Kevin McGarry

  • diary May 28, 2017

    Guest of a GUESS

    IT HAPPENED IN LA’S AFTERLIFE, last Saturday. After the opening of the Broad, after Sprüth Magers and Hauser & Wirth, and even after some kickback to the fantasy of Los Angeles as art paradise (in small waves of transplanted New Yorkers and others returning east), another seismic contemporary art institution touched down on a heretofore native stretch of Wilshire Boulevard just below the tony flats of Hancock Park.

    Following a three-year renovation, the Marciano Art Foundation opened its doors in the former Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, designed by Millard Sheets, to immediately become one of

  • diary January 31, 2017

    Shadows and FOG

    BEFORE LAST WEEK’S POLITICAL STORM, one of the first art fairs to blow into 2017 was FOG Design + Art Fair in San Francisco. In theme with its atmospherically obstructive name, gale-force winds and torrential rain grounded a spate of incoming flights, among them my own. But as I touched down early the next morning, my phone perked up with tidings of prefair goings-on among local galleries. At my request, I received a pic of artist Nicole Wermers and dealer Jessica Silverman, framed by the clean red lines of a Shiro Kuramata unit whose shelves were loaded with sand in a work by Wermers included

  • the 32nd São Paulo Bienal

    INCERTEZA VIVA means “live uncertainty” in Portuguese. As the title for Jochen Volz’s São Paulo Bienal, this phrase positions the show as the latest in a series of recent, loosely like-minded international exhibitions—from Nicolas Bourriaud’s 2014 Taipei Biennial, “The Great Acceleration,” to Okwui Enwezor’s 2015 Venice Biennale, “All The World’s Futures”—that have variously engaged the topics of eschatology and the Anthropocene. Although the most significant art-historical story of the past decade is the market’s supremacy over all aspects of contemporary art, the urge to intellectualize

  • diary October 18, 2016

    Taking It to the MAAT

    AS THE ECONOMY of the European Union’s arguably mellowest nation falters there are murmurs of a “Departugal” on the horizon. Nevertheless, 2016 seems to be the year that Portugal sashayed onto the runway of contemporary art. In March, a pilot edition of the ArcoLisboa art fair took place at the Fábrica Nacional da Cordoaria in the capital’s Belém neighborhood, and last week the Museu Arte Arquitetura Tecnologia (MAAT) opened just a few meters up the Tagus river. Helmed by Portuguese curator Pedro Gadanho, who left a post at MoMA for this homecoming, the museum is housed in a pair of buildings:

  • Manifesta 11

    I REMEMBER WANDERING DOWN Zurich’s Bahnhofstraße late at night some years ago and thinking that if this was one of the most secure streets I’d ever been on, it was also possibly the most sinister. The flagship private banks interspersed among the avenue’s luxury boutiques looked like Olympian mausoleums. They were groomed, still, and fortified, better rooted into the foundations of neoliberal society than the governments that purportedly regulated them.

    Zurich, the site of this year’s Manifesta, is something of a departure from the exhibition’s previous farther-flung host cities, whose hybridity

  • diary June 12, 2016

    Drag Race

    STEPPING OFF MY FLIGHT from Los Angeles and into Tegel airport, my eyes serendipitously met the Aviator shades of artist-comedienne and fellow Angeleno Casey Jane Ellison. She was delighted to light a cigarette only feet from the arrivals hall. Extinguished, we got a taxi to Mitte while she explained the “Google Roast” she was in town to do, which was Not in the Berlin Biennale. That’s a proper designation for a series of acutely tangential performances and activities planned throughout Berlin this summer, which in fact are organized under the auspices of the DIS-curated ninth edition, #BB9, “

