Scott Rothkopf

  • “Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age”

    WE ARE LIVING in a Golden Age of painting. Or at least a Goldenish one. Although that claim may sound far-fetched (even to those who neither celebrate nor bemoan the medium’s purported demise), I’d hazard that the past decade has witnessed the greatest efflorescence of painting since the mid-1980s, when the battles engulfing it were at their bloodiest and the stakes seemed accordingly high. Painting persisted, of course, throughout the ’90s and into the early 2000s, when the proliferation of digital-imaging technologies appeared to pose yet another mortal threat. But what doesn’t kill you makes

  • “Mel Bochner: If the Colour Changes”

    Over the past decade, critics and curators have rigorously reimagined Mel Bochner’s oeuvre, while the artist himself has propelled his work forward with mordant wit and explosive energy.

    Over the past decade, critics and curators have rigorously reimagined Mel Bochner’s oeuvre, while the artist himself has propelled his work forward with mordant wit and explosive energy. Trailblazing recent shows at the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery in Washington have been matched by Bochner’s increasingly topical twist on his nearly half-century-long engagement with language. (One recent thesaurus painting unspooled synonyms for that endangered species “master of the universe.”) Now audiences across the pond

  • CLOSE-UP: FILE SHARING

    OVER THE PAST DOZEN OR SO YEARS, the artists who made the most of new technologies were often those who least knew how to use them. I count Kelley Walker among this group. Around the turn of the millennium, he, like many of us with a Mac, a scanner, and a printer, was trying to get his head around how such tools were quietly revolutionizing our contemporary image culture by making pictures easier to produce and reproduce than ever before. At first he used his scanner as it was intended, to capture words and pictures on paper. He would import images from advertising and photography yearbooks,

  • Scott Rothkopf

    1 “Pacific Standard Time” (various venues, Southern California) For some, this Getty-sponsored initiative surveying Los Angeles art from 1945 to 1980 smacks of boosterism on behalf of an art capital hardly in need of special pleading. But for me, the coordinated cornucopia of exhibitions mounted by more than sixty California cultural institutions represents an unprecedented scholarly undertaking (and a salubrious twist on destination art-viewing in an age of overblown biennials and fairs). While the individual shows range widely in quality, taken together they offer a singularly fine-grained

  • Takashi Murakami

    “I’m the Cheshire cat who welcomes Alice to a land of marvels,” remarks the Japanese superstar.

    It was hard not to imagine gathering storm clouds as fireworks exploded over the reflecting pools to celebrate Jeff Koons’s occupation of Versailles in 2008, just five days before Lehman Brothers fell. That pitch-perfect exhibition will forever radiate an incomparable aura of epochal inevitability, so Takashi Murakami may have been wise to bill his foray at the palace as a meditation on a transhistorical dreamworld. “I’m the Cheshire cat who welcomes Alice to a land of marvels,” remarks the Japanese superstar about a show that finds twenty-two works, half of them new,

  • Chris Ofili

    It takes guts to shed your clothes in public, but this, in effect, is what Chris Ofili has done in his paintings over the past five years.

    It takes guts to shed your clothes in public, but this, in effect, is what Chris Ofili has done in his paintings over the past five years. Layer by layer, he has peeled away the resin, glitter, and signature fecal excrescences that once made his canvases such dense and enthralling objects, laying bare the sinewy contours and flat fields of color that long served as hidden armatures. This shift makes all the more timely Ofili’s Tate retrospective of forty-five paintings (some never previously exhibited) and a selection of works on paper. Spanning from the mid-’90s until

  • Scott Rothkopf

    SCOTT ROTHKOPF

    1 New York gallery flashback Markets of all kinds got a bad rap this year, but New York’s galleries bucked the broadsides with historical shows of such quality and focus they gave local museums a run for their dwindling money. The lion’s share of attention went to well-deserving surveys like “Manzoni: A Retrospective” at Gagosian Gallery and “Zero in New York” at Sperone Westwater, but discerning smaller exhibitions abounded. L & M Arts presented “John Chamberlain: Early Years” and the exquisite “Philip Guston 1954–58,” which served as a welcome counterbalance to the recent

  • DOUBLE LIFE: A PROJECT BY KATHARINA FRITSCH

    IMAGINE THAT THE SUN IS A GIANT FLUORESCENT BULB. Now imagine that it’s twilight, and you will have a sense of the eerie acidic crepuscule that seems to both illuminate and shadow Katharina Fritsch’s work wherever it happens to be. This effect was particularly salient and unnerving at the artist’s recent retrospective in the bright galleries of the Kunsthaus Zürich, where her sculptures and paintings appeared not to be lit from above but to emanate their own oddly tenebrous glow. One sensed they could change the weather.

