Max Glauner

  • picks February 09, 2018

    Dieter Roth

    Works on paper require small and intimate rooms. The halls of the former boiler rooms of the Löwenbräu Brewery are, in contrast, bright with high ceilings. Yet the powerful industrial walls of the gallery that occupies this space lend themselves well to showing a posthumous selection of Dieter Roth’s paper works.

    This is not only because the last exhibition conceived by the artist—whose output encompassed objects, performances, poetry, music, as well as conceptual, graphic, and installation art—took place in this very location, but also because Roth thought in series, sequences, and cycles, which

  • picks January 15, 2018

    “Keine Zeit – Kunst aus Zürich”

    “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!” cried Lewis Carroll’s white rabbit, the absolute archetype of both our present moment and an alternate one—wherein he exemplifies a different, fantastical order. Helmhaus’s exhibition, “Keine Zeit – Kunst aus Zürich” (No Time – Art from Zurich) also moves within such an adventurous dialectic, honoring regional artistic practices, as is traditional in Switzerland.

    The results are a breathtakingly beautiful exhibition that includes an installation of cacti by Magda Drozd; powerful towers and arks rendered in watercolors by the eighty-seven-year-old Willi

  • picks September 25, 2017

    Monica Studer and Christoph van den Berg

    This venue, in the center of Wettingen, outside Zürich, radiates with the atmosphere of a picturesque Swiss farmstead—a visitor doesn’t necessarily expect to find contemporary art here, and certainly not the kind that Monica Studer and Christoph van den Berg are known for.

    Within a clever and finely tuned scenographic series spanning two floors are the interactive moving-image installations (Wesen [Beings] and Forscher [Explorer], both 2017) and the digital videos Dark Matter – One Million Years Later, 2017, and Wind-Wasser-Wolken (Wind-Water-Clouds), 2015/17, as well as supplementary smaller

  • picks June 10, 2017

    “Turn The Puppets Loose”

    The mannequin cannot be surpassed for natural grace. The German writer Heinrich von Kleist established this in his famous essay “On the Marionette Theater” in 1810. Nevertheless, no career was allotted to these sculptures on strings. They remained entertainment in seasonal fairs and a popular pastime into the twentieth century.

    During WWI, a small group of Zurich avant-gardists discovered the dolls’ potential—chiefly, the Swiss artist and textile designer Sophie Taeuber-Arp and the illustrator, painter, and designer Otto Morach, who both taught at Zurich University of the Arts. As early as 1918,

  • picks June 10, 2017

    Flannery Silva

    Aren’t these twinned baby-doll strollers strange? Each holding an ostrich egg, they stand paired in file on a pedestal, while mobiles featuring red crosses on white hearts dangle above. The title of the series? “Adultery Costume A-C,” 2017. Yes, this is romantic conceptualism, and in just the right place.

    Zurich rarely looks uglier than this gallery’s location: In the 1980s, faceless structures of fair-faced concrete (or béton brut) were thrown up in the middle of the city as office and commercial buildings on much-travelled thoroughfares. A few cheap businesses and bars still occupy them, but

  • picks March 21, 2017

    Marlow Moss

    Twentieth-century clichés concerning women artists stubbornly persist to this day: Women artists are primarily motherly protectors (of the figurative), as in the case of Paula Modersohn-Becker or Frida Kahlo, or diligent collectors (diving into the depths of the existential self), as with Hanne Darboven or Tracey Emin. Given these preconceived notions, it is unsurprising that British artist Marlow Moss, along with her subtle interpretations of the Neoplasticism of Piet Mondrian and his cohorts, has to be rendered palatable here with the label “forgotten outsider.” Nor is it astonishing that her

