Karen Butler

  • “Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art, 1959–1965”

    One of Marcel Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs, 1935/1953, spun mesmerizingly on the wall. Frank J. Malina’s Tableau Mobile—Hercules (Mobile Picture—Hercules), 1960, glowed as multicolored lights floated across a black screen. Man Ray’s aluminum lampshade-like sculpture Le retour à la raison (The Return to Reason), 1919/1960, twisted gently in the air. These works are relatively small, but they created visual and physical movement, and some, such as Dieter Roth’s Book AA, 1960, required manipulation. Along with others that function similarly, these objects were produced under the auspices of Daniel Spoerri’s

  • Belkis Ayón

    The Cuban printmaker Belkis Ayón spent the majority of her career producing print-based works that engage the mythology of La Sociedad Secreta Abakuá (the Abakuá Secret Society), an all-male religious group of African origin that exists only in Cuba. Although Ayón likely never participated in any of the ceremonies, she studied the society at length and featured its figures—particularly the central female protagonist, Sikán—prominently in her celebrated collagraph-based practice. Sikán, whose sacrifice is at the heart of the religion’s origin story, is often seen as a foil for the

  • “Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change”

    This exhibition will be the first in the US to take on the much-debated question of Picasso’s stylistic modality, particularly the ease with which Cubism rubbed shoulders with neoclassicism in the artist’s work, both leading up to and following World War I. Bringing together some fifty works in a wide range of media, including painting, collage, works on paper, illustrated letters, stage decor, and costume design—spanning roughly 1912 to 1924—the Barnes Foundation proposes a rethinking of Picasso’s capacity to paint or draw one motif in several distinct

  • Antoni Tàpies

    The exhibition “Tàpies: From Within” distilled the prolific career of Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies into a succinct group of fifty paintings, works on paper, and assemblages. Organized by Vincente Todolí with the help of Pérez Art Museum’s Tobias Ostrander, and culled from a much larger show Todolí mounted in 2013 at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona, the PAMM iteration attempted to break free from the conventions of a typical monographic retrospective. Todolí limited his selection to artworks found in only three spaces: the artist’s studio, his

  • Robert Rauschenberg

    Nearly twenty-three years ago, Walter Hopps gave life to an overlooked period from Robert Rauschenberg’s oeuvre. At the Menil Collection in Houston, the legendary curator mounted a revelatory exhibition of the artist’s work from the early 1950s, elucidating the rich procedural and conceptual qualities of a body of paintings, collages, and sculptures that had long been overshadowed by the better known and seemingly more systematic Combines and silk screens made over the following ten years. Rauschenberg’s work from the early 1950s does not present an easily quantifiable artistic position; rather,

  • Lena Henke

    Each of the eight sculptures in “Geburt und Familie” (Birth and Family), Lena Henke’s recent show at White Flag Projects, is titled Galocher (French slang for a sloppy, openmouthed kiss). Indeed, the loose compositions of Henke’s works plant an irreverent French kiss on historic models of avant-garde production. The pieces are composed of fiberglass rope that was dipped in boldly colored resin, laid on the studio floor in sketchy intertwining shapes, and left to dry. The resulting forms were then propped up on angular steel stands and adjusted to lean into or away from one another. The works’

  • Wols

    When Wols, the preferred moniker for the German Informel artist Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze, first met Jean-Paul Sartre, he immediately established his affinity with the philosopher by reciting a passage from his well-known novel Nausea. If Wols’s position as one of Sartre’s chosen exemplars of existentialist angst has, with some recent exceptions, been the cornerstone of most French and English-language scholarship on his work, the tragic details of Wols’s biography—with special focus on his estrangement from his bourgeois family, his self-imposed exile and poverty in France, his