PRINT December 2015


the Best of 2015


Silicone snake, West 42nd and Broadway, New York, July 29, 2015.

Anne Imhof, For Ever Rage, 2015. Performance view, Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, September 11, 2015. Photo: Nadine Fraczkowski.

This picture was taken along the waterfront in San Francisco’s Mission Bay area. This area is extremely scenic, with old battleships and boats. I go there frequently to walk my dog, relax, and enjoy the fantastic views. The pier is used to store various components for seasonal parades or events. This grouping of floats for the Pride Parade spoke to me: It was a clustered assemblage of colors and shapes that appeared enigmatic from a distance.

Elizabeth Price, K (detail), 2015, two-channel HD video, color, sound, 7 minutes 15 seconds.

My New Mexico terrace.

Paolo Gioli, Luminescenti (Luminescent) (detail), 2007–10, triptych, Polaroid, each 12 × 10".

Rodney McMillian at work on a painting that would become a corridor installation at Sharjah Biennial 12.

Tala Madani, Love Doctor, 2015, oil on linen, 16 × 14 1/4".

Image (taken August 21, 2015) of the site in Sedona, Arizona, where the last Marlboro Man cigarette commercial was shot. The original Marlboro Man was conceived in 1954 and considered “one of the most brilliant advertisement campaigns of all time” (Wikipedia).

René Bertholo, Palmier (Palm Tree), 1966, painted aluminum, plastic fan, motor, 31 × 26 × 5 1/8". Installation view, Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto, Portugal, 2015. From “A Cosmopolitan Realism: KWY Group in the Serralves Collection.” Photo: Filipe Braga.

I took this photo on my phone in September at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, where I saw excerpts from Wim T. Schippers’s television program Van Oekel’s discohoek (1974–75). This episode featured Donna Summer as Wim’s guest.

Lennart Nilsson, A Child Is Born, 1965, one of twenty C-prints, each 11 3/8 × 10 5/8". Orignally published in Life, April 30, 1965. From “La Grande Madre” (The Great Mother).

Uranium-glass dishware testing outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, September 11, 2015.

Pascal Vonlanthen, Untitled (Plant escontreu), 2014, india ink on paper, 12 3/8 × 9 1/4".

This arrived in the mail apropos of nothing. The thoughtfulness of the gesture left me utterly gobsmacked.

Maureen Gallace, Beach Shack, Door, August 14th, 2015, oil on panel, 9 × 12".

Do you like vintage?

Gretchen Bender, Total Recall, 1987, eight-channel video, twenty-four monitors, three rear-projection screens (color, sound, approx. 18 minutes). Installation view, Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin, 2015. Photo: Andreas Rossetti.

Robert Mallet-Stevens, Villa Cavrois, Croix, France Located just outside of Lille, this modernist villa was commissioned by the textile manufacturer Paul Cavrois and completed in 1932. This past June, after twelve years of renovation, it opened to the public. Promotional images show a predictably antiseptic revamp justifying the €23 million spent on it. In actuality, the restoration was executed with exceptional sensitivity to both period craftsmanship and Mallet-Stevens’s erotic and cinematic intentions.

Amy Lien & Enzo Camacho, Makati CBD, Friday, 00:00-01:30, Tuesday, 00:00-01:00, 2014, umbrella, bamboo, string, chains, ink, paper, tarp, lights, wiring, external batteries, plastic basket, sheet metal, projectors, motor, two-channel video, dimensions variable.

I have known Charles Ray and his work for many years, but it’s still exciting to see a new sculpture of his in progress. Silver, recently completed for the excellent survey show at the Art Institute of Chicago, has a mesmerizing surface texture that must have required a super-human level of focus to achieve in sterling silver. It’s easy to get lost in the gleaming eddies of sculpted fur that cover the entire piece.

View of “Emily Jones: Orange House Action Clinic,” 2015, S1, Portland, OR. Foreground: Nanoblock White House,
2015. Background: Young Girl in Cairo July 2nd 2011, 2015.

Chiesa di San Francesco della Vigna, Venice, May 1, 2015.

Christopher Wool, Untitled, 2015, enamel and silk-screen ink on linen, 108 × 78".

“Greer Lankton: LOVE ME” (Participant Inc, New York) Perhaps the greatest strength of Greer Lankton’s retrospective at Participant was its sincerity, the honesty with which the artist’s bracing work takes viewers into her world. Lankton’s carefully crafted dolls, placed alongside personal items and ephemera culled from the Greer Lankton Archives Museum (G.L.A.M.) and numerous photographs of the artist taken by her friends, collectively told the story of her life in such a way that the exhibition felt like a walk-through inside her persona. It defied definition.

