Christopher Bollen

  • passages November 14, 2014

    David Armstrong (1954–2014)

    “HI, DOLL,” was David’s usual greeting when I saw him. “Hi, doll,” or “my dear darling,” or, if he was feeling inclined toward the black-and-white cinematic, a crooning “fix the kids a drink, George” (this is a line from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), or just as often, some trademark Davidism such as, “I’ve just spent Christmas in a deep and probing excursion into the world of emotional extortion and psychic depravity—good times.” It occurs to me now that David was the only friend whom I greeted with a kiss on the lips. It wasn’t sexual—I wasn’t his type. It was a soft peck, an intimate

  • “Halston and Warhol: Silver and Suede”

    The New York fashion designer Halston is first mentioned in The Andy Warhol Diaries on page three—and from then on his name appears more than two hundred times in the course of Andy’s exhaustive record of the 1970s and ’80s artistic jet set. The lifelong friendship and mutual admiration of these two creative legends attests to the deep-rooted symbiosis of art and fashion, which we often think a recent phenomenon. Cocurated by Lesley Frowick, Halston’s niece, “Halston and Warhol” will mingle the Pop master’s paintings, films, and photographs with

  • “Juergen Teller: Woo”

    “If there is a conflation in photography today among the private, the public, and the unabashedly commercial, such anxiety can partly be tracked to the success of Juergen Teller, whose career skyrocketed in the mid-1990s with the distinctly overly lit, awkward but glamorously posed, comic but almost aggressively intimate portraits of models, musicians, and friends that he produced for advertising, editorial, and art contexts without modifying his style.”

    If there is a conflation in photography today among the private, the public, and the unabashedly commercial, such anxiety can partly be tracked to the success of Juergen Teller, whose career skyrocketed in the mid-1990s with the distinctly overly lit, awkward but glamorously posed, comic but almost aggressively intimate portraits of models, musicians, and friends that he produced for advertising, editorial, and art contexts without modifying his style. As much environmental studies of outsize eccentricity as they are portraits of the weird and the beautiful, Teller’s works

  • Work of Art

    “LIFE IS AN UNENDING CONTEST,” Frantz Fanon concluded in his famous book The Wretched of the Earth. What Fanon could not have predicted is how entertaining that contest would be for twenty-first-century spectators watching from the safe remove of their sofas—or, moreover, how the atomization of this mortal competition into its constituent parts would go on to fill so many hours of television programming. Among the reality-based television contests we have now witnessed in prime time are those involving vacation travel, matchmaking, cooking, corporate takeovers, fashion design, the leisure time

  • Not in Fashion: Fashion and Photography in the 90s

    When the addictively chic French magazine Purple first appeared in 1992, editors Olivier Zahm and Elein Fleiss seemed to be reacting against the ’80s proclivity for vacuous maximalism.

    When the addictively chic French magazine Purple first appeared in 1992, editors Olivier Zahm and Elein Fleiss seemed to be reacting against the ’80s proclivity for vacuous maximalism. The publication went on to generate an elite cult following unseen since ’70s Interview, becoming an outlet for a new sexy realist photo style—intensely intimate, decidedly less-clothes-the-better—that helped launch the careers of photographers such as Terry Richardson and Mario Sorrenti. This exhibition uses the journal as a jumping-off point to explore the originality and exaggerated

  • The House of Viktor & Rolf

    The Barbican Art Gallery will present some sixty assemblages, videos, and prized clothing items from the pair's collections past and present, in addition to a spectacular major installation.

    Shoppers at H&M stores and perfume counters are now acquainted with the mass-marketed version of Viktor & Rolf, but for years the idiosyncratic Dutch duo Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren were known primarily as the apogee of fashion's avant-garde. Having met in art school in the late 1980s, the look-alike designers presented their first womenswear collection in 1993. Since then, their performance-heavy antics have included piling ten dresses on one model and fogging up a runway so that their bell-adorned clothing could be better heard than seen. The Barbican Art Gallery

  • MATIAS FALDBAKKEN

    “NOTHING DOING,” Matias Faldbakken’s solo show last year at Standard gallery in Oslo, was accompanied by a koanlike statement of intent. “This is not thought made visible but nought made visible,” wrote the thirty-four-year-old Norwegian artist. “This is information exodus. This is aphasia. . . . The Eskimos have two hundred ways to say snow. I have three million ways to say no.” The artist exhibited a series of blown-up edges and blanks from newspapers, the nearly monochromatic images’ only subject the scarce, unreadable print bleeding through from the other side of the page. But this insistence

  • Lincoln Kirstein

    Sometimes, in the world of art, friendships are what define a person’s legacy—or so this exhibition, which celebrates the social circle of the late Lincoln Kirstein on the centenary of his birth, would have it.

