Daniel Birnbaum

  • Daniel Birnbaum

    1 Cerith Wyn Evans (Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris) This year belonged to Wyn Evans, unparalleled collector of striking references and creator of spaces that convey a sense of total weightlessness. In the presence of his art, you begin to think that the sky is thin as paper (as one work’s title states) and that if you shot a hole in it, everything you believed to be solid would be exposed as a fabrication. A dilettante par excellence, Wyn Evans often takes literary and historical texts and images as his starting point—among them works by

  • Jason Rhoades

    Well before his untimely death on August 1, 2006, at the age of forty-one, Jason Rhoades had made an indelible mark on the art of his generation. Artforum asked four of Rhoades’s colleagues and friends to reflect on the man and his work.

    LINDA NORDEN

    The thing with Perfect World is you can fall off of it and it can kill you. You can walk on this surface, but it has these holes, these cracks and these soft spots, these traps, where it’s just papered over. It is kind of a reality of (my) working. I wanted to build this thing which somehow mimics real life.

    —Jason Rhoades, in a 1999 interview with

  • Douglas Gordon, Play Dead; Real Time (Other Way), 2003, still from a color video, 20 minutes.

    Douglas Gordon

    This show of thirteen major films, installations, and text pieces includes Between Darkness and Light (After William Blake), 1997, in which the films The Exorcist and Song of Bernadette are shown on one screen simultaneously, and Play Dead; Real Time, 2003, a three-channel video installation featuring an elephant.

    In 1993 Scottish artist Douglas Gordon made 24 Hour Psycho, which, as its title suggests, presents Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho slowed down to last the length of a day. The art world has yet to recover. Considering the fervent dialogue between art and cinema in the decade that followed, Gordon—whose cinematic experiments in the ’90s included references to major filmmakers like Andy Warhol and Martin Scorsese—should certainly be seen as a, if not the, key artist of the period. This show of thirteen major films, installations, and text pieces includes Between

  • Matthew Barney, Drawing Restraint 2, 1988, still from black-and-white video. Photo: Michael Rees.

    Matthew Barney

    The sweeping exhibition will present nearly 150 films, sculptures, drawings, and photographs from “Drawing Restraint,” 1987-. Among them will be the first works Barney realized while studying at Yale in the late ’80s and the much-discussed ninth chapter: a film featuring the artist and his wife, Björk.

    Now that the completed Cremaster cycle has toured the world, it is time to consider Matthew Barney’s other ambitious multidisciplinary project, “Drawing Restraint,” 1987–, which embodies yet more of his incomparable cosmology. The sweeping exhibition at SF MOMA—curated by Yuko Hasegawa from the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan (where it premiered last summer), and co-organized with the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul—will present nearly 150 films, sculptures, drawings, and photographs from the ongoing project. Among them will be

  • the Whitney Biennial

    DANIEL BIRNBAUM

    JUTTA, A CHARACTER in the Bernadette Corporation’s exquisite-corpse novel Reena Spaulings (2004), has learned how to sidestep the pitfalls of selfhood, turning her own body into a kind of assemblage: “Books, ideas, movements, figures, photos, data, other lives,” Reena, the book’s protagonist, observes. “I can almost tell the place on her body where she has digested Artaud, Rimbaud.” This elusive, recombinant concept of the self seems close to what Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne had in mind when curating this year’s Whitney Biennial, “Day for Night” (titled after the 1973 François

  • SEARCH ENGINE: THE ART OF MICHEL MAJERUS

    Over the course of a decade-long career, Michel Majerus crammed the digital efflux of our age into paintings that strain conventional definitions of the medium. On the occasion of the artist’s current multipartite European retrospective, DANIEL BIRNBAUM revisits an enduring oeuvre cut short in its prime.

    “I’M CERTAIN THAT ONE doesn’t have control over the short time in which one does good things,” said Michel Majerus, the Berlin-based artist who died in a plane crash in his native Luxembourg in November 2002 at the age of thirty-five. His time as an artist was indeed short—less than a decade was

  • Peyman Rahimi

    MONSTERS TEND TO BE little more than imaginative amalgamations of real beings, as one realizes when reading, say, Gustave Flaubert’s Temptation of Saint Anthony, in which the author enumerates a litany of classical monsters (including the minotaur, a combination of man and bull, and the centaur, man and horse) and then concocts a few new ones still lacking names. In principle, such a mythological zoo would be infinitely rich in its juxtapositions and aggregations. But as Jorge Luis Borges points out in The Book of Imaginary Beings—even while digging deep into the annals of classical and Oriental

  • “Make Your Own Life: Artists In & Out of Cologne”

    Positioning art production in a broader cultural context, the show presents nearly forty paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, and videos alongside less-exhibited projects (records, publications, posters, and invitation cards).

    The “Cologne effect” of the '80s may have had less to do with artistic innovation than with marketing, packaging, and attitude, but its result was spectacular: The modest-size city on the Rhine emerged not only as the art capital of West Germany but as the most important center for contemporary art outside New York. “Make Your Own Life” maps the mythical surroundings of the late Martin Kippenberger and his excessive friends, many still based in the city. Positioning art production in a broader cultural context, the show presents nearly forty paintings, sculptures,

  • Daniel Birnbaum

    1 RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJA With a traveling retrospective hosted by three major institutions in Europe—the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Serpentine Gallery in London, and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris—and a key work (made in collaboration with Philippe Parreno) at the Lyon Biennale, Tiravanija had, in a way, his biggest year yet. The artist’s midcareer survey, titled “A Retrospective (Tomorrow Is Another Fine Day),” took a different form at each of its three venues. For the kickoff at the Boijmans, Tiravanija displayed no objects, just empty plywood simulacra of

  • Michael Krebber, Untitled (detail), 1989, black-and-white photograph, 9 1/2 x 12".

    Daniel Birnbaum

    Michael Krebber’s failures have turned out to be his greatest strength. First he failed as an art student, then he failed as an artist. He turned to acting and fell short. Returning again to art, he managed to transform failure, if that’s still the correct term, into his own distinctive and undoubtedly attractive modus operandi. We are all surrounded by people we don’t quite understand. But Krebber, my eccentric colleague since 2002 at Frankfurt’s Städelschule, is a special case: a painter who, as he says, is “fundamentally” no painter, and a teacher who, he maintains, has nothing much to teach.

  • OPENINGS: MICHAEL S. RIEDEL

    Berlin-based artist Michael S. Riedel has been confusing audiences for years now, drawing them into a world of echoes, afterimages, and replicas in which nothing is simple or straightforward. Using strategies of doubling and inversion, reversal and distortion, Riedel creates a kind of parallel universe of “filmed films” and “clubbed clubs”—simulacra that are never merely mechanical copies but rather creative restagings, displaced facsimiles of architectural structures, or any number of other miming recontextualizations of artworks and cultural situations. A few examples: At Moscow’s Lenin Museum

  • MAN WITHOUT QUALITIES: THE ART OF MICHAEL KREBBER

    From empty galleries and appropriated objects to paintings on canvas and artist’s books, MICHAEL KREBBER’s multifarious artistic output confounds easy understanding—let alone description. This elusiveness may in part explain why the Cologne-based artist has for many observers remained a mysterious, even cultish figure despite having participated in nearly one hundred exhibitions over the past twenty years. Following Krebber’s recent solo outing at Vienna’s Secession and a surge of interest in his work among a younger generation of artists, curators, and critics, Artforum asked DANIEL BIRNBAUM,