Alice Neel’s Family Values

Alice Neel, Self-Portrait, 1980 Go Ask Alice, If You Dare Have I said enough about maverick painter Alice Neel? You can read what I wrote in 2000, by going to my website . It's an insider's view, since I recount my experience as a nude victim for that merciless realist. On the other hand, I have heard my little essay is sometimes used as a prime example of storytelling as art criticism. For another angle on Neel (1900-1984), one might turn to someone in her biological family rather than her … [Read more...]

Why Art History Needs A Re-Write: High Times /Hard Times

Art Amnesia Memory can contradict art history. Sometimes it makes one lose faith in that unfortunate discipline, which, like history itself, is subject to the whims of the present. Once the witnesses have passed on, leaving no trace, history as written becomes truth. History is always in the present tense. Like the history of the world, art history belongs to the winners. "Wack!" in L.A. no doubt leaves out many deserving feminist artists; "Global Feminisms" manages to omit quite a few out of a … [Read more...]

Women’s Art Strike!

Regina Jose Galindo: Who Can Erase the Traces? ,2003. Street performance with blood, leaving footprints. "Global Feminisms," an exhibition of artworks by 87 women artists born since1960 is now at the Brooklyn Museum (through July 1) and will inspire debate on many topics. Is Body Art now the feminist language? Is the feminist historical survey WACK! now at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA L.A. and scheduled for P.S. 1 next year enough of a reason for "Feminisms" to avoid all art elders in the … [Read more...]

Charles LeDray: Scaling the Heights

Charles LeDray, Party Bed, 2006-7, 25 3/4" x 49 1/4" x 4 1/2" Small Is Beautiful An exhibition of recent work by Charles LeDray (Sperone Westwater, 415 West 13th Street, to March 24) deals again with scale, gender, and the handmade in art. This time around most of the works are of sewn cloth. No tiny sculptures carved from human bone; no cases filled with miniature, perfectly thrown vessels. New to me are necklaces on bust forms and an array of pincushions, which are, of course, in the tradition … [Read more...]

Gordon Matta-Clark: Six Ways of Looking at an Exhibition

Gordon Matta-Clark: Splitting: Four Corners, 1974 (Courtesy, SFMoMA) 1. Gone Too Soon Several themes are suggested by the Gordon Matta-Clark exhibition now at the Whitney (945 Madison Ave., to June 3, 2007), not the least of which is the early-death conundrum. Why do the best and brightest seem to die before they are 40? Here's a list: Eva Hesse (1936-70), Robert Smithson (1938-73), Matta-Clark (1943-78), Ana Mendieta (1949-85). Many without talent die young too, and perfectly decent artists … [Read more...]

Prince Nixes Pix; MoMA Launches Latin Dud

Two Questions 1. Do artists have rights over their artworks even after they are sold? 2. What is a conflict of interest? I too read other art critics, but Artopia is not metacriticism. We will leave that for other places. Nevertheless, occasionally I am stirred up. My two questions were generated by reviews that were in the N. Y. Times of Friday, February 9. Neuberger Museum website "image" for Richard Prince exhibition Prince Nixes Pix The first topic is inspired by Roberta Smith's review of … [Read more...]

Cameron and Other Stories

Aleister Crowley, 1875-1947 Once Was Wicked By the time you read this, the exhibition of elegant, out-there drawings by the infamous Cameron may be closed (Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, 526 West 26th Street, No. 213, through February 10). I usually post my essays inspired by current exhibitions while said offerings are still available. But this time around I made an exception. I wanted to beat the New York Times and the Village Voice on the David Hammons show, and I needed time to read through … [Read more...]

David Hammons, Trickster

David Hammons, Bliz-aard Ball Sale, 1983 Paint It Black The reclusive "genius" David Hammons is showing terrific new work. It's right up there with his snowball piece, his rock haircut, his African-American flag, his dark and empty gallery. His current provocation is at L & M Arts, 45 East 78th St., through February 28. I hesitate to tell you what's in the show since it was the surprise of it that initially turned my head. But you might as well know. Six fur coats. Six luxurious fur coats … [Read more...]

Wallace Berman’s Circle: Not Your Grey Flannel Art

An Embarrassment of Riches Another thing about Semina is it's un-American. In the fifties, when the magazine first began, it was against what in those days we called 'The American Way.' Semina was a long way from the American Way. The American Way was the Korean War, the grey flannel suits, the military preparedness to wage war behind the Iron Curtain or the Bamboo Curtain. Michael McClure, "On Semina," Support the Revolution: Wallace Berman, ICA/Amsterdam, 1992, How do you fill in the … [Read more...]

The Artopia Art Awards: 2006 Redux

And the Winners Are..... As much as I dislike end-of-the-year, best-of lists or awards of any kind (unless I am on the receiving end), the temptations are hard to resist: praising, hackle-raising, poisoning, and positioning. So for the first time ever, here we have the Artopia Awards for 2006. Best Solo in a Museum: Douglas Gordon at MoMA Too old to be emerging and too young for a retrospective, Gordon was just perfect for MoMA, badly in need of at least some inkling of the avant-garde. … [Read more...]