James Hall

  • Sarah Lucas

    Matisse may have wanted his art to be “something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue,” but many other modern artists have, on the contrary, sought an art that attains the condition of a bad one. There’s no chance of anyone ever sitting comfortably on the stool in Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, 1913, on Beuys’s Fat Chair, 1963, or on Warhol’s Electric Chair, 1964. Salvador Dalí, who in the ’30s made a sofa based on Mae West’s lips and a stool whose back consists of a pair of predatory arms, decreed that a chair “can be used to sit on, but on condition that one sits on

  • London’s East End

    DILAPIDATED WAREHOUSES, abandoned industrial buildings, disused retail spaces—these would seem to be staples of the international postwar avant-garde milieu. In New York in the ’50s and ’60s such premises hosted Happenings, Warhol’s Factory, and the Castelli Warehouse. Usually, only minor renovations were carried out, and the primitive appearance of the structures jibed nicely with the rawness of the art that was made and displayed in them. On a more practical level, derelict industrial spaces also tend to be cheap, light, and spacious.

    In Britain, the intersection of this nostalgia for the

  • Matthew Tickle

    The English landscape is one of the most worked over in the world—barely a square inch of it has escaped the attention of landowners and developers. Arguably, England’s most important and ambitious contribution to the visual arts is “garden design,” whereby entire forests, hills, and lakes can be created and destroyed in the twinkling of an eye.

    Matthew Tickle seems to confront that state of affairs head-on in his new installation, ironically titled IDYLL, 1999. Tickle created a mock woodland in Matt’s Gallery, an installation space on the ground floor of a former industrial building in London’s

  • The Greenhouse Effect

    As museums in the age of the readymade increasingly resemble cabinets of curiosities (or sometimes of banalities), the separation of fine art from every other kind of object seems less and less tenable. “The Greenhouse Effect,” an ambitious two-venue exhibition mounted by the Serpentine's Lisa Corrin and independent curator Ralph Rugoff, aims to turn the distinction on its head. At the Natural History Museum, Henrik Håkanson plans to monitor the wildlife garden with surveillance cameras. Meanwhile, a field trip to the Serpentine will unearth tiny Play-Doh-and-hair replicas of spiders (Tom

  • Ana Maria Pacheco

    Every now and then, great institutions wake up in a cold sweat and—a bit like Kafka’s Gregor Samsa—discover they have metamorphosed into something resembling a dinosaur. The National Gallery awakens intermittently and tries various means of remedying the situation: appointing a trustee who is an artist (albeit a well-established one), for example, or inviting artists to select shows drawn from the permanent collection. Since 1990, another approach has been to offer artists a studio in the gallery for a two-year period, with the idea that they might make work inspired in some way by the collection

  • Trafalgar Square

    VISITORS TO LONDON are accustomed to the stately sculptures that occupy Trafalgar Square: figures of kings, military heroes, imperial lions. But a statue of a scantily clad Christ that resembles a cross between a Holocaust survivor and The Jungle Book’s Mowgli? This summer, Mark Wallinger’s haunting figure took its place among the staid, stony personages congregating at the touristic heart of London. Come January, though, it will disappear again. Whereas the other statues in the square are permanent, after only six months Wallinger’s work will be replaced by another new commission, which in turn

  • “Neurotic Realism: Part I”

    Charles Saatchi’s latest attempt to shape art-world taste got off to a brilliant start. Late last year, a blaze of publicity greeted the publication of his book The New Neurotic Realism, which featured an essay-cum-manifesto by Dick Price, art critic for the style magazine i-D, along with illustrations of work by some thirty-four British sculptors, photographers, and painters, most of them little known. NNR purports to be the next big thing after YBA and is now being showcased in a series of exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery—though it’s been abbreviated (perhaps somewhat neurotically) to

  • Keith Tyson

    The mythology of Western art is full of stories about the “secrets” of the old masters—the special recipes, techniques, tools, and machines that incredulous viewers assume must account for the production of the great masterpieces. Today the cultivation of weird recipes seems to have become an end in itself—which may explain the proliferation of unconventional media and methods. No wonder the viewer of contemporary art so often feels like an initiate who is being let in on a secret.

    Keith Tyson (b. 1969) both celebrates and parodies this state of affairs. He says his prolific output of mixed-media

  • Thomas Demand

    In an essay on Dürer, Roger Fry complained about the “perverted technical ingenuity” of German art; it was the product, he felt, of a society that privileged “acrobatic feats” of technique. Fry would surely have given short shrift to virtuosos such as Andreas Gursky, that master of the computer-assisted photographic print, and perhaps even to his younger compatriot, the Berlin-based photographer Thomas Demand.

    Demand is known for taking photographs of three-dimensional models of modernist architecture that he painstakingly constructs in his studio from paper and cardboard. In a further twist,

  • Zebedee Jones

    Born in I970, Zebedee Jones has been showing his chunky monochrome paintings on a regular basis in London since 1994, and in that time he has built up a devoted, if still small, following. His works are all made in a similar way, starting with deep, modestly scaled, square or rectangular stretchers. The paint is applied in a thick layer using a brush or palette knife that is then dragged across the surface horizontally or vertically, forming furrows of varying depth. (The edges of the support are left unpainted.) The process might sound formulaic, but variation occurs because Jones does not iron

  • Nicky Hoberman

    The youth cult is getting on a bit. In fact it’s 237 years old—if you date its origin to Rousseau’s Emile (1762), the first child-centered educational treatise. Perhaps the biggest change since then is that, whereas the Romantics were obsessed with spotless preteens, the twentieth century is fixated on fallen preadults. In keeping with that tradition, the South African-born, British-based artist Nicky Hoberman has specialized in lurid paintings of young girls ever since graduating from art school in 1995. She is being touted as one of the rising stars of British art, and her work is featured

  • Marc Quinn

    Self-portrait sculpture is conspicuous for its relative absence from art history. Though casting from life flourished as a genre during the Italian quattrocento, only in this century has self-portrait sculpture been given serious consideration. Until the early 1900s, for example, the celebrated collection of artists’ self-portraits in the Uffizi consisted entirely of paintings. The great Neoclassical sculptors Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen both carved self-portrait busts, but only Canova made it into the Uffizi collection, because he depicted himself on canvas.

    British artists have been