Jan Avgikos

  • Max Beckmann and Otto Dix

    War is hell. That truism underscores the first-ever pairing of the entirety of two of the most powerful visual records of World War I: “Der Krieg” (War), 1924, a series of fifty etchings by Otto Dix; and “Die Hölle” (Hell), 1919, eleven lithographs by Max Beckmann. Both artists enthusiastically volunteered to fight in the conflict—Dix serving for four years in the trenches and Beckmann for one year as a medic before being discharged following a nervous breakdown. And both cited—albeit in very different ways—a philosophical underpinning. (Dix referred ironically to Friedrich Nietzsche’s dictum

  • Malcolm Morley

    “Jock art,” or art that incorporates sports imagery, is a much-maligned genre—right up there with paintings of wild animals and portraits of Elvis on velvet—but that only makes it ripe for recuperation. Many great moments in American art have taken us into the heat of competition; generally speaking, however, art that references the world of sports finds its niche at the dead center of mainstream culture, churned out by schlock mills, marketed in “starving artist” sales at airport motels, or, worse yet, sold in “theme art” galleries that specialize in ripping off their clientele with dubious

  • Jutta Koether

    Jutta Koether is an artist who paints, but she is not exclusively a “painter.” She is also a performance artist, musician, writer, and art and music critic. And while painting sometimes plays a supporting role in her performance art, in her music for example, it isn’t part of the mix at all. Yet her interests always overlap, establishing common ground. One such area is the aesthetics of punk, through which Koether channels German “bad painting,” East Village garishness, and flashy ’80s commodity art in a range of styles that are historically savvy yet burst with youthful energy. Critique is not

  • Martin Kippenberger

    No subject was too insignificant or absurd for Martin Kippenberger: a trip to the dentist, an old sock, or, of course, his own drunken antics. The sum total of the German painter’s inventive approach to subject matter, his boundless sense of humor, and his wacky self-deprecation form a composite self-portrait that functions as the default mode of his work. Martin as bad boy, Martin in his hotel room, Martin with those big underpants, just like the ones old man Picasso used to wear, pulled up over his paunch. The behavior was always so goofy and the hilarity so pronounced that, when they were

  • Diana Thater

    Diana Thater’s art is inseparable from the technology used to implement it—LCD projectors, swivel mounts, DVD players, sync devices, plasma screens, and endless electric cords fill her installation spaces and manipulate our movement through them. In environments as wired and controlling as these, imagery itself might appear almost incidental, doubly so when it is, as here, almost purely decorative: Thater has a penchant for pictures of the natural world—flowers, forests, and fires. She allows her camera to sweep across these scenes so that when projected onto walls, ceilings, and floors, the

  • Gilbert & George

    The reigning queer couple of the art world, Gilbert & George have flaunted their X-rated passions in enormously celebratory and occasionally shocking photographic tableaux for three decades, since long before “identity politics” coalesced as a movement or homoeroticism in contemporary art achieved critical mass and garnered scholarly attention. The shameless British pair—incongruously conservative-looking middle-aged white guys—take much inspiration from the vitality of ethnic street culture in East London, the grounded comings and goings of day-to-day life in their Whitechapel neighborhood,

  • Louise Bourgeois

    The daily practice of making marks—rhythmically, methodically, filling the page without considering meaning beyond the act itself—is a hallmark of studio practice. For some, the inscribed habit of drawing functions as a warm-up exercise; for others, its simplicity not only formalizes the idea of beginning again each day but strikes at the heart of an artist’s concerns. In her recent exhibition of sculptures and multiple series of abstract drawings titled “The Reticent Child,” Louise Bourgeois addressed both concerns with stunning results.

    It is noteworthy that Bourgeois has hardly left her New

  • Jane and Louise Wilson

    MTV meets the postmodern fragment—it’s a mode of practice that has become dominant in video installation. Multiple channels matched with wraparound sound, gorgeous image quality, and lots of hightech presentation hardware make for superlative theatricality that points toward the 4-D simulators and fully immersive environments poised to enhance gallery/museum/entertainment complexes in the very near future.

    In lieu of tomorrow’s total illusionism, current installation protocol among artists including Doug Aitken, Shirin Neshat, and others calls for heavily edited footage of exotic locales

  • Daniel Joseph Martinez

    Daniel Joseph Martinez’s installation The House America Built, 2004, is spare, quick, and tightly focused. It consists of one oversize, custom-built shack—big enough to house you or me—wedged into the gallery to look as if it had landed there by accident and suffered some damage in the process. Split apart along a seam running from roofline to foundation and no longer standing exactly true, the structure is decidedly out of order. Instead of an open door there are large cracks to peer through. Bobbing up and down and shifting this way and that to get a better view inside is rather like trying

  • Cindy Sherman

    Cindy Sherman has gone digital! It’s still her masquerading for the camera as she brings to life a series of clowns (twelve of which were included in this exhibition), who are easily among the most flamboyant characters she has ever created. But in several of these new photographs (all works 2004), Sherman employs digital technology to multiply her image within a single frame. Dressed in clown outfits, clusters of her surrogates share space for the first time. They rub shoulders, snatch furtive glimpses, taunt one another, and leer at us from the other side of the looking glass—introducing in

  • Albert Oehlen

    Every time Albert Oehlen comes to town to show a new body of work—which on this occasion consisted of eight very large oil-on-canvas paintings from 2003—the bellyaching begins. With all the complaints that surface in the New York press you’d think that American audiences had never heard of the historical avant-garde’s strategies of defamiliarization and antiaestheticism, which are now almost a century old. But America has traditionally been defensive about what European artists might be up to behind its back, or worse, out there in front. The prevailing attitude of our conservative times demands

  • John Miller

    Scatological humor is probably as old as culture itself—but in art of the ’80s and early ’90s, jokes about excrement proliferated, provoking a lot of nervous laughter. RUN FROM FEAR/FUN FROM REAR—that’s one of the ways Bruce Nauman put it. He also paired clowns and toilets to flush out the complexities of pleasure, pain, and self-consciousness that rim the act of evacuation. Remember Mike Kelley’s 1987 felt banner that blared PANTS SHITTER AND PROUD P.S. JERK OFF TOO, or the video Heidi, 1992, made with Paul McCarthy, that featured sausage turds and a sustained involvement with defecation?