Harry Partch, Delusion of the Fury, 1969/2015. Rehearsal view, Lincoln Center Festival at New York City Center, July 21, 2015. Photo: Stephanie Berger.

“Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) This exhibition of drawings, woodcuts, printed books, and weavings blew me away—especially the nineteen immense tapestries that worked both close-up and at a distance. The scale of these sumptuous weavings is overwhelming—one felt engulfed by the complex scenes. Most compelling were the gruesome martyrdoms and beheadings depicted. The four tapestries gathered here from Coecke’s masterwork, Seven Deadly Sins, 1532–34, were packed with grim subject matter, in stark contrast to their jaw-droppingly gorgeous material physicality. Despite the expressive power and muscularity of their imagery, all of Coecke’s works are strangely serene—the result of their woven fabrication. They’re as flat as jigsaw puzzles, and however menacing their scenes, they shimmer softly like stained glass.

Arthur Ou, Moyra Davey reading 4.114: It must set limits to what can be thought; and, in doing so, to what cannot be thought. It must set limits to what cannot be thought by working outwards through what can be thought., 2015, selenium-toned gelatin silver print, 9 × 7".

Emil Michael Klein (Galerie Francesca Pia, Zurich) How to look at a painting that can do everything? I like to think about Piero Manzoni’s infinite lines or Sigmar Polke’s cheerfully desperate boredom loop when I look at Emil Michael Klein’s paintings. Some of his lines seem to leave the canvas, become invisible for us, and travel to a parallel universe where the distorted echo of the question Why painting? is still audible. But space-time curvature reshapes the lines and sends them back to the terrestrial canvas, where they become paintings that can do everything.

Nagisa Oshima, Max, mon amour, 1986, 35 mm, color, sound, 92 minutes. Max (Ailsa Berk) and Margaret Jones (Charlotte Rampling).

“The Brothers Unconnected” (Centro Cultural São Paulo, Brazil) Music is a primary artistic reference for me, and this year I was fortunate to see—for free!—“The Brothers Unconnected,” a tribute concert by two members of the American experimental rock trio Sun City Girls, Alan Bishop and Sir Richard Bishop, in honor of their late percussionist, Charles Gocher. Following Gocher’s death from cancer in 2007, the brothers organized a series of international tours to give the public one last chance to hear the songs performed live. I saw them at Centro Cultural São Paulo, a civic-minded institution, and it was moving to hear Alan Bishop perform beloved songs such as “The Shining Path,” spewing the lyrics from his supernatural face in between drags from his cigarette.

“NSK from Kapital to Capital: Neue Slowenische Kunst—an Event of the Final Decade of Yugoslavia” (Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, Slovenia) This frenetic and shadowy survey of NSK’s profuse output in socialist Yugoslavia between 1980 and 1992 was arranged according to the Slovenian collective’s main subgroups: Laibach (music and multimedia), Irwin (visual art), Scipion Nasice Sisters Theatre (theater), and New Collectivism (design). NSK’s meticulously branded body of work inhabits the contradictory aesthetic languages of Romanticism, Suprematism, fascism, and Communism, among others, which coexist in a dense Gesamtkunstwerk rife with deadpan humor. The real gravity of the project lies in its uncanny combination of retrospection and prescience, an ad absurdum reassessment of Yugoslavia’s totalitarian past measured against the anticipation of its impending violent dissolution into a capitalist future.

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series Panel No. 57: “The female workers were the last to arrive north,” 1940–41, casein tempera on hardboard, 18 × 12".

“Marshawn Lynch’s guide to life.” Over the past year, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has become my role model. Though he rarely gives interviews, every word he speaks to the media is a morsel of wisdom. My favorite recent film is a six-second Vine excerpted from a December 2014 NFL Total Access interview, which circulated with the caption “Marshawn Lynch’s guide to life.” Dramatically lit against a black backdrop, Lynch explains, “I mean know I’m gon’ get got. But I’m gon’ get mine more than I get got though.” This is the beast-mode mind-set. Get yours.

Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, Dry Communication (detail), 1995/2015, inflatable globe, dry fish, mobile phone, poster, electronic candle, plastic hand, dimensions variable. In collaboration with M. D. Morris.

