Branden W. Joseph

  • Branden W. Joseph

    ENTERING MARTIN BECK’S EXHIBITION “rumors and murmurs,” curated by Matthias Michalka at the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna, you were implicitly presented with two routes. Taking a swift right before the almost imperceptibly subtle fabric wall rumors and murmurs (Polygon), 2012/2017, and continuing into the smaller galleries behind the stairwell, one came upon what almost appeared to be a conventional midcareer retrospective. From there, one proceeded past An Organized System of Instructions, 2016, a videotaped lecture from Beck’s project at Harvard University’s Carpenter

  • LEE LOZANO

    Forty-five years after Lee Lozano notoriously separated herself from the mainstream art world (with Dropout Piece, ca. 1970), her stature within it only continues to rise. Once viewed almost solely as an adjunct to Conceptualism—despite the fact that Lucy Lippard would retrospectively dub her “the major female figure” of the movement—Lozano is now also widely recognized as a formidable painter whose work intersected with both the Pop and Minimalist tendencies of the 1960s and early ’70s. Approaching her often highly sexualized early

  • Tony Conrad

    I REMEMBER VISITING Tony Conrad one morning in his hotel room in Rotterdam, where I’d traveled to see his performance of 7360 Sukiyaki, 1973, alongside a screening of his more canonical structural films and a concert of amplified drone violin. Anyone who knew Conrad can recall how he occupied his spaces, with a proliferation of instruments and/or equipment of various vintages, in variable conditions of repair, each one related to an ongoing project in some state of completion or incompletion. Although he could not have been in his hotel room for more than twenty-four hours by that point, his

  • “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957”

    Having taken on artistic labor and the legacy of the part-object in contemporary sculpture, Helen Molesworth turns her curatorial acumen to the formidable artistic legacy of Black Mountain College, an experimental hothouse of multidisciplinary artistic innovation that existed for just over two decades. Not only is the exhibition to feature more than 260 contributions by almost a hundred artists—including John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Gwendolyn and Jacob Lawrence, and a host of equally celebrated and

  • “Ulrike Müller: The Old Expressions Are With Us Always and There Are Always Others”

    The title of Ulrike Müller’s exhibition derives from the early-twentieth-century little magazine Others, which promoted modern free-verse poetry and was associated with Grantwood, a thriving artistic community of individuals united, as Suzanne Churchill put it, “solely by their difference from any norm.” All facets of this reference (including the title phrase’s placement on the magazine’s cover by the feminist artist Marguerite Zorach) prove apposite for Müller, whose prints, drawings, and expanded painting practice—encompassing paint on canvas, vitreous enamel

  • “Warhol by the Book”

    Given the attention afforded every aspect of Andy Warhol’s diverse production and legacy, it is surprising that his engagement with books has taken so long to come to the fore. Like last year’s anthology Reading Andy Warhol: Author Illustrator Publisher, “Warhol by the Book” seeks to rectify this situation, bringing together some four hundred objects associated with more than eighty different books, from faux-naive self-published pre-Pop titles to the fascinatingly dark Andy Warhol’s Index (Book) of 1967, which encapsulates the look and ethos of the Silver Factory at its

  • Branden W. Joseph

    I have always loved William S. Burroughs’s writing out of all proportion to other literature. Part of the reason is undoubtedly that, even before he adopted the cut-up method of the painter Brion Gysin, Burroughs treated language as if it were the type of physical matter manipulated by a visual artist. Oliver Harris, who between 2003 and 2010 oversaw the reissue of Burroughs’s early trilogy Junky, Queer, and The Yage Letters, was perhaps the first editor to realize this fully, formulating an idea of “social text-editing” in which the material history of each of Burroughs’s manuscripts was not

  • MINOR THREAT: THE ART OF CAMERON JAMIE

    EVEN WITHIN an already markedly diverse oeuvre, Cameron Jamie’s recent work is initially difficult to place. Despite certain iconographic continuities—found most notably in Jamie’s primary leitmotif, the mask—his newly atmospheric pen-and-wash drawings, brightly colored ceramics, and intimate Xerox artists’ books appear to depart starkly from the documentary impulse behind his much-celebrated films. Highlights of his singular filmography include BB, 1998–2000, which captures the dangerous antics and assumed personae of suburban backyard wrestlers; Kranky Klaus, 2002–2003, which follows

  • Tony Conrad

    Tony Conrad’s work has always engaged with regimes of power and the subject’s place within them, whether in the phenomenologically demanding acoustic environments created by the Theatre of Eternal Music or the cognitively scrambling optical impacts of his 1965 stroboscopic film The Flicker. In the early 1980s, Conrad began to make such thematizations of power explicit in pieces like Beholden to Victory, an “army film” that implicates its audiences in the dynamics of surly officers and shiftless, insubordinate privates. Conrad’s sequel, a women-in-prison epic known as the

  • “Len Lye: Motion Sketch”

    In films such as Swinging the Lambeth Walk (1940), where drawn and scratched lines undulate in striated verticals and sine-wave-like horizontals to a jaunty jazz sound track, and Free Radicals (1958), in which chalklike inscriptions streak and sway across a pitch-black screen accompanied by African music, New Zealand animator Len Lye used the cinematic apparatus to make static frames (cels) appear to move. In “Motion Sketch,” the Drawing Center will focus on the inverse and much less known aspect of Lye’s production: his hand-drawn images intended to distill

  • “Michael Snow: Photo-Centric”

    In Authorization, 1969, Michael Snow transformed the seemingly static, two-dimensional photographic medium into something both sculptural and performative: Shooting his own reflection with a tripod-mounted camera, he then pasted the resulting self-portrait onto the mirror’s surface, repeated the process four more times, and exhibited the collaged result. That same year, in One Second in Montreal, Snow took a different tack, producing a motion picture using only a series of still images of snowy landscapes. Both works showcase the Canadian artist’s eccentric approach to

