Mark Godfrey

  • “Uh-Oh: Frances Stark 1991–2015”

    From her celebrated video My Best Thing, 2011, to recent works integrating her Instagram posts, Frances Stark has been exploring the kinds of relationships that might spark up between an artist and strangers, whether on far-flung continents or in nearby LA neighborhoods that can feel just as distant. Entwining her personal circumstances with her works in ways that feel necessary (and never spectacular or crudely confessional), Stark presents a new model of what it means to be an artist today. This hometown survey will include Stark’s projections and videos along with her

  • Melvin Edwards and Frank Bowling in Dallas

    “THIS EXHIBITION is devoted to commitment,” wrote curator Robert Doty in the catalogue for the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1971 survey “Contemporary Black Artists in America.” He continued, “It is devoted to concepts of self: self-awareness, self-understanding and self-pride—emerging attitudes which, defined by the idea ‘Black is beautiful,’ have profound implications in the struggle for the redress of social grievances.” In fact, the Whitney’s own commitment to presenting the work of African American artists might not have been as readily secured without the prompting of an activist

  • 1000 WORDS: ANRI SALA

    FOR ANRI SALA, sound has always functioned as both an expressive medium and a register of memory, hauntingly subject to erasure. In the work for which Sala first garnered acclaim, the 1998 video Intervista, silence is the sensory analogue of historical amnesia, a condition the artist seeks to reverse, specifically by trying to find, and later re-creating, the lost sound track of a reel of 16-mm footage showing his mother speaking at an Albanian Communist rally, circa 1977. Since then, the artist has produced a series of videos in which sound becomes a means through which to investigate the

  • STATEMENTS OF INTENT: THE ART OF JACQUELINE HUMPHRIES, LAURA OWENS, AMY SILLMAN, AND CHARLINE VON HEYL

    LIKE A SOCIALIST INVESTMENT BANKER, a painter in a top MFA program circa 1990 was something of a living contradiction in terms. It’s no coincidence, argues curator MARK GODFREY, that artists JACQUELINE HUMPHRIES, LAURA OWENS, AMY SILLMAN, and CHARLINE VON HEYL all got their starts as renegade practitioners of gestural abstraction in the poststudio atmosphere that prevailed a quarter century ago. Challenging their own educations as well as the gendered connotations of their chosen field, Humphries, Owens, Sillman, and von Heyl established resistant positions poised between authenticity and appropriation. Here, Godfrey looks at the commonalities that unite his subjects, proposing that an adroit “fakery” of gesture and a new engagement with composition, agency, intention, and other erstwhile taboos inform the practices of all four painters—and have made them central to the art of today.

    BAD EDUCATION

    IN 1986, when she was a student in the famously theory-driven Whitney Independent Study Program, the artist Jacqueline Humphries presented a group of her abstract paintings to visiting professor Yvonne Rainer and received a silent shrug in response. The gesture, Humphries recalls, appeared to mean something like “Oh well—there’s nothing I can do for someone like you.” Humphries was taken aback to find Rainer at a loss for words, but from our vantage point the anecdote isn’t so surprising: There were no words, at that time, with which an ISP faculty member might credibly discuss

  • 1000 WORDS: AMIE SIEGEL

    AT A TIME when restitution debates rage, it would be easy to suppose that Amie Siegel’s film Provenance, 2013, is simply a denunciation of a trade that has seen the furnishings designed for the Punjabi city of Chandigarh by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret wrested from their original setting and sold by unscrupulous dealers into the luxury designer-furniture market in Western Europe and the United States. But Siegel’s work does not really push this agenda; rather, it concerns the vagaries of value as objects move across the world.