Anna Glantz (Topless, Rockaway Beach, Queens) Anna Glantz’s superb paintings are unhinged pictorial sentences—body-scaled portals in which a shifting abstract lexicon rubs up against large-scale illustrative imagery rendered in flat, graphic fields and delicate hatching. Meandering through floral obstructions, fake-out shadows, and lollipop trees, fugitive subjects (nomads and runaways) slide horizontally through the picture and get too close, becoming landscape themselves. The seasonally operated gallery, which each summer inhabits a different space left dormant in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, was housed this year in a Lynchian bungalow. Set back from the road, its identity revealed only by a plot of recently planted palm trees, the space—like Glantz’s paintings—emanated surreal dislocation.

Yvonne Rainer, The Concept of Dust, or How do you look when there’s nothing left to move?, 2015. Performance view, Museum of Modern Art, New York, June 10, 2015. Photo: Julieta Cervantes.

Rose Wylie (Thomas Erben Gallery, New York) Here’s a story inspired by the images and associations triggered by Wylie’s exhibition “Girl and Spiders”: The muffled click of Body tiptoeing in high heels without heels echoes off the walls. Bubbly trousers glide in leglessly, with three pairs of nippled tits hovering above. A shiny bald head wobbles on long silver hair. Four eyes look ahead and another two are hidden in a pocket. With a mouth full of Smarties and the gentle voice of a plastic surgeon convincing a patient of an unnecessary Botox injection, Body recites a poem about a man who does not believe anything will happen. But watching a windblown dandelion makes the man wonder, What if there is something happening? As the poem comes to an end, a hand taps Body on the shoulder and says, “That wasn’t a dandelion, they were spiders.” With a mouth full of spiders Body repeats the poem from the start.

Wu Hong, Thatched Cottage by the Zhe River (detail), 1672, pigment and ink on silk, 63 × 31 1/2". From “One Never Tires of Looking at Mountains of the Homeland: The Ming and Qing Dynasties Landscapes Exhibition.”

“Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs” (Museum of Modern Art, New York) MoMA’s exhibition showed this transformative artist overcoming age and infirmity to forgo his brush in favor of a more rapid and unforgiving tool, creating new forms that transcend conventional notions of ground. You sense in these works Matisse’s increasing ease and simultaneous abandonment of restraint, which eventually leads, in the late large cutouts, to unprecedented levels of rapture.

Tala Madani (David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles) “Smiley has no nose,” a show of idiosyncratically grotesque paintings, was one of the year’s strongest presentations. I’m so impressed by Madani’s ability to stick to a single topic and sustain a rigorous yet playful approach. She has a talent for working consistently across a range of scales, and this crowded exhibition gave equal consideration to her intimate canvases and her sprawling ones. Replete with depictions of degraded or imperiled male figures (including one who’s about to get his nose cut off), the paintings also feature lots of smiley faces, whose noselessness, in this context, feels disturbing. The framing allowed the viewer to recognize, beyond the works’ cartoonish pranks, complex narratives that extended from one painting to the next.

“The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now” (Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago) This truly dynamic exhibition traced the 1960s African American avant-garde to present-day cultural practices. I felt immediately charged by unexpected conversations between the archival materials of Chicago art and jazz organizations AfriCOBRA and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and contemporary artworks such as Jamal Cyrus’s Cultr-Ops, 2008, a graphite-on-paper reference to FBI files created under the bureau’s infamous cointelpro surveillance program. I took pleasure in the space-travel paintings by Ayé Aton, a former percussionist and mentee of Sun Ra’s, and delighted in the photo documentation of his cosmic murals. Rio Negro II, 2007/2015—a “robotic-acoustic” sound installation by Douglas R. Ewart, George Lewis, and Douglas Repetto consisting of rain sticks, chimes, and bamboo, among other components—totally activated my senses.

Dieter Roth, Triptychon, 1979–81, radio/cassette recorder, cassettes, lamp, vase, painting utensils, Polaroids; enamel, oil, synthetic polymer paint, glue, and felt-tip pen on wood, Plexiglas box, 27 1/2 × 42 1/8 × 25 5/8". Installation view, Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin.

