COLUMNS

  • Pontus Hultén

    To remember Pontus Hultén, legendary curator and director of six art institutions in Europe and America, Artforum asked three of Hultén’s colleagues to reflect on the man and his work.

    DANIEL BIRNBAUM

    AT A DINNER I attended some years ago, an artist friend of mine asked Harald Szeemann whether “Les Machines Celibataires” (The Bachelor Machines), a legendary 1976 exhibition inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass that treated the theme of obsession in contemporary art, hadn’t been a project by Pontus Hultén. Clearly pained at this younger individual’s mistake—the show was Szeemann’s own brainchild—the

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  • Robert Altman in 1993 at the 50th Venice film festival, where he received first prize for Short Cuts. Photo: Magnum/Nikos Economopoulos.

    Robert Altman

    IS NO ONE GOING TO SAY that Robert Altman was a great pothead? Let me, then. Robert Altman was a great pothead. In the war on drugs, he won. To look at his work without thinking about marijuana’s specific gifts and poisons . . . umm . . . specific . . . What was I saying? Oh. Right. Altman. Robert Altman. I met him, did I tell you that already?

    Or as Fernando Pessoa says, “But he must be on fire somewhere. Otherwise, he will not cook the goose of his human inferiority.”

    Six years before The Player (1992), I stopped smoking pot, for the typical reasons, but not the least of them was paranoia. And

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  • Marcia Tucker at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, ca. 1995. Photo: Joe Fornabaio.

    Marcia Tucker

    PEOPLE TOOK NOTICE of Marcia Tucker, and in the mid-1970s I was one of them. She was an inspiration—a brilliant curator and strong woman who had something to do and to say. At the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Marcia had become famous for her groundbreaking shows, having arrived in 1969 to co-organize the first exhibition devoted to process art in an American institution, “Anti-Illusion: Procedure/Materials,” before giving Bruce Nauman and Lee Krasner their solo museum debuts, and James Rosenquist and Joan Mitchell their first retrospectives. And then she became infamous for

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  • Arlene Raven

    ARLENE RAVEN cut a complex swath through the world before she died this past summer on August 1. Indeed, she was an activist as “pluralistic” as the 1970s feminist art community from which she emerged—a quality perhaps most clearly recalled when one considers a 1983 landmark exhibition she curated at the Long Beach Museum of Art in California, titled “At Home,” which brought together many of the artists and ideas she had championed for the previous decade. The show included Suzanne Lacy, who pioneered massive group performances on social themes; West Coast–based performance artists Rachel

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  • Jason Rhoades

    Well before his untimely death on August 1, 2006, at the age of forty-one, Jason Rhoades had made an indelible mark on the art of his generation. Artforum asked four of Rhoades’s colleagues and friends to reflect on the man and his work.

    LINDA NORDEN

    The thing with Perfect World is you can fall off of it and it can kill you. You can walk on this surface, but it has these holes, these cracks and these soft spots, these traps, where it’s just papered over. It is kind of a reality of (my) working. I wanted to build this thing which somehow mimics real life.

    —Jason Rhoades, in a 1999 interview with

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  • György Ligeti

    WE SPEAK OF “live” performances, of “live” recordings—of music as a “live” art, and of musical compositions as having the qualities of living beings; we say that they breathe, are able to speak, can gesture, have particular ways of moving. And no music of recent times was more alive than that of Hungarian composer György Ligeti, even though—whether he was expressing loss and lament, rage, or hilarity—he found his subject matter so often in death.

    There he had rights. Born to Jewish parents in a small town in Transylvania in 1923, he was saved by virtue of the draft, for Hungarian

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  • Mimmo Rotella

    MIMMO ROTELLA’S artistic legacy was perhaps defined by a fateful meeting in 1958, when the curator Pierre Restany visited the artist’s studio in Rome and found him making works using a décollage technique astonishingly similar to that being employed on the other side of the Alps by Frenchmen Raymond Hains, François Dufrêne, and Jacques de la Villeglé—affichistes whom Restany had just the previous year dubbed Nouveau Réalistes in the movement’s first group exhibition. Since 1953, Rotella had been making pieces from layered posters he had furtively torn from walls during nighttime strolls

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  • Nam June Paik with Demagnetizer (Life Ring), 1965, in his Canal Street studio, New York, 1965. Photo: Peter Moore. © Estate of Peter Moore/Licensed by VAGA, New York.

    Nam June Paik

    DO YOU KNOW....?

    How soon TV-chair will be available in most museums?

    How soon artists will have their own TV channels?

    How soon wall to wall TV for video art will be installed in most homes?

    —Nam June Paik, A New Design for TV Chair, 1973

    THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE of Nam June Paik—who died at his home in Miami Beach on January 29—is clear in the expressions commonly used to describe his unique role in transforming the nascent medium of video into a contemporary art form, from the “father of video art” to the “George Washington of video.” It is incredible to think that an entire decade before Paik

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  • John Latham

    THE PASSING OF John Latham, one of Britain’s senior artists (and also one of the most radical), marks the end of an era. A central figure in British art since the ’50s, Latham died on January 1, at eighty-four. He wielded a subtle but profound influence on a younger generation of artists and curators, including Damien Hirst, Douglas Gordon, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, myself, and many others, through his rebellious approach to authority, and his far-reaching ideas regarding the role of art and the artist.

    Latham’s career began in the drab environment of Britain in the aftermath of World War II, against

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  • Nam June Paik, TV Garden, 1974, single-channel video, live plants, and monitors. Installation view, Documenta 6, Kassel, 1977.

    Nam June Paik

    I FIRST SAW Nam June Paik’s work in 1977 at Documenta 6 in Kassel. Twenty years old, with two years of art school under my belt, I was hitchhiking through Europe when I came upon the art world’s temporary Emerald City. The exhibition was dominated by Joseph Beuys, whose Honeypump in the Workplace, 1974–77, snaked through the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, and who had programmed one hundred days of Free International University events. Paik’s contribution was TV Garden, 1974. It was a sprawling installation that looked like an electric, three-dimensional Henri Rousseau—the glow of thirty televisions

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  • Left: Arman with Home Sweet Home, Paris, 1960. Photo: Shunk-Kender. Right: Raymond Hains, Paris, ca. 1960. Photo: Harry Shunk.

    Raymond Hains and Arman

    LAST FALL, WITHIN A WEEK and across an ocean, the careers of two of the last living artists associated with what Pierre Restany in 1960 christened “le Nouveau Réalisme” came to an abrupt halt. Cancer claimed the seventy-six-year-old French-American sculptor Arman in New York on October 22, and self-proclaimed “citizen of the world” Raymond Hains died in Paris on October 28 at age seventy-eight. That the former’s death was mourned as the loss of a “tireless creator” by French President Jacques Chirac and the latter’s passing was lamented by the venerable office of the minister of culture not only

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  • Ismail Merchant

    FEW OF THE TRIBUTES written about Ismail Merchant—the producer half of the well-known Merchant-Ivory partnership, who died last year at age sixty-eight—have done more than celebrate his charismatic personality and his uncanny business acumen. While everyone is familiar with Merchant Ivory Productions’ meticulous adaptations of classic English and American novels, such as The Bostonians (1984), A Room With a View (1985), and The Remains of the Day (1993), and while early Merchant-Ivory films like Shakespeare Wallah (1965) and The Guru (1969) have rightly developed their own cult following, hardly

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