Daniel Marcus

  • Members of ACT UP protesting at FDA headquarters in 1988. A demonstrator holds a Gran Fury–designed poster: “One AIDS Death Every Half Hour.” Photo: Peter Ansin/Getty Images.
    books April 08, 2022

    Read Their Lips


    THE PAST DECADE has seen an outpouring of what writer and organizer Theodore Kerr calls AIDS Crisis Revisitation, a genre defined by its nostalgia for the pre-1996 years of HIV/AIDS activism, particularly ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). A major contribution to this literature, Jack Lowery’s intricately researched history of Gran Fury trains its spotlight on the artists and designers who collaboratively authored much of ACT UP’s iconic propaganda.


    WRITER CHRIS KRAUS devotes a long section of her 1997 book I Love Dick to artist Hannah Wilke, who had passed away from lymphoma a few years earlier. Identifying with Wilke’s reputation as a “female monster,” Kraus glimpsed what few other writers at the time could see. Over a career spanning more than three decades, from the late 1950s until her last days in the cancer ward, where she died at age fifty-two, Wilke treated her art as a vector of her desire, “continuously exposing [herself] to whatever situation occurs,” as she put it in a 1976 statement. Rejected as a shameless exhibitionist, she

  • Keith Haring, Safe Sex, 1985, acrylic on canvas tarp, 120 × 118". © Keith Haring Foundation. Used by permission.


    “BY THIS TIME—1985—things have seriously changed in New York, and in my life, because the horror of AIDS had come to light.” The words are Keith Haring’s, quoted in his biography. For Haring, as for many queer people in the mid-1980s, the moment ushered in an unprecedented experiment in social distancing: “You had to start being selective and much more aware of what you were doing, and who you were doing it with,” he writes, noting the need to balance communal safety with a hard-won culture of liberated sexuality. “I didn’t stop having sex, but had safe sex or what was considered and understood

  • Cover of Fredy Perlman’s I Accuse This Liberal University of Terror and Violence (Black & Red, 1969).


    The Detroit Printing Co-op: The Politics of the Joy of Printing, by Danielle Aubert. Los Angeles: Inventory Press, 2019. 240 pages.

    A YEAR AFTER the May 1968 uprisings in France, essayist Maurice Blanchot defended the revolt—which, beginning as a student movement, had culminated in a near-cataclysmic general strike—as an expression of social treason: “In the so-called ‘student’ action, students never acted as students but rather as revealers of a general crisis, as bearers of a power of rupture putting into question the regime, the State, society.” In breaching the norms of the ruling order, this

  • Jacob Mason-Macklin, Watchdog 2, 2019, oil and charcoal on canvas, 21 x 17".
    picks February 13, 2020

    Jacob Mason-Macklin

    A trio of black faces confronts visitors at the entrance to Jacob Mason-Macklin’s solo exhibition “Pure Hell.” Depicted from the shoulders up, each painted figure wears a white cowboy hat and exudes the tough-guy vibe of a roughneck roused from a bender. Mason-Macklin titled this ongoing suite Watchdog (all works 2019), evoking the spaghetti western archetype of a peacekeeper turned drifter. In Watchdog 1, the wrangler drags on a fat cigarette butt, his beady eyes barely visible within the pummeled mass of his face. By contrast, Watchdog 3 radiates pent-up sensuality: Constructing the subject’s

  • Charlotte Perriand, Chaise longue basculante bamboo (Bamboo adjustable reclining chaise longue), 1940, bamboo, oak, beech, 29 1⁄8 × 55 1⁄8 × 20 1⁄2". © F.L.C./ADAGP, Paris; © ADAGP, Paris; © AChP.

