Bruce Hainley

  • 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

  • Bruce Hainley


    1 “Sturtevant: The Brutal Truth” (Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt) Removing even the permanent collection, intrepid MMK director Udo Kittelmann and in-house curator Mario Kramer turned over the entire museum to Elaine Sturtevant, giving gorgeous space to more than 140 dazzling works, many seen for the first time in this exhibition, on view through January 30. Part of the instant fun is that at first glance it looks like a weird but really great group show; of course it’s not that at all. Complicated, maddening, exhilarating, the brutal truth repeated throughout is her project’s

  • Bob Mizer

    I’d love to know exactly what was in the heads of model Ray Robirds and photographer Bob Mizer during the shoot in which Robirds, his right arm slung around a burro’s neck, sports nothing but a sombrero, striped briefs, and fancy cowboy boots. Robirds puffs out his chest, plants his legs—tan lines dazzling—in a defiant stance, and glares into the beyond, his face full of the confidence that is no small part of what makes this low-budget South-of-the-Border fantasy so appealing. Did Mizer find the model’s physique so prepossessing that awkward accoutrements didn’t matter, or did he know that

  • “Transformer”

    “POP AFTER POP” ASSUMES THAT I KNOW WHAT “POP” IS, that I know what “Art” means. I don’t.

    Take, for example, “‘Transformer’: Aspekte der Travestie,” curated by Jean-Christophe Ammann, which ran from mid-March to mid-April 1974 at the Kunstmuseum Luzern, traveled, to Graz and to Bochum, and then, basically, disappeared into a poof of fairy dust. (I’ve found nothing other than the catalogue to prove the show existed—no ads, no international reviews, although there must have been some local art notices.) Incorporating and inspired by the work of Urs Lüthi, Luciano Castelli, Katharina Sieverding,

  • Sturtevant

    Curator Mario Kramer takes over the entirety of the Museum für Moderne Kunst with about 140 multi-media works for what’s being billed as the artist’s first retrospective—but let me assure you, Sturtevant don’t want no retrospective, since her endeavor has always been exposing contrafactual immanence, eternally returning.

    One of the art world’s greatest éminences terribles, Sturtevant has for over forty years been charting the unruly interiors and exteriors of the visible. Curator Mario Kramer takes over the entirety of the Museum für Moderne Kunst with about 140 multi-media works for what’s being billed as the artist’s first retrospective—but let me assure you, Sturtevant don’t want no retrospective, since her endeavor has always been exposing contrafactual immanence, eternally returning. Sadly, this landmark exhibit won’t travel, so let’s hope some staunch American museum takes heed and brings this artist and

  • Michael Minelli

    The head of a nurse, an Arab woman in Niqab, and a cicatrized, monocled Daddy Warbucks—like man stare at the viewer blankly, not even asking, in the manner of De Niro’s Travis Bickle, You lookin’ at me? The problems inherent to representing in sculpture both the act of looking and the information provided by a specific face account only partially for the strange power of Michael Minelli’s second solo show. Where previously he proffered totemic, gleefully gaudy Bruce Conneresque assemblages or combined the bodies of various televisual and cinematic stars to make small, meticulous figurative fetish

  • Chantal Akerman

    From her early, rarely seen 1968 short Saute ma ville to her recent feature Demain on déménage, Chantal Akerman has made some of the most questioning, trenchant, and elegant film work of our time.

    From her early, rarely seen 1968 short Saute ma ville to her recent feature Demain on déménage, Chantal Akerman has made some of the most questioning, trenchant, and elegant film work of our time. By screening each of her forty films—fictive and documentary shorts and features shot both for cinema and for television—twice and in some cases three times and by publishing, in conjunction with Cahiers du cinéma, a catalogue on her oeuvre, the Pompidou is giving Belgium’s best-known filmmaker the recognition (and retrospective) she has long deserved. Akerman introduces many

  • “Notes on Renewed Appropriationisms”

    Using references when the premise is to eliminate them, is like filling a slot instead of creating new channels

    Formulating an external structure of support is to lose a great deal of strength

    —Sturtevant, 1978

    Fact: I once sat on a panel with Michael Lobel and Sturtevant where Sherrie Levine, Thomas Crow, T. J. Clark, and other pooh-bahs were in attendance. When Sturtevant asked Levine about the word, there was no consensus over for whom, where, or when “appropriationist” was let loose; and neither woman had much truck with the word in relation to her work.

    Lauri Firstenberg based her exhibit and

  • Catherine Opie

    In Catherine Opie’s recent show, titled “Surfers,” not on view were swells, waves, nor any, uh, surf. Some might applaud her “economy” in deploying one break, one vantage (horizon midframe), one camera position for the fourteen predictably largish photos of surfers, small in the distance, waiting for waves, poor dears idling one or two at a time or in a school of a dozen or so. In other images, Opie posed individual surfers, a rainbow coalition of wannabes, with their boards for a series of banal portraits. I have no problem with wannabes. At least they want to be something. In this case, they

  • Nicolau Vergueiro

    WOW! É PRECISO ESTAR ATENTO E FORTE, NÃO TENHO TEMPO DE TEMER A MORTE. ATENÇÃO!! (Wow! You ought to be cautious and strong, don’t have the time to fear death. Attention!!) So proclaims the stenciled text—fundamental tropicália, sung by Gal Costa on her first solo LP—forming the border of the drawing Divino Maravilhoso (all works 2003). Marvelous indeed, cautious but fearless, Los Angeles–based Brazilian artist Nicolau Vergueiro’s lively and complex work literalizes and materializes his musical interests to the point where they become a nonthematic structural foun- dation. It’s not just tropicalismo

  • Steven Gontarski

    Hey kids, remember Gaëtan Dugas?

