Katy Siegel

  • H.C. Westermann, 30 Dust Pans, 1972, various woods, galvanized sheet metal, and brass, 46 x 45 x 32 3/4".

    H.C. Westermann

    People often complain, and they’re probably right, that there are two kinds of art: the kind the art world likes and the kind everyone else likes. To appreciate the former, you have to know something about art history; the latter holds an immediate, broad appeal that doesn’t depend on specialized knowledge. Although he has his fans in the art world, H.C. Westermann sits primarily in the latter category.

    This Westermann retrospective—his first in twenty-two years—collects most of the artist’s major pieces as well as many surprises. The density of the exhibition and the immediate presence of the

  • Left to right: Lee Lozano, 2-Wave, 1968 . Lee Lozano, 6-Wave, 1970. Lee Lozano, 16-Wave, 1969. Lee Lozano, 24-Wave, 1969. Lee Lozano, 32-Wave, 1969. All oil on canvas, 96 x 42". From the series “Wave,” 1967–70.


    LEE LOZANO ISN'T EXACTLY A HOUSEHOLD NAME—even in art houses. But in the 1960s and early ’70s, she was very much part of New York’s art scene; she knew everyone and is remembered as an intense and engaging figure (her inamorati included such diversely talented men as Dan Graham and Joey Ramone). To say the least, Lozano had a strange—and brief—career; though lasting just over a decade, it encompassed a series of distinct styles and practices. For several years, she exhibited regularly, including group shows at Richard Bellamy’s Green Gallery in 1964 and 1965. Later she distanced herself from the art world before finally dropping out altogether.
    Lozano, born Lenore Knaster, attended the Art Institute of Chicago in the ’50s (where she met her future husband, Adrian Lozano) and began her career in the early ’60s making cartoonish, overtly sexual paintings and drawings, not unlike the hand-painted Pop of Peter Saul, early Claes Oldenburg, or the late efforts of Philip Guston. By the mid-’60s, her imagery became more abstract, more formal and hard-edged, as in her monumental “tool” paintings, which depicted screws, pipes, and wrenches mostly in somber grays. Despite the industrial cruelty of these works, the humor and sexuality of the earlier efforts persisted.
    Lozano’s next body of paintings consisted of completely abstract works that interrogated painting’s basic elements. Drab browns, oranges, and smoky purples covered shaped canvases—often several were assembled to form a single painting—which may have been slashed or perforated with cut-out shapes. One exhibition of these works was reportedly held in a dark room; viewers were given flashlights to move across the canvases, allowing them only slowly to piece the paintings together. The most critically recognized late paintings were the eleven canvases comprising the “Wave” series, 1967–70, in which Lozano painted wavelengths of light multiplying exponentially. Like her other work of the period, these canvases incorporated duration as well as a pictorial space that expanded to include both viewer and artist. For a last series, planned but never realized, Lozano wanted to make the same painting in various states: stoned, drunk, horny, etc.—not only summarizing the going passions of the day, but demonstrating her belief in completely intermingling art and self, despite the work’s apparent intellectual cool.
    Indeed these gestures point to, and share much with, the conceptual work for which Lozano is best known. They reveal her desire for painting that moved beyond the limits of the canvas, incorporating the viewer’s and the artist’s lives. In the late ’60s, Lozano began extending her art to include various activities in her studio-loft, interactions with friends and colleagues, and experiments with her relationship first to the art world and then beyond. For Real Money Piece, 1969, she invited people to either contribute money to or remove it from a glass jar, noting their response (“Larry” Weiner took a dollar; Brice Marden laughed and said he didn’t need any). Some of the pieces were instructions for solitary actions, such as Throwing Up Piece, 1969, in which Lozano threw the twelve most recent issues of Artforum in the air. Other important works expressed her increasing disillusionment and alienation from the art world. Perhaps most famously, Lozano decided to stop speaking to women for a month, as an artwork—an action that continued for almost three decades, until her death in 1999. She had long since left the art world, first for New York’s budding downtown music scene, and eventually for Texas, her final home. Very little is known about her life after the early ’70s.
    Recently, I talked about Lozano with the painter David Reed, who has been interested in her art since the late ’60s. This past year, an invitation from the Blanton Museum at the University of Texas, Austin, to study a group of paintings bought with Richard Bellamy’s advice (including Lozano’s Ream, 1964) afforded Reed the opportunity to think seriously about her work and the historical context that gave rise to it. This summer, he accompanied me on a visit to Chelsea gallerist Jaap van Liere’s barn-studio in Pennsylvania, where much of Lozano’s art is stored. Reed’s own work plays with our peripheral vision as well as our sense of time—both central to the “Wave” paintings he loves. He also sees Lozano, in her restless relationship to the medium and in her conceptual experimentation, as both a model and, in her disabling anxiety, a cautionary tale. As such, her multifaceted practice is a decisive link in the secret history of avant-garde painting that has persisted in the wake of the endgame strategies of the ’60s.

