Gilda Williams

  • Tracey Emin

    Tracey Emin’s first-ever solo exhibition, in White Cube’s tiny original gallery, was titled “My Major Retrospective 1963–1993.” Two years later, still a relative unknown, she opened the Tracey Emin Museum (1995–98) in a south London storefront. Emin has always thought big and scaled up, a tactic abundantly observed in this giant solo exhibition, “A Fortnight of Tears.” Sketchy, nude self-portrait drawings enlarged into some thirty big canvases; intimate handwritten notes magnified into the wall-size neon I Longed for You, 2019; tabletop clay figurines swelled into three room-size bronzes; and

  • Annie Ratti

    Wilhelm Reich spent a lifetime dodging persecutors—first the Nazis, then the FBI, then the American Immigration and Naturalization Service—but it was finally the US Food and Drug Administration that managed to capture and imprison him. The discredited German psycho-analyst believed he could heal the world by harnessing “orgone,” the life energy he believed was released in orgasm, whose suppression Reich claimed caused all mental and physical illness. Officially accused mostly of medical fraud—little more than quackery—Reich disproportionately infuriated both the international scientific

  • Beatrice Gibson

    If I had to select a favorite scene from the two unforgettable films in Beatrice Gibson’s exhibition “Crone Music,” I’d choose the closing sequence of I Hope I’m Loud When I’m Dead (all works 2018), which shows the artist and her five-year-old son, Obie, dancing wildly to Corona’s 1993 disco anthem “The Rhythm of the Night.” The film takes its title from a poem by CAConrad, who appears in it alongside Eileen Myles. Inspired by the final scene of Claire Denis’s 1999 film Beau Travail, which saw actor Denis Lavant breaking into a frenetic solitary dance to the same song before the mirrored walls

  • Korakrit Arunanondchai

    This was probably the closest you’ll ever come to being trapped in a cave with an androgynous paint-covered performer; multiple Thai demigods; a tribe of silent, dust-covered screen worshippers; a Southeast Asian Christian cult; and military relics from the Cold War. Seemingly populated by a cast of hundreds, Korakrit Arunanondchai’s mesmerizing three-channel film installation No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5, 2018, runs only about thirty-one minutes but feels epic. Accompanied by a haunting soundtrack of words and music designed by Aaron David Ross, and with lush

  • Diane Simpson

    My favorite art-world tweet last year came from critic Martin Herbert, who proposed a keyboard short-cut to instantly insert today’s oft-needed phrase, “under-recognized female artist.” This time-saving keystroke would have come in mighty handy this autumn in London, which enjoyed survey exhibitions by Amy Sillman and the late Anni Albers alongside this first-ever UK solo presentation by American sculptor Diane Simpson. An admired figure in the Chicago art scene, Simpson had her second solo exhibition in New York in 2013, thirty-three years after the first one. She has barely exhibited in Europe,

  • “HUMA BHABHA: THEY LIVE”

    Organized by Eva Respini

    If, as Einstein predicted, World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones, its warriors may resemble Huma Bhabha’s powerful, tragicomic sculptural survivors. Bronze-cast totemic robots and monstrous humanoids built from discarded packing materials, massive heads held together with chicken wire and chewed-looking clumps of clay: Bhabha’s scavenged figures possess a stately, timeless presence, like statues immortalizing a gigantic future race, concocted from the choicest scraps pulled from that planet-size junkyard, earth. Alongside rarely seen masks, prints, photographs,

  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan

    “A kind of superior journalism” is how art historian Kenneth Clark once thought of Francisco Goya’s The Third of May 1808, 1814, a brutally graphic painting of then-recent political executions. Some two centuries later, employing the latest in digital technologies, investigative artists—among them Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Forensic Architecture, and Trevor Paglen—have fashioned themselves heirs to Goya’s repurposing of art: They seek to inform viewers of unjust and sometimes little-known current events.

    Abu Hamdan gained attention last year with the audio work Saydnaya (the missing 19db),

  • Lin May Saeed

    “Animals are the main victims of history,” writes the historian Yuval Noah Harari. That dismal fact was fleshed out in a one-room survey comprising six wall works, a stack of A3 posters, and four animal sculptures by Berlin-based artist and animal rights activist Lin May Saeed. Often working with storytelling, the crafts materials of school projects (Styrofoam, colored paper, string), and the frontal compositions of children’s museum dioramas or didactic imagery, Saeed conflates the deep time of geological history with that of childhood, both tinged with lost innocence.

    Near the entrance was

  • Lee Bul

    In Lee Bul’s glittering London retrospective, “Crashing,” everything seemed to be reaching and pushing insistently outward. The exhibition—covering thirty years of Lee’s practice, 1988–2018, with more than one hundred artworks on display—extended beyond the gallery’s physical limits to include a specially made artwork, Weep into Stones, 2017–18, comprising some fifty thousand crystals hanging off the Hayward Gallery’s Brutalist concrete exterior. At the entrance, the South Korean artist’s sprawling installation of cracked and curving acrylic mirrors, Civitas Solis II, 2014, stretched

  • Leo Fitzmaurice

    Manchester United’s 1995–96 away-game shirt is regularly cited as among the worst-ever Premier League designs. Not only was the mottled gray top hideous, but players complained they could not spot teammates on the field. Down 3–0 at Southampton, the struggling Man U team quickly changed their uniforms at halftime, and their game improved (but they lost anyway). The mud-colored top was never seen again.

