Nick Stillman

  • Keith Sonnier, Catahoula, 1994, mixed media, neon, found objects, 56 x 29 x 24". From the series “Tidewater,” 1994.

    Keith Sonnier

    Keith Sonnier is, along with James Turrell, Dan Flavin, and Robert Irwin, among the artists most associated with the late 1960s realization of light as medium. But whereas the others’ practices have been described as, by turns, expansive, durational, and sublime, Sonnier’s squiggling, whirling oeuvre of neons has long been bracketed as some variation on that annoyingly anachronistic description “drawing in space.” You could call what he makes art—you could also call it an experience—but after all these years, to call Sonnier a “draftsman of light” is to too fluidly assimilate him into

  • Marlene McCarty

    STARTING IN THE LATE 1980S, New York–based artist Marlene McCarty signaled her rejection of modernist abstraction by heat-transferring onto canvas the freighted verbiage that fueled and undermined struggles for women’s and gay rights. With texts such as I MAY NOT GO DOWN IN HISTORY BUT I MAY GO DOWN ON YOUR LITTLE SISTER rendered horizontally in a diminutive font across a canvas, a perverse reorientation of a Barnett Newman “zip”; or SHOOT A WOMAN SAVE A JOB curling in whorls like Kenneth Noland targets on two canvases hung at what McCarty calls “tit height” and quoting the message now familiar

  • Josephine Pryde

    For all the vigilance with which Josephine Pryde’s art guards meaning, it does reveal some of the ways in which its maker is alert to the complexities and mundanities of being a working artist. She has written for Texte Zur Kunst about stealing time on the job through daydreaming. For her show at Richard Telles Fine Art last year, she presented photographs of a toddler and delivered an opening-night performance of Léo Ferré’s “La Vie d’Artiste,” a song whose lyrics relay a biting narrative of an artist’s submission to economic reality. The juxtaposition suggested the complicationsboth in the

  • Jessica Jackson Hutchins

    When certain artists transition from emerging to emerged, the moment is palpable. This spring, it happened for Jessica Jackson Hutchins, with concurrent solo shows at Laurel Gitlen (formerly Small A Projects) and Derek Eller Gallery and her inclusion in the Whitney Biennial, where she was represented with Couch for a Long Time, 2009—a worn sofa from her childhood home, covered in Obama-related newspaper clippings and occupied by ceramics. The artist’s raw early ceramic and papier-mâché works project an artless, punk sensibility, but she has described her recent output as framed by what seems

  • Elisabeth Subrin

    Today, some fifty years removed from Andy Warhol’s deployment of fashion and shoe advertisements and thirty years since the flowering of the Pictures generation, the sheer quantity of images circulating in the world has normalized appropriation, and the dispersion of its intent has largely depoliticized it. Remaking (or outright stealing) doesn’t register as the challenge to the status quo it used to.

    These shifts notwithstanding, Elisabeth Subrin has done her part to uphold appropriation’s politicized, feminist legacy. Since the late 1980s, her films and videos have used appropriative strategies

  • Martin Wong

    Martin Wong’s paintings of New York’s downtown dystopia have occasionally materialized in exhibitions rounding up the East Village scene of the 1980s, but such a diverse group of his works as was seen in this exhibition had not been assembled since his retrospective at the New Museum in New York in 1998, one year before his death of aids. Curated by artist Adam Putnam, P.P.O.W Gallery’s miniretrospective combined Wong’s iconic early cityscapes and mysterious paintings of pudgy hands rendering sign language with lesser-known later photo-collages of the decayed Lower East Side and paintings on

  • Robert Frank

    Robert Frank’s The Americans (1958) is arguably the twentieth century’s iconic art book. Its photos, taken by Frank during a circuitous cross-country road trip in 1955 and 1956, are voyeuristic records of Americans who had sloughed off depression, won wars, and forged the world’s model consumer society. The Swiss-born artist conveyed an America of bliss and ignorance, hip yet generic, its landscape and psychology both wide open. Last year was the fiftieth anniversary of Frank’s book of eighty-three photographs and—incredibly—the first time the entire suite was shown in New York, at the Metropolitan

  • Agnes Denes

    What do you want out of life? Why not more? Which do you think will prove ultimately more important to humanity—science or love? What is love? These were some of the questions that Agnes Denes asked students in the late 1970s, their answers forming part of the second iteration of her 1968 piece Rice/Tree/Burial, 1977–79. The responses were then buried in a time capsule, as the “burial” component of the tripartite project. These kinds of questions—the “big ones”—are the ones that Denes’s art implicitly asks. Ever since she arose alongside (though distinct from) Land art in the ’60s, Denes’s

  • Michael Williams

    Funny art of the late twentieth century can be split, broadly speaking, into two camps: sarcastic art that tactically reveals the illogicality of passively accepted social mores (Mike Kelley, Lee Lozano, Peter Saul), and art deploying a more subjective humor that draws from personal reference points. Apt examples here would be the self-glorification and self-depreciation (depending on the artist’s mood) of Martin Kippenberger, Maurizio Cattelan, and Urs Fischer. More recently, a number of artists have signaled another type of humor in art. If Kelley, Kippenberger, Lozano, and Saul used humor to

  • Bernadette Corporation

    In the context of art, Bernadette Corporation is revered for the same reason it is intermittently invisible: “its willingness to go there, to disrespect,” as the oft-morphing collective wrote of a Manhattan-destroying tornado in its 2005 novel, Reena Spaulings, a two-hundred-page celebration of the thrills of instability. Experimental ruses such as a fashion label, a film production company, the novel, and other joint enterprises have functioned as portals, temporary propositions of how to produce and yet defy corporate co-optation and its attendant repurposing of the youthful or radical gesture.

  • “Plot09”

    A mile of water is all that separates Governors Island from downtown New York, but the metropolis’s jackhammers and careening cabs couldn’t feel any more distant. For all its past—as a US Army and then Coast Guard base before it started to be developed into a public park in 2003—in 2009 Governors Island feels like a site without an identity. You get the sense that when the nineteen artworks in “PLOT09: This World & Nearer Ones,” Creative Time’s inaugural “public art quadrennial,” are removed, either ghostly silence will envelop the island or it will become a bland commemoration of military

  • Kathryn Garcia

    Since the beginnings of modernism, popular culture has fetishized the artist as bohemian other. The professionalization of the contemporary visual artist’s life notwithstanding, the stereotype of the starving, lunatic artist endures. The shopworn cliché has (usually posthumously) functioned as a merit stamp for artists as diverse as Kafka, van Gogh, Syd Barrett, and Sun Ra, and it is blithely reiterated in films like last year’s Séraphine. The very discomfort caused by experiencing art of the mentally ill is also the reason for its exotification. In One-Dimensional Man, Marcuse argues,