and politics together. I’ve never

  • diary June 22, 2015

    Dirty Dancing

    “IT’S IMPORTANT that people keep the world dirty,” said dealer Olivier Babin last Thursday as he scanned a dark dance floor covered in broken glass. Many were soaked in sweat. A group of men stripped off their shirts. Lean bodies pressed against each other. There had been just one invitation to this party, a red-and-black animated GIF that eight galleries (Isabella Bortolozzi, Greene Naftali, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Mathew, Real Fine Art, dépendance, 47 Canal, High Art) had e-mailed to a select group. Galcher Lustwerk, Bianca Heuser, and Spencer Sweeney were set to DJ, though Sweeney, wearing

  • diary May 16, 2015

    Maze Runner

    “THEY SUGGESTED CHAMPAGNE—and I said forget about it! So pedestrian, this isn’t Woolworths, you know.” Alex Katz is laughing big and talking about the opening party for his collaboration with Art Production Fund and Barneys, for which he designed an extensive set of limited-edition housewares. “I wanted martinis and corned beef—New York, New York!” I ask if he’s planning to go to Frieze, which opened its fourth edition earlier in the day. He shakes his head. “Depressing—it’s not art there, it’s interior design.”

    “But all this?” I respond, gesturing at the linens, sheets, candles, blankets, towels,

  • diary May 03, 2015

    Weekend Update

    UPDATE FROM BERLIN: Klara Liden is still making punk art, developing a practice that began with smashing bicycles and evolved into architectural interventions. Laura Owens has incorporated text into her polite paintings—in the form of an apocalyptic death note. Cyprien Gaillard debuted a 3-D film that’s like Bill Viola gone major motion picture. Merlin Carpenter has begun a polemic about why the readymade really has nothing to do with fetishistic consumer value. (Take that, Koons!) The essay is due out next month. For now, see his show, which includes several identical objects—a pram, a fridge,

  • picks April 03, 2015

    “Margret: Chronicle of an Affair – May 1969 to December 1970”

    How do you document an affair? Receipts, maps, menus, locks of hair, ticket stubs, empty contraception packages, fingernail clippings, letters explicitly recounting sexual positions, and photographs—hundreds and hundreds of photographs, which in this affair were taken by Cologne businessman Gunter F. of his young secretary, Margret. The couple spent a year together, and all of the above material was meticulously collected by Gunter and packed into a briefcase, which was later found in an abandoned German apartment. This archive is currently receiving its US debut, “Margret: Chronicle of an Affair

  • picks March 06, 2015

    Danny McDonald

    Robert Stone once intuited that comedy amounts to “I was there”—an illustrative insight for Danny McDonald’s output. The American artist makes sculptures out of cartoonish characters—action figures; dolls from myths, fables, and movies; ghoulish masks—yet his works feel less comical than urgent. In Mechanical Bank, 2015, a villainous Uncle Sam is positioned upside-down—his eyes smolder in black and red, a fat gold coin is clenched in his teeth, and a cackling brown goblin is perched atop the neck of his severed head, an American dream gone dark and Rocky Horror Picture Show. If reality—by which

  • picks January 23, 2015

    Calvin Marcus

    In 1684, a hall of mirrors was erected in Versailles as an immersive stage that would send countless reflections of a single expression into the world. If today the screen fulfills the function of the mirror, we’re left with a troubling question: Is the digital image more complete than a reflection? It’s an anxious proposition and one occupying Calvin Marcus, though the Los Angeles–based artist doesn’t make digital images. He favors clay and sticks of oil, tempered hardboard and corrugated cardboard, creating small sculptures—a sleeping ceramic shark, a crib-like wooden cage, doll-sized houses

  • interviews January 16, 2015

    Helmut Lang

    Helmut Lang’s stealth apparel upended fashion, violating basic principles of design and reshaping the silhouette of the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2005, Lang retired from fashion entirely, retreating to his property on Long Island where for the past decade he has created artwork that have been shown in exhibitions worldwide. Here, Lang talks about his New York solo debut at Sperone Westwater, which is on view through February 21, 2015.

    I NEVER WANTED TO BE A DESIGNER. I wanted to be an artist but happened to land in fashion. Most of my friends in Vienna, where I spent the majority of my twenties,

  • picks January 12, 2015

    Takashi Murakami

    In his latest exhibition, Takashi Murakami turns from the shellacked consumerism that has marked his recent output toward psychologically conflicted (if still shellacked) terrain. He continues to luxuriate in the outlandish—golden lions made of tinted high-chromium stainless steel tower at nearly nine feet (The Birth Cry of a Universe, 2014); a fifty-six ton replica of a sanmon, a sacred gate to a Japanese Zen Buddhist temple, eats up an entire gallery (Bakuramon, 2014). But complexity and strangeness dwell amid these impassive surfaces. The canvas-on-wood panel painting Isle of the Dead, 2014,

  • picks December 22, 2014

    Tai Ogawa

    In a 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College, David Foster Wallace noted our present culture lends the “freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms,” which is also say, the liberty to be very alone. This is certainly the case for the figures depicted in the work of Tai Ogawa: The Tokyo-based artist paints people in watercolors and then cuts each of their bodies out of the page like paper dolls. He adheres them to sheets of paper that he has sprayed with DayGlo hues; eight of these works are on view in his US debut, along with over a dozen watercolors. Some have houses and

  • diary October 15, 2014

    Happily Ever After

    ALL THE PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS were there: the Madonna and Metallic Venus, Michael Jackson and Bubbles, the Fall ’91 career woman, Frau mit Hund, the boy with his toy car, the resourceful Young Man, a spectacularly pert red Balloon Dog. And then there were portents: an apple, a tractor, a ghost with a pool of blood, a herd of Hoovers. There was one elephant in the room, and it was green.

    And then a family of mortals: Moderna Museet director Daniel Birnbaum and Stedelijk director Beatrix Ruf; curators Jack Bankowsky and Scott Rothkopf; dealers Matthew Marks and Jeffrey Deitch; Anne Wagner, Helen

  • diary October 04, 2014

    Birds of a Feather

    DIS IS NAMED CURATOR OF THE 2016 BERLIN BIENNALE. It’s the first time an art collective will curate the event. I find out in Berlin. The city’s annual fair—Art Berlin Contemporary, now in its seventh edition—is set to open in two days. Its premise is the booth as solo show: Privilege the art by giving it ample space. This makes sense in a city known less for its market than its mayor’s mantra: “Poor but sexy.”

    Or does it? That night, Phillips’s Martin Klosterfelde hosts a dinner at Paris Bar, Martin Kippenberger’s fabled watering hole. Old legends die hard. Phillips has a special stake in the