Steven Henry Madoff

  • Marcel van Eeden and Aneta Grzeszykowska

    BY ANY MEASURE, Karl McKay Wiegand (1873–1942) led an extraordinary life. He had multiple careers as a gangster, bootlegger, mountain climber, Abstract Expressionist, naval commander, chancellor, and matinee idol. At times he took on several of these roles at once. Dutch artist Marcel van Eeden recounts Wiegand’s exploits in a suite of 150 pencil drawings done in the style of old news photos and snapshots and simply titled K. M. Wiegand. Life and Work, 2005–2006. Here we see him scaling a rock face, getting handcuffed, being sworn into office, or standing glamorously with a starlet in the glare

  • the Festival d’Avignon

    IT WAS ONLY DURING the brief rendition of a 1977 performance piece by Marina Abramović, in which five couples sat and slapped each other’s faces faster and harder over several minutes, that I began to understand the state of contemporary theater.

    I was in Avignon for the annual theater festival, which has been held there each summer since 1947 and remains ground zero for the European theater world. The identity crisis under which theater strains, or so its critics say, was in ample evidence. Audiences booed, cursed, and awarded rapturous ovations for the twenty-three works presented, with opinions

  • Views of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2004.

    Steven Henry Madoff on the Walker Art Center

    WHAT IS THE ROLE of today’s art museum? Is it a storehouse, a place for viewers deep in introspection to stand before works of art, a site of self-discovery? Or is it a place for group interaction, a mall, a social club, an entertainment zone? These are the questions facing the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis this month as it opens its bigger, better, and considerably shinier $67.5 million expansion designed by Herzog & de Meuron, and Kathy Halbreich, the Walker’s director, has answers to give.

    Her ideas, along with the broader ramifications on museum practice that the Walker’s new building

  • James Cuno

    SOME GUYS HAVE all the luck. Or if not luck exactly, then a sense of moment about them, so that all eyes turn in their direction when opportunity comes. This is certainly the case with James Cuno, 52, who was appointed in January as the new director of the Art Institute of Chicago, replacing James N. Wood after twenty-four years on the job.

    Cuno’s moment has come often enough lately that he managed to use the same quote twice about himself in little more than eighteen months. In response to a reporter’s question in June 2002 as to why he was leaving his eleven-year directorship of the Harvard

  • Clockwise from top right: Sam Durant, Like, man, I’m tired of waiting, 2002, vinyl text on electric sign, 59 x 66“. Glenn Brown, Kill Yourself, 2002, oil on panel, 32 1/4 x 27”.  Carol Rama, Appasionata, 1941, watercolor on paper, 17 x 12 1/2". All from “Delays and Revolutions.”

    the Venice Biennale

    THOSE WHO RECALL THE WAR between Vittorio Sgarbi, former undersecretary of the Italian culture ministry, and Francesco Bonami, director of visual arts for the 50th Venice Biennale [see Artforum, May 2002], may wonder what became of the clangor over Bonami’s appointment: It ended with a whimper when Sgarbi was summarily booted from office last summer. Even at its most heated, this was nothing more than a local skirmish compared with the real war and terrorism under the pall of which this Biennale, opening next month, has been planned and largely realized.

    It is hard to believe that only two years

  • Jenny Holzer

    STEVEN HENRY MADOFF: I’m sorry, I’m just stuck in the present here for a moment. I mean, what your “Truisms” series makes me think about now is the swirl of confusion and anxiety around terrorism. Don’t you think the “Truisms,” with all their weird thoughts and different voices, have an eerie resemblance to what’s going on in our heads today?

    JENNY HOLZER: Well, the work with multiple voices from the late ’70s and early ’80s—the “Truisms” and the “Essays,” for example—looks hopeful to me. I presented the voices more or less simultaneously, and weighted evenly, to suggest that the thoughts were

  • Ars Electronica

    The Web as new-millennium juggernaut is already an old anthem, and it was only slightly refreshed by a politically hip twist at the twenty-third annual Ars Electronica new-media festival. At a cost of nearly $1.7 million dollars and with 1,373 artists submitting work for the Prix Ars, which takes the Oscar-like form of the Golden Nica, the festival is no small affair. Still, like digital art itself, it has remained marginalized in the larger arena, and its codirectors, Gerfried Stocker and Christine Schöpf, took a calculated run this year at greater art-world relevance. Riding the coattails of

  • Bridget Riley

    Steven Henry Madoff recounts the serendipitous meeting that led to Bridget Riley’s first solo show, at London’s Gallery One, in 1962.

    IT’S THE MEREST COMMONPLACE to say that rain is a nourishing force, and when we do we’re usually speaking of the fruits of the earth, not the fruits of art—except, perhaps, in the case of Bridget Riley, which takes us back to a late autumn afternoon in London, 1961. She was still unknown.

    Riley was thirty, laboring as a draftsman in the offices of the advertising powerhouse J. Walter Thompson. As she made her way from work that day through the narrow streets

  • Tate Modern’s new director

    LATE LAST MAY, a full eleven months after Lars Nittve, Tate Modern’s first director, announced his resignation, the Spaniard Vicente Todolí was named as his replacement. The London press, having had ample time to prepare, welcomed him in typically raucous fashion. STOOGE OR VISIONARY? TATE MODERN’S NEW BOSS, read the Times of London headline. In the Guardian, culture correspondent Maev Kennedy added her own acid commentary: “Everyone in the art world knew the job description should have read “wanted, candidate to run Tate Modern and stand up to Sir Nicholas Serota.’” Serota, often called the

  • Venetian Brass: Steven Henry Madoff on the Biennale Brouhaha

    When it was announced in March that Francesco Bonami had been appointed director of visual arts for the 2003 Venice Biennale, one imagined relieved silence falling over the roofs of the city. But of course in the great comic opera of Italian civic affairs, nothing ends in silence or, for that matter, ever seems to end at all.

    Bonami, 47, a Florence native and senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, received word of his election amid a melee of mad political drama—Punch and Judy, Italian style. On one side of the stage, Franco Bernabè, newly named by the Italian culture ministry

  • the Kunsthalle Zürich’s new director

    The game of musical chairs among Switzerland's museum directors and curators continues: First Christoph Becker took on the Kunsthaus Zürich's directorship, beating out Bernhard “Mendes” Bürgi in a controversial appointment that caused critics to cry that turnstile clicks had beat out Kunsthalle cred. Then Bürgi, founding director of the Kunsthalle Zürich, reversed his fortunes, landing the director’s chair at the Kunstmuseum Basel in another fraught changing of the guard that pitted longtime board member and Basel philanthropist Maja Oeri against city officials. Passed over for the post, Oeri’s

  • Basel’s new director

    IN THE LAST TWO turbulent seasons, the Swiss art world has shown a remarkable, if unenviable, penchant for the kind of intrigue and treachery more fitting for miniseries than museums. First came the Kunsthaus Zürich’s decision in January 2000 to appoint Christoph Becker as director—a politically safe choice in the face of the more adventuresome and prominent favorite, Bernhard “Mendes” Bürgi, the founding director and curator at the Kunsthalle Zürich. Now Bürgi, forty-seven, is the upset victor at the Kunstmuseum Basel, the oldest public art showcase in Switzerland, and with his appointment