Kristian Vistrup Madsen

  • Norbert Kricke and Ernst Wilhelm Nay

    What occasioned the painter Ernst Wilhelm Nay’s fall from grace, beginning with attacks published in the newspapers Die Zeit and Der Tagesspiegel in 1964, was not so much his art itself as the immense esteem in which it had been held in the German art scene. It’s been said that in light of Nay’s prominent participation in the first three Documenta exhibitions, for the first two decades after World War II the artist was to Germany what Henry Moore was to England, and what Jackson Pollock was to the United States. An emblem of the old guard, he was considered invincible, but by the 1960s his wholly

  • picks May 11, 2018

    Cosima zu Knyphausen

    Obscuring the windows of the gallery and lending its title to the exhibition, The drapes were light (all works 2018) depicts a life-drawing class attended only by women in bright Victorian dresses. If such a scene ever took place, it did so, like this exhibition, behind drawn curtains. Here, Cosima zu Knyphausen relays an alternative history of female artistry and intimacy in a series of fine ink drawings and paintings that could be described as cute were they not so nonchalantly ballsy.

    With one hand in her pocket and the other one taking a selfie, the figure in Fit mom sets the tone of the

  • diary April 26, 2018

    Regional Delicacies

    “IT’S THE BIGGEST ARTWORK my mother ever bought,” Sabine Langen-Crasemann told me of the Langen Foundation’s Tadao Ando–designed museum space in a field outside Düsseldorf. Her mother sold a 1951 Jackson Pollock to pay for the elegant glass structure, lined with cherry trees. If the parade of luxuriously stalwart Rimowa suitcases at the airport had not made it abundantly clear, we are not in cheaply uncheerful Berlin anymore. Welcome to the Rhineland: the densest landscape of private museums and collectors in Europe.

    At Museum Ludwig on a Tuesday night, as Haegue Yang received the prestigious

  • film April 10, 2018

    Hiding in Plain Sight

    “THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN MY LIFE,” says Ursula Reuter Christiansen in a new interview that’s included in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Denmark, in Copenhagen. The show revolves around her cult classic short film Skarpretteren (The Executioner), 1971, and features related artworks, along with production and archival material. Reuter Christiansen began studying under Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1965, and then left her native Germany in 1970 for a farmhouse on a small Danish island with her husband, the composer Henning Christiansen. “It

  • picks March 12, 2018

    Jonas Lipps

    Going to school means being confronted with a series of possibilities: How might you calculate the slated angle of a roof, review a novel, or paint a picture? Jonas Lipps’s new show of nearly fifty works (mostly untitled and from 2016 to 2018) touches on this theme, not only because many of them directly reference spaces of education but also through their sheer breadth of style. Save for the artist’s remarkably consistent craftsmanship, each piece could be read as the outcome of a different pupil’s absorption of a different lesson; each its own inner world.

    What lines the walls of the gallery

  • interviews February 26, 2018

    Oliver Laric

    Oliver Laric is an Austrian artist based in Berlin. Questioning notions of ownership and originality, he uses 3-D scanning technologies to make historical artworks and other objects available to be copied on his website, Laric’s own ghostly versions of classical and neoclassical statues were exhibited most recently at the Schinkel Pavilion in Berlin. From March 3 to April 14, 2018, he will show new works in the exhibition “Year of the Dog” at Metro Pictures in New York.

    I AM INTERESTED in moving towards uncertainty. My work offers attempts to reinscribe or open up the material

  • picks January 15, 2018

    Stefan Thater

    From the gray Berlin street, one can peer into Stefan Thater’s exhibition like the Little Match Girl into a warm living room. A mix of tusche and oil on paper, Poster Éclair (all works 2017) fills the glass entrance to the gallery with a pock-marked pattern of pale pink, resembling a slide from microbiology or backlit marble. It’s a fantasy of heat that contains all the ambivalence of fire: a nurturing as well as a destructive force.

    The man with the round face alluded to in the show’s title is, we learn, a chimney sweeper—a bearer of luck in German folklore, but also the only person entitled by

  • picks November 06, 2017

    Alice Neel

    In Alice Neel’s paintings there are people and then there are the People. Longshoremen Returning from Work, 1936, shows a streetscape as stage set: figures populating the thoroughfare as the setting sun cuts a cone of light across the pavement. Meanwhile, The Great Society, 1965, from which the exhibition takes its title, shows a bar scene in pale colors, carving the very grain of life into the harrowed faces of a party of drinkers. Much more than representing figures, in this picture Neel has captured spirits.

    Spanning the decades between these two pieces, the other paintings in the show provide

  • diary October 01, 2017

    Liquid Dreams

    “CONGRATULATIONS! IT’S PACKED!” I shouted to Magalie Meunier, assistant curator at Lyon’s Institut d’Art Contemporain (IAC), as we squeezed through the crowd at the opening of the exhibition “Rendez-Vous.”

    The Lyon Biennial, now in its fourteenth edition, is the brainchild of Thierry Raspail, and “Rendez-Vous” is the section that he continues to cocurate. Since 2002, this part of the biennial has been a platform for promoting up-and-coming French artists and their equally dewy international counterparts, invited by the directors of ten biennials across the globe.

    In the courtyard at IAC, this

  • picks September 06, 2017

    Kah Bee Chow

    Kah Bee Chow’s single installation work is titled 海龜, 2017, a pair of Chinese characters that translate to “sea turtle,” as well as a myriad of other things, pointing to the way in which a system of signs is a line of inquiry—here set free to procreate.

