PRINT September 1999

US Shorts

Michael DeBord

Where are all the big millennium shows at our nation’s smaller venues? Apparently, the only one to take note is New York’s Museum of American Folk Art—but how! “Millennial Dreams: Utopian Visions in American Folk Art,” opening November 13, summons a bevy of backwoods evangelists and brimstone soothsayers to share their visions of a fiery end.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the Rapture doesn’t occur at midnight on December 31. The International Foundation for the Canadian Centre for Architecture, gambling that New York will be around for a while, has invited five firms to submit schemes for an open-ended project occupying a sixteen-block area on Manhattan’s West Side. The results, including Peter Eisenman’s winning proposal, go on view October 19 at Grand Central Terminal. If the thought of New Year’s Eve fills you with trepidation more social than eschatological in nature, you’ll love Tony Matelli’s project for the Public Art Fund. With Distant Party, taped sounds from an “actual party” will be broadcast around town on concealed speakers, allowing New Yorkers to feel left out of a shindig that isn’t even happening.

Boston’s ICA has a double whammy on tap with Shellburne Thurber (Sept. 8–Oct. 23) and with Shimon Attie’s “Sites Unseen” (Nov. 10, 1999–Jan. 2, 2000). At the MCA in Chicago, Bruce Nauman and Kcho will contribute three works apiece to “Encounter” (Oct. 3–Nov. 28), while Beat Streuli will banner the institution’s windows with a four-story montage of Windy City denizens beginning October 16. Nancy Davidson, fishnet-clad weather balloons in tow, can be seen at ICA Philadelphia, while her comrade in provocation, Kiki Smith, appears at the St. Louis Art Museum (Oct. 19, 1999–Jan. 23, 2000) in a show of works on paper. (If you can’t make it to Missouri, check out “Familiars,” featuring Smith and Margaret De Wys at Bard College beginning Sept. 26.) Meanwhile, Pakistani expat Shazia Sikander occupies the “Directions” gallery at Washington’s Hirshhorn with her miniaturized explorations of religion and aesthetics on the subcontinent (Nov. 18, 1999–Feb. 21 2000).

The French won’t be everywhere this fall; it’ll only seem that way (at least on one side of the country). “Côte Ouest: A Season of French Contemporary Art” is a full-bore, Seattle-to-San Diego onslaught. A mob of galleries and museums—from Pace and Gagosian to the Getty, MOCA, the LA County Museum of Art, MCA San Diego, and the Seattle Art Museum—have signed on for this diffuse megashow. Artists involved include Olivier Assayas, Ghada Amer, Annette Messager, and Bernard Quesniaux. Elsewhere on the West Coast, Joe Scanlan, under the auspices of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, will join the cresting SoCal artist-as-decorator wave and investigate furniture design and architecture via a special project (Sept. 18–Nov. 13).

Other shows of note this fall include the Grey Art Gallery’s hipper-than-hip “Inverted Odysseys: Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Cindy Sherman” (Nov. 16, 1999–Jan 29, 2000), which showcases the three artists’ photographs, films, and collages; LACMA’s “Ghost in the Shell: Photography and the Human Soul, 1850–2000” (Oct. 24, 1999–Jan. 16, 2000), easily the fall’s most ambitious title; the Dallas Museum of Art’s “Art in Postrevolutionary Mexico, 1920–1950” (Sept. 16,1999–Feb. 13, 2000), which features the likes of José Orozco and Rufino Tamayo; and a survey of behind-the-Great-Wall photography at the Asia Society’s “China: Fifty Years Inside the People’s Republic” (Oct. 8, 1999–Jan. 2, 2000).

Matthew DeBord



Pittsburgh in autumn is no longer just for Steelers fans and Michael Chabon. In addition to the Carnegie International (see p. 67), the Mattress Factory’s “Installations by Asian Artists in Residence” (Oct. 31, 1999–July 31, 2000) makes a visit to the city a must. Many of the ten artists are showing in the US for the first time, although China’s Youshen Wang has already garnered attention with works evocative of mass graves, as has Dexin Gu and his Nari Ward-esque installations. Others with advance billing are the South Korean artist Gimhongsok, who in the past has drugged himself for his exhibitionistic performances; and Mali Wu of Taiwan, whose work evinces a brooding, European flavor—think a kinder, gentler Kiefer.

Matthew DeBord



Jasper Johns’s late career has always posed an enigma. After the iconic, proto-Pop efforts of the ’50s, Johns wandered. And wandered. Many viewers would be hardpressed to characterize his work of the ’90s. That’s a shame, because Johns has consistently proved that his cerebral counter to AbEx muscularity was no flash in the pan. At SF MoMA, curator Gary Garrels makes the case for Johns’s vitality with this show of seven new paintings and half a dozen works on paper. “This is some of the strongest work I have seen in years,” Garrels says. “These paintings are more open than past works to a personal reaction.” Opening September 16, the exhibition later travels to the Yale University Art Gallery and the Dallas Museum of Art.

Matthew DeBord