COLUMNS

  • Remaking Haye

    I accompanied Michele Maccarone to the Julie Mehretu drawings show at. . . what’s no longer the Project, on West 57th Street. One consequence of the ugly legal battle between Swiss businessman and mega-collector Jean-Pierre Lehmann and dealer Christian Haye—an internecine quarrel over some Mehretu paintings that Lehmann had wanted but didn’t get—was that the young dealer had to relinquish the name of the maverick gallery he founded in Harlem in 1998, and thereafter expanded with a Los Angeles branch in 2001. So he’s dubbed the “new” enterprise Projectile; a prominent “X” partially

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  • Given Cake

    An announcement for “What Now? Art Practice and Public Institutions Today,” a panel discussion held last week at the Guggenheim Museum, listed several promising questions to be discussed: Do today’s artists impact institutions in the same way that artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s did? How can institutions balance artistic ambition with limited production budgets? Where can we find new models for public institutions? The discussion was held to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Etant donnes, the French-American Fund for Contemporary Art, a grant-giving organization that has sponsored over 100

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  • Gang Gang of Four

    Gang Gang Dance, a percussive quartet featuring young old-hand musicians (from avant-metal bands Cranium and Angel Blood) and young old-hand artists (from the stables of Kenny Schachter, American Fine Arts, and Rivington Arms), has been together more than five years but is at a peak right now with its tribal, screechy kind of energetic funk. The band’s London debut took place in the basement of a pub at 2am on the Saturday night of last October’s Frieze Art Fair. I was drunk, and the night stays with me as a jumbled dream of transatlantic assimilation. Band members Lizzi Bougatsos, Brian DeGraw,

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  • Unquiet Americans

    The downtown underground resurfaced in Manhattan last Wednesday, though (sigh) only for the night. At 192 Books in Chelsea, the line between fact and fable grew dim as Harry Mathews read the sex scenes from My Life in CIA (Dalkey Archive Press), his new autobiographical novel.

    Mathews, author of Cigarettes and other gems, has been a part-time Parisian for many years—long enough to have been suspected of being an American agent by the French intelligentsia. His new book chronicles his life in the 1970s as a frog version of the unwitting spy in Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana. Arriving at

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  • Cat's Meow

    Catholic No. 1: Cats—a charming volume put out by Evil Twin Publications and D.A.P. (“with assistance from: VICE”) that celebrates feline grace, beauty, and naughtiness—arrives in the mail. “This is actually Catholic v1.5,” editors Jesse Pearson and Glynnis McDaris explain. “This sounds nerdy but it’s true. The first Catholic was published in an edition of 1,000 handmade zines to accompany a group show we curated in November, 2003, at Guild and Greyshkul in New York.” The book contains contributions from over 100 artists and writers, including Roe Etheridge, Richard Kern, Steve and

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  • LA Residential

    Behind the pale gray facade of a newly built faux-Neutra home at 1482 Inverness Drive in Pasadena, a disc of shimmery transparent plastic—one can’t help thinking a giant LifeSaver—sways ever so slightly on a string. The disc shatters a blinding beam of narrowly focused light, scattering it into multiple eclipses and self-devouring ovals. Elsewhere, a cylinder of what looks like smoky, nicotine-laden glass—dichroic, one expert labeled it—creates modulated, rainbowy effects. A giant ball rotates over a very functional-looking kitchen, casting pentacles on the walls. And then

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  • Fab or Flab?

    Although it’s been a few years since I last saw Mark Morris, I felt reasonably sure what to expect from the opening night of his five-day engagement at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Morris’s rich choreography, astonishing musical sensitivity, ever-expanding vocabulary of sexual entendres, roving eye for other cultures, and performative bravado have all remained constant since the very beginning of his career—even if the fizziness of his work seems to have flattened somewhat. It’s hard to say if this mellowing-out is due to the fact that Morris has (a) won his very own private culture war

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  • Personal and Political

    Something unexpected happened in the closing minutes of the memorial for Leon Golub in the Great Hall at Cooper Union last Sunday: Robert Storr, speaking rapidly and with increasing urgency, turned a pointedly secular tribute into an almost evangelical call for art-world solidarity with Golub's viscerally political vision, rousing the standing-room-only gathering to thunderous, cheering applause.

    Golub died last August, at eighty-two. Like his wife of fifty-three years, Nancy Spero, he stuck to his Old Leftie guns throughout his life, expressing his rage against one state machine after another

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  • American Friends

    After stopping in New York, Boston, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago, we arrive in Minneapolis. I'm traveling with curators Gunnar Kvaran and Hans-Ulrich Obrist to map “The Uncertain States of America,” a project that will result in a

    show of emerging American artists in Oslo in the fall. We’ve collected dossiers from almost a thousand prospective contributors and have glimpsed an artistic landscape that we really hadn’t known anything about. Armed with lists of recommendations from friends across the nation, we continue our exploration in the galleries, studios, cafés

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  • Crumb's Bums

    “You want me to cover a T-shirt launch?” I said incredulously to my editor. Indeed. So I hauled my art-critic carcass over to the Stella McCartney boutique on far West Fourteenth Street to attend a party celebrating underground-comics legend R. Crumb’s collaboration with the designer: His-and-hers T-shirts adorned with pictures that express his befuddlement over the passions ignited by high fashion. McCartney has been a fan for some time and has already hosted a glam party in London for the scrawny, bespectacled poet of lovely buxom ladies with meaty thighs and big butts. My friend Hanna Liden

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  • Less Is More

    VB55, at Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie, was Vanessa Beecroft's biggest work to date: One hundred women, aged eighteen to sixty-five—coached by a psychologist, fed vegetarian snacks, and wearing nothing more than skin-toned pantyhose and a sheer coat of almond oil—standing around in Mies van der Rohe's spectacular glass box. Instead of her usual bevy of models, Beecroft cast ordinary-looking locals with red, blonde and black hair—the colors of the German flag and of her grandparents' and parents' hair. For at least one journalist at the press conference, Beecroft's combination of

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  • Tweedy Set

    How to regain your writer’s pride as you’re being shunted to the back of a two-block line outside the New York Public Library? Simple. Pass by a similarly shunted rock star (David Byrne), a longtime Rolling Stone editor (David Fricke), and a downtown DJ/theorist manqué (DJ Spooky) on the way. This spottily luminescent throng was assembled to hear Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and Stanford law professor and intellectual property activist Lawrence Lessig discuss copyrights, copywrongs, and their effects on contemporary creativity. Moderated by Wired contributing editor and digital culture writer

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