Richard Deming

  • View of Béla Tarr’s Missing People, 2019, Wiener Festwochen, Vienna, June 13, 2019.
    film June 27, 2019

    Now and Then

    IN 2011, the acclaimed visionary filmmaker Béla Tarr declared he was retiring from making movies, and so the recent announcement that he would premiere a new work at this year’s Wiener Festwochen, in Vienna, was met with surprise and, naturally, great anticipation. This new work demonstrates that Tarr has not exactly turned away from filmmaking so much as he has decided to leave feature films behind, having taken narrative cinema as far he could in terms of the form’s expressivity.

    Tarr has always sought to challenge and extend the conceptual and aesthetic elements of contemporary cinema in order

  • John Ashbery, P.K., 2015, collage, 10 × 8 1/4".

    John Ashbery

    DECADES AGO, Harold Bloom declared that after the death of Wallace Stevens, in 1955, we entered the “age of Ashbery.” That may be one of the bolder pronouncements made by a famously bold literary critic, but there remains an undeniable truth to it, as one can encounter John Ashbery’s poems seemingly anywhere in the world—from Winnipeg to Berlin to Beijing.

    Born in 1927 in Rochester, New York, Ashbery became the most influential poet of his generation. Like his New York School confrere Frank O’Hara, Ashbery possessed a deep affinity for music, art, and film, and indeed he was arguably one of

  • View of “Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years,” 2016–17, Museum of Arts and Design, New York. On plinths, from left: Little Big Horn, 1959; Tientos, 1959; Sitting Bull, 1959; USA 41, 1960; Red River, ca. 1960. On wall: Falling Red, 1958. Photo: Butcher Walsh.

    Peter Voulkos

    “VOULKOS: THE BREAKTHROUGH YEARS,” currently on view at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, seeks to do more than simply insist on the reputation of its subject, the renowned ceramist Peter Voulkos, as an exponent of Abstract Expressionism. Instead, the exhibition recontextualizes the significance of this revolutionary artist, presenting him as an agent of the mid-twentieth century’s radical transformation of the very categories of sculpture, pottery, and painting. Focusing specifically on the period from 1954 through 1968, the show illuminates Voulkos’s profound rethinking of the craft

  • Gregory Crewdson, Reclining Woman on Bed, 2013, ink-jet print, 45 × 57 1/2".

    Gregory Crewdson

    One of Emily Dickinson’s best-known poems begins, “There’s a certain Slant of light, / Winter Afternoons – / That oppresses, like the Heft / Of Cathedral Tunes–.” The winter light Dickinson saw in Amherst, Massachusetts, is the same light that drifts through many photographs in Gregory Crewdson’s new series “Cathedral of the Pines,” 2013–14. Crewdson and Dickinson share not only the landscape of western Massachusetts, but also a sensitivity to the weight of light and what it reveals about the melancholic spaces of human interiority.

    The images comprising the new series are clearly connected to

  • View of “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957,” 2015–16. Photo: John Kennard.

    “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957”

    BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE points perpetually beyond itself. Ironically, as a school, it had no ongoing tradition that it was meant to transmit to succeeding generations, nor did it defer to the authority of historical forebears. It sought to create conditions that would enable students to focus on processes of decision making as the revelation of thinking. At Black Mountain one learned that composition—whether of a sculpture, a sonata, a poem, or even a building—was a series of choices made in response to materials, environment, and what was happening in any given moment. With any piece,

  • Thomas Ruff, Stern 04h 48m/-35°, 1992, C-print, 102 3/8 × 74". © Thomas Ruff/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Germany.

    “Thomas Ruff: Object Relations”

    Since the 1970s, Thomas Ruff has been developing the argument that whatever a photograph depicts, its true subject is ultimately photography itself. To this end, the Art Gallery of Ontario will present some fifty large-scale works by this well-known figure of the Düsseldorf School. The pieces, culled from Ruff’s various series from the ’90s to the present, trace the artist’s investigations into the very nature of imagemaking through his manipulation of found or appropriated archival images. Accompanying Ruff’s works will be items drawn from the artist’s own collection

  • Thomas Struth, Mountain, Anaheim, California, 2013, C-print, 6' 8 5/8“ x 10' 8 1/8”.

    Thomas Struth

    The fourteen photographs that made up this exhibition of recent work by Thomas Struth represent some of the strongest images of his career while also continuing a conversation about the fraught relationships among imagination, technology, place, and culture that the artist has been developing since the late 1970s. Looking at Struth’s photograph Ulsan 2, Lotte Hotel, 2010, depicting a hotel situated—we might say, embedded—in Ulsan, South Korea, one cannot help but note that this city, labyrinthine in its vertical and horizontal sprawl of starkly white buildings, comes to dominate the

  • John Ashbery, Promontory, 2010, collage, digitized print, 13 x 7 3/4".

    John Ashbery

    Collage, by its nature a hybrid art, reveals that a whole is always composed of a series of conflicting, complementary parts. For this reason, it might come as no surprise that John Ashbery, arguably the most influential poet in America, is also a collage artist, for his poetry has always been a conflation of various discourses and modes. The experimental and the traditional have long maintained an uneasy but generative truce in his work. For instance, Ashbery might use the sestina, a form dating to the twelfth century, to relate the misadventures of Popeye.

    Ashbery’s recent collages, presented

  • Stan Brakhage

    STAN BRAKHAGE’S IMPORTANCE to avant-garde film cannot be overestimated, for this protean creator of some 350 works in a career spanning half a century taught us how to experience—and not just watch—film itself. His aesthetic ambitions were always large: “To search for human visual realities,” he writes in his seminal book Metaphors on Vision (1963), “man must, as in all other homo motivation, transcend the original physical restrictions and inherit worlds of eyes.” For Brakhage, art, in whatever form, makes manifest one’s being in the world, a world that still remains to be discovered.


  • Kenneth Macpherson’s Monkeys’ Moon

    KENNETH MACPHERSON (1903–1971) has long been considered a pioneer of avant-garde film, but his reputation rested largely on hearsay, as the work itself—three short films and a feature—had mostly been lost. Of two of the shorts, Wing Beat (1927) and Foothills (1928), only fragments remain. Macpherson’s single feature-length film, Borderline (1930), starring Paul Robeson, hadn’t completely vanished, but only a handful of prints ever existed, and for decades, beyond the rare public screening, his work was available chiefly to scholars. In 2006, the British Film Institute sponsored the restoration

  • Stan Douglas

    According to Max Brod, the first time Kafka read from The Trial, everyone present, including the author himself, was overcome with laughter. In “Humor, Irony, and the Law,” Gilles Deleuze reads this irruption of laughter alongside that occasioned by the death of Socrates at the end of Plato’s Phaedo. The irony of the inappropriate laughter signals defiance to what Deleuze describes as a modern conception of “the law,” which “defines a realm of transgression where one is already guilty, and where one oversteps the bounds without knowing what they are . . . Even guilt and punishment do not tell

  • Marie Menken, Lights, 1966, still from a color film in 16 mm, 6 minutes 30 seconds.

    P. Adams Sitney’s Eyes Upside Down


    PRESS, 2008. 432 PAGES. $28.

    THERE IS A MOMENT in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Intellect” (1841) that has always seemed to me to anticipate cinematic thinking:

    If you gather apples in the sunshine, or make hay, or hoe corn, and then retire within doors, and shut your eyes, and press them with your hand, you shall still see apples hanging in the bright light, with boughs and leaves thereto, or the tasseled grass, or the corn-flags, and this for five or six hours afterwards. There lie