Marble sekoma, Hellenistic period, Delos, Greece Our highlight of 2015 was taking in the massive settlement on the island of Delos, a religious and commercial center in ancient Greece. Viewed from the top of Mt. Cynthus, the island’s radiant gneiss conjures the presence of Apollo. Inside a small archaeological museum is a marble sekoma—an instrument for measuring liquids that was essential in the regulation of the ancient marketplace. Presented among statues of gods and rulers, the object reminded us that formal standards are defined through relations of power. We pondered it in light of the current debt crises in Greece and Puerto Rico. The gap between seemingly irreconcilable political situations and historical spaces was, for a moment, suspended.

Jimmie Durham, Tarpon Springs, Florida, 2015, wood, leather, fish skin, glass, steel, acrylic paint, 9 1/2 × 4 3/4 × 8 1/4". Installation view, Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice.

Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens, The Golden USB (La Biennale de Montréal) Entering the first room of this ambitious project, I was overcome with joy. I was standing in a dark space scattered with video projections and objects from what the artists called “A Trade Catalogue of Everything.” The Golden USB is intended for travel to other worlds to promote and trade our earthly “goods.” Behind the seriousness on the artists’ faces as they silently present our merchandise in the videos is the obvious humor of both the futility of the task and the way our world is portrayed. Water is poured onto a tilted tray, funneling into a bag that is then punctured with a handsaw, becoming a possible showerhead. I walked out thinking about a lot of things differently.

Kornél Mundruczó, Fehér Isten (White God), 2014, digital video, color, sound, 119 minutes.

“Ape Culture” (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin) Squatting in the HKW, “Ape Culture” was half exhibition, half exploded zoological text. The show, which examined man’s ever-shifting relationship to apes and other primates through both scientific and cultural lenses, was generous yet concise, occasionally testing the limits of one’s concentration. The historical material—from works by Charles Darwin, Donna Haraway, and Bert Haanstra, among others—was dense and expansive, but conveniently sized for camera-phone snapshots. The art demanded an aloof eye, and felt wheeled out for research purposes, not spectacle. The installation thwarted one’s total absorption in any given work, and although I stayed for all of Nagisa Oshima’s unreal 1986 feature film Max, mon amour, the narrative provided no solace; it only heightened a pervasive estrangement emanating from HKW’s assemblage of restless objects, whose symbolic and cultural consequences are still evolving, casting the human race as more and more alien.

Emil Michael Klein, Untitled, 2014–15, oil on canvas, 99 1/4 × 66".

Elizabeth Price, K (Art Basel) This new video work contains elements that are seemingly isolated and marginal: the industrial assembly line, the movements of the human body, the letter K, a pair of silk stockings, pop music. Price has managed, vigorously and almost violently, to bring them into juxtaposition, and so disturbs the way in which we view things. The work’s viewpoint is like a consciousness from elsewhere, telling us what we are unable to know.

Anne Imhof, For Ever Rage (Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, September 13, 2015) The last time my senses were seized by a temporal work was in the early 1980s, when I watched Alain Robbe-Grillet’s recursive film L’homme qui ment (The Man Who Lies, 1968). There are certain artists who can command time. Anne Imhof’s work makes perceptible its very passage. For Ever Rage, a performance for which Imhof received the Preis der Nationalgalerie 2015, seems to trace the ways in which a memory emerges and recedes from consciousness. In the Hamburger Bahnhof’s flat, dim lighting, performers and audience were almost indistinguishable. The dancers appeared to be connected, as if belonging to a single nervous system through which a collective memory traveled; bodies pivoted to find the best angles for reception and delivery, twisting as one does in fitful sleep. Each performer stopped moving when the memory passed, and the room became saturated with a shared sense of the instability of perceived duration.

“One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North” (Museum of Modern Art, New York) I love the archive as much as I love fine art. This exhibition and its corresponding website were gifts that kept on giving. You could get lost in the work, or get lost just contemplating the vast story being told through the amazing research and didactic information that MoMA made available on their online portal. I first saw all sixty panels of “The Migration Series,” 1940–41, as a teenager in Washington, DC. (By a stroke of luck, I even met Lawrence at the time.) I knew then that I would try for the rest of my life to make something as thoroughly impactful.

Greer Lankton, Double Jackie, 1985, Polaroid, 3 1/8 × 4 1/8".

