PRINT December 1999

Daniel Birnbaum

1. “Sigmar Polke: The Three Lies of Painting” (Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der BRD, Bonn, 1997) Large retrospectives are risky in that they always seem to push the artist’s achievement—even a living one’s—into the past tense. But Sigmar Polke’s hallucinatory, open-ended painterly project has proven impossible to bring to any conclusion. The magnificent retrospective in Bonn was the painting show of the decade. Among all the superheroes of German painting, only Polke still flies high.

2. Matthew Barney and Cady Noland (Documenta IX, Kassel, 1992) Matthew Barney’s and Cady Noland’s displays on two subterranean floors of a public garage in Kassel were the strangest, most extraordinary contributions to Jan Hoet’s show. Noland’s Towards a Metalanguage of Evil—a meditation on car crashes, death, and American media corruption—nonchalantly spread out among the parked cars, a few Coke cans marking

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