Neville Wakefield

  • Lucas Samaras

    At one time or another, Lucas Samaras has played Svengali to almost every currently fashionable art practice. His Polaroid images predate the reconstructed narcissism of the current but not-so-new school of photo self-portraitists; his psychedelic, quiltlike “Reconstructions” of the mid ’70s were putting in “more love hours than can ever be repaid,” a decade before Mike Kelly; and the legacy of his particular brand of scato-fetishism can be felt in just about every project that comes under the all-purpose umbrella of “installation art”—whether phobic, abject, or sexually transgressive. Yet

  • Easy Virtue

    IF HISTORY, as the saying goes, repeats itself, then Baudelaire’s observations of life at the beginning of the Modern-era might apply equally to its end. What he saw, in terms that exceeded the purely sartorial, was “an immense procession of undertakers, mourners, political mourners, mourners in love, bourgeois mourners. All of us,” he went on to surmise, “are attending some funeral or another.”1 In the ’70s, when Ross Bleckner’s work first came to public attention, it too partook in a procession, announcing if not the death of painting, then its terminal exhaustion.

    Back then, painting appeared

  • Gary Hume

    Gary Hume’s early work took the form of a series of abstractions based on a type of double door familiar to those who have worked in restaurants or walked the corridors of Britain’s dysfunctional public service buildings—the kind that swing open from either side and from either direction. Featuring little more than a rectangular push plate and a round window, the doors, like the paintings, suggest the possibility of passage through an institutionalized—and increasingly bankrupt—space.

    Breaking with the formal constraints of the door series, Hume’s recent work nonetheless retains that high-gloss

  • Bill Owens

    Though conspicuously absent from public collections, Bill Owens’ photo-chronicles of middle America belong alongside those of the better known “social landscape” photographers of the ’60s and ’70s: Diane Arbus, Bruce Davidson, Lee Friedlander, and Gary Winogrand. Why Owens has slipped through the net is hard to tell. Admittedly Owens’ subject—the quotidian as sanctified in form and ritual—lacks the instantaneous allure or fashion quotient of Davidson’s subcultures or Arbus’ freak shows. Also perhaps the texts that often accompany his images work better in the book form of Suburbia, 1968–72,

  • Jon Kessler

    Like dreams of a future already past, Jon Kessler’s art is driven by a mechanistic poetics filled with nostalgia for things yet to come. The prophecies once held fast in the machine now seem but memories, slipping easily between past and future, the present and the imagination. Kessler exposes the obsolescence of our dreams, reconstructing them within the derelict space of evacuated technologies and unrealized worlds. Sifting through the remains of the future he forces us to confront the prematurity of modern science, and with it, our homesickness for a world we have never known. Where Kessler’s

  • Nicole Eisenman

    Oxymoronic when institutionally sanctioned and otherwise just plain moronic, the “bad girl” moniker went from epithet to epitaph in less than the allotted 15 minutes. Nevertheless, the trajectory of the term—from the pejorative to the laudatory and back again—has in most cases been a star far brighter than the practices it sought to illuminate.

    The work of Nicole Eisenman, however, might well be one of the few exceptions. Though within the rubric of the “bad”—subversive, funny, and not incidentally lesbian—it successfully exceeds the terms of the debate, finding a voice that is neither that of

  • Cady Noland

    Now that the uncanny, the abject, and the pathetic have been curated and written into submission, rummaging through the detritus of the American psyche has become something like business as usual, albeit in the inflated currency of the debased. Corralled within the critical rubric of antiform and establishment-baiting, the iconography of dysfunction and despair seems curiously disinherited from the social realities it purports to represent. It is as if malevolence and dis-ease have become the moral comforters of a generation uneasy with its own establishment status. In charting parallel territory,

  • Chris Burden

    As the oft-cited Michel Foucault has noted, in a society of generalized surveillance we do our own policing. In such regimes, power is not exercised but displayed, since its real operations come not from without but from within. Exploiting the fault lines of power and control, Chris Burden’s work has, in the past, invoked the internalization of perpetual but covert surveillance as conscience by recreating extreme situations. The notorious performances from the ’70s can he conceived as the deliberate and willful transgression of social and legislative codes: the power to inflict pain on the body,