COLUMNS

  • True Colors

    Richard J. Powell’s prismatic and personal art history

    Richard J. Powell, a leading scholar in African American art history and the John Spencer Bassett Distinguished Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University, is currently delivering the seventy-first A. W. Mellon Lectures, the storied public series hosted by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Titled “Colorstruck! Painting, Pigment, Affect,” the six-part lecture spans social history, personal experience, color theory, music, art, and design. Taking a thematic rather than specifically historical approach, Powell engages art historical questions from a somewhat heterodox vantage,

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  • Margaux Williamson

    Margaux Williamson’s unruly works from home

    **

    Taking in the fifteen years of work in “Interiors,” the first career-spanning survey of the Toronto-based painter Margaux Williamson, one senses an uncanny presentiment of pandemic life and its rhythms. Glowing laptop screens, half-drunk glasses of water, ornate rugs, rumpled bedsheets, handwritten notes, and the occasional dog seem to appear and recede from focus, evoking the displacements of memory and the alternately comforting and claustrophobic weight of extended time spent at home. These upended domestic tableaux display, as Ben Lerner says in an accompanying text, the “unstable relations

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  • Emma Stern

    Emma Stern on pirates, pinups, and the virtual self

    The Jolly Roger flies in the East Village—or some pastel fantasy of it, the skull and crossbones glazed with sunset pinks above a rippling, mirrored sea, flapping in the breeze over the entrance of Half Gallery. This is piracy, Emma Stern style. The artist is known for shapely, shaded tableaux in oil on canvas that, merging then and now, draw on images from her ever-expanding cast of comely gray 3-D avatars. This time, a trio of glassy-eyed babes don swashbuckling skirts and boots, grip pistols and cutlasses, and maraud shores inundated with high camp and high water. Scourged by the promise of

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  • Thomas Demand

    Thomas Demand on photographing Azzedine Alaïa’s archive

    Having previously considered architects including Hans Hollein and John Lautner, Thomas Demand now turns to the work of the late fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa for “Model Studies,” on view at Matthew Marks Gallery in Los Angeles through April 9, 2022. The exhibition consists of four large photographs taken in Alaïa’s archive: patterns used by the French couturier and his studio to make and remake his garments known for their tight, exacting forms. Our conversation spanned questions of craft, translation, and models both physical and conceptual. We spoke over sandwiches in Santa Monica.

    AFTER

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  • Olivia Mole

    Making mischief and mascots for the Hammer Museum’s “Lifes”

    At “Lifes,” a sundry and symphonic group show at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, a string of performances, readings, songs, and a “tuning meditation”—by the great Pauline Oliveros—ebb and flow throughout two galleries as part of an hourly cycle, shifting the vibe as if for the sake of it. The quicksilver approach of the exhibition, which numbers more than fifty participants and runs through May 8, puckishly defies the expectations of a museum to fossilize and dignify its objects on view, to bestow a certain, sacred seriousness. Nothing could be less grave, and more puzzling to pin down, than

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  • Faith Ringgold

    On the making of her retrospective

    For over six decades, the artist, activist, educator, and writer Faith Ringgold has drawn from both her own life and collective histories in the pursuit of racial justice and equity. From protesting museums with the Ad Hoc Women’s Art Committee in the 1970s to publishing and illustrating seventeen children’s books to her paintings, soft sculpture, and story quilts, her invincible spirit is fully apparent in “Faith Ringgold: American People,” the most comprehensive exhibition to date of her farsighted work. The show remains on view at the New Museum in New York through June 5, 2022.

    IN 1988, I

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  • Lauren O’Neill-Butler

    On the art of the interview

    As a writer, critic, and erstwhile senior editor at Artforum, Lauren O’Neill-Butler has made an art of the interview format, having conducted well over one hundred and fifty over the past thirteen years. Her latest book, Let’s Have a Talk: Conversations with Women on Art and Culture (Karma), collects many of them, in effect putting a disparate group of artists, writers, and thinkers including Adrian Piper, Alex Bag, Sturtevant, Lorraine O’Grady and others into a kind of dialogue with one another. Here the interviewee, O’Neill-Butler talks about the value of public speech, the formidable craft

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  • Aline Kominsky-Crumb

    Aline Kominsky-Crumb on her life and work in comics

    A family affair, “Sauve qui peut ! (Run for Your Life),” on view at David Zwirner in Paris through March 26, brings together the work of Aline Kominsky-Crumb; her husband, cartoonist Robert Crumb; and their daughter, artist Sophie Crumb. The ensemble includes spontaneous scribbles on paper placemats, dense excerpts of comics scarred with whiteout, photobooth snapshots of the then-young couple, as well as new work—such as a commission in which Aline and Sophie recount their respective abortions (profits from the show will go toward a women’s health organization). An unabashed over-sharer whose

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  • Graciela Iturbide

    Graciela Iturbide on her life in photography

    Heliotropo 37,” at Paris’s Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, is named after the address of Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico City studio, a place vibrantly outfitted with folk art and plants within a brick fortress designed by her son, Mauricio Rocha (he did the exhibition scenography, too). “Helio means light; tropo means something that goes around: It just so happens I’m on a street whose name perfectly corresponds with photography,” Iturbide marveled over Zoom while smoking from her couch. On view from February 12 to May 29, 2022, the survey spans two hundred images, plus an exhibition-specific

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  • Class Struggle

    Rethinking pedagogy and social practice in the pandemic era

    FROM GRIM ACCOUNTS by New York high schoolers to student walkouts over Covid safety to labor disputes between unions and cities, public school education has opened up as another front in the war of mismanagement between the pandemic and the state. What does social responsibility, let alone learning, look like when avowedly left-wing parents blame teachers for closures, municipalities push for charter schools, and no one can Think of the Children? Over the last decade, Gabo Camnitzer has produced workshops and performances with students to test how education both challenges and enforces administrative

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  • Sreshta Rit Premnath

    Sreshta Rit Premnath on finding hope at the margins

    Sreshta Rit Premnath abstracts materials associated with the architecture and institutions of confinement and control—chain-link fencing, metal barriers, aluminum sheets, Mylar blankets, foam mattresses—into floating signifiers that he recombines into installations at once topographical and quietly theatrical. Below, Premnath discusses two related exhibitions, both titled “Grave/Grove” and currently on view at the MIT List Visual Arts Center until February 13, 2022, and Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center until February 27, 2022, where his austere sculptures become unlikely hosts to various

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  • Renée Green

    Renée Green on making space for unknowability

    “I’ve never been interested in institutions per se,” Renée Green explained to me over Zoom in late November. “Always more so in the dreaming, in the fictional aspects that open up possibilities of how someone can live.” Amid a comprehensive survey of her work taking place at the Kunst Werke and daadgalerie in Berlin, the artist, filmmaker, and writer and I sat down in our respective homes in the city and discussed the current restaging of a work from 1990. In keeping with Green’s multilayered and associative forty-year practice, our conversation took off from this premise and circulated fluidly

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