Robert Simon

  • J.J. Grandville at the Staatliche Kunsthalle

    ACROSS THE NOTES, fragments, essays, and outlines of the Arcades Project, Walter Benjamin's panoramic rendering of Paris and modernity, the nineteenth-century French illustrator and caricaturist J.J. Grandville plays a signal role. For Benjamin, Grandville's images, “a veritable cosmogony of fashion,” reveal the interplay between the organized phantasmagoria of the nascent culture industry—epitomized by Paris itself—and the fetishization of mass-produced goods: “The enthronement of the commodity, with its glitter of distractions, is the secret theme of Grandville's art.” In this art,

  • Frances Stonor Saunders

    AS CONSPIRACIES GO, this one featured a most unlikely concatenation of players and aims. A few years after its founding in 1947, the CIA began a campaign to promote international “cultural initiatives” in complex, covert association with the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), an organization of intellectuals, writers, scientists, and artists established by anti-Stalinist, social-democratic Americans and Europeans in the Berlin of 1950. The CCF aimed to mobilize the energies of the “Non-Communist Left” and to meet head-on the worldwide challenge of the Cominform, the Soviet cultural organization.

  • Ger van Elk

    Ger van Elk is a well-traveled Dutch artist who has often worked on and at the intersections of object and (photographic) image, emerging, like his countrymen Jan Dibbets, Stanley Brouwn, and Bas Jan Ader, from a Conceptual art context. Through the early and mid-’60s, when the Dutch artist had already begun to divide his home between Amsterdam and LA (settling, finally, in Holland in 1991), his work was marked by the transatlantic influences of Fluxus and Pop. By the end of the decade, he entered the orbit of Conceptualism at a number of key points. He established a long-term relation with the

  • René Daniëls

    “It always comes down to painting,” René Daniëls once said, a statement that resonates with some dissonance across a body of work permeated through and through with writing, word games, literary references, visual puns, and allusions to art movements, institutions, and mass media. Yet walking through the artist’s recent show, I was in fact struck by the immediacy and dynamism of paintings, mostly medium- to large-scale, that ranged from hectic cartoons to monumental portraiture. Engaged in an ongoing dialogue with gouache and watercolor-and-ink drawings, the canvases are animated by fluid