Paul Groot

  • Jan Fabre

    Before Jan Fabre made his name as a performer and theater director, he was known as a draftsman. He made the transition from one to the other eight years ago, when he had himself locked up in a barren room, which he covered entirely with scribbles of ink from a ballpoint pen. His Robert Wilson-like performances—in particular, his obsession with creating a European counterversion to the American master’s “theater of long duration”—showed clearly his preoccupation with the world of visual arts. And, in fact, the only work in this exhibition was a large wooden wardrobe that took up almost the whole

  • Marlene Dumas

    Marlene Dumas presents nude bodies in a very disturbing way. The intimacy of the contact with these vulnerable looking figures holds a strong attraction, but at the same time the vagueness of their delineation is so distracting one almost begins to squirm. Dumas paints bodies in the intimacy of their most mundane nakedness, yet she seems to want to distract us with all kinds of peripheral gestures. She makes us feel as if a voyeuristic look at these defenseless bodies could be as dangerous as any other aggressive act. Dumas protects her figures from an obvious visual assault with the help of

  • Erik Andriesse

    In no other country is the tradition of painting as burdensome to contemporary artists as it is in Holland, and there is no other genre which respects traditional values as much as the still life. Whoever refers to specific parts of this tradition has to realize that he not only is stuck with an artistic but also with an exhausting moral baggage, which can offer hardly any relevant answers to current questions. Therefore, a contemporary painter who dares to tackle the still life anew has to have his senses tuned as much to moral as to artistic questions.

    It has taken Erik Andriesse a lot of energy

  • Niek Kemps

    The true intent behind Niek Kemps’ sculptural objects is not easy to discern. The viewer recognizes an artist who appears to be moving toward a kind of post-Modern design, an artist who is testing one form after another. But in his search for meaning, Kemps seems so distracted by the ever-expanding possibilities of his formal experiments that he winds up injecting content, sometimes as an afterthought. He integrates photographic fragments, texts, and dark discs into his shiny, reflective constructions, which are sometimes quite rakish and at other times elegantly baroque. These elements suggest

  • Ton Van Summeren

    Are we ever disturbed, surprised, or awestruck nowadays when we encounter the lovely presence of gods and goddesses in an artwork? Maybe in the Middle Ages the mythical appearances of the classical gods could provoke the necessary shiver in the observer. But since the Renaissance the presence of gods and goddesses in fine arts has returned to the playful character it must have had during early Greek times. The erotic-playful connotations these figures suggest can offer great pleasure when we notice their presence anew in contemporary art.

    In much of his recent work, Ton van Summeren seems to have

  • “Regenboog”

    Luciano Fabro’s six-part Attaccapanni di Napoli, 1976–77, has been shown on earlier occasions, but here, in the uneven company of the “Regenboog” (Rainbow) show—Rudi Fuchs’ last event as director of the museum—it looked more magnificent than ever. The show, mounted in the ideal surroundings of the museum’s almost monastic environment, emphasized once more Fuchs’ ideas about exhibition. His dialectical concept, which he also used at Documenta 8, revolved here around the theme of color. The “rainbow” of the title referred not only to color but to the heterogeneous collection of paintings that

  • “Century 87”

    Amsterdam, designated by the European Economic Commission as the “cultural capital of Europe” in 1987 (succeeding Athens and Florence in that title), has been celebrating this occasion by organizing various art events here with the aim of strengthening the cultural ties among the nations of Europe. As part of this celebration, three young Dutch art historians—Sjarel Ex, Nicolette Gast, and Els Hoek—curated “Century 87: Kunst van nu ontmoet Amsterdams verleden” (Today’s art face to face with Amsterdam’s past), a contemporary art show organized as an art walk in the old center of town. Twenty-nine

  • Neue Slowenische Kunst

    The artists’ collective Neue Slowenische Kunst (New Slovenian Art) comes from a Central European city of tempestuous tradition, a city known to us as Ljubljana in Yugoslavia, but found in older atlases under the name of Laibach in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. These days, the collective consists of about 35 members, but the number constantly changes. The many shows put on by this group in Amsterdam on their European tour this past summer—rock concerts, theater works, and art exhibitions—suggested a cross between straight nostalgia and the absurdist humor of a slapstick comedy of manners. Their

  • THINGS THAT GO BUMP

    LISA LIEBMANN

    Discombobulated and cacophonous, with a populist bent, Documenta 8 was almost entirely free of the lofty airs that surrounded its elegant, smug predecessor in 1982, and that to some degree hovered over many of the more ambitious and large-scale international exhibitions in the five years since. Absent, for instance, was any sense of highbrow intellectualism or formalism, and gone as well the sense of giddy congruence with recent commercial, critical, and promotional dicta. Painting, for one, seemed relatively scarce, and while classicism and mannerism, minimalism and expressionism,

  • Anselm Kiefer

    The success that Anselm Kiefer has experienced over the last few years both inside and outside Germany made this exhibition of new and recent work by Kiefer into a media event. In the newspaper articles and “exclusive” interviews that preceded the opening, Kiefer was portrayed as a visionary painter, strongly connected to German history and mythology, who also wanted to be regarded at least partly as a conceptual artist.