“A Cosmopolitan Realism: KWY Group in the Serralves Collection” (Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto, Portugal) During their Parisian expatriation, Portuguese artists René Bertholo and Lourdes Castro founded the handmade silk-screened journal KWY (1958–63), which took as its title three letters banished as impurities from the Portuguese alphabet in 1943. Bertholo and Castro ran the publication with compatriots António Costa Pinheiro, Gonçalo Duarte, José Escada, and João Vieira, in addition to the Bulgarian artist Christo and the German Jan Voss. Contributors included prominent members of the Nouveau Réalisme and Lettrist movements. Among the standout pieces exhibited in Porto were the much-sought-after KWY issues themselves, a witty Bertholo palm-tree sculpture, and, my favorite, Castro’s chocolate-wrapper collages. “A Cosmopolitan Realism” was a bracing reminder of the essential and groundbreaking art made by foreigners and refugees back in the days when Paris was a welcoming city.

Maureen Gallace (303 Gallery, New York) At a 1960 panel at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, Philip Guston pronounced: “There is something ridiculous and miserly in the myth we inherit from abstract art. That painting is autonomous, pure and for itself . . . painting is ‘impure.’ It is the adjustment of impurities which forces painting’s continuity.” Maureen Gallace is a master of adjusting impurities, tending to images with patient determination. Generously considered brushstrokes freeze the bright light that pours onto her iconic New England subjects, casting them as soulful mysteries.

Pascal Vonlanthen (Fri Art Kunsthalle, Fribourg, Switzerland) I let myself be guided upstairs by Pascal Vonlanthen’s drawings. Here, the director of Fri Art, Balthazar Lovay, valiantly continued his quest to decompartmentalize genres and collide disciplines. After a year of drawing animal and human figures, Vonlanthen proposes a new corpus of writing-based works. In one series, he rigorously recopies the front pages of newspapers. The drawings, executed in two or three colors, are cold and precise. Lines in marker and pen contract, subject to the limits of the paper. The artist selected the works to be exhibited and collaborated with Lovay on the installation, which seems to undergo the same graphic tensions as the art. But more palpable, perhaps, than these buzzing tensions is the harsh echo of the imperious will to communicate.

“La Grande Madre” (The Great Mother, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Palazzo Reale, Milan) This was an excellent exhibition, curated by Massimiliano Gioni. One could perceive in its execution that extensive, refined historical research had been conducted. That, combined with the contemporary section, highlighted maternity in art as an affirmation of life.

Christopher Wool (Luhring Augustine, Brooklyn) Christopher Wool’s show of seven large paintings in Bushwick this past spring felt like a departure. The works presented by-now-classic CW visual tropes (blots, drips, etc.), but here there was less “hand,” less making a point of obliteration. And yet a more thorough and determined cancellation of underlayers provided emptier space for the blunt coagulation of overlayers. One sensed Wool’s impatient desire for a clean slate and, conversely, his unwillingness to leave everything behind. And so without there being anything in these paintings that hints at compromise, there is an impossible in-betweenness about them, like the granular detail of articulated blankness.

Peter Doig (Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark) Aside from my obvious interest in revisiting nearly twenty-five years of Doig’s painting, what made this exhibition especially memorable was its unusually positioned central section of works on paper, chiefly prints. The show presented few finished editions, focusing instead on an abundance of persuasive scraps drawn mostly from the artist’s own collection—the kinds of proofs and early states artists keep but which rarely see the light of day. What a pleasure to peruse these disjointed little propositions! An artist sketching through and in dialogue with his process.

Rae Armantrout, Currency (Yale Union) The collected poems in Rae Armantrout’s Currency, published this past spring, bring together the two most monolithic of abstractions: money and language. What’s amazing, then, is that the world this volume articulates is so physical. The material makeup of Armantrout’s cities is vivid, and the body is everywhere present in her poems. In scenes with stockbrokers, scientists, and street performers, we find ourselves in situations at once cosmic and sundry.

Gretchen Bender, Total Recall (Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin) The Schinkel’s co-optation of an adjacent construction site (Berlin’s Prinzessinenpalais, currently undergoing renovation) made a rawly perfect stage for Gretchen Bender’s 1987 masterpiece. Images flashing on twenty-four monitors and three projections in a choreography of early digital sequences, advertisements, and other television clips produced an open narrative demonstrating pictures’ usurpation of the human subject and vice versa. Formally cool yet visually and physically intense, Total Recall offered a monumental buildup that makes much of today’s so-called post-Internet art seem like chicken scratches.

Amy Lien & Enzo Camacho (47 Canal, New York) A frothy phantasmagoria meets worker delirium. An essential press release—essential not because it is explanatory but because it is another site where the work is made—traverses admissions of surveillance and lust, business process outsourcing, a call-center sex tape, and ethnic stereotype. Benevolent nightmare.

