Michael Ned Holte

  • Spread from Barbara T. Smith’s Coffin: Die Cut, Rick Hard-Bound, 1966–67, Xeroxes, spiral bound, 11 1⁄4 × 17 3⁄4". From the series “Coffin,” 1966–67.


    THE MOST STARTLING SIGHT the viewer encounters in “The Way to Be,” Barbara T. Smith’s retrospective at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, is a hulking Xerox 914 copy machine, looking impossibly new despite its obvious 1960s vintage. Designed to revolutionize the modern office, the 914 became an unlikely tool for artistic production and personal revolution when Smith leased one in 1966, plopping it in the living room of her conventional middle-class home in Pasadena, California. Smith was surely among the first artists to explore the possibilities of this technology, if not the first; the work she

  • Kaari Upson, Portrait (Vain German), 2020–21, urethane, resin, Aqua-Resin, pigment, fiberglass, aluminum, 29 1⁄4 × 23 1⁄4 × 2 7⁄8". From the series “Portrait (Vain German),” 2020–21. © The Kaari Upson Trust.


    “OH, I AM SUCH A PAINTER!” Kaari Upson once exclaimed, though she often went to great lengths to disguise this vocation by sublimating her painterly impulses into hallucinatory sculptures, screwball installations, and audacious performance videos. “Portrait (Vain German)” is the provocative title she gave to a series of modestly scaled paintings begun in 2020 and completed shortly before her death this past August. Thirty-two of these hung in a double band around her Los Angeles studio when I visited it in January; ten will make their debut in “The Milk of Dreams,” the fifty-ninth edition of

  • View of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein works and partial home facsimile, Art Preserve of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 2021.


    “ONE CANNOT KNOW EVERYTHING about the world, but one can at least approach closed knowledge through the collection,” observes Susan Stewart in her 1984 classic On Longing. “Although transcendent and comprehensive in regard to its own context, such knowledge is both eclectic and eccentric.” Add “exuberant” to that alliterative pairing and you’d have an apt description of the Art Preserve, which opened this past summer in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. A satellite of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, the preserve, housed in an impressive concrete-and-glass building by the Denver firm Tres Birds, is

  • Barry Le Va, Minneapolis Institute of Art, 1968.

    Barry Le Va (1941–2021)

    BARRY LE VA came into my life in fall 2002, my first semester of grad school, when I chose a large drawing by him as the subject for my lengthy final paper in Bruce Hainley’s art-criticism seminar. The drawing in question had been recently acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where it hung alongside works by On Kawara, Adrian Piper, Ree Morton, and Lecia Dole-Recio. I remember this because I had never spent so much time looking at a single work in a museum. Its title—Separates: Centers, Sections, and Segments: Joined and Overlaid, Separated and Exchanged in Place 1974—was

  • Lari Pittman, Untitled #30 (A Decorated Chronology of Insistence and Resignation), 1994, acrylic, enamel, and glitter on wood, two panels, overall 6' 11“ × 13' 4”.


    EVERY AMERICAN surely knows that Plymouth Rock marks the site where the Mayflower landed in 1620 before the Pilgrims it held founded the Plymouth Colony. It is likely that fewer Americans know that this historically significant rock was not identified as such until 1741, or that in 1774 the rock broke in half during an attempt to move it. Plymouth Rock is an allegory, one as American as apple pie and Manifest Destiny. (“Allegory,” Craig Owens once observed, “is consistently attracted to the fragmentary, the imperfect, the incomplete.”) Plymouth Rock is also the title of a 1985 painting by Lari


    Curated by Alexis Lowry

    Elegant disasters, Barry Le Va’s dispersals are often referred to as “scatter pieces,” though the term is misleading, given the meticulous planning that precedes them. Made of familiar but unorthodox materials such as felt, flour, broken glass, wooden dowels, ball bearings, and even meat cleavers, these pieces are typically delimited by the extent of a gallery’s walls. A spare, early flour work, Omitted Section of a Section Omitted, 1968–69, gamely butted up against the side of Bruce Nauman’s corridor when it first appeared in the Whitney’s generation-defining exhibition


    LONG BEFORE the advent of Craigslist, bulletin boards emblematized the self-organized welter of transactional democracy. That they continue to exist in schools, libraries, and coffee shops is a testament to their earnest, utilitarian promise, even as they tend to disappear in plain sight—that is, unless you’re suddenly in need of communication with a highly localized audience: You’ve lost a pet, you’re selling a car, you’re seeking guitar lessons or a Spanish tutor.

