Nico Israel

  • “The Shadow”

    Who knows what darkness lurks within the heart of art from the Renaissance through the present day? “The Shadow” knows.

    Who knows what darkness lurks within the heart of art from the Renaissance through the present day? “The Shadow” knows. This exhibition—curated by Romanian-born German art historian Victor Stoichita (who penned an intriguing book on the topic a decade ago)—brings together some 140 works in two venues and explores shifting representations of shadows. The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza will offer a survey of paintings ranging from Jan van Eyck and Rembrandt to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, some of which have been culled from the museum’s collection (with its own shadowy

  • Cai Guo-Qiang

    Feng shui, dragons, herbal medicine, and, most memorably, gunpowder: Fujian-born, New York–based artist Cai Guo-Qiang has been plying such traditional Chinese exports along the global biennial Silk Road, and supercharging them with shamanic bravado, since just before the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989. Bringing together some sixty paintings, drawings, videos, and site-specific installations— accompanied by a catalogue featuring essays by, among others, David Joselit and Miwon Kwon—this retrospective, the first for a Chinese artist in Frank

  • BORDER CROSSINGS: A PORTFOLIO BY YTO BARRADA

    GIBRALTAR, THE OCEANIC STRAIT that forms a narrow passageway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, has long been a microcosm of the world’s major geopolitical conflicts, as the cultures it both separates and holds in uneasy proximity have vied for control of its waters and the surrounding territories. Among those who have claimed dominion are the Arabs, who named the two-and-a-half-square-mile rock that creates the strait Gibel Tariq, after the eighth-century general whose military victory paved the way for the taking of Al Andalus; the Spanish, whose fifteenth-century reconquista led to

  • Neo Rauch

    Neo Rauch’s latest suite of untimely painterly meditations is called “Renegaten,” a word that is similar to the English “renegades” but which also preserves a bit more tenaciously the idea of “reneging” on a promise or commitment. The title aptly expresses a tension in Rauch’s work between a bold iconoclasm that exposes the fallaciousness of figurative painting itself and a broody melancholia that confronts the broken promise of art to represent or transform life, a promise that demands restitution.

    By now, Leipzig’s Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst’s prize pupil’s signature style is well

  • T1 Turin Triennial of Contemporary Art

    Rabelais’s grotesque, voracious giant always on the move supplies a model for contemporary globalization in “The Pantagruel Syndrome,” the title of Turin’s first triennial. T1—the abbreviation seems to draw inspiration from Schwarzenegger’s Terminator films (Gov. Arnold as today’s Pantagruel?)—is organized in two parts. The first shows new work by seventy-five young artists (like Trisha Donnelly, Christian Jankowski, and Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla); the focus here is on information, with ten cocurators serving as “correspondents”

  • “InSite_05”

    THIRTEEN YEARS AFTER ITS BALLYHOOED emergence in San Diego and Tijuana, “inSite” is approaching art-world adolescence and, like many confused, hormone-addled young adults, finds itself experiencing both a growth spurt and something of an identity crisis. The binational, collaborative-oriented art exhibition’s first appearance in 1992 occurred in an era of massive political transformations on a global scale: Walls everywhere seemed to be tumbling down. Accordingly, on the academic front, there was a theoretical fascination with “borders,” migration, and hybridities of all sorts and, in art-world

  • Lisa Sigal

    Lisa Sigal’s installations lean left. They also lean right, forward, and backward, and extend out from freestanding painted sheets of wood, Masonite, drywall, insulation board, cardboard, vellum, and paper onto gallery walls, at times jutting into and out of those walls as though in homage to Gordon Matta-Clark’s cutouts. Unlike any number of recent artists who deploy color primarily in order to highlight three-dimensional form, Sigal seems equally invested in painting and sculpture. Her works combine the delicacy and skill of Monique Prieto’s canvases with the elemental architectural impulse

  • First Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art

    Under a nebulous Hegelio-Adornian banner, “Dialectics of Hope” aspires to “reintegrate contemporary Russian art into the international art world” by joining the biennial parade. The six curators, each with high-profile experience, introduce some forty artists to a Moscow audience. The smaller Russian contingent may attract the tourists that the curators are counting on to flock to Moscow in the middle of winter.

