Jack Bankowsky


    ZEROING IN ON the most numbing daily given of our souped-up late phase of capital—the ubiquitous advertising still—Richard Prince planted a pin on the cultural map by parading Madison Avenue’s longest-running fiction, the ridin’, ropin’ Marlboro man, under the sign of art. Like the now venerable tradition of artists, from Marcel Duchamp to Andy Warhol to Jeff Koons, who have in one way or another squared off with the twin demons of commerce and communications, Prince has been subject to a predictably mixed reception: he is simultaneously revered as an “artist’s artist,” with a cultish cabal of


    IN SLACKERS, 1991, RICHARD LINKLATER'S vision of adolescence gone rancid, he trains his camera on a mundane milieu—the postgrad, between-semesters doldrums of a middle-American university town (Austin, Texas, to be precise)—and introduces us to a new casualty for the ’90s. A subject without a mission, a fate, or even a subjectivity (at least in the superadequate Modern sense), the slacker inhabits an atomized universe: everyone speaks a debased or hybrid argot, worships at their own jerry-built altar, proselytizes for a private religion. Master narratives, in short, do not inhere. The slacker


    CROSS HELTER SKELTER with Mother Goose and you get a sense of the nuanced disorientation that characterizes Karen Kilimnik’s art. Though at first glance her loose spills of eclectic ephemera seem culled from the bedroom sanctuary of an overwrought teenage girl, signs abound that her preteen never-never land is under siege. Patient pastels of regal stallions (remember girls and their glass horses?), stuffed toys, idealized “pretty ladies,” doilies, glitter, toilet-paper streamers, and a generally perplexing mélange of things diaphanous and pink fuel the atmosphere of daydreamy solipsism. Yet


    ALMOST 30 YEARS after Robert Rauschenberg hung his now-famous paint-encrusted bed on a gallery wall, Jessica Stockholder hitched a mattress to the side of a garage, painted it red, and initiated a practice that, if nothing else, appreciably strains dominant artistic protocols.

    Stockholder’s work since then—gangling installations and sculptural combines characterized by a slapdash facture and hands-on approach to materials—has, in fact, been greeted by a fair amount of head-scratching: a litany of reservations from “arty” to “willfully idiosyncratic,” not to mention misunderstandings about the

  • David Diao

    David Diao’s extended bout with abstraction constitutes one of the longer, stranger sagas in the annals of recent painting. In the 25 years since Diao arrived on the scene, his career has registered most of the decisive pressures that have shaped the medium in the crisis following American painting’s midcentury triumph. Diao followed an inaugural decade of reductive experiments that reflected the dominant Minimalist temper of the late ’60s with an extended hiatus. During this time he internalized all the proclamations that stated painting had run its historical course. Effectively sitting out

  • Ashley Bickerton

    Laboring in Andy Warhol’s long shadow, Ashley Bickerton came of age in the early ’80s as part of a whole new wave of artists that made its own aggressive assault on the art market the focus of its artistic endeavor. Treating the art world as a structure that could be mastered and exploited, they “worked” its mechanisms, coaxing them to visibility at the level of content. Bickerton’s early wall pieces—fitted with handles for easy moving, covers for protection, jokes on the back to entertain the art handlers, documentation of the origin of the materials used and abused in their fabrication, and,

  • Kenneth Noland

    If, at the beginning of the ’60s, Kenneth Noland seemed to be riding the crest of history, with Clement Greenberg celebrating the artist’s early efforts as the apotheosis of recent American painting, today his endeavor looks decidedly more parochial. Noland borrowed his stain technique from Helen Frankenthaler, but discarded her gestural calligraphy. As with Frankenthaler, Noland’s best paintings are animated by an unabashed estheticism. His early targets, with their simple concentric rings of paint stained directly into unprimed canvas, enabled color to breathe with a heretofore unprecedented

  • Michael Scott

    Over the past near-century, abstraction has come to constitute a tradition, a virtual contemporary academy. The legacy of vanguard intention supplies a luster to the ongoing endeavor, but by and large, abstract painting proceeds quietly, shorn of its combative urgency. Though a new crop of painters is always coming up the ranks to mine this territory for its still appreciable riches, one of the surprise artistic twists of the ’80s has been the rise of a wave of painting that has roused abstraction from its respectable torpor, precisely by pressuring its status as a historical movement. Some

  • Jeff Wall

    Mimicking the archaic mannerisms of traditional genre painting, Jeff Wall turns his camera on the nameless dispossessed. The large scale back-lit transparencies that result evade both the solipsistic dreariness that has come to characterize much recent “photography about photography,” and the formulaic drudgeries that frequently neutralize politically oriented efforts. If, as Wall remarked in a recent interview, he has managed to evade “the dream-world of art, to show something of the dirt and ugliness of the way we have to live,” he has done so less by documentary exposition than by a tautly