    KATY SIEGEL: How did you first encounter Lee Lozano?

    DAVID REED: I knew about her work, saw her at openings, and knew her slightly when I first came to New York. The most direct contact would have been around 1971, after she had lost her loft on Grand Street. She was looking for places to stay and considering that process part of her work, and ended up staying with me. Lee was very moody, drinking a lot of cheap wine and smoking lots of dope. I was raising my young son and had to ask her to leave after a few days. I remember thinking that she was a kind of warning about what could happen if you

  • Sidney Tillim

    Sidney Tillim was a true-blue American as well as a modernist in the European tradition: Re loved movies, served in the army, began his working life as a baseball reporter; he was also an important critic, a trained painter, a connoisseur of photomechanical reproduction. These two aspects of his life combined to inform his painting practice for fifty years, pulling it between figuration and abstraction, the disarmingly direct and the academic, the humorous and the sober.

    Tillim’s last show (sadly, he died unexpectedly as this issue was going to press) consisted of eight new canvases that draw on

  • Balthus, La Jupe blanche (The white skirt), 1937, oil on canvas, 51 1/4 x 63 3/4"


    BALTHAZAR KLOSSOWSKI, OR BALTHUS, or the Count de Rola, as he preferred to be known later in life, died February 18 at the age of 92. His passing did not go unmarked: U2 frontman Bono sang a tribute at his funeral, and critics Michael Kimmelman and Jed Perl wrote appropriately admiring eulogies, if colored by a certain defensiveness about Balthus’s historical position. Other commentators, such as Linda Nochlin (interviewed on National Public Radio), could not be moved to praise, even by his demise. Speaking ill of the dead is no more popular in the art world than in the rest of our culture, but

  • Robert Smithson, Slantpiece, 1969, mirror and rock salt, 48“ x 59.75” x 48".

    As Painting: Division and Displacement

    When is a sculpture, an installation, a photograph, or a building really a painting? Ohio State University professors Stephen Melville, Laura Lisbon, and Philip Armstrong trade their mortarboards for curating caps, putting on a 110-piece, theoretically framed exhibition that examines the conditions of painting, both proper and im-. Half of the twenty-six artists included are French, and many of them, like Daniel Buren and Michel Parmentier, minister to painting’s corpse; we also find nonpainters like James Welling and Robert Smithson, who, the curators argue, address the medium, if more obliquely.

  • Dara Friedman, Total, 1998, still from a color film in 16 mm, 12 minutes.