    Adopting the structure of the provenance list, the film moves

  • FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS: THE ART OF FRANCES STARK

    OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS, Frances Stark has created an extra­ordinary series of new works that stage frank, funny, and often bawdy encounters with figures ranging from avant-garde-film scions to dancehall stars. Through these interlocutions—some virtual, some actual—Stark has expanded her career-long cross-media exploration of the pressures and pleasures of life as an artist, one in which the confessional mode serves as a conduit to wry insights into the workings of the art world. Beginning with her acclaimed film My Best Thing, 2011, and continuing through more recent projects such as

  • CLOSE-UP:

    EACH OF THE EIGHT LARGE PAINTINGS—all Untitled, 2011—that Christopher Wool is showing at this year’s Venice Biennale is dominated by a bulbous central blotch, taller than it is wide. Yet it feels wrong to call these looming blotches “shapes”: They have very few of the characteristics that we understand as constituting shape, since the contours, sometimes defined, elsewhere disintegrate and become patchy, and each nonshape partially continues in a faint area to one side. The images recall Rorschach tests because there are suggestions of symmetry, but one quickly realizes they aren’t

  • THE RE-ENCHANTMENT OF THE WORLD: PINO PASCALI'S LATE WORKS

    THE FIRST SUBSTANTIAL BODIES of sculpture Pino Pascali produced in the four short years of his mature career seem so different that they could be the work of separate artists. Pascali emerged in 1964–65 with a series of object paintings: canvases seemingly wearing bikinis, bearing bulging pregnant bellies, or pursing pouty lips—works clearly connected to the playfully sexual imagery of Pop. In 1965, he used automobile parts to make fake tanks, cannons, and bombs for the series “Armi” (Weapons), which was, fittingly, shown at Galleria Sperone in Turin, then Italy’s center of car manufacturing.

  • DIVIDED INTERESTS: THE ART OF ALIGHIERO BOETTI

    Between the abundance of postwar Italy’s “economic miracle” and the ascetic bent of Conceptual art, the artist ALIGHIERO BOETTI took up the multiple implications of making and thinking, consumption and revolution, local and global. His remarkable oeuvre spans both laborious craft and humorous Duchampian gesture; he went so far as to rename himself Alighiero e Boetti in 1972, the “and” a nod to the doubled demands on artists to be at once star persona and withdrawn auteur. On the occasion of a major retrospective of Boetti’s work at the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina (MADRE) in Naples, on view until May 11, Artforum asked critic and curator MARK GODFREY to examine the artist’s twinned and protean practices.

    IN 1967, ON THE CUSP of Arte Povera’s inception, Alighiero Boetti produced the editioned poster Manifesto, which featured a list of young Italian artists flanked by a grid of symbols. The reference to the Futurist Manifesto was unmistakable given this title, yet while Filippo Marinetti’s 1909 text had been published in Le Figaro to reach a large audience, Boetti created his Manifesto for private distribution, tacitly acknowledging that for a generation of artists emerging in the mid-1960s, the ambitions of the historical avant-garde were no longer worth even dreaming about. In the place of any

  • MIRROR DISPLACEMENTS: THE ART OF ZOE LEONARD

    WITH ONE EYE ON WALKER EVANS and the other on Eugène Atget, Zoe Leonard began in 1998 to document a passing era of material and retail culture. For her monumental archive of some four hundred photographs, cannily titled Analogue, 1998–2007, she took frontal photographs of small independent stores, first around her home in Brooklyn and then in other parts of New York and in Chicago. She was particularly attracted to shops with deteriorating signage, quirky window displays, and an often seemingly random array of products. Especially compelling to her were handwritten signs whose wording, frequently

  • Mark Godfrey

    SOMEWHAT PUT OFF by the cheesy ad adorning vaporetto stops, the queue outside, and the general air of disappointment infusing the art crowd in Venice, I entered “Artempo” not expecting much, but discovered the most riveting exhibition of the summer. The show was housed in the Palazzo Fortuny, once home to nineteenth-century collector, scholar, artist, and designer Mariano Fortuny. Some of Fortuny’s own collections and artworks remained on display, but most of the installation showcased the property of Axel Vervoordt, one of Europe’s most catholic collectors and dealers of antiques and art. With

  • Christopher Williams

    “THE ACHIEVEMENTS of the Italian Communists are nowhere more evident than in the city of Bologna.” Thus Donald Sassoon opened his introduction to the English version of the collection of essays Red Bologna (1977), which familiarized an international audience with the progressive policies of the Italian town’s Communist government. Among Bologna’s ambitious projects of the time was an impressive new building for the town’s Galleria d’Arte Moderna, which was officially opened on May 1, 1975. Designed by Leone Pancaldi and situated in the industrial north of the city, the building appeared somewhat