Bruce Hainley

  • Bruce Hainley


    1 Paul Sietsema (Regen Projects, Los Angeles) Despite what you may have heard, Sietsema’s second film, Empire, is not about Clement Greenberg’s apartment nor about the princess’s salon in the Hôtel de Soubise, but about the relation between the representation of space in painting and sculpture and kinds of flatness. Given the bloated nature of much film proposed as art these days, how inspiring that Sietsema’s handmade, silent baroque is just twenty-four minutes long. Its unerring if indefinable tone—austere, although not without dry wit—mesmerizes.

    2 Michele O’Marah (

  • Marcelino Gonçalves

    In Marcelino Gonçalves’s provocatively titled Receiver (all works 2002), a beaming football beauty, his hair curly and lustrous, his smile exuberant, almost glows as he crouches, seemingly ready to score the winning touchdown—his life a series of wins, from the look of him—a yellow goalpost in the distance. Or so it would seem. The rendering of the gridiron idol is as clean and crisp as his jersey, but no actual jersey could be so fresh. The background field’s blurred greens and yellows suggest, perhaps, a photographer’s studio; and given the unsullied perfection of his jersey, the

  • Blind Alleys

    In Rachel Harrison’s Untitled, 1991, a rank bear fur hangs from nails driven into the wall. Thin, braided plaits of fake human hair (extensions snatched from a roommate) similar in shade to the dark brown fur complicate the nasty thing, whatever it is. On the hirsute surface dangle, rather precariously (making a kind of truncated constellation, ursa minor as it were), four tattered photos; Harrison found them abandoned on the street. The hue and hairdos date the snapshots from the late ’60s or early ’70s. One is of a family—four children, a father kneeling, someone standing, an accordion

  • Mike Kelley

    A goofily odd statue of John Glenn made out of “memory ware” (found fragments of family china, path-colored glass, etc.) towered over John Glenn Memorial Detroit River Reclamation Project (Including the Local Culture Pictorial Guide, 1968–1972, Wayne Westland Eagle), 2001, a sprawling affair that was the centerpiece of Black Out, Mike Kelley's superb, expansive installation (first realized for the Detroit Institute of Arts exhibition “Artists Take on Detroit: Projects for the Tricentennial,” 2001). The Glenn totem—based on a plaster sculpture in the library of Kelley's high school and delicately

  • Michele O'Marah

    Two questions: (1) Why are most films shown in the gallery or museum context so expensive and so pukoid? (2) In the shadow of the Hollywood sign, what is the difference between an appropriation and a remake, given that the remake is an industry standard, for better (Douglas Sirk's daunting Imitation of Life) or worse (Jim McBride's anemic Breathless), producing indifference (Steven Soderbergh's empty Ocean's 11) or grandiose inanity (Cameron Crowe's chiasmatic Vanilla Sky)? Rechanneling both trends, Michele O'Marah's feature-length video Valley Girl captures and intensifies the heart and soul

  • Rachel Harrison

    Few young artists can create a bustle, much less a cooing quorum, among testy critical camps. Happily, there’s Rachel Harrison. Her work is smart, fun, and, well, weird—often a sui generis marriage of photography and sculpture in which she manages to present and interrogate a strange moment, where the formal abstraction of post-Minimal objecthood encounters the effluvia of popular culture (Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, and toy figurines have starred in recent pieces). For Harrison’s first solo museum show, visiting curator Stefano Basilico has chosen six richly

  • Franz Gertsch

    A museum for Franz Gertsch? I’m a total fan, but, outside Switzerland, he’s not exactly the most obvious candidate for such apotheosis. But maybe this is the wave of the future: Living artists commandeer a museum to show their own work, with art sales (hopefully) sustaining it. At any rate, a commercial gallery (“Galerie im Park”) operating in the museum represents Gertsch and shows younger artists as well (first up, Swiss newbie Chantal Michel). The only thing I’m sure of is that in the ’70s Gertsch made some of the most killer hyperreal boho-glam paintings ever. While that period’s not on view


    FOR YEARS BRUCE HAINLEY AND I haw been antically conversing about literature, theory, art, film, porn, fashion, food, and Andy Warhol. Hainley, a contributing editor of Artforum (his beat is LA), is one of my favorite writers, and his sensibility has had a huge influence on my work: I count on him to be the first to notice and valorize (to understand the profundity of) any aesthetic manifestation that channels the strange, the obscene, or the quiescent. He’s always a decade ahead of us—our cultural learning curves a belated simulation of his quickness. Highly stylish, his writing combines the

  • Bart Exposito

    Abstract but with glancing references to new technology ad modular design, Bart Exposito’s paintings demonstrate that the hard-edge vernacular has always resonated with the concept of futurity, even the futuristic (which despite its promise of what-has-not-yet-been paradoxically conveys a groovy sci-fi anachronism—Lost in Space meets Esquivel, as in Tracy Morgan’s brilliant Saturday Night Live Astronaut Jones skit). When Exposito’s works succeed, they create dynamic virtual movement and interrogate all aspects of the picture plane, especially the edges. When they fail—as almost all the drawings

  • Jennifer Bornstein

    There is much to admire about Jennifer Bornstein’s Celestial Spectacular, 2002, a sequence, barely four minutes in length, of seven short silent films, each introduced by a descriptive title in cursive font. Her homemade effects and affect and her poetic deployment of the scientific and pseudoscientific (astronomy, cosmology, botany, parapsychology) refresh, particularly these days, when too many artists ape the lamest aspects of Hollywood (Spielbergian theatricalization) and MTV (ever more speedy editing). The first bit, Meteor Shower, shows the corner of a spare apartment with a large open

  • Ron Galella

    ONE OF RON GALELLA’S candid portraits of Liza Minnelli, taken in 1968 at the premiere of A Dandy in Aspic, shows Judy’s little girl in an amazing white suit, black shirt, and white silk tie, a daisy brooch on her swank lapel, no longer The Sterile Cuckoo, but ready for all the cabaret, life, has to offer. It only seems strange that dandy, pixie Liza-pre Halston, pre-disco, pre-encephalitis, pre-everything else, an awkward inheritance worked into almost iconicity—should ever have been able to deal in the real: i.e., to pull off something that might allow her, for a moment, to be just Liza.


