Martin Herbert

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Manifesta 5

    FOR ITS FIFTH EDITION, THE MOST NOMADIC of European art expos will materialize from June 11 to September 30 in Spain’s Basque country, distributing some fifty artists’ works through six venues in two neighboring cities—the tourist hub of Donostia–San Sebastián and the industrial port of Pasaia—under the curatorial stewardship of Marta Kuzma and Massimiliano Gioni. This set of hands may be steady (Kuzma, now an independent curator, previously helmed the WPA/Corcoran in Washington, DC, while Gioni directs Milan’s Trussardi Foundation and co-runs New York’s Wrong Gallery), but the chosen territory

  • Into My World: Recent British Sculpture

    Most of the London art world is hesitant to generalize about post-YBA art.

    Most of the London art world is hesitant to generalize about post-YBA art. Stephen Hepworth isn’t: As curator at London’s Jerwood Gallery in the late ’90s and a gun for hire since, Hepworth has regularly come up with new rubrics (e.g., “Dumbpop”). Few stick, but the shows are unarguably helpful in identifying emerging key players. “Alternate realities” seems to apply here: Collating nineteen works by nine artists, all of whom, to some degree, create their own worlds—whether literally (Mike Nelson’s grandiose, multicelled installations) or in model

  • 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

  • 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

  • Luke Gottelier

    Luke Gottelier used to make photographs—orchestrations of items found in his studio which, shot close-up and flooded with lens flare, instigated scale-collapsing double visions: A modest cluster of erasers would read, for instance, as a dramatically backlit ring of Neolithic standing stones. In the late ’90s, as if disdainful of these works’ effortless assimilation into the discourse of constructed photography, he began to produce paintings, casual semi-abstractions in a pastel palette. At first exhibiting them alongside his photographs, Gottelier then dropped the latter altogether. Literally

  • Stuart Croft

    An Irishman, an Australian, and an American walk into a bar. That’s the setup—not for a joke, but for Stuart Croft’s single-screen DVD projection Hit, 2003, a nourish “celluloid” narrative twisted into the shape of a Möbius strip. The bar, doused in soft magenta light and helmed by an expert mixologist, is that of London’s plush Great Eastern Hotel—and it’s dead, apart from two drinkers. Some quick-and-dirty expository dialogue confirms that this pair has a history, possibly sexual: “This is really fucking rude, you know? Given what happened—what you did,” gripes the first, adding, a few moments

  • Roger Hiorns

    You’re going to want to try it, so here’s the recipe for Roger Hiorns’s The Birth of the Architect (all works 2003): Take one BMW 8-series car engine and two small cardboard models of cathedrals—preferably Notre Dame and Cologne. Lower into a bath of copper sulfate solution and steep for three consecutive nights, turning occasionally. Remove, shake gently, and serve on a pair of steel plinths set at different heights, with the engine’s cables—now encrusted, like everything else, with sparkling blue crystals—dangling down like an umbilical cord toward the cathedrals. The result should burst

  • the Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon

    The seventh installment of the Biennale de Lyon is subtitled “It Happened Tomorrow”—a reference to René Clair’s eponymous 1944 screwball comedy and perhaps a valentine to the host city, where the Lumière brothers invented cinema. But the title’s suggestion of cockeyed temporality also reflects biennale director Thierry Raspail’s antagonism toward what he decries, in a statement on the event’s website, as other biennials’ “perpetual present”: a topicality that instantly dates and is always erased by the next topical biennial. Indeed, Raspail and his team of curators—Le Consortium founders

  • Martin Herbert

    MARTIN HERBERT

    1 Oliver Payne and Nick Relph, Gentlemen (Tate Britain, London) “You ain’t even impressed no more, you’re used to it,” raps Marshall Mathers. It’s getting that way with Payne and Relph, who predictably stomped their moribund neighbors in this year’s Tate Triennial Exhibition of Contemporary British Art. So, reality check. They may have bitten much style from Mark Leckey, Harmony Korine, and Charles Baudelaire, but Gentlemen, 2003—drifting footage of decrepit London toilets, sportive pigeons, and shimmering glitter, frosted with Morse-code bleeps and a voice-over that’s the

  • Mike Marshall

    Before Mike Marshall photographed the scene depicted in Concrete Pavement (all works 2003), it’s quite possible that nobody had ever seen it. Hardly a coup, you might think, since there’s not much to see—an almost abstract expanse of pitted silver gray stone, given comprehensible scale and the faintest of festive airs by fallen leaves (from London plane, that tree beloved by European urban planners because pollution can’t kill it). But that is precisely what makes the spot ideal for this British artist, whose interest lies in anatomizing and reversing the optical hierarchies that preselect “

  • Wolfgang Tillmans

    How to begin nailing a photographic oeuvre whose cast of characters ranges from Kate Moss (radiant in Alexander McQueen) to a brown rat (rapine in a gutter), whose still-life subjects flip from pink roses to a porky penis unleashed beside an airline breakfast, whose locations encompass antiwar demonstrations and tropical ponds? Check the manual, of course. If one thing matters, everything matters, the more than 2,400-image book that functions as—and generously exceeds the role of—an exhibition catalogue for Wolfgang Tillmans’s 301-photograph, two-video, seven-room monographic monster at Tate

  • Tal R

    Tal R has a distinctive way of explaining his paintings. “I constantly have this hot- pot boiling and I throw all kinds of material into it,” he told an interviewer some time ago. More recently: “I do painting a bit like people make a lunch box.” Add the fact that his London solo debut—comprising thirteen bright and unruly mixed-media works, four embroidered cloth banners, and an installation of thirty-two drawings—was titled “Lords of Kolbojnik” (the latter word being kibbutz slang for the rubbish left over after a heavy meal), and it’s hard not to wonder, sometimes, whether the Israeli-born,