  • the EVA International

    LIMERICK’S EVA INTERNATIONAL dates back to 1977, when it began as an annual exhibition of contemporary works from Ireland and abroad. The show’s curatorial roster would eventually include such luminaries as the Italian art historian Germano Celant (in 1991), the Spanish curator Rosa Martínez (in 2000), and the Chinese curator Hou Hanru (in 2008). In 2012, EVA commenced a schedule of alternating years and rebranded itself with the subtitle “Ireland’s Biennial.” This most recent iteration, EVA’s third as a biyearly event, was curated by Koyo Kouoh, the Basel- and Dakar-based founding director of

  • diary May 12, 2016

    Gold Standards

    ARRIVING IN NICE, I boarded a Tesla driven by a chauffeur who looked like a young Isabelle Huppert wearing a silk pantsuit and a five-hundred-dollar Hermès Kelly bracelet, named for Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco. This principality, the second smallest (after the Vatican) and second most densely populated (after Macau) sovereign state in the world—3/4 square mile holding forty thousand people—was our destination. After thirty minutes of whipping past palm trees lining an immaculate coast road, we finally reached a snarl of Italian sports cars, scaffoldings, and high-rises, upon which my driver

  • 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art: “The Present in Drag”

    A stated theme of the Ninth Berlin Biennale is paradox, and paradoxically, the curators—four Americans collectively called DIS—are much better known for founding an online magazine, a stock images service, and a pop-up artist store hosted by a $6.5-billion-per-annum energy drink corporation than for helming institutionally sanctioned international exhibitions. With more than forty artists, including Ei Arakawa, GCC, Isa Genzken, Camille Henrot, Josh Kline, and Hito Steyerl, we can assume that what unfolds across a menagerie of venues chosen for their “paradessence” (

  • diary April 14, 2016

    Mi Oh Mi

    LANDING IN MILAN LAST WEEK for the twenty-first edition of MiArt, the city seemed lit by a new fire. Had last spring’s opening of the gilded new Fondazione Prada ignited a fresh fervor? Or had the influential galleries enlivening Italy’s financial center simply struck a golden mean between the historic and the contemporary?

    The excitement was more than evident among the crowd at Wednesday’s opening for Carsten Höller’s survey at HangarBicocca, the massive exhibition space in a former Pirelli plant on the far north side of town. I was practically swallowed up by the scores of locals queuing up to

  • diary January 19, 2016

    The Simple Life

    THE SUN NEVER SETS on the international art-fair circuit. In fact, in the southern hemisphere, it blazed down on the first such event of 2016: Este Arte, whose second edition opened a fortnight ago in an abandoned disco a mile or so inland from La Barra, a trendy village thirty minutes up the shore from Punta del Este. 

    Known as the Saint-Tropez of Uruguay, Buenos Aires’s Hamptons, and other glossy—I must say, accurate—blue-blooded superlatives, Punta del Este would seem to have the bare materials for sustaining a small fair: far-flung mystique, perfect weather, and, most important, a seasonal

  • diary December 07, 2015

    Liquid Assets

    ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS happened Thursday morning, something I look forward to all year. It wasn’t the breakfast celebrating Isaac Julien’s collaboration with Rolls Royce at the National YoungArts Foundation or the Alexandre Arrechea Kreëmart project at the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation. It was the naming of Pantone’s 2016 colors of the year: Rose Quartz and an ethereal cornflower blue called Serenity. 

    The announcement is a seemingly simple, top-down decision with massive butterfly effects, like the federal funds rate or the dimensions allowed for a photo posted to Instagram. It was the

  • the 14th Istanbul Biennial

    AS WE RODE a crowded midnight ferry across the Bosphorus strait, forty-eight hours into our frenetic marathon of biennial viewing, one of my most patient and scholarly colleagues cried out in exasperation, “Is there anyone who can tell me what ‘Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms’ means?!” This koan, equal parts Toni Morrison and MIT Press, is the title of the Fourteenth Istanbul Biennial, presented by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts and curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev.

