COLUMNS

  • Genet Sais Quoi

    In this month of nascent lethargy, young Brooklyn artists with wilting petals would do well to see Momenta Art’s energetic group show “Still Ill.” A series of performances whose leftovers accumulate and linger in the space, it offers chastening evidence that some people, rather than fleeing to the beach, have decided to stick around and do something useful, or at least interesting. A man-shaped plastic mould in which a naked Jonathan Schipper had crouched on all fours made me feel I’d really missed something at the exhibition opening. “There were pools of sweat on the floor and steam was coming

    Read more
  • Mad Cowboy

    A quick flashback: Munich 1931. Adolf Hitler orders the construction of the Haus der Deutschen Kunst—a museum-slash-propaganda tool where Der Führer made public speeches, promoted his reactionary artistic agenda, and demonized Entartete Kunst (the Nazi term for avant-garde art practices). Fast-forward to 2005: In an uncanny reversal of history, today’s preeminent degenerate artist—Paul McCarthy—has been welcomed into the same fascist edifice.

    Entitled “LaLa Land Parody Paradise,” the show was unanimously heralded around the booths of Art Basel as McCarthy’s most exhilaratingly

    Read more
  • Bridge Line

    Even Slater Bradley, who is thirty, was feeling old. For many at the Thursday night opening of Neville Wakefield’s “Bridge Freezes Before Road,” the summer group exhibition at Barbara Gladstone, this was the “young, hip show” of the post-Venice/Basel season, the “cool” place to be. And “cool” was the word for the “Greater New York 2005” generation swarming the gallery in low-cut dirndls and pastel shirts. Actually, the recent-MFA-grad crowd provided a neat counterpoint to the soigné middle-agers filling the Whitney the previous night to greet the arrival of Eugenie Tsai's terrific Robert Smithson

    Read more
  • Poster Children

    Posters! Posters everywhere! That was my first impression upon walking into “Translation,” the new show at the Palais de Tokyo, where blue-chip contemporary art from the Dakis Joannou Collection shares the galleries with the work of French graphic design duo M/M Paris, of Bjork album-cover fame. The result of this art-design pairing? According to the press kit, it’s a “unique exhibition experience” aimed at defining a new kind of “altermodernism,” one that resists cultural and economic standardization and instead articulates “a mutant form of creole culture.”

    “Haphazard and unplanned, that’s the

    Read more
  • Buzz Words

    Art Basel is all about word of mouth—collectors and curators alike seem driven by it, as they spend four frenetic days running from booth to booth and show to show, to see/discover/consume the hottest thing. Cell phones fuel the buzz: my first SMS communiqué, received upon touching down in Basel Monday evening, read: “It’s so much better than the Arsenale!” The surging hoards had arrived from Venice, famished for some aesthetic stimulation and further art schmoozing. As I tried to make my way through the crowd at the Art Unlimited opening to see if my text-message tip was true, I realized

    Read more
  • Supersize Spree

    At the Monday opening of the sixth annual Art Unlimited exhibition, Art Basel director Samuel Keller was quick to remind everyone, “The artworks here are for sale”—an announcement that functioned like the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, signaling the beginning of the week’s trading. Keller was making an important point, because while this section of Art Basel, held in a large hall next to the fair’s main space and devoted to large-scale works that do not fit in regular booths, looks like (and is) a curated exhibition—organized by Switzerland-based artist and independent curator

    Read more
  • My Hustler

    On Thursday night, the Fondazione Prada is exhibiting Francesco Vezzoli’s 2004 film Le Comizi di Non Amore at the Fondazione Cini on Darsena, the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore; a cocktail party follows for Vezzoli and Rem Koolhaas, Carsten Höller, and Mariko Mori, all beneficiaries of Prada’s largesse (in one way or another) who are exhibiting in the Biennale. I’ve always been a fan of Vezzoli. Though he has had his share of notable admirers, for years now I’ve also noticed a remarkable knee jerk hostility toward him. Too smooth an operater? Too attentive to his career? Too smart for his own

    Read more
  • Fairer Fare

    Who would have thought we’d be pining for the chaos of “Utopia Station”? This year’s Arsenale show, “Always a Little Further,” was a pared-down affair, but featured so much heavy-handed installation that it seemed a major throwback to the eighties and nineties. Indeed, with a veteran feminist agenda to boot, much of the work was well past its sell-by date of 1989. The fact that “best newcomer” prize was given to young Guatemalan body artist Regina José Galindo says it all: She shaves herself naked in public, creates a trail of bloody footprints in the streets, and videotapes her own hymenoplasty.

    Read more
  • Casino Advantage

    Representing one’s country at the Venice Biennale is undoubtedly an honor. It can pump up an artist's career—but it can also take the wind out of one's sails. There is no other exhibition in which artists must stand at their own front doors, so to speak, making themselves available to critics and passersby. “Like prostitutes,” said one visitor to the Giardini. The up side: “Those who used to think you were full of shit might suddenly love you because it’s ‘your moment’—or because you have the right dealer.” Artists know it’s just a game, but when it’s their turn they may find the going

    Read more
  • Stone of Venice

    It’s a dismal truism that a writer’s life is hell, but it has its moments—like this one, as I begin my Venetian epistle on the terrace of my hotel overlooking the Grand Canal and the gleaming white domes of Santa Maria della Salute. John Ruskin had a no less splendid view of the comparatively austere but even more distinguished San Giorgio Maggiore from his window at the Danieli, where he habitually stayed when visiting the city he described in such loving detail in The Stones of Venice. But by just cocking my head thirty degrees to the left I have a fine vista of that grandest of Palladian

    Read more
  • Naked and Rude

    Friday night, West Hollywood. A Chateau Marmont manager has upgraded Lisa Yuskavage, still in town from her Wednesday dog-and-pony show with Lisa Cholodenko at the Hammer. Whisked from her rear-view room near a noisy elevator, she has now landed a gargantuan, six-room penthouse with a full-size kitchen in lieu of a minibar, ashtrays everywhere (in California!) and a nearly wraparound terrace. When I arrive to visit, the remote-controlled gas fire is roaring, the sun is setting over the hills, and life is rich and strange.

    Saturday afternoon, while touring the galleries in Chinatown, along Wilshire

    Read more
  • Inflated Hopes

    After a long day traveling the outskirts of Oslo to visit various art institutions—the Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium, the Preus Museum and Gallery F15 in Horten, and Momenum in Moss—I arrived back in the city Friday just in time to join what seemed like all of Oslo’s culturati at the crowded opening of “Kiss the Frog! The Art of Transformation,” the inaugural exhibition at the newly combined national museums of art, architecture, and design (now called, simply, the National Museum). The show features an international mix of art-world heavyweights (Jorge Pardo, Pipolotti Rist, and Kara

    Read more