Libby Lumpkin

  • Dan Flavin

    The West Texas town of Marfa is a dusty, one-traffic-light, Last Picture Show sort of place located sixty miles north of the border on the grassy, high plain known as El Despoblado: the uninhabited place. After the cavalry abandoned the local fort in the 1940s, few had reason to travel there, at least until Donald Judd settled in Marfa in the early ’70s. Inspired by the light-and-space ambience, he established what came to be called the Chinati Foundation as an alternative to New York City’s exhibition venues. If you are among the pilgrims who have made the trek to the foundation without benefit

  • Robert Gober in Venice

    MANY ARTISTS HAVE VENI'D TO VENICE in recent years, but few have vinci'd (and that includes a few who took home golden lions). So the announcement that Robert Gober has been selected to represent the US at the forty-ninth Venice Biennale, which opens next June, comes as welcome news. The Hirshhorn's Olga Viso (US Pavilion cocurator with James Rondeau of the Art Institute of Chicago) remarks, “Few living artists sustain such deep admiration and respect. The resounding support from the art community confirms that he is the right artist at the right time.”

    Indeed, Gober's first all-new site-specific

  • Van Gogh: Face to Face

    Van Gogh sublimated his feelings in colorful, lively surfaces that fit less readily with animate human personality than with the inanimate still life or landscape. Although his reputation does not rest on the portraits, they never reduce to type or fail to speak of human dignity. The self-portraits are mesmerizing studies in the contradictory impulses of artistic confidence and personal despair. This rare opportunity to see some seventy of van Gogh's portrait drawings and paintings, brought together by the three sponsoring institutions, should not be missed. Mar. 12–June 4; Museum of Fine Arts,

  • “Matisse and Picasso: A Gentle Rivalry”

    Art historians have long debated the extent of Matisse’s influence on Picasso. In this exhibition, Yve-Alain Bois rejects the very question of influence, at least in any normative sense, and instead recasts the relationship as a complex dialogue—an aesthetic chess match—between two grand masters, focusing on the strategic moves made from 1930 until shortly after Matisse’s death in 1954. Drawing on a variety of critical models—from Bakhtin’s “active understanding” to Bloom’s “misprision” and “daemonization”—Bois tellingly pairs more than 100 paintings, sculptures, and works

  • Joel Shapiro

    Why do the most memorable moments in abstract art so often occur in works where a trace of the figural lingers? Is it simply that the familiarity of a code provides a coordinate of stability, enabling formal invention while rendering it legible? No one appreciates this little truth more than sculptor Joel Shapiro, who has spent three decades elaborating a rudimentary figural repertoire—stick men and everyday icons—with a formal precocity on which, it seems increasingly apparent, his reputation will stand or fall. How might history judge Shapiro's achievement?The long view will doubtless

  • Maria Lassnig

    “The body gets in the, way,” the Austrian painter Maria Lassnig once said; our corporeal selves are heavy and lethargic, our thoughts light. For the last four decades, Lassnig’s art has been animated by this familiar anxiety. Her métier is the self-portrait, though her representations—ever evocative, at times ironic—are not always immediately discernable as such. Institutional recognition has been slow to come to this artist, but, at long last Lassnig is honored with a retrospective on the occasion of her eightieth birthday. Wolfgang Drechsler brings together approximately 100 works

  • Yayoi Kusama

    When Yayoi Kusama arrived in New York from Japan in 1958, at age twenty—nine, she had a single purpose: to become a world—famous artist. She did not become one, strictly speaking, but she did have her fifteen minutes. From 1961 to 1968 she achieved notoriety working in a wide variety of media and developing the basic idioms that have characterized her art to this day. “Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama, 1958–1968,” organized by Lynn Zelevansky of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Laura Hoptman of the Museum of Modern Art (where it remains on view until September 22), is the first

  • Aleksandr Rodchenko

    Aleksandr Rodchenko rejected the introspective mysticism of Suprematism and envisioned a future shaped by artist-engineers and proletarian consumers. It didn't happen, and today his sharp graphic ads for cigarettes and beer are wildly at odds with our vision of the worker-as-victim-of-consumerism; his brilliantly composed advertisements for the state are compromised by the fact that the happy workers he portrays are all too often forced laborers, and his utopian ideals proved sounder in theory than practice. Still, Rodchenko remains a sentimental favorite. In this show of 318 works, organized

  • Charles Ray

    Along with artists such as Robert Gober and Katharina Fritsch, Charles Ray has salvaged the tradition of crafted, figurative sculpture by radically reconstituting the three-dimensional object as “image.” Ray’s tact has been to conflate a perception-oriented strain of Minimalism with elements of Pop, then to temper this strange alloy with his own unique version of object-relations psychology. Organized by MoCA chief curator Paul Schimmel, this midcareer retrospective of Ray’s quirky oeuvre should allow the logic of the artist’s development to unfold, offering a definitive look at the new, peculiarly

  • Alexander Calder: 1898–1976

    For a while, in the ’50s and ’60s, it seemed that Calder’s buoyant, often giant-size sculptures made of flat, colorful sheets of metal would multiply until they adorned every airport terminal and bank lobby in the Western world. His was the perfect formula for public-sculpture success: decorative fun disguised as high-minded abstraction. Since these days younger artists are lightheartedly colonizing (as opposed to solemnly deconstructing) Modernist abstraction, this show may be perfectly timed. On the other hand, with the refined complexities offered by Ellsworth Kelly’s recent retrospective

  • 100 Years of Sculpture

    Surveying the last 100 years of art by medium is a bit like a survey by national origin—after midcentury such categories are pretty arbitrary. In the case of sculpture, which seems to subsume everything that isn’t flat—and some things that are—the problem is monumental indeed. The Walker show proposes three overriding issues: the evolution of the pedestal, the Conceptualist and Minimalist trend, and the emergence of sculpture as social discourse. Organized by chief curator Richard Flood, the exhibition culminates with “Sculpture on Site,” a section devoted to works by local artists who focus on

  • Robert Gober

    Robert Gober took four years to make his new untitled installation at the Geffen Contemporary, two to think it, two to craft it. The result doesn’t so much exceed expectations as it utterly defeats them. Nothing here is quite what you would expect—of Robert Gober, or of contemporary art.

    Just to begin, Gober’s piece reinstitutes the tradition of the grand narrative summation. Such summations rarely constitute an artist’s best work, strained, as they often are, under the weight of definitive answers, defensive posturing, or high purpose: Gustave Courbet’s The Artist’s Studio, Paul Gauguin’s Where

  • Picabia: The Late Work

    It’s nice seeing ninety of these “bad paintings” together for the first time, but one wonders about curators Karin Klussmann and Zdenek Felix’s agenda—to establish the later Picabia as an anti-Modernist/Postmodernist pioneer—since Picabia swings both ways, always. In these late paintings, he embraces and mocks twentieth-century classicism, kitschy Hollywood nudes, and modernist abstraction—aspires to essentialist musical vibration and quintessential bad taste—as the mood strikes. Such incongruities constitute the shoal on which all theories of intentionality must founder, leaving us to ponder