PRINT January 2002

US Shorts

Meghan Dailey, Barry Schwabsky, Yinka Shonibare

WILL AMERICANS TURN TO ART AS an escape from trying times, or will we just keep going to the mall? Luckily for those of us who are feeling the squeeze, there’ll be plenty of thrills beyond the Cineplex and Victoria’s Secret this spring. Visitors to “Mood River” at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, will revel in the allure of thousands of objects-everything from ergonomic toothbrushes to garments that convert into furniture (Feb. 3–May 26). For a more intimate experience, head to the Big Apple and immerse yourself in the seductive cinema of Francesco Vezzoli at the New Museum of Contemporary Art’s Media Z Lounge. Infused with aching nostalgia sometimes touched by satire, the Italian artist’s videos and films, six included here, celebrate divas and screen goddesses of yesteryear (Feb.14–Apr. 21). Or travel uptown to the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum to see how the body’s largest organ has been reinterpreted by designers as a way of wrapping the product and seducing the user. “Skin: Surface, Substance, and Design” will underscore the notion of direct “interface” between live flesh and inanimate objects, but no touching allowed (Apr. 23–Sept. 8).

You won’t be touching much at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, either—even though you’ll be installing the show yourself. “(Your Show Here)” invites you to choose works from a database of twentieth-century art; your blockbuster is then projected on the walls until the next would-be tastemaker gets hold of the mouse (Jan. 26–May 1). Public participation is also crucial to Catherine Opie’s undertaking as artist-in-residence at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Opie spent last winter photographing ice-fishing houses and the Twin Cities’ skyway system and is soliciting anecdotes about her subjects, to be incorporated into her final project (Apr. 28–July 21).

Drop by Atlanta’s High Museum of Art to warm up with Tennessee-born painter Beauford Delaney (1901–79), who believed that colors, especially yellow, imparted spiritual significance. Some two dozen yellow canvases by this often overlooked African American artist will be on view (Feb. 9–May 5). For a dash of local flavor northern style visit the Paley and Levy Galleries at Moore College, Philadelphia, where “Painted Faces” will investigate issues of feminine identity in the work of Mary Cassatt, Alice Neel, and Karen Kilimnik, representatives of three generations of Philly artists (Jan. 15–Feb. 24).

Our love of the local is matched only by our desire to have the world at our fingertips. The International Center for Photography, New York, will train its lens on the origins of mass-market photojournalism in interwar Europe and the United States in “Rise of the Picture Press.” Curator Christopher Phillips has selected the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, France’s Vu, US stalwart Life, and others (Mar. 29–June 16). Meanwhile small literary publications flourished in the shadow of such giants. “The Tiger’s Eye: The Art of a Magazine” at Yale University Art Gallery will contextualize the New York-based “little magazine” that published poetry, art (reproductions of works by Picasso, Rothko, Pollock, et al.), and criticism (e.g., Barnett Newman’s seminal 1948 essay “The Sublime is Now”) that shaped the art-world lexicon long after the magazine ceased publication in 1949, after nine issues (Jan. 29–Mar. 30). One Tiger’s Eye advertiser was Pierre Matisse, whose New York gallery supported some of the most important European art of the late ’40s: Giacometti, Miró, and Balthus, to name a few. The Morgan Library’s “Pierre Matisse and His Artists” will be showing key works by those figures as well as materials from the gallery archive, now maintained by the Morgan (Feb.14–May 19).

Another notable backward glance this season will be the re-creation at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Noah Miami, of Salvador Dali’s “Dream of Venus” pavilion, which opened the uncanny world of Surrealism to a mass audience at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. No word yet on whether the mermaid performances will be revived this time around (Mar.14–June 30).”

Meghan Dailey


The burgeoning rediscovery of Mel Bochner’s early work—for the moment overshadowing all he’s done over the past three decades—continues apace with guest curator Scott Rothkopf’s survey of the artist’s 1966–69 photographs and related drawings at Harvard University's Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, MA. While Bochner’s photographic project was essential to his shift from Minimalism to Conceptual art, it also prefigures his paintings of the ’80s and early ’90s in its engagement with perspective as a “prefabricated visual system,” a nearly reflexive methodology (Mar. 16–June 26).

Barry Schwabsky


Nigerian-British artist Yinka Shonibare uses irony, humor, and the politics of cloth to unmask the ideological constructs of cultural hegemony. In the late ’80s he presented stretched batik as abstract paintings; for a 1998 project he donned the sumptuous clothes of the ruling class and photographed himself preening in patrician British interiors.This spring the Studio Museum in Harlem hosts ten recent sculptures and fabric-swathed mannequins, some alluding to the human form, others questioning the inviolability of that too (Jan. 23–Mar. 31)

Michael Archer