COLUMNS

  • the new Islamic art galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    ON NOVEMBER 1 OF LAST YEAR, after much anticipation and a series of celebratory events, the new “Islamic Art” galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York opened to the public. They had been closed for more than eight years to allow for the renovation of the Greek and Roman galleries immediately below (the heavy machinery’s vibrations might have damaged the delicate objects) and during their hiatus had undergone their own extensive renovation. Their surface area and content have been expanded, their appearance and significance transformed. The result is nothing less than spectacular.

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  • the spaces of occupation

    The eviction of protesters from New York’s Zuccotti Park last November has done little to diminish the significance of occupation as a mode of political action. Looking back on last year’s many encampments—and their disruptions of urban space—Artforum invited sociologist Saskia Sassen to discuss the relationship of occupation to notions of territory and power, while artist Hans Haacke, whose own work has famously made visible the hidden economies and spatial politics of art, presents a selection of photographs he took at Occupy Wall Street this past fall.

    OCCUPYING IS NOT THE SAME as

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  • Christopher D’Arcangelo

    In an attempt to find alternatives to “curatorial control” I am making the following proposal to you the reader:

    A. You will find that the following page of this journal has been left blank. That page is yours.

    B. You can remove that page from this journal and do anything you want on it.

    C. You can then install the page anyplace in the viewing space of LAICA, at any time and in anyway you want.

    I am aware of the fact that this proposal is a product of “curatorial control.” In any case it is my hope that, through these kinds of activities from inside and outside the art world, we may find alternatives

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  • right-wing masculinity

    AS THE PRIMARIES APPROACH, there has been much outrage (and even more amusement) over the mincing, glide-walking, and supersibilant Dr. Marcus Bachmann, spouse and dance partner of Tea Party Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Doc Bachmann is a therapist whose counseling practice, Bachmann & Associates, is known for its techniques of praying away the gay, transforming miserable homosexuals into blissful Christian heterosexuals. The funny thing is that Bachmann is, in the words of Jon Stewart, “an Izod shirt away from being the gay character on Modern Family.”

    Andrew Sullivan noted

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  • “Atlas—How to Carry the World on One’s Back?”

    LONG FABLED as the father of iconology—indeed, of modern art history—Aby Warburg has of late assumed the role of its crazy uncle. In contradistinction to the plodding, fact-finding, tamed iconography that followed in his wake in the early twentieth century, in recent years Warburg has been revalorized as advancing a radical anachronism, discontinuity, and antipositivist turn in the understanding of images and objects. A leading figure in this revival is Georges Didi-Huberman, who in 2002 published a major study of the visionary German art historian and is a curator of one of the past

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  • Nicolás Guagnini’s The Panel Discussion, the Tennis Match, and a Bodegón

    NICOLÁS GUAGNINI’S The Panel Discussion, the Tennis Match, and a Bodegón, 2011, centers on a long plywood table that holds two groups of miniature wooden figures, one at either end. The back row, commissioned from a professional caricature wood-carver, represents a panel discussion that, according to the press release, features “an American publisher and art dealer, . . . a well known German artist, . . . and a well known German professor of Art History,” who are flanked by a facsimile catalogue from the Nazis’ 1937 “Entartete Kunst” (Degenerate Art) show propped on a miniature easel. It takes

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  • Jack Smith’s posthumous career

    AMONG THE MANY EVOCATIVE ELEMENTS to be found in “Thanks for Explaining Me,” the recent exhibition at Gladstone Gallery in New York devoted to the work of Jack Smith (1932–1989), was the unmistakable sound of the artist’s voice, at once somnolent and hysterical. Even before one had fully entered the show, Smith could be heard loudly complaining about art-world corruption.

    Smith was famous long ago for his scandalous 1963 film Flaming Creatures, and like an insanely protective parent, he took steps to ensure that none of his subsequent work would ever leave the nest. Thus, as positioned by curator

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  • Ai Weiwei and Sharjah Biennial 10

    IN THESE DAYS of the Arab Spring, paradoxically hovering between revolution and repression, there is much hand-wringing in the global art world. Protests and petitions against arrests, dismissals, censorship, and labor rights have erupted, targeting countries and societies that the Western art establishment feels should be better apprised of the avant-garde tradition of artistic autonomy and liberal notions of unfettered intellectual expression. It is as if a beehive had suddenly exploded and stung the previously passive moral lions of the field, waking them from their unreflective slumber. From

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  • Paul Cézanne

    BACK IN 1990, in an essay for the Oxford Art Journal, Griselda Pollock asked the question “What Can We Say About Cézanne These Days?” Her answers—regarding the contributions that could be made through socio-historical, psychoanalytic, and feminist interventions—were rather more generous than that given in the London Review of Books this past December by T. J. Clark. In the opening of his review of the Courtauld Gallery in London’s recent exhibition dedicated to the artist’s “Card Players” series, 1890–96, Clark flatly declared: “Cézanne . . . cannot be written about any more.” When

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  • Blinky Palermo

    THERE ARE VERY FEW ARTISTS for whom my admiration is absolute, and Blinky Palermo is one of them. It is most productive to call him a painter, because even if not everything he made was a painting, those other things can best be understood as originating in painting and extending it.

    Michael Fried told us in 1967 that for a modernist painting to be successful it must overcome its objecthood. For me, Palermo’s achievement was, on the contrary, to make paintings that are plainly objects and at the same time successful paintings. More than successful: It is my conviction that Palermos at their best

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  • interviews W.A.G.E.

    IT’S A CURIOUS TWIST in the history of art that de-skilling—the reduction of the once-hallowed making of art to the level of performing the mundane task of the day—has cut both ways. When Seurat famously said he just wanted to be paid by the hour, he was cannily acknowledging the routinization and commodification of all forms of experience in the advent of modernity, and at the same time attempting to defy bourgeois notions of artistic virtuosity and to undermine the traditional value of art itself. But three-quarters of a century later, amid the birth of institutional critique and

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  • craft and commerce

    AT AI WEIWEI’S EXHIBITION at Tate Modern in London this past October, visitors tromping around in his installation of a hundred million handpainted porcelain sunflower seeds allegedly kicked up dangerous clouds of ceramic particles, prompting museum administrators to cordon off the work only a few days after its unveiling. Though the proverbial dust seems to have settled, the specter of outsourced labor that hovered over the masses of individually crafted seeds (made in Jingdezhen, China, a city known for its porcelain production) continues to inform debates about the ethics of hand-making in

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