Brooks Adams

  • “The Risk of Existence”

    For an artist, orchestrating a salon around your own most recent work is a traditional act of hubris that dates to the eighteenth century. It’s also contemporary practice, a way to indulge the fantasy of imposing order on the world, charting your own ancestry of deceased influences, associating yourself with jeunesse dorée art stars, and colonizing the efforts of steadfast underknowns. Such a show always entails diplomacy and self-aggrandizement, involving returned favors, deep pockets, deeper flights of fancy, and an ability to wrestle with your own demons. Such a show also solves the problem

  • James Fenton

    JAMES FENTON, FOR BETTER OR WORSE, is one of the main reasons I still read The New York Review of Books. His art journalism is both plainspoken and perverse, theory-free, zesty, and loose-limbed—at times, admittedly, to a fault. He ushers in a cavalcade of historical greats, from Pisanello to Rauschenberg. He locates many a gay skeleton in the closet. He’s on the prowl for odd bits of arcana, both scholarly and scabrous, as well as fresh dish—dashing off, for instance, to Marbach, Germany, to consult the journals of the early-twentieth-century avant-garde patron Count Harry Kessler.

  • “Jim Dine: Walking Memory, 1959-69”

    In the early ’90s, when talk at the Guggenheim turned to a full-blown Jim Dine retrospective, it didn’t sound like such a great idea. But now, with the focus on his early work, the moment feels right. Including documentation of his plucky participation in Happenings and his luscious, hand-painted Pop canvases, this 100-work exhibition, organized by the in-house team of Germano Celant and Clare Bell, will concentrate on Dine at his best on the precocious emblem maker of hearts and bathrobes, on the clever appropriator of found objects, from carpenter’s


    As the 120-odd portraits in Chuck Close’s full-scale retrospective found their places on the walls of New York’s Museum of Modern Art this February, Brooks Adams visited the installation in progress and talked with the artist and the show’s curator Robert Storr about the work, its development, and the issues surrounding its presentation. Photographer Tina Barney shot the proceedings for Artforum. And, in the essay that follows, art historian Richard Shiff provides a critical overview.

    BROOKS ADAMS: So we’re opening with the big grisaille portraits from the late ’60s and ’70s, right?

    CHUCK CLOSE: Uh-huh. This is the earliest painting, 1967–68—Big Self-Portrait.

    BA: Is this where you feel your work begins?

    CC: Well, I did a nude just before this which I consider part of my mature work. We thought for a while about putting it in but decided just to stick with heads.

    BA: How did you decide against the nude? I mean, it was the most surprising image in the catalogue.

    ROBERT STORR: The only place we could have put it is on the balcony overlooking the garden. The interior spaces wouldn’t

  • New Art from London

    LONDON IS EXPERIENCING what might be called its “Neo–Swinging ’60s” moment. It has at least four or five young artists of international repute. It has a scrappy gallery scene that’s burgeoning in the most unlikely places: abandoned real-estate developments, friends’ apartments, even your corner pub. It has, as always in its moments of efflorescence, an immense theatrical flair, an ironic mordancy, an implicit socialism, and an irreverent devotion to genius loci—that spirit of the place that makes English art of any period so quirky and so difficult to export.

    Now Richard Flood, chief curator of

  • the Florine Scene

    WHENEVER I COME across a European painter of the ’20s and ’30s who is too weird or just too silly to fit into convenient art-historical pigeonholes—the aging James Ensor painting menus in Ostend, for instance, or the Swedish painter Nils Dardel and his similar pranks in Paris—my thoughts always tend in the same direction: toward Florine Stettheimer, her unique blend of cafe cosmopolitanism and Upper West Side hijinks, and the myriad possible relations she could have had with other tangential figures between the wars. I have been fascinated by this quintessential New Yorker since the early ’70s,


    DOROTHEA ROCKBURNE’S NEW MURALS in the Sky Lobby of Philip Johnson’s famous “Chippendale” skyscraper on Madison Avenue are like suns you can look into without being blinded. Theirs is a warm, restorative light. Confronting each other on the north and south walls of the lobby, these colossal orbs of red and yellow mist, shot through with whizzing lines of primary color, looping this way and that, abruptly ending and then shooting off in new directions, appear to rotate in their 30-foot-square fields. Intergalactic speed and micro- and macroscopic dimensions normally unavailable to the naked eye

  • Roger Brown

    During the mid-1970s, when Roger Brown was singled out as one of the new champions of the “Chicago Imagist School,” his painting underwent a transition toward greater size, more pictorial weight, and global subject matter. His use of symmetry and measure, which in the early 1970s had been implicit, became overt and iconic; he began tackling subjects like An Actual Dream of the Second Coming, 1976, and The Entry of Christ into Chicago in 1976, 1976, in expanded versions of his comic-book style. Behind his signature image of little people with 1940s hairdos, seen most often as silhouettes on window

  • Picasso’s Absinth Glasses: Six Drinks to the End of an Era

    Petite veille d’ivresse, sainte! quand ce ne serait que pour le masque dont tu nous as gratifié. Nous t’affirmons, methode! Nous n’oublions pas que tu as glorifié hier chacun de nos âges. Nous avons foi au poison. Nous savons donner notre vie toute entière tous les jours.

    Voici le temps des

    (Little drunken vigil, holy! if only because of the mask you have bestowed on us. We pronounce you, method! We shall not forget that yesterday you glorified each one of our ages. We have faith in the poison. We know how to give our whole life every day.

    Now is the time of the


  • “Panel Discussion With Joseph Beuys”

    Arm-twisting, bad blood, blind adherence to the faith propelled this panel discussion over logistical humps into a new decade. Prolonging the agony of an idea whose time is passing may have attracted an audience, but it could not hold its interest for two hours. The event enforced the Guggenheim’s reputation for openness to contemporary art dialogues and reinforced rumors that Joseph Beuys had agreed to not make political trouble during his show at the Guggenheim. The discussion took place at the museum on the evening of January 2, after the show officially closed.

    The exhilaration produced