Graham Bader


    WHILE NO ONE who has spent time looking at Thomas Struth’s photographs would be surprised to learn that he studied painting (he was a student of Gerhard Richter’s at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf), his Stellarator Wendelstein 7-X Detail, Max Planck IPP, Greifswald, 2009, appears almost as if intended to advertise this fact. The image presents the Stellarator as a spatially disorienting tangle of cables, pipes, and ducts that resembles nothing so much as a Jackson Pollock. In subtly mimicking the earlier artist’s intricate compositions, Struth’s photograph invites us to see its titular device as

  • “Thomas Bayrle: Playtime”

    Given the prescience and range of Thomas Bayrle’s half-century-long career, it is astonishing that the German artist has never had a New York museum survey. This spring, the New Museum presents a comprehensive selection of Bayrle’s work, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, wallpapers, prints, early computer-based art, videos, and 16-mm films, as well as examples of his experiments in advertising, fashion, commercial display, and political activism. From his early “super-forms”—densely composed images in


    THE LOWLY FOOTSTOOL: No element is more primary to the practice of German sculptor Reinhard Mucha than this. Fußbänkchen (to use the German plural) inhabit Mucha’s work in myriad guises. They stand firmly, perch precariously, lie flat on their backs with their legs in the air. In each case, the artist has noted, the footstool stands as a metaphor for his own labor. “In the hierarchy of service furniture,” he observes, “the footstool is at the bottom. . . . This matches approximately the service I am offering as an artist.”1 Much as a stool facilitates the connection of a hand with an out-of-reach

  • Thomas Struth

    Whether homing in on grand museum galleries, prosaic city streets, intimate family gatherings, or elaborate mechanical devices, Thomas Struth’s gaze has long been trained on the component structures and environments of human sociality. But for all the submerged complications filling Struth’s images of the Louvre’s halls and NASA's research facilities, can these sites hold a candle to the thicket of conflict and history that defines contemporary Israel and Palestine? This is the question driving the Aspen Art Museum’s exhibition of eighteen photographs Struth shot over

  • “Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965”

    POSTWAR. We all know the story: Jackson Pollock dripping paint in New York; Arnold Bode concocting Documenta in Kassel; Joseph Stalin demanding saccharine paintings of socialist triumph in Moscow. East versus West, abstraction versus figuration, humanism versus humanity’s seeming collapse in the entwined cataclysms of war and genocide. But what if we expand the playing field, look past the familiar names, and rethink the rules of the game? That is precisely the goal of “Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965,” organized by Okwui Enwezor, Katy Siegel, and Ulrich Wilmes and

  • Benjamin H. D. Buchloh’s Formalism and Historicity

    Formalism and Historicity: Models and Methods in Twentieth-Century Art, by Benjamin H. D. Buchloh. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015. 592 pages.

    ALMOST EXACTLY MIDWAY through his new collection of essays, Formalism and Historicity, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh quotes El Lissitzky’s late-1920s description of the revolutionary “demonstration rooms” for abstract art he’d designed earlier that decade in Dresden and Hannover, Germany:

    Traditionally the viewer was lulled into passivity by the paintings on the walls. Our construction/design shall make the man active. . . . With each movement of the viewer in

  • Thomas Bayrle

    A simple tire perched on the wall of Thomas Bayrle’s recent show “Gerano/Pavesi” (Geraniums/Pavesi) recalled the elementary forms of Kazimir Malevich’s most austere Suprematist canvases: black circle, white field, end of story. But just as Malevich’s pared-down images are, in fact, richly differentiated material constructions in which, the artist claimed, one can see “the face of God,” so Bayrle’s tire—or more precisely, his Santa Maria, Madre di Dio, prega per noi peccatori, adesso e nell’ora della nostra morte, 2009—is much more than a dumb, tacked-up rubber disk. It isn’t rubber,

  • Cyprien Gaillard

    A nine-second sample from the Jamaican-born rock-steady singer Alton Ellis runs through Cyprien Gaillard’s entrancing new 3-D film Nightlife (all works 2015), which anchored the artist’s recent show “When Nature Runs Riot.” Blending the refrain of Ellis’s 1969 classic “Black Man’s Word”—“I was born a loser”—with that of the song’s 1971 re-working as “Black Man’s Pride”—“I was born a winner”—Gaillard subtly interwove the resulting acoustic fragment throughout this nearly fifteen-minute work. The artist’s repeated use of this conflicting refrain—chopped, distorted, falling away, and coming

  • “International Pop”

    If a select few of Pop art’s past and present stars (think Sigmar Polke and Jeff Koons) recently took New York, the Walker Art Center’s upcoming exhibition—featuring some 140 works produced over the course of three decades on four continents—aims to widen our Pop horizons far beyond the usual names and locales. Alongside such household brands as Warhol and Rauschenberg, Polke will make an appearance, but so too will his (less recognized) fellow Capitalist Realists Konrad Lueg and Manfred Kuttner, here joined by Argentineans Marta Minujín

  • Sigmar Polke

    PERCHED NEAR THE EDGE of the Museum of Modern Art’s atrium throughout this past spring and summer, Sigmar Polke’s Kartoffelhaus (Potato House), 1967, echoed not only the diminutive German garden sheds and rigidly formed Minimalist objects in whose shadow the work was clearly made, but also—and more oddly—the very interior in which the piece itself was installed. For just like MoMA’s expansive exhibition-cum-dinner-party space, Polke’s construction—a five-sided, pitched-roofed wooden lattice held together by an elegant joinery of fresh potatoes—is an ode to right-angled

