COLUMNS

  • Harmonic Discord

    THE LATE JOHN BERGER once declared that “the opposite of love is not to hate but to separate. If love and hate have something in common it is because, in both cases, their energy is that of bringing and holding together—the lover with the loved, the one who hates with the hated. Both passions are tested by separation.”

    Kunsthalle Wien director Nicolaus Schafhausen invoked Berger’s words last Wednesday at the inaugural convening of the weekend-long opening for “How to Live Together,” a sprawling group exhibition bringing and holding together artists including Bas Jan Ader, Kader Attia, Goshka

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  • Guest of a GUESS

    IT HAPPENED IN LA’S AFTERLIFE, last Saturday. After the opening of the Broad, after Sprüth Magers and Hauser & Wirth, and even after some kickback to the fantasy of Los Angeles as art paradise (in small waves of transplanted New Yorkers and others returning east), another seismic contemporary art institution touched down on a heretofore native stretch of Wilshire Boulevard just below the tony flats of Hancock Park.

    Following a three-year renovation, the Marciano Art Foundation opened its doors in the former Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, designed by Millard Sheets, to immediately become one of

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  • Berlin Blitz

    AT THE START OF Gallery Weekend Berlin late last month, I found myself sprinting through the streets of Neukölln. This might come as no surprise—after all, we’re in the middle of 2017’s art marathon. But this was different, and having run three blocks to try to catch the man who had just stolen my wallet, kind strangers joining my chase along the way, we cornered him in the toilet of a kneipe (a German bar) and I was reunited with my booty. A good beginning.

    There was no time to celebrate, though, as I headed to the other side of town for the launch of “Robert Motherwell Masterprints” at Kunsthalle

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  • Get Me to the Church on Time

    FOR FIFTY YEARS, the Poetry Project—long housed at Saint Mark’s Church in the East Village—has, as Allen Ginsberg put it, “burned like red hot coal in New York’s snow.” In more prosaic terms, it has been one of the epicenters of American poetry and literature, where nearly every major poet (and an artist here or there) has kept the coals burning with a twenty-minute set on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday evening. A thrifty institution from the start, the Project, as it’s known, has been a site of alliances, contention, protest, and antics: Allen van Newkirk staged a fake-shooting of Kenneth Koch

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  • Peter’s Farm

    FARM ANIMALS NEED A VACATION SOMETIMES, especially when they’re trapped inside the Orwellian nightmare of American politics. That was the pun Sadie Laska turned to while assembling this massive thirty-four-person exhibition, titled after an Amazon ad for George Orwell’s 1945 novel that kept popping up in Laska’s feed when the book hit the best-seller list after the 2016 presidential election. That’s so Big Brother.

    “Peter Brant invited me to propose an idea the day after I attended the Women’s March,” the artist told me. Suddenly, the dystopian reference offered a perfect satire to contrast with

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  • Politics by Other Means

    IN AN UNTITLED FILM shot in Mosul on October 31, 2016, Francis Alÿs trains his lens on a desert landscape suspended in the pink haze of a sandstorm. A tank slowly careens in the distance, armed soldiers milling about in its path. In the foreground, one of the artist’s hands holds up a small white canvas, while the other applies paint, mostly in sand tones with a daub of crimson to match the flag of the Peshmerga—the Kurdish army—flying atop the tank. Using the canvas as both picture and palette, the artist dashes out a composition in situ. “I was originally drawing with pencil on one side and

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  • World Clique

    THE VENICE ART BIENNALE is never just an assembly of national exhibitions competing for prominence and prizes. It’s a summit meeting marshaling the collective conscience of the art world.

    One could sense it build during the preopening events of the Biennale’s fifty-seventh edition, basically an invitation to mainline art while capitalizing on the social element and pretending business is not involved. Fat chance of that when the planet’s most carnivorous collectors are bending elbows with teams of dealers and advisers, top museum personnel, and deep benches of artists. Many, many artists.

    Indeed,

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  • Game On

    IF YOU AREN’T THERE TO SHOP, art fairs are like plugging into a video game where someone’s already taken care of the bosses. Down this aisle, a friend to talk to, down that one a costumed bear spinning out on the floor at your feet; maybe go watch a digital film, ogle some colors, take the ferry—it doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you ride the ride. It all blurs and holds together if you don’t slow down to remember you’ve been chewing on dried mango all day.

    Relentless attention to art and society keeps the body’s needs at bay—at least until a rainy day, with storm clouds looming over the

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  • Fair Exchange

    “ART HAS ALWAYS BEEN A SITE OF RESISTANCE, A SITE OF REFUGE IN HARD TIMES,” Dakar-based curator Koyo Kouoh mused while we were discussing the impressive lineup she had organized for this weekend’s discursive and artistic program throughout the third iteration of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. During the morning preview at Brooklyn’s Pioneer Works, we stood in front of Nú Barreto’s monumental Disunited States of Africa, 2010, an American flag reconceived as pan-African icon. Black stars representing African nations cascade down the composition, crossing gold and red stripes, which are adorned

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  • Just Between Friends

    SOME FUND-RAISERS, you can tell, are held together by the type-A wrath of a corporate-events planner. But not the annual Friends of Artists Space dinner, which is sweeter and much more interesting. It is held at the beginning of Frieze Art Week at the Ukrainian National Home in the East Village. There is no assigned seating. Everything unfolds leisurely, under the grand Art Deco¬–esque, mirrored ceiling of a banquet hall above the main restaurant, where old New Yorkers decide if they want their pierogies boiled or fried.

    Last night’s dinner honored, in absentia, the artist, philosopher, and yogi

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  • Last Calle

    SOPHIE CALLE WAS SMOKING AND TEXTING on stone steps in a green velvet dress, which I wanted to touch. She said sure, so I felt up the hem. It was heavy, deluxe. I asked her where she got it, and instead of answering, she asked me why I liked it. Suddenly I heard myself talking about my childhood, my mother who sewed dresses, and the velvet dresses I always asked her to make me, even after I knew how much the material cost. I stopped, embarrassed. Was I telling a secret? But anyone could see I had been a child, and it was obvious green velvet would suit me. Calle opened a map on her phone and

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  • Mirror Mirror

    LAST WEEK, the Santa Ana winds came in hot and blustery across Los Angeles just as Jeff Koons hit town. Their convergence cannot have been a coincidence. An artist who staked his career on inflatables would naturally be on equal terms with high winds. Generally, they blow in his direction. And these did.

    On Saturday, the Museum of Contemporary Art was to honor him at its star-studded annual benefit gala. On Thursday, Larry Gagosian—not one to let an opportunity slip by—opened a kind of popup Koons show that his Beverly Hills gallery assembled from three different bodies of work. Suffice it to

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