Frances Richard

  • Marina Abramović and Ana Mendieta

    Though they never met, Marina Abramović and Ana Mendieta are two artists who suddenly seem to have everything to do with each other. Born two years apart, both lived nomadically (Mendieta was displaced from Castro’s Cuba to Iowa at thirteen; Abramović is a longtime expatriate of Yugoslavia). Both came of age artistically in the ’70s, through Conceptualism and performance. As “rest/energy: Marina Abramović and Ana Mendieta,” concurrent exhibitions curated by Cecile Panzieri and Mary Sabbatino, revealed, the two share a vision of the female body as a contained area and (im)permeable boundary, and

  • John Baldessari

    John Baldessari has trained generations of audiences to look behind the curtain of appearances and question how meaning is generated. He attends to the forgotten corners of images, to puns and juxtapositions that pry a cockeyed poetry from the banal, and in so doing, he has consistently upheld the basic tenets of Conceptualism: its concern with tautologies, linguistic conundrums, and the self-referentiality of image-making. His recent show presented work from almost thirty years ago, a series of paintings anchored to a rigorous theoretical framework that is, nevertheless, entirely explicated on

  • Christian Boltanski

    Throughout his career, Christian Boltanski has used the trappings of the individual—the portrait photograph, the worn coat, the pair of shoes—to memorialize the terrible anonymity of violence, specifically that of the Holocaust. His design for the recent BAM production of Franz Schubert’s masterwork Die Winterreise showcased the artist’s strengths: a sculptural understanding of ghostliness and the ability to temper elegy with just the right amount of existential dread. However, as is frequently the case when artists design for the theater, Boltanski’s production never quite coalesced dramatically.

  • Lucy Gunning

    Lucy Gunning believes in grace, and in the painstaking, repetitive, often abject effort grace requires. A video artist with a background in sculpture, Gunning takes as her bailiwick the small, demanding, odd performance, the strange and resonant action undertaken not for show, but out of the goofy, risky exigencies of private challenge: women pretending to be horses; the artist circumnavigating a room without touching the floor. Her recent installation, Malcolm, Lloyd, Angela, Norman, Jane, involved more syncing and aural overlay than most of her previous pieces, but her subtext remained the

  • Art & Language

    In the polemical atmosphere from which Conceptual art emerged in the late ’6os, the British collective Art & Language produced densely wrought philosophical texts that challenged the antipodal relationship between linguistic or critical practice and art making. As Conceptualism became its own orthodoxy in the late ’70s, A&L disbanded its influential organ Art-Language, and today just two of the original members, Michael Baldwin and Mel Ramsden, operate under the A&L banner. This exhibition addresses the entire scope of the collective’s output, including essays, recordings, posters, and

  • Virgil Marti

    There’s a thin line between groovy and ghastly, and Virgil Marti pays attention to such distinctions. In Hot Tub, 1998, Marti’s deftly kitschy installation, this basic tension between hedonistic pleasure and looming damnation is acknowledged with the simple immediacy of a one-liner. Like the smoked mirrors, electric candle flames, and deep-pile shag it comprises, Hot Tub is so bad it’s good. A number of interesting issues coalesce in Marti’s work—domestic space as social palimpsest, the Warholian appeal of mass-produced taste, an appreciation for what curator Lia Gangitano refers to as

  • Chantal Akerman

    Since the early ’70s, filmmaker Chantal Akerman has experimented with a blurring of cinematic hierarchies and an undulant, hypnotic approach to plot. The most recent exhibition (her first in a commercial gallery) combined video quotations from four films, including her celebrated portrait of an uncannily self-contained housewife/prostitute, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), and the subdued, atmospheric epic of contemporary Eastern Europe, D’Est (1993). A novella-length text titled A Family in Brussels, 1998, read by Akerman, functioned as an ambient voice-over. The

  • Wolfgang Laib

    The literature on Wolfgang Laib tends to draw from a set group of references. The coolly sensuous materials (beeswax, rice, pollen, milk, stone, occasional metals) are noted of necessity in every article, as are his early medical training, his hermetic working practices, and his interest in the ecstatic asceticism of Rumi and St. Francis. Laib’s tangential allegiance to Minimalism figures in, along with his deeper affinity with the idea of art-as-social-healer espoused by his countryman Joseph Beuys. The quartet of works in this show are all forms the artist has exhibited before, meditative

  • Herman de Vries

    Art is a form of social therapy for herman de vries, who believes that organic materials contain redemptive potency, à la Joseph Beuys. For de vries, who was trained as a botanist before turning to art in the ’50s, plants are the locus of meaning, offering healing through contemplation of their pattern, texture, aroma, and shape. His visual style is elegant and pared down, and his assembled flora are certainly beautiful. The question is, Can an inheritor of Beuysian shamanism using formal strategies of such simplicity hope to compete against stunning advances in both technology and apathy, at

  • Pierre Alechinsky

    Painter, collagist, printmaker, filmmaker, and calligrapher Pierre Alechinsky has long been identified with Cobra, the collection of Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam artists linked (via Guy Debord) to the wider ethos of French intellectuals in the ’50s and ’60s. But who is Alechinsky beyond Cobra? With this retrospective of more than 100 works from 1948–97, Jeu de Paume director Daniel Abadie intends to find out. Expect a fuller picture to emerge of an artist whose interest in melding painterly surfaces, graphics, political action, and performance makes him an interesting precursor—more kindly

  • Jörg Immendorff

    The most populist of his generation of German painters, Jörg Immendorff has remained philosophically if not formally true to his school, Beuys’ Düsseldorf Kunstakademie, drawing on political cartoons, agitprop posters, and graffiti to create work that functions above all as a vehicle for social concerns. If the didacticism seems quaint today, Immendorff’s savagely bravura figuration and hectoring sloganeering are an index of German art engagée over recent decades. In light of contemporary concerns over the EU and the homogenization of European culture, the show, which will contain fifty paintings

  • Jud Nelson

    Jud Nelson is part Pop prankster, part Renaissance master, with a good dose of Minimalist strategist thrown in. With HOLOS, an ongoing series of sculptures he began in 1971, Nelson nods to both antiquity and technology. In Greek, holos means “whole” or “total”; it’s the root of the word “hologram,” or perfect three-dimensional illusion. Nelson’s title simultaneously refers to both ideal form and its artificially generated analogue.

    Carved in stone or white polystyrene, the HOLOS are minutely rendered replicas of the most trivial items: tea bags, Wonder bread, sink stoppers, folding chairs,