Robert Mallet-Stevens, Villa Cavrois, 1932, Croix, France. Restored facade, 2015. Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr.

Arthur Ou (Brennan & Griffin, New York) This show presented fourteen photographs, unassuming in size, each depicting someone reading. As it turns out, the subjects are themselves photographers. They are reading selections from Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, an early book in which the philosopher famously attempted to fit language to the world, though he would later come to reject the validity of this endeavor. Two chairs additionally offered three separate copies of the tract, each of which supplanted a given word—world, picture, or fact—with photograph, whenever the target word appeared in the text. I was impressed by Ou’s reach within the photographic community. I knew the work of three of the photographers he shot; now I want to know the work of the others.

Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony, ca. 1550, wool, silk, silver-gilt thread, 12' 9“ × 22' 3”. From Seven Deadly Sins, designed 1532–34, woven ca. 1550–60.

“Paolo Gioli” (Microscope Gallery, Brooklyn) I first saw Gioli’s works in person at this show. Like all great art, these intimate photographs revealed themselves to me slowly. Although their imagery was somber and refined, I was delighted to discover Gioli’s diverse, inventive, and subversive techniques of manipulation—of his own materials, as well as of found film strips and photographic glass plates. In this sense, I associate him with Fluxus: Gioli never imposes his subjectivity on his photographs. It is revealed through simple, joyful, experimental play.

NSK theater group Cosmokinetic Cabinet Noordung performing Cosmokinetic Ballet Prayer Machine Noordung, Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana, Slovenia, December 11, 1992. Photo: B. G.

Harry Partch, Delusion of the Fury (New York City Center, July 23–24, 2015, Lincoln Center Festival) It was thrilling to see this tour de force of “sculpture-meets-opera”: The visionary Harry Partch is known as a composer, but he is also one of the twentieth century’s great unsung sculptors. He constructed innovative sound-producing objects out of surprising materials, creating his own visual and musical language. This new production from Cologne’s Ensemble Musikfabrik is based on Partch’s 1969 work; it was only made possible through the truly Herculean efforts of Thomas Meixner, who reproduced Partch’s original (now-precious) instruments exactly. Here were Partch’s iconic instruments, such as his Cloud Chamber Bowls of 1950, but what floored me was his 1951 Donald Judd–esque Marimba Eroica: four wooden boxes sending twenty-two hertz through every body in the house. The army-surplus winter-coat costumes and motorized kinetic props produced a sweeping sense of relief, rendering this masterwork of off-kilter modernism sublime but also very, very funny.

Emily Jones (S1, Portland, Oregon) The London-based artist’s exhibition “Orange House Action Clinic” comprised an installation—a scattering of objects that could be the remains of an unknown ritual, including a large-scale photograph of a child, two Nanoblock sculptures, and a totemic structure featuring an oversize wheat wreath—and an accompanying text. Both struck me as offering poetic truths about the fragility of the time we live in. Jones’s sensitivity to life, language, and the present is what makes her work an extraordinary inspiration to me, and this exhibition captured her amazing spirit.

Charles Ray, Silver, 2015, sterling silver, 42 3/8 × 11 1/4 × 48". Photographed at Polich Tallix foundry in Rock Tavern, NY.

Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, Democratic Luxury (Rampa Gallery, Istanbul) This retrospective underlined Alptekin’s fascination with the difference between the promise of something and its banal reality. This promise could lie in the name of a cheap hotel offering the experience of a distant place, or in the branding of a mass-produced product unconvincingly simulating luxuriousness or exoticism.

Screenshot of James Dator’s Vine posting “Marshawn Lynch’s guide to life.”

Yvonne Rainer, The Concept of Dust, or How do you look when there’s nothing left to move? (Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Teatro Sociale di Como, Italy, produced by the Fondazione Antonio Ratti) This June at MoMA, and again a month later in Italy, I saw this new dance by Yvonne Rainer, which was performed at MoMA with Henri Rousseau’s painting The Sleeping Gypsy,1897, as its backdrop. Despite the two very different settings, and an improvisational structure that allowed the dancers to initiate movements and then react to Rainer, who moved across the stage reading from historical texts, I was struck by how introspective and personal the work felt. These forty-five minutes of continuous and persistent intensity could have gone on forever.

Anna Glantz, Blood on the Tongue, 2015, oil on canvas, 84 × 52".

