Printer Friendly

Best of 2010.

Every December, Artforum invites a wide range of artists, critics, and curators to take a look back at the year in art. In the pages that follow, fourteen contributors choose their top ten highlights of 2010, while three others pick single standout exhibitions. And to round out our reflections, philosopher Bruno Latour, critic John Kelsey, and artist Michael Smith give three very different takes on the year that was.

Daniel Birnbaum

Christine Macel

Richard Hawkins

Okwui Enwezor

Lynne Cooke

Jack Bankowsky

Anne M. Wagner

Matthew Higgs

Michael Ned Holte

Pauline J. Yao

Jeffrey Kastner

Victoria Noorthoorn

Sandhini Poddar

Chris Dercon

Helen Molesworth

Hal Foster

A COLOR PHOTOGRAPH by Hans Namuth from around 1964 shows Mark Rothko alone in his Amagansett summer studio seated in an Adirondack chair, facing away from the camera. His regard is fixed on a painting in smoldering russet hues that leans against another smaller canvas turned toward the wall; to his right, suspended by two cords from a roof beam, hangs a canvas of similar size but painted in dark pigments approaching black. No other work is visible.


That image will be newly familiar to some thousands of theatergoers who attended performances of Red, the two-character play by John Logan that began its life at London's Donmar Warehouse at the end of 2009 and arrived on Broadway with the same cast and production in April. As ticket holders filed in for the show, a seated Alfred Molina as Rothko already occupied the stage, his back to the audience, as if in brooding contemplation of a canvas propped against the rear wall. Over a silent half hour (apart from the murmurs and rustlings out in the house), only Molina's hulking hulk·ing   also hulk·y
Unwieldy or bulky; massive.


big and ungainly

Adj. 1.
 shoulders and shaved pate were visible above the back of his chair.


Logan's chosen moment for dramatizing Rothko's creative anxiety lay some years before the date of the Namuth photograph, during the fraught gestation of the suite of paintings originally commissioned for the Four Seasons restaurant in New York's Seagram Building--the core of which Rothko later donated to the Tate Gallery in London. Reported grumbles by Rothko concerning the restaurant's smugly wealthy clientele provided Logan with exchanges intended to highlight both the artist's social disaffection and his studio assistant's youthful idealism, while scattered remarks gleaned from Rothko's writings served to dramatize dram·a·tize  
v. dram·a·tized, dram·a·tiz·ing, dram·a·tiz·es
1. To adapt (a literary work) for dramatic presentation, as in a theater or on television or radio.

 his accompanying creative uncertainties.


But the play's most quoted line seems to be one of the playwright's invention: "There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend," says Rothko, as he and his assistant examine one of the Seagram compositions (uncannily mimicked by designer Christopher Oram). "One day the black will swallow the red." A heavy-handed intimation of Rothko's 1970 suicide, that pronouncement typifies the script's adherence to an obvious, life-versus-death symbolism. But the Namuth image carries a lesson quite different from the chromatic psychomachia that won Logan the Tony Award for best play See Tony Award for information about the complete set of Tony Award categories.

What is popularly called the Tony Award (formally, the Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre
 (along with a "best featured actor" nod for Eddie Redmayne in the role of the earnest apprentice). A change in Rothko's idiom away from the freely brushed windows and gates of the 1958-59 Seagram murals is equally visible in both the reddish and the blackish canvases captured in Namuth's picture: The painter would now pursue the containment of a single rectangle within sharply defined borders, suspended against a field in the same family of tone or hue. Red might be the object of his immediate scrutiny, but the dark variant is the one that would dominate his efforts in 1964. Long after memories of the theatrical Red had begun to fade, the results of Rothko's turn to "black" could be freely experienced in Washington, DC, at the National Gallery of Art's "In the Tower: Mark Rothko," my candidate for exhibition of the year.

The show's curator, Harry Cooper, who is head of the museum's department of modern art, is at pains to set aside the conventional equation of darkness with morbidity and with it any conjectural con·jec·tur·al  
1. Based on or involving conjecture. See Synonyms at supposed.

2. Tending to conjecture.

 anticipation of the death that would not take place for six more years. What might have been preoccupying Rothko at the moment of the Namuth photograph (which figures at the head of the exhibition's takeaway brochure) is his emerging judgment that the new format comes closest to meeting his expectations when the play of reflected versus absorbed light is able to operate independently of competing kinds of optical stimulation. Using the gallery's own holdings along with loans from the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff collection, Cooper mounted a representative set of canvases from a phase in Rothko's production that had hardly been known before the 2008 Tate Modern exhibition devoted to the artist's later series. While the Tate gave pride of place to its own Seagram set, Cooper was able to confer a kind of splendid isolation on his fuller exploration of this decisive turn in Rothko's later career by using an exhibition space that communicates directly with no other in the National Gallery's east wing.


Rothko always feared, according to his friend Stanley Kunitz, "a different set of vibrations challenging his own. ... He wanted that room, that atmosphere, that environment, all to be his own." Even when his work was the sole object of a museum retrospective, Rothko fretted and chafed about its being anatomized along art-historical and critical lines. Though he doubtless would have preferred a hang closer to the floor, "In the Tower" provides a rare chance to think about a nearly synchronous moment in an artist's practice without the distractions of developmental comparisons that constitute the lingua franca of normative exhibition design.


The consummate location for this kind of apprehension can be found, of course, in the Rothko Chapel in Houston, and it makes sense, as the exhibition ephemera suggest, to see the works on view in Washington as a form of rehearsal for the artist's multiyear campaign, beginning in 1964, from which that monumental ensemble emerged. The canvases were now so big that they became quasi-architectural elements in themselves, layered with the artist's secret concoctions of oil and pigments in rabbit-skin glue, able assistants executing much of the actual paint coverage under Rothko's direction. And what imagery these works possess consists of little more than irregular accumulations of suspended matter in undulating or cloudlike patterns, reacting with the incidence of light on the surface or from deeper within their translucent depths. All of this occurs in the paintings assembled for the Washington show, but here the artist's touch and the effects are lighter, conveying a fresher sense of invention and momentum from one experimental canvas to the next. Under the full illumination that Rothko generally abhorred, the Washington installation demonstrates that respecting the work need not entail overscrupulously following the wishes of the maker.

None of these canvases are, of course, black; complex chromatic scumbling abounds, and thus no stygian dread overcomes the lost life force of crimson. Plain enough to any unbiased eye, that perception is somewhat obscured by an otherwise laudable component of the show. A group of nearly unknown small paintings from the 1930s and '40s, drawn from the abundant gift to the National Gallery by the Rothko Foundation, line a corridor leading into the main space. Each of them displays a passage in a black (or very dark) pigment that the painter rarely used after the 1940s. These works are fascinating, each in its own way, not least for the contribution that their new visibility makes to the still schematic understanding of Rothko's development through the 1940s.

As an opportunity to begin bringing this record to light, proximity to the charismatic 1964 canvases was as good a place to start as any--and the splendor of the main display required some such prelude. It was indeed possible to see some sublimation sublimation, in chemistry
sublimation (sŭblĭmā`shən), change of a solid substance directly to a vapor without first passing through the liquid state.
 of the banded compositions of 1945-46, with their filigreed suspended entities, still present in the paintings of the 1960s. But the "black" of the 1964 series and the chapel murals does not belong to the family of off-the-shelf pigments evident in these formative efforts. They are not black at all, but rather the products of a new tuning of tone and texture necessitated by the artist's more fundamental decision to reduce his shape count to one and his edges and corners to sharp visual incisions. By all accounts, that move, and the generous terms of the Houston commission that followed, elevated rather than depressed Rothko's spirits. Perhaps Logan's Red had it right: If the paintings had been truly black, the despair of 1970 might have arrived much earlier.

"In the Tower: Mark Rothko" remains on view at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, through January 10, 2011.



Daniel Birnbaum


Daniel Birnbaum is the director of the moderna museet in Stockholm, where, next spring, he will stage exhibitions of the work of Jutta Koether and Klara Liden. A book of his selected writings will be published by Walther Koenig early next year.


1 "Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929" (Victoria and Albert Museum, London; curated by Jane Pritchard and Geoffrey Marsh) They don't make 'em like Diaghilev anymore, and they never did before him, either. About this most spectacular impresario of all time, the genius dancer Vaslav Nijinsky (whom the master, also his lover, would hit with his cane) wrote: "Diaghilev has two false front teeth. I noticed this because when he is nervous he touches them with his tongue. ... Diaghilev reminds me of a wicked old woman when he moves his two front teeth." Not only charming but wily and ruthlessly ambitious, Diaghilev created the most fascinating dance company of the twentieth century and a new form of Gesamtkunstwerk that involved poetry, fashion design, sculpture, painting, music, and of course choreography. He worked all over Europe with Stravinsky, Picasso, Braque, Chanel, Matisse, and everyone else who seemed of relevance. There were a few grand curators and impresarios in more recent decades who likewise attempted to bridge the disciplines (Harald Szeemann, say, or Pontus Hulten). But they all seem like Lilliputians next to this Russian giant, who exchanged ideas with Proust, Joyce, and Eliot and commissioned music by Debussy, Ravel, Satie, Strauss, and Prokofiev, constantly forging new territory with exhibitions, ballets, and events that remain beyond definition. Picasso's enormous cloth backdrop for Le Train bleu
For the train of the same name, see Le Train Bleu (train).
Le Train Bleu (lit. "The Blue Train") is a restaurant located in the hall of the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris, France.
 (1924) was only one of hundreds of good reasons to spend a long afternoon in this show. Diaghilev! Already the sound of the name makes clear that the man was larger than life larg·er than life
Very impressive or imposing: "This is a person of surpassing integrity; a man of the utmost sincerity; somewhat larger than life" Joyce Carol Oates. 

2 Brion Gysin (New Museum, New York; curated by Laura Hoptman) This is the kind of show this museum should always have on display, if only there were another artist like Gysin. But there could be no one else as supernatural, no one about whom William S. Burroughs Noun 1. William S. Burroughs - United States writer noted for his works portraying the life of drug addicts (1914-1997)
Burroughs, William Burroughs, William Seward Burroughs
 would say: "His paintings are formulae designed to produce in the viewer the timeless ever-changing world of magic caught in the painter's brush--bits of vivid and vanishing detail. ... The pictures constantly change because you are drawn into time travel on a network of associations. Brion Gysin paints from the viewpoint of timeless space."


