Bruce Hainley

  • DEAR MARIE

    DEAR MARIE,

    I haven’t come across a single mention of what perfume you wore. Perhaps Le Rose de Nicole Groult or Le Bleu de Nicole Groult, scents launched by Nicole Groult in her (and your) roaring heyday, some in flacons designed by her husband for Daum? Hard to believe you wouldn’t know notes of either—lily of the valley, lilac—on your pulse points. Nicole Groult synchronized the beat for the happiest moments of your life, as her name does this letter.

    She dressed a staunch, arty syndicate: Dorothy Parker, Virginia Woolf, Sara Murphy, Olga Picasso, Marie-Laure de Noailles, Madge Garland; all

  • ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS

    “THE MAIN SUBJECT IS THE SURFACE, which has its color, its laws, over and above the objects,” Pierre Bonnard declared in December 1935.

    I don’t know what I expected to accomplish by hauling my ass to Copenhagen’s Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum for the second stop of “The Colour of Memory,” the first globe-trotting Bonnard survey in twenty years. Concentrating on the artist’s later solar work, the splendid exhibition, arranged chronologically, stumbled only with a series of not-uninteresting but nevertheless wince-inducing “soundscapes,” about which the less said the better.

    I tried to take some

  • Cady Noland

    1.

    ON SECOND THOUGHT: What was she thinking?

    What was she thinking about Lee Harvey Oswald or Charles Manson, Betty Ford or Jackie O.?

    What was she thinking about the old red, white, and blue? About violence? About American history?

    What was triggered in her thinking when it occurred to her (if it did) that Clement Greenberg curated both her mother and her father in their first big New York group show, “Emerging Talent,” in 1954, also the year Patricia Campbell Hearst was born—“Patty,” who emerges in the Museum für Moderne Kunst’s astounding survey “Cady Noland,” curated by Susanne Pfeffer in

  • THE PICTURE OF LITTLE C.N. IN A PROSPECT OF HORRORS

    THE MUSEUM FÜR MODERNE KUNST (MMK) in Frankfurt is presenting a comprehensive survey of the work of Cady Noland through March 31. Curated by Susanne Pfeffer, the exhibition takes stock of how Noland’s work grapples over and over again with the American pathologies of capitalism, consumption, celebrity, and violence. Here, Artforum contributing editor Bruce Hainley considers how Noland’s art is also somewhat of a family affair.

    CADY NOLAND’S infamous solo show at New York’s Paula Cooper Gallery, March 26–April 23, 1994. American AF I am thinking. Closed not much more than seven weeks before O. J. Simpson rode the white Bronco into our current consciousness. 24/7 entertainment news. Celebrity media glare. Kommencement of Kardashianness. Bros before hos. Domestic violence the star-spangled ethos I am thinking. She found forms for that frenetic consciousness. C.N. saying, “I make an issue of the way things are connected.” When she makes an issue (not long before the show opened) of the way things are connected, I am

  • THE SNOWBALL EFFECT

    David Hammons: Bliz-aard Ball Sale, by Elena Filipovic. London: Afterall Books, 2017. 160 pages.

    IN 1983, David Hammons held his Bliz-aard Ball Sale, which “probably didn’t bear that title, or any title at all,” as Elena Filipovic discloses in her amazing exposition on the artist’s chill maneuvers. Meanwhile, six months or so later, at a coven sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Rosalind Krauss informed the assembled that she—and here Filipovic quotes Adrian Piper’s writing on Krauss’s decree—“doubts there is any unrecognized African-American art of quality because if it

  • slant September 26, 2017

    Into the Storm

    APRIL 16, 2017 AT 2:24 PM EST

    Dearest Bruce,

    Today, a resurrection. 

    On Tuesday, as you recommended, I went to Light Industry to see Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield’s 1984 conversation, or portrait of, Craig Owens, part of Video Data Bank’s incredible interviews with artists and writers. This was some six years before he died, age thirty-nine, of—I rehearse the intolerable boilerplate—AIDS-related complications. 

