Bruce Hainley

  • Bas Jan Ader

    The River Phoenix of Conceptual art, Bas Jan Ader has become the moody favorite of every artist too young to have known of his work in 1975—when he was lost at sea while executing his three-part investigative piece, In Search of the Miraculous—in part because the 1988 Stedelijk Museum retrospective and the 1999 University of California, Irvine show secured his renown. In 2004 Art in America chronicled appearances of new editions that some attributed to the Dutch artist, who, it turned out, had not actually risen from the dead. Comprising some forty works—films,

  • “The Painted World”

    As much as curator Bob Nickas structured “The Painted World” mainly around color schemes (orchestrating rooms of black, red, green, and blue paintings, with strategic chromatic anomalies only intensifying the effect and, perhaps, signifying potential) and in terms of the way in which—as the wall text put it—“abstract painting continues to be explored and reexamined by successive generations of artists, reflecting the times in which it is made, with an awareness of, and building on, its history,” this show was really centered around Wayne Gonzales’s brilliant White House, 2003, whose eponymous

  • Liza With a “Z”

    YES IS LIZA’S first word in Liza With a “Z”: A Concert for Television. In her dressing room during the brief opening credits, she laughs, and, after her indelible silhouette punctuates ruby backlighting—“Ladies and gentlemen, Liza Minnelli”—she whirls into motion, cruises downstage, tosses her white fedora to the wings, stows her snow-fur boa with some lucky dresser in the pit, and giggles into the mic. But her first word is yes.

    It becomes an admonition to anyone who’s listening to “say yes”: Yes to the world of “brilliance, bisexuality, and betrayal” she was born into—yes to Hollywood; yes to

  • Chris Martin

    Chris Martin, an American, and Michael Krebber, a German, were both born in 1954. Krebber has suggested that he might be a failed actor who is seen by others as a Conceptual artist, one who finds ways to paint, because it’s a good idea, often by various kinds of not-painting (using stretched gingham or horse blankets instead of oil on canvas). Martin is quite different, and not only because he lacks Krebber’s notoriety. Rather than not-painting or overpainting, Martin paints by painting-over, sometimes spending years on single works (two of his most recent are dated 1983–2005 and 1973–2005).

  • Tony Labat

    It would prove useful to consider why and how Tony Labat wasn’t included in RoseLee Goldberg’s live art festival PERFORMA ’05, given that this sharp retrospective closed just weeks before that event kicked off in New York. Labat (along with Chris Burden and Dan Graham, Lucille Ball and Ann Magnuson, Richard Pryor and Johnny Knoxville) should be a key figure in any history of artists using action to negotiate the role of media (television and video, especially) in constructing the various, often ephemeral, aesthetic, sexual, and political narratives producing and produced by bodies or their

  • Kai Althoff

    I was going to start this review with a list of some of the recherché items found in Kai Althoff’s first solo show in Los Angeles, but I just got bored. So I’ll nutshell it this way: a Deco garage sale presented as a singular wunderkammer marketed to ADD sufferers, it was a highfalutin “etc.”—especially if the working model of “etc.” is a college theater department’s set, prop, and wardrobe rooms combined and then exploded.

    If Althoff’s installation had actually been the labor of some of the obsessive netting-and-veil queens from whom he self-consciously borrows—people like Jack Smith, Bruce

  • Liz Craft

    “Huh?”

    I imagine that this was a common response to Liz Craft’s new sculptures, a gang of, as the press release put it, “hairy dudes” hitchhiking, gathering daffodils, and generally hanging around.

    The figures look like the spawn of Cousin It and R. Crumb’s 1967 Keep on Truckin’ guy. In southern California, the word “dude” isn’t gender specific, and all that “hair” serves only to occlude somatic markers of gender. With their skinny, dingy pink arms and bulbous, flaccid schnozzes, Craft’s bronzes are puzzling, but she’s also taking on some issues that are weightier than it might appear at first

  • diary November 12, 2005

    Rogue-r & Me

    Vancouver

    I’ve never been to Kassel, which means I’ve never been to Documenta. Not Catherine David’s in ’97. Not Okwui Enwezor’s three years ago. Documenta 12, in 2007, will be the fifty-second anniversary (while they’re referring to it as the fiftieth, I doubt anyone will dare call it “golden”) of the ice queen of contemporary art exhibitions (which began as an off-shoot of a federal garden show, the rubble of heavily bombed Kassel having been buried beneath a vast rose bed). So when I heard Roger Buergel, D12’s curator, would be speaking in Vancouver about his plans for his really big show, I wanted to

  • OPENINGS: PATRICK HILL

    FROM THE LAST DECADE, the most demanding critique on sculpture is Dennis Cooper’s Period (2000). Dedicated to Vincent Fecteau, the novel becomes a meditation on form in the face of death, which is also to say, on the form of the face of death—facing beyond’s effacements. An older artist figure, Bob (like the text, which ends by returning to its start, disappearing Möbius-ly into itself, his name is palindromic), has reconstructed an “average, citified house . . . in a completely impractical spot,” and painted the inside “wild black”—“zip, inkiness”—so that shadow swallows any hole, corner, or

  • ONLY CONNECT: THE ART OF B. WURTZ

    AT SOME POINT, THINGS BECAME UNSECURED, hooks unable to reach the eyes—or no eyes at all but only hooks, jabbing blindly into anything. Hurt jabbing.