    Part of the answer is a simple matter of historical definition. “Thought-forms” is a concept associated with

  • diary October 21, 2015

    The American Way

    A PERSON FROM GRAND RAPIDS is called a Grand Rapidian. From a coastal vantage, life in the seat of western Michigan is not particularly grand or rapid, but one could argue that its banner civic event, ArtPrize, is both. In just seven years the open-submission contest that places work by more than 1,500 artists everywhere from Main Street to museums to coffee shops, reclaimed buildings, and hotel lobbies has ascended to the number-one position in the Art Newspaper’s annual Big Ticket shows list, which ranks the daily attendance of large-scale exhibitions around the world. With an average of 23,225

  • diary October 07, 2015

    Absolut-ly Fabulous

    GO TO SWEDEN for forty-eight hours? Absolutely! Or should I say: Absolut-ly! The advertising-adept vodka brand is one of the twenty-first century’s most ardent sponsors of contemporary art, and last weekend, the 2015 Absolut Art Award was celebrated in Stockholm with pomp. The two winners, winnowed from a list of five finalists in the categories of art and art writing, were Los Angeles icon Frances Stark and Tate Modern curator Mark Godfrey, whose friends and colleagues united for an outpouring of spectacle, marketing, and, yes, meaning.

    Careening from the airport into Thursday’s welcome dinner,

  • OPENINGS: RACHEL ROSE

    “THE JUNGLE IS BURNING / Zoo animals would die without you / And the degree to which you being here at the zoo means nothing is strong.” The convoluted meter of this line from New York–based artist Rachel Rose’s ten-minute video Sitting Feeding Sleeping, 2013, makes the unevenly Auto-Tuned voice of its speaker seem even more synthetic. If the piece were actually narrated by a computer, I would have zoned out and played with my phone. But rather than Siri’s familiar, stilted affect, this cyborg voice has human inflections. It belongs to Rose, who, despite having finished only three videos to

  • 1000 WORDS: GCC

    THE COLORS are Apple white, Twitter blue, and sand. In a vista of endless dunes, a bipedal pictogram—the type that once served as a modernist icon of universal humanity and now traipses through PowerPoint presentations the world over—is multiplied into a phalanx; an app logo combining a waveform design with the Arabic script for “conference” emerges from a dazzling shrapnel of similar designs; a jigsaw-puzzle piece falls from the sky and locks into its rightful place with a luminous explosion; a veritable mandala of consultant jargon (INDIVIDUALITY MATRIX ALGORITHMS, IDENTITY ENGINEERING)

  • “Experiencia Infinita”

    The first exhibition curated by Agustín Pérez Rubio, therecently appointed artistic director of the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), “Experiencia Infinita” (Infinite Experience) presented a cross section of live works orchestrated by eight of the most curatorially opportune artists of the moment. What all the pieces have in common is what might be called a designed perpetuity. Performers hired by the artists continuously enact their prescribed gestures—whether poetic, visceral, or data-driven—and, in doing so, transform the spaces they inhabit into theatrical

  • “Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty”

    True to the maxim “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” this exhibition will be the most extensive survey to date by New York fixture Marilyn Minter. Gathering more than two dozen paintings made since 1976, the show delves deep into Minter’s oeuvre, past her iconic recent canvases of dolled-up orifices to more abstracted appropriations of vintage photographs and enamels of eroticized food. In the decade since Minter’s work was beamed into pop consciousness via prominent placement in the trashy, coyly satiric soap Gossip Girl, she has continued to ply her seductive,

  • diary March 18, 2015

    Close Encounters

    “IT WILL BE the first time that a vortex to the spirit world has been opened at Art Basel,” Alexie Glass-Kantor, the new curator of the fair’s Hong Kong Encounters section, promised me. “At least deliberately.” This was after we shared a sixteen-hour redeye from New York, in advance of a shamanic blessing planned for the aisles of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center Friday morning, as the finishing touches were being made to the premiere March edition of Asia’s most formidable art fair.

    Thursday was gallery night in the Central district, where the blue-chip dealers opened shows clustered