Katy Siegel


    IN 1935, at the behest of his New York colleagues, Walter Benjamin set out to synopsize his famously unfinished epic, The Arcades Project. The resulting précis, “Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century,” offered a preview of the critic's Herculean attempt to compile all the various majorae and minutiae that gave rise to his own historical moment as revealed in that central symptom: Paris. I don't particularly like the idea that New York is the center of the universe; it bothers people who don't live here even more. But like Paris in the nineteenth century, New York is (was) the capital of

  • Wolfgang Laib

    More of less is more. Curator Klaus Ottmann invited Wolfgang Laib to the Hirshhorn, and he's bringing twenty-seven years' worth of milk, pollen, rice, and wax with him. The retrospective runs from early piles, slabs, and jars of comestibles through recent larger installations. All of the work references nature and Eastern spirituality, emphasizing restraint, simplicity, and cyclical movement. The look is minimal, but—more Beuys than Judd—Laib strives for a higher plane.

  • 46th Biennial

    Call it trickle-down aesthetics: Word has finally reached Washington that there's more to life than painting. The Corcoran's 46th Biennial, “Media/Metaphor: New Stories in Contemporary Art,” is the first to show video, film, installation, and, yes, computer work, on a parity with the oldest of arts. Still, the choice of painters suggests a point of view (Close, Reed, Yuskavage), while the potpourri of artists working in other media seems more up for grabs (Nan Goldin and Victor Burgin?). Corcoran curator Philip Brookman is doing his best to put an end to business as usual at this most conservative

  • Uta Barth

    There's a lot of nobody-home photography—interiors and landscapes emptied of the folks who inhabit them—around of late. What elevates Uta Barth above the places-without-people crowd is not only her long engagement with the subject but the work's strong subjectivity. Though the LA-based artist's out-of-focus, off-center shots address formal issues such as “Field” and “Ground” (titles of two series), they also indicate a very human eye, capturing the various forms of attention we bring to bear on the world. Curator Sheryl Conkelton has culled fifty works for this midcareer retrospective.

  • Jed Perl

    JED PERL ISN’T WRONG about everything, but even when he’s right, he’s wrong. Perl is right to be suspicious of academics—most of us are far from brilliant. And he’s right to be suspicious of journalism, almost all of which is dreadful. And he’s probably also right that many dealers only like what sells. But in turning away from the “vanguard” of the contemporary art world, he is wrong to look to the tweedy, “cultured” intelligentsia for the true vine: Whether neo-con or old left, their ideas about art tend to be obtuse.

    A Hilton Kramer protegé formerly of the New Criterion, Perl has been the art


    Kerry James Marshall is best known for large-scale paintings, but Rythm Mastr is a project of a different sort. A site-specific installation of comics realized for the 1999 Carnegie International, Rythm Mastr also encompassed an eight-part comic-strip that ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and new installments are to be published by the artist in serial form.

    The setup: In a gunfight with gangbangers, Stasha and her boyfriend, Farell, are separated. Stasha is shot; plotting revenge, she applies her growing knowledge of computers and robotics to create remote-control cars for use in retaliatory


    “To see [Michael Jordan] soar through the air, a sparkling, shiny creature traveling at the speed of light, landing in every first, second, and third world city all at once, is to understand you play a minor role in a very big game. . . . His reach defines the meaning of community in the television age.” With these words, Paul Pfeiffer establishes his arena: the global economy of the spectacle that is today’s superstar. Pfeiffer’s earlier photo-based installations often dealt with his Filipino and gay identity; during graduate school at Hunter College in the early ’90s, he was involved more in


    Call it the mind/body problem. If I were preparing a slide comparison for class, I probably wouldn’t pair Jasper Johns and Lisa Yuskavage. He is a notably cerebral artist who traffics in reflexive visual puns and sets up intricate perceptual conditions. She is all T&A, turning to cultural flashpoints to make her trademark fleshpots. But, just as Johns reveals erotic subject matter on closer examination, a roomful of Yuskavages reveals what you would more likely expect from Johns—meaning of a deeply hermetic sort, much of it linked to formal features. Despite the fact that she is often saddled

  • “Biennial 2000”

    If it’s not one thing, it’s another. The reviews are in: This is the “boring” Biennial. Critics ranging from Michael Kimmelman (the New York Times) to Jerry Saltz (the Village Voice) were lulled into a fitful sleep by the Whitney’s millennial Biennial. Why were such normally tireless lookers unable to keep their eyes open?

    The obvious points are the absence of a theme and a unified curatorial attitude. In addition to their much-remarked geographical distribution, the six curators are individually known for different strengths: formalist sensitivity (Michael Auping); installation art (Hugh Davies);

  • Manifesta 3 and the Lyon Biennale 2000

    WIDESPREAD SNIPING AT MEGA-SHOWS THAT attempt to survey the contemporary moment doesn’t seem to discourage arts organizations from putting them on, but it does make curators careful about setting their parameters. Two big European shows this summer promise (once again) expansive retakes on the familiar conceit. Both rely heavily on a metaphor or theme to embody the “problem” of internationalism; one is suspicious, the other celebratory.

    Manifesta 3, dubbed “Borderline Syndrome: Energies of Defense,” takes place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 23 to September q. Curated by Francesco Bonami, Ole

  • Felix Gonzalez-Torres

    Turning thirty can be traumatic; to celebrate, the Serpentine is throwing a Felix Gonzalez-Torres retrospective. Strategically selective rather than encyclopedic, chief curator Lisa Corrin's exhibition accounts for both architectural and social geographies, emphasizing the public nature of the late artist's work. Billboards will mix it up with his signature unlimited-edition candy spills, stacks, and light pieces in the gallery and at satellite sites throughout the city, including a local hospital, the London Underground, and, more festively, Finsbury Park during Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The

  • The Socia Scene

    Curator Connie Butler has sifted through MOCA's permanent collection and selected more than three hundred documentary photographs from the 1930s through the '80s, including portfolios by Arbus, Brassaï, Frank, Friedlander, Levitt, and Winogrand. Presented for the most part in their originally published sequences, the series are organized according to broad themes, such as Picturing California, the American Scene, Social Studies, and Reframing Nature. A fully illustrated catalogue will include essays by critics Max Kozloff and A.D. Coleman. The show promises some of the most compelling images of