    So much current art presents the viewer with a surplus of “personality,” but personality faked. Well, perhaps not exactly faked, but too often sadly overwhelmed by the various cultural effluvia the artist deploys—cartoons, historical styles, goth monstrosities, Paris Hilton, etc.—supposedly to express “individuality” but which finally only intensifies a detached intimacy with whom- or whatever, a cold, brittle kind of connection born of alienation,

  • Gary Lee Boas

    Gary Lee Boas’s photograph In front of Badlands at the corner of Christopher and West Street (all works undated, from the series “New York Sex,” 1979–85) shows a rainbow coalition of male types on a sunny day at the intersection of gay and gay: gym bunnies, shirtless exhibitionists, older gents. In addition to setting the scene, the surrounding greenery, blue sky, and balmy light can also be regarded as signs of the somewhat paradoxical naturalness of the men fraternizing and hooking up, caught—or about to be—in the calm eye of gathering hurricane AIDS.

    Eugène Atget photographed a Paris that

  • Stephen J. Kaltenbach

    Recording Conceptual Art, Alexander Alberro’s 2001 edition of Patricia Norvell’s fascinating 1969 audio interviews, helps recall the mellow Other to Conceptual art’s frequently stern diagrammatics: Dennis Oppenheim’s sunburns, Robert Barry’s belief in telepathy and the invisible, and Stephen J. Kaltenbach’s experiments with astrology, ESP, and weed. Norvell taped Kaltenbach talking about smoking pot for the first time: “I could remove myself from my ego a little bit and see myself and my work more clearly.” A year later, in a lengthy interview for Artforum, Kaltenbach located the moment’s art

  • Dean Sameshima

    Fagdom’s Betsy Ross, Gilbert Baker, a “self-described ‘flaming queen’ by age three,” designed the rainbow flag in 1978, but due to technical problems (an initial eight-color design could not be commercially fabricated because hot pink was at that time unavailable for mass production) it wasn’t unfurled until a year later, in honor of Harvey Milk and in peaceful protest of the light sentencing of his assassin, Twinkie-eater Dan White. I usually retch whenever I see a rainbow anything, but Dean Sameshima’s use of rainbow pride here triggered glee: Tearing at the semes of Baker’s handmade prototype,

  • Larry Clark

    Certain plaintiffs in the Michael Jackson trial look like kids in Larry Clark pictures, particularly his 1996 set of photos Sketches for Tulsa Movie Coming Soon—like the Jordie Chandler twin that curator Brian Wallis eyes as one of Clark’s “most compelling”: “a shirtless young man pulling back his long hair in a feminized pose for the camera.” Wallis fails to account for why the pose is “feminized” or for how some Tulsa kid might have learned to do it. Is any display of any body necessarily feminized? What makes a boy posed like that so compelling? Is it just youth’s juice, or is it a peek at

  • John Williams

    Among the highlights of John Williams’s rockin’, twirlin’, multimedia debut solo show at Dan Bernier in Los Angeles in 1999 were hip versions of the magic lantern: harlequin-patterned combines of variegated gels and supports, placed on old phonograph albums rotating on turntables, projecting flickering patterns of light, like raucous butterflies, across the gallery, with wonky sounds wailing as the needle dropped. Aiming for sonic and visual overload, Williams would spin a number of his “records” simultaneously on different levels of his jerry-built “amp” stacks. A first glance at Sister’s white

  • Samara Caughey

    Fortunately, art history is written as much, if not more, by artists as by historians, in part because artists are not beholden to fact. To come to terms with the jubilant work in Samara Caughey’s debut solo show—five freestanding sculptures and three wall-hung pieces—a familiarity with the basic discourse of twentieth-century sculpture in the ever-expanding expanded field would be useful, but liberal doses of Emersonian whim, intuitive conjecture, and, hey, fun should aid the fieldwork.

    Certainly Eva Hesse is an important historical inspiration for Caughey, but so too are the less-sanctioned,

  • diary March 01, 2005

    Chow Time

    Los Angeles

    At the last minute, I received an e-mail letting me know that I’d been green-lit to attend all parts of what is, let’s face it, the art event of the year in Los Angeles, Larry Gagosian’s annual Oscar-week opening and dinner (and as everyone knows, it’s not about the opening—anyone can get into that and does—it’s about the dinner at Mr. Chow immediately following). This year’s shindig was for Richard Prince. My favorite thing about the e-mail, aside from the fact of having secured its open sesame, was the question mark punctuating the list of possible attendees: “…EUGENIO LOPEZ, BROOKE

  • George Stoll

    To get at both the delicacy and the humor of George Stoll’s ongoing holiday project—the holiday du jour is Christmas—there’s no better place to start than his deft drawing of Christmas lights in a blizzard, Untitled (christmas lights, white sphere), 1999. Here, the artist has drawn variously sized circles in white pencil on white vellum so that the snowball circles of “lights” almost disappear like bubbles in champagne or a Ryman in a snowstorm. It’s a brazen, funny, and entirely sweet way of reducing art to its barest essentials—representation degree zero. You almost have to take it on faith

  • Sturtevant

    Repeat after me: Erase and rewind.

    That’s Sturtevant, the short version.

    A longer version—on view at the Museum für Moderne Kunst, brilliantly curated by MMK director Udo Kittelmann and curator Mario Kramer—managed not to be a retrospective (Sturtevant’s got zero tolerance for retro spectacles) or a historical show prioritizing her foundational work from 1965 to 1974. Instead, what could be seen (for the first time?) was the deep continuity of four decades of her thinking—its action, its power and beauty—given space (the entire museum, from which even the permanent collection was removed) and

  • “The Undiscovered Country”

    For proof of how lousy this show is, you need look no further than the catalogue essay and the solitary wall text, both of which begin by invoking the idiotic received idea of painting’s supposed death. Even in the 1970s there was no real juice in that orange, and it’s been decades since there was even pulp. Painting, like any other medium, goes in and out of fashion, but it’s never not being made, shown, or sold.

    Curator Russell Ferguson panders to “the ongoing frustration felt by a wide-ranging group of painters in the face of this burden, the struggle to continue with painting, and what