Kristin M. Jones

  • Jean Cocteau

    “The muses must be represented in attitudes of waiting,” wrote Jean Cocteau, whose compulsion to continue producing even in the absence of inspiration perhaps helps explain how the artistry of his writing and films coexisted with the repetitive, facile elegance of much of his work on paper. An example of one of his kitschier drawings might be a depiction of a fluidly limned classical head, embellished by stars and flourishes or accompanied by lines of poetry. Such works are utterly lacking in formal rigor, but as with the statue played by Lee Miller in Cocteau’s first film, Le Sang d’un Poète

  • Luther Price

    In 1989, over two decades after Kenneth Anger published his own death notice in The Village Voice, Boston sculptor and filmmaker Luther Price staged the suicide-by-candy-overdose of his artistic persona Tom Rhoads, paving the way for a similar creative rebirth. Reflecting many such shifts in a multifaceted career (whose resemblance to Anger’s extends beyond a tendency toward extravagant gestures to an inspired use of mass culture references), Price’s recent show, “Imitation of Life,” contained photographs, objects, videos, and a number of the Super-8 films he began crafting in the mid-’80s after

  • Andy Warhol

    Marilyn Monroe’s 1962 suicide reverberates not only in the serial “Marilyn” paintings Andy Warhol began making days afterward. Her death also echoes through all his movies featuring tinsel-haired Factory angel Edie Sedgwick—ending appropriately enough with Lupe, 1965, in which the drug-addled Superstar imitates the “Seconal suicide” of ’40s star Lupe Velez, eerily anticipating her own Hollywood Babylon-style overdose.

    As spectacularly beautiful as it is a fascinating spectacle, Warhol’s spatially dynamic and dramatically lit film-and-video portrait of Sedgwick, Outer and Inner Space, 1965, is

  • Tunga

    As a loop of 16-mm film winds like a haunted model train around a darkened room and through a projector, the projected image shows an endless journey through a curved tunnel outside of Rio de Janeiro. It was fitting that this installation, Ão, 1981, opened the first North American retrospective of work by Tunga, because it merges seamlessly with the intricate, punning narrative that spirals through the Brazilian artist’s oeuvre. A fictional accident inside the tunnel seen in the film, for example, is woven into the network of fantastic events in one of the artist’s published texts.

    Despite the

  • Peggy Ahwesh

    An irreverent mix of work by artists ranging from Pier Paolo Pasolini to the Electric Prunes, Peggy Ahwesh’s series “Girls Beware” was a retrospective of sorts, but one in which she juxtaposed her own work with film, video, and audio pieces that have inspired her over the years. This approach was particularly appropriate, since Ahwesh’s multilayered films and videos deploy a variety of materials, genres, narrative modes, and appropriative strategies. She often favors fugitive genres: for example, her “microcultural studies of friends and family”—such as Martina’s Playhouse (1989), The Pittsburgh

  • “Young and Restless”

    When Jean-Luc Godard showed producers a rough cut of his film Le Mépris (Contempt, 1963), featuring megastar Brigitte Bardot, they were aghast to find the film devoid of nudity and demanded scenes with “BB” in the buff. Godard complied but used distancing devices that included colored filters. While heightening the spectator’s awareness of Bardot’s status as a commodity—a status echoed in the film’s tragic narrative—the filters also rendered her body an integral part of a color scheme at once hypermodern and classical. Based on Contempt, Cheryl Donegan’s Line, 1996, does not, the artist maintains,

  • Annette Messager

    In a month when valentines seem ubiquitous, Annette Messager presented a visceral antidote to those cheesy emblems of false feeling with her heart-shaped installation Dépendence/lndépendence, 1995–97. Entering through the heart’s shadowy edges, one brushed past hundreds of objects strung on single strands of bright yarn: cloth effigies; items packed into fishnet or plastic bags; framed photographs of body parts and children’s grimacing faces; soft-sculpture limbs, bodily organs, and amorphous shapes; wigs; doll clothes; stockings; mirrors; numbered placards; and other talismans.

