Martin Herbert

  • diary January 24, 2005

    Picture This

    London

    A few days into rehearsals for Tino Sehgal’s Institute of Contemporary Arts show—which took place in the galleries, with staff and invited guests permitted a sneak preview—it was clear that not everyone appreciates the Berlin-based artist’s deployment of dancing, singing, and chattering humans (and nothing else) as art. Sehgal’s works, which seek to embody a categorical shift away from object-based art production, are never photographed or otherwise documented and are usually unencumbered by wall labels. This contributes to a certain mystique, but can also sow confusion. Unexpectedly

  • The Triumph of Painting

    Ostensibly celebrating the Saatchi Gallery's twentieth anniversary, this exhibition opens with a cherry-picking of his collection—forty-eight canvases by Kippenberger, Dumas, Tuymans, and three others—to make the case that Saatchi always knew what was best in painting. Thus awed, we're set up to predict a lasting future for the younger artists whose work he will display in subsequent months.

    While ostensibly celebrating the Saatchi Gallery's twentieth anniversary, this exhibition (actually made up of three parts over the course of a year) looks more like an aggressive defense of the beleaguered adman's taste. It opens with a cherry-picking of his collection—forty-eight canvases by Kippenberger, Dumas, Tuymans, and three others—to make the case that Saatchi always knew what was best in painting. Thus awed, we're set up to predict a lasting future for the younger artists whose work he will display in subsequent months. Sceptics may wonder what

  • London

    UNLESS SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY HAPPENS VERY SOON, 2004 will go down in the annals of British art history as the Year of the Momart Fire. And—without denying that the immolation of over a hundred artworks (including key pieces by Jake and Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin, Patrick Heron, and Gillian Ayres) in an allegedly undermonitored East London storage unit is a disaster for all concerned—that’s a shame. Not only because it’s impossible, in retrospect, to separate the event from gleeful attempts by British mainstream journalists to spin it as a supremely appropriate Viking funeral for Young British

  • On the left, Dryden Goodwin, video still from Stay, 2004; on the right, Juergen Teller, Araki Number One, Tokyo, 2004.
    diary November 28, 2004

    Eastward Ho

    London

    If your evening of private views begins on the gleaming avenues of Piccadilly and officially ends with an undignified scrabble for the last lukewarm bottle of Rolling Rock from a plastic bucket, it’s likely you’ve been on an eastward trajectory. And on a night when the three most promising openings were spread across town, with the less formal East End shows tending to stay open later, there was really no other way to go. I headed first for Dryden Goodwin’s second solo at Stephen Friedman Gallery. A long-term fixture here, Goodwin exemplifies a classic predicament: potentially interesting artist

  • the Turner Prize

    “EVERYBODY GETS A TURN. THAT’S WHY IT’S called the Turner Prize,” quipped Dinos Chapman to Time Out (London) last year, when he and his brother Jake were nominated for the UK’s most prestigious art award. There may be no love lost between the Chapmans and the Turner jury’s chairman, Tate director Nicholas Serota (it’s been widely bruited that the brothers’ public Tate baiting cost them the prize), but here’s one thing they can agree on: Everybody does get a turn. OK, not everybody—no doubt veteran protesters the Stuckists will once again camp out on Tate Britain’s steps during the show’s run,

  • Material Witness: Santiago Sierra

    WHEN SANTIAGO SIERRA WAS INVITED to inaugurate the new exhibition space of London’s venerable Lisson Gallery in 2002, he was fairly well behaved for someone who, in Mexico City five years earlier, had flambéed a gallery’s interior with gasoline and a blowtorch. The Madrid-born, Mexico City–based provocateur merely blocked access to the building for three weeks (using a beautifully constructed metal shutter), leaving would-be private-view attendees stranded on the pavement sans the expected perks of alcohol and canapés. Still, it was too challenging for many, including one big-time collector who

  • Sex, 2003, Oil on panel, 126 x 85 cm

    Glenn Brown

    Since the early ’90s Glenn Brown has copied reproductions of paintings by Auerbach, de Kooning, Fragonard, and Dalí, as well as sci-fi book-cover illustrations, emphasizing the flaws in his source material (overripe color, weird cropping, flattened impasto—the latter rendered by Brown in spectacular trompe l’oeil) while seemingly equating grandness and schlock.

