Jeffrey Kastner

  • Darren Almond

    Inspired by the life and work of Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, Darren Almond’s recent exhibition was a study in strategic contrasts, an orchestrated dialogue between beauty and decay designed to evoke both the lyricism and the melancholy characteristic of the late Nobel Prize–winner’s artistic outlook. Pairing a suite of wildly gorgeous color photographs of the California coast with a series of somber black-and-white shots of a winter landscape in Siberia—where Brodsky spent eighteen months in a labor camp before being exiled in 1972—the show also included a selection of Almond’s painted aluminum

  • A Talk with Center for Land Use Interpretations’s Matthew Coolidge

    SEWER SYSTEMS AND TRAFFIC PATTERNS; abandoned air-force bases and simulated Main Streets built to train law-enforcement officers; dead shopping malls and towns swallowed by the rising waters of technologically diverted rivers. This is the American landscape as seen through the eyes of Los Angeles’s Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI): a complex national topography that’s emphatically physical yet also has a certain uncanny lyricism, one rich in the cadences of what CLUI’s director, Matthew Coolidge, calls “anthropogeomorphology”—the landscape as altered by humans.

    Founded in 1994 by Coolidge

  • Sue de Beer

    Indeterminacy—spatial, temporal, and, above all, emotional—is the central motif of Sue de Beer’s absorbing two-channel video installation, Black Sun, 2004–2005. While it continues the exploration of adolescent desire and frustration that’s earned de Beer a reputation as a preeminent auteur of teen angst, the new work also suggests an artist who is herself maturing, moving away from the often melodramatic physical abjection of her earlier works toward a more nuanced investigation of psychological alienation.

    As in previous works, the winkingly gothic milieu of Black Sun extends into the three

  • The Gates

    AT THE TIME of this writing, workers are slowly making their way along some twenty-three miles of Central Park pathway, dismantling the 7,503 orange structures that only a few weeks earlier had sprouted into the most elaborate and talked-about artwork in New York City history, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s monumental sculpture, The Gates.

    Even before the final arch is removed, it’s clear that the project will be remembered as a genuine cultural phenomenon, an uncanny hiatus in New York’s life as usual. The most expertly blasé city in the world spent the better part of February swooning over the

  • the 51st Venice Biennale

    FAMILIARITY, IT IS SAID, BREEDS CONTEMPT—and the recent proliferation of biennials has indeed made the large-scale international exhibition an object of, if not scorn, at least skepticism. Yet even for those who question the utility of the biennial merry-go-round (2005 will see a dozen-odd such shows, from Moscow, Sharjah, and Prague to Gothenburg, Lyon, Tirana, and Istanbul) one always stands apart. The Venice Biennale is inevitably a subject of fascination, not only for what its content says about the state of contemporary art but also for what its form signals about the condition of the global

  • Chris Gentile

    Operating in a conceptual space populated by artists like James Casebere and Thomas Demand, Chris Gentile’s recent work is a hybrid of sculpture and photography that asks interesting questions about the nature of both. Like these better-known contemporaries, Gentile’s sculptural practice is in this case a disembodied one, manifested only in the context of photos—a move calculated to probe the indexical gaps between things and their depictions. In contrast to the form’s more architecturally oriented pioneers, however, Gentile doesn’t pursue totalizing verisimilitude for his meticulously crafted

  • “Remote Viewing: Invented Worlds in Recent Painting and Drawing”

    To look closely at the world is to understand that the line between familiar surface appearances and the complex, hidden structures that constitute them—between the “real” and the abstract—has never been as definitive as conventional wisdom would have it. Exploring this zone of indeterminacy via science, psychology, and hallucinatory symbolism, the eight artists in this show—including Franz Ackermann, Julie Mehretu, Matthew Ritchie, and Terry Winters—are all supremely skilled mark makers who synthesize information in dazzlingly idiosyncratic ways. The ninety-odd works

  • Kysa Johnson

    Concerned with the extremities of perception—the telescopic and, especially, the microscopic—Kysa Johnson’s appealing brand of conceptual painting and drawing evokes the structural poetry at the very base of things. Inspired by essential biological forms and processes, the elegant renderings on view in her first New York solo show (in ink, watercolor, and most often chalk on blackboard) operate in a territory somewhere between lyrical abstraction and literal representation. Their focus is that level of observation where the familiar “real” forms of the world begin to resolve into the fantastical,

  • Paul Pfeiffer

    In its ambition and substance one of most significant gallery shows of last fall in New York, Paul Pfeiffer’s “Pirate Jenny,” a sprawling exhibition divided between Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea and The Project uptown, confirmed the artist’s continuing fascination with time and perception, as well as his ability to manipulate both to resonant effect. If the scale of the far-flung show—which included nineteen pieces in video, film, photography, and sculpture—threatened to diffuse the overall effect of the work, it also seemed to bring certain essential aspects of Pfeiffer’s sophisticated practice

  • diary January 20, 2005

    Gun Shy

    Los Angeles

    In 1971, a performance with a gun helped secure Chris Burden’s status as an art-world legend. Now, more than three decades later, it seems another performance involving a firearm may have been a central factor in the abrupt retirements of Burden and his wife, sculptor Nancy Rubins, from the faculty of UCLA’s Department of Art.

