reviews

  • Firelei Báez, for Marie-Louise Coidavid, exiled, keeper of order, Anacaona, 2018, oil on canvas. Installation view, Akademie der Künste. Photo: Timo Ohler.

    The 10th Berlin Biennale

    Various Venues

    THE TITLE of the Tenth Berlin Biennale, “We don’t need another hero,” came from a 1985 Tina Turner hit, but it also brings to mind a passage from Helen DeWitt’s 2000 novel, The Last Samurai: “What we needed was not a hero to worship but money. If we had money we could go anywhere. Give us the money and we would be the heroes.”

    The previous edition of the biennial, curated by the New York–based collective DIS, received criticism for its slick, high-gloss provocations. Many saw little more than smug nihilism, a cynical attitude smacking of privilege. So, for the latest edition, the biennial wisely

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  • Grit Richter, Forever Now, 2018, oil, acrylic and bleach on canvas, 64 × 47 1⁄8".

    Grit Richter

    Galerie Tanja Wagner

    The work of Hamburg-based Grit Richter encompasses painting, sculpture, and installation (she is also a veteran of her city’s underground electronic-music scene), but her recent exhibition “The Space Between Us” put the emphasis firmly on painting. In fact, one of the works was titled Forever Now, 2018, name checking the controversial 2014–15 state-of-the-art-of-painting survey at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. In this ensemble, the painting seemed to reinterpret the MOMA exhibition’s cyberpunk-derived theme of “atemporality” as, I think, a kind of classic space opera. Whereas Laura Hoptman,

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  • View of “Norbert Kricke and Ernst Wilhelm Nay,” 2018. From left: Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Untitled, 1953; Norbert Kricke, Raumplastik Schwarz-Rot (Sculpture-Black-Red), 1955. Photo: Roman März.

    Norbert Kricke and Ernst Wilhelm Nay

    Aurel Scheibler

    What occasioned the painter Ernst Wilhelm Nay’s fall from grace, beginning with attacks published in the newspapers Die Zeit and Der Tagesspiegel in 1964, was not so much his art itself as the immense esteem in which it had been held in the German art scene. It’s been said that in light of Nay’s prominent participation in the first three Documenta exhibitions, for the first two decades after World War II the artist was to Germany what Henry Moore was to England, and what Jackson Pollock was to the United States. An emblem of the old guard, he was considered invincible, but by the 1960s his wholly

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  • View of “May the bridges I burn light the way,” 2018. From left: Nschotschi Haslinger, Brennende Tasche (Burning Bag) I and II, both 2018. Photo: Christian Siekmeier.

    “May the bridges I burn light the way”

    EXILE

    In the decade since its inception, Exile has partaken in several high-profile art fairs around Europe and attained an international profile as a major small gallery. But its growth has undoubtedly been impeded by gallerist Christian Siekmeier’s outspoken critical stance toward overarching power structures. In particular, he has refused to take part in much-lauded events such as Gallery Weekend Berlin, which he views as a kind of protectorate. Siekmeier embodies all the paradoxes of the individual burdened with a conscience, thumbing his nose at the gatekeepers’ pretensions toward exclusivity

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