Brooks Adams

  • Sandro Chia, In acqua strana e cupa se brilla un punto biano se salta una pupa al volo suo m'affiano (In strange and gloomy water if a white dot shines if a child jumps I will approach her flight), 1979.


    In the early ’80s, with a new interest in things non–New York School, the Transavanguardia—critic Achille Bonito Oliva’s catchall word for the return to figurative painting—was a big deal. Francesco Clemente’s portable frescoes, Sandro Chia’s great Palio restaurant murals, and Enzo Cucchi’s weird, elongated anatomical drawings were the ones to beat in the go-get-’em atmosphere of the moment. This show, curated by Ida Gianelli, backed by advisers Pier Giovanni Castagnoli, David Ross, Nicholas Serota, and Rudi H. Fuchs (who heavily promoted the three C’s), looks at the period

  • Jean Dubuffet

    Jean Dubuffet (1901–85) was a big deal to an adolescent art lover in Chicago in the ‘70s. His monumental black-and-white civic sculptures were the epitome of bland buoyancy, a kind of European Pop-old master gold standard. His championing of art brut and children's art, not to mention his own funky dirt-, gravel-, and cement-filled canvases, looked to be the very lodestars of the local Hairy Whos’ obsessions. Chicago collectors of Picasso and Ivan Albright took to Dubuffet like one of their own, just as their forebears had embraced French Impressionism, to which Dubuffet's work provided many

  • Jean Arp, La Planche à oeufs, 1922.

    The Surrealist Revolution

    Inspired by Douglas Cooper’s 1983 show “The Essential Cubism,” Werner Spies sets out to do “The Essential Surrealism,” a rich if conservative overview, with more than 650 objects, including about 30 loans from MoMA alone.

    Inspired by Douglas Cooper’s 1983 show “The Essential Cubism,” Werner Spies sets out to do “The Essential Surrealism,” a rich if conservative overview, with more than 650 objects, including about 30 loans from MoMA alone. It’s fascinating to see how dueling European art institutions are pulling off mega-exhibitions of Surrealism in a single season. Tate Modern’s “Surrealism: Desire Unbound” was thematic and sexy. Beaubourg’s themes, such as “Dream,” “Night,” “The Flaneur,” and “The City” are a bit more tried-and-true. Spies, the ex-director of the Musée d’Art Moderne,

  • Victor Brauner, La Mort de la Lune (Lunar Death), 1932.

    Victor Brauner

    Victor Brauner is less familiar than his Romanian compatriot Constantin Brancusi, yet his work in many genres—Cubist- and de Stijl–inspired abstraction, Dadaist collage, Surrealist furniture, and encaustic painting—has an ineffable Balkan pungency to it and should be better known. His great painting Force de Concentration de Monsieur K., 1934, is an unforgettable Botero-esque send-up of a porcine bourgeois seen in the nude, while his unique Loup Table goes Meret Oppenheim’s fur-lined teacup one better with its bland carpentry and snarling taxidermy. If at times his ’40s painting seems discouragingly

  • Luigi Ontani

    LUIGI ONTANI IS THAT RARE BIRD OF ART: an unforgettable face, a world-class dandy, and a redoubtable if lovably eccentric presence on the international art-world circuit. In this first US retrospective of his multifaceted output—painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, ceramics, and fabric pieces—we saw the filmed and photographic image of the artist nude and partially draped, alone and accompanied by younger genii figures (usually boys or men of color), many, many times. Yet something more than narcissism emerges from all this Body Art. Ontani's work makes his own

  • Tate Curators

    With the opening next month of the Tate’s Herzog & de Meuron–designed megabranch, Tate Modern, just down the Thames from the museum’s Millbank base, the exhibition space accorded modern and contemporary art at the institution will double. As the museum assumes its newly central role in the contemporary arena, Artforum looks in on the team that will shape the museum’s view of the present in the century to come.



    In the early ’90s, I asked the astute British critic Stuart Morgan what he thought of the work of Lars Nittve, then director of the

  • “Off-Limits: Rutgers University and the Avant-Garde, 1957-1963”

    In 1959, when Lucas Samaras was a flamboyant, patchwork-dressed undergrad at Rutgers, his senior thesis show included a concrete poem with the word “Fuck fuck fuck fuck . . .” inscribing a neat square with a concluding “you” appended at the end. Samaras’s brilliantly jejune production resulted in a huge administrative commotion, which led to his teacher Allan Kaprow being passed over for tenure and, in 1961, leaving the school. Such incidents are entirely characteristic of the wild and crazy mood at Rutgers in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Roy Lichtenstein, perhaps under Kaprow’s influence, made

  • “Fame after Photography”

    In the wake of Di's death, MOMA'S photo chief, Peter Galassi, asked the freelance curators Carole Kismaric and Marvin Heiferman to conceptualize an exhibition exploring the complicitous relationship between photography and celebrity. Exploding the bounds of the still image, the pair bring together all manner of artifact, from an ancient Roman coin to Gilbert Stuart's George Washington to Victorian cartes-de-visite to a cache of nude photographs of George Bernard Shaw. One intention: to show how such varied cultural production feels to the consumer when held in the hand or seen in the pages of

  • Takashi Murakami

    At thirty-seven, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is best known for his fiberglass sculpture My Lonesome Cowboy, 1998, which depicts a larger-than-life-size blond male sprite twirling a humongous jet of his own jissom as if it were a lasso. But this Tokyo-based artist comes with serious credentials: In 1993 Murakami earned a Ph.D. in Nihonga, a nineteenth-century painting style that employs Western techniques to render traditional Japanese subjects. He's also obsessed with the cartoon style known as “Japanimation.” This show of fifty works, curated by Bard's Amada Cruz and Dana FriisHansen of

  • “Charlotte Perriand, Fernand Léger: une connivence”

    At the ripe young age of ninety-five, Charlotte Perriand is being fêted, not only for her own furniture designs but for her hand in the work of her mentor and collaborator Le Corbusier, including the “Grand Confort” armchair and his celebrated pared-down chaise longue. Now, the Musée National Fernand Léger offers a look at another Perriand collaboration, this one with the museum's namesake, who also chipped in on Corbu projects (with paintings, mosaics, and ceramic murals). The creative synergy—commemorated by Perriand in an exhibition in Tokyo in 1955, the year of Leger's death—bubbles

  • Philip Guston

    In 1958, the young Georg Baselitz saw “The New American Painting” in Berlin, and he was much taken by Philip Guston's work. Baselitz's “Heroes,” 1965-66, in turn anticipated Guston's late “smokers” and “drinkers.” The last time a major show of Guston's work came anywhere near Germany was in 1982, the heyday of Neo-Expressionism. This time around the question is, How will Guston's late paintings of KKK hoods and whips fly in a unified Germany? Some fifty works from the '40s to the '70s should whet our appetites for Michael Auping's full-scale Guston extravaganza at the Modern Art Museum of Fort

  • “Transformations: The Art of Joan Brown”

    For years I’ve had a jones for Joan Brown’s ’70s work. The paintings—with their ham-fisted clarity, their relish for pattern and costume, their goofy hieratics and allegorizations, in those hip housepaint colors—hit me in the solar plexus. Brown (1938–1990), a Beat-era youthquaker with a Look-magazine mention and an Artforum cover to her credit by age twentyfive, had evolved by the early ’70s into a cool, funny, contrarian painter (included in Marcia Tucker’s epochal “‘Bad’ Painting” show at the New Museum in 1978) even as she was veering into the loopier byways of the post-Beatles, as