    The specter of yet another biennial is haunting Europe. Under a nebulous Hegelio-Adornian banner, “Dialectics of Hope” aspires to “reintegrate contemporary Russian art into the international art world” by joining the biennial parade. The six curators, each with high-profile experience (Manifesta, Sao Paulo, Venice, etc.), introduce some forty artists, including such putatively hope-full international participants as Jeremy Deller and John Bock, to a Moscow audience. The smaller Russian and “nonconformist” Soviet

  • On Kawara

    In 1954, when he was barely 7,500 days old, On Kawara exhibited, in Tokyo, a series of drawings of scarred, dismembered bodies. Coming only two years after US-imposed censorship laws were lifted in Japan and a mere nine after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the drawings—empathetic, dramatic, grotesque—were everything that Kawara’s later Conceptualist work is, apparently, not.

    The nebulous link between Kawara’s early and mature work, often thought of as unexpressive and detached, was clarified in “Paintings of 40 Years,” even though the show contained only the latter. Three panels hung alone

  • Shimon Attie

    Over a decade ago, Shimon Attie made a splash with several series of color photographs depicting buildings in Berlin (and, later, other German and European cities) onto which he projected archival black-and-white photographs of those same neighborhoods in an earlier era, restoring, in ghostly form, their once-active Jewish populations. Those works, made in cities then undergoing massive social change, seemed aimed at asserting the importance of remembering extinguished populations, while also demonstrating how cities and buildings—and by extension cultures—forget or ignore their pasts.

  • Phoebe Washburn

    Phoebe Washburn’s undulating, room-sized sculptural installation, Nothing’s Cutie, 2004, looks at first like a colorful topographic model of a densely populated futuristic urban metropolis plunked down on a desert island: Rio meets Las Vegas meets Cancun, or maybe Kuala Lumpur. Hundreds of vertically inclined wooden planks of different lengths and dimensions, each briskly handpainted a pastel hue, have been screwed together, forming clusters (or neighborhoods) that open into little clearings of sawdust. Daintily punctuated with unsharpened pencils, packing tape, thumbtacks, and other stuff

  • 26th Bienal de São Paulo

    Under the swashbuckling banner “Free Territory,” the latest edition of the granddaddy of Southern Hemisphere biennials features the work of 142 artists from sixty countries in its massive Niemeyer-designed space.

    Under the swashbuckling banner “Free Territory,” the latest edition of the granddaddy of Southern Hemisphere biennials features the work of 142 artists from sixty countries in its massive Niemeyer-designed space. German-born Alfons Hug, who also curated the Bienal’s timid 2002 installment, now proposes the theme of the “no-man’s-land,” described as a “power-free zone,” a land of “emptiness, of silence and respite, where the frenzy that surrounds us” is brought to a momentary standstill. Biennial regulars Julie Mehretu, Jorge Pardo, Santiago Sierra, and Neo Rauch operating in a “power-free” zone?

  • High Falutin Stuff

    You can almost hear Stephen Dedalus’s voice echoing in the halls of this hospital-turned-museum located on the edge of Phoenix Park.

    You can almost hear Stephen Dedalus’s voice echoing in the halls of this hospital-turned-museum located on the edge of Phoenix Park. To commemorate the one-hundredth anniversary of Bloomsday (June 16, 1904, as all Ulysses fans know), the IMMA presents an exhibition of seventy-five works—drawings, book illustrations, paintings, lithographs, and a number of recent artworks—related to James Joyce, the literary giant of Dublin who lived almost his entire adult life abroad. This show gathers works by fifteen artists, including Matisse, Lucy Richardson, Richard Hamilton,

  • Nico Israel on artists on the Iraqi front

    DURING THE NAZI OCCUPATION of Paris in the early 1940s, Picasso’s atelier at 7 rue des Grands-Augustins was regularly visited by Gestapo agents in search of inflammatory material and hidden Jews. Once, an officer noticed a sketch of Guernica pinned to a wall, and he asked the artist, “Was it you who made this?” Picasso replied succinctly, “No, it was you.”

