COLUMNS

  • Ron Galella

    ONE OF RON GALELLA’S candid portraits of Liza Minnelli, taken in 1968 at the premiere of A Dandy in Aspic, shows Judy’s little girl in an amazing white suit, black shirt, and white silk tie, a daisy brooch on her swank lapel, no longer The Sterile Cuckoo, but ready for all the cabaret, life, has to offer. It only seems strange that dandy, pixie Liza-pre Halston, pre-disco, pre-encephalitis, pre-everything else, an awkward inheritance worked into almost iconicity—should ever have been able to deal in the real: i.e., to pull off something that might allow her, for a moment, to be just Liza.

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  • Andrew Ross on “Black Romantic”

    WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME a major art museum issued an open call for submissions to an upcoming show? Um . . . never? While open calls are the staple of a thousand regional and community art centers, the metro curator lives or dies by her own deft instincts about where to look, how to prefer, and what to embrace. So when one of the art world’s most sophisticated curators circulates an announcement that begins “Attention Artists!” and goes on to solicit work in the figurative genre of “romanticism,” irony hounds are likely to salivate at the prospect of another juicy morsel of conceptualism coming

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  • Learning from Philadelphia

    Robert Venturi, whose seminal Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture of 1966 is credited with returning historical concerns to the forefront of architectural theory and practice after the willful amnesia of modernism, is, it would seem, overcome with anxiety about his own place in history. Weeks before the Philadelphia Museum of Art opened “Out of the Ordinary: The Architecture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates” this summer, Venturi issued his latest broadside. “I am not now and never have been a postmodernist” ran the quote accompanying a frowning Venturi on

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  • “The Short Century”

    In 1959, standing before the assembled participants of the Second Congress of Black Artists and Writers in Rome, Frantz Fanon urged those in attendance to reach out to “the people” where it is hardest to do so: “We must join them in the fluctuating movement which they are just giving a shape ... It is to the zone of occult instability where the people dwell that we must come.” The question raised by “The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945–1994,” which opened in February at Munich’s Museum Villa Stuck, is exactly how to comprehend and represent this “zone of

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  • the Austrian Boycott Debate

    THE VIENNA SECESSION has put its distinctive facade—one of the most photographed tourist attractions in the city—at the disposal of artists like Franz West and Renée Green for work critical of the new Austrian government, a coalition formed by the conservative People’s Party (known by its German initials ÖVP)—the hitherto dominant Social Democrats’ long-time partner in the Austrian government—and the openly racist, far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ). Encouraged in part by the harsh international reaction to this dismaying coalition, almost every noteworthy Austrian intellectual, artist, filmmaker,

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  • Konrad Fischer/Lueg

    ASK ANYBODY ABOUT THE LEGACY of Konrad Fischer’s Düsseldorf gallery and you’ll get a laudatory earful. “He was a genius,” Carl Andre tells me over the phone. “Like one of those great Hollywood producers, Konrad knew how to gather the right people and get them what they needed to do their work. He was a tremendous facilitator.” “If Leo Castelli was running the most important art gallery in New York at the time, Konrad Fischer clearly started up the most important gallery in Europe,” says Marian Goodman. Fischer’s legendary status as a dealer is beyond question. But what of his work as an artist?

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  • Frank O’Hara

    AS VIEWED FROM THE VANTAGE POINT of our empire’s continued obsession with health, Frank O’Hara (1926–1966), the poet and Museum of Modern Art curator, looks, if not like death, then the very body of ill health. In the photographs and paintings of the poet at the center of “In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art,” an exhibition of 102 (as often as not collaborative) works by O’Hara and his painter friends, on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles through November 14, there is O’Hara’s too-thin human form, gay and white and plucky or sad, seen by this camera or

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  • bad art

    IT HAS BEEN SIXTY YEARS since Clement Greenberg denounced middlebrow culture in “Avant Garde and Kitsch,” and decades since a serious defense of Greenberg’s ultra-highbrow position didn’t meet with a certain amount of eye-rolling. Despite Greenberg’s current revival in upper reaches of academia (particularly in continental art-critical circles), the moral all-or-nothing of his critical vision increasingly seems to have been permanently consigned to the dustbins of art history. The “debate” that still goes on between defenders of high culture and partisans of pop, at least as it’s portrayed in

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  • Tibor Kalman

    TIBOR KALMAN IS A GRAPHIC DESIGNER, a crafter of corporate logos, a producer of presentation materials, a maker of menus and restaurant posters. But Tibor Kalman is so much more than that.

    According to most of those who judge such things (with whom I concur, by the way), he is accomplished, even brilliant at what he does. He may even be the greatest graphic designer of his generation. Certainly his output of the last twenty years, just collected in the three-and-a-half-pound book Perverse Optimist (Princeton Architectural Press), sparkles with witty solutions to the problems typical of corporate

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  • Michel Foucault’s aesthetics

    WHAT EXACTLY IS MEANT by Michel Foucault’s “aesthetics”? The ideas of sex and power we now associate with the philosopher and historian seem to exist in an entirely different register from what he found in the arts. And yet in a certain way this paradox in our relation to his thought is already present in his own work, his own aesthetics.

    The recent publication of Volume Two of Foucault’s collected writings confronts us with just such questions. Much of his writings about the arts are contained in essays, reviews, interviews, lectures—a whole body of journalism that accompanied his work as

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  • business lit

    THE PRESS KIT THAT CAME WITH my copy of Gordon MacKenzie’s Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace (Viking, 1998) describes the book as “originally self-published and already a business cult-classic.” That such a thing exists should surprise no one: so far has business writing evolved in the last thirty years, so many subgenres has it spun off, that the notion of a cult classic is today but one of the many ways in which this former publishing industry niche now constitutes a fairly complete parallel literary universe. There are management prayer books,

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  • advertising doubt

    NO ONE’S CERTAIN HOW many new advertising or media columns have started up this year (four writers I know have been asked to pen them for different publications), but it’s already clear that 1998 will be remembered as the year we got wise. We the people are acting on our inalienable right to gather in coffee shops where murmurs of Dan Rather’s bias may be heard, to rate the Super Bowl commercials, to visit Websites where the big city page-ones are slightingly compared, to read of the advance or retreat of favorite pundits, to be addressed as a knowing insider, to go into the interpretation

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