Norman L. Kleeblatt

  • View of “Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World,” 2015. From left: Oval Sculpture (Delos), 1955; Curved Form (Delphi), 1955. Photo: Olivia Hemingway.

    Barbara Hepworth

    FOR ALL ITS CHALLENGES, the career retrospective has long dominated art-museum programs. Underpinned by Renaissance notions of singular artistic virtuosity and the Romantic concept of the solitary genius, the retrospective’s monographic format germinated in the late eighteenth century, evolved during the nineteenth, and became standardized during the third quarter of the twentieth. Such one-person shows generally follow chronological trajectories. This now-canonical approach assumes that the production of the artist in question follows a forward-moving progression and that the work can be fully

  • Artur Zmijewski, Oko za oko (An Eye for an Eye), 1998, still from a color video, 10 minutes.


    Between 1993 and 2004, Artur Zmijewski interviewed a number of Polish artists—including Paweł Althamer, Grzegorz Kowalski, Katarzyna Kozyra, and Zbigniew Libera—as a means of taking stock of the transformation of art, politics, and society after the end of the cold war. These conversations were eventually published in Drzace ciała: Rozmowy z artystami (Trembling Bodies: Interviews with Artists [Warsaw: Krytyka Polityczna, 2006/2008]), along with a longer version of the following discussion between Zmijewski and critic, curator, and sociologist SEBASTIAN CICHOCKI, which appears here in English for the first time. To read Norman L. Kleeblatt on the art of Zmijewski, pick up the April issue of Artforum.

    SEBASTIAN CICHOCKI: For some ten years, you have interviewed artists making “critical” work. How do you think we should understand their various practices?

    ARTUR ZMIJEWSKI: Society often takes the artist for a shaman, demiurge, or painted bird—a bit of a madman, someone consumed by an incurable ailment. Obviously, this is just a fabricated phantasm that protects society from real encounters with art, at the same time that it protects the artist from any real responsibility for his or her actions. Many artists today do not want to be cloaked in that myth, however. They do not want such status

  • La Maison Rouge

    THE PUBLIC DISPLAY of private collections is a complex, eccentric enterprise that continues to engender debate. Rather than ranging in practice, presentations of personal collections exist principally at opposite ends of an ideological spectrum. On one side is the distillation of “masterpieces” from private collections. The Arensberg Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Annenberg Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York are examples of private holdings kept intact and isolated within larger institutional contexts, usually installed in some neutral gallery space.