Bob Nickas

  • Steven Parrino

    ONE OF THE NUMEROUS guerrilla flyers that popped up around the most recent Venice Biennale wondered: “What will the artist do after the curator is gone?” Reverse the polarity and a far more provocative question emerges: “What will the curator do after the artist is gone?” When artists die, curators who would have otherwise collaborated on exhibitions with them, choosing and installing works in tandem, are left on their own. The touch of the artist—and some are exacting about the placement of their work—is absent, to various degrees, in a show installed by someone else. The postmortem exhibition

  • Adam Helms

    VISITING AN ARTIST’S STUDIO for the first time is a lot like going on a blind date. One of the surest points of entry is to scan the walls to see what has been tacked up––postcards, posters, newspaper clippings, art reproductions. Within seconds you might absorb enough information to at least hold your own. In the case of Adam Helms, you hit the ground running, armed with a head full of images and associations: photographs of Chechen guerrillas, Cuban revolutionaries, and guys in fatigues playing war games; stills from Dead Man and The Night of the Hunter; pictures showing the surrender of

  • Lee Lozano

    In the early ’70s, Lee Lozano left the art world and never looked back. The rediscovery of this iconoclastic—and notorious—figure of the ’60s began just before her death in 1999 and continues apace with this comprehensive survey, the artist’s first in Europe. Comprising approximately one hundred works spanning Lozano’s ten-year career, the show traces the path of her art from the physical to the cerebral. Included are intense and emotionally raw early drawings (the words “he gave her a good screwing he said” accompany the image of a man sawing through a two-by-four); “

  • Jutta Koether, Homohomo 2, 2002, acrylic on canvas, 74 3/4 x 59".

    Jutta Koether

    With the renewed interest in the Cologne art scene of the ’80s and ’90s, it was only a matter of time before Jutta Koether, one of its most adventurous figures, finally got her due. Comprising objects, painting, writing, and music, Koether’s oeuvre still feels experimental, even after twenty-odd years. Little wonder that when offered an exhibition in her hometown she opted against a traditional retrospective. Instead, she will present two projects—a large black installation combining new and recycled paintings in the museum’s theater, and, in response to the all-glass

  • Steven Parrino

    STEVEN PARRINO’S austere practice and straightforward approach to the art world made him a model to many of those who knew him and an influence on a wide range of artists. Following his untimely death at age 46 in a motorcycle accident early New Year’s morning, Artforum asked critic and curator Bob Nickas and sometime Parrino collaborator Jutta Koether to offer their thoughts on the late New York artist.

    BOB NICKAS: I probably saw Steven Parrino’s work for the first time in 1984 at Nature Morte, the gallery Alan Belcher and Peter Nagy ran in the East Village. I’d never seen anything like it

  • Matthew Day Jackson

    What could a Viking burial ship, Piet Mondrian, and the punk bands Black Flag and Bad Brains possibly have in common? For Matthew Day Jackson they serve as points in a constellation, multiple references that can be overlaid to draw, in his words, “a cosmological chart.” The Viking ship in question is Jackson’s sculpture Sepulcher, 2003–2004, which the artist constructed from unused material in his studio, as well as from bits and pieces scavenged from previous work. This conscious process of recycling extends to the sail, which references a Mondrian abstraction but is entirely composed of

  • Larry Sultan, Sharon Wild, 2001

    Larry Sultan

    Is there realism in porn films? Larry Sultan’s recent photographic series “The Valley” makes these locations his subject, and the trappings of middle-class life are everywhere evident.

    Is there realism in porn films? While the sets of these movies are part of their artifice, the shoots often occur in rented suburban homes. Larry Sultan’s recent photographic series “The Valley” makes these locations his subject, and the trappings of middle-class life are everywhere evident: manicured lawns, family photos, dolls in a little girl’s room, and, for Southern California, the requisite pool. But instead of splashing kids, Sultan’s large-scale color photographs show us lights, cameras, performers, and crew. Senior curator of photography Sandra S. Phillips


    A LITTLE GIRL FEEDS DUCKS IN A POND as her father watches from a park bench. German tourists stroll through a sun-drenched square on the island of Mallorca. An older woman lost in thought on the subway. A snow-covered playground. An empty train yard. What, if anything, do these pictures have in common? Aside from the fact that they were all taken during the day, that they’re set in cities, and that most are in color, very little connects them. Some might seem related to the street photography of Garry Winogrand and the vernacular aesthetic of William Eggleston; others could be linked to the

  • Left: Leigh Bowery, untitled, 1988. Performance view, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London, 1988. Right: Leigh Bowery and Boy George, The Fridge, London, 1987.

    Bob Nickas on Leigh Bowery

    “IT WAS A BIT LIKE GOING to the zoo and watching Guy the Gorilla in drag.” That’s how Cerith Wyn Evans recalls Leigh Bowery’s weeklong London performance at Anthony d’Offay Gallery in 1988. Bowery, each day in a different costume of his own design, appeared behind a one-way mirror, with an Empire divan on which to perch, pose, or recline. Visitors saw him, but he saw only himself, performed for his own reflection. Footage of the event figures prominently in The Legend of Leigh Bowery (2002), Charles Atlas’s recently unveiled documentary, and the spooky, otherworldly spell that Bowery casts is


    Imagine an optical device designed to project—and then to trace—a virtual image of desire onto the plane surface of everyday life. That would be Walter Pfeiffer’s libidinal camera lucida. Since the late ’60s, beginning in his native Zurich, Pfeiffer has sought (and caught) images of youth and beauty as if on an endless quest, the avocation of entwined hedonism and reportage its own reward. And ours. It’s a quest others have pursued before and since: Pfeiffer is heir to photographers such as Wilhelm von Gloeden and Herbert List and the painter Paul Cadmus as well as a contemporary of Larry Clark,

  • Philip Taaffe

    BOB NICKAS: I remember exactly when we met. I had put together a show in the spring of ’85, in a little storefront on Lafayette Street, and included a painting of yours, with a field of abstracted Arp shapes and Playboy bunny heads. This was my “art about art” show. The works you were doing then had some very clear references to Duchamp and Bridget Riley, and some that weren’t as obvious, like Paul Feeley and Myron Stout. It wasn’t until a few years later that you showed me your earliest work, from ’81–82, which was something else entirely.

    PHILIP TAAFFE: That’s right.

    BN: They were very graphic,


    LAURIE PARSONS made a modest stir in the mid-’80s with her ephemeral interventions. Less than a decade later, she had all but vanished from sight. Another testament to the brutal vagaries of artistic success? Not exactly: BOB NICKAS’s year-by-year chronicle of the dematerialization of an art career puts Parsons’s disappearing act at the center of her project.


    An artist sends her slides to a gallery and is asked to take part in a group show. (And how often does that happen? Does never sound about right?) She exhibits unaltered found objects in the show, most memorably two metal patio chairs