    Charlotte Perriand

    THERE IS SOMETHING wonderfully perverse about the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s decision to devote its first solo exhibition of a woman artist to the designer-cum-architect Charlotte Perriand, an unrepentant leftist who would have detested the cult of luxury championed by the LVMH conglomerate (the foundation’s creator and arm’s-length sponsor). The exhibition’s title, “Le monde nouveau de Charlotte Perriand”—the English version of the catalogue translates this as “Charlotte Perriand: Inventing a New World”—derives from a letter she sent to her colleague Pierre Jeanneret in 1936, a year marked by


    TUCKED WITHIN THE DENSE ARRAY of canvases in “Leidy Churchman: Crocodile,” the artist’s survey exhibition currently on view at the Hessel Museum of Art in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, is a small painting of a rat perched on the edge of a body of water. Pressing its nose close to the water’s surface, the rodent appears vexed by the sight of its inchoate reflection. Created in 2013, the painting was first exhibited in 2015 under the title Narcissistic Rat; Churchman later retitled it Basically Good in 2017, as if to allay its protagonist’s dysmorphic concerns. Does it matter what species we see

  • Pablo Picasso, Pierreuses au bar (Two Women at a Bar), 1902, oil on canvas, 31 1⁄2 × 36".

    “Picasso: Blue and Rose”

    IN AN OFT-CITED REMARK reported by Françoise Gilot, Picasso declared his mononym to have been predestined: “I wanted to be a painter, and so I ended up becoming Picasso.” This quotation decorates the exhibition catalogue accompanying “Picasso: Blue and Rose,” the Musée d’Orsay’s survey of Picasso’s formative years, establishing the tone for the exhibition as a whole. Yet the statement leaves much unanswered: What did it mean, precisely, to have become “Picasso” in becoming a painter? What form of personhood did art provide for Picasso, and was there ever a chance of his becoming something else

  • View of “Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth,” 2018. From left: Flag on Orange, 1958; Flag, 1958; Three Flags, 1958 Photo: Pablo Enriquez. © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

    Jasper Johns

    AT AGE EIGHTY-EIGHT, Jasper Johns has come to occupy a unique position in American culture. Rivaling Bob Dylan for sheer unrelenting inventiveness, he persists in the form of an enigma, continuing to mine a vein by turns ultra superficial and maddeningly hermetic. Any attempt to summarize Johns’s significance runs immediately into contradiction: Indifferent to public attention yet virtuosic in his performance of artistic savoir faire, Johns is at once the iconic face of postwar American art and its most obscure, inward-focused contributor. A touchstone of queer art history—together with

  • “Fernand Léger: Painting in Space”

    A renegade Cubist in 1920s Paris, Fernand Léger arrived early at the notion of a rapprochement between painting and architecture. In 1933, he traveled to Greece as a delegate to the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne; in 1936, he collaborated on a theoretical “Suspended House” with American architect Paul Nelson; and during the ’50s, he joined with Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand to advocate a “synthesis of the arts,” seeking to integrate modernism with mass media. These histories will be the subject of “Painting in Space,” a survey organized by the Museum

  • Wifredo Lam

    Visitors to the retrospective of Wifredo Lam at the Centre Pompidou will confront many things at once: an expanded geography of Surrealism, a bid for one painter’s canonization as an exemplary “plural modernist” (a term the museum recently used to advertise a rehang of its collection), and a case for the centrality of African Creole cultures to the formation of “European” modernity. A Cuban-born painter of mixed-race ancestry, Lam thought of his practice as an act of decolonization. Catherine David’s retrospective tracks Lam’s work across five decades, from 1926 to the

  • Allan Sekula, Sugar Gang 1–6, 2010, six C-prints, each 31 1/2 × 31 1/2".

    Allan Sekula

    Measured in anxious days and weeks, the slow pace of shipping once served as a reminder that commodities, although seemingly self-generated, are nevertheless the products of labor, including that of transportation. However, with the advent of containerization, dockside automation, and networked logistics, the figure of the transportation worker is increasingly supplanted by an algorithm—or worse, by a drone. While these innovations have driven down the cost of shipping, they have also made supply chains more vulnerable to interruption: It was no fluke, for example, that Occupy Oakland