  • Philip Taaffe

    Ever since Philip Taaffe dipped into the archives of modern painting in the early ’80s, the commentary around his work has been sharply divided. One camp imprecisely aligned his early abstractions with the then-current wave of appropriation art that included Sherrie Levine’s rectos of classic photographs and Mike Bidlo’s irreverent simulations of landmark modern paintings. Another faction glibly ignored the plain fact that, by any standard criteria, Taaffe’s paintings looked scandalously derivative, insisting that his references constituted little more than the usual nods to admired precursors

  • Annette Lemieux

    Rallying cries that evoke simple, old-fashioned values are predictably seductive: inconveniently, however, expedient truths usually prove inadequate to real circumstances. Though Annette Lemieux’s romance with homegrown Americana has been hailed as a brave antidote to the claustrophobic ironies that inform much contemporary work, her misty-eyed appeals to such concepts as family, country, and self-reliance seem informed more by a home-as-fort-style nationalism than by a viable response to dehumanizing post-industrial social conditions. In Lemieux’s hands, Grandma’s musty steamer trunk proves a

  • Helen Frankenthaler

    Although Helen Frankenthaler’s art-historical status is secure, it seems her fate always to be judged in the shadow of her Abstract Expressionist precursors. The designation “second generation” is for her as much a stigma as an acknowledgment. By temperament and sex as much as chronology, Frankenthaler was never a likely candidate for the full-blown deification inspired by the heroic postures of “first generation” artists such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Although she shares with her predecessors an allegiance to the primacy of process and gesture, the expressionist label fits her

  • Words around Warhol


    #page 142#

    Galled by Andy Warhol's sycophantic courtship of the rich and powerful, Robert Hughes published a smug 1982 rebuke in the

    New York Review of Books that aimed to depose the “King of Pop” in the name of high culture and common sense. Disputing

    Warhol's general cultural relevance, and particularly the credentials bestowed upon him by left sympathizers, Hughes'

    article gave voice to a welter of widely held parochialisms and exerted a substantial measure of undeserved influence. At

    the same time, precisely because his intent was defamatory, Hughes cut through the pieties that frequently occlude


    GALLED BY ANDY WARHOL’S sycophantic courtship of the rich and powerful, Robert Hughes published a smug 1982 rebuke in the New York Review of Books that aimed to depose the “King of Pop” in the name of high culture and common sense. Disputing Warhol’s general cultural relevance, and particularly the credentials bestowed upon him by left sympathizers, Hughes’ article gave voice to a welter of widely held parochialisms and exerted a substantial measure of undeserved influence. At the same time, precisely because his intent was defamatory, Hughes cut through the pieties that frequently occlude more

  • Alan Uglow

    Alan Uglow can claim neither the sanction of history, long accorded like-minded peers such as Robert Ryman and Brice Marden, nor a direct line on the zeitgeist that empowers the ’80s-style abstract simulations of Peter Halley or Sherrie Levine. Yet unencumbered by the embalmed readings that inevitably attach themselves to the star-status signature, his paintings make a refreshingly convincing case for the palpable if rarefied pleasures of his particular brand of formal painting.

    On his announcements for this exhibition Uglow chose to reproduce 66/68, 1968–88, a painting consisting of a white

  • Michelangelo Pistoletto

    Conditioned by the lapidary mandates of Pop art and Minimalism, American audiences may be slow to adjust entrenched and chauvinistic canons to accommodate the multivalent art of Michelangelo Pistoletto. Anticipating this reluctance, Germano Celant argues in his catalogue essay accompanying this 25-year retrospective that it is precisely Pistoletto’s stylistic “equivocation” that lends his vision its characteristic breadth.

    Anxious to rescue the artist’s early achievement from Pop art’s shadow, Celant suggestively contrasts Pistoletto’s “mirror paintings” from 1962 with Andy Warhol’s soup cans

  • Mike And Doug Starn

    Mike and Doug Starn subject photographic prints to all manner of process-oriented violation, and, in so doing, turn the potentially multiple image into a unique object. Instead of granting photography a conditional, ontological specificity as a direct transcription of reality, the Starns foreground the medium’s constituent material qualities, reminding us that the photograph is not a transparent window on the world. In support of this primary conceit, they mobilize an array of formal devices. Their work at the Stux Gallery showed ample wizardry. A fractured image entitled Plant #1, 1988, is

  • Richard Prince

    When Richard Prince exhibited a series of captioned cartoons from The New Yorker magazine several seasons ago, the gallery context rendered the class-bound codes on which they were predicated distracting enough to disarm them as jokes. We laughed not at the jokes themselves, but at the patrician mores that motivate and delimit them. Recently, Prince has turned to bawdier material: here he exhibited a series of common jokes silk-screened onto monochromatic canvases, along with several “gangs”—his own term for the photographic grouping he has favored for the past several seasons. Perhaps because

  • Michael Corris

    Michael Corris’ typographic compositions have shown up regularly in group shows over the past several seasons. Operating as witty mnemonics, his arrangements often took on polemical resonance in relation to the seamless field of new objects against which they were presented. Like the acerbic friend you can’t take anywhere but do, despite your better judgment, these works couldn’t keep their mouths shut. Corris’ graphically elegant manipulations of appropriated and original texts persistently veered in the direction of complexity, tactlessly drawing attention to the historical evasions that