David Carrier

  • Thomas Kinkade

    Thomas Kinkade: The Artist in the Mall, edited by Alexis L. Boylan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011. 320 pages. $26.

    THOMAS KINKADE’S ART IS EVERYWHERE: An estimated one in twenty American homes owns a print of his work. At the same time, his pictures are nowhere to be seen in the art world, where they are reviled, if not simply ignored. Why? This is not a question of quality per se: It is hardly polemical to suggest that his pictures bear comparison with canonical works of art history. His Jerusalem Sunset, 2006, for example, brings to mind Corot’s Roman scenes. Other pictures—those

  • picks June 23, 2009

    Sheng Qi

    Sheng Qi, famous for his performance art and for photographing his self-mutilated left hand, paints enormous groups of small figures, most viewed from above and generally in black and red. His painting in this exhibition of a one-legged child performing for a crowd is terrifying, and his representation of a dead girl in a bikini, seen from the back, is oddly mysterious. Under the Shadow, 2007, a diptych––red on the right, black on the left––presents figures in the rain walking in Tiananmen Square. Like Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych, 1962, this piece demonstrates how the cinematic aesthetics of

  • picks June 23, 2009

    “Domus Collection”

    The Beijing art world is moving from 798, which is fatally touristic, to Caochangdi. The perfectly proportioned spaces of this gallery are inside a gated courtyard in a poor suburb beyond the fifth ring road near the airport. In this exhibition, which juxtaposes dramatically different visual cultures, a large concave work by Anish Kapoor is hung at the far end of each of the two long rooms. One, a mirror, reflects the butterflies of Damien Hirst’s majestic Soulful, 2008; the other, painted steel, is set against Barnaby Furnas’s abstract landscape Dark Day I, 2008. Ding Yi’s Appearance of Crosses

  • Wang Guangle

    Wang Guangle makes artworks in various typologies. His “Terrazzo” series, 2002– , re-creates in oil or acrylic paint a distinctive Chinese floor material. Terrazzo 200807, 2008, has an allover pattern; Terrazzo 200808, 2008, and Terrazzo 090105, 2009, surround simple geometric forms (a square at the center, for example) with monochromatic color fields. And he produces two types of acrylic-on-canvas work called “Coffin Paints,” 2004–: large, dark, vertically oriented gray canvases and somewhat smaller, heavily painted panels in a variety of colors and patterns. In Coffin Paint 090119, 2009, the

  • picks May 08, 2009

    “Arcadie: Dans Les Collections du Centre Pompidou”

    Beginning with Poussin’s The Arcadian Shepherds, 1638, projected onto a macramé partition in front of François-Xavier Lalanne’s Troupeau de moutons (Flock of Sheep), 1968, this thematic exhibition closes with the enormous Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, 2002, by Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov, which depicts Cézanne, Monet, and Pissarro in a crowded landscape populated with model and animals.

    Exhibition curator Didier Ottinger presents eighty-three utopian drawings, films, and paintings by forty-two artists. Some famous French figures (Braque, Matisse, and Picasso) and a host of intriguing

  • picks April 30, 2009

    “Music to My Eyes”

    Synesthesia was a frequent fascination of Western modernists. In “Music to My Eyes,” Beijing-based curator Karen Smith’s variation on this old theme, visitors heard bands including Girl Kill Girl, Dead J, and ZigZag. They see Liu Ye’s small paintings of Mozart, Chet Baker, and Taiwanese pop singer Teresa Teng and enter Kaleidoscope (all works 2009), a cycloramic environment designed by Chen Hangfeng and Ben Houge, which displays—on six walls and in real time—images taken through a kaleidoscope at the door of the museum. Changing Street Orchestra by Mathieu Borysevicz uses three-screen cinematic

  • Jorge Pardo

    Organized by Bonnie Clearwater of the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, Florida—and here overseen by Margo A. Crutchfield—Jorge Pardo’s first museum survey is constructed as a spacious, well-furnished house. The domestic spaces (front garden, kitchen, dining room, office, bedroom, and living room) are filled with their attendant objects—sculptures and installations Pardo made between 1987 and 2007. Dispersed throughout are ten enormous photomurals depicting architectural exteriors and interiors designed by the artist. But while this may be a house, it is certainly not a home: You are

  • Oscar Oiwa

    Oscar Oiwa, born in Brazil in 1965 to Japanese parents, exhibited Whale I and Whale II, both 1989, in the 1991 Bienal de São Paulo. By comparing the great mammal’s bones to the equally expansive top view of a nuclear-propelled submarine, this pair of twenty-one-meter images painted on kraft paper presents one of his basic themes, the kinship between the organic and the mechanical. The year of the Bienal, Oiwa moved to Tokyo, arriving just as the bubble economy burst. He later spent nearly a year in London, and in 2002 he relocated to New York, where he now lives and works.

    This full retrospective

  • McDermott & McGough

    Using obsolete printing techniques and an 8 x 10" camera, David McDermott and Peter McGough in the 1980s and ’90s, made photographs that look like they were produced a century ago. This display of 120 small pictures in four rooms, newly decorated for the exhibition with faux-antique handpainted wallpaper and an eighteenth-century floor pattern copied from an old Dublin design, surveys nearly twenty years of the artists’ career. No cars, computers, or modern machinery appear in these photographs. The pair’s cyanotype An Assortment of Studio Props, 1913, 1997—fake composition dates are part of

  • Diana Cooper

    Using acetate, acrylic, aluminum tape, corrugated plastic, felt, felt-tip markers, foamcore, ink, map pins, paper, photographs, pipe cleaners, 296 pom-poms, velour paper, and vinyl, Diana Cooper makes “three-dimensional drawings,” many of them extremely large. Her recent exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art featured a range of these hybrid constructions and wall reliefs, as well as two freestanding sculptures. The lush green construction Daphne, 2006, is based around a set of radiating forms that emerge from its center, while the sprawling Emerger, 2005–2007, joins a vast array of small

  • Spencer Finch

    What better subject for a summer exhibition in a museum located near the picturesque Berkshires than the art of Spencer Finch, which deals in the observation of weather and natural light? Here, Finch shows four installations produced this year, two of them being exhibited for the first time, and a new assemblage involving filtered fluorescent light, all of them—as is now customary for the artist—alluding to the environmental conditions of specific times and places. (A selection of earlier works—drawings, watercolors, lightbulb and neon assemblages—is also on show).

