Douglas Crimp

  • Douglas Crimp

    1 JULIUS EASTMAN (THE KITCHEN, NEW YORK; CURATED BY TIONA NEKKIA MCCLODDEN AND DUSTIN HURT) When I heard tenor Julian Terrell Otis sing Eastman’s Prelude to the Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc (1981) at the Kitchen, I was blown away. I’d gotten used to Eastman’s powerful baritone singing the monologue on Unjust Malaise (2005), the three-disc set of archival recordings of Eastman’s music. And then came another tour de force, the American Contemporary Music Ensemble’s rendition of the ten-cello Holy Presence itself. The Kitchen’s tribute to this incomprehensibly obscure, pugnaciously gay black

  • Alfred Hitchcock, Rope, 1948, 35 mm, color, sound, 80 minutes. David Kentley (Dick Hogan).

    “An Early Clue to the New Direction: Queer Cinema Before Stonewall”

    This month, the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York presents “An Early Clue to the New Direction: Queer Cinema Before Stonewall” (April 22–May 1), organized by the FSLC’s newly appointed programmer at large, THOMAS BEARD. In anticipation of this comprehensive survey, Artforum invited art historian and critic DOUGLAS CRIMP to speak with Beard about the series’ revisionist take on queer cinema before the gay liberation movement.

    DOUGLAS CRIMP: You talked to me about the “Queer Cinema Before Stonewall” series well before your recent appointment as programmer at large for the Film Society of

  • William Forsythe, Stellenstellen, 2013. Performance view, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, 2012.

    “William Forsythe: The Fact of Matter”

    With Artifact (1984) and Steptext (1985), William Forsythe made ballet postmodern. Can you think of another ballet master given to citing Foucault? Though American, Forsythe has been based in Europe for more than forty years—as a dancer for the Stuttgart Ballet, as director of Ballett Frankfurt and then of the Forsythe Company, and now as associate choreographer of the Paris Opera Ballet. In addition to choreography, Forsythe has been an innovator of dance analysis and notation, improvisation techniques, lighting design, and works for exhibition, including those he

  • View of “Elad Lassry: Untitled (Presence),” 2012, The Kitchen, New York. Foreground: Untitled (Wall, New York), 2012. Background, from left: Woman 065, 2012; Woman 071, 2012; Man 077, 2012; Men (055, 065), 2012; Woman 084, 2012; Man 044, 2012; Woman 097, 2012; Woman 055, 2012. Photo: Jason Mandella.

    Elad Lassry at The Kitchen

    ELAD LASSRY remade the Kitchen’s gallery space for his “Untitled (Presence).” Entering through a parabolic arch, you immediately confronted a wall with a long rectangular opening at eye level. Beyond that stood a medium-height wall whose top was scalloped and painted bright pink and green. (Lassry has an unfailing sense for hideous colors.) Through the scallops you could catch glimpses of photographs on the back wall. These deliberately clunky framing devices were presaged in the room demarcated by the arched and slotted walls. There, projected directly on the gallery wall, was a looped 16-mm

  • Louise Lawler, Why Pictures Now, 1981, gelatin silver print, 3 x 6".


    IN 1981, Louise Lawler took a photograph of a matchbook propped in a common restaurant ashtray— a photograph that appears to ask the question printed on the matchbook’s cover: WHY PICTURES NOW. Nearly twenty years later, the photograph appeared as the final reproduction in Lawler’s book of photographs An Arrangement of Pictures (Assouline, 2000). There is little doubt that Lawler thought the question she had asked in 1981 needed to be asked again. Why Pictures Now poses its question not least to itself. It asks, in effect, “Why does this work take the form of a picture?” And: “Why am I—Louise

  • Cindy Sherman, Untitled #413, 2003, chromogenic color print, 46 x 31 1/8".

    Cindy Sherman

    Since the mid-1970s, Cindy Sherman has been continually reinventing and photographing herself––as a paper doll or a movie character, wearing Comme des Garçons or displaying too many nips and tucks.

    Since the mid-1970s, Cindy Sherman has been continually reinventing and photographing herself––as a paper doll or a movie character, wearing Comme des Garçons or displaying too many nips and tucks. Whatever guise she assumes, whether looking gorgeous or weird, Sherman is always and never herself. At the time she made her “Untitled Film Stills,” 1977–80, she was persona non grata at the Museum of Modern Art’s Photography Department; when MoMA acquired the full set of “Stills” in 1995, they had become canonical postmodern artworks––thanks in large part to the thoughtful

  • Gran Fury, The Four Questions, 1993, printed flyer, 20 x 24".

