PRINT December 1997

David Rimanelli

1 Carl Andre (Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; Ace Gallery, New York); Tony Smith (Paula Cooper Gallery); Richard Serra (Dia Foundation, New York): I’m coming out of yet another closet: the kind of art I really like is white heterosexual male art. Big butch bruiser art. The kind of art that kicks ass and doesn’t stop kicking ass.

2 Robert Rauschenberg (Guggenheim Museum, New York): Who are the most important artists of the postwar period? This is a question grand poobah David Sylvester likes to ask, and, as I recall, one member of his own troika is Jasper Johns. My nominees: Pollock, Warhol, and Rauschenberg. Rather unjustly, some maintain that Rauschenberg hasn’t done anything good in ten, twenty, even thirty years. So what? He did more in a decade than most comparable figures managed in their entire careers.

3 John Currin, Elizabeth Peyton, Luc Tuymans (Museum of Modern Art, New York): An exceedingly well-received show, triggering one of the more annoying critical reactions in some time. Why do the champions of Tuymans, Peyton, and Currin insist on pretending that their works represent advances in the art of painting, when it seems quite obvious that the “story of painting” has little to do with what makes their work interesting? In The Village Voice Peter Schjeldahl exulted over the three in tones more appropriate to the Second Coming. Does anyone actually believe that John Currin has revamped the portrait genre by displacing the figure from the center of the picture to its margins? Isn’t this device at least as old as Impressionism? Is Currin et al.’s work really “radical painting,” as the curator, Laura Hoptman, told The New York Times? Just wondering.

4 Robert Hughes American Visions (Alfred A. Knopf Public Broadcasting System): I have a weird soft spot for this neo-con blowhard, maybe because he really is the most famous (arguably the only famous) art critic of our time, our John Ruskin. When I look at Hughes, I think, Gee, maybe my career does have a future. (See no. 10.) The intellectual level of the American Visions TV show was shockingly low, compared, say, to its predecessor, Shock of the New, which I much enjoyed as a teenager. It nevertheless delivered many moments of high camp. Every five minutes or so, the camera panned over the expansive American landscape, Classical Thunder boomed on the sound track, and in stentorian tones Hughes rhapsodized over Church, Pollock, the Hoover Dam, whatever. And when the wheat wasn’t swaying, Hughes would dilate upon the Big American Car that rushed to and fro in the Big American Landscape. So where was Paul Cadmus and the Big American Penis? Memorable moment: Hughes, in a contemplative mode, lying on his back in James Turrell’s Roden Crater Bowl to better drink in the transcendence.

5 The Real World (MTV): This is really the best show on television. Nothing is funnier than real-life TV. Perhaps the most amusing aspect of it is the unbelievably unsympathetic character of most of the people we’re watching. The show is vastly improved by imagining the position of the camera, e.g., just beyond the perimeter of the TV screen, inches away from the characters’ faces.

6 Crash (dir. by David Cronenberg): Am I the only person who actually liked this movie? I particularly appreciated the director’s flat refusal of irony. Instead, he pursues outrageous material with poker-faced sincerity. Can only be appreciated in its NC-17 version.

7 Face/Off (dir. by John Woo): More duality, more existential trauma, more bullets, more blood, more breaking glass. Two-and-a-half hours of nonstop violence. Loved Joan Allen as the John Travolta character’s wife; still a dead ringer for Pat Nixon.

8 Whitney Biennial Okay, it was nicely installed. Let’s think positive.

9 Gary Indiana Resentment: A Comedy (Doubleday): Dedicated to the idea that if your children murder you, you must be at least partly to blame.

10 Critic’s Panel One afternoon last August I was awakened from a nap by the telephone: Hello, David, it’s Charlie Finch. Could I interest you in being on a panel discussion I’m organizing called “Burning Down the House: New York’s Toughest Critics”? As I was eager to return to my nap, I said yes. Big mistake. Charlie Finch, the editor of Coagula, a sulfurously nasty art-world gossip rag, assembled an on-the-whole inglorious lot. (Gary Indiana, whom I begged to join me on the panel when I woke up and realized what I’d done, was a notable exception.) The panel itself offered the most conclusive evidence yet that I had made serious errors in judgment with respect to my choice of a professional career. Everyone wanted to talk museum administration and seemed exercised over the fact that in the art world money changes hands, though Deborah Solomon topped the irrelevance by suggesting that Nan Goldin and the Whitney Museum had engaged in some sort of collusion to conceal her age and supposed privileged past in the catalogue to her show. I need to get a new job.

David Rimanelli is a contributing editor of Artforum. He lives in New York.