Daniel Baumann

  • “WADE GUYTON PETER FISCHLI DAVID WEISS”

    Niklas Luhmann, the influential German sociologist and a pioneer in the field of systems theory, asked us to think of normalcy as implausible. A comparable postulate is at work in the respective practices of American artist Wade Guyton and the storied Swiss duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss, the latter of whom died in 2012. No wonder, then, that the Aspen Art Museum thought to bring the artists together. Fischli and Weiss’s oeuvre celebrates normality as a deception that can be productively mined. Guyton’s art is an odd ode to the normality of art. Both practices employ

  • “Wade Guyton: Das New Yorker Atelier”

    Wade Guyton is known for rendering X’s, U’s, and flames with large Epson ink-jet printers to deliver deadpan, elegant things that remind us of great American abstract art. For this comprehensive show at Museum Brandhorst—which features thirty-three pictures on canvas, some thirteen display cases full of drawings, and, surprisingly, two videos—Guyton takes his formal vocabulary in new directions: “Wade Guyton: Das New Yorker Atelier” promises a journey into the dangerous shoals of figurative images. Incorporating photographic reproductions of, among other

  • Daniel Baumann

    DANIEL BAUMANN

    Midway through the show at Moscow Museum of Modern Art featuring the New Blockheads, a collective of artists from Saint Petersburg who were active from 1996 to 2002, I wondered if the group really existed or if this was an exhibition mimicking an exhibition about a laconic art practice lingering between absurdity, politics, and metaphysics. The small but inspiring catalogue The Brotherhood of New Blockheads (1996–2002) by Peter Belyi, Lizaveta Matveeva, and Viktor Misiano does clarify things—and extends the mystery. Introductory articles provide context for more than a hundred

  • Daniel Baumann

    IT SHOULDN'T HAVE WORKED: just some red carpeting on the floors and walls, speakers, five small bells, an image pasted on an otherwise empty wall, and sound. These were the sparse ingredients of Swiss artist Emanuel Rossetti’s first institutional solo show, “Delay Dust.” What might have been yet another display of smartly handled, minimal punctuations with limited meaning instead introduced a set of experiences ranging from the stunningly immersive to the unsentimentally disillusioning to—in the case of the unexpected gesture of independence just outside the carefully curated space—the

  • Daniel Baumann

    “ARE YOU MOTHER THERESA?” an artist asked me in 2005. “Is that why you’re doing a show in Tbilisi? A Swiss helping a former Soviet colony?” Well, no—it was to escape the narrowness of the contemporary art world. And it was a reaction against an art history obsessively focused on Western Europe and the United States, an art history in which the culture east of the Iron Curtain was still a virtual footnote.

    When, at the end of the 1990s, Georgian art historian Nana Kipiani invited me to travel to Tbilisi and present a selection of artists’ films, I saw it as an opportunity to expand my knowledge.

  • Daniel Baumann

    1 Tehran’s Museums People are getting crazy—and scared—about Iran (and maybe rightly so). But there are many Irans, so get on a plane (it’s cheap) and go visit a few of the country’s revelatory museums. The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in 1977, holds what is said to be the most valuable collection of Western modernism outside Europe and the United States. For a recent installation of works by Calder, Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Warhol, and others, gentle instrumental music filtered throughout the galleries, creating a strange, out-of-time environment. The Martyrs’ Museum

  • Mai-Thu Perret

    This survey offers a window into the Crystal Frontier, a five-woman feminist commune housed somewhere in the deserts of the American Southwest. The setting—all the more so for being fictional—allows the Swiss-born Mai-Thu Perret to generate cultural artifacts that slyly relay the way of life to the outside (read: art) world.

    This survey offers a window into the Crystal Frontier, a five-woman feminist commune housed somewhere in the deserts of the American Southwest. The setting—all the more so for being fictional—allows the Swiss-born Mai-Thu Perret, who holds a master’s degree in English literature, to generate cultural artifacts that slyly relay the way of life, the political convictions, even the fetishes, of a utopian community to the outside (read: art) world. The significations of the artist’s output remain precarious, as one sees reflected in her oeuvre conflicting desires for