    “Gran Fury: Read My Lips”

    In 1993, the AIDS-activist art collective Gran Fury produced a modest poster that asked four simple questions––among them, DO YOU TRUST HIV-NEGATIVES? and WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?

    In 1993, the AIDS-activist art collective Gran Fury produced a modest poster that asked four simple questions––among them, DO YOU TRUST HIV-NEGATIVES? and WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? It was a despairing time: ACT UP? was in disarray, no treatment breakthroughs were on the horizon, friends were dying. Two years later, the development of protease inhibitors changed everything for many of us, with the result that the present generation is mostly ignorant of that terrible time. Now Gran Fury has reunited to mount a comprehensive survey of the works that,

  • Sherrie Levine, Crystal Skull, 2011, cast glass, 5 1/2 × 7 × 4 1/2 " © Sherrie Levine. Photograph by Davina Semo.

    “Sherrie Levine: Mayhem”

    When New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art staged “The Pictures Generation, 1974–1984” in the spring of 2009, New Yorker critic Peter Schjeldahl couldn’t seem to find enough words of opprobrium for the work exhibited—“menacingly cynical,” “brittle,” “pitiless,” “alien.” Sherrie Levine’s work was singled out as encapsulating the Pictures approach with “diabolical efficiency.” Indeed, Levine has, over the years, been cast as both the purest and the most heartless of the appropriation artists. The Whitney Museum’s overview of her career from the

  • Trisha Brown performing Roof Piece, New York, 1971. Photo: Babette Mangolte.


    ON THE FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY of the Summer of Love, the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival celebrated the “spirit of the ’60s” with a series of concerts by musicians Dave Brubeck, Arlo Guthrie, and Pauline Oliveros and performances by choreographers Trisha Brown and Paul Taylor. The Trisha Brown Dance Company’s evening ended on a poignant note with a performance of PRESENT TENSE, 2003, whose set and costumes were designed by Elizabeth Murray. Murray had died on August 12, 2007, just two days before the performance—so seeing her immediately recognizable painted forms behind dancers so

  • Callie Angell on Bear Island, Maine, August 7, 2003. Photo: Felicity D. Scott.

    Callie Angell

    IN JANUARY 2000, Callie Angell, curator of the Andy Warhol Film Project at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, e-mailed me to wish me happy New Year. “I’ve been traveling a lot, out to PA nearly every week,” she wrote, referring to the site of MoMA’s Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center in Hamlin, Pennsylvania, “but I seem to be finished with the films out there for the time being (hard to believe).” She went on to detail what she’d been working on:

    I just finished cataloguing the most incredible Warhol film: the 105 Screen Tests he shot of Philip Fagan, his lover, over 105 days, each

  • Merce Cunningham, fourth Beacon Event, 2008. Performance view, Dia:Beacon, Beacon, New York, July 5, 2008. Emma Desjardins. Photo: Anna Finke.


    SINCE 1964, Merce Cunningham has been staging what he terms “Events”: productions that assemble fragments of dances from throughout his company’s historical repertory, repurposed for specific venues, from Grand Central Station to Persepolis. On the occasion of Cunningham’s continuing series of Events taking place at upstate New York’s Dia:Beacon—where his dancers and musicians have performed amid works by Nauman, Serra, and Warhol, among others—Artforum asked art historian Douglas Crimp to reflect on this newest offering from the choreographer, whose capacity for creating beauty even while challenging traditional modes of spectatorship has made him one of the foremost artists of the postwar era.

    Each person is in the best seat.
    —John Cage, “2 Pages, 122 Words on Music and Dance,” 1957

    THE MERCE CUNNINGHAM DANCE COMPANY’S third Beacon Event was dedicated to Robert Rauschenberg, who died less than a week before. Rauschenberg had been Cunningham’s regular set and costume designer and stage manager from 1954 to 1964, and during that period he designed some of the company’s most memorable productions, including Minutiae, 1954; Antic Meet and Summerspace, both 1958; Story, 1963 (a different set, constructed of material found on-site at the venue, for each performance); and Winterbranch, 1964.


    IN DECEMBER 1973, a highway repair truck laden with asphalt crashed through the elevated West Side Highway between Little West Twelfth and Gansevoort Streets, closing forever the section of highway south of the collapse. Fifteen years elapsed before the structure was fully dismantled, and in the meantime it stood as a ghostly barrier between “civilized” Manhattan and the Hudson River. For those willing to cross underneath it, the abandoned and dilapidated industrial piers on the other side presented extraordinary opportunities for experimentation and mischief. Most famously, in 1975 Gordon