David Velasco

  • David Young, Cloud Canyon (b65a,c4600,a-19,3,6,4,44,50), 2019, AI/machine learning–generated digital image.


    INTELLIGENCE HAS BEEN artificial since people invented a word for it. How could a single term accommodate attributes as far apart as knowledge retention and logic, organizational skills and self-awareness? And yet the misnomer “artificial intelligence” persists, reifying that obscure quality “intelligence” and aggrandizing the divide between human and nonhuman cognition.

    Bad phrases can be good catalysts for collective hallucinations, and lately there’s been a quickening in our hopes and anxieties around AI. Early last summer, my Instagram lit up with strange three-by-three grids of images that

  • East elevation drawing of the Doris Duke Theatre, Jacob’s Pillow, Becket, MA, ca. 1988–89.


    ON THE MORNING of November 17, 2020, a fire destroyed the Doris Duke Theatre (formerly the Studio/Theatre) at Jacob’s Pillow, a venerable dance stronghold in Becket, Massachusetts. Yve Laris Cohen’s “Studio/Theater,” his current project at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, takes up this conflagration and ties it to another, a 1958 blaze at MoMA that kindled new institutional protocols around conservation.

    For those who have followed Laris Cohen’s work, there’s an obvious kinship with his “Embattled Garden,” a 2016 exhibition at Company Gallery in New York during which the artist examined,

  • Eva Hesse, Expanded Expansion, 1969, fiberglass, polyester resin, latex, cheesecloth. Installation view, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2022. Photo: Midge Wattles and Ariel Ione Williams. © The Estate of Eva Hesse.


    SIXTY YEARS AGO, in Artforum’s very first issue, our founding editor, Philip Leider, threw down the gauntlet for art’s autonomy. “Art and artists will flourish when an admiring public buys paintings because they love them; if the myth that buying art is a good investment (in the Wall Street sense) is perpetuated, the result can only be disaster for both.” I took his words—from a blistering review of two 1961 publications on art and money—as an early expression of the magazine’s ethos, which made speculation a constitutive exclusion. The keyword for me here was not myth or disaster but love.


  • View of Peggy Guggenheim’s collection, Greek pavilion, Venice, 1948. From the 24th Venice Biennale. Photo: Studio Ferruzzi.


    On April 23, the Fifty-Ninth Venice Biennale will open to the public, curated by Cecilia Alemani—a veteran of the show, having organized the Italian pavilion in 2017. Titled “The Milk of Dreams,” after a series of drawings the artist Leonora Carrington made during her time in Mexico in the 1950s, this edition arrives a year later than planned, its opening postponed due to the worldwide Covid-19 crisis. Artforum editor David Velasco spoke with Alemani over Zoom in February, then revisited the conversation over email in early March to address the Biennale’s role in light of Russia’s extraordinary

  • Stan Douglas, London, 2011–08–09 (Pembury Estate), 2017, C-print on dibond, 59 × 118 1⁄8".


    I’VE BEEN PREOCCUPIED with the bourgeois revolutions of 1848 for a long time. It seemed like an amazing thing, a spontaneous intuition Europeans had that things are wrong and that they’ve got to do something about it. When 2011 happened, I thought it was more or less the same thing, only that nothing would come of it. Because instead of responding to these events—the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, the London riots—as protest or the will of the people, they’d be policed and forgotten. They’d be called looters, hooligans, anarchists, as opposed to people who are simply responding to their

  • Nikita Kadan, work from the series “The Shadow on the Ground,” 2022, charcoal on paper, 11 3⁄4 × 15".


    IN THE EARLY HOURS OF FEBRUARY 24, Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to invade and conquer Ukraine, dramatically escalating the eight-year-old Russo-Ukrainian war, leading Europe to its largest military conflict since World War II.

    When the explosions began, the artist and activist Nikita Kadan was in Kyiv, the city where he was born and still lives. He found refuge in the Voloshyn Gallery, an underground space that functioned as a bomb shelter during the last world war and is now serving that purpose once again. In the days that followed, between organizing with peers and speaking with the

  • Nan Goldin, Red sky from my window, 2000, ink-jet print, 31 3⁄4 × 46 7⁄8".