  • Branden W. Joseph

    THE FIRST WORK ENCOUNTERED in the exhibition “Entrée des médiums: Spiritisme et art de Hugo à Breton” was Honoré Daumier’s lithographic suite La Fluidomanie, 1853, which satirizes the vogue for the paranormal phenomenon of table turning. Ascending the staircase of the Maison de Victor Hugo, past Daumier’s biting caricatures of attempts to make furniture spin, dance, and talk, brought to mind Karl Marx’s allusion to the craze in his evocation of a table that, as a commodity, “stands on its head, and evolves out of its wooden brain grotesque ideas, far more wonderful than if it were to begin

  • “Soundings”

    THE ENCOUNTER between sound and listener is widely held to be uniquely ephemeral, ineluctably tied to real time and immediate presence. Yet long before anyone heard the first tone in “Soundings: A Contemporary Score,” the Museum of Modern Art’s survey of recent acoustic practices in the arts, the show’s actual content had nearly been drowned out by a din of speculations and pronouncements about the museum’s role in promoting “sound art.” Although many exhibitions garner advance publicity, the proleptic assessments of “Soundings”—including Blake Gopnik’s New York Times preview, the considerable

  • NEGATIVE CAPABILITIES: CLAES OLDENBURG AND JACKSON POLLOCK

    ANYONE RESEARCHING CLAES OLDENBURG will eventually stumble across Adrian Henri’s 1974 volume Total Art: Environments, Happenings, and Performance. Riddled with myth and misinformation and unconvincingly associating phenomena ranging from seventeenth-century street festivals to the Parisian events of May 1968, Henri’s rightfully forgotten publication nonetheless remains symptomatic of art history’s predominant reception of Oldenburg’s early production. (A large selection of this work is on view this month at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, in an exhibition that brings together Oldenburg’s key

  • two new studies of Warhol’s films

    Douglas Crimp, “Our Kind of Movie”: The Films of Andy Warhol (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012), 184 pages; J. J. Murphy, The Black Hole of the Camera: The Films of Andy Warhol (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 320 pages.

    THE MARKET seems able to bear an almost unlimited number of books on Andy Warhol. Most are about as substantial as Uniqlo’s line of Warhol T-shirts and do just as little for his artistic reputation. Two recent publications, however—Douglas Crimp’s “Our Kind of Movie”: The Films of Andy Warhol and J. J. Murphy’s The Black Hole of the Camera: The Films of Andy

  • MODERNISM WITHOUT ORGANS: ANTONIN ARTAUD

    SINCE THE PUBLICATION of Peter Bürger’s Theory of the Avant-Garde, importantly inflected by Benjamin H. D. Buchloh and Hal Foster, we have understood postwar art as conditioned by the progressive recovery of the legacies of avant-garde artists: Duchamp, Schwitters, Heartfield, Höch, and Dada, on the one side, Malevich, Rodchenko, Stepanova, Tatlin, and Soviet Productivism, on the other.¹ Currently, the situation is redoubled, for we are as distant from the postwar neo-avant-gardes as the neo-avant-gardes themselves were from their prewar counterparts. Artforum’s fiftieth anniversary places us

  • “Josiah Mcelheny: Some Pictures of the Infinite”

    With references from Paul Scheerbart to Josef Hoffmann, Mies van der Rohe to Yves Saint Laurent, Josiah McElheny has provided some of the most intriguing and important artistic contem- plations of how the modernist legacy, high and low, survives within our post- postmodern era.

    With references from Paul Scheerbart to Josef Hoffmann, Mies van der Rohe to Yves Saint Laurent, Josiah McElheny has provided some of the most intriguing and important artistic contem- plations of how the modernist legacy, high and low, survives within our post- postmodern era. Themed around the notion of the infinite, McElheny’s survey exhibition covers the past two decades of his career, gathering some twenty glassworks, sculptures, films, and a performance, many of which continue his reflections (both metaphoric and literal) on modernity. Highlights include Island

  • “Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-garde in the 1970s”

    At moments during the 1970s, Buffalo must have seemed the center of the avant-garde world. Not even in Manhattan could you find celebrated structural filmmakers Tony Conrad, Hollis Frampton, and Paul Sharits rubbing shoulders with Morton Feldman and John Cage; catch outdoor installations by Nancy Holt, Mary Miss, and Gordon Matta-Clark; drive through sound art by Max Neuhaus; and encounter soon-to-be-dubbed “Pictures” artists Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo. Following the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany’s 2008 “Buffalo Heads” show, which focused exclusively on the University

  • DARK ENERGY: THE ART OF MARCO FUSINATO

    PROMINENTLY FEATURED on Marco Fusinato’s bookshelf is a section dedicated to the Red Brigades, the militant leftist organization infamous for the 1978 kidnapping and murder of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro. Fusinato admits to having been intrigued, even a bit obsessed, not so much by the group’s actions or motives as by the memoirs of imprisoned former members—individuals who at some point early in their lives decided upon the most radical path, only to be compelled to contemplate the outcome of that decision for decades. Fusinato, born in 1964 and thus of a generation destined

  • Brion Gysin

    IN 1962, AT THE GALLERIA Trastevere di Topazia Alliata in Rome, Brion Gysin covered a wall with paintings and filled the space with manipulated, tape-recorded sound poetry. Neither paintings nor poetry could be contemplated serenely, however, for—in addition to permuting the canvases’ arrangement each day—Gysin bathed the room in the vision-inducing light effects of a Dreamachine, the rotating flicker device he created with Ian Sommerville in 1960 and patented in 1961. The goal, explained Gysin, was to produce “A Chapel of Extreme Experience.” Although the New Museum in New York chose