Bibiana Obler

  • View of “Barbara Kruger,” 2016–17, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. From left: Untitled (The future belongs to those who can see it), 1997; Untitled (We don’t need another hero), 1987; Untitled (Think of me thinking of you), 2013. Background: Untitled (Half Life), 2015. Photo: Rob Shelley.

    Barbara Kruger in Washington

    THERE WAS SOMETHING UNCANNY about the timing of “Barbara Kruger,” which opened at the National Gallery of Art this past September. While ostensibly scheduled to reinaugurate the museum’s series of monographic In the Tower exhibitions on the occasion of the reopening of its newly renovated East Building, the show also spanned the final stretch of the 2016 presidential campaign, the election, and the inauguration. Not that the choice was overtly controversial: Kruger’s searing critiques of the Reagan era are by now so canonical that they have even been absorbed into the AP Art History curriculum.

  • Cover of the exhibition catalogue for “Entartete Kunst” (Degenerate Art), 1937. Otto Freundlich, Großer Kopf (Large Head), 1912.

    “Otto Freundlich: Cosmic Communism”

    A monumental archaic head thrusts forward on the cover of the brochure that accompanied the Nazis’ infamous 1937 “Degenerate Art” exhibition. The bust—which looks to the sky, chin firm as if determined to fight—is Großer Kopf (Large Head), 1912, by Otto Freundlich, who died in a concentration camp in 1943. It has been difficult, however, especially for those who do not speak German, to understand Freundlich’s active role in the early-twentieth-century avant-garde. Museum Ludwig aims to change that with a retrospective, accompanied by the artist’s first fully

  • Cynthia Daignault, Neighbor, 2015, oil on canvas, 12 × 9".

    Cynthia Daignault

    Cynthia Daignault’s “Home. This must be the place.” was the fifth installment in a three-year series of site-specific shows that will cumulatively constitute the Rowhouse Project. Every season a new artist occupies 2640 Huntingdon Avenue, a row house in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore; each installation coincides with a new stage of a very slow-going renovation. As of summer 2015, the house was still in the process of being stripped down. Refrigerator, stove, blinds, curtains, ceiling fans—all gone, along with various layers of paint and linoleum. But much remained: a claw-foot tub

  • “Russian Modernism: Cross-Currents in German and Russian Art, 1907–1917”

    The decade preceding the Russian Revolution witnessed productive interchange between German and Russian artists, and Munich was a major hub for the imagining and development of an alternative to Parisian modernism. Artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Alexei von Jawlensky congregated there, informed and inspired by their French colleagues but also allied with their German counterparts in an embrace of Central European and Eastern particularity. “Russian Modernism” promises to be eye-opening for US audiences more familiar with the German-Soviet exchanges of

  • “Degenerate Art”

    WHEN I WENT TO SEE “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937” at the Neue Galerie in New York, I found a line snaking from the museum’s Eighty-Sixth Street entrance and around the corner onto Fifth Avenue. I joked to my neighbor that it was like waiting to see the enormously popular, Nazi-organized namesake exhibition. Crass humor aside, I expected to enjoy the show, which featured National Socialist art alongside the “degenerate” work of such artists as Max Beckmann and George Grosz. But I came away unsettled. I was prepared for an exploration of Nazi aesthetic politics,

  • Lynda Benglis, Toyopet Crown, 1989, stainless steel mesh, aluminum, 66 x 59 x 13".

    Lynda Benglis

    “Lynda Benglis: Everything Flows (1980–2013)” encouraged viewers to think of the artist’s imposing metalized pleat pieces and intimately scaled ceramic sculptures as closely related bodies of work, despite their significant formal discrepancies. Allowing the two series, created between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s, to coexist in all their difference, this exhibition revealed commonalities vital to Benglis’s practice, and the show’s title signaled at least one unifying thread: the artist’s belief that “everything flows.”

    Pleat pieces such as Trippel II, 1988–90, and Toyopet Crown, 1989, capture

  • Rebecca Horn, Berlin Exercises, 1974–75, 16 mm, black-and-white, sound, 42 minutes.

    Rebecca Horn

    Rebecca Horn’s recent exhibition occupied just a few rooms on the second floor of the Weserburg Museum of Modern Art and resulted in no catalogue. The show consisted largely of films and related material (stills, collage studies, models for props), organized around the theme of dance. The exhibition’s title, “Feathers Dancing on Shoulders,” cited one section of Horn’s film Berlin Exercises, 1974–75, the whole of which was on view along with Performances II, 1973. Of her feature-length films, Der Eintänzer (The Gigolo, 1978) which treats dance most extensively, was included (La Ferdinanda, 1981,

  • René Le Somptier, Le P’tit Parigot (The Small Parisian), 1926, black-and-white film in 35 mm, 240 minutes. Production still. Actor wearing costume designed by Sonia Delaunay. © L & M Services B.V. The Hague.

    Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay

    Color literally moved in Sonia Delaunay’s display of fabrics at the 1924 Salon d’Automne, thanks to a kinetic apparatus devised by her husband.

    Color literally moved in Sonia Delaunay’s display of fabrics at the 1924 Salon d’Automne, thanks to a kinetic apparatus devised by her husband. The Cooper-Hewitt seems keen to minimize Robert Delaunay’s presence here, though; at issue, rather, is Sonia’s position at the forefront of modernist fashion, especially her contributions to Jazz Age glamour and her 1930s commissions for the high-end department store Metz & Co., where her name attracted business alongside those of other prominent designers such as Gerrit Rietveld. Striking a balance between the

  • “Who Knows Tomorrow”


    THE LANGUAGE OF GEOGRAPHY—Africa, Europe, the West, the periphery, local, global—inevitably drives exhibitions that critique Eurocentric paradigms. “Who Knows Tomorrow,” a multivenue exhibition on view this summer in Berlin, marked an attempt to move beyond this cartographic model by focusing on temporal interconnections. “Africa” and “Germany” were not considered spatial or conceptual opposites, but rather were signposts of a specific historical moment when discrete spaces such as nation and continent became operative for the modern management of “global” power. The texts accompanying