Walter Hopps

  • The best books of 2000

    Linda Nochlin

    Molly Nesbit’s Their Common Sense (Black Dog Press) isn’t exactly an art book—it’s not exactly a book even, in the usual sense. But in the unusual sense, Nesbit’s tome is a marvelous document, swinging briskly between the teaching of mechanical drawing in French schools and the arcanery of Duchamp & Co. It begins in very big print with Antonin Proust’s proposal that all French schoolchildren learn to draw and ends with a memorable still from Pabst’s Joyless Streets. In between? Children’s drawings (not the cute, creative ones, but disciplined, drafting lesson productions), some


    It could be argued that abstraction was the greatest innovation of twentieth-century art. But as much as I admire the pure, nonobjective works of Piet Mondrian and the towering achievements of Barnett Newman, there is nothing I cherish more than the way in which Robert Rauschenberg has brought images of the world back into advanced art. Photography is no doubt the most important visual technology of our time, and from mid-century on it is Rauschenberg, in my opinion, who has most brilliantly brought the camera to the service of painting. His panoplies of photographic images are as complex as


    Homi K. Bhabha: The times are out of joint, perhaps never more so than when we are seduced by that decade-end desire to say, One last time, what was the great work of the ’90s? The ’90s began in the late late ’80s with the big bang of The Satanic Verses, and the decade dribbles on with small arms sniping around an elephant-dung madonna. In between times, we realize how powerful is the appeal to religious orthodoxy; how insecure our sense of the secular; how fragile any idea of global cultural understanding; how the politics of art rarely lies in the artifice itself, but all around it, in the


    IN CALVIN TOMKINS’ 1991 NEW YORKER PROFILE “A Touch for the Now,” curator Walter Hopps comes across as an eccentric maverick. We learn of his preferred schedule (his workday begins not long before sundown and stretches into the morning hours) and near-mythic disappearing acts (his elusiveness prompted employees at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., where he served as director in the ’70s, to make buttons reading “WALTER HOPPS WILL BE HERE IN 20 MINUTES”). It was his relentless perfectionism, however—preparators will recall the habitual groan “Wrong, wrong, wrong” that greeted their best

  • No Phil, No Forum

    IF JOHN IRWIN, the absolute founder of Artforum (he dreamed of a sort of Hugh Hefner fantasy applied to an art world he perceived both insightfully and imperfectly), set the physical style of the magazine (its unusual squarish format and a lush and colored layout), and John Coplans was the driving engine from the inception, by the fifth issue Phil Leider was the magazine’s mind, conscience, and soul. The equation is simple: no Phil Leider, no Artforum—at least of any substance.

    Coplans’ willful energy at the beginning of Artforum was enormous, at times near sociopathic. His greatest contribution

  • An Interview with Jasper Johns

    Q. JASPER, FROM WHAT POINT IN YOUR LIFE would you date the beginnings of your career, your sense that you were an artist, or going to be an artist?

    A. Going to be an artist since childhood. Until about 1953 when it occurred to me that there was a difference between going to be and being, and I decided I shouldn’t always be “going to be” an artist.

    Q. And in 1953 were you then working in New York or were you still in the South?

    A. I was in New York.

    Q. Some of the earlier works such as the small green piece that’s in the showing at the museum, did you do that when you were in New York or outside of

  • Roland Petersen

    Petersen’s latest one man exhibition continues his turgid personal progression in “Bay Area figurative painting,” at a higher, brighter, more intense pitch. At best, these paintings are professionally sound, satisfying and sensible statements of a style. However, the paintings seem somehow pervaded with a sense of unfelt emotion and artificial imagery. There is an indication that Petersen is moving from the sound, superficial performance to one of an intense, perhaps almost hallucinatory lyricism. His brighter nervous color points this way, even though his pedestrian structure and space tension

  • Carlos Villa and William Geis

    This is an important exhibition. A year ago Villa’s paintings were quite powerful, even as they almost totally recapitulated an aspect of Frank Lobdell’s imagery and painterly quality. Villa’s current paintings are on the way to a mature and independent vision. The use of a biomorphic hunk in its heavily worked space has given way to a more original and complex spacial ambiguity. The sculpture of William Geis amply demonstrates that there is vital work being done and to be done in the three dimensional area of abstract expressionism, taken as a convenient term. Geis has the chance of becoming

  • Vahan Amadouni

    In her courageous program, Miss Ninfa Valvo, the curator, has presented many important one man exhibitions of contemporary art at this museum. Amadouni’s current exhibition is a serious mistake. These paintings are large, yet trivial, abstract expressionist performances, where a brightly colored ground is overpainted with wide bands of dense, black paint in the manner of Soulages. The paintings are bad and unworthy of a museum presentation, because they are: (1) nakedly derivative. (If we took Amadouni seriously, we would extrapolate Soulages as the supreme genius of mid century art.) (2)

  • “Art Bank”

    Among the current selections of member artists of the San Francisco Art Association, there are several intriguing works to be noted: Philip Linhares’ sincere engagement with the problem of intimate metaphysical assemblage applied to current oil painting scale . . . the serious struggle with polychrome sculpture by Sally Hellyer . . . a recent copper-coated sculpture of macabre symbolist overtones by John Pearson, and a vigorous black and orange painting by Deborah Remington. The current Art Bank catalogue could well serve as a model, in its physical format, for catalogues yet to be witnessed by

  • Erik Hoberg

    In a room of gracious intimacy, beyond opulent quarters permanently featuring “outstanding European artists” such as Caffe, Chapelain-Midy, Eve, Foppiani, Poucette, Sinko, Ubeda, and Voyet, E. J. H. Hoberg’s delicacies consist of exactly the right dessert. The most remarkable quality of Hoberg’s art is the beguiling, unspecific way it resembles aspects of each of his acknowledged teachers: Laufman, Garrett, Lewis, Barnet, von Wicht, Sternberg, and Peining (student of Klee.)

    ––Walter Hopps

  • California Society of Etchers

    The effect of the California Society of Etchers exhibition is anesthetic to such a preponderant degree that it seems impossible to recall, or single out, any individual work in this selection, which included 39 artists from thirteen states and one foreign country.

    ––Walter Hopps