Tim Griffin

  • Jacqueline Humphries, :-/, 2014, oil on linen, 9' 6“ × 10' 7”.

    Tim Griffin

    FOR MORE THAN A DECADE, the art world has been fascinated with Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello’s New Spirit of Capitalism (1999), making all the more striking the degree to which that volume’s single chapter devoted to art—more specifically, to the fate of artistic critique—has been ignored. For the predicament of critical models in contemporary art still finds a clear corollary in the authors’ description of corporate culture in France after May 1968.

    As Boltanski and Chiapello propose, corporations operating in the wake of that populist uprising genuinely sought to satisfy protesters’

  • Guillaume Nicloux, The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, 2014, digital video, color, sound, 92 minutes. Michel Houellebecq.

    Guillaume Nicloux’s Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq

    TO TAKE THE NARRATORS of his various novels at their collective word, author Michel Houellebecq would seem to think few things are so banal—or, perhaps more accurately, so much a thing of the past—as people. In the opening pages of his first published volume, Whatever (1994), the writer deplored how “the world is becoming more uniform before our eyes,” such that “human beings are often bent on making themselves conspicuous by subtle and disagreeable variations, defects, character traits, and the like.” His most celebrated novel, The Elementary Particles (1998), subsequently portrayed

  • Monika Sosnowska, Untitled, 2013, steel, lacquer, 65 × 10 3/8 × 56 3/4".

    “Monika Sosnowska: Architectonisation”

    If the angel of history looks perpetually back at the accumulating wreckage of the past, Monika Sosnowska is undoubtedly that seraph’s guide for the last century. The artist repeatedly takes up the figures of modernism and their gestures toward utopia through art, architecture, and design, only to mark their fateful passing and our ever-increasing distance from them in time. Yet in this survey of both large-scale installation projects and smaller objects dating from between 2003 and 2014 (including the complete set of sculptures making up the “Market” series, 2012–14),

  • View of “Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness,” 2014, Museum of Modern Art. From left: Untitled (Study in Yellow and Green / East Berlin) . . . , 2012; Clockwise from Manufacturer Name (Outer Ring) . . . , 2008; Window (with Window Cutaways) . . . , 2010; Kodak Three Point Reflection Guide / © 1968 . . . , 2005. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar.

    Tim Griffin

    LOCATED AT THE VERY HEART of Christopher Williams’s retrospective, “The Production Line of Happiness,” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York was an image that stood apart for seeming at once so incongruous and yet utterly representative of the artist’s oeuvre. Like so many of Williams’s works, this photograph takes its title from an exhaustive inventory of the circumstances of its making, beginning with TecTake Luxus Strandkorb grau/weiß/Model no.: 400636—naming the branded model of a beach chair and the online store from which it was purchased—before moving to the chair’s materials

  • True Detective, 2014, production still from a TV show on HBO. Detective Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Detective Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson). Photo: Lacey Terrell.

    True Detective

    RARE IS THE CELEBRATED TELEVISION SERIES that owes its reputation almost entirely to its inaugural episode’s first twenty minutes, but such is the case with True Detective. Indeed, the HBO program—penned by Nic Pizzolatto and starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as detectives Marty Hart and Rust Cohle, respectively—might even be said to have created a media frenzy based on a single conversation between its protagonists. Driving away from a ritualized murder scene deep in rural Louisiana, Cohle rebuffs his partner’s attempt to bond over the horrific nature of what they’ve

  • “Douglas Gordon: The Only Way Out is the Only Way In”

    It is sometimes difficult to recall that in the decade just before artists became fixated on the little screen’s splintering fields of information, what prevailed instead was an obsession with the big screen: immersive art installations offering a kind of high-end notation for phenomenological shifts happening throughout culture as digital technology took hold. Few artists are so crucial to this history as Douglas Gordon, whose landmark works lent pop iconicity to the editing of experience. This slender but astute survey will pair a recent effort with five others from

  • Jack Goldstein, A Spotlight, 1972, 16 mm, black-and-white, sound, 8 minutes.