    Sometimes, in the world of art, friendships are what define a person’s legacy—or so this exhibition, which celebrates the social circle of the late Lincoln Kirstein on the centenary of his birth, would have it. A cultural ringleader, a writer, a tastemaker, and a ballet devotee, Kirstein brought Russian choreographer George Balanchine to the United States in 1933, and fifteen years later the two founded the New York City Ballet. Kirstein also built up the careers of many artist friends, like sensationalist painter Paul Cadmus; photographer Walker Evans, whose first show at MoMA Kirstein curated

  • Making It New: The Art and Style of Sara and Gerald Murphy

    Today, only seven canvases by modernist painter Gerald Murphy survive. Nevertheless, he and his wife, Sara, remain two significant figures in the history of modernism. In 1921, the wealthy American couple immigrated to France and, shuffling between Paris and the Riviera, became the ultimate expatriate bons vivants. Defining their artistic agenda as that of living well in the eccentric circles of the avant-garde, the couple befriended, patronized, and served as muses for such greats as Picasso, Hemingway, and Léger. Intermixing eighty-five artworks (Murphy’s seven

  • “AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion”

    Perhaps it was a desire for revision that brought curators Bolton and Koda to position more than sixty pieces by sixteen contemporary British designers—transgressors like Westwood and Alexander McQueen, as well as traditionalists like Burberry’s Christopher Bailey—in the museum’s eighteenth-century English period rooms according to atavistic themes like the dandy and the English garden. But despite this exhibition’s dainty setting, the chief tradition in British fashion is transgression.

    British fashion smacks of social revolt: Doesn’t punk doyenne Vivienne

    Westwood, who dressed the Sex Pistols in the ’70s, embody the national approach? Perhaps it was a desire for revision that brought curators Bolton and Koda to position more than sixty pieces by sixteen contemporary British designers—transgressors like Westwood and Alexander McQueen, as well as traditionalists like Burberry’s Christopher Bailey—in the museum’s eighteenth-century English period rooms according to atavistic themes like the dandy and the English garden. But let’s

  • Christian Holstad

    IN HIS ESSAY “On the Shortness of Life,” the Roman stoic Seneca writes: “We are in the habit of saying that it was not in our power to choose the parents who were allotted to us. . . . But we can choose whose children we would like to be.” To any individual who does not identify with dominant culture, Seneca’s pronouncement is particularly instructive. Reinvented genealogies are part and parcel of the personal lives of different-drummer children, who often align themselves with others according to political perspective, cultural subgenre, or—to cite that lodestone taken up by artist Christian

  • David Hockney

    Co-organized by London's National Portrait Gallery, this exhibition dives into Hockney's output, through 162 portraits spanning fifty years that show Hockney's relatives, lovers, and celebrity friends in their swimming pools and failing relationships.

    One cannot trace the history of Pop art without visiting David Hockney's pastel-and-Polaroid-strewn studio. The British-born, Los Angeles-based artist helped pioneer the movement in the '06s, though his work—particularly his portraiture—is imbued with a warm intimacy distinct from the mass-market flash embraced by his Pop peers. Co-organized by London's National Portrait Gallery, this exhibition dives into Hockney's output, through 162 portraits spanning fifty years that show Hockney's relatives, lovers, and celebrity friends in their

