Jutta Koether


    To take stock of the past year, Artforum contacted an international group of artists to find out which exhibitions and events were, in their eyes, the very best of 2009.


    “Pierre Bonnard: The Late Interiors” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) You kind of get the feeling that Bonnard was a real artist. He was concerned not with the past (art history), present (his contemporaries), or future (his legacy), but with expressing himself in terms of his own perceptions, interactions, and experiences of the world. Whether of a room, a still life, or a loved one, each painting becomes


    STRETCHING IDOLS, bending bodies, reshaping minds and audiences. Encountering “The Stravinsky Project” over the course of two nights in June at the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center in New York made me resurface puzzled and empowered. Those unhinging qualities of bodies moving. I liked what this did to me. An event that had it all. The production of pleasure and strangeness and more: moments that make us slow down to take in the substance of experience in all its complexity. As if Iggy Pop and Yvonne Rainer had been rolled into one.

    And the site of all this, the dancers’ bodies, barefoot, continuously

  • Steven Parrino

    STEVEN PARRINO’S austere practice and straightforward approach to the art world made him a model to many of those who knew him and an influence on a wide range of artists. Following his untimely death at age 46 in a motorcycle accident early New Year’s morning, Artforum asked critic and curator Bob Nickas and sometime Parrino collaborator Jutta Koether to offer their thoughts on the late New York artist.

    BOB NICKAS: I probably saw Steven Parrino’s work for the first time in 1984 at Nature Morte, the gallery Alan Belcher and Peter Nagy ran in the East Village. I’d never seen anything like it


    As the 1970s gave way to the ’80s, the slogan “return to painting” was as often heard in the discussion around contemporary art as the counter-mantra, the “death of painting.” In the last issue of Artforum, a group comprising mostly critics and art historians opened our two-part examination of painting in the ’80s and beyond with a look back at the death-of-painting debate that raged at the beginning of the decade. For this month’s pendant discussion introduced by ROBERT STORR, we assembled a second panel, largely made up of painters and curators—and asked them to tell us where painting has

  • Charlemagne Palestine

    HUGE POOLS OF SOUNDS coming from one undifferentiated tone: This is the dizzying, precision work of Charlemagne Palestine and a Dutch organ, stretched out for seventy-one minutes. The single note sounded gives rise to more notes, a sustained single chord, that in turn establish their own spatial existence, even some aural architectures. Perpetual performance. By consumer-culture standards the thing is unlistenable, yet at the same time it is ready to teach you some kind of deep listening. Only, it won’t teach anything. It just does what it does, and those who listen become involved in the acoustic


    Driving across Europe with only one cassette, I never tired of MC Solaar’s Paradisiaque, a dazzling cross-cultural mix between American rap and chanson française—skillful wordplay in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp and Serge Gainsbourg.

    BEN RATLIFF, music critic, New York Times:
    I’ve been amazed by Caetano Veloso’s records––he is the avatar of a universal artist in pop music: a musician who studies and protects the cultural traditions of the New World, then generously expands them.

    ELIZABETH PEYTON, artist: Nirvana.

    BARBARA KRUGER, artist: There is no best of—just a

  • the Poetics

    “IN THE END, this work is not so much a portrait of the Poetics as it is an examination of how a history is constructed. It concerns a period which is fairly recent and only now being historically considered. And in this examination, hopefully the prehistoricization of the Punk period will be perceived as a war for control of meaning—a war that one can still fully participate in. This history is not yet etched in stone.” The words are Mike Kelley’s, describing The Poetics Project, his multimedia contribution (with Tony Oursler) to last summer’s installment of Documenta. Incredibly rich source

  • Diedrich Diederichsen and Jutta Koether


    With few interesting new things in rock, THE RAGE FOR HISTORICIZATION remained the best event of 1995. There were CD retrospectives ranging from the Velvet Underground (the schoolboy decadence on the previously un-issued pre-Warhol ’65 recordings was especially good fun) to the Beatles. On television, although the syndicated History of Rock and Roll regrettably failed to tell the whole story because it relied entirely on the outrageous views of musicians, PBS/BBC’s Rock and Roll gave us more to chew on. Particularly interesting (in a year when profits from Brit pop releases went



    We’ll Always Have Paris

    Lourdes, 8 July 1940: a refugee sensing fate closing in around him, Walter Benjamin writes Hannah Arendt and ruefully quotes an aphorism that will shortly be an epitaph: “His laziness supported him in glory for many years in the obscurity of an errant and hidden life.” “This ain’t Paris,” mutters Babylon Dance Band singer Chip Nold on the group’s belated debut (Matador), “It’s not the 19th century.” This incandescent one-shot reunion recorded over a decade after their break-up offers “errant and hidden life” as pure revel (and reverie). Desperation is Nold’s

