PRINT December 2000

David Rimanelli


1 LA Girls Desire Romance I spent the greater part of the last year living in LA, where a double teaching gig provided a lifeline to the young and aesthetic. In fact, I’ll admit to doing a bit of the much-maligned cradle robbing for two shows I curated in New York. I seemed to be especially taken with the ladies: Sonia Wang, Milena Muzquiz, Deb Lacusta, Dania Martin, Hannah Greely, and above all Delia Brown. Brown’s pictures of sybaritic, sensually provocative vulgarity Southern California style are based on performances she casts and videotapes, e.g., an interracial coke and champagne party at the Chateau Marmont or the recent fashion spreads she executed for the New York Times Magazine.

2 The Women of Rome Something of the spoiled languor in Brown’s pictures dovetails with the aesthetic of Steven Meisel’s new ad campaign for Versace, although the latter seems to trade more on Old World hauteur and corruption, evoking the styles and subjects of Moravia, Pasolini, Antonioni, and Fellini by way of Beverly Hills. It’s as if the weary aristos of Patrick Faigenbaum’s photographs had crossbred with vulgar yet hearty Sicilian gangsters. Big rocks, lots of gold.

3 Andy Warhol, Diamond Dust Shadows (Gagosian Gallery, New York) More rocks, this time pulverized. Andy anticipates the new Gucci, with sparkly shadows in black and cream. If only he had done a series stenciled on suede.

4 Stephen Prina, Vinyl II (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles) It seemed as if every major thoroughfare in LA bore signs advertising the Getty’s “Departures” exhibition, in which various local artists were invited to “respond” to works in the museum’s collections. Prina’s superi6 film stole the show, though I can’t pretend to get it all. Maybe what’s most significant is the move of this latter-day Conceptualist—whose work has always been rather astringent—into new terrain of visual aplomb.

5 James Coleman Taking their tips from Rosalind Krauss’s 1997 October essay “.. . And Then Turn Away?” some of my most intellectually ambitious charges wanted to do just that, and like Krauss they took Coleman as a paragon. Based on what I saw and heard in their studios, I would surmise that the Irish Conceptualist is in fact one of the more influential artists of the moment—even if few of these students have actually seen a Coleman slide show. What’s important seems to be the look of the still image, which shares some qualities with the work of more obviously trendy artists like Jeff Wall and Philip-Lorca diCorcia: a look of fractured, indistinct narrative, or, following Krauss, of “narrativity”; a look of stagy restlessness and boredom that somehow translates into critique.

6 Mary Harron, American Psycho Good points: Christian Bale’s hypertrophically splendid physique; the moment in which his psycho character threatens to nail Chloe Sevigny (literally), then relents; and some nice art-directorial touches, notably the inclusion of John Elderfield’s gargantuan Helen Frankenthaler monograph on the psycho’s bookshelf. Stain paintings, get it? Although the film depicts the New York of the ’80s, this detail humorously comports itself with the aesthetic inclinations of pretty-pretty nouveau Color Field painting in LA today.

7 Gary Boas, Starstuck: Photographs from a Fan (Dilettante Press, Los Angeles; Deitch Projects, New York) This year’s dose of Pop comes in the form of fan photography, with Boas’s often very weird pictures of stars from various realms of cinema, TV, music, sports, and politics. In some of the pictures the scrawny, geeky Boas poses with his idols. Many of the subjects have the demonic red eyes associated with amateur flash photography.

8 Richard Prince (Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York; MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Schindler House, Los Angeles) At Barbara Gladstone, autographed celebrity photos in hulking Cor-Ten steel frames, suggesting the presentational strategies of the ’80s, now apparently renascent; in Los Angeles, images of upstate New York white trash and their environs, elegantly installed in this temple of slightly ragged yet unimpeachably high modernist design.

9 The Death of Photography What, the reader may protest, are you talking about? Your entire list is an homage to photography! Well, on touring the New York galleries, I was impressed by an inexplicably narrowing of that time-honored (if rarely acknowledged) distinction between those spaces devoted to contemporary art (including that which is photographically based) and venues catering to photography. Pace/MacGill, not Pace. (Philip-Lorca diCorcia actually migrated from the former to the latter when his career took off.) Conventionally reportorial photography like that of Stephen Shore enjoys a second life, while conceptually tinged—but sometimes no less cliched—figures like Jenny Gage and Sharon Lockhart are promoting a veritable house style. It’s the millennial salon, and photography, given its absolute and tiresome omnipresence, looks like the academic painting of our time.

10 “1900: Art at the Crossroads” (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York) And now for some real salon painting: Robert Rosenblum’s survey of artists avant-garde and otherwise who were included in the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900 was my favorite museum show of the year—maybe one of my very favorite shows ever. Rosenblum continues to prove with his art-historically informed eclecticism that there really is such a thing as a connoisseurship of bad taste, an epicureanism of vulgarity.

David Rimanelli is a contributing editor of Artforum.