Stalking Chelsea Last week I jumped right in, taking the crosstown bus to Chelsea. I was armed with my concealed must-see list, which is the only way to go. Why haven't I kept all of these the way art criticKim Levindid, as proven by her show at Ronald Feldman a while back? People will collect anything. Aside from a major collection of American modern dinnerware and some outsider art, I collect face jugs, lightning rods, and gear-shift knobs; I am accumulating those little plastic bag-closers … [Read more...]


My Opera Accident To explain the Artopia hiatus, I should first tell you about my Opera Accident. I was trying out my new iPod on St. Marks Place on my way to Kim's Video, listening to the scary Polish contralto Ewa Podles having a go at an aria from Handel's Renaldo ("Tale stupor m' occupa../Such stupefaction possesses my senses") when I hit a sidewalk crack and went sailing. To land on my thumb. Thumb dislocated, tendon snapped. At the E.R., the kind doctor said: Writer and artist? We'll … [Read more...]


Andy Warhol Bridge, Pittsburgh, Penna. The Allegheny Allegory or the Rule of Three Three things brought me to Pittsburgh, the city of three rivers. I missed the opening of the Andy Warhol Museum in 1994. My previous visit, as a juror for the Three Rivers Arts Festival, was long before that, and now I was also seduced by the possibility of seeing in person the contents of one of the Warhol Time Capsules. As an NEA panelist in the deep-dark past, I voted for Mattress Factory funding, but I never … [Read more...]


Marcel Dunchamp: Bicycle Wheel, 1913,(replica). Biting The Mother Who Feeds You Juxtaposing unlikely artworks or exhibitions is one way to tease out meanings. I call it the hermeneutics of the unjustified comparison, the depth analysis of opposites, the free flight or free fall of critical discourse. Although a word in different context may mean something else, by pretending it has the same meaning wherever it turns up offers the possibility of turning contexts upside down, inside out. Puns and … [Read more...]


H�LIO OITICICA ...AND BICKERTON AND CLARK, TOO Ashley Bickerton:Green Reflecting Heads #1(2006) In Search of the Exotic What is exotic? The Other - demon of post-modernism - was the Double that haunted Romanticism. But, excuse me, the Other lives next door. I have really no idea of what's going on in the brain of that birthday celebration family, making such a sit-com racket. When I buy a quart of 2% it is not the harried young man from Mumbai behind the counter who is the Other but the woman … [Read more...]


Hesse, Aught, 1968 A Matter of Life and Death The new exhibition of prime sculptures by Eva Hesse (1936-1970), now at the Jewish Museum (1009 Fifth Avenue, to Sept. 17) calls out for some examination of the theme of art and biography: Biography has figured prominently in the criticism and scholarship about Hesse's work. Born into an observant Jewish family in Hamburg in 1936, Hesse and her older sister were sent to Holland on a children's train at the end of 1938. Their parents fled Nazi Germany … [Read more...]


James Lee Byars, The Spinning Oracle of Delphi, 1986 Silence Is Indeed Golden Two years after the Whitney presentation of the gold-leafed room withbier,called The Death of James Lee Byars (1994), a multi-gallery presentation of mostly late work by the late James Lee Byars (1932–1997) forces a further reexamination of that willfully strange and, alas, sometimes too whimsical artist. In concert, the exhibitions are titled "The Rest Is Silence." Participating are the Mary Boone Galleries at 541 … [Read more...]


  David Smith with Australia, 1951 Three More Painters Poet John Ashbery, who had published my poems in both Locus Solus and Art and Literature, was back from Paris and seemingly in charge of recruiting a new batch of starving poets to write reviews for Art News. So I had my interview with king-maker Thomas Hess. What do you think of Action Painting? Answer: Some of it's good; some of it's bad. What do you think of Pop Art? Answer (this was in 1964): Some of it's good; some of it's bad. I … [Read more...]


The Greenbergian Stake This week I have a few thoughts about Clement Greenberg, not that we need another nail in his coffin or stake through his heart. All the dirty work was done upon the occasion of Florence Rubenfeld's 1998 Clement Greenberg: A Life. Aside from the claim that he alone discovered and nurtured Jackson Pollock, there is little to praise or dispute. Oh, yes, his writing style was clear although his logic was warped. And he did make value judgments. Besides, he was cremated in … [Read more...]