    Whether or not the anecdote is true—Picasso supposedly told it to a Newsweek reporter shortly after the liberation of Paris—it reveals a great deal about the art of war. Picasso had never visited the Basque town of Guernica y Luno; he learned

  • “The American Effect”

    Taking a brief holiday from the Whitney’s declared mission to survey and promote American-made art, curator Lawrence Rinder offered up a gallery last summer to recent international artworks that explore the image of the post–cold war United States—a timely and quite brave gesture in a moment of “wars on terror,” “coalitions of the willing,” and pervasive self-censorship. To the extent that the United States now regards itself variously as beacon of freedom, misunderstood victim, and/or indispensable global policeman, the exhibition promised to provide a corrective; the fact that the US is regarded

  • High Desert Test Sites

    WELCOME TO THE REAL of the Desert: rocks, heat, cacti, empty beer cans, all-terrain vehicles, horizon, fire ants, lizards—and contemporary art.

    It’s Memorial Day weekend, and we’re heading east from Los Angeles on the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway, more prosaically known as Route 10. We pass Diamond Bar, Rancho Cucamonga, and other barely distinguishable towns, about two hours later approaching the giant windmills of Morongo that mark the passage from the semi-arid desert to the arid extra-dry desert. Our destination is High Desert Test Sites, a project providing alternative space

  • Third Taipei Biennial

    Viewers entering the Taipei Fine Arts Museum were immediately confronted by Arena, 1997, Rita McBride’s enormous, semicircular sculpture in the form of curved empty stadium bleachers made of Kevlar. McBride put the viewers on stage, so to speak, in a performance of their own making and yet allowed them, if they wished, to sit down and take in the museum’s surroundings and the ongoing, ever-incipient play of others. This tension between potentiality and vacancy, between acting and watching, informed “Great Theatre of the World,” which took its title from a play by the seventeenth-century Spanish

  • Phantom der Lust

    Shiny boots of leather/slimy bouts of pleasure: Graz pays homage to two of its most famous nineteenth-century residents, Leopold (Venus in Furs) von Sacher-Masoch and Richard (Psychopathia Sexualis) Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, with a summerlong salute to perversity.

    Shiny boots of leather/slimy bouts of pleasure: Graz pays homage to two of its most famous nineteenth-century residents, Leopold (Venus in Furs) von Sacher-Masoch and Richard (Psychopathia Sexualis) Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, with a summerlong salute to perversity. “Phantom der Lust: Visions of Masochism in Art” curated by Peter Weibel and Michael Farin, brings together works by 156 artists, from Bellmer and Beuys to Araki, Oehlen, and Opie; a symposium presents heavyweight thinkers Georges Didi-Huberman, Klaus Theweleit, and Gianni Vattimo; and a series of performances draws on the peculiar

  • Meg Cranston

    “Magical Death,” Meg Cranston’s most recent show, presented five portraits of the artist as a piñata. Papier-mâché mockups of the artist herself, “dressed” in colored-tissue outfits—striped pants, red shorts, shod in boots or adorned with an elaborate headdress—hung from the ceiling in a variety of poses. Fabricated by Cranston with the help of her art students, the pieces represented a semi-sincere attempt to portray her physically, as well as a direct send-up of the cult of the artist.

    With Kippenbergeresque energy and wit, Cranston has been investigating aspects of body and soul for several

  • Guillermo Kuitca

    Mattresses, maps, theater layouts: Whatever Guillermo Kuitca paints, he paints exhaustively, producing through focused repetition and nuanced variation conceptually dense explorations of intimacy, order, and memory. The artist is only forty-one, but he has been making distinctive work for over twenty years and, astonishingly, had his first solo show at age thirteen. Curated by Paulo Herkenhoff and Sonia Becces, the exhibition surveys one hundred paintings and drawings and includes selections from Kuitca’s most recent suite of works, on Wagner’s Ring cycle. The Buenos Aires leg of the tour will