    Tim Griffin

    PROBABLY MOST STRIKING about curator Philipp Kaiser’s incisive retrospective exhibition “Jack Goldstein x 10,000”—originally organized for the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, California—is the uncanny extent to which the artist, seen from our distance today, still proves able to shape the reception of his work. Indeed, such coding in advance was forthrightly thematized here by Portfolio Performance, 1976–85/2001. In this group of nine large prints, each panel features a single archival image of a piece executed by Goldstein in the years referenced, accompanied by an

  • Rodney Ascher, Room 237, 2012, digital video, color and black-and-white, sound, 102 minutes. Clip from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, 1980.

    Rodney Ascher’s Room 237

    BY SO MANY MEASURES, Room 237 is a diminutive film. Directed by Rodney Ascher (reputed for his 2010 short, S from Hell), it is restricted in scope to the interwoven commentaries of five devotees of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic, The Shining, whose day jobs range from ABC correspondent (Bill Blakemore) and history professor (Geoffrey Cocks) to experimental musician (John Fell Ryan), playwright (Juli Kearns), and professional “conspiracy hunter” (Jay Weidner). The remarks of these aficionados are laid over corresponding clips from Kubrick’s film, in addition to occasional passages from the

  • Emmett Williams, Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz, 1963–64, offset scroll, 7' 2 1/4“ x 2 1/4”.

    Tim Griffin

    WRITING DURING A VERY DIFFERENT MOMENT IN ART, scholar and critic Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, seeking to construct a genealogy for contemporary conceptual practices, famously asserted that the artist Robert Morris irrevocably altered the reflexive constitution of artmaking after modernism by introducing linguistic theory into his engagements with sculpture. In so doing, Buchloh suggested, the sculptor necessarily extended the parameters of art about itself outward to include the very architectural surfaces and frames that provided any artwork with its physical syntax and, for later generations, the

  • Ridley Scott, Blade Runner, 1982, 35 mm, color, 117 minutes. Rachael (Sean Young).

    Tim Griffin on art and artifical life

    CLASSIC WITHIN THE GENRE of science fiction is the figure of the replicant, or android—a wholly synthetic being who is nevertheless, for all immediate intents and purposes, distinctly human, possessing the capacity for emotion and memory, and even for a kind of personal evolution while navigating the ever-shifting terrain of lived experience. And yet more definitive of this figure, within the narrative paradigms of science fiction, is how he or she is nearly always subjected to a melancholic twist of fate that introduces an irreparable fissure between engineered and organic worlds. At some

  • Ger van Elk, The Well Polished Floor Sculpture, 1969–80/2010, polished floor. Installation view, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2010. Photo: Hogers & Versluys.

    Tim Griffin

    THE TEMPORALITY OF ART’S DISPLAY has always been in dialogue with that of the surrounding culture, and, more acutely, with that of commerce and its cycles of production and consumption. If, for example, during the workers’ reform movements of the 1800s the great expositions saw an extension of exhibition hours to make it possible for popular audiences to visit after the factory day shift, by the end of the nineteenth century encyclopedic institutions such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art would be attuned to shoppers’ attention spans. (When people visited either the encyclopedic museum

  • Gianni Colombo, Spazio elastico (Elastic Space), 1967, fluorescent elastic bands, electric engines, Wood’s lamp. Installation view, Central Pavilion, Venice. From “ILLUMInations.”


    AMONG THE MORE PUZZLING PREOCCUPATIONS of dialogues around art during the past five years has been “the contemporary,” a seemingly self-evident description that, to date, has operated largely in reverse—that has been put forward, in other words, as a meaningful denomination and subject of inquiry in advance of any actual, deductive relationship to the surrounding world. The hope, it would seem, is that the term employed by itself, and evocatively, will help tease out some general understanding of the conditions for artmaking and its reception today. Yet, unlikely as this might be, the