3 Hu Fang, Garden of Mirrored Flowers (Sternberg Press and Vitamin Creative Space) This novel and artist's book tells the story of a contemporary artist who designs a theme park. An adaption adaption

see adaptation.
 of the classical Chinese novel Jin Hua Yuan (Flowers in the Mirror), and not without resemblance to Jorge Luis Borges's philosophical tale about a labyrinth that hides the secrets of time, Hu's beautiful work is everything I have been hoping to find in contemporary Chinese art.


4 "FischGratenMelkStand" (Herringbone Milking Parlor) (Temporare Kunsthalle Berlin; curated by John Bock) A more palpable but no less confusing kind of Western labyrinth, designed by the artist John Bock, this huge group show represented the experimental spirit that the German art world was hoping to get from the Temporary Kunsthalle. Every time I entered the sprawling and knotted installation, I would come across a work I hadn't seen before, such as a Klara Liden film showing the artist performing mysterious piano music in a deserted house somewhere in a godforsaken part of Brooklyn.


5 Friedrich Nietzsche, Dynamisches Schema der Zeit (Dynamic Scheme of Time), 1873 (reproduced in Georges Didi-Huberman, Das Nachleben der Bilder [The Afterlife of Images, Suhrkamp]) Reading the new German translation of Didi-Huberman's book, I came across a drawing by the philosopher of eternal return that does not appear in any of the major works on Nietzsche by Deleuze, Heidegger, Klossowski, or Derrida. The drawing is not a work of art, really, but an image that gives us the shape of time. Not a line or an infinite series of points; not circle, cone, crystal, spiral, network, or even labyrinth. No, this is the young Nietzsche's attempt to grasp time in a new image as mysterious as Hu's Garden of Mirrored Flowers.

6 Sturtevant, Elastic Tango (Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London) Copy, replica, mimesis mimesis /mi·me·sis/ (mi-me´sis) the simulation of one disease by another.mimet´ic

1. The appearance of symptoms of a disease not actually present, often caused by hysteria.
, simulacrum, fake, clone--for half a century, Sturtevant's work has been "a meditation on these concepts by decidedly not being any of them," as Bruce Hainley has written. The artist's new video piece is certainly none of these things. But what is it? A philosophical dance?


7 Rivane Neuenschwander (Malmo Konsthall, Sweden; curated by Jacob Fabricius) The most elegantly installed exhibition of dazzlingly weightless art seen in years. Has there ever been a show that smelled better?

8 Tino Sehgal (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: see Guggenheim Museum. , New York; curated by Nancy Spector) Before being pulled into the conversations, which in my case were slightly annoying but also fun, everyone simply looked at the spiral itself. We all know it, but this time it looked particularly splendid. Sehgal pulled off not only a small step for the institution but a major leap for objectless art. Both upward, in a breathlessly twisting movement.


9 Hito Steyerl, November (8th Gwangju Biennale) One simply cannot stop watching this 2004 portrait of the artist's childhood friend Andrea, who, as an adult, was executed by the Turkish government for her alleged terrorist activities with the Kurdistan Workers' Party. The two girls staged themselves as dangerously hip teenage outlaws in the 1980s, seen as an archival clip in Steyerl's film. But in Andrea's case it all became real, and then more than real. She became a hero, an icon, a martyr, a saint. This is the most riveting and uniquely strange meditation on resistance and the life of images I've ever seen.

10 Rirkrit Tiravanija (Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany; curated by Thomas Kellein) When Tiravanija turns a German kunstverein into a functioning apartment where people can live and work, or when he turns an entire art academy into an inn with hundreds of guests, he doesn't really expect to change the function of these institutions for good. He merely suggests the possibility of other models: other ways of sharing things and, ultimately, other forms of human life; another social order, one less fixated on things. In this light, his art could be seen as a kind of therapy to cure us of our pathological obsession with objects. Tiravanija's art, as this humble but charming retrospective proves, is about giving things away and the very act of giving--an act that still holds meaning for both art and life.

Christine Macel


Christine Macel is chief curator at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, where, with cocurator Emma Lavigne, she is preparing "Dance Your Life," an exhibition focused on the relationship between dance and the visual arts in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. She is also curatorial adviser for Dublin Contemporary 2011. (See Contributors.)

1. A flat disk of metal ready for stamping as a coin; a coin blank.

2. A small shallow metal container in which a radioactive substance is deposited for measurement of its activity.



1 Petrit Halilaj (Berlin Biennale; curated by Kathrin Rhomberg) Halilaj's 2009 solo exhibition at the Chert chert: see flint.  gallery in Berlin, which documented plans to build a chicken coop with family and friends in Kosovo's capital, Pristina, was further developed in the Biennale. At the heart of the Kunst-Werke, viewers found a discreetly political installation: an oversize replica of a house the artist had tried to build for relatives in Pristina, only to be stymied by lack of a permit. Chickens clucked nearby, as if in disapproval of Kosovar bureaucrats.


2 Simon Fujiwara (Art Statements, Art Basel) Since 2008 Fujiwara has been reimagining his parents' lives in Spain under Franco's dictatorship. At Art Basel, he reconstructed the hotel they ran on the Costa Brava bra·va  
Used to express approval of a woman, especially for a performance.

A shout or cry of "brava."

[Italian, feminine of bravo, bravo; see bravo1.]
 in the 1970s--the setting of the artist's novel Welcome to the Hotel Munber, which combines family history with erotic fantasy. Reinventing his origins, combining discomfort and jubilation, Fujiwara created an utterly haunting fiction.


3 Klara Liden (Jeu de Paume, Paris; curated by Elena Filipovic) I vividly remember the 2006 video by this young Swedish artist in which she destroys a bike with a hefty metal rod. For her exhibition at the Jeu de Paume, she struck hard again. In a new work, the diaporama Toujours etre ailleurs (Always to Be Elsewhere), 2010, she evokes the performance artists of the 1960s, appropriating urban space in a most incongruous manner. (At one point she disappears into a garbage can.) Violent and somehow autistic, Liden's work, to its credit, imbues radicality with humor.

4 Anri Sala and Edi Rama (Collection Stiftung, Berlin) Sala showed wonderful new topographical drawings at the Collection Stiftung, concentrating on the issue of how we perceive the structure of an image--in Sala's, we cannot distinguish between foreground, background, etc. He invited his friend Edi Rama, an artist and also the mayor of Tirana, Albania, into an unexpected exchange involving transfer and transparence: The mayor's doodles and documents are superimposed upon, and seem to shimmer above, Sala's drawings, articulating an ambiguous space between images and proposing a new art of the conversation.

5 John Baldessari (Tate Modern, London; curated by Leslie Jones and Jessica Morgan) Baldessari, whose work is so assiduously as·sid·u·ous  
1. Constant in application or attention; diligent: an assiduous worker who strove for perfection. See Synonyms at busy.

 read and reread by younger artists, was overdue for a retrospective. Wit and Conceptual art have never gotten along as well as they do in his perpetually fresh work, as this exhibition amply demonstrated.


Co-organized with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, also known as LACMA, is the official and world-renowned art museum of the County of Los Angeles, California, located on Wilshire Boulevard along Museum Row in the Miracle Mile vicinity of Los Angeles. .

6 Sophie Calle, Attendez-moi (Wait for Me) (Hasselblad Center at the Goteborg Museum of Art, Sweden; curated by Gunilla Knape) One of Calle's most moving works, Attendez-moi is simply a text accompanied by a photograph of the artist as a little girl, standing on a dock, wearing a small hat, her face the same as it is today." I was two. It happened on a beach--Deauville, I think. My mother had entrusted me to a group of children ... They had to get rid of me: that was their game ... And I ran after them shouting 'Wait for me, wait for me!' I can still remember."

7 Trisha Brown (Musee d'Art Contemporain de Lyon, France; curated by Peter Eleey) The MAC Lyon paid homage to this major artist with a show, staged here by Thierry Raspail, that brought out the airy, fluid grace that Babette Mangolte has represented so well in her films of Brown's dances. A selection of drawings and, especially, a staging of Planes made for a grand finale.

Organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

8 Isadora Duncan (Musee Bourdelle, Paris; curated by Stephanie Cantarutti, Juliette Laffon, and Helene Pinet) The first exhibition dedicated solely to Duncan focused on the years she spent in France. Defying the rules and pioneering the discipline of modern dance, Duncan--barefoot, dressed in a classical tunic--fascinated Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, Auguste Rodin, and even Oskar Kokoschka. Bourdelle, Rodin, and many others tried to capture her likeness, but none were quite equal to the refined dynamism of this "living sculpture."


9 Sciences Po Ecole des Arts Politiques Sociologist and theorist Bruno Latour is the founder of this pedagogical initiative, an institution of which much is expected, considering its ambitious program. Ushered in by a series of public conversations at the Centre Pompidou in the spring, the school is geared toward rearticulating the innumerable connections among the arts, the sciences, and politics--all fields that, as Latour astutely observes, foreground "matters of articulation."

10 Metaphysiques cannibales, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (Presses Universitaires de France) This book by Brazilian anthropologist Viveiros de Castro allows us to go beyond such received categories as "animist an·i·mism  
1. The belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena.

2. The belief in the existence of spiritual beings that are separable or separate from bodies.

 culture" and "multiculturalism." The author emphasizes Amerindian cosmologies that dismiss the separation of nature and culture and, melding the approaches of Levi-Strauss and Deleuze, develops a new concept: "multinaturalism."



Richard Hawkin


Richard Hawkins is an artist living in Los Angeles. His first major museum survey, "Richard Hawkins: third mind," curated by Lisa Dorin, opened at the Art institute of Chicago Art Institute of Chicago, museum and art school, in Grant Park, facing Michigan Ave. It was incorporated in 1879; George Armour was the first president. Since 1893 the Institute has been housed in its present building, designed in the Italian Renaissance style by  in October and travels to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, in February 2011.

1 Larry Johnson (Marc Jancou Contemporary, New York) On the heels of his pencil-prodded jackass (leave it to Johnson to take the precedent of Max Fleischer's "Out of the Inkwell inkwell GI surgery A surgically constructed vagination-'intussusception' of a short sleeve of esophagus sewn into the stomach which, as intragastric pressure ↑, is compressed, forming a functional valve–eg, Nissen fundoplication. See Nissen procedure. " and turn it into the Subject's eroticized interpolation interpolation

In mathematics, estimation of a value between two known data points. A simple example is calculating the mean (see mean, median, and mode) of two population counts made 10 years apart to estimate the population in the fifth year.
 between the Real and the Imaginary), the artist's turn to predigital "cold type" and pasteup marks the start of an even more evocative and provocative investigation of mediation and touch. From the wax and glue in the pasteups, I immediately jumped to bodily fluids and found in Johnson's latest work a tertiary addition to the studium/punctum matrix: sputum. And then wound up square in the lap of Warhol's prescient use of index/image: piss paintings.


