Christopher Wool: Pulling the Wool Over Your Eyes

Apocalypse Now, 1988.

  Christopher Wool gets better in this century. The Guggenheim retrospective (through Jan. 22) proves it. The words and wallpaper-roller and black-on-white sprayed, printed and tricked-up paintings of the last century all have their place, but the 21st-century “gray paintings” are so far his best. Less sarcastic. More complicated. More subtle. More ironic. I look upon his 20th-century paintings, even the word paintings, as rehearsals for the  gray paintings. No more offhand appropriations of … [Read more...]

Mike Kelley, Back to School

Detail of Mike Kelley: Deodoriazed Central Mass.

      This is a test. Can you look at Mike Kelley’s huge survey (MoMA PS1 to Feb. 2) without thinking of how he died? Is it too soon to come to grips with the art? Recent evidence has emerged that St. Vincent was shot by some stupid boys by mistake. Nevertheless, van Gogh’s “suicide” haunts even the most cheerful of his landscapes. That haunting and the fading of certain colors shows how both false history and bad chemistry are art’s most dangerous collaborators. I … [Read more...]

Timepiece: Slow Has Its Moment, Again

How to Wear Takehito's Masticator

      Food was first.  Slow Food is the alternative to fast food and agribusiness. Slow food is regional. Proponents of Slow Food call themselves locavores. Slow Food does not mean slow cooking or chewing each mouthful 17 times. Horace Fletcher (1849-1919) once took 45 minutes to Fletcherize an apple. A contemporary version of  tech-aided Fletcherizing has been produced in Japan -- Masticator (2005) by artist Takehito Etani. It is part of his "Spiritual Prothtetics … [Read more...]

Chris Burden, Part Two — Boys Will Be Boys

Transfixed, 1974

  “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures” is now at the New Museum to January 12. Burden has what looks like a bifurcated career, an oeuvre with a caesura. There’s the Burden of daredevil performance art, and then the sculptor Burden who famously makes outsize boys-toys. The iconic performances, in case you have forgotten, are Shoot, 1971, having himself shot in the arm and Transfixed, 1974, having himself nailed to the hood of a Volkswagen.   Although some sense of his 54 pioneering … [Read more...]

Robert Indiana: Love for Sale or The Sign Problem

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  Self-designated “sign painter” Robert Indiana recently bemoaned the success of his ubiquitous LOVE logo. With the aid of the ever-cooperative N.Y. Times he was prepping us for his Whitney retrospective, subtitled “Beyond Love” (to Feb. 2). In 1964, MoMA commissioned the LOVE device for a Christmas card, and then commercial-art hacks ripped it off. Even worse, the public to this day identifies Indiana with the LOVE icon, even if to the art world proper he is usually considered one of the … [Read more...]

Balthus: Guilty Paintings

Balthus; Thérèse Dreaming.1933

                                    Why Balthus at the Met? “Balthus: Cats and Girls — Paintings and Provocations”  is on display at New York’s Metropolitan Museum through Jan. 12. Cats and Girls? Such a serious theme! Barn cats are fine; they earn their keep. But house cats are useless. Unlike doggies, they do not offer unconditional love. You can’t … [Read more...]

Lady Gaga Rejected by Marina Abramović, Plus MoMA Sound

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Is “Duration Art” a real category or just a Marina promotion? Duration Art is the catchy Artopia term; Abramović awkwardly calls the art she supports and wants to preserve “long durational work.” She defines LDW as “any work (of music, opera, film, theater, performance art, science, and others) whose performance exceeds six hours.” We certainly appreciated her The Artist Is Present at MoMA, and understood, because of her previous recreations of Performance Art classics under the title of “Five … [Read more...]

Glorious Summer: Imran Qureshi, Pat Steir, Ellen Gallagher

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                        Important to see this summer is Imran Qureshi’s  Met Roof Garden Commission: And How Many Rains Must Fall Before the Stains Are Washed Clean, Metropolitan Museum of Art, to Nov. 3, 2013. In the MetMu press release, Qureshi is quoted as saying, “The dialogue between life and death is an important element in my work. Leaves and nature, for example, represent the idea of life. And … [Read more...]

Warhol plus Beuys: The Bruce

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                        Art History Exposed: Ode to Joy        The Bruce High Quality Foundation’s “Ode to Joy” at the Brooklyn Museum, through September 22, is not only high quality, but droll. Smart Art returns. We are so tired of ego-tripping nonentities pretending to be artists. We are so tired of art fairs and art investments. So tired of curators sucking up to galleries and the foundations established in behalf of dead artists….Well, … [Read more...]

Nude Descending a Bookcase: New Duchamp Interviews

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                              Love in the Afternoon To understand contemporary art you must mis-understand Marcel Duchamp. The readymade is the template for all things postmodern. But how do you choose which store-bought object to sign? The broken and mended Bride Stripped Bare by Bachelors, Even is the clue to the real meaning of the readymades. The readymades, … [Read more...]