    Facing Mass MOCA’s courtyard

  • Joseph Cornell

    Joseph Cornell loved the ballet, broken glass, nude models from photography manuals, jewels and jewel boxes, airplanes and ships, old books, old master paintings, optical devices, palace facades, penny arcades, photographs of movie stars, sand, soap bubbles, star maps, stuffed birds, and toys. Scouring Woolworth’s, bookstores, second-hand and antique stores, and other promising-looking outlets across the US and Europe, he gradually accumulated materials presented in the 177 boxes, collages, graphic design projects, dossiers, and films that were shown in a recent exhibition—the artist’s first

  • Morris Louis

    Morris Louis had a strange career. Born in 1912, he painted in Manhattan between 1936 and 1940; then, working always in isolation, in Baltimore and Washington, DC. But it wasn’t until 1953, inspired in part by the constructive criticism of Clement Greenberg, that he really found his artistic purpose. He died in 1962, just as he was becoming famous, the victim of lung cancer caused, reportedly, in part by working with toxic pigments in a tiny studio. A 1986 Museum of Modern Art retrospective amounted to a referendum on the concerns of Greenberg, his early champion, and those of Michael Fried,

  • Michaël Borremans

    Near the end of his life, Baudelaire—bored and besieged by creditors—made a disastrous trip to Brussels. In 1865, he wrote to a friend: “This highly detestable Belgium has already done me a great service. It’s taught me to do without everything. . . . I’ve become sensible because of the impossibility of finding satisfaction.” Similarly, Belgian artist Michaël Borremans’s determinedly dour drawings show how much artists may achieve without finding, or offering, fulfillment or resolution.

    Mounted on walls and tables in the Cleveland Museum of Art, the sixty-three small, detailed drawings in this

  • Jim Hodges

    Jim Hodges loves colored paper and pencils, ceramic and plastic wall sockets, wood and metal panels, cheap scarves, light bulbs, metal chains, and mirrors. At the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, wall-based constructions made from these materials and many others fill two enormous galleries.

    In the first room, the white, blue, and green lights of With, 1999, the reds, pinks, and whites of Ahhhh, 2000, and the various blinking bulbs of the two-part Ultimate Joy, 2001, are reflected in the shattered mirror of Untitled (near and far), 2002. Entering the second room requires walking between the

  • Cai Guo-Qiang

    Cai Guo-Qiang is a Chinese-born artist with an abiding passion for large, loud explosions. His current exhibition at Mass MoCA is in four parts. Inopportune: Stage One, 2004, consists of nine white Ford Tauruses, installed here in a long room. While the first and last sit on the floor, the others hang from the ceiling, some high enough to walk under. Projecting from their interiors are flashing, internally lit blue, red, green, and orange glass rods, which mimic exploding firecrackers.

    A smaller, darkened room contains large screens, visible from both sides, which show a ninety-second video in

  • Shahzia Sikander

    Shahzia Sikander, born in Pakistan but currently living and working in the United States, deconstructs an Indo-Persian tradition to which she remains attached. Sikander is fascinated by Mughal miniatures, paintings that use intense, fully saturated pigments, and is particularly fascinated by their underdrawing. Does she believe that their essence lies beneath the surface? Perhaps, but her art doesn’t attempt to answer that question. Sinopia, the drawing that underlies European frescoes, does reveal structural information, but the relation of Sikander’s drawings to Mughal art is more complex.

  • “A Fiction of Authenticity”

    This exhibition of newly commissioned artwork by eleven African artists born between 1956 and 1976 and working in Europe or the United States inaugurates this institution’s new building and, presumably, higher profile. The curators—Shannon Fitzgerald of the Contemporary and Tumelo Mosaka of New York’s Brooklyn Museum—“seek to analyze constructions of perceptions (fictions) about what constitutes an authentic Africa . . . and to what extent one’s Africanness is expressed, understood, exploited, and relevant in contemporary global culture.”

    Siemon Allen (born in South Africa, lives in Washington,

  • Christine Hill

    In late February, artist Christine Hill moved to Cleveland for five weeks to carry out a project that involved organizing and shooting a pilot for a television show. Toward this end, she studied the history of Cleveland, constructed a set, sought out local talent, and, on March 28, taped Pilot (Cleveland), a single complete episode from an imaginary late-night TV talk show, before a live audience. Behind her desk was a photo backdrop of downtown Cleveland. With the help of her “sidekick” Dave Herman, she used flash cards to tell jokes about the rivalry between Cleveland and New York City. The

  • Patti Smith

    Any number of important musicians and writers have produced interesting visual art. Victor Hugo made drawings, Auguste Strindberg painted landscapes, Arnold Schönberg did portraits. And, of course, Antonin Artaud’s drawings are famous. Rock icon Patti Smith aspires to this tradition and presented a dense installation of some eighty-five drawings in two galleries. Among the works, which dated from the late ’60s to this year, were a 1973 drawing of her hero, Rimbaud; a number of self-portraits; Three Studies for sculpture, ca. 1980; various Ascension scenes showing Christ surrounded by rising