2 John McAllister (James Fuentes, New York) McAllister's paintings are Debussyish Matisseries, particularly Innerly Innerness, 2010, with its "red studio" floating atop sweetly dissonant dis·so·nant  
1. Harsh and inharmonious in sound; discordant.

2. Being at variance; disagreeing.

3. Music Constituting or producing a dissonance.
 fields of pink, orange, and purple stripes.


3 "They Have Not the Art to Argue with Pictures" (Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles) When Hollywood screenwriters want to offer insight into the mind of a psychopath psy·cho·path
A person with an antisocial personality disorder, especially one manifested in perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior.
, they write a scene in which an investigator stumbles upon the deranged de·range  
tr.v. de·ranged, de·rang·ing, de·rang·es
1. To disturb the order or arrangement of.

2. To upset the normal condition or functioning of.

3. To disturb mentally; make insane.
 killer's private praxis. It's hardly a spoiler to reveal that they never find a watercolorist but, inevitably, a practitioner of photocollage. Robert Heinecken's own decidedly unprecious and even violently vulgar revised and compromised magazines were the standouts in this show of mostly younger artists (Erik Frydenborg, Nicolas Guagnini, Wade Guyton, Leigh Ledare, Amanda Ross-Ho, and Collier Schorr) who, in one way or another, seem rather bashful bash·ful  
1. Shy, self-conscious, and awkward in the presence of others. See Synonyms at shy1.

2. Characterized by, showing, or resulting from shyness, self-consciousness, or awkwardness.
 when compared to their predecessor's brilliant depravities.


4 Mark Grotjahn (Blum & Poe, Los Angeles) No matter what Grotjahn's detractors may say about marketability and assisted production, his new large-format oil-on-cardboard-on-linen paintings are entrancing--particularly in the scale of detailed incidental mark to surface. The works benefit from the artist's scrupulous study of painting's past: They take up the corner-to-corner linear entanglements of Marden and Winters and trump Richter's microfacture with the grubby palette-knife edge of de Stael and Joan Brown. Most of all, I'm reminded of Jean Fautrier ... but run through the most marvelous shredder.


5 Vincent Fecteau (greengrassi, London) Fecteau spends an immense amount of time banishing real-world referents from his work. Consequently, references abound. I thought of space helmets fashioned by a cargo cult, a Cub Scout cannibal's craft store creation, fancified glory holes for two-pronged trannies, etc.


6 "Hammer Projects: Stephen G. Rhodes" (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; curated by Ali Subotnick) The confrontational mayhem and balls-out history smashing that abounds in Rhodes's practice continues the work of, say, Douglas Huebler's "Crocodile Tears," 1981-, where, within a morass of interconnected allusions, meaning gets shaken and stirred (if not altogether gargled and spat out).

7 "Gauguin: Maker of Myth" (Tate Modern, London; curated by Amy Dickson, Tamar Garb, Christine Riding, and Belinda Thomson) I'm picking this for the paintings, of course, but even more for Gauguin's rarely seen artist's books, which conflate con·flate  
tr.v. con·flat·ed, con·flat·ing, con·flates
1. To bring together; meld or fuse: "The problems [with the biopic] include . .
 found photographs, hand-copied poems and texts, reproductions of woodcuts and of influential artists' works, and Gauguin's own drawings and writings. Though overlooked by collage historians, the artist's investigations of juxtaposition and rupture go much further than the quaint recontextualizations of Victorian scrapbooks. They also predate by two decades the experiments of Picasso and Braque.


8 Lari Pittman (Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Regen Projects II, Los Angeles) One gallery was full of outlandish new paintings; the other was densely packed with spectacular artists' books (made in collaboration with Dennis Cooper and Jonathan Hammer) and works on paper. Writing on Pittman, at least in the press, tends to devolve devolve v. when property is automatically transferred from one party to another by operation of law, without any act required of either past or present owner. The most common example is passing of title to the natural heir of a person upon his death.  into autobiographical anecdote and dichotomized description (renewal/decay, decorative/grotesque, etc.), while completely missing the Auntie Mame politics that were so amply in evidence here--i.e., queenly exhortations to defy tragic conservatism with ever more decadent actings out.


9 Joe Goode, Purple (Artforum Name) (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles This article is about Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. For other Museums named Museum of Contemporary Art, see Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is a contemporary art museum in and near Los Angeles, California.
) I haven't spent too much time in galleries over the past twelve months. I'd like to say I was busy, but really I was nonplussed non·plus  
tr.v. non·plused also non·plussed, non·plus·ing also non·plus·sing, non·plus·es also non·plus·ses
To put at a loss as to what to think, say, or do; bewilder.

: Every time I did venture out I saw hardly anything but blandness chasing after Conceptualist con·cep·tu·al·ism  
1. Philosophy The doctrine, intermediate between nominalism and realism, that universals exist only within the mind and have no external or substantial reality.

 pedigrees. Though perhaps a counterintuitive coun·ter·in·tu·i·tive  
Contrary to what intuition or common sense would indicate: "Scientists made clear what may at first seem counterintuitive, that the capacity to be pleasant toward a fellow creature is ...
 selection for my "best of 2010," given that it was made in 1961 and has been in storage since 2008, I assert the timeliness of Joe Goode's painting because it hovered before me like a retinal negative all year, the antithesis of so much that I saw. Had it been on view, I think it would have been a universal curative for aesthetic anhedonia anhedonia /an·he·do·nia/ (an?he-do´ne-ah) inability to experience pleasure in normally pleasurable acts.

, but I have my own Melanie Klein--ish reasons for liking it: phallic phallic /phal·lic/ (-ik) pertaining to or resembling a phallus.

1. Of, relating to, or resembling a phallus.

 milk bottle; canvas (large and looming like a mother's body, from an infant's point of view) sucked dry and then smeared with the most glorious purple excreta excreta /ex·cre·ta/ (eks-kret´ah) excretion (2).

Waste matter, such as sweat or feces, discharged from the body.
. But its provenance reveals its own Conceptual pedigree: "Gift of Michael Asher."

10 "Brion Gysin: Dream Machine" (New Museum, New York; curated by Laura Hoptman) It's about time this radical experimenter got some exposure and some attention. And while I'm on the subject of oversights, could someone please organize a Charles Henri Ford exhibition?

Okwui Enwezor


Okwui Enwezor is a curator, writer, and critic. He is artistic director of Meeting Points 6, a festival of contemporary art, film, performance, and theater, which opens in April 2011 in eight cities in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. He was also recently appointed head curator of the 2012 edition of the Paris-based triennial "La Force de l'art." At the International Center of Photography in New York, where he is an adjunct curator, Enwezor is organizing "The Rise and Fall of Apartheid," opening in autumn 2012.


1 Ernest Cole (Johannesburg Art Gallery; curated by Gunilla Knape) Ever since this artist changed his last name from Kole to Cole to pass as a colored (rather than black) man, thus gaining permission to travel around his native South Africa, his life and work have seemed like a legend. Cole went into exile in 1966, landing in New York, where a year later he published House of Bondage, his seminal book of photographs about life under apartheid, with a text by the young Joseph Lelyveld. His negatives were tragically lost in the '70s, but this rousing retrospective of vintage prints (recently unearthed and donated to the Hasselblad Foundation in Goteborg, Sweden) confirmed all claims made for his greatness. The book only hints at how good his images really are, making the exhibition a photographic event of historic proportions.

2 Chris Ofili (Tate Britain, London; curated by Judith Nesbitt) Ofili entered into the popular imagination in the 1990s through a caricature of the Young British Artists as enfants terribles consumed with pranks and gimmicks. The controversy in New York at the end of that decade over the artist's The Holy Virgin Mary, 1996, did him no favors. This survey of twenty years of Ofili's career went a long way toward establishing him as one of the most committed and innovative artists of his generation. One great painting after another lined the walls, from the totemic, glitter-encrusted, shimmering works of the '90s to the tour de force The Upper Room, 1999-2002, and finally to the recent canvases, painted in Trinidad, which bring to mind Gauguin in Tahiti.

3 Tino Sehgal (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; curated by Nancy Spector) Amid all the performance-oriented work in New York this year, Sehgal's show was a masterstroke mas·ter·stroke  
An achievement or action revealing consummate skill or mastery: a masterstroke of diplomacy. See Synonyms at feat1.
 of beguilement be·guile  
tr.v. be·guiled, be·guil·ing, be·guiles
1. To deceive by guile; delude. See Synonyms at deceive.

 and detachment. This Progress, 2006, took the visitor on a journey that began at the bottom of the museum's winding ramp with a young person posing the question "What is progress?" The wary participant was led like a sheep to a representative of the next generation--and on the relay went, until one reached the very top. The point of this exercise remained mystifying mys·ti·fy  
tr.v. mys·ti·fied, mys·ti·fy·ing, mys·ti·fies
1. To confuse or puzzle mentally. See Synonyms at puzzle.

2. To make obscure or mysterious.
, but it was the experience--not its philosophical opacity--that made it rewarding.


4 Henri Cartier-Bresson (Museum of Modern Art, New York; curated by Peter Galassi) MOMA'S bazaarlike atmosphere was strangely appropriate for this exhibition, in which Cartier-Bresson's photographs gained vitality both from one another and from the crowds in the museum. To follow the snaking line of visitors past the pictures lined cheek by jowl was to follow a particular historical parcours that Cartier-Bresson brought into sharp focus: The exuberance of his photographs presents us with a thinker in images, who bore witness to historical change without sensationalism sensationalism, in philosophy, the theory that there are no innate ideas and that knowledge is derived solely from the sense data of experience. The idea was discussed by Greek philosophers and is shown variously in the works of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, George .


5 Rabih Mroue, The Inhabitants of Images (Berlin Documentary Forum, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin) Mroue is a sort of pied piper for the Beirut art scene. Alternately theatrical and discursive, monologic and dialogic, his performances often emphasize the absurd, a common predicament of everyday life in post-civil-war Lebanon. The 2009 monologue he brought to Berlin this past summer subjects posters of the supposedly final portraits of Hezbollah's martyrs to a hilarious and withering deconstruction. At once thoughtful and incisive, Mroue's performance confirmed the necessity of thinking critically about images.


