Jeanne Silverthorne

  • Jeanne Silverthorne

    Interior: a room of ambiguous dimensions and location—part surveillance center, part boudoir. UMA THURMAN sits in front of a monitor and a mike, flanked by a makeup mirror. Ignoring all this, she bends over a paperback. Enter PATRICIA ARQUETTE. Throughout the scene, the camera suffers from attention-deficiency syndrome, sporadically drifting off from the speaker. A radio is tuned to white noise.

    PATRICIA [squinting at monitor]: Who’s out there?

    UMA: Quentin. He got very excited about us changing places like this—me in here watching. Every once in a while I give him an order to keep him happy—you

  • David Mamet’s Oleanna

    THE SHOCK OF DAVID MAMET’S Oleanna, a play about a female student’s charges of sexual harassment against her male professor, is the shock of the Hill/Thomas hearings: it astounds by revealing how many otherwise “reasonable” people still don’t get it. And it’s an easy reading to say that one of them is the author. Once again, as in his screenplay for the Paul Newman film The Verdict, Mamet has invented a woman who seems to “ask for it” so intensely that New York audiences for the play, at this writing SRO off-Broadway, apparently routinely shout approval of the violence his politically correct

  • Secret Vices

    HERE’S WHAT HAPPENS: fat slithers off cheekbones, gouging ravines down the face. Cartilaginous noses and ears continue to grow, heedless. Lips shrink, lengthening that unnamed space between hairy nostril and mouth. Gums retract; result: “long in the tooth.” Earlobes turn pendulous, drooping under their own weight. Eyelids disappear beneath the mud-slide of a brow truly and finally smitten with gravitas. Pigment lumps; capillaries explode. If you live in horror of the body, aging only tells you you’re right.

    The guilty pleasure/secret vice of many feminists is eager discussion of face-lifts,


    IT IS THE 1920s. When a 19-year-old woman must abandon college after her father dies, she accepts a marriage offer from a wealthy older man. Her unsympathetic stepmother notes that if she marries this man she “will only be a concubine”: then “let me be a concubine,” the girl retorts, “Isn’t that a woman’s fate?” One year later the marriage has reduced her to insanity.

    The stark simplicity of this tale, the natural inevitability of its four-act structure—summer, autumn, winter, and summer (alas! no spring)—along with the static, symmetrical series of views through which it is told suggest the

  • Moving Men

    AS A MS IN SEARCH of her neglected anima, I closed my eyes to dream. A figure seemed to approach: lacy, flowing, yet stern. A voice as old as the ages called to me, the voice of Kali, Aphrodite, Demeter. My wounded spirit thirsted for the dour yet dulcet tones of the Great Mother, the Hairy Magdalene. She spoke:

    “It would be futile for Miss Manners to pretend to know nothing of the wicked joy of correcting others. There is that pleasant bubble in the throat, a suppressed giggle at another person’s ignorance; that flush of generosity accompanying the resolve to set the poor soul straight: that

  • Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs

    IN A FILM OF heart-stopping terror, perhaps the creepiest shot in Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs is a close-up of a handshake. It is late in the film. Tough little bird Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) has just officially graduated from fledgling trainee to full-fledged F.B.I. investigator. She is flushed from the triumph of surviving an attack from and shooting a serial killer of young women. She is also the survivor of another mass murderer’s psychological assault: the brilliant asylum-inmate Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), whose intuitions and brief acquaintance with her


    SPEAK, SPEAK. THEY ALWAYS wanted me to speak. Buzzing that microphone around my head on DeMille’s set like a mosquito trying to suck my blood. Fine. Now I’ll speak.

    They think it was out of vanity that I refused to make talkies. But why should I mouth someone else’s words? I wasn’t such a fool as to fall into their trap. Women weren’t allowed to speak; why pretend otherwise?

    Things are a little different in the older-women movies they’re making now—and somewhat the same. One thing is they’re pretty timid with these age differences. I mean I was 50 in Sunset Boulevard; Bill Holden—sorry, I mean

  • The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

    IN PETER GREENAWAY'S NEW FILM, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, the Lover is killed by the thief, and the wife talks to the cook, in whose restaurant most of the action takes place, about his view of her affair. “I saw only what you wanted me to see,” he tells Georgina (Helen Mirren), who replies, “Of course. How could I know it was real unless someone sow?” The “of course” smooths over a contradiction: the remark of the cook, Richard (Richard Bohringer), implies that Georgie is a gatekeeper of information; her reply suggests that there is no information outside the witness. This neatly


    IT'S LOVE WHEN a retired torero and a beautiful lawyer match obsessions and find a perfect fir. Their passion in intense... and lethal. But what about the young bullfighting student whose confessions to a string of murders bring the two lovers together?

    You’re not likely to find this part of Spain in a guidebook for tourists. Gloria, a very resourceful working class housewife, is a true feminist heroine who’s on the go 18 hours a day, trying to keep her outrageously wacky family afloat. Comedy and tragedy blend to portray a surreal and perverse fable of contemporary life.