    Rumors began to percolate before Christmas, and there has been increasing chatter on art blogs since then, but little official information has emerged about the situation—all the parties have kept quiet on the specifics of the performance and its relationship to the

  • David Altmejd

    Opulent, complex, and evocatively incongruous, David Altmejd’s sculptural scenarios have, in a relatively short time, insinuated themselves into the contemporary art world’s collective consciousness. Of course, his idiosyncratic formal vocabulary—quasi-modernist display environments sexed up with mirrored surfaces, theatrical lighting, and costume jewelry, all orchestrated to create sprawling disco sarcophagi for broken werewolf corpses—is already a riot of psychological tropes. Death and desire, the self and the other, decay and transformation: All are explicit in the forms and contexts of

  • Walead Beshty

    Most artists would argue that their work is on some level about consciousness, but few could make the claim as literally as Matt Mullican. Over the past thirty years, Mullican has intermittently created “trance” performances in which he undergoes hypnosis, either self-induced or prompted by a hypnotist. For the next hour or so he experiences (or, depending on your faith in the process, acts out) a range of tasks, emotions, and impulses: pacing, talking to himself, painting, singing, regressing to childish behavior, and occasionally becoming enraged. One particularly notorious incident occurred

  • Andrea Loefke

    An adept young bricoleur with a light touch and a flair for playroom fantasy, Andrea Loefke made her first New York solo show a candy-colored zone of purposefully preadolescent ebullience. Her modest set-piece arrangements—featuring tiny barnyard animals emitting speech bubble baas and brays; small groves of flora made from string, wire, plastic sheeting and pipe-cleaners; nursery-school wallpaper; and puffy white clouds more suggestive of cotton candy than cumulonimbus—were temperamentally sweet enough to set the average visitor’s teeth on edge. Even the show’s preposterously saccharine title,

  • Robert Smithson

    One of postwar art’s canniest theoretical provocateurs, Robert Smithson was famously ambivalent about conventional museums. Yet “Robert Smithson” will feature some 180 objects—little-known paintings, drawings, and collages from the late ’50s and early ’60s among them, as well as extensive documentation of major Earthworks in the American West and elsewhere—and a substantial catalogue with essays by scholars including Thomas Crow, Suzaan Boettger, Ann Reynolds, Richard Sieburth, and MOCA curator Connie Butler. More than just “a heap of language,” Eugenie Tsai’s catalogue, and the ambitious show it accompanies, promises a new perspective on this most eloquent, and contentious, of artists

  • Manhattan Project: Friends of William Blake

    THE MAP, AS THE SAYING GOES, IS not the territory, yet experience suggests that some maps express their respective territories more vividly than others. As this issue of Artforum went to press, summer in New York City was edging toward its extravagant culmination—the 2004 Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden, from August 30 through September 2. Although vague warnings about possible terrorist attacks seemed to have little effect on a citizenry hardened to hometown catastrophe in the wake of 9/11, there was nevertheless a creeping anxiety—mostly over the consequences that

  • Christopher Knowles

    “Christopher Knowles,” wrote John Ashbery in 1978, “at the age of nineteen, without exactly meaning to, has become a major figure of the New York avant-garde.” For viewers encountering the artist’s work for the first time in this engaging survey—the forty-five-year-old’s first solo since 1988, which features a selection of his figurative oil-marker drawings, modest object arrangements, and typed text and image works—Ashbery’s description is a helpful prologue. It drops clues to the story of an outsider who, for thirty years, has cut a distinctive path through that most “inside” of social


    More than thirty years after British-born artist Anthony McCall created his now-legendary Line Describing a Cone, the first of his “solid light” films, the elegantly simple 1973 work—a projected white dot that slowly grows over thirty minutes into a circular line on the facing wall, eventually filling the dark space with a conical “volume” whose vivid corporality is a beguiling trick of light and atmosphere—remains one of postwar art’s signal explorations of perceptual boundary states. Light and dark, stasis and movement, substance and immateriality, cinema and sculpture: As with all McCall’s

  • the SITE Santa Fe Biennial

    “Disparities and Deformations: Our Grotesque”—the evocative title selected by Robert Storr for SITE Santa Fe’s Fifth International Biennial—might at first glance suggest a curatorial riposte to the previous installment of the New Mexico institution’s signature exhibition event, Dave Hickey’s 2001 “Beau Monde: Toward a Redeemed Cosmopolitanism.” After all, in its common pejorative sense, the grotesque would seem to be the antithesis of the sort of worldliness to which Hickey’s title provisionally alludes, a zone not of refinement and urbanity but of disharmony, disenfranchisement, and

  • Calder–Miró

    Two of the twentieth century’s great lyrical poets of form in space, American Alexander Calder and Spaniard Joan Miró shared more than aesthetic sensibility—they also had a friendship spanning some fifty years.

    Two of the twentieth century’s great lyrical poets of form in space, American Alexander Calder and Spaniard Joan Miró shared more than aesthetic sensibility—they also had a friendship spanning some fifty years. Though each would follow his own highly distinctive path—for Calder, groundbreaking sculptural ideas expressed through signature mobiles and stabiles; for Miró, elegantly idiosyncratic, often whimsical paintings and murals—the years following their first meeting, in 1928, saw the pair engage with many of the same formal and theoretical

  • Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg

    Systems of social activity and interpersonal communication and the breakdowns that plague them provided the organizing principles for the recent exhibition by the New York–based artist team of Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg. Profuse and appealingly offhanded, the show by the Canadian-born duo featured some fifty jointly produced works that ranged from a sprawl of technically brilliant pale blue and green freestanding polystyrene sculptures to cryptic wall-based arrangements of photos and text-covered drawings. With a taste for collisions between unlikely subject matter—a head-scratching