  • Reena Spaulings

    THIS IS A STORY you’ve read before. It follows a narrative arc familiar to anyone who’s consumed Edith Wharton, Jay McInerney, Tama Janowitz, or any of today’s marketable wave of chick lit. The setting is New York and the protagonist is an attractive twenty-something female who follows the trends and parties and love affairs all the way from dead-end nothingness to the toxic, eviscerating flash of superstardom. A line toward the end of the novel provides the best overview: “Reena is repeatedly destroyed and reanimated: She is put to work, drugged, made into an advertising image, fucked, robbed,

  • Andrea Zittel

    Andrea Zittel has carved out—or knitted, drilled, and glue-gunned—a niche in critiquing the über-efficient but impersonal domestic lifestyle. Since the early ’90s, she has turned on its head every cultural signpost of utopian freedom, from homemade clothes to the RV. At the CAMH (which co-organized the exhibition with New York’s New Museum), Zittel’s gouache drawings, dehydrated food, and living units will settle in one place for the first time on native soil. It should be the most avant-garde RV park in Houston’s history.

    Travels to the New Museum of

  • picks May 16, 2005

    “L.A.”

    The New York art world often looks upon Los Angeles with the same curious disdain it once reserved for Brooklyn—a lot of young, chaotic talent breaking like waves, but little in the way of a stable art force sympathetic to eastern interpreters. It is thus fitting that a show like “L.A.” bombards the viewer with some seventy-one works by nearly fifty artists, proving that significant developments have been produced on the distant littoral, while also suggesting that Los Angeles may encompass certain aesthetic detours that need not always merge with New York’s own preferred practices. Tate Dougherty,

  • Chanel

    Perhaps nothing in culture more effectively validates the Platonic distrust in physical forms than fashion. By its very definition, fashion hinges on a temporality that condemns its participants to imminent outdatedness. One name in couture has, however, managed to achieve household status while always remaining à la mode, and that is Chanel. Deemed a reassessment of aesthetic values rather than a retrospective, this show spins through eighty years of Chanel history (1920–2000) and more than fifty dresses from the label’s Parisian archive—naturally, with

  • courtroom drawings

    DURING ABC’S coverage of the Martha Stewart securities-fraud trial, the network showed a court sketch of a woman, hands cupped over her face, with a shaded azure background behind her folded frame. The woman was Ann Armstong, Stewart’s assistant, pictured as she broke into tears on the witness stand while describing the plum pudding that her employer had sent her for Christmas. Armstrong’s image, attributed to artist Christine Cornell, appeared to millions as the key visual signpost of Stewart’s guilt. While photography and video have effectively supplanted draftsmanship as the preferred record

  • Hussein Chalayan

    When a maverick designer straddles the line between art and fashion, he is apprehensively embraced by both industries—and often backed by neither. Unless he’s Hussein Chalayan, the Cypriot wunderkind who, since starting his women’s line in 1994, has transformed runway shows into Conceptual-art performances and merged torqued dress lines with postmodern readymades. This retrospective surveys his output thus far and includes as many mannequins as it does sculptures, installations, and film works. Chalayan seems inspired less by Gucci sex romps than by politics and

  • picks November 04, 2004

    “Face Off”

    In the hangover wake of the election, this group exhibition—which showcases the politically-oriented productions of thirty-one artists—reads quite differently than it would have had the position of leader of the free world gone to the other party. Had Kerry won, the anti-war, anti-Republican works on display could have been studied to see if they still stood up as potent artworks capable of polyphonous meanings, or if they merely served as radical propaganda in a time of severe national division. Among the Bush-whacking works on view, Pascal Lièvre’s six-minute video is a standout: A

  • The Future Has a Silver Lining: Genealogies of Glamour

    Tackling the ambitious task of tracing glamour’s various genealogies, this show deals less with representations that propel the market than with the ways artists have demystified or subverted glamour’s potency.

    If Benjamin’s “aura” has an equivalent in today’s capitalist empire, it may well be glamour. Etymologically, the word is linked to casting spells, which stands to reason since glamour is that mercurial “it-ness” that sells clothes as lifestyles and celebrities as icons. Tackling the ambitious task of tracing glamour’s various genealogies, this show deals less with representations that propel the market than with the ways artists have demystified or subverted glamour’s potency. The twenty-one samplings run from Meret Oppenheim’s fetishistic underwear to a number of contemporary works, like T.J.