Colin Gardner

  • BRAVE NEW WORLD

    The streets are our brushes, the squares are our palettes.
    —Vladimir Mayakovsky, “Order to the Army of Art,” 1918
     
    Not the Old, Not the New, But the Necessary.
    —Vladimir Tatlin, 1920
     
    Go to the factories, this is the only task for artists. . . . Artists must become producers.
    —Osip Brik, Art of the Commune, 1918

    The major exhibition “Art Into Life: Russian Constructivism 1914–1932,” curated by Richard Andrews and Milena Kalinovska, represents the culmination of the recent historical and critical reevaluation of the Constructivist movement.1 Not only did the show present work that had never before been seen in the West, but it allowed the viewer to reexperience Constructivism in its vital, youthful idealism, emphasizing the Constructivists’ enthusiastic support of the new political system ushered in by the Bolshevik Revolution.

    Perhaps the most important shift in art theory and criticism of the past twenty

  • Richard Jackson

    Using the contexturalization of painting as his material paradigm, Richard Jackson’s installations have consistently exploited a dialectic between the illusionistic and the literal. His theoretical springboard would appear to be Michael Fried’s well-known, late-’60s distinction between art and objecthood. According to Fried, the Minimalist (literalist) practice of creating environmental situations, in which artwork, beholder, and surrounding space create a contingent, experiential gestalt was not art. Because the active viewer became the subject of the piece, the actual artwork was necessarily

  • Rebecca Horn

    “Diving through Buster’s Bedroom,” Rebecca Horn’s first West Coast solo exhibition, consisted of 18 large-scale mechanized sculptures created in close thematic relationship to her latest film, Buster’s Bedroom, 1989–90. Although it was possible to read the installation independently of the film—the sculptures’ references to reptilian metamorphosis, alchemy, and mechanical conjunction/dislocation are familiar themes in Horn’s oeuvre—the cross-pollination of ideas and symbology between the two media was crucial to Horn’s undertaking. The three-dimensional works not only reference ideas and characters

  • Cindy Bernard

    Cindy Bernard’s latest series of photographs, collectively entitled “Ask the Dust,” focuses on the cinematic mediation of the American landscape. Bernard has chosen one film from each year between 1954 and 1974 in which the landscape plays an important contextual, political, or allegorical role. Using production notes or information provided by each film’s director or unit production manager, Bernard has returned to the original film locations and photographed the landscape in accordance with the exact mise-en-scène and aspect ratio of the original movie. Thus Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, 1958,

  • THE SPACE BETWEEN WORDS: LAWRENCE WEINER

    When you are dealing with language, there is no edge that the picture drops over or drops off. You are dealing with something completely infinite. Language, because it is the most nonobjective thing we have ever developed in this world, never stops.

    —Lawrence Weiner, “Art Without Space”

    Words are no more, and never can be more, than symbols, indicating a thought, a feeling, or an idea; symbols which need action, gesture, intonation, expression, and a whole context of circumstance, to give them their full significance.

    —Denis Diderot, The Paradox of Acting

    LAWRENCE WEINER HAS ALWAYS BEEN

  • John McCracken

    Since his early association with the Los Angeles finish-fetish group in the mid ’60s, John McCracken has always been seen in terms of contradictory esthetics. On one hand, his sculptures’ reductive geometries, serial arrangements, and contingent relationship to both viewer and surrounding space have aligned him with Minimalism. On the other hand, the works’ highly reflective surfaces, their reduction of material properties to pure color, and the interplay of form and exterior light have encouraged transcendental readings, as if Minimalism’s materialism were merely a smoke screen for “spiritual”

  • Robert Grosvenor

    Like most Minimalist sculptors, Robert Grosvenor explores the dialectic between object and surrounding environment in order to disclose a semantic space in which work, artist, and viewer can coexist in mutual contingency. While this strategy has remained consistent since his first gravity-defying geometries of the ’60s, the artist’s concerns have evolved considerably. The early indoor works, with their often enigmatic relationship to the surrounding architecture, tended to expand formal issues into more fluid areas of supplementarity and reception: Does the work supplement the space? Does the

  • Kevin Pasnik

    At first glance, Kevin Pasnik’s object-sculptures appear to reference Minimalism, both in their use of industrial and everyday materials (sheet metal, 4 by 4s, and actual tree branches) and their serial, highly structured interaction with the surrounding space. Closer inspection, however, discloses a more overt concern with process. Pasnik attempts to occupy an enigmatic middle ground between the art object and performance (with the “work” acting as a trace of work). Unlike Minimalist practice, which tends to present the object as a productive fait accompli, Pasnik includes the residue and debris

  • Buzz Spector

    Theoretical discourse has become increasingly keyed on the twin axes of hermeneutic (German) and deconstructive (French) practice. This is a somewhat unequal dialectic, largely because Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, et al. tend to be explained and interpreted within the German tradition, as if they have been secret Hegelians all along. It is thus refreshing to find an artist like Buzz Spector collapsing this opposition. By appropriating the workings of hermeneutics allegorically, he transforms them—playfully, punningly, erotically—into pure jouissance.

    Spector takes the book itself as his

  • Kenneth Shorr

    The problem with most so-called post-Modernist work is that it merely ends up stating the obvious, busily demythologizing spent dogma while remaining blind to its own hidden reifications. This is precisely the plight of Kenneth Shorr’s recent work—collectively titled “The Nostalgia of Meaning.” Here he seems to belatedly arrive at the by now commonly accepted notion that the artwork is a contingent text, the meaning of which is inherently deferred and incomplete, instead of using this perception as a starting point for a more penetrating self-critique.

    Shorr explores the dialectic between the

  • Nam June Paik

    Nam June Paik’s practice, like that of many of his Fluxus peers from the late ’50s and early ’60s, has existed in uneasy contradiction with the co-opting attempts of the art establishment to circumscribe an ephemeral, often aleatory body of work within an ongoing Modernist/post-Modernist historicism. In much the same way that Joseph Beuys and John Cage have, Paik has become part of the international art elite, his work defined and disseminated in terms of a specific historical time and place. On its own terms, Paik’s work itself has evolved from a dynamic, audience-participatory deconstruction

  • Garry Simmons

    In a witty and often disturbing installation of sculptural objects, Gary Simmons explored the ideological structures that link the conformist values of bourgeois educational systems with the art institution. Simmons’ basic strategy is to make a trope of that Marxist staple, “class,” by blurring semantic and contextual distinctions between classroom, art-world classification, and the roles perpetuated by the dominant class structure. These relationships were established from the moment the viewer entered the gallery lobby. The first thing to come into view was Eraser Chair (all works, 1989), a