Ronald Jones

  • Dan Flavin at Marfa

    ON OCTOBER 7 AND 8, the art faithful (some 1,000 in all) will converge on a tiny town in West Texas. Their Mecca? The annual Chinati Foundation Open House. When Donald Judd pitched camp in an abandoned army fort in Marfa back in '82, it seemed as if he had gone out of his way to pinpoint the middle of nowhere. But ever since the foundation opened its doors to the public four years later, the art savvy (and social) have flocked to the remote location—at least for the annual Open House. Indeed, this year's festivities, which mark the official debut of a major work by Dan Flavin (designed by

  • Hilma Af Klint

    ART HISTORY HAS NEVER BEEN about who got there first, but who took it to the bank first. The fact that Swedish painter Hilma af Klint was already fully immersed in automatic drawing by 1903, nineteen years before the Surrealists undertook what are generally considered by scholars to be the first automatist experiments, is hardly destined to plunge the History of Modern Art into a Reformation. Af Klint accepted that lesson on her own terms. She died at eighty-one in 1944 and left more than a thousand paintings and drawings to her family, with a stipulation that any public presentation of her work

  • “After The Wall: Art And Culture In Post-Communist Europe”

    It was midsummer, 1937, when Hitler and Goebbels went to call on the infamous “Entartete Kunst,” or “Degenerate Art,” exhibition in Munich. In a memorable photograph of that “grip and grin,” a connoisseur wearing prim specs stands immediately behind and to the left of his Führer, pointing to something just outside the frame. Perhaps he has moved on to a fourth sculpture, describing its depraved and dishonest qualities, having already finished off the three we can see in the picture. The minister of propaganda is beyond pleased. He stands closest to the camera, still wearing his smart white

  • “Regarding Beauty”

    The same old questions. The same old answers. Nothing like them.

    —Samuel Beckett

    Situated between aggressive electronic media and two hundred years of industrial vandalism, the long-held idea that a tiny output of art objects could somehow “beautify” or even significantly modify the environment was naive.

    —Jack Burnham

    Back in 1919, as Dada was coming on in Paris, Marcel Duchamp designed L.H.O.O.Q. like a flaming arrow crackling with sympathy for the movement. He described the Mona Lisa with mustache and goatee as “iconoclastic Dadaism.” Forty-four years later, the ruthless purge of beauty led

  • SOVEREIGN REMEDY: THE ART OF SHIRIN NESHAT

    AS I WRITE, students from Teheran University have spent the last week protesting a new law meant to stifle freedom of the press. The government’s response has been prompt: Security forces raided a university dormitory, beating students and tossing them out windows. Riots ensued. Yesterday, police fired tear gas at demonstrators as tens of thousands of uniformed and plainclothes security forces, soldiers, Revolutionary Guards, intelligence operatives, and antiriot units with helmets and shields stood by, watching baton-wielding vigilantes and street thugs rampage. Two days ago, eighteen cities

  • OPENINGS: JOHN BOCK

    Ensconced in the cramped, nethermost level of a makeshift three-tiered Dantesque universe, the artist busies himself with some nasty alchemy. His materia prima: some vile, puslike goo. His laboratory: a tangle of tubes, cables, and wires feeding an ad hoc array of whining machines in a space suggesting a MIR space station teetering on the edge of total dysfunction. Sporting one of those grimy Russian tank helmets that resemble vintage college football headgear à la Red Grange, our protagonist is in full-throttle mode as he goes through a set of routines apparently designed to produce “suffering

  • Francis Bacon, Louise Bourgeois, and Franz Xaver Messerschmidt

    The sculpture fitly arches, achieving a rare sanctity—what earlier commentators on the Sublime declared to be a grace beyond the reach of art. It is possible to say it represents a lithesome body caught as if springing out of an acrobat’s routine, where the back arches in midair so that the tips of the middle fingers can light on the heels of the feet. Louise Bourgeois calls this work Arch of Hysteria. And yet a serene equilibrium centers its form. Still, the sense of delirium conveyed by the title sits comfortably next to this sculpture’s poise, because the hub of rationality is absent; a head

