Michael Auping

  • Susan Rothenberg. © Brigitte Lacombe.
    passages June 11, 2020

    Susan Rothenberg (1945–2020)

    PERHAPS BECAUSE THE MOMENTUM OF THE ART WORLD thrusts us all into constantly changing relationships, long friendships between artists and curators are, in my experience, surprisingly rare. But when they do develop, they can be very special. I was fortunate to have had such a friendship with Susan Rothenberg.

    I first met Susan in 1978, when I was a young curator at the University Art Museum, Berkeley (now the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive), where I did her first museum exhibition the same year. It was an important moment for both of us, but more so for me. I was in need of knowledge

  • Jess, “A Panic That Can Still Come Upon Me”: Salvages II, 1963/1972, oil on canvas with collage insert, 16 x 20".

    “Jess: To and From the Printed Page”

    In 1944 a young GI assigned as a radiochemist to the Manhattan Project sent away for a limited edition of Finnegans Wake. So began Jess’s lifelong interest in the relationship between language and image.

    In 1944 a young GI assigned as a radiochemist to the Manhattan Project sent away for a limited edition of Finnegans Wake. So began Jess’s lifelong interest in the relationship between language and image. In the 1950s, the atomic-scientist-turned-artist, inspired by everything from Surrealism to ancient mythology, began creating a mind-bending body of work in which words and images become ideograms that border on the hallucinatory. Organized by Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia curator Ingrid Schaffner for Independent Curators International, this exhibition of


    BRUCE NAUMAN HAS ALWAYS BEEN an artist who does the opposite of what you think he should, then somehow makes you think it was exactly the right thing to do. When he agreed to create a work for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, I thought he had clearly accepted an invitation to fail. The Turbine Hall is the Jaws of museum architecture. With few exceptions, it opens its massive mouth and swallows what it is fed, even when artists super-size their work to the point that it seems like a caricature of itself. At 500 feet long, 115 feet high, and 75 feet wide, this public mall seems particularly wrong for

  • Jess

    FOR DECADES, Jess seldom left the run-down Victorian house in San Francisco’s Inner Mission District that he shared for thirty years with the late poet Robert Duncan. He didn’t like to be with a lot of people and once told me that it horrified him that he might at some point be the subject of someone’s attention. Jess had fewer shows and probably fewer articles written about him than anyone of his generation whose work is similarly represented in many of the finest museums in the country. In addition to his innate shyness, the radical infrequency of his exhibitions had a lot to do with the fact


    Bruce Nauman’s new piece calls to mind one of his early works, Fishing for Asian Carp, 1966. That two-minute-forty-four-second film documents a man putting on wading boots, entering a river, and eventually catching a fish. The structure was dictated by the process and goal of catching a fish: When the fish was caught the film was over. What we don't know is what would have happened had the fish not been caught. Part tongue-in-cheek instructional film, Fishing is also an allegory for the unpredictable nature of artmaking. As with Beckett’s Molloy, who transferred a stone from one pocket to another,

  • Michael Auping

    KATY SIEGEL: How do you think this Biennial will come to be regarded in relation to others?

    MICHAEL AUPING: It will arguably be the first in a series of international Biennials, because of the way we migrate today: An artist could be born in Beijing and end up working in New York. It forces the issue of what we mean when we say “American.” There are also far fewer artists recognized by galleries.

    KS: I think some gallery people are a little ticked off about that.

    MA: I’ve gotten two responses. One is that they’re a little ticked off that some of their more stellar artists aren’t in. The other is


    AFTER YEARS OF IRONIC DENIAL that his work is part of the tradition of portraiture, Chuck Close has embraced the genre. When New York’s Museum of Modern Art invited Close to organize an exhibition, some two and a half years ago, he chose to select portraits from their collection. Now, in a project for Artforum, he has once again curated a gallery of portraits, this time culled from the collection of another New York institution—the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    On the following pages Close has arranged a selection of 48 images, by artists ranging from Bronzino to Warhol, in full-page grids, suggesting