Andy Grundberg

  • Walker Evans: New York

    Walker Evans ranks with Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand as a key figure in creating our modern conception of photography—which may explain why he’s enjoying simultaneous high-quality museum shows. On the heels of the High Museum’s traveling exhibition, the Getty’s show concentrates on the photographer’s work from the late ’20s and early ’30s, including views of the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan skyscrapers, and Times Square signs. Chosen by Judith Keller of the Getty, some of the 100-plus pictures offer a glimpse of Evans’ mature, FSA-era documentary style; other, more experimental shots put flesh

  • Andreas Gursky: Photographs, 1994-1998

    In the States, Andreas Gursky may be considered the bronze medalist of recent German photography, behind the Towering Thomases (Ruff and Struth), but this exhibition—not to mention the larger retrospective opening this August in Düsseldorf—makes the case for a more equitable assessment. The twenty-six pictures in the show (curated by the museum’s own Veit Görner, who is also editing the catalogue) focus on such subjects as hotel atriums, museum installations, and inhabited landscapes, unified by the cool severity of their organization. Like Ruff’s and Smith’s best work, these large photos raise

  • “Present Tense”

    If “Present Tense: Nine Artists in the Nineties” is any indication, the present is not so much tense as profoundly melancholy. Apparently awaiting the moment when the dilatory millennium will press our collective restart button, the artists in this zeitgeisty exhibition seem to have plenty of time on their hands. The consolation is that they use it well.

    A labor-intensive preoccupation with fabrication was the central feature of the primarily sculptural and installation-oriented art on view. The pièce de résistance in this make-work vein was Jim Hodges’ No Betweens, 1996, a 30-foot diaphanous

  • Paul Strand, Circa 1916

    The year 1916 was something of an annus mirabilis not just for Paul Strand but for photography in general. With striking urban images like his forceful Blind Woman, the photographer helped sway his medium, and the influential Alfred Stieglitz, from the gauzy Pictorialist confections that had passed for art in the early part of the century. Stieglitz, whose own New York pictures may be credited as a precedent for these images, announced his conversion by publishing Strand’s work in the final issues of the journal Camera Work. Also on view in this selection of vintage prints, organized by Met

  • Walker Evans: Simple Secrets

    Drawn from the collection of Atlantans Marian and Benjamin A. Hill, the eighty-eight prints in “Simple Secrets” hit all points of Walker Evans’ career, from his shots of Alabama tenant farmers for the celebrated book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men to assignments for Fortune. Evans seemed to be always on the go, and the pictures he made on subways and trains are seen here in abundance. The show's real secret, however, lies in thirteen never-before-published images, plus variant versions of Evans classics. High Museum curator Ellen Fleurov’s catalogue includes a definitive annotated checklist.

  • Sargent Johnson: African-American Modernist

    Sargent Johnson has long been considered a curious footnote to the heady Bay Area Modernism of the ’20s and ’30s. This first full survey of his sculpture and works on paper, organized by Yale art historian Judith Wilson, curator Lizzetta LeFalle-Collins, and SF MoMA associate curator Janet Bishop, suggests he deserves better, although it also reveals the erratic—and problematic—nature of his hybrid achievement. Sculpting in ceramic and wood and mixing elements borrowed from European, folk, and African tribal models, Johnson, whose own heritage was biracial, sought the essence of “the pure American


    VIK MUNIZ’S SIGMUND, 1997, is a five-by-four-foot color photograph of a drawing made with chocolate syrup on a five-by-four-inch piece of white plastic. Muniz used a view camera mounted on a copy stand to take the photograph, a straight pin to draw the portrait, and Bosco brand syrup as his medium. When he finished, he licked the plastic clean.

    Such dislocations of scale, medium, and aesthetic expectation are a source of pleasure to this thirty five-year-old, Brazilian-born, New York-based polymath; more to the point, they’re his artistic stock-in trade. Muniz calls himself a “low-tech

  • Police Pictures: The Photograph as Evidence

    The closest thing to a trend on the photography scene these days is the recuperation of nonart photographs by museums and galleries, and this 150-print survey of police pictures mines a particularly rich source. While the exhibition includes the usual suspects (e.g., Weegee and Eugène Atget), the real grist is in its anonymous mug shots and photos of crime scenes, culled by curator Sandra Phillips from prison records, police archives, and library collections. From nineteenth-century ID photos made by the Paris police to portraits of condemned prisoners of the Khmer Rouge, the message is clear:


    HALF A MILLENIUM AFTER Botticelli painted Venus as the central figure in the mysterious parable of Primavera, Rineke Dijkstra brings the figure back for a solo turn in the form of Polish adolescent on the beach of Kolobrzeg. Dijkstra’s Venus has the lock and slouch of a Renaissance beauty, to be sure but she is also the picture of a wary, awkward late-twentieth-century teenager—half wet, half exposed, half accessible, half grown. Like Botticelli’s other masterwork Birth of Venus, she rises up from the alabaster zone between the ocean and earth, becoming the 90’s cipher of individual evolution.