  • Andrea Zittel

    Perhaps the purest token of leisure time is contemplative observation. When the subject comes up I always scroll back to Georges Seurat’s Bathing at Asnières from 1883-84. Even the rust-colored dog in the lower left of the canvas is under the dreamy spell of evaporating time. Of course, Seurat maims this paradise with the lightly rendered but puffing smokestack deep in the background, a faint reminder of what’s really going on. Hearing about Andrea Zittel’s upcoming project at the southeast entrance to New York’s CENTRAL PARK, I can’t help but think of Seurat’s painting, or for that matter

  • Andreas Slominski

    Andreas Slominski is a fool. And a very good one. Much like his medieval predecessors, his privilege is to indulge himself in hilarious lampoonery, ribald tricks, and slyly idiotic stunts, all at the expense and behest of powerful patrons—in the contemporary case, the DEUTSCHE GUGGENHEIM BERLIN, where the artist has been commissioned for an exhibition opening February 20. The three-part show will include a colossal bird trap, baited and ready for prey, a stolen bicycle pump, and what the artist calls a cough syrup transport container. Of course, there is more to it all than just that.

    I

  • Ronald Jones

    1. Robert Gober (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) With this exhibition, which ended just as the year was beginning, Gober’s visual poetry achieved a depth rare for any artist. He has joined the company of Philip Guston, Louise Bourgeois, Samuel Beckett, Jasper Johns, and very few others who successfully navigated the passage to consummate creative maturity. Gober’s new work should be savored and doted on. In this Marian-heresy-as-installation, he refigures the iconography of father and son and the womb of the Blessed Virgin in a way that deftly eviscerates “faith” and “innocence.”

    2.

  • Yoko Ono

    This summer Macintosh got around to John and Yoko in its “Think Different” campaign, choosing a classic image from the “Bed-In for Peace” honeymoon back in 1969. Ghandi, Buzz Aldren, Einstein, and Ali preceded the peaceniks on billboards and in magazines, but it always seemed to be in the cards that the two would join this genius gang sooner than later.

    John for one seems overqualified to represent a computer company casting itself as übercreative. Where his life’s work was concerned, notorious was never in question and innovation was in constant overdrive. “Right now the Beatles are more popular

  • “Black Like Who?”

    THE BAR-B-Q AT HARVARD was unexpectedly juicy. Delectable pulled pork, tangy ribs, and luscious chicken—with all the fixin’s—were served up beneath the pious eyes of those ethereal Northern European portal sculptures that have presided for generations over the serene proceedings within a hall named for Adolphus Busch, just off Harvard Yard. This piquant supper followed an edgy panel discussion titled “Black Like Who?,” one of several arranged by Ellen Phelan, James Cuno, Glenn Ligon, and Karen Dalton for the two-day conference “Change the Joke and Slip the Yoke” (after Ralph Ellison), which was

  • Martin Kippenberger

    MARTIN KIPPENBERGER’S MAGIC always cast a powerful spell over his audience, sometimes literally putting them under the influence. Not so long ago I invited him to visit the Yale School of Art, and with extravagant melodrama he struggled through the early-morning commute to New Haven. Immediately on arrival he scuttled his scheduled lecture by ambushing the students with a cheering invitation to head straight for Yale’s favorite bar. At the Anchor, they ate from the breakfast menu and got all liquored up. He held forth, judging the quick and the dead in the art world; opinions were refueled with

  • LIFESAVING IN THE ACRYLIC AGE

    IN 1984 THOMAS MCEVILLEY blew the whistle on exhibitions of tribal art. He reprimanded William Rubin, then director of the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Painting and Sculpture, for his “ ‘Primitivism’ ” exhibition at MoMA, charging him with embalming tribal art in the clear synthetic fluid of parochialism, willfully scripting native artifacts into supporting roles within the epic “MODERNISM.” Written between the 1982 opening of the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing (dedicated to the art of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the 1988 Asia Society