Daniel Soutif

  • “Transavanguardia”

    As it was with arte povera, so it goes with the Transavanguardia. Some two decades after Achille Bonito Oliva coined the term (in a 1979 article in Flash Art), it now resurfaces on the occasion of an exhibition reuniting the five artists who were its most emblematic vectors. Having handily won out over the rival label arte cifra (proposed by critic Wolfgang Max Faust, for the group’s first exhibition, held in June 1979 at Galerie Paul Maenz in Cologne), Transavanguardia was indeed rather rapidly effaced in favor of the proper names Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi, Nicola De Maria,

  • William Eggleston

    One new photograph, specially commissioned for this 215-image retrospective, shows a spotted pooch, presumably made of porcelain but in any event exceedingly well behaved. Sporting a red leash that leads outside the frame (to its master’s hand? to a doorknob?), the animal, an English pointer by the look of it, stares patiently out at us. We can easily guess that the photo was taken in Japan (Kyoto, in fact), or at least in a Far Eastern country, as the upper corner reveals the edge of a poster on which several ideograms appear. Like all of the Japanese photos commissioned for the Fondation

  • David Reed

    David Reed's exhibition begins in the half-light of the stairwell. Ascending the steps, you hardly notice the single work by the artist that hangs there, save perhaps to observe that its dimensions seem to match those of the painting opposite it, a work by Ferdinand Hodler that belongs to the Kunstmuseum and is no better lit. Likewise, as you reach the top of the stairs, you do not immediately see the vertical canvas, No. 218-2, 1982-86—though it is a striking work—placed in the corner near the window behind a large sculpture by Donald Judd that all but dominates this space. The

  • Luigi Ghirri

    Luigi Ghirri, who died unexpectedly in 1992 when he was not yet fifty, occupied a very visible place in the world of photography during his lifetime. The two exhibitions devoted to him by his native province, Reggio Emilia, gathered more than 700 of his images and not only gave well-deserved homage to an exceptional photographer but spectacularly highlighted the change in the status of photography since the '70s and '80s, the decades during which his work developed.

    Ghirri's photographs may at first seem extraordinarily contemporary or exquisitely dated, depending on which of his multiple facets

  • Daniel Soutif

    THROUGHOUT ITS HISTORY, WHICH SPANS MORE THAN a hundred years, the Venice Biennale has been saddled with many titles, from the pretentious to the banal to the simply cumbersome. Now, in its forty-ninth edition, it can lay claim to the most confusing to date: “Plateau of Humankind.” From the original Italian version—Platea dell'umanità—the title was weirdly translated into both English and German with the French word “plateau” (“Plateau of Humankind,” “Plateau der Menschheit”), as though there were no equivalent for it in the languages of Shakespeare and Goethe.

    To listen to Harald

  • Robert Ryman

    Does the concept of a retrospective imply chronology? The organizers of the Robert Ryman survey at the Haus der Kunst in Munich think not. The press release announcing the “fifty-work” show, cocurated by Bernhart Schwenk in Munich and Christoph Schreier and Volker Adolphs at the Kunstmuseum Bonn, expressly states that the show is “conceived as an ‘unusual overview.’ . . . In contrast to a traditional retrospective, the exhibition . . . emphasizes the effect of Ryman’s paintings. The individual works are not presented in chronological order but rather in their atmospheric relations to one another.”

  • François Morellet

    A FEW CHOICE PAGES extracted from a vast volume—that would be one way to describe the François Morellet exhibition recently presented by the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume. This two-story space, once a temple of Impressionism, is sizable enough, but it still couldn't accommodate a complete retrospective (thus making the necessity for one all the more glaring) of a prolific artist, now seventy-four years old, whose first pictorial forays date back to the immediate postwar period.

    Nonetheless, curator Daniel Abadie, who organized the exhibition in close consultation with Morellet himself,

  • Jean-Hubert Martin

    JEAN-HUBERT MARTIN isn’t shy when it comes to speaking his mind on modernism and non-Western art. The former director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre Georges Pompidou, who remains best known as curator of the mammoth, controversial “Magiciens de la terre” show in Paris nine years ago, dismisses as “arrogant” the “conception of modernity that is only interested in the exotic arts’ contribution of formal novelty” and calls this notion one obstacle to “the idea of the equality of cultures and the valorization of non-Western arts.” Martin’s views should get another very public

  • Bertrand Lavier’s Giulietta

    CERTAIN WORKS OF ART make their mark in history by breaking the thread of a tradition; others, perhaps more rare, endure because they are able to knot together numerous threads. Giulietta, 1993, belongs to the second category.

    So who is Giulietta? And how does she present herself? In answer to the first question, suffice it to say, for now, that Giulietta is an Italian sports car produced by Alfa Romeo. As to the second question, we will also content ourselves with an abbreviated response: Giulietta presents herself in a rather bad light. Although placed on a white pedestal, like some precious

  • PICTURES AND AN EXHIBITION

    The Museum and the Photograph: Containers of Whatever

    “What have we seen? . . . But what haven’t we seen? . . . A dream on ground level. A real five-franc bill, under glass, and the most current small change, just what you’d have in your pocket, but framed, mounted, empedestaled, laid on padded velvet, and labeled in an eccentric script. . . . Two porcelain chamber pots, white on blue, with flower and leaf motifs and a romantic thatched hut. The god Mars, very lifelike, in faux bronze, ‘the perfect gift item,’ with a label around its neck as if it were a parcel: ‘To our dear godmother, from her

  • FLIGHT INTO WHITENESS: BRAM VAN VELDE

    IN 1923, BRAM VAN VELDE made a painting entitled Neige (Snow), or, sometimes, Paysage de neige (Snowy landscape). He was 28 years old. Something quite frightening happens on this canvas, like a definitive leave-taking—a goodbye in that terrible dimension of “forever.” Three men are walking in the white that takes up most of the surface. Two of them have turned around to stare at the viewer, as if for the last time. The third is walking toward a cramped village in the distance, at the bottom of a valley. Maybe the young man who painted this image didn’t really understand it yet, for he would