Kaitlin Phillips

  • diary December 13, 2019

    Inside Job

    A WOMAN IN A RED JACKET, doing her job, walked through the halls of the Miami Beach Convention Center on VIP Preview Day. An older, whiter man in navy blue walked beside her. They paused to look at a John Currin painting. “In the end, visual art is all about light,” said the woman. “Have you ever been to Ohio?” asked the man. He had a point.

    The point of Miami, both Beach and Basel, is that you don’t have to visit to understand it. “I am not here to do drugs,” said a man in a Panama hat, pacing the exhibition floor with a skull-topped cane. “It has nothing to do with drugs. It has to do with my


    Curated by Ruth Erickson and Eva Respini with Ellen Tani

    The twenty artists in “When Home Won’t Let You Stay” were selected as speakers for the dead and downtrodden. Americans make for notoriously poor observers of global suffering; this show serves as a corrective. Not all self-consciously didactic exhibitions mounted for their topical value are bad. I favor the oblique work that makes documentary practice look conceptual: Beruit-born Palestinian Mona Hatoum’s suitcases connected with strands of hair (less achingly affecting, perhaps, than the pillow she once stitched with a map of Palestine

  • Sarah Lucas

    The two most famous works by the most famous women of the Young British Artists (YBAs) use as their springboard low-rent mattresses artfully composed—I mean that—to signify postcoital tristesse: Au Naturel, 1994, by Sarah Lucas, and Tracey Emin’s My Bed, 1998. A lot of art in the 1990s was about being disappointed, but they made malaise look and feel as dynamic and complex as it must have been to them in 1993, when they were two young art-school grads who felt like renting a studio was for wanks, so instead opened “The Shop.” The first T-shirts they sold said I’M SO FUCKY (Lucas’s


    The Rhonda Lieberman Reader, edited by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer. Los Angeles: Pep Talk Press, 2018. 536 pages.

    NOT JUST BECAUSE I—Barnard shiksa from the boonies—was conditioned to envy my more socially savvy Jewish American counterparts for their sunglasses (from Selima), their scarves (not Hermès, actually) knotted the way their mothers taught them, and other birthright privileges awarded young ladies of a certain socioeconomic-religious-cultural demographic, who I imagine learned about Freud from their fathers (this is just a fantasy!), am I fascinated by Rhonda Lieberman. Bred in a NYC

  • diary September 26, 2017

    Running with Scissors

    ON JUNE SECOND, two weeks before the Summer Solstice, the artist Aurel Schmidt told me she’d been forced to hire a bartender for openings at her gallery Romeo to deter underage beer-stealers. (Nothing like a new crop of thirsty teens.)

    The art world’s part-time fakirs—downtown purists sating themselves with free beer and fresh art, and occasional communal-style meals from the likes of Rirkrit Tiravanija and Agathe Snow— did okay from 6 to 8 PM on Thursday. The last night of the summer! For Susan Cianciolo’s “RUN Prayer, RUN Café, RUN Library” at Bridget Donahue, self-serve lime-and-apple sangria


    In Andy Warhol’s A, A Novel from 1968, John F. Kennedy dies during church. (Americans heard the word of God and then the news that God did not exist as of 12:30 pm CST.) Warhol made sixteen widowed-Jackie portraits. It’s with the same flat promiscuity that post-Pop artist Rob Pruitt celebrates the five-hundredth anniversary of Ulrich Zwingli’s Reformation in Zurich with “The Church,”“an exhibition cum community space cum church.” Cheeky for the idolator responsible for  2011’s The Andy Monument! While sermons from theological students don’t promise the heavenly high of

  • “The Female Gaze, Part Two: Women Look at Men”

    In the all-women group show “The Female Gaze, Part Two: Women Look at Men,” the topic is a great maw into which much (good) art is forked: figurative and gestural painting, photographs, sculpture, and embroidery, all spanning 1927 to 2016. Excellent are the aesthetically pleasing portraits of sweetly somber men, all nudes with trusting eyes: Catherine Opie’s photograph of a shirtless Ryan McGinley, posed against a dramatic dark curtain, as if a school photo for a lover; Sylvia Sleigh’s Paul Rosano in Jacobsen Chair, 1971, a pinkish nude self-conscious of his role as gazee, a fitting companion

  • diary September 22, 2016

    Fine Print

    LAST THURSDAY, at the opening night preview of Printed Matter’s NY Book Fair at MoMA PS1, in the popup white dome in the courtyard, at one of the end-to-end merchandise tables, V. Vale (“That’s the name I’m famous under”), founder of RE/Search, complains to a fan that the fair, in its eleventh year, and its host city, have lost their street cred:

    “I never come to New York. Yeah, I never come to New York. I never come to New York,” says Vale, beaming defiantly.

    “Well, New York may have jumped the shark.”

    “I don’t know what that means. Jump the shark.”

    “It means that something has hit its peak, and

  • Karen Kilimnik

    Damien Hirst, a man, claims to make art for “people who haven’t been born yet.” Karen Kilimnik hasn’t bothered to defend herself, probably because she makes art for the true public. Born-again types. The pleasure we derive from her art is that we don’t have to be productive versions of ourselves, but romantics, bovarystes enragées, pleasure seekers, those whom Joan Didion accused in her essay on the women’s movement of having an “astral discontent with actual lives.” Adults who want “eternal love, romance, fun,” but know better than to look in real life. They—I?—love Kilimnik, and were

  • diary May 15, 2016

    O Pioneers!