  • picks February 12, 2017

    Rodney Graham

    The title of Rodney Graham’s latest exhibition, “Media Studies,” is a pleonasm. Which of the artist’s works is not concerned with the investigation of media? Large-format photographic light boxes—there are several new ones in this show, as well as two paintings series with gesso and magazine images—have come to emit something like the “brand” of the Vancouver School. (And while Jeff Wall claims for himself the sociodramatically tragic side of the genre, Graham occupies the comedic.) Having long since advanced to his own role as a major player, Graham mostly stages himself as a brooding introvert

  • picks December 12, 2016

    Sue Williams

    Yes, that’s right: “Trump Not Funny.” And yet, coming across this statement as the title of a large oil painting in Sue Williams’s exhibition is surprising. The President-elect is nowhere to be seen in it, nor are there any references to his characteristics or qualities. Though perhaps there are, as is so often the case with this artist’s paintings, allusions to sex and heteronormative power hidden in the nonfigurative, expressive swirls of yellow, blue, and orange-red color fields rapidly applied to the canvas.

    This show is a delight––even if, for beholders of all genders, the sensuality of the

  • picks December 05, 2016

    Phyllida Barlow

    After changing directors two years ago, this Kunsthalle is beginning to transmit cheerfully powerful signals. However, the joy over the vital and funny show “Demo,” encompassing two expansive works by the sculptor Phyllida Barlow, is clouded, as the seventy-two-year-old artist, mother of five children, and influential teacher of such well-known pupils as Rachel Whiteread and Douglas Gordon, had a formidable show just one year ago in St. Gallen, not far from Zurich. Meanwhile, the Kunsthalle has again exposed itself to the criticism that it is too friendly with Hauser & Wirth (the gallery that

  • picks October 03, 2016

    Miriam Laura Leonardi

    The white cube is a space that, in essence, does not want to be there. It must renounce itself in favor of the exhibited or performed works. It is a complicated nonplace in which art first nests and then flies away. In her debut gallery show, the young Swiss artist Miriam Laura Leonardi cleverly, and with the necessary measure of irony, turns this situation one notch further by interpreting the rooms of this gallery, with its large display windows opening onto the street, as creative birth caves: Three anthropomorphic sculptures float among the wall works, like embryos in space.

    The most cheerful

  • picks July 18, 2016

    Kurt Schwitters

    Putting on a commanding exhibition during Art Basel isn’t easy, but this gallery has succeeded with a display of Kurt Schwitters’s Merz to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Dada movement, launched at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. Featuring several dozen posthumous works by Dada’s agent from Hannover, the exhibition was designed by the Pritzker Prize–winning architect Zaha Hadid—who died a few weeks before the opening—making for a perfect pairing.

    Schwitters famously constructed the Merzbau, 1923–37—an expressionist Gesamtkunstwerk lost in a hail of bombs during World War II—in his

  • picks July 15, 2016

    John Baldessari

    John Baldessari, the master of Conceptual Pop art, turned eighty-five last month. He gave himself the best birthday present: this exhibition. The gallery has worked closely with the artist for more than twenty years and is now showing a new group of his works. It can be considered a condensation of Baldessari’s production to date, as well as the summa of his life’s work, all while maintaining a carefree, brazen, and cheerful tone.

    Once again, he directs us to the intersection of writing and images, of high and low, to exercise and unfurl our imagination. Text runs underneath picture in eight

  • picks April 04, 2016

    Elodie Pong

    The location of this municipal gallery, beside the Gothic Wasserkirche of Zurich on a small island in the middle of the Limmat River, pointedly suggests liquefaction and the dissolution of limits and boundaries. The Swiss artist Elodie Pong’s installation aims toward a similar transgressive reorganization of space and objects. In his lectures from 1835–38 on aesthetics, the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel separated the olfactory sense from art: “As for smell, it cannot be an organ of artistic enjoyment either, because things are only available to smell in so far as they are in process.”

  • picks February 26, 2016

    “Obsession Dada: 165 Feiertage”

    Open toward the outside but xenophobic toward the inside, Zwingli’s city took a long time to discover that it was the cradle of one of the most important artistic avant-gardes of the twentieth century, Dadaism. Just a few years ago, Cabaret Voltaire was saved from permanent closure, and again today it is facing pressures to close.