    Damp with so much

  • Ken Jacobs

    Ken Jacobs reduces cinema to its essential ingredients, creating “film-performances” that are at once seductive and radically disorienting. A veteran Modernist who studied painting with Hans Hofmann before becoming a filmmaker, Jacobs is best known for influential avant-garde works such as Blonde Cobra, 1958–63—which reworked footage from an unfinished film starring Jack Smith—and Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son, 1969, an extended, revelatory examination of a ten-minute 1905 film from the Edison studios based on a nursery rhyme. The making of Tom, Tom (which Jacobs described as “a frantic dig to and

  • Julio Galán

    Julio Galán’s paintings, no matter what their subject matter, inevitably conjure female medieval mystics—their copious tears, their silence, and their mouths, tasting of honey at the moment of union with the longed-for body of Christ. Although his work has often been compared to that of Frida Kahlo, with which it does share compelling affinities, Kahlo’s work is essentially secular, rooted in the agony of daily existence. Galan’s, however, is driven by a profound and transfiguring sensual disturbance.

    The dark undercurrent in Galán’s work—in the past he has specifically referenced the

  • Focus: Gregory J. Markopoulos

    For those familiar with the peculiar history of Gregory Markopoulos’ cinema, to view one of his shimmering, complex films, with their elusive themes of memory, desire, and creativity, is to grapple with the knowledge that the work itself may be on the verge of slipping from their grasp. Rarely seen and nearly forgotten, Markopoulos’ films were once compared to the works of Joyce, Proust, and Eisenstein. In certain circles they have assumed the weight of legend: Stan Brakhage, in a lecture held in conjunction with the Whitney’s recent retrospective, spoke for many in the audience when he remarked

  • Guillermo Kuitca

    Guillermo Kuitca has said on more than one occasion that he is “looking for reality,” but the one his maps, interior scenes, and floor plans ultimately point to is psychic rather than physical. Two of the works in his recent show “Puro Teatro” (Pure theater) featured a favorite trope, a spectral, stagelike space littered with furniture, but a series of 13 theater plans with numbered seats dominated the rest of the gallery. Suggesting waiting, watching, and reflection, the theater plans privileged time over space—one imagined a ghostly audience anticipating the end or beginning of a performance.

  • Bruce Conner

    For Bruce Conner, it seems, esthetic boundaries are like so many sliding walls in a conjurer’s box: not only has he worked in a range of media with equal fluency, but the repetition in his collages and drawings suggests an amorphous expansion; his found-footage films seem to bleed at the edges; and his assemblages are so loosely conceived that even those that are now decades old and caked with dust seem extraordinarily immediate—even fresh. In 1968 P. Adams Sitney noted in Visionary Film, his seminal book on American avant-garde cinema, that Conner is a “master of the ambivalent attitude; it is

  • Hans Bellmer

    Though 63 years have passed since Hans Bellmer created the first of his two disarticulated dolls, or poupées, they remain difficult to describe. “The body,” he wrote, “resembles a sentence which seems to invite us to dismember it into its component letters, so that it will reveal in an endless row of anagrams the reality that it contains.” Photographed in dizzying recombinations and occasionally tinted to heighten an already tense eroticism, the poupées are frozen at a point of intense desire and profound damage—at once fluid and immobile, female and male, suggestive of both disintegration and

  • Sally Mann

    Naked Jessie dazzles as a rapt Shiva crouched in a brook; the coiled braids on the back of her head in Vinland, 1992, are as freighted with significance as a moody blur of trees in the distance. In At Warm Springs, 1991, Virginia immerses herself in water and pretends to be a severed head, her fine hair snaking out around a tiny face that barely clears the surface and seems to float in a medallion of light. She resembles a gorgon, but her eyes are closed—her gaze is directed inward, rendering her an interior presence, a benign, canny spirit, rather than a harbinger of destruction. This symbolic