Judith Scott, Untitled, n.d.         WHAT'S IN A NAME? [Presented Oct. 8 in Oakland, Ca.at "Margins and Mainstreams: Disability Art Today," American Folk Art Society Conference, hosted by The Creative Growth Art Center.] Disability Art, as in the title of this symposium, is a new term for me. I think I know what it means: art by those with disabilities, art by the physically, mentally, and emotionally disabled. But do we need yet another art term? … [Read more...]


Guy Maddin, The Saddest Music in the World, 2003 (Isabella Rossellini as Canadian beer tycoon)         ArtOutside the Art Galleries At a time when it is hard to avoid movies or digital projections in art galleries, why not go back to origins? Musician/artist Brian Eno once prophesized that although it might seem that art has disappeared, we would find it again in an unlikely place. Could that be in movie theaters and thenon DVDs? Not only is the … [Read more...]


Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Untitled           The Art District That Ate Manhattan Checking out the Chelsea Art Guide (a freebie at most galleries), I see that 220 galleries are now listed and black-dotted on the map that tracks them from 12th Avenue to 7th Avenue and from 29th St. to 13th. The densest cluster of numbered dots, however, is still from 26th Street to 20th between 11th and 10th Avenues. Where will it all end? Chelsea: the art … [Read more...]


  Andy Goldsworthy: Stone Houses, 2004                What Was Earth Art? At times Earth Art was dirt or stones dumped in a gallery, but mostly we visualize artworks made outside the gallery, outside cities, on and of the land or the earth. Key works, such as Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty (1970), were created in the wilderness. Richard Long took walks in Great Britain. His first walk in 1967 was described as "a straight … [Read more...]


     Bontecou, Untitled, 1962 The Lee Bontecou Problematic Every time we go to the New York City Opera we look forward to seeing Lee Bontecou's fine wall piece. There's no mistaking it: dingy canvas stitched to metal "ribs," a gaping hole. The center juts from the wall as if (excuse me, Herr Freud) it might eat you. Or is it the fuselage from hell? The artist herself apparently associates her imagery with the Second World War. Titled "Untitled," as was and is always her … [Read more...]


Ana Mendieta: Untitled (Body Tracks), 1974 Ana Mendieta: The Whole Story You can tell that Ana Mendieta (1948-1985) is about to make it into art history: her last name only is on the cover of the dramatic, blood-red catalogue that accompanies the new survey of her art now at the Whitney. When I saw that, it gave me shivers. All is forgiven, Art World. She broke a lot of boundaries; she broke a lot of rules.Her shocking death for a time divided the art world, but now we can be … [Read more...]


Brancusi: Torso of a Young Girl, 1922 Brandcusi How much is enough? How much too little? By all accounts, Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), soon to be repackaged as a protominimalist, did not produce much art compared to, let's say, Picasso. Thirty-five Brancusi sculptures are now at the Guggenheim under the title "Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Things" (1071 Fifth Ave. at 89th St., through Sept. 19). On the grounds that an artist is the sum of everything that has been written about him or … [Read more...]


Isamu Noguchi: Interior Courtyard, Noguchi Musuem I took the press-preview bus to the newly renovated Noguchi Museum in Queens (32-37 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City), and this is my report.  If you haven't read last week's little essay, please scroll down and read it now, because it sets up the themes that will now prevail: restoration, memory and  presentation. Note too that the photo above took me hours to choose. Is it too glamorous? Not  glamorous enough? Should I have used a close-up of … [Read more...]


Exterior Noguchi Museum (Detail), 2004. Photo: J.Perreault I prefer to take my own pictures. It helps me get closer to (or further away from) the art. Sometimes with my digital I take dozens of images, more than I can use and more than necessary to cover the shot. Is this a way of making notes? The camera accomplishes several other things. The man with a camera is off-bounds, thus ensuring both visibility (you don't want to bump into the photographer) and privacy (you don't want to talk to him … [Read more...]


AgainstPhotography Dora Marr, Blind Beggar, 1934 Why have I written so little about photography? Possibly because, unlike in other areas, my taste is quite narrow. I obviously like Weegee; Diane Arbus is another star in my book; and John Coplans, if he really was a photographer. He certainly wasn't a photographer in the same sense that Weegee and Arbus were, but more in the category confirmed by Cindy Sherman's identity photography. I say "confirmed" because even Sherman has predecessors -- … [Read more...]