    Since the early ’90s Glenn Brown has copied reproductions of paintings by Auerbach, de Kooning, Fragonard, and Dalí, as well as sci-fi book-cover illustrations, emphasizing the flaws in his source material (overripe color, weird cropping, flattened impasto—the latter rendered by Brown in spectacular trompe l’oeil) while seemingly equating grandness and schlock. Yet he’s far from being just another frolicker at originality’s wake: The British painter’s increasingly unfaithful remakes suggest an interlaced articulation of subjectivity and deliberate misprision, while his vitrined objects smothered

  • Untitled Circle Painting: blue/green/blue, 2003, household gloss paint on aluminium honeycomb panel, 49 x 49 in (124.5 x 124.5 cm)

    Ian Davenport

    Ian Davenport tests the properties of household paint—pouring it, dripping it, blowing it, using electric fans, anything but brushing it. His recent fifty-nine-foot-long wall work at Tate Britain was a delirious multihued parade of syringed dribbles, and a similar centerpiece is planned for this, his first retrospective.

    “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” A proud example of the latter, Ian Davenport tests the properties of household paint—pouring it, dripping it, blowing it, using electric fans, anything but brushing it. He began this practice in the late ’80s and in 1991 became, at twenty-five, the youngest-ever Turner Prize nominee. Having perfected a mode of colorful post-painterly abstraction that winks to theory-heads and aesthetes alike, he’s lately gone gigantic: Davenport’s recent fifty-nine-foot-long wall work at Tate Britain was a delirious multihued parade of syringed

  • Liverpool Biennial

    A historically proud city, Liverpool will be European Capital of Culture in 2008 and already hosts the UK’s largest visual-arts festival, so it’s not surprising that the thematic focus of the biennial’s third installment should be . . . Liverpool.

    A historically proud city, Liverpool will be European Capital of Culture in 2008 and already hosts the UK’s largest visual-arts festival, so it’s not surprising that the thematic focus of the biennial’s third installment should be . . . Liverpool. In practice it’s a four-card flush. One component, “International 04,” invites artists like Takashi Murakami, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Esko Mannikko to research the postindustrial northern metropolis as a context for public artworks, while “Independent” launches a flotilla of artists, architects, and filmmakers on galleries, temporary spaces, and disused

  • Lucy Skaer

    Lucy Skaer’s London solo debut was entitled “The Problem in Seven Parts,”’ with the ostensible problem—intimated by the fact that this exhibition of pinned-up drawings came in not seven but nine segments—being this: Skaer appreciates material facts on an individual basis, but sequential logic is anathema to her. The Glasgow-based artist’s contribution to last year’s Beck’s Futures exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts here, for example, was a set of giveaway posters that drew attention to fugitive actions she claimed to have performed, such as secreting moth and butterfly pupae in

  • Torso (lamb), 2003.

    Marc Quinn

    Best known for casting his head from his own frozen blood, British artist Marc Quinn employs a gutsy aesthetic to probe identity, mortality, and science's impact on the two.

    Best known for casting his head from his own frozen blood—and more recently achieving notoriety for a sculpture of his newborn son’s head made from liquidized placenta—British artist Marc Quinn employs a gutsy aesthetic to probe identity, mortality, and science's impact on the two. His first solo show in Ireland, however, doesn’t require any refrigeration units: Although sculpted in various chopped meats, the forty-one new sculptures here are cast in black bronze. Abstracting human form yet echoing classical statuary, these works inaugurate a journey from seduction

  • Print from Insult to Injury, 2003.

    Jake and Dinos Chapman

    Jake and Dinos Chapman have long enjoyed fiddling with the corpus of Francisco de Goya—no prizes, then, for guessing what dominates their first solo exhibition in Spain.

    Jake and Dinos Chapman have long enjoyed fiddling with the corpus of Francisco de Goya—no prizes, then, for guessing what dominates their first solo exhibition in Spain. Besides the brothers’ reinterpretation of the Spaniard’s nightmarish print cycle “Disasters of War,” the show includes Sex I, a life-size polychrome bronze whose subject comes straight from Goya's prints. Potentially most contentious, however, is a new series: a thoroughly defaced set of eighty original Goya etchings. A similar showing in Oxford last year was accompanied by a “protestor” dousing