    AMONG THE EIGHT previously uncollected works in Semiotext(e)’s reissue of Cookie Mueller’s starry Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black is “The Truth About the End of the World,” a mordant doomsday dispatch from the stygian 1980s, somewhere on New York City’s Lower East Side. Here it turns out the real catastrophe is that there isn’t one—no flash, no flare, just disappointment and the inevitable comedown.

    Until recently, it had been a long time since I thought about nuclear war. Now it’s all over the news again, reigniting that swiftly tilting feeling that our world’s destruction

  • Opening of the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, 1968. From left: Eleanor Holmes Norton, Carter Burden, Charles Inniss, Campbell Wylly, Betty Blayton-Taylor, Frank Donnelly. Photo: Jill Krementz.


    AS MUSEUMS AROUND THE WORLD reflect on their role in the reproduction of structures of domination, one instructive example is New York’s STUDIO MUSEUM IN HARLEM, a modest but pivotal institution created in 1968 to champion Black culture and center artists of African descent. To help delineate the museum’s history and significance, Artforum organized an intergenerational conversation of Studio Museum leaders and alums—NAOMI BECKWITH, THELMA GOLDEN, THOMAS (T.) JEAN LAX, and LOWERY STOKES SIMS—moderated by DAVID VELASCO, the magazine’s editor in chief.


    DAVID VELASCO: The Studio Museum in

  • Lorraine O’Grady, Announcement Card 1 (Banana-Palm with Lance), 2020, digital C-print, 50 × 33 3⁄8". From Announcement of a New Persona (Performances to Come!), 2020. © Lorraine O’Grady/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    1000 Words: Lorraine O’Grady

    NEW WORK BY LORRAINE O’GRADY is already good news, and the world needs some. But word of a new persona stirs the kind of anticipation usually reserved for a famous comet rounding the sun. It’s been more than forty years since O’Grady’s radiant alter ego Mlle Bourgeoise Noire, dressed in a gown and cape made from 180 pairs of white thrift-store gloves and wielding a cat-o’-nine tails plaited with chrysanthemums, stormed the opening of “Outlaw Aesthetics” at New York’s Just Above Midtown gallery. On that day, June 5, 1980, O’Grady kicked off a three-year sprint of some of the most profound

  • Lucas Samaras, Untitled, 2008–20, ink-jet print, 14 × 14". From the “GESTURES” series, 2008–20.

    Project: Lucas Samaras

    AND SO WE’RE DONE with that weird year of distortions, when everything got stuck, and yet everything moved so quickly.

    To understand how the suspension of one set of forces might stimulate another, you have only to visit the sky-scraping studio of Lucas Samaras, the eighty-four-year-old self-described “urban hermit” and legendary artist-transformer. That Samaras knows how to live alone gave him a unique advantage when New York went into its first lockdown last spring. Perched before two iMac Pros high above the epicenter of the global pandemic, he got to work, “living in heaven for a minute, for

  • Stanley Whitney, Untitled (Can You Hear Us . . . ), 2020, watercolor, graphite, and crayon on paper, 10 1⁄2 × 10 1⁄2".


    IN THE DRAWING on the cover of this issue and in the three images that follow, the pioneering artist Stanley Whitney incorporates words into his enduring compositional touchstone, the four-by-four grid, within which he carries out his virtuosic adventures with color. The result is a group of potent pictures with a potent message: No to prison life. “Creating space within color involves experiments with density, vibrancy, saturation, and even with matteness,” Whitney told the art historian Andrianna Campbell-LaFleur in 2015. “It is not just formal for me—color has great depth; it can bring up

  • Where we're at

    IN EARLY JUNE, as heat turned up around the uprisings in defense of Black lives, I saw an Instagram story by the wildly talented artist and musician DonChristian Jones. He had been entrusted with a disused facility in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which he was transforming into an inclusive DIY community center foregrounding the creativity of BIPOC. Things needed to be done, and it was all hands on deck.

    Soon I was spotting brilliant banners at demonstrations around the city—at the Brooklyn Liberation Action for Black Trans Lives, the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives, and the Times Square Black