    In 2014, Fiona Connor initiated what would become an ongoing project by faithfully re-creating two small, gray, aluminum-framed


    Tales of the Floating Class: Writings, 1982–2017, by Norman M. Klein. Valencia, CA: Golden Spike Press, 2019. 303 pages.

    IS IT POSSIBLE for critical theory to be anachronistic and prophetic at the same time? Norman M. Klein’s Tales of the Floating Class: Writings, 1982–2017, a compendium recently rereleased by tiny Los Angeles–based publisher Golden Spike Press, compels an affirmative answer, with the ongoing duel—the small initial 2018 printing quickly sold out—between cultural memory and its constant erasure acting as a perpetual catalyst. In other words, the future would be clear enough if we

  • Openings: Candice Lin

    A SHINY WHITE URINAL greeted visitors to Candice Lin’s exhibition last year at Bétonsalon Center for Art and Research in Paris. Mounted on a tiled wall as part of “Un corps blanc exquis” (A Hard White Body), the functional porcelain object literalized the exhibition’s title and inevitably evoked another piece of plumbing—one intended for and rejected by a fabled exhibition at New York’s Grand Central Palaceone hundred years earlier—that now serves as, well, a fixture of art history and an emblem of avant-garde provocations. Quite unlike that other urinal, the significance of which was

  • Allen Ruppersberg, The Singing Posters Part I–III (Poetry Sound Collage Sculpture Book)—Allen Ginsberg’s Howl
by Allen Ruppersberg (detail), 2003–2005, 209 letterpress posters, each 22 × 14".

    “Allen Ruppersberg: Intellectual Property 1968–2018”

    For five decades, Allen Ruppersberg has balanced grand gestures—say, opening a hotel or café under his own name, or transcribing Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray by hand—with humble vernacular materials (Colby Poster Printing Company’s rainbow-gradient placards, pop LPs, laminated plastic, etc.) and self- effacing modesty (“Al”). Like his peers who defined West Coast Conceptualism (John Baldessari, Douglas Huebler, and Alexis Smith among them), Ruppersberg has embraced language as the province of visual art, often with humorous

  • View of “Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World,” 2017. Photo: Brian Forrest.

    Jimmie Durham

    YEARS IN THE MAKING, Jimmie Durham’s long-overdue first career survey in the United States couldn’t be more timely. As if to prove the point, the exhibition—which opened two days after President Donald Trump issued a discriminatory travel ban—includes a 1993 sculpture called Forbidden Things: an assemblage comprising an oak doorframe, a painted deerskin sign depicting contraband, and a nondescript box adorned with a cheap plastic bowl, in sum resembling an airport security gate. Throughout the show, such thresholds, borders, and boundaries are frequently demarcated and occasionally

  • View of “Henry Taylor,” 2016, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles. Wall, from left: yellow cap sunday, 2016; carolina miranda, 2016; fil’s house, 2016. Floor: Not Yet Titled, 2016. Photo: Joshua White.

    Michael Ned Holte

    1 HENRY TAYLOR (BLUM & POE, LOS ANGELES) Taylor’s blunt, compelling portraits wove together three spaces in which sculptures and found objects conjured archetypal Los Angeles tableaux: a blighted urban landscape, a pastoral pool scene, an artist’s studio. The whole evoked Courbet’s The Painter’s Studio: A Real Allegory Summing Up Seven Years of My Artistic and Moral Life, 1854–55, with the artist situated between rich and powerful benefactors on one side and the undercommons on the other. Taylor’s allegory is real, too. On the way to the gallery, I drove past the homeless guy in front of See’s