6 EI Anatsui (Royal Ontario Museum The Royal Ontario Museum, commonly known as the ROM (rhyming with Tom), is a major museum for world culture and natural history in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. , Toronto; curated by Lisa M. Binder) Anatsui currently has two retrospectives, one in Japan and the other in Canada. The Toronto exhibition represents the first show of its kind for this influential sculptor, whose work is increasingly admired for its recalcitrant forms and formal majesty. Every major theme in his nearly four-decade-long career has been brought into this stimulating exhibition. (One hopes the show will look still better when it inaugurates the new building of the Museum for African Art The Museum for African Art is located in the neighborhood of Long Island City in the borough of Queens in New York City (USA). Founded in 1984, the museum is "dedicated to increasing public understanding and appreciation of African art and culture.  in New York this coming spring than it does in Daniel Libeskind's silly spinning cubes, where it now has the misfortune of being installed.)

Organized by the Museum for African Art, New York.

7 The vuvuzela (2010 World Cup, Johannesburg) From the triumph that was the World Cup in South Africa, one would not have known that before the lights were turned on in stadiums across the country, the naysayers were out in force with gloomy forecasts of mayhem in the heart of darkness Heart of Darkness

adventure tale of journey into heart of the Belgian Congo and into depths of man’s heart. [Br. Lit.: Heart of Darkness, Magill III, 447–449]

See : Journey
. Thank goodness the Afro-pessimists were drowned out by the jubilant delirium of the football-mad crowds who transformed the event into a vuvuzela-blaring carnival. By the time the Spaniards eliminated the rough-playing Dutch, the vuvuzela had become a byword by·word also by-word  
a. A proverbial expression; a proverb.

b. An often-used word or phrase.

 for deafening noise production.


8 Marina Abramovic, Joan Jonas, and William Kentridge (Museum of Modern Art, New York) These three exhibitions were as different from one another as the artists are in their critical practices. Whereas Abramovic's and Kentridge's shows--the former organized by Klaus Biesenbach, the latter initiated by Mark Rosenthal of the Norton Museum of Art This article is for the Norton Museum of Art in Florida. See this link for the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California.

The Norton Museum of Art is an art museum located in West Palm Beach, Florida.
 in West Palm Beach, Florida West Palm Beach, also known as West Palm, is the most populous city in Palm Beach County, Florida, USA. The city is also the oldest incorporated municipality in South Florida. According to the University of Florida's 2006 estimates, the city had a population of 107,617. , and greatly expanded at MOMA--were grand theatrical statements, Jonas's, which was curated by Barbara London, focused on the artist's intensely personal and rigorous work from the 1970s. Each of these well-executed exhibitions--significant steps in the history of MOMA'S presentation of media that are not painting or sculpture--made visiting the museum over the course of two successive weekends this past summer a thrilling adventure.


9 "elles@centrepompidou" (Centre Pompidou, Paris; curated by Camille Morineau) It remains mystifying why the title of this informative, beautifully installed, and altogether engaging exhibition should evoke a women's fashion magazine rather than being grounded in the challenging exercises in subversion undertaken in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries by the female artists in the show. Regardless, the exhibition--which is made up exclusively of works by women in the Pompidou's collection--offers yet another occasion for the reappraisal of the importance of the feminine, not just feminism.


10 FT Weekend Weekend newspapers often evoke the sense one gets of hospitals on weekends: no doctor in the house. But for me, the Financial Times weekend supplement on art and culture is a Saturday delight of tautly crafted book reviews, fashion commentary, and design, architecture, and art criticism. There is also the entertaining "Lunch with the FT" column (I'm always interested in what people pick from the menu) and the consumerist magazine How to Spend It, which showcases the gaudy and the sublime.

Lynne Cooke


Lynne Cooke, chief curator and deputy director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, is currently preparing a touring retrospective of the work of James Castle, slated to open in May 2011. (See Contributors.)


1 Rosemarie Trockel (Kunsthalle Zurich; curated by Beatrix Ruf) Light-fingered and light-footed, Trockel's work has long evaded easy categorization. Resisting surveys that might freeze-frame her practice, the German artist addresses retrospective exhibitions in the most glancing way. Twice in this great show, she inserted a large vitrine through a wall that divided adjoining galleries: One exhibition case contained a medley of early works with a feminist valence; the second was more anthropological in orientation. Elsewhere, among the recent works, were several majestic knit pieces that deftly contested the notion that the monochrome is a moribund art-historical category.


2 Rodney Graham (Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona; curated by Fried rich Meschede) A pinnacle in a year that witnessed a number of impressive midcareer retrospectives, including "Francis Alys" at Tate Modern, Graham's subtle show at MACBA MACBA Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art)  not only traced a specific thread through his maverick practice but revealed why he is held in such high regard among artists of diverse persuasions. The quintessential artist's artist, Graham has rarely benefited from such empathetic attention to the installation of his work as in Barcelona, where full advantage was taken of the quirkiness of these otherwise problematic galleries.


3 Gerard Byrne (Lismore Castle Arts, Waterford, Ireland; curated by Mike Fitzpatrick) A cynosure cy·no·sure  
1. An object that serves as a focal point of attention and admiration.

2. Something that serves to guide.
 possessed of uncommon intelligence and energy, Byrne focused this impressive show on a tightly interwoven in·ter·weave  
v. in·ter·wove , in·ter·wo·ven , inter·weav·ing, inter·weaves
1. To weave together.

2. To blend together; intermix.

 body of new works. Four of the five video projections, collectively titled A Thing Is a Hole in a Thing It Is Not, 2010, center on issues relating to Minimalist artworks, modernist theory, and institutional critique. The show's standout was a deconstructionist reworking of the famous radio interview between Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Frank Stella, and Bruce Glaser that was broadcast over public networks in New York in 1964.


4 Moyra Davey (Kunsthalle Basel; curated by Adam Szymczyk) Davey, like Trockel, tends toward the understated and the disarmingly low-key. If the act of observation in all its manifold complexity is one of Davey's primary preoccupations, so too are the means by which we attempt to order, categorize, classify, and hence construct the world around us. This resonant show proposed that the means and mechanisms we invent to this end often tell us more than do the ostensible subjects of our regard.


5 Madeleine Vionnet (Musee de la Mode et du Textile, Paris; curated by Pamela Golbin) This canonical retrospective of one of the twentieth century's greatest couturieres drew on the extensive archive of original designs that Vionnet donated to the French state in 1952, thirteen years after her retirement. Thorough documentation was coupled with a brilliant installation by Andree Putman that highlighted key pieces in which Vionnet's radical and timeless modes of draping were seen to full effect. Due consideration was also given to the couturiere's pioneering social vision and inspired patronage of her counterparts in related fields--from Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand to Jean-Michel Frank.


6 "Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures from West Africa" (British Museum, London; curated by Enid Schildkrout) Not often is a whole arena of significant creative activity brought to our attention as if for the first time. Such was the case with this revelatory show, drawn almost exclusively from collections in Nigeria. The diverse work from the ancient city-state of the Yoruba people is among the most technically sophisticated sculpture in existence. Many of the most unforgettable objects were idealized portrait heads in terracotta, consummate evocations of worldly and spiritual power.


7 Rachel Harrison (Hessel Museum of Art and CCS (1) (Common Channel Signaling) A communications system in which one channel is used for signaling and different channels are used for voice/data transmission. Signaling System 7 (SS7) is a CCS system, also known as CCS7. See SS7.  Galleries at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York Annandale-on-Hudson is a hamlet in Dutchess County, New York, USA, in the Hudson Valley in the Town of Red Hook, across the Hudson River from Kingston.

The town takes its name from an estate donated by John Bard and his wife to Columbia University so that a college could be
; curated by Tom Eccles in collaboration with the artist) Harrison, like Graham, transformed an unprepossessing set of galleries into a remarkably challenging ensemble. Re-creating seminal solo shows from earlier in her career, "Consider the Lobster Consider the Lobster (2005) is a collection of essays by novelist David Foster Wallace. It is also the title of one of the essays, which was published in Gourmet Magazine in 2004. " retained the provocative open-endedness that has often been a hallmark of those exhibitions, nevertheless disclosing an abiding set of preoccupations. Savvy, smart, and inventive, Harrison's work is fueled by a razor-sharp visual intelligence put in the service of audacious display strategies.

8 Rosa Barba, "Is It a Two-Dimensional Analogy or a Metaphor?" (Centre Internationale d'Art et du Paysage de I'lle de Vassiviere, Limousin, France; curated by Chiara Parisi and Andrea Viliani) Barba's installations frequently involve dismembering film into its constituent components: sound, light, and celluloid. Rarely has she so seamlessly wedded her work to its site, in this case Aldo Rossi's architectural gem located in a remote part of rural France. A giant beam installed in the building's freestanding turret turned it into a lighthouse, while a second beam, lodged in the museum proper, transformed its cavernous body into a giant camera. Each night, as the camera-projector illuminated the adjacent lake, whose surface erupted erratically in response to one of Barba's submerged sound pieces, it seemed to release fantasies entombed within the very fabric of this visionary structure. The location became a protagonist.


9 Mateo Mate, Viajo para conocer mi geografia (I Travel to Learn My Geography) (Matadero gallery, Madrid) Mate's sprawling installation, which appeared to comprise the contents of his studio and apartment, engulfed the cavernous raw exhibition space in Matadero, a former abattoir. Despite its immediate charm, his makeshift cityscape (company) CityScape - A re-seller of Internet connections to the PIPEX backbone.

E-Mail: <>.

Address: CityScape Internet Services, 59 Wycliffe Rd., Cambridge, CB1 3JE, England. Telephone: +44 (1223) 566 950.
 might have appeared a little hackneyed had it not been for the emotional vertigo triggered by the tiny itinerant vehicle that circulated relentlessly, armed with a small camera whose images were projected in grainy black and white onto a large screen suspended overhead. Offering an alternate vantage point from that of the spectator, the toy car conjured uneasy recollections of childhood games cast in a disturbingly dark register.


10 "Screening Real: Conner Lockhart Warhol" and "Warhol Wool Newman: Painting Real" (Kunsthaus Graz, Austria; curated by Peter Pakesch) Challenging group shows that stimulate fresh insights or compelling revisions of familiar material are Increasingly rare. Peter Pakesch's twinned exhibitions each offered a provocative triangulation triangulation: see geodesy.

The use of two known coordinates to determine the location of a third. Used by ship captains for centuries to navigate on the high seas, triangulation is employed in GPS receivers to pinpoint their current location on earth.
 of works that served above all to illuminate a younger artist's practice--more so in the case of Sharon Lockhart, where an unlikely parenting spawned progeny of a singular kind. By contrast, Christopher Wool's strategic drawing together of abstract and representational idioms, and of handcrafted and mechanically reproduced legacies, has yielded such an impressively sustained body of work over the past three decades that a show of this kind, while improbable, seems long overdue.