  • “Jasper Johns: Picture Puzzles”

    Featuring just under two dozen works, the Museum of Fine Art’s upcoming exhibition will present a tightly focused look at five decades of Jasper Johns’s probing of the interplay of sign, process, and device.Highlighting the artist’s diverse and often elaborate efforts in printmaking, “Picture Puzzles”—assembled from private collections and the MFA’s own holdings—will also include a small sampling of drawings and sculptures and a copy of Foirades/Fizzles, the 1976 artists’ book Johns made in collaboration with Samuel Beckett. Spanning from

  • “Outside the Lines”

    On Halloween 1948, the association that would soon become the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston opened its inaugural exhibition, “This Is Contemporary Art,” a synoptic show of art and design that sought to highlight (in the words of its catalogue) the “important contribution contemporary arts make to modern living.” Starting on Halloween 2013, CAMH marked its sixty-fifth anniversary with a mammoth six-part presentation (two consecutive exhibition trios running over five months and including nearly one hundred artists) titled “Outside the Lines.” It could just as well have been dubbed “This Is

  • Sigmar Polke

    “ALIBIS: SIGMAR POLKE 1963–2010”

    Museum of Modern Art, New York

    April 19–August 3

    Curated by Kathy Halbreich with Mark Godfrey and Lanka Tattersall

    HAS ANY ARTIST OF THE LAST FIFTY YEARS more successfully combined relentless material innovation, slyly subtle wit, and voracious cultural rummaging than Sigmar Polke? From the laconic jokiness of his early Pop compositions to the cacophonous and often mutable surfaces of his later paintings—where resin, silver nitrate, iodine, chloride, beeswax, granulated meteorite, and pigment of violets, to list only a few of his materials, are deployed to

  • Richard Hamilton

    Two years after Richard Hamilton’s death in September 2011, this exhibition at Tate Modern (and another at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, Feb. 12–Apr. 6) promises again to situate the Pop pioneer’s work at the center of British art. Encompassing more than five decades of painting, installation, photography, and design, the Tate’s survey will range from Hamilton’s early efforts with the Independent Group (including a re-creation of his seminal 1956 installation Fun House) to the paintings of his final year, exploring his multifarious

  • “Robert Indiana: Beyond Love”

    Even if you don’t love Love, there’s no denying the status of Robert Indiana’s mid-1960s icon as one of its era’s most widely disseminated images, its laconic form having since been emblazoned on T-shirts, stamps, and posters across the globe. Haskell’s retrospective thus poses the question: What can we find with a look at the artist’s oeuvre beyond the blinding light of this single trademark? Focusing on Indiana’s prolific ’60s production but spanning nearly five decades of work in all (including paintings, sculpture, and assemblage), the exhibition aims to broaden

  • “Piet Mondrian–Barnett Newman–Dan Flavin”

    Mondrian, Newman, Flavin: without a doubt, a sluggers’ row in the history of geometric abstraction. What happens, then, when all three are up to bat at once, as is the Kunstmuseum Basel’s game plan this fall? Organized by Bernhard Mendes Bürgi as a triad of self-contained presentations, this show hopes to scrutinize the material and theoretical specificities of each artist’s practice, while also drawing out such deeply shared aesthetic concerns as the redefinition of the functions of space, color, and line. The exhibition will include a total of nearly forty works,

  • “Candida Höfer: Düsseldorf”

    Candida Höfer has made her name with exquisitely shot photographs of empty public interiors across the globe. But the place where she began her practice—and with which it is inextricably associated—is Düsseldorf, where, in 1973, she enrolled in the city’s Arts Academy and, two years later at Galerie Konrad Fischer, publicly exhibited her work for the first time. Now, after four decades, the artist turns her focus toward this Rhineland metropolis once again, gathering some seventy works shot in the region, ranging from early 16-mm film pieces to recent photographs

  • “Schwitters In Britain”

    We all know the Merzbau—the multiroom environment created by the Hannover Dadaist Kurt Schwitters in the decade before his 1937 flight from Germany.

    We all know the Merzbau—the multiroom environment created by the Hannover Dadaist Kurt Schwitters in the decade before his 1937 flight from Germany—but how many of us are familiar with the Merz Barn, the artist’s continuation of this seminal project, begun in England’s Lake District just months before his death in 1948? This and other little-known work from Schwitters’s final decade, including more than 150 collages, assemblages, and sculptures made during his English exile, will be the focus of “Schwitters in Britain,” which opens at the end

  • “Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective”


    Art Institute of Chicago

    May 16–September 3

    Curated by James Rondeau and Sheena Wagstaff

    WE'RE SO FAMILIAR with the work of Roy Lichtenstein that we barely seem to know it at all. Sure, we can spot his Benday dots, comic-strip scenes, and elegantly rendered brushstrokes in a flash—but what happens when we slow down and really look at these, examining their iterations and mutations across his career? No simple binaries of high/low or form/content allowed: What do Lichtenstein’s images do? And how do his diversely eccentric materials (including Rowlux, velvet

  • absence as memorial

    LAST FALL, a trio of voids appeared in downtown New York. The National September 11 Memorial, which opened to the public one day after the tenth anniversary of the 2001 attacks, is dominated by two monumental cavities where the 110-story towers once stood. Only a block away, Zuccotti Park’s spare granite landscape also resonates with absence, the crowds and tents that filled it through the early autumn having been cleared by the NYPD during a controversial maneuver in the wee hours of November 15. Like the memorial site, the plaza is now marked by what is not there, by the palpable absence of