    Vibrant solids are generally chosen for team jerseys, and these are embellished in standard, uncomplicated patterns. The sponsor’s name is writ large at the shirt’s center. The team badge is usually

  • Dustin Yellin

    Opening during Amsterdam’s busy annual Art Weekend in November, Dustin Yellin’s marvelous exhibition “10 Parts” seemed to draw the biggest crowd. Swarms of happy viewers spent hours pressing their noses to the glass surfaces of Yellin’s aquarium-like sculptures, reminding me of kids staring dreamily into an Apple-store window. Buried within each massive, light-filled, transparent block––a fat sandwich of thirty-one sheets of half-inch-thick glass––were thousands of tiny pictures extracted from encyclopedias, science manuals, magazines. These cutout images are typically one-half to two inches

  • James Richards

    James Richards’s wall-size film-and-audio work Radio at Night, 2015, shows faces and figures whose identities remain unknown: a pair of staring eyes in a close-up clip from a vintage science film about a nervous condition that makes the eyes rapidly twitch; a trio of surgically masked doctors beneath the glare of operating-room lamps; a group of happy revelers emerging from a masked ball. The many animals we see are similarly anonymous—never beloved, named pets, but rather a flock of birds flying in random formation over a rippling sea, a row of freshly slaughtered pigs hanging bloodlessly

  • Amalia Ulman

    “On the Internet, no one knows you’re an artist.” These words, written in 2010 by critic Ed Halter, expressed the identity crisis suffered by early online artists, swamped by legions of teenage internet virtuosos whose proficiency with cut-and-paste culture often exceeded that of most MFA grads. Argentinean-born, Spanish-raised, UK-educated, Los Angeles–based Amalia Ulman is among those who in subsequent years carved a role for artists operating in the digital youniverse. In her online performance Excellences & Perfections, 2014, Ulman fabricated an idealized social-media avatar by feeding her

  • “Making & Unmaking”

    The opening-night atmosphere at “Making & Unmaking” was exuberant. Visitors—some magnificently dressed in bright, eclectically patterned clothing by the exhibition’s curator, designer Duro Olowu—marveled at the 170 stunning, little-known artworks and objects assembled. These ranged from a one-hundred-year-old Congolese textile, with its nearly twenty-foot-long non-repeating maplike pattern, to an immense drawing by the young Australian artist Donna Huddleston. Her Warriors, 2015, in gouache and colored pencil, depicts a bizarre procession that prompted such disparate associations as

  • Stan Douglas

    “A less amusing set of people never filled the imaginary world of a novelist,” carped a September 1907 review of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, published in Country Life, the stuffy English periodical (still going strong) devoted to racing, golfing, and the horsey set. Conrad’s dark novel, set in 1886, dared to portray the nascent Victorian-era underworld complete with a corruptible police force, foreign-born anarchists, and a sympathetic underclass. These shadowy nineteenth-century figures have been recast as spies, backhanded police commissioners, and dubious embassy officials in Stan

  • Caroline Achaintre

    Suddenly, Caroline Achaintre’s work seems to be everywhere. A stand-out in the current British Art Show, with a recent solo display at Tate Britain, Achaintre is now preparing for a major presentation opening in July at the warehouse-size BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, in Gateshead, UK. The French-German sculptor has lived in London since the late 1990s; her gradual ubiquity might have gone temporarily undetected owing to her staggering variety of artmaking techniques. The sensational, colorful, hairy wall rugs that emerged just over a decade ago suggested a signature style, but there were

  • Katrina Palmer

    The stories told in Katrina Palmer’s audio walk The Loss Adjusters, 2015, are complicated narratives, 150 million years in the making. Sculptor/writer Palmer scripted three eerie ten-minute fictions, which visitors could hear narrated through headphones as they were guided on a walk across this four-mile formation of solid rock off England’s south coast. Basically a giant beached boulder, the Isle of Portland was created in the Jurassic period when trillions of tons’ worth of organic matter compacted here over countless millennia, gradually solidifying into vast deposits of luminous Portland

  • Anna-Bella Papp

    Occasionally I hear a sublime new song with a melody so perfect and infectious, I feel that, surely, this music must have existed before. Impossible for such timeless harmonies to have been invented only now! Anna-Bella Papp’s small, flat sculptures provoke the same sensation. Some artist or other must have previously landed upon the irresistible idea of these tile-like slabs of unglazed clay, laid out on smooth white tables, with unique markings that produce a singular world in low relief. The longest edge of each of the twenty-six works in her recent London exhibition measures about twelve

  • Pierre Huyghe

    The white cube is “a curious piece of real estate,” as Brian O’Doherty once wrote; with Pierre Huyghe, this property just gets curiouser and curiouser. Ordinarily, an art gallery is a clean, bright place, the exclusive domain of Homo sapiens. In Huyghe’s exhibition “In. Border. Deep.,” it became a dark, cavernous home for strange life forms.

    The space was sliced into two oddly shaped halves. The first housed some extraordinary variations on the idea of “living sculpture,” along with a wall work, about which more later. In the second, further subdivided into two irregular black boxes, two short

  • Marvin Gaye Chetwynd

    This past winter, London was noticeably flush with terrific exhibitions by women artists working with collage and montage: Hannah Höch’s tiny cut-up miracles at the Whitechapel Gallery, Hito Steyerl’s spliced videos rocking the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and Trisha Baga’s sprawling 3-D moving-image installations at the Zabludowicz Collection. A further addition to this collage overload came in the form of Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s room-size installation Canterbury Tales, 2014. The whole ground-floor gallery—every last inch of the four walls, the floor, and a flimsy paper hut erected at