Organized by the Museum for African Art, New York, and the Fundacion Marcelino Botin. Santander, Spain, in collaboration with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria.

Jack Bankowsky


Jack Bankowsky is editor at large of Artforum. His exhibition "Pop Life" (cocurated with Alison Gingeras and Catherine Wood) opened at Tate Modern, London, in fall 2009 and completed its three-city tour at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa this past September.

1 "Ryan Trecartin: Any Ever" (MOCA MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art
MOCA Multimedia over Coax
MoCA Museum of Chinese in the Americas
MOCA Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance
MOCA Montezuma Castle National Monument (US National Park Service) 
 Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles) I want to celebrate Trecartin and his "superhuman crew"--Dylan's phrase for Warhol's posse--for an exhibition design that single-handedly redeemed the punishing convention of video installation and for transforming the PDC's de Chirico--scary plaza (and its even scarier Wolfgang Puck eatery) into an opening-night carnival perfectly paired with the artful delirium inside. But mostly I want to marvel at the videos: Not only is Trecartin's visual slice-and-dice uniquely equal to today's virtual whirl; his ingenuity with language, his unerring un·err·ing  
Committing no mistakes; consistently accurate.

un·erring·ly adv.
 ear for argot--for the texts and tweets that make up our digital everyday--is downright dumbfounding dumb·found also dum·found  
tr.v. dumb·found·ed, dumb·found·ing, dumb·founds
To fill with astonishment and perplexity; confound. See Synonyms at surprise.
. As Wayne Koestenbaum wrote of the Texas-born, LA-based artist in these pages, "Dialects are his acrylics. ... Instead of 'yes,' say 'yay-us.'"


2 Mike Kelley, Day Is Done Judson Church Dance (Performa 09, Judson Memorial Church The Judson Memorial Church is located in Greenwich Village of Manhattan on the south side of Washington Square Park. It is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA and with the United Church of Christ. , New York, November 17-19, 2009) If Trecartin turned in the performance of the year, Mike Kelley's three-night run at the mother ship of New York experimental dance reminds us that the younger artist, for all his blindsiding sorcery, was not from thin air born. Kelley's genius, like Trecartin's, resides in his ability to tap the dreamtime dream·time also Dream·time  
The time of the creation of the world in Australian Aboriginal mythology: "Aboriginal myths tell of the legendary totemic beings who wandered across the country in the Dreamtime . . .
 currents gurgling beneath the everyday, to make our manners, our babbie, our art, strange to ourselves. I saw this trio of performances based on the artist's epic Day Is Done just past the cutoff date for last year's best-of issue, but nightmare flashbacks of Kelley--half Cunningham principal (sans the chiseled buns), half demented phys-ed coach stomping about the hardwood court to rapid-fire blasts from his referee's whistle--still keep me up at night.


3 "Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917" (Museum of Modern Art, New York; curated by Stephanie D'Alessandro and John Elderfield) I hate myself for being so boring, but I cannot tell a lie: No museum show this year made me happier than D'Alessandro and Elderfield's ruthless parsing of a career scarcely in need of special pleading. In the abundant few years that the exhibition took as its purview, the vestigial ves·tig·i·al
Occurring or persisting as a rudimentary or degenerate structure.
 pull of recognizable subject matter locked horns with the tantalizing tan·ta·lize  
tr.v. tan·ta·lized, tan·ta·liz·ing, tan·ta·liz·es
To excite (another) by exposing something desirable while keeping it out of reach.
 possibility of pure abstraction, yielding a sequence of pictures so concentrated, so authentic, so utterly stunning, that we struggle to convince ourselves that painting ever again found a way to matter as much.

Co-organized with the Art Institute of Chicago.

4 Carroll Dunham (Blum & Poe, Los Angeles) Let's hear it for pussy! I mean, painting. I want to insist that Dunham's paintings are no more about female genitalia than Matisse's canvases are about oranges or piano lessons, but deep down I know that the artist's "special interest" remains the elephant in the room Not to be confused with White elephant.
The elephant in the room (also elephant in the living room, elephant in the corner, elephant on the dinner table, elephant in the kitchen, horse in the corner, 400lb gorilla in the room, etc.
. Dunham's eyebrow-raising donnes work first and foremost as foils for his forma! virtuosity; nevertheless, there is something in his cartoon obsession--part origin-of-the-world stupefaction stu·pe·fac·tion  
a. The act or an instance of stupefying.

b. The state of being stupefied.

2. Great astonishment or consternation.
, part graf-fitist's impulse to mark and profane--without which his dazzling abstract variations would fall flat. Consider the patches of stained sunshine that enter three landscapes-with-vagina in three separate ways; savor the stylized brush lick that is also an outsize out·size  
1. An unusual size, especially a very large size.

2. A garment of unusual size.

adj. also out·sized
Unusually large, weighty, or extensive.
 pubic hair; ogle o·gle  
v. o·gled, o·gling, o·gles
1. To stare at.

2. To stare at impertinently, flirtatiously, or amorously.

 the painterly pink ovals that do for Dunkin' Donuts what Bill Clinton--I mean Sigmund Freud, I mean Philip Guston--did for cigars.


5 Larry Clark, Tulsa (the movie), 1968 (Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris Ville de Paris may refer to:
  • Paris
  • French ship Ville de Paris (1764)
  • HMS Ville de Paris
) Did people ever really look this way? In Tulsa, or even on Mars? Did they have big hair? Did they stick themselves with needles over morning coffee? Did they go about their risky business like business as usual--silently, in black and white, before the unblinking camera? Clark's iconic photos of the period will undoubtedly outlast this filmed footage, but because these moving images were new to me, they overwhelmed, reminding me once again of the tenacity of Clark's extraordinary art of witness.


6 "Joint Dialogue: Lozano, Graham, Kaltenbach" (Overduin and Kite, Los Angeles; curated by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer) "Throw the last twelve issues of Artforum up in the air." When Lee Lozano first performed her instructions in 1969, they yielded a flutter of airborne pages (and a liberating fuck-you to a magazine that was just settling into its status as the art-world bible); four decades later, the perfect-bound tonnage of an Artforum publishing year was more than an understandably wobbly kneed Stephen Kaltenbach could manage. Short of taking flight, the issues slipped from his hands and tumbled to the floor: thud. All at once, everything was art: the avant-garde and its institutions; the art world then, and now; the crowd of twentysome-things sipping beer at LA's coolest gallery in celebration of this tantalizing time capsule of a show. Who says Conceptual art doesn't age well?


7 The Exhibitionist exhibitionist /ex·hi·bi·tion·ist/ (ek?si-bish´in-ist) a person who indulges in exhibitionism.
exhibitionist An exhibitor exhibiting exhibitionism, see there
: Journal on Exhibition Making (edited by Jens Hoffmann) "Throw the last, um, two issues of The Exhibitionist up in the air"? The task wouldn't demand much elbow grease as of this writing, but if forthcoming editions of the fledgling journal are as chock-full of relevant names and meaty discussion as the initial two, it won't be long before the first journal solely devoted to exhibition making is an institution in its own right.


8 Jennifer Bolande (Thomas Solomon Gallery and Cottage Home, Los Angeles) Sometime in the foggy mists of the '80s, I stumbled into an East Village storefront--and onto the art of Jennifer Bolande. I have always remembered that moment--especially a pair of subtly assisted amplifiers--and had long hoped to glimpse these curious emissaries from our rock 'n' roll unconscious again and to test them against my embroidered memories. This past fall, on the heels of a thoughtful midcareer retrospective at Milwaukee's INOVA(alas, no Speaker I and II), a gallery survey in the artist's adopted hometown provided the opportunity I'd been waiting for. The verdict? As far as I'm concerned, Bolande's favored found objects still give urinals--or, at the very least, vacuum cleaners--a run for their money.


9 John Kelsey, Rich Texts: Selected Writing for Art (Sternberg Press) Edited by Daniel Birnbaum and Isabelle Graw, this timely collection gathers together occasional essays by one of the art world's most engaged--and seductive--voices. Interleaved with images of female tennis champs, this tidy, portable volume will become the dog-eared best friend to anyone who cares about the embattled art of art writing.


10 The Runaways (directed by Floria Sigismondi) Art imitates YouTube, in the most, troubling, exhilarating, eyes-wide-shut plummet into sexploitation sex·ploi·ta·tion  
n. Informal
Exploitative use of explicit sexual material in movies and the media.

[Blend of sex and exploitation.]

Noun 1.
 and celebrity since Spiritual America. Ch-ch-ch-ch-CHERRY BOMB!



BEST: NOT A WORD I'VE EVER MUCH LIKED when applied to exhibitions. I think my discomfort comes from the way the term seems to brook neither comparison nor argument, or at least implies that the arguing and comparing are over, when in fact they may have only just begun.



The exhibition I want to argue for is "Alice Neel: Painted Truths," a show originated by Jeremy Lewison and Barry Walker at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
For other places with the same name, see Museum of Fine Arts.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), located in Houston, is the largest art museum in the State of Texas and the largest art museum in the USA east of Los Angeles, south of Chicago,
. I saw it at the Whitechapel Gallery in London on a late afternoon this past September, when the streets were teeming with people, and the shopping and selling were still going strong. The perfect setting, somehow, though it was not the noise and jostle that made it so. It was the endless stream of bodies and faces, all ages, all colors, all classes, all types, all shapes.

Neel's portraits stop that stream. They reach out to catch hold of their subjects, sit them down, and give them a long hard look--though of course it is Neel who is doing the looking. Her sitters, if they can manage it, look back. If not, it is often because the person in the painting is somehow unable to withstand such fierce summing up. They may be too young or too old, or perhaps too shy or too self-absorbed--in some quite other mental space. Robert Smithson stares off into some collapsing future, while Andy Warhol sits scarred and shirtless, closing his eyes, almost as if he's waiting for a nurse to draw his blood.


It is striking that Neel, who was so keenly interested in how to make a person present in a picture, set up so many portraits in which the problem of the fragility of a separate identity comes into view. The threat of the dissolution of self is put before us every time the artist shows us a couple, gay or straight, or a family unit, usually with child or baby making three. Or a parent and child. Or twins. Or, most worryingly, a pregnant woman. Neel presents this last condition as an opposition, an inhabiting, with the female body all but taken over by the alien within.

In all these instances--or so the Whitechapel show seemed implicitly to argue--looking at a Neel portrait becomes an especially charged activity. It is comparative, evaluative: You cannot help moving from face to face and back again. You might as well be in the midst Adv. 1. in the midst - the middle or central part or point; "in the midst of the forest"; "could he walk out in the midst of his piece?"
 of some social situation, one in which--as so often happens around a table or in a living room--you come to realize that people aren't necessarily equal in the roles they play. They hold power differently, and sometimes compete. It is not always clear who will win.

