COLUMNS

  • On the Tuileries Slave Memorial Jury “Impasse”

    I WAS ONE OF FIVE ARTISTS shortlisted for the competition to create the Memorial in the Tuileries to the Victims of Slavery. I write to correct some of the factual misrepresentations of this process that have recently appeared in the international press.1 The French Culture Ministry’s Call for Applications for that commission required the following materials from the artist applicants: (1) an artistic document of no more than 15 pages, (2) a portfolio presentation of five recently realized works, (3) a letter of motivation, and (4) a curriculum vitae of no more than two pages.2 In this first

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  • Gray Eminence

    ON THE FACE OF IT, the reinstallation of selected works of art from the Frick Collection in the Breuer building at 875 Madison Avenue provides a refreshing change. After as much as a century in the same setting, masterpieces once embedded in a Gilded Age mansion are now out on their own. Hung on the plain walls of a concrete Brutalist icon, spaced apart from each other, paintings, sculptures, porcelains, two rugs, and some great eighteenth-century French furniture have temporarily jettisoned the ornate wood paneling, lavish curtain window treatments, and decorous fountain courtyard of what was

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  • Royalty Check

    THE CONFOUNDING PRICES realized by cyptoart sales recently have overshadowed another extraordinary aspect of these transactions. Many NFT “smart contracts” include an embedded resale royalty—often 10 percent—that flows back to the artist every time the work is resold. Better yet for the creators, when used, this NFT technology distributes those royalties automatically upon any change of ownership registered on the blockchain (without the need for lawyers and letters). Beeple himself, maker of this year’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days, has benefited from this income stream. When an earlier work,

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  • Against Getting It

    IN AN INTERVIEW with the Sundance Institute’s Adam Piron this past November, filmmaker and video artist Sky Hopinka discussed the freedom he has found in making work for Indigenous viewers: “It’s empowering to realize that you don’t have to make films for a white audience and consider whether or not they understand the cultural references.” Hopinka’s experimental narratives are nonlinear collages of Native imagery, language, and experiences that are, he knows, not legible to all—even most—of his viewers. It is not surprising that the artist, a member of the Ho-Chunk nation, might choose to center

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  • Chain Reaction

    ON MARCH 11, Christie’s will make history as the first traditional auction house to complete a sale of a purely digital artwork, authenticated on a blockchain, payable in cryptocurrency. The single lot sale consists only of EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS by the artist known as Beeple, real name Mike Winkelmann. The image file, a whopping 21,069 x 21,069 pixels, is really five thousand individual images tiled into a dense mosaic, the result of a feat of creative endurance in which Beeple created a new digital drawing each day over thirteen years, originally sharing them to his Instagram, which

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  • Point of View

    IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO IDENTIFY exactly when photography “went digital,” but a helpful benchmark is January 19, 2012, the day the Eastman Kodak Company filed for bankruptcy. A little over a decade earlier, digital cameras entered the mainstream consumer market. Soon after, the same technology began to be incorporated into a new, suddenly ubiquitous device: the cell phone. By the end of the aughts, the film and film cameras that made Kodak a multinational $30 billion brand were rendered antiquated and niche. Photographic images, analog for nearly two centuries, were now 0s and 1s. 

    Recently, I’ve been

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  • Aspirational Dystopia

    THE MOST WIDELY ANTICIPATED VIDEO GAME of the past several years, Cyberpunk 2077, was finally released in the twilight of 2020. Served up in over thirty countries across all major gaming platforms, this regrettably undercooked sci-fi pastiche—riddled with disruptive glitches, prone to crashing, and jerry-rigged from clearly unfinished code—infuriated nerds across the globe. I thought that perhaps a dystopian hacker narrative marred by erroneous programming might represent a perfect (albeit accidental) marriage of form and content—but this interpretation has probably appeased no one. Moreover,

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  • Point of No Return

    “WHEN DISCONTENT WITH MUSEUMS is strong enough to provoke the attempt to exhibit paintings in their original surroundings or in ones similar, in baroque or rococo castles, for instance, the result is even more distressing than when the works are wrenched from their original surroundings and then brought together.” This is Theodor Adorno in his great essay “Valéry Proust Museum,” first published in German in 1955, a moment of reckoning and reconstruction. Though Adorno doesn’t specify why the attempt to return and repatriate is more upsetting than the original rift and reassembling of modernity,

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  • Impostor Syndome

    WHAT HAPPENS when a painting is unmasked as a forgery? The colors, the forms, and the brushwork remain the same, and yet, everything has changed. The spell of authenticity, related to what Walter Benjamin called an artwork’s “aura,” has broken. A taboo-shattering exhibition organized by Rita Kersting and Petra Mand at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, titled “Russian Avant-Garde at the Museum Ludwig: Original and Fake” and on through February 7, seeks to pick up the pieces, provocatively pairing its works of questionable provenance alongside authentic loans in order to contextualize the challenges

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  • PURGATORY

    You didn’t ask, but since

    You didn’t, my body’s a brick

    Of longing & sorrow, pure red

    Blood beaming stars down

    Down down into the center of the Earth

    I said it WAS a brick, not that it is

    LIKE one.  This one calls me Miss

    Shaves his legs, shows me his cock in sheer

    Black stockings, explains his intuitive

    Desire to capitalize You when addressing

    Me.  I feel a growing desire to worship

    The Feminine, he says.  I do too

    I answer, with a ruefulness I know he

    Won’t detect.  I know its immensity

    But I also know the shit and blood

    Through which my body teaches

    Me the majesty of this burden

    Which I wonder if this new

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  • Tantric Entanglements

    “IF YOU WENT TO THE BRITISH MUSEUM EXPECTING SEX, you’d be disappointed,” says Conor Macklin, director of London’s Grosvenor Gallery. He sounds a little disappointed. After all, if one braved Covid-19 to see a British Museum extravaganza, titillatingly titled “Tantra: enlightenment to revolution,” then surely sex was part of the deal? Curator Imma Ramos begs to differ. Ramos—the guiding light behind the show (which opened on September 24, 2020 and runs through January 24, 2021)—hopes to uncouple Tantra from cheesy associations with carnal black magic.

    Ramos’s spiritual nemesis was “Tantra: The

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  • The Blazing World

    HEIC ARTEMISIA

    the tombstone of Artemisia Gentileschi is said to have read. Clear and simple, forgoing the usual embellishments, such as names of father, husband, and children, dates of birth and death. HEIC ARTEMISIA, or HERE LIES ARTEMISIA.

    Artemisia: now commonly referred to by her first name only (Madonna! Cher! Beyoncé!), in order to avoid confusion with that other famous Baroque Gentileschi pittore, her father, Orazio. In life, she also went by the surname Lomi, a nod to the traditional artisans of her Tuscan heritage, which she thought might endear her to the powers and patrons of Florence,

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