Laura Owens

  • Jeff Koons, Lobster (detail), 2003, polychromed aluminum, steel chain, 57 7/8 × 37 × 17 1/8". From the series “Popeye,” 2002–

    Laura Owens

    I HAVE ALWAYS been stunned by the way my eyes move across the surface of a work by Jeff Koons without ever finding a point to stop. I once met a beyond-good-looking, possibly reworked (it was that good), hypersymmetrical male model, and the experience was similar. There was nothing for your eye to hang on to, no mole or misaligned tooth. It was like passing through a visual cloud of perfume. I kept thinking about how hard it is to erase all the details, for no one part of the whole to be odd or noticed. Maybe it is the precision detailing, the thousand hours of labor and scrutiny that go into

  •  Paul McCarthy, WS, 2013, mixed media. Installation view. Photo: James Ewing.

    Paul McCarthy’s WS at the Park Avenue Armory

    FOR MANY, Paul McCarthy’s WS, 2013, seems to have said too much. Routinely described as disturbing, oversize, and overwhelming, the eight-thousand-square-foot film set/sculpture featured walls of multichannel projections culled from more than 350 hours of filmed performances shot in the centerpiece of the exhibition, a Disney-like forest containing a replica of the artist’s childhood home. But the overly familiar and worn conversations we are having about the show—about its excess, its scale, its repulsion, its clownishness—bespeak the same limitations as the cultural archetypes and

  • Odilon Redon, Domecy Decoration: Trees, Yellow Background, 1901, oil, distemper, 94 5/8 x 72 7/8".


    To take stock of the past year, Artforum contacted an international group of artists to find out which exhibitions and events were, in their eyes, the very best of 2011.


    Mary Reid Kelley, Sadie the Saddest Sadist (Armory Show, New York) Tucked away in the back of the Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects booth at the 2011 Armory Show was a monitor showing a costumed figure with exaggerated face paint, pacing in front of a hand-drawn black-and-white background. The piece was Mary Reid Kelley’s Sadie the Saddest Sadist, 2009, and the mixed metaphors, narrative snippets, and repurposed