In the best of cases, their differences make for different kinds of urgency, as in the portrait of Linda Nochlin with her small daughter Daisy. The child glows; she is like a new penny, in the openness of her face and in the bright falling curls running off into curving antipatterns that convey the still not quite coordinated energy of a four-year-old. Nochlin, by contrast, is all force and focus, her face coming together in a way that seems both gentle and unstoppable--though here perhaps I am reading in.

But this is what one does with Neal's portraits, as seeing them together conveys. She forces us to think about the people she shows us, how they are organized as images, and how images, selves, and bodies become one. Features take on lives of their own. We ask ourselves how we know who or what another person is--what a body really has to say. Neel's paintings do not provide answers, but they insist that these questions are worth building into acts of observation. As so often with great painting, depiction here proposes a model of how to see a social world.

In the Whitechapel, the social cacophony of the neighborhood--largely South Asian, substantially Muslim, but profligately prof·li·gate  
1. Given over to dissipation; dissolute.

2. Recklessly wasteful; wildly extravagant.

A profligate person; a wastrel.
 cosmopolitan at the same time--managed, against all the odds, to filter into the interior spaces, reminding me that Neel had worked in a New York neighborhood, Harlem, that was also widely regarded as "other." The chain of associations seemed to bring home again the ongoing necessity of such civic models. And "Painted Truths" made it abundantly clear that discovering them was part of the ethics of Neel's work. In this she comes across as a female August Sander, minus nationalism and stereotype and plus a mastery of paint. But some of Sander's sociology survives even so. It is visible in the impulse that led her, so the story goes, to ask the FBI agents investigating her Communist Party involvement to sit for her, no doubt to serve as contrast to the radicals, labor organizers, transvestites, and assorted others she portrayed. Which is to say that their visages would have been perfect additions to a gallery that, updating Sander, we could call "Men and Women of the Twentieth Century." For Neel, the compendium was inevitably inclusive, as this exhibition was selected to show. Now the question is how difference survives and matters, both ethically and artistically, today.

Whitechapel Gallery, London

ANNE M. WAGNER IS HENRY MOORE FOUNDATION The Henry Moore Foundation is a registered charity in England, established for education and promotion of the fine arts — in particular, to advance understanding of the works of Henry Moore.

The charity was set up with the assistance of Mr. Moore in 1977.
 RESEARCH CURATOR AT TATE, LONDON, AND CLASS OF 1936 PROFESSOR EMERITA OF MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university located in Berkeley, California, United States. Commonly referred to as UC Berkeley, Berkeley and Cal .

Matthew Higgs


Matthew Higgs is the director of white columns, New York, and a regular contributor to Artforum. His exhibition "at Home/not at Home: works from the collection of Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg" is on view at the Hessel Museum of Art and CCS galleries at Bard College, annandale-on-Hudson, New York, until December 19.

1 Stuart Sherman (80WSE WSE Web Services Enhancements (Microsoft)
WSE Warsaw Stock Exchange (Warsaw, Poland)
WSE Symposium on Web Site Evolution (IEEE International Symposum) 
, New York, and Participant Inc., New York) At 80WSE, video recordings of Sherman's "spectacles"--as he called his idiosyncratic id·i·o·syn·cra·sy  
n. pl. id·i·o·syn·cra·sies
1. A structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.

2. A physiological or temperamental peculiarity.

 tabletop performances--were framed alongside his lesser-known theatrical productions, sculptural proposals, drawings, and poetry. Meanwhile, a group show at Participant that closed toward the end of 2009 (just making the chronological cut for this list) explored his legacy through a constellation of contemporary artists and performers--including Carol Bove, Matthew Brannon, and Vaginal Davis--who curator Jonathan Berger believes have been touched by Sherman's genius. The ongoing rehabilitation of the late Sherman's wayward art rightly continues apace.


2 Al Taylor (David Zwirner, New York) Al Taylor (1948-1999) remains something of a misfit mis·fit  
1. Something of the wrong size or shape for its purpose.

2. One who is unable to adjust to one's environment or circumstances or is considered to be disturbingly different from others.
 in the history of postwar American art. His mid-'80s shift from painting to a hybrid form of drawing and sculpture liberated him: Giving free rein to his sardonic humor and intuitive knack for manipulating scavenged materials, he began what amounted to a joyous reanimation Re`an`i`ma´tion   

n. 1. The act or operation of reanimating, or the state of being reanimated; reinvigoration; revival.
 of post-Minimalism. The works at Zwirner were produced not long before the artist's death, but they look--and, more important, feel--as if they were made yesterday.

3 "Room Divider" (Wilkinson Gallery, London) Curated by Roxy Music biographer Michael Bracewell, "Room Divider" was structured, literally, around one of Ettore Sottsass's "Carlton" bookcases. Bracewell sought to instigate To incite, stimulate, or induce into action; goad into an unlawful or bad action, such as a crime.

The term instigate is used synonymously with abet, which is the intentional encouragement or aid of another individual in committing a crime.
 a collision of divergent idioms, from the Bauhaus to punk to Memphis and beyond. To do so, he marshaled a genuinely eclectic band of coconspirators, including Richard Hamilton, Gareth Jones, Linder, Simon Martin, the Pet Shop Boys, and Xanti Schawinsky, establishing an art-historically freewheeling and often dandyish elucidation of modernity's past, present, and possible futures.

4 Trisha Donnelly (Casey Kaplan, New York) Given Donnelly's negation of a signature style or medium, her recent works need not be taken as evidence of a neo-formalist turn; yet it was still something of a shock to walk into Casey Kaplan and find four almost conventional abstract marble sculptures. In concert with a found kidney-shaped wooden desk, a single photographic image (of a body of water), and an ambient sound piece, they created a subtly theatrical, strangely seductive mise-en-scene.


5 Jiro Takamatsu (McCaffrey Fine Art at the Independent art fair, New York) Over the years, I've been introduced to the work of many great artists at art fairs. A case in point is Jiro Takamatsu's 1972-73 "Photograph of Photograph" series of black-and-white images, which McCaffrey Fine Art presented at the inaugural Independent art fair. Takamatsu's subjects are themselves photographs, taken from family albums and then staged in seemingly offhand settings and shot with deadpan aplomb. His complex images resonate not only with the Photoconceptualism of the same era but also with later photo-appropriation strategies, as well as with more recent photographic practices such as Leslie Hewitt's.

6 Justin Spring, Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Like Woody Allen's Zelig, Steward had walk-on parts in the lives of numerous notables: Rudolph Valentino, Lord Alfred Douglas Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas (22 October 1870 – 20 March 1945) was a poet, a translator and a prose writer, better known as the intimate friend and lover of the writer Oscar Wilde. , Gertrude Stein, Dr. Alfred Kinsey, Kenneth Anger. But in this beautifully written, expertly paced biography, Spring focuses on Steward's own claims to notoriety. The detours in Steward's professional and personal life--only hinted at in the book's subtitle--are as unexpected as they are remarkable, all the more so given the censorious cen·so·ri·ous  
1. Tending to censure; highly critical.

2. Expressing censure.

[Latin c
 times he lived through.


7 Luke Fowler and Peter Hutton (Hotel du Cloitre, Arles, France; curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist Hans Ulrich Obrist (Zurich, Switzerland, 1968) is a Swiss curator and art critic. In 1993, he founded the Museum Robert Walser and began to run the Migrateurs program at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris where he served as a curator for contemporary art.  and Beatrix Ruf) Installed in adjacent guest rooms of an otherwise empty hotel, this two-person exhibition (part of the annual photo festival Les Rencontres d'Arles) felt like an intimate conversation. Glasgow-based Fowler (b. 1978) invited New York-based Hutton (b. 1944) to present his films in parallel to Fowler's own. The result was an immersive experience, which brought together Fowler's loosely biographical works and Hutton's deceptively modest meditations on the everyday--e.g., a film of a flooded street observed from an apartment window. Rather than placing undue emphasis on what these artists have in common (thus deemphasizing the uniqueness of each), the idiosyncratic setting encouraged instead a focus on the spaces between their respective motivations.


8 Charles Burchfield (Whitney Museum of American Art Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York City, founded in 1930 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. It was an outgrowth of the Whitney Studio (1914–18), the Whitney Studio Club (1918–28), and the Whitney Studio Galleries (1928–30). , New York; curated by Robert Gober) Burchfield's paintings are radiant with what he called "the healthy glamour of everyday life." Often hallucinatory hal·lu·ci·na·to·ry
1. Of or characterized by hallucination.

2. Inducing or causing hallucination.
, his works arguably don't benefit from being seen in such dense profusion. However, as I took in this revelatory survey, I for one was happy to be overwhelmed by his visionary impulses.


9 New York's nonprofit visual-arts community Writing in these pages four years ago, I identified a renewed sense of ambition in New York's independent, not-for-profit, and artist-run galleries and projects. Now, even in the depths of the worst recession in generations, these initiatives continue to thrive and make vital contributions. Anthology Film Archives, Cleopatra's, La MaMa La Galleria, Light Industry, 179 Canal, Participant Inc., and Primary Information, among dozens of others, reinforce the persistent need for such alternatives in good times and bad.


10 Vincent Fecteau (greengrassi, London) Relentlessly inventive, the San Francisco-based Fecteau has quietly emerged as one of the most pervasively influential artists working around both the psychological potential and the formal languages of sculpture. At greengrassi, in what felt like a career-defining moment, Fecteau abandoned the pedestals that had thus far supported his unapologetically handcrafted sculptures, and instead suspended the works, like surreal trophies, from the gallery walls.

Co-organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY.

Michael Ned Holte


Michael Ned Holte is a frequent contributor to Artforum. His writing has recently appeared in the exhibition catalogue Richard Hawkins--Third Mind (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2010) and the Web journal East of Borneo, for which he profiled legendary independent filmmaker Roger Corman. This past summer he was an artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts Headlands Center for the Arts
Situated in a campus of artist-renovated military buildings in the Marin Headlands, Headlands Center for the Arts hosts an internationally recognized Artist in Residence Program, interdisciplinary public programs, and subsidized studio rentals for
, California, and he is currently visiting faculty at the California Institute of the Arts California Institute of the Arts
 known as CalArts

U.S. private institution of higher learning in Valencia. Created in 1961 through the merger of two other art institutes, it was the first in the U.S.