    Beau Monde: Toward a Redeemed Cosmopolitanism

    Maverick critic turned indie curator Dave Hickey, our flaneur du jour, welcomes us to his world. It’s not the usual biennial, earnestly investigating local conditions to expiate the sins of globalism; Hickey, like Baudelaire, just wants to fall in love. Look for his trademark passions: cool classics (Ellsworth Kelly, Bridget Riley), upbeat California color (Ken Price, Jorge Pardo), sex & drugs & rock ’n’ roll (Kenneth Anger, Jeff Burton, Stephen Prina), and the just plain eccentric (Big Chief Allison “Tootie” Montana & Darryl “Mutt Mutt” Montana). Quirky or no, the artworks vie for attention

  • Robert Morris, Untitled Slab,1962, plywood, 12 x 96 x 96"

    Robert Morris

    Katy Siegel looks back at the 1962 studio visit by gallerist Richard Bellamy that resulted in Robert Morris’s debut at the legendary Green Gallery.

    THERE WAS LOTS OF TALK in the early ’60s about getting “discovered,” Lana Turner’s apothecary apotheosis standing in for the “overnight” success stories of a Jackson Pollock or Jasper Johns, figures whose artistic achievements, charisma, and fortuitous timing were all boiled down to mythic studio visits by the likes of Peggy Guggenheim and Leo Castelli. The contemporary cliché is no less facile: Today’s artists are supposed to be extra clever when it

  • BodySpace

    Contemporary artists just can’t seem to leave Minimalism alone. In “BodySpace,” curator Helen Molesworth brings together nine who marry ’60s phenomenology to the identity-based, at times domestic content of the ’90s. Most of the participants here—Robert Gober, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Ernesto Neto—are household names, but a couple of others, like Sowon Kwon, have received less exposure. Their “spaces” are often loaded (e.g., Gonzalez-Torres’s kitschy beaded curtain), their “bodies” specific (Gober’s orifice-like drains). Stuffing the Minimalist shell with the metaphor and narrative it

  • Katy Siegel

    Andreas Gursky makes really big photographs. This is the one thing about his work that everyone can agree on. Why does he do it? The answer seems obvious: to see the big picture, things too vast to take in with either the human eye or a camera fixed at a particular viewpoint (mountains, public architecture, mass leisure, modern industry). The grandness of these phenomena, both natural and un-, begs to be writ large. But Gursky also grinds exceedingly fine, cramming information into his images, as if we were peering simultaneously through binoculars and a microscope. Looking both long and close,

  • Katy Siegel

    BACK IN MY WISCONSIN HIGH SCHOOL, I HATED THE girls who figure skated; the double axels of Tricia et al. contrasted too starkly with my double bass. But I’m a big girl now, and I can recognize the poignancy of Los Angeles-based artist Andrea Bowers’s images of amateur skaters, from an exquisite colored-pencil drawing of a fat and fabulous teenager to the funny little videos of young girls performing their routines dressed as superheroes and vamps. Awkward and touching, this is art for those who sided with Tonya Harding, not Nancy Kerrigan.

    Still, the ice-skating pieces weren’t what first attracted

  • Katy Siegel


    1 Can-Do Art I’m with Stephen King: In art as in writing, the active construction rules. Artists like Chuck Close and Paul Etienne Lincoln prove that, despite the bad name that the likes of Damien Hirst have given the word, it is still possible to be ambitious in the Baudelairean, Greenbergian sense—wanting more not just for your career, but for your work. Close and Lincoln both put on big shows at Pace and Alexander and Bonin, respectively, filled with meticulously rendered yet broadly conceived visions of us and our world. Fine art may no longer be the dominant culture, but

  • Pollock

    IT’S CUSTOMARY TO KICK OFF a review of an artist’s biopic with a few chuckling asides about classic cinematic representations of artistic genius, like Lust for Life (Kirk Douglas as Van Gogh!) and The Agony and the Ecstasy (Charlton Heston as Michelangelo!). The reviewer knowingly ticks off the elements of neo-Romantic myth as they pile up madness, creativity, rebellion, berets, work boots, poverty, and, of course, originality. Ed Harris’s new movie is Pollock, but maybe we’re supposed to understand it as Pollock!!!, the larger-than-life version. True to type, the film, which premiered at the