Dan Nadel

  • HUMAN NATURE

    ATTEMPTING TO RENDER what it is to be human is an absurd task, which makes it all the more urgent. We are long past the postwar afterglow of the “Family of Man” and other ultimately exclusionary attempts at unity. To know that and yet to pursue unironic ideas about our collective condition—despite all current political, social, and theoretical factors—is a profound act of faith in art. The artists Ellen Berkenblit, Carroll Dunham, Sarah Peters, and Kyle Staver are creating internally consistent speculative spaces in which to explore and, possibly, recuperate the idea that art is capable

  • “HAIRY WHO? 1966–1969”

    The Hairy Who, a self-styled group of six graduates from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago—Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca, and Karl Wirsum—mounted six exhibitions between 1966 and 1969 (three in Chicago and one each in San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC). These were highly sophisticated, skilled, and stubbornly independent artists who prioritized language building and imaginative invention to produce primarily figurative work that delved into sex, ecstatic states, class structures,

  • HOW WOULD A COMB THAT CANNOT UNTANGLE HAIR LOOK?: THE ART OF CHRISTINA RAMBERG

    HAIR, URNS, AND THE BODY as sexualized object were where Christina Ramberg (1946–1995) began, and they are still what she is best known for. After nearly two decades of making paintings and drawings depicting heads, hands, and torsos, she rigorously pursued quiltmaking, and then created a final group of architectonic abstract paintings a decade before her life was cut short by a debilitating neurodegenerative disease. Throughout, her work is characterized by a fierce attention to structural integrity and an unflinching exploration of the female body, first as a subject of fetishistic fascination

  • LUCK OF THE DRAW: THE ART OF MICHAEL WILLIAMS

    ONE OF THE BETTER DESCRIPTIONS of Michael Williams’s vision of painting comes from the artist himself. At the end of a fairly exhausting studio visit earlier this year, I asked him whether he had faith in a grand notion of art—something to which most artists decidedly would not admit. He replied:

    I do have a great belief in art, but I’m not as in touch with that as I was when I was thirteen. There is something mystical about making art and paintings. Alone in the studio making a painting can be a strange time. Moving around weirdly, doing weird things. I like the idea of being more purposeful.

  • CLOSE-UP: SCRAWL SPACE

    THREE RECTANGLES of blue, yellow, and black underpin Joe Bradley’s Mother and Child, 2016. In the top left corner of the painting, a yellow crescent is crowned, or perhaps being eclipsed, by a great gray disc, and strokes of red shore up the circular forms. This might feel like familiar modernist territory. But look closer: Weirdness seeps in.

    At the far left edge of the canvas, a violence of red and black strikes a patch of tan. In the center, a single red stroke obscures a second yellow crescent. Blurts of green intrude into the blue, as does a substratum of yellow, which lurks in the blue and