    Eighty black-and-white minutes. Owens sits in a director’s chair in front of a makeshift backdrop—the zigzag of a wrinkled moving blanket. He talks and talks, always smoking. Or… he’s

  • ON LONGING: THE ART OF HANNE DARBOVEN

    On the occasion of “Hanne Darboven: Kulturgeschichte 1880–1983” currently on view at Dia:Chelsea, New York, and “Hanne Darboven: Packed Time” opening February 25 at Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, contributing editor Bruce Hainley speculatively explores the artist’s epic activation of personal and political history.

    HANNE DARBOVEN’S FATHER, CÄSAR—trained as a chemist, heir to and head of his family’s coffee-roasting business, which expanded during World War II as the coffee supplier for the Nazi forces1—“smoked some seventy cigarettes a day.”2 His daughter equaled, or perhaps even surpassed, his daily habit: She was rarely seen or pictured without a cigarette in hand. Lawrence Weiner remembers Darboven smoking Salem menthols in the 1970s (“We constantly kidded her about it”).3 Was the preference merely funny? Perhaps it signaled other cultural echoes, other milieus, concerns, affinities, however

  • OPENINGS: KENNETH TAM

    “CHILLING DISPLAY OF MASCULINITY”: The phrase is Jacqueline Rose’s, describing political posturing in the run-up to the Brexit referendum. Is there really any fathoming of Benjamin’s assessment “no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism” without also feeling the brunt of such displays? Vengeful braggadocio has never been absent from world affairs, but the testosterone has been rank and rampant lately and shows no sign of abating.

    I mention to B. a sculpture by Kenneth Tam that I remember as a shelf of used men’s deodorants and soaps—Old Spice, Mennen Speed

  • performance November 25, 2016

    Thank You for Being a Friend

    November 21, 2016 at 8:54 PM EST

    Dear Mr. B,

    I’ve just come home from an event of much love at the Kitchen, part of the rollout of Douglas [Crimp]’s superb memoir [Before Pictures]. Three exemplary interlocutors from three different dance worlds: Adrian Danchig-Waring (New York City Ballet/Balanchine), Silas Riener (Merce Cunningham), and Yvonne Rainer (Yvonne Rainer). 

    A little asymmetrical, I suppose, since Rainer got to play herself, though everyone did a very good job representing. 

    Rainer, at the end, was trying to respond to a question from the audience, and failing a bit. She said her mind

  • “Richard Prince: The Douglas Blair Turnbaugh Collection (1977–1988)”

    ON JULY 28, 2016, Richard Prince retweeted an item from curator Marvin Heiferman’s feed about a $1 billion copyright-infringement suit that photographer Carol Highsmith had just filed against the stock-photo agencies Getty and Alamy, charging “gross misuse.” Earlier that day, Prince had tweeted a picture of a slightly enlarged black-and-white photocopy of his short 1977 text “Practicing Without a License.” He commented: “Feel like I got hacked. Or waxed. Or whacked. Mickie’d. Surprised they didn’t have my underwear on display. Shame.”

    What instigated the Twitter outburst of Assange-ish lingo and

  • Bruce Hainley

    “The essential signification I attach to my poetic activity,” Michel Leiris wrote in his journal in 1941, war soon everywhere, “is that of a refusal.” The autiobiographical Manhood (1963; first published in 1939 in French as L’âge d’homme), he continued, was “the negation of a novel.” Keep in mind this noble lineage of refusal and negation (luxury goods) when handling Derek McCormack’s incantatory contaminant The Well-Dressed Wound (pas de chance). Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln hold a séance to contact their recently dead fashionista faggot son, Willie; ghostly, AIDS-y mayhem ensues with spirit

  • film September 12, 2014

    PrEP School

    JACQUES NOLOT NEVER FORGOT how Roland Barthes introduced him to André Téchiné: “Je vais te montrer une roulure” [“I’ll show you a slut”]. A young and come-hither mec on the make, Nolot would only later become known as a writer or a filmmaker, or even the suave figure in films by François Ozon, among others. He commented, decades later, on the not precisely meet-cute in a bar with Téchiné, the director he would end up working with more than any other, both as an actor and screenwriter, and on Barthes’s exactitude: “That was true in a mythological sense: he who has no stable place.” When Pierre,