Katy Siegel

  • OKWUI ENWEZOR

    NO LESS PAINFUL for coming after a long illness, the shock of Okwui Enwezor’s death produced a near-universal thought experiment: What would the art world look like today had he never existed? His expansive imagining disoriented the professionals and publics of art alike, to an extent with which we are still coming to terms.

    Okwui was a famously big thinker, and yet one of the great pleasures of working with him was small and routine: discussing the news of the day over coffee. The way he talked politics made the usual liberal chitchat seem pale and provincial; he saw every situation as complex,

  • “JACK WHITTEN: JACK’S JACKS”

    Curated by Udo Kittelmann and Sven Beckstette

    Jack Whitten’s enormous artistic risk-taking and rigorous self-discipline helped him produce an oeuvre almost unprecedented in its breadth and dynamism. Spanning his early gestural paintings to the final one he made before his death in January 2018, this thirty-five-painting survey will provide a much-needed introduction for European audiences. Rather than a linear time line, the exhibition aims to create a map of Whitten’s galaxy, presenting many works he dedicated to his artistic and intellectual peers, from Romare Bearden and Louise Bourgeois to

  • Joan Mitchell

    GESTURE, LIKE EMOTION (or affect, easier to swallow for some reason), is back, but we’re not much better at talking about it than we were in previous go-rounds with AbEx, Informel, etc. We still discriminate too strongly between broad categories such as abstraction and figuration, male and female, first and second generation, but fail to distinguish finely the touch and speed and scale of gestures: licks, drags, pats and pokes, strokes, skitters, pushes, sharp right turns. These marks correspond to, or rather just are, feeling: feeling not as emotion alone, transcribed on canvas, but as a state

  • diary January 13, 2012

    It’s All Over

    OF ALL THE DAMIEN HIRST SHOWS at individual Gagosian satellites, the particular set of spot paintings chosen for the Twenty-First Street press preview on Wednesday featured the widest range of spot and painting sizes, from extra small to extremely large. This “curatorial decision” (there’s a different conceit for each of the eleven locations) nicely emphasized the gallery machine’s wishful differentiation, searching for the supposedly local and unique in the fundamentally global and repetitive condition, labeled here “Damien Hirst the Complete Spot Paintings 1986–2011.” This may or may not work

  • diary March 15, 2011

    Now What?

    THE CHASM BETWEEN DISCOURSE AND EXPERIENCE is hard to ignore: A museum director muses virtuously about the virtues of doing nothing, and then rushes off to a waiting car and driver. Curators-as-intellectuals offer glosses on the history of exhibitions cribbed from Wikipedia and return to their seats to play with their phones and trade Sephora samples (really) as others take their turn onstage. And academics whose commitment to avant-garde thinking is their currency ritually name-check the standard landmarks of the European/American 1960s. Almost all of them, in an era of collaboration and pressing

  • Jim Nutt: Coming into Character

    Jim Nutt has been making small, hard, delicate paintings of female heads for the past twenty years.

    Jim Nutt has been making small, hard, delicate paintings of female heads for the past twenty years. Lynne Warren’s exhibition traces the heads’ development back through the decades to Nutt’s more familiar works of the 1960s, depicting characters such as Wiggly Woman and Johnny Whatzit. The handmade frames and changing palette of the intervening years constitute a compelling narrative. But the revelation lies in the more recent and utterly singular work, with its oddly dissociated facial features and meticulous clarity of rendering. If figuration seems pressing now, much

  • “Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction”

    Seen through the eyes of today’s younger artists, O’Keeffe’s brand of American art looks interesting again, specific and local amid globalism’s anyspacewhatever, late, late modernism.

    For the past few decades, American art’s first lady has looked a bit kitschy to insiders, her artistic mode as pseudo-authentic as “southwestern” cuisine. Then there is her troublesome status as a celebrity, thanks in part to Alfred Stieglitz’s racy portraits (some of which appear in this exhibition), as well as to her subject matter. But maybe we were wrong. By foregrounding her abstractions—130 paintings, watercolors, drawings, and sculptures—the case can be made for a radicality underlying her popularity,

  • “Reimagining Space: The Park Place Gallery Group in 1960s New York”

    Historian Linda Dalrymple Henderson has assembled some forty paintings, sculptures, and drawings by the Park Place Gallery’s major artists: Mark di Suvero, Dean Fleming, Robert Grosvenor, Forrest Myers, and six others. They occupied a specific nexus of geometric abstraction and new concepts of space.