“One Never Tires of Looking at Mountains of the Homeland: The Ming and Qing Dynasties Landscapes Exhibition” (Art Museum of Beijing Fine Art Academy) This exhibition presented realist landscape paintings by Wen Zhengming, Shitao, Gong Xian, and many other Zhejiang-region literati from the Ming and Qing dynasties. The old masters employed formats such as bound albums and handheld scrolls as well as multiple modes of spatial depiction, including floating, shifting, and isometric perspectives, to create unique viewing experiences. As I slowly unrolled the scrolls, I marveled at these artists’ grasp of spatial and temporal dimensions—their ways of understanding the world.

Rose Wylie, Blue Shoes (Toes), 2015, watercolor and collage on paper, 24 1/2 × 33 1/2".

“John Chamberlain: Sculptures” (Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh) This exhibition included the second of John Chamberlain’s foam sculptures I’d seen in the flesh. (The first, Funburn, 1967, a vintage poster of which hangs in my studio, is quite possibly my favorite work ever.) “Flesh” seems appropriate, given the physical and tonal fragility of these seemingly effortless pieces. The Inverleith House’s first-floor galleries were given over to foam works as well as to a series of lesser-known coffee-tin and paper-bag sculptures—amazing exercises in scale, dexterity, and intimacy. On the ground floor, Gondola Walt Whitman, 1981–82, sailed through more familiar Chamberlain forms, each engaged in lively dispute with the other. A show this good is always tinged with sadness, the sense of it dissolving in front of you before you can fully take it in.

Jimmie Durham (Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice) Durham’s “Venice: Objects, Work and Tourism” unearthed hidden narratives of local labor via repurposed bits of wood, broken glass, bricks, and other found objects interspersed hide-and-seek style throughout the building’s permanent exhibits. As the art world continues its seemingly never-ending pilgrimage to large-scale biennials and events, Durham’s hybrid assemblages highlighted the Venetian craftspeople, many of them African and South Asian immigrants, whose handiwork as boatbuilders, glassblowers, goldsmiths, and wood-carvers typically goes unnoticed by these art tourists. I ducked into the Querini Stampalia during a sudden downpour, and my encounter with the unpretentiously sincere show—infused with the artist’s signature commingling of the prosaic and the lyrical—was miraculously refreshing. The sound of rain combined with Durham’s eloquent interventions made my experience so blissful that I was able to completely forget about the whole bombastic art enterprise!

Sekoma, Hellenistic period, marble, approx. 8 × 40 × 20".

Phel Steinmetz (Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, La Jolla, California) This small exhibition of prints and artist’s books by Steinmetz (1944–2013) engaged me not only for what was there but for what was not. Modesty was purposefully built into the artist’s oeuvre. A friend of Allan Sekula’s, Fred Lonidier’s, and Martha Rosler’s—and a collaborator of Eleanor Antin’s, among others—he dedicated most of his life to making text-and-photo books. Some of these books take as their subject a critical analysis of his own family as exemplary of the basic unit of American postwar capitalism. Most of them exist only as handmade artist’s proofs intended for a publisher. I like to imagine what the epically free-thinking film critic Frieda Grafe (1934–2002) might have said about these filmic volumes.

“And away with the minutes: Dieter Roth and Music” (Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin) Berlin fervently admires Dieter Roth; his works and the city complement one another. Roth’s compulsively made precomputerized machines are like primitive MacBooks that broadcast rhythms, noises, and voices recorded on cassettes, vinyl records, and VHS tapes. A great selection of rarely seen works from this generous artist.

Ayé Aton, Untitled, 1964, acrylic on paper, 27 1/2 × 22". From “The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now.”

Kornél Mundruczó, White God In the past few years, Europe’s turn to the right has been clear, powerful, and invasive. Kornél Mundruczó’s feature White God is a poetic (and violent) riposte, leveled from a unique vantage: that of four-legged actors. The movie tracks the misadventures of a mutt who has been abandoned in a place where all “impure” dogs must be registered and taxed, controlled or exterminated. The canines are incredible performers; the gazes they exchange are as intense as any in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Eventually, having freed themselves from dogfighting rings and shelters, the hounds, thirsty for revenge, stage a coup. Vengeance may not be the idea of justice we dream of, but, as Frantz Fanon once wrote, “We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.”

Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens, The Golden USB, 2014–, multichannel video, sound, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view, VOX, Centre de l’Image Contemporaine, Montreal, 2014.