Branden W. Joseph

  • “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, Authorization, 1969, Polaroid Type 55 prints, adhesive tape, mirror in metal frame, 21 1/2 x 17 1/2".

    “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

  • Charles Hugo, Marine Terrace, 1853–54, salt print, 2 5/8 x 3 7/8".

    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

  • Hong-Kai Wang, Music While We Work, 2011, multichannel sound and two-channel digital video installation, 39 minutes 17 seconds. Production still. Photo: Chen You-Wei.


    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


    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

  • Left: Cover of Douglas Crimp, “Our Kind of Movie”: The Films of Andy Warhol (2012). Right: Cover of J. J. Murphy, The Black Hole of the Camera: The Films of Andy Warhol (2012).

    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

  • Abel Gance, Napoléon, 1927. Production still. Marat (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, Study for The Center Is Everywhere (detail), 2012, cut lead crystal, electric lighting, hand-bound book; chandelier 32 x 84 x 32“, book 7 x 10”.

    “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

  • Tony Conrad, Examination, 1979, pencil on paper, Lucite, strap, bed. Installation view, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo, NY, 1979. From “Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-Garde in the 1970s.”

    “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

  • Marco Fusinato, Mass Black Implosion (ST/48-1, 240162, Iannis Xenakis), 2007, ink on archival facsimile of score, 20 7/8 x 25 1/4". From the series “Mass Black Implosions,” 2007–.


    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

  • View of “Brion Gysin: Dream Machine,” 2010, New Museum, New York. From left: Untitled, 1973–79; That I Am I, 1961; untitled, 1973–79. Photo: Naho Kubota.

    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

  • Robert Rauschenberg, National Spinning/Red/Spring, 1971, cardboard and string, 100 x 98 1⁄2 x 8 1⁄2".


    IT IS A MEASURE OF ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG’S ingenuity and inventiveness that, at the moment of his passing away, the art world is only just catching up to his output from the 1970s. The series from that time—the “Cardboards,” “Venetians,” “Early Egyptians,” “Hoarfrosts,” “Jammers,” and more—had never really been hidden. All had figured within the 1976 and 1997 retrospectives organized by Rauschenberg’s best and most dedicated curatorial champion, Walter Hopps.¹ Nevertheless, this era of the artist’s production had received little sustained focus until the 2007 exhibition at Houston’s