1 Joel Kyack, Superclogger (LAXART, Hammer Museum, and various freeways around Los Angeles) This summer, a random sample of LA's commuters were treated to an unexpected puppet show from the back of a Mazda truck, with a sound track transmitted to its audience via short-range radio. The subject of the four occasionally heartbreaking acts, written and mostly performed by Kyack, was chaos. And depending on who witnessed it, Superclogger either added to the insanity of the freeways at rush hour or provided an improbable calm at its center. While in the works for several years, the mobile guerrilla theater seemed a crafty riposte ri·poste  
1. Sports A quick thrust given after parrying an opponent's lunge in fencing.

2. A retaliatory action, maneuver, or retort.

 to the spectacle of Marina Abramovic occupying the vast atrium of the Museum of Modern Art in New York all spring: This artist, too, was present, albeit anonymously and briefly, before disappearing into the traffic without further explanation.


2 Michele O'Marah (Kathryn Brennan Gallery at Cottage Home, Los Angeles) I laughed out loud when I heard rumors that O'Marah would be remaking--I prefer "approximating"--three scenes from the 1996 Pamela Anderson sci-fi vehicle Barb Wire, mostly because I knew from her earlier work that she would treat it (and its pneumatic star) seriously. Casting a different woman as Barb/Pam for each part of the project, "A Girl's Gotta Do What a Girl's Gotta Do," 2009, O'Marah transformed a cartoonish source into three compelling case studies about the complications of gender, celebrity, persona, and identification. The results are funny and endearing but also awkward, painful, and all too human.


3 Steve Rotten (Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA; curated by Howard N. Fox) Complementing the Drawing Center's smart Iannis Xenakis retrospective a few months previously in New York, this bewildering be·wil·der  
tr.v. be·wil·dered, be·wil·der·ing, be·wil·ders
1. To confuse or befuddle, especially with numerous conflicting situations, objects, or statements. See Synonyms at puzzle.

 twenty-year survey of Roden's polymathic pol·y·math  
A person of great or varied learning.

[Greek polumath
 output reveals a similarly restless mind at work, fluidly shifting from painting and drawing to sound to sculpture to film--all driven by an exploratory mission remarkably indifferent to preconceived results or good fashion.

4 Maggie Nelson, Bluets (Wave Books) File this lean tome under "color theory"--albeit a version of that strange genre that offers an intimate account of a color deeply imbued with bouts of loneliness, loss, lust, and unfixed wonder. "I like blues that keep moving," Nelson confides, and these blues certainly do.


5 Lesley Vance Just like her earlier still lifes of seashells and wilted flowers, Vance's recent abstractions (on view at this year's Whitney Biennial, in various group shows, and in David Kordansky Gallery's solo presentation at the Frieze Art Fair Frieze is an annual international contemporary art fair held in October in London's Regent's Park. The fair is staged by Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, the publishers of frieze magazine. ) are concise and seductive essays--on how things gather and evade light; on the way layers, strokes, smears, and juxtapositions of paint can (still) reconstruct the world. Historically grounded, these natures mortes are startlingly star·tle  
v. star·tled, star·tling, star·tles
1. To cause to make a quick involuntary movement or start.

2. To alarm, frighten, or surprise suddenly. See Synonyms at frighten.

6 "Hollis Frampton: Circles of Confusion" (various venues, Los Angeles) Following the publication by the MIT MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology  Press of Frampton's collected writings last year, Los Angeles Filmforum and Khastoo Gallery organized an ambitious five-part screening (with commentary by David E. James and other film scholars, as well as artists such as Erika Vogt and James Welling) of the late filmmaker's surprisingly varied meditations on the medium's language--picture and sound, and their anxious coexistence. Although Frampton died in 1984, at age forty-eight, his achievement as both filmmaker and theorist (and filmmaker as theorist) is staggering. To my mind, he deserves a position in the second half-century of cinema equal to Eisenstein's in the first. A simultaneous screening series at the University of Chicago Film Studies Center might be evidence of a slow-growing cult devoted to Frampton's "infinite cinema."


7 Haptic haptic /hap·tic/ (hap´tik) tactile.

Of or relating to the sense of touch; tactile.


 temptations Little irritates me more than the sight of people touching art, but several memorable solo shows in Los Angeles galleries this past year almost turned me into a hypocrite/ic. Shana Lutker's sculptures in wood, steel, rope, and leather (at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects) simultaneously evoked letterforms, body parts, and instruments of torture. Rachel Foullon (at Ltd Los Angeles) called forth an agrarian history with structures of stained western red cedar Western red cedar: see juniper, arborvitae.  and canvas colored with dye and Hawaiian sea salt. Emilie Halpern (at Pepin Moore) fluently incorporated ancient meteorites, a lovebird feather, and magician's flash paper. And Marie Jager (at Francois Ghebaly Gallery/Kunsthalle LA) summoned the elements by "painting" canvases with pollution and blasts of vehicular exhaust and treating blueprints of the city to the effects of sunlight and rain.


8 Mateo Tannatt (Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles) In Tannatt's performance piece Rendezvous Vous, 2010, a well-appointed but elusive vagrant VAGRANT. Generally by the word vagrant is understood a person who lives idly without any settled home; but this definition is much enlarged by some statutes, and it includes those who refuse to work, or go about begging. See 1 Wils. R. 331; 5 East, R. 339: 8 T. R. 26.  drifted through his sculptures, silk-screened paintings, and photographs. Tannatt theatrically situated this character--a likely stand-in for the artist or, well, art--on the line between work and play: all dressed up with no place to go. The exhibition itself, meanwhile, suggested the backstage of a magic show, with its objects precariously propped between smoke and mirror. MY MOUTH CAN MAKE SOUNDS BUT THESE SOUNDS ARE NOT WORDS, read the curious lyrics on one painting of undulating musical staves without notes. I know the feeling.


9 Drew Heitzler (Blum & Poe, Los Angeles) Months before footage of the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico Noun 1. Gulf of Mexico - an arm of the Atlantic to the south of the United States and to the east of Mexico
Golfo de Mexico

Atlantic, Atlantic Ocean - the 2nd largest ocean; separates North and South America on the west from Europe and Africa on the east
 provided a realtime document of apocalypse, Heitzler's elegant and ambitiously researched installation of videos and found images (originally slated for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles--their loss) revealed a complex social history in which everything from local politics to rock 'n' roll to the occult was tied to the oil industry in the artist's adopted home of Los Angeles. The LA oil industry? Yep. And the history is one that's often hiding in plain sight, obscured by Hollywood-centric mythologies of the city. Marlowelike, Heitzler connected the greasy dots.

10 John Baldessari (Los Angeles County Museum of Art; curated by Leslie Jones and Jessica Morgan) If we're to believe the standard line, Baldessari is the tall, funny West Coast guy who popped the balloon of Conceptual art seriousness with a series of drily humorous jabs: cremating his paintings, singing Sol LeWitt's 1969 "Sentences on Conceptual Art," and so on. The better story, evidenced in this retrospective, is that Baldessari stayed seriously--if sometimes covertly--committed to the act of looking, presciently absorbing narrative strategies from the local film industry while consistently pointing to art's history as much as goosing its present. Besides, humor is not the opposite of seriousness, even when one's singing LeWitt.

Co-ocganized with Tete Modern, London.

Pauline J. Yao.


Pauline J. Yao is an independent curator and art historian based in Beijing and San Francisco. She is a founder of the Arrow Factory in Beijing and an adjunct lecturer in the arts-administration department of the city's Central Academy of Fine Arts.

1 The sixtieth anniversary of the People's Republic of China It's hard to know which was more surreal: the troops and tanks parading before China's paramount leader, Hu Jintao, on the morning of October 1 last year, or the two commemorative exhibitions mounted by the Ministry of Culture and the National Art Museum of China to mark the occasion. The first, "Report to the Motherland--Sixty Years of Art in the New China," trotted out a selection of iconic works of the country's modern art history, yet the decision to group works accroding to traditional media cleverly masked the absence of "contemporary art" as we know it. The second, "Historical Themes in the Fine Arts," featured more than a hundred realist paintings of historical events from the 1840s to the present--yet all the works were made in 2009. Like the fanfare and spectacle surrounding this national day, both exhibitions left a chilling impression of time standing still.


2 Liang Shuo, Fit (C5 Art Gallery, Beijing) Five rambling rooms chock-full of everyday objects collected over the past two years, Liang's Fit, 2010, is a Gesamtkunstwerk monument to the plastic, gaudy, and jury-rigged aesthetic that permeates contemporary China. Yet the artist's formal preoccupation with fitting, stuffing, jamming, squeezing, or otherwise affixing these items together marks a refreshing departure from predictable critiques of global markets and world manufacturing.

3 "Glass Factory: Art in the New Financial Era" (Iberia Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; curated by Sun Jianchun) No doubt thanks to the artists who instigated it, this exhibition was of a kind rare in China: It stood out less for presenting art that is new or little known than for the selection of works and how they functioned together. In Ni Haifeng's Reciprocal Fetishism fetishism, in psychiatry, a paraphilia (see perversion, sexual) in which erotic interest and satisfaction are centered on an inanimate object or a specific, nongenital part of the anatomy. Generally occurring in males, fetishism frequently centers on a garment (e.g. , 2010, a forest of white plinths displays the personal effects of an unnamed individual, thoughtfully addressing notions of "value" and "exchange" within the fraught artist-collector relationship. The photographs in Hong Hao's Promotional Plan, 2009, humorously equate the activities of buying vegetables and consuming art. Far from just another exhibition critiquing the art market, "Glass Factory" smartly articulated the need to look again at how value systems for art function amid today's rampant culture of consumption.


4 Hu Xiangqian (Taikang Space, Beijing; curated by Tang Xin and Su Wenxiang) Hu has spent the past few years collecting conceptual artworks--or rather, he has been conceptually collecting artworks. This exhibition documented the Hu Xiangqian Art Museum, 2010, a breathless quarter-hour monologue in which the artist described each work in his fictional collection from memory, occasionally making dancelike bodily movements. The performance typified Hu's tendency to put himself in unlikely situations, be it running for mayor in his hometown at age twenty-one (Flying Blue Flag, 2005), attempting to turn his skin black through excessive sunbathing (The Sun, 2008), or trying his hand at survival-ism during fifteen days in the wilderness (Superfluous Knowledge, 2010).

5 Reactions to artist's-studio demolitions The question of what it means to be an artist today is perhaps nowhere more pressing than in China, where contemporary art enjoys few outlets and even fewer freedoms. Thus the brutal evictions from and subsequent demolitions of artists' studios in Beijing were especially traumatic for the individuals involved, not to mention for the surviving art spaces that stand in the way of urban expansion. The unfortunate events may, however, have triggered a welcome renewal of political activism and awareness in the arts scene, even while they resulted in unlawful abuse and profound feelings of disempowerment (notably surrounding the detention of artist Wu Yuren).