    Operating in downtown Manhattan for five exhilarating years, the Park Place Gallery, founded by a group of like-minded artists in 1962, occupied a specific nexus of geometric abstraction and new concepts of space. Seeking to map this forgotten quarter of postwar art, historian Linda Dalrymple Henderson has assembled some forty paintings, sculptures, and drawings by the gallery’s major artists: Mark di Suvero, Dean Fleming, Robert Grosvenor, Forrest Myers, and six others. An accompanying catalogue will reconstruct the work’s heady milieu, which fused diverse

  • Per Kirkeby

    Timed to coincide with Per Kirkeby’s seventieth birthday, this major exhibition asserts the importance of the Danish artist’s work from the 1970s through today, with a hundred paintings, fifty sculptures, and a catalogue that includes essays by Richard Shiff, Robert Storr, and Ulrich Wilmes.

    Timed to coincide with Per Kirkeby’s seventieth birthday, this major exhibition asserts the importance of the Danish artist’s work from the 1970s through today, with a hundred paintings, fifty sculptures, and a catalogue that includes essays by Richard Shiff, Robert Storr, and Ulrich Wilmes. Shifting away from overheated interpretations of gestural painting and the local CoBrA legacy, the show makes the case for Kirkeby as a method man, not a modern primitive. An independently organized show of the artist’s sketches, notebooks, photographs, and other archival material

  • MARKET INDEX: LEE LOZANO

    VAN GOGH’S SUICIDE once seemed the epitome of artistic alienation, but by the mid-1960s, the dominant culture celebrated nonconformity and the gray flannel suit was the butt of jokes. As a new art public wrapped the artist in its sticky embrace—killing him by “smothering him with kisses,” as Art News editor Thomas Hess put it—perhaps the most radical action an artist could take was career suicide.

    The negation of the economy is the fundamental condition for belief in art, as Pierre Bourdieu writes; certain artists simply take this principle to the extreme. No one has embodied a more

  • Tomma Abts

    Modernism just won’t go away. Tomma Abts is perhaps the best of the many painters practicing today who still find infinite resource in the complications of image and surface, of illusion and material. Her small canvases come across as faintly historical, but nonetheless don’t look like anything but themselves. Laura Hoptman brings together fourteen paintings from the past ten years in what promises to be an exhibition of heart-stopping density. The catalogue includes Bruce Hainley and Jan Verwoert, reliably insightful writers taking a shot at the mystery that surrounds

  • “Solitaire: Lee Lozano, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Joan Semmel”

    The Pandora’s box of painting continues to let loose spirits from the 1960s and ’70s, changing the way we think about our recent past. Helen Molesworth, formerly chief curator at the Wexner and now at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum, looks in depth at three artists with specific relationships to feminism, figurative painting, and their own selves. From our vantage point, the communal ethos of a long-ago art world tantalizes. But the late Lee Lozano often stood apart from her surroundings, as Sylvia Plimack Mangold and Joan Semmel continue to do—an autonomy that the

  • THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

    13 SCHOLARS, CRITICS, WRITERS, AND ARTISTS CHOOSE THE YEAR’S OUTSTANDING TITLES.

    BRIGID DOHERTY

    I turned to Psyche: Inventions of the Other, Volume I (edited by Peggy Kamuf and Elizabeth Rottenberg; Stanford University Press) in connection with my attempts to look differently at what is made of thinking (and writing) in the art of Hanne Darboven, whose work has often been regarded (to my mind erroneously, or mostly erroneously) as an instance of “Conceptual art.” Psyche—which comprises translations of the first sixteen essays from a volume of Jacques Derrida’s writing that originally appeared

  • “The Age of Discrepancies”