    Usually we talk about the way a sculpture is illuminated rather than the

  • Urs Fischer

    From ink-jet prints to environmental installations and sculptures made of wax, bronze, and bread, Urs Fischer has an uncanny knack for taking just about any material or place and making it into an Urs Fischer.

    From ink-jet prints to environmental installations and sculptures made of wax, bronze, and bread, Urs Fischer has an uncanny knack for taking just about any material or place and making it into an Urs Fischer. For his first major solo show at an American institution, he has been given free rein to fill the entire New Museum, which will house a mirrored labyrinth, towering aluminum abstractions, and an assortment of works both old and new. This eclectic mix should prove edifying to those who struggle to grasp Fischer’s deliriously multifarious production; a catalogue

  • Dalí Dalí Featuring Francesco Vezzoli

    The show opens with a concise overview of Dali’s paintings, peppered with paraphernalia like jewelry and Schiaparelli gowns, and continues on to the first European retrospective devoted to Vezzoli’s own splashy meditations on sex, dread, and hype.

    Once maligned as Surrealist schlock, Dalí’s prescient forays into popular amusement and unbridled marketeering have lately come to the fore of scholarship on the mustachioed Catalonian. First, there was the 2003 exhibition devoted to his New York World’s Fair pavilion, followed by “Dalí and Mass Culture,” “Dalí and Film,” and now Dalí and . . . Francesco Vezzoli! The show opens with a concise overview of the master’s paintings, peppered with paraphernalia like jewelry and Schiaparelli gowns, and continues on to the first European retrospective

  • “Jeff Koons: Popeye Series”

    Just in time for Popeye’s eightieth birthday, the Serpentine unveils a survey of Jeff Koons’s work dedicated to the Depression-era spinach guzzler. This will be the artist’s first museum exhibition in London and the first comprehensive look at the ongoing “Popeye” series of sculptures and paintings, begun in 2002.

    Just in time for Popeye’s eightieth birthday, the Serpentine unveils a survey of Jeff Koons’s work dedicated to the Depression-era spinach guzzler. Although 2008 alone witnessed major Koons shows in Chicago, New York, Berlin, and Versailles, this will be the artist’s first museum exhibition in London and the first comprehensive look at the ongoing “Popeye” series of sculptures and paintings, begun in 2002. The titular sailor stars in but a few of these works, which are more frequently populated by inflatable animals and a bodacious

  • “Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward”

    Freshly scrubbed after a three-year restoration, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum celebrates its golden anniversary with an exhibition devoted to the architect’s pioneering conception of space.

    Freshly scrubbed after a three-year restoration, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum celebrates its golden anniversary with an exhibition devoted to the architect’s pioneering conception of space. Wright understood the exterior forms of his buildings as direct expressions of their interiors, a once-revolutionary idea that lost currency as cutting-edge architects increasingly approached their buildings as decorated sheds, abstract compositions, or the sheer articulation of structural

  • OPENINGS: RICHARD ALDRICH

    RICHARD ALDRICH hates being called ironic or a slacker. The fact that critics have lately called him both, without any air of opprobrium, may say more about the critical winds encircling recent abstract painting than it does about his disparate and disarming canvases—most “nonobjective” in the old-fashioned sense, some scrawled with graffiti or collaged with media scavengings, a few overtly depictive. Such modest multifariousness invites us to imagine that Aldrich is involved in a kind of authorial gamesmanship, and it is comforting to read jokey gestures like gluing almonds to a painting or

  • Peter Saul

    Peter Saul has been enjoying (or mired in) a protracted state of critical rediscovery for nearly twenty years—a process that may finally reach its conclusion with the artist's first American survey, organized by guest curator Dan Cameron.

