Leora Maltz-Leca


    I paint because I am a dirty woman.

    (Painting is a messy business.)

    I paint because I like to be bought and sold.

    —Marlene Dumas, “Women and Painting” (1993)

    MARLENE DUMAS LIKES TO TALK DIRTY. She quips about foreplay with her paintings, muses on the similarities between artists and hookers, and insists: “There are no virgins here.”¹ In this last instance, she is referring to the fact that her subjects are mostly recycled from photographs, but her lineup of sluts and hookers, Magdalenas and Miss Januarys, equally fleshes out her claim. Time and again, Dumas has included herself among her tarty

  • interviews August 24, 2010

    Sokari Douglas Camp

    To commemorate Britain’s bicentennial of the abolition of slavery, London-based sculptor Sokari Douglas Camp was commissioned to produce a major public art work. Here, she discusses her forthcoming project for London’s Burgess Park, All the World is Now Richer, a collection of six bronze figures.

    I ORIGINALLY MADE this work for London’s Hyde Park; it was submitted in a competition to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the abolition of slavery. In the end, I lost the commission to another artist. Not long after, though, I had an exhibition at London’s Wallspace and was fortunate in that

  • picks March 20, 2010

    “Starburst: Color Photography in America: 1970–1980”

    “I photograph in color because the world is in color,” Eve Sonneman declared in 1976. Such a statement presented color photography as a near tautology––as exquisitely self-evident. But it also addressed an art world where the medium was understood as black-and-white. So argues this exhibition, which charts the fraught and uneven emergence of chromatic photography in the 1970s. While black-and-white images were seen as artful translations of the world––and hence cerebral abstractions of it––Sonneman’s comment captured a desire for an artless empiricism that several early color photographers toyed

  • picks February 11, 2010

    “Dada South: Experimentation, Radicalism, Resistance”

    Dada has long exemplified the utopian transnationalism of the early avant-gardes. But such internationalism has rarely departed from Europe and the well-traveled trans-Atlantic route to the United States. This landmark exhibition relocates Dada south––way south––traveling past West Africa and down to the tip of the continent. From this unprecedented vantage, curators Roger van Wyk and Kathryn Smith uncover key points of contact between the European Dadaists and Africa, such as Sophie Taueber-Arp’s likely familiarity with Zulu beadwork and Richard Huelsenbeck’s book Afrika in Sicht (1928), for

  • picks February 01, 2010

    “The Marks We Make”

    In “The Marks We Make,” the drawn line is out for a walk. This group exhibition catches the mobile medium in an exploded field, framing the mark expansively as a cognitive and spatial mapping, as well as wrinkles of the self or furrows in the landscape. Having decisively wandered off the sheet of paper, drawing now dribbles down walls and flies through space. Belinda Blignaut’s Cinderella Is Pissed, 2010, performs the former operation in a projectile spew of pink chewing gum and spit, while William Kentridge’s sculptural maquette, Construction for Return (Conductor), 2008, has evicted part of

  • picks November 16, 2009

    Peter Sacks

    Text spills across the surfaces of Peter Sacks’s paintings, wandering back and forth across mountains of paint, fabric, lace, and fishing net. In Necessity 12, 2008–2009, Sacks’s handwritten transcriptions of R. F. Scott’s Antarctic journal unspool like footprints in the snow or swim through cobalt depths in spiraling streams. In other paintings, language is more muscular, marching down the canvas in long, even rows of inky letters. Here, text bleeds into textile, as words are tattooed on cream linen undergarments that have been wheedled and scrunched through Sacks’s typewriter. Words stack into

  • picks November 03, 2009

    Damián Ortega

    Damián Ortega practices a sculpture of ingenious dis-engineering and gentle explosions. In it, the laws of physics––motion and rest, gravity and centrifugal forces––function as compositional devices, tentatively cohering objects into an aesthetics of suspense. Energy coils out of these works: Witness the drunken spinning of Union-Separation, 2000; the tumbling, clattering release of falling bricks in Nine Types of Terrain, 2007; and the painfully slow unfurling of a golf ball’s insides in Liquid Center, 1997. Sometimes dynamism remains incipient, sucking in its breath and holding gravity at bay

  • David Goldblatt

    SERENADING THE QUOTIDIAN has always been David Goldblatt’s forte. He pries away the surface of the ordinary and pushes his audience to do the same. Dissatisfied with the spuriousness of easy conclusions—and having thus long eschewed the didactic aesthetics of South Africa’s resistance-era documentary tradition—Goldblatt refuses the drama of the clash for the stifled pain of its aftermath. And it is the toxic residues of apartheid that linger in his ongoing Intersections project: a corpus of large-format color photographs from the past decade that probe crosscurrents of peoples, values, and ideas.

  • picks October 15, 2009

    Kirsten Hassenfeld

    Paper gains mass and volume in Kirsten Hassenfeld’s exhibition of recent sculpture: It shimmers and swirls in the low-lit gallery at David Winton Bell, drawing the viewer into a luminescent world of alabaster baubles and dangling airy chains. Part Aladdin’s cave and part dollhouse, Hassenfeld’s sumptuous installation Dans la Lune (In the Moon), 2007, is constructed entirely of paper that has been cut, folded, rolled, and glued to form suspended sculptures that call to mind enormous snowflakes magnified to reveal their crystalline structure or massive lanterns strung with rivers of pearls.

  • picks October 02, 2009

    Hank Willis Thomas

    Moving seamlessly across media, Hank Willis Thomas’s meticulously crafted works employ the formal language of late Minimalism to produce graphic, historically steeped meditations on imaging blackness in America today. The exhibition’s strongest moment, a series of twenty canvases titled “I AM A MAN,” 2009, typifies Thomas’s modus operandi of trawling through the archives of American literature, visual culture, and advertising for source material: in this case, Ernest Wither’s famous 1968 photograph of striking sanitation workers all bearing signs with their iconic, eponymous message. Forming a

  • picks August 16, 2009

    Guy Tillim

    Once a street photographer who sought to capture the violence of the moment in African cities like Johannesburg, Guy Tillim now seeks the richer, if more muted spaces of the lull between: the suspended pause of the before and the endless silence of the aftermath. He has turned, too, from documenting the physical dramas of the street to tracking an apparition down “an avenue of dreams,” as he puts it. In this exhibition, it is the specter of Patrice Lumumba that he is chasing, and the shattered trails of Lumumba’s dreams that Tillim seeks in the streets across Africa that bear his name.

    In complex