James Hall

  • Per Kirkeby

    The facetious remark from the ’50s (often attributed to Ad Reinhardt), that sculpture is what you bump into when you back up to see a painting, said something important about modern art. The notion that objects can and should be exhibited in the middle of a space is relatively new: until the demise of Neoclassicism, it had been standard practice to place sculpture against walls, in niches, or under arcades. One of the main reasons sculpture began moving about freely, and became an obstacle, was the modern love affair with things that shock and rebuff. When an object is isolated in space, it is

  • Mat Collishaw

    A decade ago Mat Collishaw made a name for himself as a connoisseur of catastrophe with works like Bullet Hole, 1988. This multipart photowork, which was recently featured in the “Sensation” exhibition at the Royal Academy, at first appears to be a close-up of a tropical flower with a dazzling red stamen; in fact, it is a forensic image of a bullet hole, surrounded by what looks like an aureole of human hair. In Collishaw’s more recent work, the connoisseur is still behind the camera, but he is less completely in control—as a result, there’s a newfound emotional complexity to his work that makes

  • Beat Streuli

    The heroism of modern life is very much apparent in Beat Streuli’s Oxford Street, 1997, a photographic installation commissioned for the Tate Gallery’s project space. This street, which the Swiss-born, Düsseldorf-based artist visited at the beginning of the year, is one of London’s busiest shopping districts, but you would hardly guess this from the images. Streuli’s shoppers appear to be engaged in silent and solitary vigils, rather than orgies of consumerism.

    The images are projected onto the walls of the Tate’s longest gallery from three slide projectors. Oxford Street incorporates frequent

  • Andrew Sabin

    You’re unlikely to find a sign saying “Do not touch” next to an installation by Andrew Sabin. Sabin’s in the business of creating physical obstacles that have to be pushed past, slipped through, stumbled over, or climbed. His last big installation, The Sea of Sun, 1992, was a heaving labyrinth, its “walls” made from rows of chains suspended from the ceiling and imprinted with colored imagery: walking into it was like entering a Byzantine church that had been built from banks of seaweed. Sabin’s reeducation of the senses continues in his sequel to The Sea of Sun, The Open Sea, only this time the

  • Jan Fabre

    In much recent artwork involving casts of found objects—certain sculptures by Kiki Smith or Rachel Whiteread, for example—one can’t help wondering whether a “host” form has been suffocated inside a tomblike cast, as much as it has been preserved. While he may not use a casting process, Jan Fabre deploys clothing, another kind of shell, to equally ambiguous and ominous effect. The Flemish artist has recently been constructing costumes out of an unusual material: beetles. Tightly packed together on iron-wire armatures, the insects form garments that resemble monks’ frocks and beekeepers’ uniforms,

  • Cathy de Monchaux

    Cathy de Monchaux’s exquisitely crafted sculptures are the answer to a control freak’s prayers. Born in London in 196o, she’s made her name with a series of frankly erotic, mischievous variations on the theme of the vagina dentata: symmetrical, wall-mounted mechanomorphs fashioned from velvet, leather, and brass. Until now, de Monchaux has been largely known for her relatively small-scale work. But for her first solo show in a major public space, she is working in an expansive mode: in addition to new wall-mounted pieces, part of the Whitechapel’s Lower Gallery is being transformed into what de

  • Tony Cragg

    Tony Cragg occupies a somewhat paradoxical position. While many consider him the finest English sculptor of his generation—and his work looms large in survey shows of British sculpture—he has lived since 1977 in the German industrial town of Wuppertal. Yet since his move to Germany he has never really lost sight of Britain. In many respects, his distance from Britain has enabled him to put it into perspective. His best-known early work, the wall relief Britain Seen From the North, 1981, is a map of Britain laid on its side, made from brightly colored detritus, with a separate flanking figure,

  • Jane Simpson

    After studying many different kinds of ruins, the architectural writer Robert Harbison, concluded that we need a “careful series of the degrees of ruin like a paint chart or colour wheel.” For the contemporary connoisseur of ruins, Jane Simpson’s furniture sculpture is as good a place to start as any.

    Simpson, a thirty-one-year-old Londoner, is best known for installations of domestic objects that appear to have been overrun by glaciers. Ice Table, 1996, a typical example, is a rudimentary, wooden, metal-topped table with tins, glasses, and cutlery laid on it-but the tabletop is wired to a

  • “Young British Artists VI”

    During the first five years of its existence, the Saatchi Gallery failed to show a single British artist—the eight exhibitions mounted there from 1985–89 consisted entirely of continental European and American art. Since then, however, British art has dominated. Seven of sixteen shows have focused exclusively on British art, while Richard Wilson’s used sump oil installation, 20: 50, 1987, has been a permanent fixture since 1991. Three of these British shows have been devoted to senior figures, such as Lucian Freud and Richard Deacon, and the rest to the so-called Young British Artists. More

  • Edward Lipski

    The first work I ever saw by Edward Lipski consisted of two orange chairs placed on either side of an orange table, itself surmounted by a circular orange light. This could have been the setting for a romantic tryst, were it not for the fact that the elements in the tableau had been reduced to childlike scale. As in Howard Hodgkin’s tiny erotic tondos, emotion had been heralded, only to be contained and compressed.

    This compartmentalization of the senses continued in Lipski’s first solo show in London. Crying Child, 1996, was a brown-haired mannequin of uncertain gender, standing naked and at

  • Jasper Johns

    The relatively small and nondescript city of Leeds, situated in England’s industrial north, might not sound like the kind of place where you would find the first ever exhibition of Jasper Johns’ sculpture, yet, particularly where sculpture is concerned, Leeds has a distinguished past and an increasingly active present.

    Not only does the City Art Gallery have the finest collection of 20th-century British sculpture outside the Tate, but three years ago, the Henry Moore Foundation built the Centre for the Study of Sculpture next door, where the Johns exhibition was generated. The show itself actually

  • London

    1995 WAS UNQUESTIONABLY the year of the Young British Artist. Given a big push with “General Release” in Venice during the last Biennale and with the much decried “Brilliant!” at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, YBAs rounded out the year by capturing the nation’s premier art award, the Turner Prize, for one of their own: Damien Hirst. After the media feeding frenzy that surrounded Hirst’s triumph, it was almost inevitable that things would cool down temporarily on the YBA front. Charles Saatchi, who has held five YBA shows in his London art emporium since 1992, turned his attention to youth