Isabelle Graw

  • Isabelle Graw

    1 JAN TIMME (GALERIE CHRISTIAN NAGEL, BERLIN) At first glance, this was a not-so-spectacular show in the tradition of the empty gallery, à la Yves Klein. But on closer inspection it packed quite a punch. A tile placed high on the wall bore the ambiguous inscription “Carrer qui no passa”—a phrase taken from a street sign on the island of Minorca that can be understood to mean “dead end” but could also be translated as “There’s no moving on here.” With this apparent acknowledgment of the dubious viability of simply “moving on” in one’s art career, Timme rejected the rampant careerism abounding

  • Merlin Carpenter

    Merlin Carpenter’s exhibitions are always attempts to step outside the bounds of the “realm of the possible”—that is, the current conventions of the art industry—the better to criticize them. His latest show continued this attack on art-world consensus but at the same time demonstrated that one still has to deal with the reigning norms, to engage them somehow. His attack this time was, in the first instance, one on the posthumous canonization of the Martin Kippenberger currently being hailed as a painterly genius at the expense of the “conceptual” Kippenberger, whose project was in essence not

  • Hans-Peter Feldmann, Die Toten (The Dead), 1998, 90 photocopies on paper, each 15 3/4 x 11 13/16".

    “Regarding Terror”

    The history of the Red Army Faction may seem on first glance a closed book, not least because this terrorist organization announced its dissolution in 1998. But the process of legend-making continues unabated, and the RAF’s founding members—Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Ulrike Meinhof, Jan-Carl Raspe, and Holger Meins—have become saints, martyrs, or demons (depending on your viewpoint), mythical statuses produced by the German media no less than by the outlaws themselves. The extent to which the history of the RAF stretches into the present is shown by numerous recent books and films, Gerd

  • Berlin

    WHEN OUT OF TOWN, THOSE OF US WHO LIVE IN BERLIN regularly find ourselves confronted with the question, “So what’s it like there?” As if we were personally responsible for the city’s reputation as a “happening” place. Sometimes the question resonates with excited expectation, and other times a skeptical tone betrays reservations about all the hype. Depending on my mood, I either add fuel to the fire or adopt a strategy of demystification. For the residents of other major cities, Berlin has undoubtedly become an ideal surface for the projection of all sorts of fantasies: a city with a functioning

  • Andrea Fraser

    On returning home to Berlin from Hamburg, where I had seen Andrea Fraser’s midcareer retrospective, I was besieged with questions about the artist’s new “sex work,” a videotaped performance for which she was “commissioned” to have sex with a collector. “Did you like it?” I was repeatedly asked, and I found, even to my own surprise, that I had to answer yes, I liked it very much. This work, called Untitled, is clearly in keeping with a risk-laden artistic investigation that began in 2001 with two pieces: Kunst muss hängen (Art Must Hang), Fraser’s re-creation of an impromptu 1995 speech by Martin

  • Isabelle Graw

    ISABELLE GRAW

    1 Francis Picabia (Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris) For me, painting is interesting only if it shows an awareness of its own sheer meaninglessness and ridiculous claims. This well-curated exhibition demonstrated how Picabia not only reacted to the artistic conventions around him (Impressionism and Cubism, for instance) but also effectively changed their direction. The show’s ambition was to present the “whole” Picabia, revealing how each of the artist’s “turns” was about communicating with his peers as much as taking a unique position as a cultural producer. My favorite

  • Rosemarie Trockel, 1989. Photo: Benjamin Katz.

    Rosemarie Trockel

    ISABELLE GRAW: In the late ’70s you applied to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf but were rejected and ended up at the lesser-known Fachhochschule für Kunst und Design in Cologne. What kinds of artistic or social possibilities did you see developing at that time? That is, how was what Bourdieu called the “space of possibilities” taking shape?

    ROSEMARIE TROCKEL: Well, I had little “space” at my disposal: I suffered from a case of agoraphobia that more or less defined my life. For a long time I could leave my apartment only with great effort. My teacher Werner Schriefers, the former director of the

  • Painting by Julian Schnabel installed at Sotheby’s, ca. 1990–91. Photo: Louise Lawler.

    THE MOURNING AFTER: A ROUNDTABLE

    Few funerals have been as indecorous as the one held for painting in the early ’80s. Was the deceased truly dead, and, if so, in whose name could the death certificate be signed? Or was this a burial without a corpse, another instance of the ritual interments that seemed to recur throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as Arthur C. Danto suggests in his keynote statement? Artforum convened the roundtable that follows to offer our own reexamination of the Death of Painting debate and its legacy throughout the decade. In the April issue, a second group led by Robert Storr considers the afterlife of painting in the ’80s and beyond.

    In recalling a period of severe depression he underwent in the “melancholy winter of 1826–27,” John Stuart Mill wrote, in a famous passage of his autobiography, that he had been “seriously tormented by the thought of the exhaustibility of musical combinations.” Sooner or later, all the possibilities would have been used up, and music would be over with. There was no sense in Mill that this had already taken place, but the thought that it could or would deepened his distress. No composer of Mill’s time had, for instance, presented monotone works—a single note sustained for a substantial interval—nor

  • “Abstract Expressionism in America”

    FOR FANS OF ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM, the journey to the small southwestern town of Kaiserslautern was worth the effort. There, the Pfalzgalerie played host to work little seen in Germany, by Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Elaine de Kooning, and Hedda Sterne. At first, the fact that the exhibition consisted entirely of women artists seems to have been downplayed by the curators, Britta E. Buhlmann and Annette Reich. The show's title made a gender-neutral impression; or was the curators' gambit simply to declare these artists central to the movement in order to draw more attention

  • Jeff Koons

    When I saw Jeff Koons’s new paintings, my initial thoughts turned to their presentation—the timing couldn’t have been better. These painted collages—exhibited to great effect, thanks to their billboard format, in the claustrophobic spaces of the Deutsche Guggenheim—fitted perfectly into a range of issues, from the ongoing visual-culture debate to the revival of photorealist painting. In addition, they implicitly demanded an engagement with the potential of so-called appropriation art of the ’80s, a potential that has so far been undervalued. In this connection, it is interesting