Kristian Vistrup Madsen

  • Alexander Calder, Têtes et queue, 1965, sheet metal, bolts, paint, 216 1/2 x 185 x 130". Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie © 2021 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Stephanie von Becker.
    diary August 24, 2021

    Neue Normal

    WINDSWEPT AND SOAKING WET, I took a seat on a Barcelona chair. Around me wall text was still emerging from behind sheets of protective plastic, and a bright red crane extended to fix a light in the ceiling. I’d been circling the expansive terrace of Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie for a while, searching for a way into Mies van der Rohe’s immense glass box, which is finally reopening after a six-year overhaul led by David Chipperfield architects. Amid the rainstorm, the building’s inhuman proportions and impossibly clean lines seemed alienating and defiant. A huge, newly polished Henry Moore

  • David Ostrowski, F (Taylor Swift), 2020, acrylic and lacquer on canvas and wood, 16 1⁄8 × 12 1⁄8".

    David Ostrowski

    Imagine earnestness in a painting. It’s not pretty. Or maybe it is, actually, and that’s the problem: It’s kitsch. With the group of new, modestly sized works on view in the exhibition “So kalt kann es nicht sein/It can’t be that cold,” David Ostrowski appeared to have miraculously circumvented this impasse. The battered objects were gray, heavily layered and textured—some with collage elements barely discernible through the paint—and each titled with the artist’s customary “F” (which stands for what you think it does) followed by the name, in parentheses, of a prominent pop-music act (Toni

  • Övül Ö. Durmusoglu and Jörn Schafaff with a work by Rirkrit Tiravanija. Photo: Die Balkone.
    diary May 08, 2021

    Computer Love

    ON A WEDNESDAY NIGHT, during Berlin Gallery Weekend’s mostly digitized preview days, Hannes Schmidt of Schiefe Zähne and I were about thirtieth in the queue for chili cheese fries, which we were to bring back to the gallery where Richard Sides was putting finishing touches on “The Matrix,” an exhibition he made about being immersed in a technological world of uncertain boundaries. The show includes a crude cardboard homage to Spot, a robot dog offered by Boston Dynamics to the tune of $75,000. Killing time during the long wait for provisions—facing a 10 p.m. curfew, most of the nearby restaurants

  • The Humbolt Forum in Berlin. SHF © Photo: Christoph Musiol.
    architecture March 16, 2021

    Grand Facades

    “DARLING, AT A CERTAIN POINT ONE MUST STOP BITCHING and get to work,” Detlef Weitz told me when we met at a sun-showered Humboldt Forum shortly before Christmas. He had a point. My bad-mouthing the reconstructed Baroque Royal Palace had stopped being interesting. For years, every mention of the project has sparked animated discussions of the sort where each statement lights a fire under the next, resulting in extraordinary conflagrations of fury. In that way, the Humboldt Forum is a bit like Donald Trump or Brexit: I don’t know a single person who thought it was a good idea. Yet here it is, 766

  • Malmberget, Norrbotten County, Sweden. All photos by author.
    diary December 02, 2020

    On and On and On

    ERIK MET ME for dinner in Stockholm, where I had a few hours to kill before my night train north. We sat alone in the large and self-consciously old-fashioned restaurant in the central station while a second wave of Covid-19 ravaged the Swedish capital. Unlike in Germany, establishments—and, crucially for my visit, exhibitions—remain open here. Throughout the pandemic, the state has declined to enforce the use of masks and social distancing, appealing instead to people’s sense of civic responsibility to control the virus, though the government is now reconsidering this strategy. “It sounded

  • film November 11, 2020

    Dance Dance Revelation

    I TRAVELED TO SEE Jeremy Shaw’s Phase Shifting Index, 2020, at the Frankfurter Kunstverein after I’d had my “mind blown”—I keep describing it that way—by his Quantification Trilogy, 2014–18, currently on view at the Julia Stoschek Collection in Berlin, where Shaw is based. For nearly two decades, the Vancouver-born artist has made work that very much sets out to blow your mind while also thematizing mind-blowing as such. His 2004 video DMT shows close-ups of people’s faces as they come up on the psychedelic drug and try to describe what it feels like. This Transition Will Never End, 2008–, also