    IN THE EARLY 1990S, Mexico City played the role more recently occupied by Berlin: peripheral to the art market, yet home to a vital, seemingly organic local art scene and inexpensive rents that drew an international crowd. The market follows the scene, of course, and many of the artists who gathered there soon rose to global visibility, a process that tended to sever them from a Mexican context and history. Such is the contention of Olivier Debroise, Pilar García de Germenos, Cuauhtémoc Medina, and Álvaro Vázquez Mantecón, the curatorial team that organized the extraordinary exhibition “The Age

  • Katy Siegel

    IF THE VENICE BIENNALE is still a treasure trove of trends for early adapters, look for cutting-edge art and fashion this year to feature . . . Harry Truman. Two artists as different as Francis Alÿs and Louise Bourgeois—Alÿs in a video that samples a Truman speech, Bourgeois in a series of blue marker drawings called Untitled (Harry Truman), 2005—refer to the little haberdasher, hardly the kind of figure usually called upon to electrify an artistic experience. Why Harry Truman? Why now?

    In 1945, Truman’s presidency inaugurated the two decades that make up the short American century, a

  • “The Painting of Modern Life”

    “The Painting of Modern Life” brings together approximately a hundred paintings that use photographs as their starting point—highlighting a prevalent strategy for picture making over the past forty-five years.

    In his debut show as the Hayward’s director, Ralph Rugoff eschews the small, quirky delights he is known for in favor of a broader brush. “The Painting of Modern Life” brings together approximately a hundred paintings that use photographs as their starting point—highlighting a prevalent strategy for picture making over the past forty-five years. The show kicks off with high-fidelity favorites such as Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter but also features younger artists such as Elizabeth Peyton and Wilhelm Sasnal, who evidence other, less faithful marriages of source and product.

  • Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue? Positions in Color Field Painting

    In New York, Color Field painting has suffered from a bad reputation for the past couple of decades—the legacy of provincial partisanship on behalf of an anointed few. Gräßlin extends the purview beyond the canonized New York–Washington, DC, inner circle of the early 1960s (Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, et al.) to reconnect with Color Field forebears Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and Ad Reinhardt—and even embraces Europeans, such as Gerhard Richter and Blinky Palermo. Clement Greenberg and André Emmerich probably wouldn’t have endorsed the paintings of Austrian Heimo

  • “Gone Formalism”

    Jenelle Porter, in her first show for the ICA, tackles the way formalism still resonates by focusing on six artists: Charles Long, Evan Holloway, Mark Grotjahn, Liz Larner, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, and Gitte Schäfer.

    Can't we call it something else? “Formalism” may be a lost cause, with its connoted rejection of anything personal, social, imagined, or weird. Yet relations between front and back, inside and outside, material fact and illusion, structure and image continue to compel many of the best artists working today. Jenelle Porter, in her first show for the ICA, tackles the way formalism still resonates by focusing on six artists: Charles Long, Evan Holloway, Mark Grotjahn, Liz Larner, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, and Gitte Schäfer. Her selection of thirty sculptures, paintings,

  • Kerry James Marshall

    History painting seems relevant again, with younger artists diving into the narrative waters en masse. So the timing’s perfect for this survey of Kerry James Marshall’s paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Marshall has often been pigeonholed as naive or too American, which may explain why this is his first British solo show. Yet his painting is not just political, but sharply experimental in its treatment of surface and illusion. Perhaps this drew Luc Tuymans to write for the catalogue, which also includes an essay by Valerie Cassel Oliver.

    Travels to BALTIC, Gateshead,

  • “Color After Klein”

    Often thought of in terms of chromophobia, contemporary art turns out to have a severe case of latent chromomania. The Barbican’s Jane Alison makes the diagnosis in an exhibition of about sixty paintings, videos, photographs, and sculptures from the past half century by noted chromomaniacs like William Eggleston and Sophie Calle, as well as a few surprises, such as Bas Jan Ader. The topic has long been a red herring in the antiaesthetic-versus-beauty grudge match, so it will be interesting to see if this rainbow coalition tells us anything about color’s social meaning or