James Meyer

  • Fred Sandback

    In a lecture last year, Andrea Fraser observed that Fred Sandback’s work makes her cry. Sandback’s spare installations of twine indeed elicit a strong response: Engaging or annoying, they rarely inspire indifference. This show, organized in cooperation with the artist’s widow, Amy Sandback, brings the Fred Sandback revival, inaugurated by Lynne Cooke at Dia:Chelsea in 1996, to an apogee. Including some fifty sculptures from 1967 to 2003 in wool, string, and metal, as well as graphic media, and a catalogue with contributions by the artist

  • Pop Art


    James Meyer

    We do not often associate Clement Greenberg with Pop. The great champion of Abstract Expressionism never published an essay on the subject, and occasional remarks in interviews and texts in John O’Brian’s indispensable anthology of the critic’s writings suggest a definite disdain for the phenomenon (the early work of Jasper Johns being a decided exception). Yet the reasons for this distaste are not entirely clear. We know that the author of “Avant-Garde and Kitsch” was no fan of mass culture, nor of the “middlebrow” poetry and fiction published in journals like the New

  • Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project, 2003. Installation view, Tate Modern, London, 2003. Photo: Jens Ziehe.


    The appropriation of the gigantic on the part of commodity relations marks the magicalization of the commodity, the final masking of the gigantic apparatus which is the nature of class relations themselves. —Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (1984)

    The size is nothing; what matters is the scale. —Barnett Newman, in Pierre Schneider, “Through the Louvre with Barnett Newman” (1969)

    Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project, 2003, is a work that commands attention. The most recent in a series of commissions funded by Unilever

  • Untitled, 1964.

    Donald Judd

    In recent years, the Minimal installation initially developed by Donald Judd (1928–94) and others in the early ’60s, consisting of simple, whole shapes calibrated to the experience of a body, has transmogrified into a spectacularized encounter. The precise relationship between artwork, gallery, and viewer, once known as scale, rarely obtains in those purported temples of Minimalism, the Guggenheim Bilbao and Dia:Beacon, where the orchestration of a giganticist aesthetic intended to dominate and impress, in distinct opposition to Minimalism’s

  • Wavelinks, 2002.

    Renée Green

    From Tinguely’s clattering machines to the Happening and much Conceptual practice, the use of sound in art is a history waiting to be written. Renée Green has long infused her art with an aural dimension.

    From Tinguely’s clattering machines to the Happening and much Conceptual practice, the use of sound in art is a history waiting to be written. Renée Green has long infused her art with an aural dimension. Extending this interest, these five new video and sound installations, making up the series “Wavelinks,” address such tendencies as computer music, electronic music, and the political instrumentalization of sound. One provocative project, The Aural and the Visual, promises to consider the role of “auditory experience in the history of art and criticism,” a work of obvious

  • Joy Gregory, Sunil Gupta, and Gordon Gabashane at the 1st Johannesburg Biennale, 1995. Photo: Martha Rosler.


    When Francesco Bonami, director of last summer’s Venice Biennale, famously wrote in his exhibition catalogue that “The ‘Grand Show’ of the 21st century must allow multiplicity, diversity and contradiction to exist inside the structure of an exhibition . . . a world where the conflicts of globalization are met by the romantic dreams of a new modernity,” it was reasonable to imagine that he was responding to structural and thematic questions posed by Okwui Enwezor in his Documenta 11 of the preceding year. After all, the Nigerian-born curator, focusing on the issue of globalization, had in a sense

  • Craig Owens’s slide collection. Photo: Ingrid Bromberg.


    For a critic, a slide collection is the most personal of artifacts. These are the images set aside to remember; here is the record, in miniature, of a life in art—slides acquired in the process of writing review after review or making ubiquitous visits to the galleries. A slide box is a seedbed of the imagination, a record of memory, a resource. Its contents beg to be arranged into so many narratives of art history—articles, books to be written one day. Most never come to pass. The idea doesn’t test out. The art suddenly looks stale. Time is short.

    The slide is a passé technology. The last vestige

  • PLATFORM MUSE: Documenta11

    Every five years the contemporary-art community descends on the small Hessian city of Kassel to experience Documenta, the exhibition whose art-world weight is often matched by its propensity for the big statement. This summer’s installment, directed by Okwui Enwezor, has proved global in ambition—and globalist in contention. Artforum asked four contributors where Documenta11 succeeds and where it comes up short.

  • James Meyer

    DOCUMENTA PRESENTS ITS ORGANIZER WITH A DILEMMA. Should the outstanding exhibition of contemporary art—a show that surpasses all others in ambition, financing, and planning—simply present the best work, regardless of form and theme? Or should the curator impose strict parameters and choose art that fits his or her concept?

    Recent directors have differed in their response. Jan Hoet's Documenta IX was notable for its openness, its refusal to favor one medium or theme. Catherine David's Documenta X explored the legacy of '68 and failed utopias, as well as the history of photo-documentation.

  • Anne Truitt, Hardcastle, 1962, acrylic on wood, 96 3/4 x 42 x 16".


    ANNE TRUITT’S HOUSE IN WASHINGTON, DC, SITS ON A HILL above the city. A typically Mid-Atlantic dwelling of a certain vintage—shingled, with a porch and pale blue shutters—it is easy to miss. The artist’s studio in the backyard resembles one of those fishing shacks that dot the coast of New England, quite the opposite of the grandiose compounds and lofts that have become the self-conscious markers of artistic success. John Russell recently wrote in the New York Times that Truitt’s work “never calls out for our attention.” I’m not sure I agree—some of her sculpture is quite imposing—but the

  • James Meyer


    1 Technomania Technophilia, the most persistent of modernist themes, made another comeback. Ironically, the New Economy waned the year of digital art’s institutional embrace. Museums eager to court Silicon Valley support staged techie shows and dispensed handsome prizes to techie artists. The corporate cart was put before the horse: Many of the works in SF MOMA’S “OIOIOI” and the Whitney’s “Bitstreams” suggested the artistic potential of digital technology yet were not compelling to look at. (Exceptions: the videos of Jeremy Blake and Adam Ross’s Tanguyesque paintings.) The e-’90s

  • “Antagonisms”

    Political art has received a bashing of late. Explicit forms of critique have been scarcely present in recent exhibitions; the Whitney Biennial of 1993 may have been the last major show in this country of demonstrably political art. Its do-gooder tone and simple conception of identity politics aside, the “multicultural” Biennial was far more memorable than the revanchist surveys that followed in its wake. Yet the charges of “political correctness” hurled at that show by critics of right-wing affiliation or archaic sensibility ultimately had an effect; so too did a certain boredom with critical