    There is no doubt that he sees his art as an instrument for communicating more than just an esthetic message. And indeed, whereas in previous exhibitions his work seemed to be

  • “Correspondentie Europa”

    It was a joint decision of four curators at the Stedelijk Museum to exhibit the work of ten artists from six European countries under the title “Correspondentie Europa” (Correspondence Europe), assembled under a concept dictated primarily by democratic principles. However, the very title of this exhibition promised more than it delivered. Those who anticipated discoveries by industrious correspondence artists were as disappointed as those who expected a carefully planned harmony of Baudelairean correspondances. And although one could argue about the choice of participants—Jean-Charles Blais,

  • Curtis Anderson

    Perhaps it’s due to the intimate atmosphere that radiates from the three floors of this gallery, perhaps it’s the gallery’s contrasting lighting (two spaces have direct light, the third only artificial), or maybe its architecture offers a special challenge to artists—whatever the reason, I have never seen so many religion-oriented exhibitions as I have here. Thus it was not at all surprising that American artist (and Cologne resident) Curtis Anderson took the opportunity to make a special presentation in this space, giving extra form, through architecture, to his already hermetically oriented

  • To describe the wonders . . .

    THE FACT THAT ARTURO SCHWARZ, the Milan collector, gallerist, and notable art historian, had the opportunity at this year's Biennale to bring before the public a subject that has obsessed him for so long is an issue of simple justice. Schwarz is an expert on the subject of alchemy, not only on its history but also on the influence it has had on the development of art in the 20th century. It must be a surprise even for the connoisseur to see how pervasive the alchemic impulse has been. Schwarz includes a wide and deep spectrum of the alchemic in art, from, say, Francis Picabia, to Surrealism, to

  • Paul Groot

    Luciano Fabro’s Jo, l’uovo (I, the egg, 1978) is included in Sonsbeek 86, but it particularly stays in my mind from a photograph. This shows a Roman fountain, in an almost fairy-tale light. In the waters of the basin floats the sculpture—a glowing bronze egg, open at one end so that we can see the gold-veneered interior. Do I remember seeing Fabro somewhere in the picture’s background? Or is he present only through the marks of his hands in the gold, and through a small image of him, in a fetal position, engraved on the bronze shell? The photograph has a quality of the ideal for me, and I often

  • Fortuyn/O’Brien

    Since the sculptors Irene Droogleevar Fortuyn and Robert O’Brien began their collaboration, in 1983, under the logo Fortuyn/O’Brien, they have designed sculptures that could very accurately be called Post-Modern. On the basis of an ambitious as well as simple program, to which the concept of a domestic art is central, they make sculptures that, in their modishness, can compete with Post-Modern interior furnishings. In consciously exploiting the banal, they hope to expose the roots of art. In this they are posing as Post-Modern dandies, as the mediators of a contemporary spirit that has placed

  • “Don Giovanni: An Opera for the Eye”

    In Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni (1787), the most famous musical interpretation of the story of the legendary woman-conqueror, two recurrent themes in Lorenzo da Ponte’s libretto attract attention. The first is Don Giovanni’s insatiable desire for women, which is really an excuse to avoid facing himself. The second is da Ponte’s almost cynical interchanging of the characters’ identities in order to question the validity of Don Giovanni’s behavior. Da Ponte’s Commendatore, the figure called into existence to punish him in the end, is actually Death in various guises, including the death of Don

  • Günther Förg

    The most noticeable characteristic of the photographs of the German photographer and painter Gunther Förg is that they connect the Post-Modernist idiom with a strong, almost humanist, emotional concern. The human condition in the time after the overthrow of Babylon is intensely observed in his photographs. Locked up in a labyrinth from which there seems no escape, man wanders about in a state of melancholy This desperate post-Babylonian atmosphere is softened only through the communication, made possible by the strongly reflective glass covering the photographs, that connects the viewer directly

  • Rob Scholte

    It pleases me that Rob Scholte’s new work is countering the so-called “wild painting:’Although until recently he made work related to ”wild painting“ he is currently very clear in his rejection of what he now sees as the most degenerate art of the last decade. In the past few years he has been developing successfully a style of painting that truly offers an alternative to the impulsive, semiexpressionistic work of his contemporaries. Scholte’s departure from this emotional style of painting has been gradual. It settled finally on the production of a painting in 64 parts, Rom 87, 1983, which

  • Walter De Maria

    The opening comment by Wim Beeren, director of the museum, in the catalogue accompanying this show of Walter De Maria’s sculpture and drawings is his most interesting one. “Looking at the work of Walter De Maria, one has the feeling that the artist is absent. Today the monumentality of his works has an impact which does not imply an individual, but which compels us to look at them by the sheer virtue of their presence. This is how we look at ancient monuments which have been preserved and whose makers we shall never know.” Although the publicity around this exhibition emphasized De Maria’s name

  • “The Luminous Image”

    I don’t know whether the thinking of Marshall McLuhan is still discussed much abroad—his analysis of hot and cold media, for example—but I remembered him in connection with this show. Whatever one thought about the media in the early ’60s, when McLuhan’s ideas were emerging, at least he offered a position, making possible a warm-blooded exchange of views. As I wandered among the video installations that formed the heart of “The Luminous Image,” and, later, sought in the catalogue for some kind of theoretical stance, I was saddened. Was there any theoretical justification for this arrangement of