    Peter Saul has been enjoying (or mired in) a protracted state of critical rediscovery for nearly twenty years—a process that may finally reach its conclusion with the artist's first American survey, organized by guest curator Dan Cameron. We've long heard how Saul's acrid allegories of rubbery humanoids stood apart from Pop's prevailing pieties and paved the way for artists from Mike Kelley to Dana Schutz, but this show of roughly fifty paintings and drawings made since the late 1950s will put his own oeuvre squarely in the spotlight. At a time when global politics seem as

  • “The Puppet Show”

    Citing Alfred Jarry's 1896 play Ubu Roi as their touchstone, curators Carin Kuoni and Ingrid Schaffner look beyond the use of actual puppets to related artworks exploring themes of the alter ego, miniaturization, and control.

    Close on the heels of Team America and Avenue Q, an unlikely puppet-art zeitgeist seemed to be dawning a few years back when marionettes, dolls, and dummies made star turns in works by Christian Jankowski, Philippe Parreno and Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Pierre Huyghe (who cast this writer as a bobblehead manikin). Each of these projects makes a command performance in this show of some forty works made since 1973, alongside contributions by Nathalie Djurberg, Kara Walker, and twenty-one others. Citing Alfred Jarry's 1896 play Ubu Roi as their touchstone,

  • Peter Doig

    Peter Doig coaxes a languid air from tremulous surfaces, and this may make him closer to the painters of the 1890s than to those of the 1990s, the decade in which he emerged.

    Peter Doig coaxes a languid air from tremulous surfaces, and this may make him closer to the painters of the 1890s than to those of the 1990s, the decade in which he emerged. His slow unspooling of color and the ambling specificity of his touch are easily lost in reproductions but will be abundantly evident in this survey of more than fifty paintings and related drawings from the past two decades. The catalogue features essays by Tate Britain's Judith Nesbitt and art historian Richard Schiff, supplemented by an ample selection of Doig's photographic sources, which promises

  • INTRODUCTION

    What was once seditious is now ubiquitous. If ninety years ago Marcel Duchamp infamously claimed the products of industry as his own and a half century later Donald Judd furthered this scandal by directly co-opting the language of manufacture, today artists employ the hands and machines of others so commonly as to scarcely draw notice. A cursory survey of contemporary galleries, biennials, and art magazines reveals that a vast preponderance of artworks in our time—like the two dozen apparently disparate examples arrayed here—involve outsourced labor, industrial processes, and custom

  • 1000 WORDS: FRANCESCO VEZZOLI

    GO AHEAD, ADMIT IT: You’re more than a little curious to see Francesco Vezzoli’s contribution to the new Italian Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale. If, for some, disclosing such curiosity might be a kind of quasi confession, it’s in part because Vezzoli’s last Venetian outing—Trailer for a Remake of Gore Vidal’s Caligula, 2005—has over the intervening years become something of an art-world guilty pleasure, an unrepentant consummation of art’s long and sometimes agonized courtship with the firmament of celebrity-addled spectacle. Sure, we’ve managed to carve out an amorphous critical space

  • EMBEDDED IN THE CULTURE: THE ART OF PAUL CHAN

    THE ELEVATOR man is hassling me. I’m in a building in Chelsea trying to find Paul Chan’s studio, but his name isn’t listed in the directory and I’m not making much progress with the attendant. “Why do you want to see him?” I’m asked. “What do you do? Is he expecting you?” The interrogation is unsettling—my first maximum-security studio visit. Despite my best efforts, the attendant refuses to divulge the suite number but eventually agrees to take me there. He asks the other passengers to wait as he chains the elevator cage open and proceeds to lead me along an anonymous hall to a door simply

  • Eva Hesse

    Following Hesse's landmark multimedia retrospective in 2002, this exhibition, co-organized by the Drawing Center and the Menil Collection, brings drawings to the fore with a survey of one hundred “finished” works on paper, supplemented by a selection of Hesse's 1965 reliefs, a small group of sculptural works, and rarely seen notebooks and diaries.

    Eva Hesse spent much of her decade-long career engaged in drawing—at times even in her sculpture. Perhaps more than any artist of her generation (with the possible exceptions of Fred Sandback and Richard Tuttle), she brought qualities of line off the page into her work in three dimensions. Following Hesse's landmark multimedia retrospective in 2002, this exhibition, co-organized by the Drawing Center and the Menil Collection, brings drawings to the fore with a survey of one hundred “finished” works on paper, supplemented by a selection of