Dan Cameron

  • ARTISTS' BOOKS

    Homely Girl, A Life, by Louise Bourgeois and Arthur Miller. New York: Peter Blum Editions. Two volumes, each 36 pp. 3 editions, regular $100, signed $275, special $2,000. Available by special order only from Peter Blum Editions, 14 W. 10th Street, NY, NY 10011.

    Reading this curious two-volume collaboration between two of America’s most celebrated creators is like retracing your steps along a garden path after night has fallen. The first volume contains Miller’s longish short story about an unpretty woman, Janice, who marries twice: once to a downtown socialist who never really notices her, later

  • RESERVE BACKLASH: SUE WILLIAMS’ BLACK COMEDY OF MANNERS

    FOR A GROWING NUMBER of viewers and artists, Sue Williams is the first painter in recent memory to plunge deep into the taboo-ridden areas of the psyche and come back not merely to tell the tale, but to poke and prod her viewers into cheering her along. The accomplishment of her recent work—a no-holds-barred attack on misogyny and violence toward women, carried out in the surprisingly conventional media of painting and occasionally sculpture—is far more than a mere overhaul of the cartoonishly diaristic style of image-making that brought her to critical attention during the waning of the ’80s.

  • OPENINGS: CHRISTOPHER SASSER

    Any respectable follower of microtrends will probably need but the gentlest nudge to recall the rapid rise and disappearance of the mid-’70s movement known as “abstract illusionism.” A bastard offspring of Color Field painting, this short-lived phenomenon was based on the dubious visual premise that instead of creating literal blobs and squiggles of color that just sit there on the canvas, an enterprising painter might liven things up a little by making blobs and squiggles that appear to float over tromp l’oeil shadows of themselves. An infuriatingly obvious conflation of gestural abstraction

  • THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, DARKLY: FISCHLI/WEISS

    ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH Der Lauf der Dinge (The way things go, 1986–87), Peter Fischli and David Weiss’ homemade film of absurdly extended chain reactions in the studio, the action suddenly stops being funny. Nothing actually changes in the flow of events: gummy liquids keep bubbling over, objects still slide and roll off tables. But the film’s subliminally grim ambience usurps it as clouds pass across the sun, and we realize that we have not escaped the quagmire of self-consciousness after all. This clumsy parable of post-Modern “progress” has only pulled us deeper into it, though we laugh nearly

  • Dan Cameron

    BY THE TIME WE got to Kassel, about ten days after the smoke from the opening of Documenta IX had cleared, the show had already begun to feel like a bad art-world version of Woodstock. If Jan Hoet’s self-promoting campaign to make this the biggest Documenta yet works on any level, it is in calling up the little-understood forces of art tourism, for which the city’s hoteliers and restaurateurs, at least, are ready to claim him as their saint. At the risk of sounding antipopulist, however, the crowd seemed to me a big part of Hoet’s problem: split between the international young-artist-and-art-student-in-black

  • CRITICAL REFLECTIONS

    In the pages of this continuing series (inaugurated in the September 1989 issue) Artforum invites a range of critics or theorists to articulate what they see as the role and responsibilities of art criticism today.

    Amateur: None of the grade-school aptitude tests devised to date will steer its subjects toward the vocation of art criticism, and those slightly older scholars who attempt to prepare themselves would do best to study sociology, anthropology, or German literature—anything, in short, besides criticism. The best writing about art, I believe, comes from those whose training derives from

  • CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE: EQUIPO CRÓNICA

    THE INITIAL REACTION first-time viewers often have to the work of the artistic team known as Equipo Crónica is one of barely concealed amazement. For, on the one hand, it is remarkable to view such an uncompromising and sophisticated visual commentary on art and the role of the artist issuing from the supposed cultural wasteland of late-Franco Spain. On the other hand, it is even more surprising to learn that a quarter century after its formation, Equipo Crónica has yet to receive any official recognition beyond Europe. In fact, the entire saga of Equipo Crónica’s career may eventually be seen

  • Criticism

    WHAT'S EATING GARY INDIANA?

    Ever since he signed on as chief art-gazer for The Village Voice, the field hasn’t really been the same. For starters, Indiana is not an easy man to please, he does not participate in the art world’s self-mythologizing rituals, and he never writes about work that doesn’t really interest him. What’s more, no one’s better at getting straight to the heart (or, in some cases, an equally sensitive place) of the matter. (His unbeatable characterization of the work of Alan Saret: “Pubic hair from outer space.”)

    Still, when he wants to, Gary Indiana can generate as ardent a

  • Criticism

    AS I LOOKED back at the rebuilt mill, it began to dawn on me: no wonder they erected this ungainly monument to rusticity here. If people had to actually focus their attention on the cause of it all, they'd probably never come back.

    I was standing at the northern perimeter of the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, which is spitting distance from Placerville but a good 45-minute drive out of Sacramento (if the traffic's against you). The spot was the exact site where James Marshall first noticed flecks of gold in the runoff ditch of the sawmill he was building for John Sutter. It was

  • The waiting typewriter.

    “I SAW THE SHOW twice, but I’m still thinking about it. I’m sorry, I still don’t know what I think.” Or, “I know you think I don’t ‘like’ your work, but ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ isn’t what makes a critic want to write about something. I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry my being a critic seems to define the nature of our relationship,” “I’m sorry I can’t do that”. . . . Criticism means always having to say you’re sorry.

    Criticism does not mean receiving respect for one’s opinions, even when it means respect for one’s byline. Nor does it mean that other art-world citizens will refrain from concluding that one’s

  • THE CRITICS’ WAY

    MÜNSTER RHINELAND—WESTPHALIA Pop. 266,000 Alt. 62m. 13C restored cathedral, 14C town hall, 18C palaces, Landesmuseum “Skulptur Projekte in Munster 1987” June 14–October 4. Hannover 186 km—Cologne 152 km—Osnabrück 57 km.

    CRITICS

    Donald Kuspit ????

    Max Wechsler ????

    Dan Cameron ????

    Pier Luigi Tazzi ????

    Ingrid Rein ????

    TEN YEARS AGO IN MÜNSTER, Klaus Bussmann curated a large outdoor sculpture exhibition under the title “Skulptur 77.” And now Bussmann and Kasper König have organized a second such show, “Skulptur Projekte in Münster 1987.” The works, by a total of 53 artists from Europe and North