    ON A RECENT SUNDAY—mock hatred of Brooklyn (the boonies of Red Hook), galas (the third annual Village Fete), and bad weather (spitting rain) being fodder for all the talk I’ve heard before—imagine just how pleasing it was to find that the “cultural elite” (those paying anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 for seats at the Pioneer Works dinner) and the civilians and noncomped alike (PR Girls, reporters from Artnews) found something real to get riled up about.

    “Three out of eight planets are in retrograde!” said a man seated on one of three white picnic benches around the backyard bonfire that is the

  • Dash Snow

    “Confusing signals, the impurity of the signal, gives you verisimilitude,” said Donald Barthelme of juxtaposition in his fiction, which he thought of as collage. “As when you attend a funeral and notice, against your will, that it’s being poorly done.” None of Dash Snow’s art in “Freeze Means Run” confuses or confounds. The signals are clearly drawn: angry or tender, political or familial, appropriated or documented. Snow’s work from 2000–2009—his teenage polaroids are being considered with his “mature” work in multiple mediums—falls squarely on an axis familiar to anyone who’s been

  • diary February 19, 2016

    Sit and Spin

    ON MONDAY, at Narcissa, the aptly-named restaurant for the fashion-forward at the Standard Hotel East, the indefatigable, infamous Purple editor-in-chief Olivier Zahm explained his party philosophy, which in its arch-fury reminded me of Houellebecq, six years his senior: “The world outside had its own rules, and those rules were not human.” Perhaps it’s just that they both have that particularly French air of being the toad who gets the princess, only to make their first royal decree about free love.

    Delicacies must be eaten in moderation, especially French men. But if fashion dinners during New

  • diary December 03, 2015

    Door to Door

    ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT I SAT, the lone New Yorker in a hotel room of an LA man and his LA friends, with the artist Alex Israel, who was lying on the couch wearing black sunglasses of his own design: “I was thinking about driving around and needing sunglasses in Los Angeles in the car. You’re driving. It made sense. Because it’s bright.” “High by the Beach” played on the stereo. Having basically written this very scene in 1985, in that first book with that first sentence—“People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles”—Bret Easton Ellis closed the sliding doors to the private terrace, and sat

  • diary December 02, 2015

    In the Land of Women

    “I USED TO BE A GYNECOLOGIST! I feel right at home,” jokes Don Rubell in the Rubell Family Collection sculpture court at brunch Tuesday morning, duly cosseted by Nathan Mabry’s supine woman; Mera, his wife of fifty-one years; a dozen “women artists and Instagrammers”; and his daughter Jennifer—or @jenniferrubell, woman-artist Instagrammer. It’s a fitting introduction to “No Man’s Land,” the family’s spectacular new exhibition boasting over one hundred female artists from twenty-eight countries. (Fitting, too, that the first thing Don ever said to me, after we were encouraged to pick up knives

  • diary August 28, 2015

    Search Party

    AT 6:37 AM on the taxi’s clock a week ago today, we went uptown to catch an off-hour of Agathe Snow’s Stamina. A twenty-four-hour video of a twenty-four-hour party in 2005, Stamina was being screened at another twenty-four-hour party, this one at the Guggenheim, with drink tickets and security guards and some parents. In one of the seven panels on screen a woman in a leotard danced, dedicated to the party shift no one wanted. In the rotunda of the museum, two male teens discombobulated themselves on the disco floor, having the most amazing of times, but in a few years they’ll know that isn’t

  • diary April 29, 2015

    ROM Com

    RECENTLY RHIZOME threw a panel to celebrate the online restoration of the germinal feminist CD-ROMs of video game designer, artist, popular blogger, and—by the time she committed suicide in 2007—conspiracy theorist Theresa Duncan.

    The panel was less than rigorous, but it did little to mar the truly fantastic, usable product created by Rhizome that we were enthusiastically celebrating: Any lady noodling on her computer at work can now access an outmoded operating system—via an “online emulation infrastructure”—to play Chop Suey (1995), Smarty (1996), and Zero Zero (1997), Duncan’s idiosyncratic

  • diary April 07, 2015

    Gang Shebang

    LAST TUESDAY, I listened happily as a woman expounded on the “civilizing effects” of socializing in a taxidermy-friendly room of “people over thirty-five.” We both had had enough of parties full of “so-called young collectors.” Then I tripped over a small, obviously feral child. (In his mother’s defense, which I will not come to, he was wearing a suit.)

    Still, the Art Production Fund’s “Gangs of New York” gala was satisfyingly stacked with representatives from all the heavy-hitting cliques, and not just the art world’s. Liv Tyler! Cathy Horyn! Even AOL’s mascot Shingy. No one had heard of the

  • diary November 24, 2014

    Sleep No More

    CREATIVE TIME is a venerable nonprofit arts organization that is literally forty-one years old, so if Friday night’s Fall Ball sleepover felt like a Sweet Sixteen party planned by an overanxious momma, we’re not being mean, just insensitive. We arrived at Neuehouse a little before 10 PM, or two hours after start time. The party would go until 8 the next morning. Dinner was over and beginning again; salmon and salad and wild rice, exactly right for the art world’s pre–South Beach diet, were served in quantities larger than the crowd. Yet around the corner, a line was winding up for red beans and