    Language is structured according to the principle of family likeness: slowly ramifying through proximity and association. A pattern repeating the Chinese character for “nail” or “shell” dangles from the mezzanine onto the marbled floor. From “shell” grows “shelter,” branching off into “protection” or “care.” Nearby, two curved aluminum screens

  • picks August 11, 2017

    Ester Fleckner

    Like a frustrated poet’s crumpled up sheets of paper, Ester Fleckner’s sculptures litter the floor of the gallery. But where the poet chases perfection, this artist does the opposite: Her concrete polyhedrons twist and turn into bumps of irregular pyramids, as if in defiance of precision.

    Part of a series titled “All Models Are Wrong, Some Are Useful,” 2017, each sculpture was cast from paper models based on the shapes presented in woodcuts on paper, which are installed along the walls. Drawings were transferred to the wood, and their lines are not straight, but bent, even queer. The idiosyncratic

  • picks June 14, 2017

    “The Finger that Shows the Moon Never Moons”

    Amid political turmoil, we might look to the moon to galvanize our struggle for a better present, or simply for aid in leaving it all behind. The exhibition “The Finger that Shows the Moon Never Moons” brings together eight artists along with their drives and escapisms.

    The moon in question might be Renato Leotta’s Aprile, 2017, a disk covered in black volcanic sand hung just above eye level. Flat and unspectacular, the plaster plate is insufficient in representing the celestial body, but it toys with a theatrical register in its willful yet ironic invitation to suspend disbelief. A similar theme

  • picks May 15, 2017

    Kapwani Kiwanga

    The saying “If these walls could talk” naturally implies that they can’t. But Kapwani Kiwanga is of a different mind. Her exhibition challenges the assumed neutrality of interiors in an investigation into the psychology of institutional architecture. A black line 160 centimeters from the floor traces the entire wall of the gallery. According to the hygiene standards of Europe, this marks the height below which walls should be washed in order to prevent the spread of illnesses. Consequently, hospital walls, much like society itself, have been divided into two colors: clean and infected.


  • picks April 26, 2017

    Win McCarthy

    The top of the checklist reads “FOR ASSEMBLY,” as if to suggest that this exhibition of new works by American artist Win McCarthy is a type of instruction manual. McCarthy, like a TV handyman, lays out the materials: a floor display of wooden sticks, a blown-glass mask, a large yellow toy crane, and a collage juxtaposing a photograph of young people with another of a full-size crane, collectively titled “Staging area” (all works 2017). So, what are we assembling?

    Two collages on the wall, January ’17 calendar (Der Fuß des Künstlers) and March ’17 calendar (bits & pieces), would seem to indicate

  • picks March 23, 2017

    Bani Abidi

    In 2014, the Pakistan Sports Board organized a series of competitions in the Punjab region with the intention of winning more world records for the nation. In her video An Unforeseen Situation, 2015, Bani Abidi muses on her country’s efforts by imagining new concepts for such feats, including setting a record for the largest number of people singing Pakistan’s national anthem, and the most walnuts broken with a man’s forehead in one minute. As to whether these events happened, the video seems to question if that matters.

    The work is slick and witty in its simplicity; 150,000 green plastic chairs

  • picks March 02, 2017

    Chto Delat

    Lighthouse (It Is Getting Darker), 2017, is a large wooden lighthouse from which, rather than light, brown banners protrude like cotton rays. The structure connects to a series of small hollow figures, The Memorials for Weak Light, 2017, each lit up from within in commemoration of individuals who died as a result of ongoing struggles against fascism across the world. This exhibition by Chto Delat, a Russian collective of academics, activists, and writers whose name translates to “What should be done,” seems to answer their namesake question with this simple metaphor: Stare into the darkness,

  • picks February 20, 2017

    Alfredo Jaar

    In a constant flood of images, the impact of a single picture, however severe, is often immediately overridden. In his installation Shadows, 2014, Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar challenges this tendency by taking one image and letting it dominate a space with the intensity of a feeling, or a beating heart. He chose a photograph by Dutch photojournalist Koen Wessing taken in 1978 in Nicaragua, where, after forty-one years, the US-allied military dictatorship in the country was coming to an end. In the final violent convulsions of the regime, Wessing’s lens captured two women whose father had just

  • picks January 26, 2017

    Hanne Darboven and Charlotte Posenenske

    This joint exhibition of works by Hanne Darboven and Charlotte Posenenske restages the gallery’s second-ever show, from 1967, to mark its fiftieth anniversary. The pieces here, however, are not exactly the same as they were then, nor could they be. Posenenske’s “Vierkantrohre Serie DW” (Square Tubes, DW Series), 1967, a square ventilation shaft made out of corrugated cardboard, edges through the room like an awkward animal. The arrangement of its parts is left up to the gallery with every installation, thereby engaging in that impossible strategy of using formalism as a radical gesture within

  • picks January 16, 2017

    Aykan Safoğlu

    “There won’t be a certain white-balance setting for this film,” a soft-spoken Aykan Safoğlu narrates in Turkish as the malfunctioning camera struggles to find focus in Off-White Tulips, 2013, a video essay that uses the years James Baldwin spent in Istanbul––the artist’s birthplace––in the 1960s to explore a range of identity-based political questions. The voice-over addresses Baldwin directly: “You felt more comfortable here as a black man. You felt less oppressed.” A small bouquet of off-white tulips is placed onto a brown surface along with tasteful shifting formations of photographs, patterns,

  • picks November 21, 2016

    Andreas Johnen

    In Andreas Johnen’s show, the title “What You See Is What You Get!” rings true, but one has to look very closely. The German artist’s exhibition of watercolors from the past six years at first appears to be a simple display of abstract shapes and monochromes. However, as an extension of Johnen’s sculptural practice, the works achieve an almost three-dimensional quality. Two large untitled watercolors are composed of up to 140 layers which were allowed to spread across the surface of the paper according to the angle at which they were left to dry or which were guided by temporary tape and plastic