    Canadian airline steward. Introduced AIDS into North America. Aka “Patient Zero.” The deadly nightshade of such fiction, produced to rationalize and naturalize the world’s terror, darkens the glamour of Steven Gontarski’s sculpture Prophet Zero I (all works 2003). His slim-hipped, pearlescent ephebe wears not a gnarga (a feline mask behind which baroque fags would catcall come-ons to fetching lads) but a medico della peste, a birdlike face cover sported by doctors during the plague years, with a beak filled with spices to purify the air breathed, here tipped with


    Witnessing one of Sue de Beer’s goth girls intone I’m going to erase myself and you’re going to find me everywhere, anyone might consider such states of mind a recent phenomenon—psychic rumblings “explaining” Columbine or Lee Malvo. Yet America has long trafficked in the gothic, been intimate with suicide, doom, and destruction. Long before Poe drugged the consciousness with haunted narratives of the nothingness residing at the cold, dark heart of things, and before Hawthorne allegorized the civil state as Dr. Rappaccini keeping his child alive by rearing her on poison, Puritan preacher Jonathan

  • Kehinde Wiley

    Tiepolo’s oval-shape Apotheosis of Admiral Vettor Pisani, ca. 1743, depicts our Italian military hero being introduced by Venus to Jupiter and Mars; all float together amid auroral light, puffy clouds, and cute putti. Two of Kehinde Wiley’s most recent paintings, Apotheosis of Admiral Vettor Pisani #1 and #2 (all works 2003), center a handsome lone black dude in a field of color against a pattern at once heraldic, Islamic, and Gucci-esque. Vettor Pisani #1 mugs in a white T-shirt and baggy jeans against a vibrant red ground with turquoise fleurs-de-lis while six blush roses make a sort of arch;

  • Bruce Hainley


    1 Philip Guston (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) A lot of what got me excited this year annoyed many. Most. Almost everyone. (E.g., Liz Phair’s Liz Phair, which is a totally great CD and, not taking away any of its heart, I’d argue, a conceptual project that posits: What songs should today’s pop stars sing? Imagine sappy John Mayer crooning Phair’s “H.W.C.”) But let me start with something unimpeachably killer: the Guston retrospective, elegantly, brilliantly curated by Michael Auping (of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, where the show originated)—thorough but not

  • “Designs for Living”

    How refreshing to see this sharp arrangement of bright, crisp, confident recent photographs by Laurie Simmons, Sarah Charlesworth, and Louise Lawler—redolent of ’80s smarts and deployed here to consider the domestic and its complex nexus of psychic, social, and spatial concerns. “Designs for Living” gives weight to both “design” and “living,” looking at how the constructed (curated, designed) nature of familial environments is reflected in and through choice of furniture and upholstery, wallpaper and paint colors, arrangements of collectibles and artworks; and how it’s possible to trace,

  • Frederick Hammersley

    Frederick Hammersley’s Option open, 2000–2002, is a small oil-on-linen painting of flatly brushstroked, vibrant, curvilinear sea anemone– and coral-like shapes that suggest hues and forms undulating into and out of one another. The thing floats within its frame, whose exterior is faux-wormholed wood, brusquely whitewashed and dimpled repeatedly along its inner edge. The painting alone makes much of Monique Prieto redundant, while the frame recalls a Joseph Cornell–meets–Vincent Fecteau sculptural device. Together, both parts ask (without the Frank Stella bombast) that deciding between sculpture

  • Steven Shearer

    In seventh grade, when whip-sexy Butch Lauer informed me that Kiss had really wanted to call themselves “Albatross Shit,” I thought I had finally made it. Despite never having been a big Kiss fan, I’ve never not remembered the band’s secret name and the guy who clued me in; and when my eye fell on an adorable snapshot of Steven Shearer beaming in full regalia (black-and-white makeup, Klingonlike costume) amid the long wall of photos and photocopies that make up Scrap #2, 2003, I felt punch-drunk love. (Has anyone come to terms with what’s cauterized—a psychic as well as libidinal branding/staunching

  • Katie Grinnan

    Although I might wish for the death of photography almost every time I have to stomach it in a gallery (despite my whorish delectation of photographs daily), I think the idea of the death of any medium is absurd. This, however, is very different from being interested in artists who destroy and deconstruct their medium in order to reconfigure, recycle, or renew it. Katie Grinnan uses photographs as material for sculpture and plumbs how photography’s use of color, shadow, light, and space changes when it forms a physical interior or exterior. Folded or bent space, actual space, and remembered

  • Sturtevant

    BRUCE HAINLEY: Before we launch into the ’80s, a little back story. When you mounted your landmark exhibition at White Columns, in New York, in 1986, on the heels of your being in Bob Nickas’s 1985 show “Production Re: Production,” it had been over a decade since your last shows—“Studies for Warhols’ Marilyns Beuys’ Actions and Objects Duchamps’ Etc. Including Film,” at the Everson Museum of Art, in 1973, and your Joseph Beuys show the following year. Were you making art during that period?

    STURTEVANT: Totally, totally out of the art world from 1974 until 1985 or so. I was writing, thinking,

  • Jason Meadows

    The announcement card to Jason Meadows’s show, “Animal Eyes” provided a starting point for considering his recent work. If the show’s title is read phonetically (to become animalize), Meadows could be seen to animalize his earlier DIY geometric formalism, in which part of the visual excitement pivoted on a “pop-up” effect. Pieces appeared to be flat when seen from one vantage and “popped up” when seen from another to become fully volumetric, an aspect most easily observed in his bicycle tire and aluminum scaffold pieces, where three and four tires lined up to be perceived as a “single” tire. In