  • Isa Genzken

    Isa Genzken works with forms and materials that could make her whole project seem like a gag or an exercise in absurdity. Other artists also walk this line (Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, and even Rosemarie Trockel), but Genzken has the courage to take this risk while maintaining a sovereignty that is actually more absurd than the work itself. Thus there is a veil of tragedy over these otherwise happy sculptures. One could accuse them of being too indulgent; they have a patina that belies their age, a kind of Modernist design-value effect. This results in a dimension of confusion that develops

  • Melvins

    Every three to five years there seems to be one band that artists, intellectuals, and cultural critics gravitate toward as symptomatic of the moment and, on a higher level, as a symbiotically beneficial organism. A few years ago it was the expansive fucked-upness of the Butthole Surfers that entered/altered art-world consciousness; and now it’s Melvins. Nearly ten years after escaping the redneck logging town of Aberdeen, Washington, and spawning the so-called Seattle sound of Mudhoney, Nirvana, et al.—the current “loser’s revolution”—Melvins seem to have arrived, and right on time.


  • News from Germany

    German TV news and newspapers are still reporting small-scale attacks on foreigners (attacks they now mention almost as an aside), but news of larger brutalities comes more rarely these days. This winter, hundreds of thousands marched through West Germany’s inner cities with candles to demonstrate silently against “xenophobia.” (The more appropriate term “racism” is seldom used.) Without overemphasizing the relationship between the simultaneous appearance of racism on the streets and the infiltration of the cultural mainstream by neoright intellectuals, it is striking that this neoright has

  • Adrian Schiess

    Strangely, this exhibition immediately piqued my interest though the works on the walls—in a visual sense—were paltry. Hung at about the same height, there were almost abstract, gestural watercolor-formations painted on torn pieces of paper pasted directly on the wall. They were without content, divorced from the space, requiring neither meditation nor close inspection. The whole show was nailed to nothing, fastened to nothing. And it doesn’t help to say these paintings refuse to represent the concrete or the explicable. In fact, Schiess uses the simplest methods, but they create what one could

  • Springtime for Hitler

    A TELEVISION IMAGE from the reunified Germany of 1992–93: a long-haired, bearded man, beer can in hand, wearing a cowboy hat and a black leather jacket with fringes, repeats “They have to go, they have to go, they don’t have our German culture, they have to go.” In the background, a building burns; it is a dormitory for immigrants seeking asylum in Germany.

    This image—the neo-Nazi cowboy, obviously impressed with “American” culture—was perhaps the most monstrous in the series of images that have been broadcast, with increasing frequency, from eastern Germany since the attack on the Rostock

  • John Miller

    Rock sucks, disco sucks, and brown slime over everything.

    This was John Miller’s third exhibition during the year he just spent in Germany, a period that the catalogue for one of the earlier exhibitions, at the DAAD space in Berlin, excellently documents. The book offers a variety of models for considering Miller and his trademark brown: the reinvigoration of the dandy, campiness, the combination of verbal and visual pranks, and a stance of correct yet critical behavior. In The Office Party and the Communist Party, 1991, the critic finally finds a place among all Miller’s crusty brown objects.

  • Jutta Koether

    SIMULTANEOUSLY A MASSIVE coup de main and an ostentatious display of generosity—even of love?—Jeff Koons’ 40-foot-high puppy of living flowers in the palace garden of Arolsen, thirty miles from Kassel, faces down the abundant speculation over his next career move. Koons’ last body of work was a collection of arguably or, rather, notoriously pornographic sculptures and photo pieces. Since their appearance, the always lurking question—part sympathetic, part spiteful—has , been “How will he top them?” He answers in Puppy, a sea of flowers—a work that is popular to the point of vulgarity.

    When it

  • Arnold Schönberg

    It is always interesting to observe an artist who is recognized in one arena while struggling in another with an almost more brilliant insouciance. In Arnold Schönberg’s case, the struggle produced a considerable number of interesting paintings: fascinating/failed paintings of bizarre curiosity. Do we need yet another painter who produced scurrilous portraits and pensive landscapes in the first days of Modernism? Take for example the often-reproduced Der rote Blick (The red eye, 1910), half August Strindberg, half Goya-remake, simultaneously self-portrait and an example of symbolism. Here

  • Marlene Dumas

    Marlene Dumas’ “written drawings” refer mainly to existential situations involving sex, death, love, the child, man, racism, fear, and woman as painter. This show is a turbulent journal exposing the artist’s most personal concerns. At the same time, Dumas also insists on the significance and justification of defending intimacy, and on the artist’s need for self-observation, exploration, and analysis of the psyche.

    I am not looking at this exhibition as a whole. It’s the old story of how isolating a work of art increases its relevance, favoring a mild kind of terrorism, a humanist slant. It’s an

  • Georg Baselitz

    This exhibition of Georg Baselitz’s new work attracted much attention, including that of people who had long ago lost all interest in Baselitz. Is it because of the amazing way Baselitz has liberated his painting style? Or is it the desire to make him an exception that exerts such great appeal? These paintings break with his conception of the heroic portrait. thereby enabling the work to acknowledge the presence of the viewer and to leave a space for the personal experience of the paintings. The relationship of the viewer to the work offers the possibility of a physical experience, and departs