Jeffrey Kastner

  • 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

  • Robert Beck

    “In a world of confusion and complications, contemporary men need to know it all.” So says the publisher’s blurb for the book invoked by Robert Beck in the subtitle of “Glove Skinning” (Bruised) (“The Modern Man’s Guide to Life” by Denise Boyles, Alan Rose, and Alan Wellikoff), 2003, a central work in the artist’s mordant and affecting recent show. The vaguely ironic bathroombook wisdom offered by such DIY guides (collections of advice on, say, building a shelter or landing an airplane in an emergency) pushes a kind of prepackaged gentlemanly confidence while plugging neatly into doubts over

  • Lucas Samaras

    “Unrepentant Ego: The Self-Portraits of Lucas Samaras” wasted no time and exercised suitably little restraint in announcing its larger-than-life subject/object, emblazoning the entrance to the exhibition with a colossal photograph of the artist’s face. Of course, Samaras’s career-long project of relentless self-scrutiny has always had theatrical power to spare. Over the last five decades, the Greek-born New Yorker has deployed performative nerve, killer technique, and sheer obsessive force of will to produce what is among the most vivid personal documentary programs in the history of artmaking.

  • Aleksandra Mir

    Naming Tokyo, 2003–, the most recent product of Aleksandra Mir’s ever-growing conceptual cottage industry, demonstrates both the artist’s numerous strengths and her particular limitations. The piece seen here is the second part of a project originally commissioned by the Palais de Tokyo in Paris; like all the prolific New Yorker’s best work, it’s informed by a generative interest in social systems and a fondness for offbeat forms of dissemination. Combining the enduring appeal of maps as sites for theoretical play and a cheerfully wayward brand of activist zeal, the project was inspired, in

  • Anri Sala

    Whether observing the preparation of traditional Albanian pastry in a Brussels kitchen or documenting an eerily depopulated zoo in his hometown, Sala explores existential indeterminacy with a combination of clarity and wistfulness.

    In a 2000 interview with Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Anri Sala spoke poignantly of contemporary life lived between—between his native Tirana and his adopted home of Paris, between the ancient language of his childhood and the cosmopolitan tongues of the art world. Whether observing the preparation of traditional Albanian pastry in a Brussels kitchen or documenting an eerily depopulated zoo in his hometown, Sala explores this existential indeterminacy with a combination of clarity and wistfulness. He is now the subject of a solo exhibition

  • Shirazeh Houshiary

    Poised between aestheticism and asceticism, Shirazeh Houshiary’s delicate, elusive new canvases are marvels of formal restraint and rigor that manage to generate extravagantly seductive perceptual effects. Her recent show—dominated by a suite of large-scale black or white monochromes illuminated with feathery passages of contrasting pen or pencil—is evidence of progress in a conceptual program the artist once characterized as following a trajectory “from form to formlessness.”

    The Iranian-born, London-based Houshiary is usually associated with the British “New Object” sculptors (including Tony

  • Barnaby Furnas

    In his second New York solo show in as many years, painter Barnaby Furnas continues to operate in a productive zone between figuration and abstraction, surface and spatiality, narrative and structural modes of imagemaking. The seemingly limitless fodder for formal discourse produced by his practice seems likely to make Furnas something of poster boy for the next installment of the “Whither painting?” debate. Yet for all its theoretical availability, the proof of the artist’s work is decidedly in the viewing: His skillful and occasionally flat-out dazzling paintings reward extended engagement.

  • Adam D. Weinberg

    “IT’S FUNNY HOW THINGS HAPPEN to one in life,” says Adam D. Weinberg. “Doors just open and you go through them.” For Weinberg, the door in question would appear to be a revolving one—one that keeps bringing him back to New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. This October, almost exactly five years after he stepped down as the Whitney’s senior curator to run the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, Weinberg returns to the Whitney, this time as its director. He replaces Maxwell L. Anderson, who resigned in May following clashes with the museum’s board

  • “Watershed”

    Three hundred years ago, discriminating travelers in the European countryside might have carried with them an optical instrument called a “Claude glass” after the seventeenth-century French landscape painter Claude Lorrain. A small, tinted mirror, it lent the scenes it reflected a painterly quality evocative of Claude’s idealized landscapes. By the early nineteenth century, a set of colored lenses that could be held to the eye was available to American sophisticates searching for scenery on steamboat trips through the Hudson River Highlands. Voyagers used their filters to sweeten the vistas (

  • the Istanbul Biennial

    THE ORGANIZERS OF THE 8th International Istanbul Biennial could be forgiven for looking over their shoulder as the show’s opening approaches later this month. After all, the last two installments of the exhibition coincided with tragic circumstances—the 1999 show, curated by Paolo Colombo, debuted only a month after one of the most devastating earthquakes in Turkish history, while Yuko Hasegawa’s 2001 edition had the misfortune of kicking off just ten days after the World Trade Center attacks. Despite these unhappy coincidences, Istanbul has managed over the last decade and a half to successfully

  • John Snyder

    John Snyder transformed the studiously blank setting of his first solo museum show into a kind of funky chapel. Sporting a nave, aisles, and a transept, and dotted with nichelike shelves bearing vases full of fresh flowers, the painter’s mystic gallery-cum-basilica also included a soaring, barrel-vaulted apse dolled up like some apocryphal Victorian parlor. This idiosyncratic layout chosen by Snyder for his presentation—with formal origins in ancient Christian and secular architecture, cheerfully injected with a healthy dose of down-home kitsch—aptly symbolizes the various tensions he balances

  • Mel Chin

    Like the material Mel Chin employed in his recent works—mud and mahogany, olive wood and Hebron marble, dirt from a Minneapolis landfill and African grass—his conceptual perspective dances between the lyrical and the mundane, into a realm where the global and the personal dovetail. Marked by the complex symbolism viewers have come to expect from this multimedia conceptualist, Chin’s recent sculptures are sensual, romantic takes on geopolitical strife and cultural dissonance. Rather than adopt conventional historical perspectives, these works frame alternative views that are simultaneously lyrical