    But even after its centennial (February 5), the embrace of Dada—as a vested heritage—has not been made easy for Zurichers. How do the city leaders hope to make palatable to the people—who within six months will once again vote on the “deportation of criminal foreigners”

  • picks December 08, 2015

    “The Textile Room”

    Ever since Ariadne’s thread lead Theseus through the labyrinth of the Minotaur, textiles have traversed and defined our world. Nevertheless, this standout exhibition is not charging through any open doors. Is that why this small space has been outfitted with an overabundance of works, as if to overcompensate—from the embroidery of Sophie Taeuber-Arp to the knotted sisal, hemp, and cotton pieces of Françoise Grossen? There remains little space for immersion or for information on the fifty-eight artists.

    The only piece that enjoys a suitable location is Ruth Issler’s Tarnkappe (Magic Hood), 1981,

  • picks September 30, 2015

    Martin Boyce

    The objects in Martin Boyce’s latest exhibition speak a common language. There are power supply jacks, light switches, and lampshades on the walls of the first of two rooms here. In between, three fireplaces framed in Art Deco–style moldings open their mouths onto small nightmarish stages in Same Day, Same Place as Always, and Same Time as Before (all works 2015). Meanwhile, a cube of thick bronze (Dead Star [Yellow]) and an equally plain white-painted chair (The Wacher) wait in vain for their purpose. Like the electrical equipment lacking electricity and light bulbs, the chair lacks a seat as

  • picks September 24, 2015

    Hans Josephsohn

    With elemental force and calm, this exhibition is overpowering: five untitled monumental brass castings, each approximately fifty-nine inches tall, line up on gray concrete bases. A tremendous vertical-format relief on the wall, also untitled, interrupts them. These late works by the German-Jewish sculptor with a Swiss passport, Hans Josephsohn, appear to have been made for this luminous space.

    Five modernist lime-green steel uprights lift the room aloft. Between them, milk-glass windows from floor to ceiling afford a luxurious light. The light falls on the metal surfaces, is absorbed or reflected

  • picks September 21, 2015

    Mathilde ter Heijne

    The skull of a primeval fossil protrudes here, the femur of a powerful dinosaur there. And isn’t that a petrified whale? Visitors entering Mathilde ter Heijne’s exhibition “Ontology of the In-Between” might, at first glance, feel as if they are in a paleontologist’s storehouse.

    With a closer look, the five objects on view do not lead us to the Mesozoic era but rather to the origins of human culture in the Neolithic. For nearly ten years, the Dutch artist has been engaged with the possibilities offered by the transformation of artifacts from the Stone Age—magical abstractions of man and woman

  • picks July 29, 2015

    Vincent Fecteau

    What visitor to Vincent Fecteau’s exhibition in Kunsthalle Basel’s skylit hall isn’t already acquainted with works of modernist sculpture that are anxious to create, via abstraction and even sheer volume, relevant forms that simultaneously engage with their sites and engross their audiences? Connoisseurs of Hans Arp or Henry Moore, for instance, soon find themselves at home with Fecteau’s work—and yet the artist is after something very different from what Arp or Moore pursued. To start with, his materials—hard foam, wood, papier-mâché, and acrylic—run contrary to those of his predecessors. From

  • picks June 15, 2015

    Marlene Dumas

    The Kunstsammlung in Basel possesses one of the most shattering paintings in the history of the medium: Hans Holbein’s The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb, 1520–22. Who would guess that Marlene Dumas, another artist of the human form, always returns to this work? The scene is bleakly conjured in Dumas’s Snow White and the Broken Arm, 1988, as well as in her monumental, tender drawing in acrylic, ink, and watercolor, After Painting, 2003, which showcases her swift, diaphanous application of paint. In this work, Dumas even succeeds in surpassing the old master, in that the prostrate dead body