  • Rirkrit Tiravanija, Morgen Ist die Frage (Tomorrow Is the Question) at Berghain. All photos: Kristian Vistrup Madsen.
    diary September 16, 2020

    Rave New World

    “THE DANCE FLOOR is so much smaller than I remember.” This is the main feedback you’ll hear from visitors to the recently opened Boros x Berghain exhibition that fills Berlin’s old power plant–cum–legendary nightclub until it’s safe for techno-heads and leather-gays to return to their natural habitat. It used to take hours to get from one end to the other, or so it seemed. Now a small, wonderful Andro Wekua painting lends the space an almost domestic atmosphere. One of Anna Uddenberg’s mannequin sculptures humps the counter in the upstairs Panorama Bar; Sandra Mujinga’s tall hooded figures lurk

  • View of “Georges Adéagbo,” 2020.

    Georges Adéagbo

    Georges Adéagbo is a one-trick artist. But the outcome of that trick is endlessly variable. His method consists of making assemblages of objects: mostly books, magazines, newspaper articles, record covers, and wooden sculptures, but also the occasional pair of underwear. These items are pinned to the wall, as in a teenager’s bedroom, with what looks like a contrived messiness: Everything’s askew, with no apparent relation between one thing and another. So open does Adéagbo’s structure appear that for a second you might think you can just pick anything up, perhaps even take it home. But then it

  • Sarah Theurer, Catherine Wang, Amadeo Kraupa-Tuskany and Nadine Zeidler.
    diary May 06, 2020

    Hello Again

    IT’S BERLIN GALLERY WEEKEND, or week seven of corona quarantine, which means face masks are obligatory on public transport and in shops, and I’m busy with the third volume of Proust and how-tos for making schnitzel zu Hause. Meanwhile, leaving the house is the new Instagram: potentially bad for your health, but a great source of affirmation, where sanitary salutations—foot and elbow pumps—accumulate like Likes. “We are walking on thin ice,” reminded Mutti Merkel as galleries started reopening last week. But everyone is so happy to see you. At Galerie Barbara Weiss, Bärbel Trautwein and Daniel

  • Andreas Eriksson, Window 10, 2019, monotype, 44 1⁄2 × 28 3⁄4".

    Andreas Eriksson

    “Nite Flights” is a 1978 song by the Walker Brothers. It describes nocturnal journeys as having “only one promise / only one way to fall,” and the darkness as “dug up by dogs.” “Nite Flights,” 2019, is also the title of a new series of paintings by the Swedish artist Andreas Eriksson, and of his most recent exhibition. The paintings, which are quite murky, feature blotches of dimmed greens, reds, and purples reminiscent of landscapes seen through the window of an airplane at night. Eriksson achieves his own kind of dug-up darkness by allowing a thick layer of oil to respond negatively to the

  • Alex Katz, Light Landscape 2, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York/Rome.
    diary April 03, 2020

    Retreat Yourself

    THE QUARANTINI IS THE DRINK OF THE MOMENT. It’s just like a martini, except you have it alone. The Californian pop star Lauv, by the sound of it, has been downing quarantinis for a while. His is a songbook of solitary anguish, with titles such as “f*ck, i’m lonely,” “Lonely Eyes,” and “Sad Forever.” Take the chorus for “Modern Loneliness,” the lead single for the twenty-five-year-old’s new album, released a couple weeks ago: “We’re never alone / But always depressed / Love my friends to death / But I never call and I never text.” Lauv might just have missed the mark on this one: Now, many of us

  • St. Bernard. Photo: Kristian Vistrup Madsen.
    diary February 06, 2020

    Last Resort

    TO GET TO THE ALPINE VILLAGE OF VERBIER, I cabbed to the airport at five in the morning, flew to Geneva, and from there took the train two hours along the north side of Lac Léman. Then I transferred to a smaller train for another half hour before catching a ski lift into the clouds. This trek was thrilling at first—magical, really—and, finally, somewhat absurd, given that this year’s Verbier Art Summit is titled “Resource Hungry: On Our Cultured Landscape and Its Ecological Impact.” I had come solely to attend this event—for which the Dia Foundation’s Jessica Morgan had asked an array of artists,