    Yolanda, a nightclub

  • Batman

    FRANCIS BACON’S FIGURE WITH MEAT, 1954, is the only modern work in the Flugleheim Museum in Tim Burton’s Batman, as if Bacon’s image were the rough beast signaling the birth of the new barbarian age, the Cerberus in front of which the Joker pauses before entering the post-Modern Hades he will actually create: “I like this one, Bob. Let it go.” Bacon is an interesting choice as the father of a new artistic age—hardly considered “modern” at all, he’s nicely poised for filiation, and as the painter par excellence of violence, obsessed with the abattoir, he’s the logical ancestor for “the world’s

  • Gwenn Thomas

    Like a good linguist, Gwenn Thomas explores both the diachronic and the synchronic in her framed Cibachromes. One might also say that her works push us through time and space, at high velocity, to a point of relativity. Note how the exaggerated corridor perspective in Theater of Memory I, 1984–85, where the converging lines of ceiling and floor extend out onto the frame with paint, is tilted, as if we were swept off our feet in a wind tunnel. The effect of speed is heightened, as when a section of this same wall appears to curve in Untitled (Diptych), 1984–86, and so is the hallucinatory. These

  • David Salle

    Even more completely than before, this group of paintings by David Salle is about the body, or about body parts, to be accurate, thus raising the ante of sexual fixation. Accordingly, one of the ancestors Salle latches onto here is Jean Louis Géricault, one of whose specialities was dismembered limbs, decapitated heads, and tableaux of execution. His Heads of Executed Men, ca. 1820, appears in Salle’s Loft Barn Process, 1985. But true to his bloodless pictorial lust, Salle turns severed heads into talking heads. He presents heads, usually male, cut off from bodies, and balanced by female bodies,

  • Edward Allington

    The title of one of Edward Allington’s new assemblages is Aphrodite Debased Again, 1986—de-based, that is; 139 detached. Ours is an age of fragmentation partly because we are a nomadic 140 culture that takes along on each of its moves whatever is not nailed down. We are tenants rather than owners of our time. Art made of recycled components serves the new international cultural exchange well; like furniture, it is le meuble, “movable,” that which can be detached from its context and rearranged. The portability and adaptability of scavenged objects and images satisfy the contradictory instincts

  • Robert Motherwell

    That Robert Motherwell is a master of the sure touch, of the precisely right configuration, has been confirmed once again by his new works. Motherwell continues to dare to use black more emphatically than any other painter, in fact as a kind of visual blackmail. Not mere islands but whole continents of shapes are abandoned to this freebooter, and the viewer is coerced into paying tribute. As the achromatic pigment we hate to love, black offers zero stimulus to the retina, achieving perceptibility only through contact with adjoining colors; in effect held for ransom, these colors appear tantalizingly

  • Maria Scotti

    Maria Scotti’s paintings are more correctly drawings. Her sketches of classical nudes and other familiar passages from art history compete on the same canvas with her transcriptions of drawings by her sister’s child. Both sets of images are borrowed, yet Scotti seems to own the more sophisticated images, drawn with a delicate line that travels from an unbroken, unerring, Picasso-esque contour to one that repeats itself nervously, either to depict movement (as in a walking cat) or the artist’s changes of heart. In contrast to this elegant thoroughbred line, which is by turns skittish and certain,

  • Alex Katz

    It used to be, back in the ’50s, that the body language of Alex Katz’s painted figures bespoke an expectation of loss. Very still, their stillness in fact exaggerated by their half-buried, faltering outlines, their arms would often hang limply at their sides, hands empty, redundant, as in Frank O’Hara, 1959–60, and Paul Taylor, 1959. The Double Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg, 1959, shows the artist seated, one hand thrust between his legs, in the classic “barrier signal” pose described by Desmond Morris as metaphorically protective of the genitals.

    By the early ’60s the loss has occurred. Hands

  • Bryan Hunt

    Most of us don’t resent the making of a buck if the atmosphere isn’t polluted or people are not killed, maimed, made hungry or destitute thereby So it isn’t that one objects to Bryan Hunt’s show of maquettes on that score. However, it is surely indicative of Hunt’s prematurity in inflating what are working sketches into salable objects that the limestone bases are so much larger and weightier than the diminutive bronze models they support. (About the unfortunate associations provoked by the oversized nuts inserted between model and base, a considerate silence is best.)

    Bryan Hunt seems to have

  • John Armleder

    In Samuel Beckett’s Murphy (1938),the eponymous hero ties himself to a teak rocking chair with seven scarves, which, unlike the seven veils of the dance, keep revelation private. He rocks himself into an alpha state, the achievement of which is signaled by his tumbling, chair and all, onto the floor. Like Murphy, John Armleder has seemed determined to get rid of the body through solipsistic contemplation; and he has used furniture as a means to this end. An Armleder drawing from 1979 offers a schematic chair in silhouette, with the circle on its seat containing another silhouetted chair; both

  • “Surrealism 1936”

    “The surrealist assumes that one can change the world” (C. W E. Bigsby). This show recreated the Surrealism of exactly fifty years ago, 1936, a year of triumph for the movement exemplified by three major shows in Paris, London, and New York, and a year after the group’s critical denouncement of Communism, the means, they had believed, by which the world could be changed. The concept of dialectical materialism rested in the Surrealist object, which dominated Surrealist practice in that year. Such objects comprised the most compelling part of this exhibit, which also included photographs, collages,

  • Bill Jensen

    In what sense is Bill Jensen’s work a “throwback”? Instead of praising Jensen’s paintings, advocates of the work of Albert Pinkham Ryder, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and Georgia O’Keeffe, of which Jensen’s work has been termed a revival, would conspire to bury it. True, Jensen has burrowed down under the site of their art, content never to break through to open, revitalizing air. Note Ancestors, 1984–85, wherein a disrupted mystical hexagram blooms under a mound covered with crosses, fully flowered and with no ambition to see the sun or stars. Thematically, too, Jensen’s vision of the earth,