New York

Tim Hawkinson

Whitney Museum of American Art

While poles apart visually, Tim Hawkinson’s current appearance at the Whitney bears comparison to Christo and Jean-Claude’s recent Central Park Gates, a few final remnants of which I walked through en route to the museum. Both projects convey a certain joie de vivre and lay claim to popular appeal but stand to some extent beyond the pale of contemporary critical discourse. However, free as he is from the brouhaha in which the older artists wrap themselves—and the way it veils their work’s conceptual shortcomings—Hawkinson finds himself in a relatively vulnerable position. Yes, he is the subject of a major exhibition in a (usually) serious institution, but many will leave it wondering whether he really deserves the accolade.

Hawkinson, of course, is very far from being a true outsider: His precedents and influences—which range from Marcel Duchamp, Jean Tinguely, and Bruce Nauman to Mark

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