    When Lawrence Rinder was named curator of contemporary art at the Whitney two years ago, he inherited one of the toughest gigs in the world of art: the Whitney Biennial. Because the biennial remains contemporary art's best-known survey, hosted by one of the art world's most visible venues it's the show critics love to hate. We asked three Artforum regulars, Bob Nickas, Bruce Hainley, and George Baker, for their takes. ( editor Saul Anton adds a new-media footnote.) The only constant: the carping, of course—and one stray note of triple consensus.

  • Bruce Hainley

    Poor Joseph Cornell. Never the most gregarious guy when he was alive, he's now commanded to speak from the grave by the annoying collective Archive (Chris Kubick and Anne Walsh), who, by interviewing dead artists “through dances conducted by professional spirit mediums and psychics,” put a necrophiliac spin on starfucking. I feel about Archive's lousy project, A Visit with Joseph Cornell, 2002, pretty much the way I feel about most of Lawrence Rinder's show: It's dead.

    This would explain Rinder's veiling his curatorial objectives in the spiritual. Given his catalogue intro, which manages, sleazily,

  • Lecia Dole-Recio

    It’s been a rough week. In rapid succession I saw a painting of Nicole Kidman as Salomé carrying the severed head of Tom Cruise; read a review of a show in which the writer, not satisfied with the phrase “jaw-dropping facility and prickly verve,” went on to invoke “Manet, Chardin, Caravaggioand Zurbaran, as well as . . . Gerhard Richter, John Curran [sic] and Kurt Kauper” for still lifes and portraits that are so stupefyingly incompetent that I can’t even feel pity for the painter; and had a tony gallerist alert me to the fact that the intriguing recent Cubist-inspired canvas I was standing

  • Marlene McCarty

    In her recent show, Marlene McCarty continued her study of adolescent girls who become, through acts of violence, conflicted sites of sexuality and identity. McCarty's fascination is always with what might be called (pace Adrienne Rich's old theoretical chestnut) a lesbian continuum of erotic thrill seeking and aggression: Her subjects are usually victims and/or perpetrators of violence between women. These large, finely rendered graphite-and-ballpoint drawings (all 1995–98) depict real girls, none of whom looks like she could kill (if only one knew what those looks were): Fourteen-year-old Gina

  • Bruno Fazzolari

    A strangely white-brown (sun-aged?) desk, one short leg a browned end of an unpeeled banana, hides the smiling arc of a golden banana, its ends somehow melded to the underside of the tabletop. As Banna 2001, demonstrates, Bruno Fazzolari is making an art form out of playing with his food.

    Witty and weird, Fazzolari’s painted plaster sculptures invoke odd but popular verisimilar representations of foods: the plates of plastic sushi placed outside many Japanese restaurants; the papier-mâché or wooden fruits and vegetables in home-decor stores. His stack pieces, like Statue, 2000, a graceful graded

  • Bruce Hainley


    1 Trent Harris, The Beaver Trilogy Duchamp proffered the infra-mince as a way of describing the imperceptible differences between identical things or concepts, but I don’t think he ever tried representing the idea. In Trent Harris’s Beaver Trilogy, Beaver, Utah, native Richard Griffith (aka Groovin’ Gary) does his “pantomime” of Olivia Newton-John’s “Please Don’t Keep Me Waiting” as the culmination of his selfproclaimed Beaver High School talent show. Then Sean Penn interprets the Beaver Kid doing Olivia, and Crispin Glover does Sean doing the Beaver Kid doing Olivia. The flm gives

  • Guy Bourdin

    His annus mirabilis was 1976. While continuing to work for long-term clent Roland Jourdan of Charles Jourdan shoes, Guy Bourdin created advertising campaigns that year for Gianfranco Ferré, Complice and Callaghan (designed by Gianni Versace), Madame Grés, and Loewe, among others, and still managed to put together his dazzling “Sighs and Whispers” lingerie catalogue for Bloomingdale’s. In some sense the only “book” he published of his work in his lifetime, this eerie opus is an influential combination of commerce, fashion, and art—well, if not art, then photography as its unruly, promiscuous

  • Amir Zaki

    In photographer Amir Zaki's vertiginous, depopulated views, usually long exposures shot at night, velvety dark blue-greens dominate, illuminated by eerie halos of electric light. Rooflines, cornices, garden walls, empty backyards with potted plants and outdoor furniture outline LA residences and the landscapes surrounding or intruding on them. It's as if Julius Shulman abandoned black-and-white to do location stills for The X-Files.

    In his new photographs, Zaki negotiates the chill, even noir aspects of Los Angeleno domesticity. I write “negotiates” (rather than, say, “interrogates”) because it's

  • Larry Clark

    THE SHARPEST PARTS OF LARRY CLARK'S MOVIES are nonnarrative moments of disconnect and strange drift. His 1998 film Another Day in Paradise, for instance, was lackluster except for the opening sequence: a hypnotic, ten-minute stare at skinny, droopy-jeaned Vincent Kartheiser in the act of a heist, which would have made a dazzling film projection on its own, without the ensuing baggage of two hours of narration. And in his latest effort, Bully, a high Mike Pitt frolicks with his dog while Bijou Phillips, a girlfriend on the make, slowly approaches. Clark's movies excel in the photographic, while