6 Wang Wei, Historic Residence (Space Station, Beijing) Wang's recent forays into appropriating ready-made architectural features culminated in this powerful work, in which the Beijing-based artist faithfully reproduced--in exaggerated proportions, bifurcating the gallery space--the private bathrooms of Chairman Mao and his wife Jiang Qing. Copied from the couple's seldom-used retreat in Hunan Province, the oversize spaces offered a lesson in manufactured nostalgia, dutifully appearing at once stately and frugal--qualities evident in everything from the retro-styled pale yellow and mint-green ceramic tiles down to Mao's threadbare bathrobe.


7 The opening of the Taipei Contemporary Art Center, Taiwan

Occupying two adjacent four-level stores in a downtown area slated for redevelopment, this multipurpose art space is run by a team of curators and artists including Amy Cheng, Meiya Cheng, Manray Hsu, Kuangyu Tsui, Jun Yang, and Yao Jui-Chung. Given the already contentious nature of the Taipei art scene, their attempt to carve out to make or get by cutting, or as if by cutting; to cut out.
- Shak.

See also: Carve
 a truly independent platform for exchange may be either enlightened or foolhardy, but it is most certainly newsworthy.


8 The Institute of Critical Zoologists

Centered around notions of knowledge production and enmeshed with philosophy, natural history, and anthropology, the Singapore- and Japan-based ICZ ICZ Ice Cap Zone (Sonic 3 and Knuckles level)
ICZ Initial Contact Zone
 is the brainchild of Zhao Renhui (Robert Zhao), a photographer and former animal rights activist. The stunning images taken by ICZ members--of, say, coastal whaling towns in Japan or Pulau Pejantan island in Indonesia--may be truthful depictions or artful fabrications, but it hardly matters: Zhao succeeds in proving that our assumptions about reality must be rigorously questioned if not, on occasion, fully abandoned.

9 Paul Pfeiffer, The Saints (Hamburger Bahnhof--Museum fur Gegenwart, Berlin) A single visual cue on a miniature video screen--a lone individual moving aimlessly around a grassy pitch--simultaneously ties together this moving installation and signals its dissociative dissociative /dis·so·ci·a·tive/ (-so´se-a´tiv) pertaining to or tending to produce dissociation.  spirit. Removing all but one player from footage of the World Cup final between England and West Germany in 1966 (which England won after being awarded a controversial goal in extra time), Pfeiffer deftly conjures up notions of history, repetition, and performativity. Another section of the work shows a slightly menacing Filipino crowd cheering along to the match, suggesting a subtext of geopolitical ge·o·pol·i·tics  
n. (used with a sing. verb)
1. The study of the relationship among politics and geography, demography, and economics, especially with respect to the foreign policy of a nation.

 tension. Notably, the piece--made in 2007--presaged this year's World Cup mania, right down to the clumsy officiating.


10 Tsuyoshi Ozawa and Chen Shaoxiong

(Osage Gallery, Shanghai) The collaboration between Chen and Ozawa may have started under the pretext of cultural exchange between China and Japan, but it has steadily matured into fruitful cooperation between two highly agile and creative minds. In this show, jointly made works dating from 2005 and this year bookended videos and photographs that chart the overlapping thematic trajectories in the artists' respective careers. Intimately scaled, the duo's works were well suited to inaugurate this gallery's new digs--a converted residence in Shanghai's former French Concession.

Jeffrey Kastner


Jeffrey Kastner is a New York-based writer, a regular contributor to Artforum, and the senior editor of Cabinet, where he is one of the creators of the magazine's contribution to the 10th Sharjah Biennial, opening in the United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates, federation of sheikhdoms (2005 est. pop. 2,563,000), c.30,000 sq mi (77,700 sq km), SE Arabia, on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.  in March 2011. His essay "The Spinner and the Web: Tomas Saraceno in Twenty Jumps" appears in Tomas Saraceno: 14 Billions (Working Title), forthcoming from Bonniers Konsthall/Skira.

1 Lee Lozano (Moderna Museet, Stockholm; curated by Iris Muller-Westermann) A revelatory (occasionally painfully so) survey of the late artist's willfully willfully adv. referring to doing something intentionally, purposefully and stubbornly. Examples: "He drove the car willfully into the crowd on the sidewalk." "She willfully left the dangerous substances on the property." (See: willful)  nasty, persistently brutish brut·ish  
1. Of or characteristic of a brute.

2. Crude in feeling or manner.

3. Sensual; carnal.

, tragically short--and utterly galvanizing--career. Though the show's rigid circulation pattern struck some as overdetermined Overdetermined can refer to
  • Overdetermined systems in various branches of mathematics
  • Overdetermination in various fields of psychology or analytical thought
, the work was sufficiently fascinating and ferocious to confound any attempt to corral it. Lozano's decade or so of mature work produced an oeuvre at once deeply personal and usefully generalizable to the concerns of her 1960s milieu, moving from cartoonish Pop grotesqueries through hard-edge and a kind of transcendental Minimalism to fully dematerialized and fearlessly diaristic text pieces. These paved the way for her initial controlled withdrawal--and ultimate lamentable disappearance--from the art world.


2 Markus Schinwald (Yvon Lambert, New York) The long-overdue New York debut of this dazzlingly talented Austrian lived up to all its disquieting potential. Though the show omitted major aspects of Schinwald's ambitiously hybrid practice (which encompasses photography, film, video, installation, theater, dance, and more) in favor of his painting and sculpture, its inclusion of the artist's prosthetically detoured Victorian portraits and uncanny anatomical snarls of furniture legs did provide a tantalizing glimpse of how convincingly he evokes both the limits and the possibilities of the human body. A sly architectural intervention into the gallery itself worked in a similarly corporeal Possessing a physical nature; having an objective, tangible existence; being capable of perception by touch and sight.

Under Common Law, corporeal hereditaments are physical objects encompassed in land, including the land itself and any tangible object on it, that can be
 way, subtly unsettling un·set·tle  
v. un·set·tled, un·set·tling, un·set·tles
1. To displace from a settled condition; disrupt.

2. To make uneasy; disturb.

 the seamless, antiseptic "body" of the Richard Gluckman--designed space.

3 Charles Burchfield (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; curated by Robert Gober) A ravishing (re)introduction to the life of the visionary watercolorist, "Heat Waves in a Swamp" demonstrated the wisdom of putting one highly idiosyncratic artist in the hands of another--here Robert Gober, who assembled the hundred-plus paintings, drawings, and ephemeral objects on display. Emphasizing Burchfield's distinctive early and late periods--during which he formulated and then boldly deployed a buzzing, synesthetic syn·es·the·sia also syn·aes·the·sia  
1. A condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color.

, wildly expressionistic mode of pictorial animism--the show also gathered a suite of marvelously crazy little drawings made in the artist's self-described "golden year" of 1917, designed to provide figural fig·ur·al  
Of, consisting of, or forming a pictorial composition of human or animal figures.

figur·al·ly adv.

 "Conventions for Abstract Thoughts" such as "fear," "insanity," and "hypnotic intensity."


4 Deyrolle, after the fire (46 rue du Bac, Paris) Founded in 1831 and nearly destroyed by fire in early February 2008, the inimitable Left Bank taxidermy taxidermy (tăk`sĭdûr'mē), process of skinning, preserving, and mounting vertebrate animals so that they still appear lifelike.  shop-cum-cabinet of curiosities Deyrolle reopened in autumn 2009 and had been restored to its former glory by the time I visited last Christmas. A time machine back to the era of the collector-scientist that employs the display conventions of the very earliest public exhibition spaces, Deyrolle is a wondrous historic (and perhaps prescient?) creature: museum and museum shop, indivisible INDIVISIBLE. That which cannot be separated.
     2. It is important to ascertain when a consideration or a contract, is or is not indivisible. When a consideration is entire and indivisible, and it is against law, the contract is void in toto. 11 Verm. 592; 2 W.


5 Brion Gysin (New Museum, New York; curated by Laura Hoptman) An engrossing survey, "Dream Machine" made a case for Gysin not as the chronically unfocused, tripped-out shaman enabler he's often rendered as, but rather as a restless innovator who developed and adapted (and shared) a wide range of techniques, all in order to access an elusive psychospiritual energy. Though much is made of Gysin's ideas, Hoptman emphasized the degree to which those ideas were routed through things: The exhibition was packed with archival material, audio, film, and even an example of the spinning, sense-stimulating device that gave the show its name, here set in its own room, complete with cushions for extended communion.

6 Taking teenagers to "Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present" (Museum of Modern Art, New York; curated by Klaus Biesenbach) The testing of physical and emotional limits is by no means purely the province of performance artists: Just ask any parent of a teenager about the psychosocial mechanics of transgression. And accompanying a crew of budding (teenage) anthropologists to "The Artist Is Present" only emphasized how much Abramovic's practice echoes the circadian circadian /cir·ca·di·an/ (ser-ka´de-an) denoting a 24-hour period; see under rhythm.

Relating to biological variations or rhythms with a cycle of about 24 hours.
 rhythms of the average adolescent--long stretches of intense boredom punctuated by highly dramatic episodes of self-inflicted mania. Best postshow discussion? Which way did you face passing between the bodies in Imponderabilia, and why?

7 Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jim Hodges, and Ana Mendieta (De La Cruz de la Cruz is a common surname in the Spanish language meaning 'of The Cross.'
  • Carlos de la Cruz
  • José de la Cruz
  • Juana de la Cruz
  • Oswaldo de la Cruz
  • Ramón de la Cruz
  • Tommy de la Cruz
  • Ulises de la Cruz
  • Matthew de la Cruz
  • Cross de la Cruz
 Collection Contemporary Art Space, Miami) The single most rewarding half hour I spent looking at art this year: Alone on the third floor of the De La Cruz Collection space in Miami. A wonderfully sympathetic installation by Hodges paired his own delicate, elegiac el·e·gi·ac  
1. Of, relating to, or involving elegy or mourning or expressing sorrow for that which is irrecoverably past: an elegiac lament for youthful ideals.

 work with that of his late friend Gonzalez-Torres; nearby, a separate area housed a moving, suitably claustrophobic sequence of works by the habitually risk-taking Mendieta--all in a free public-private space that rivals any kunsthalle for its seriousness and accessibility.

8 Tatiana Trouve (Gagosian Gallery, New York) Infiltrating viewers' psyches just as it does the physical space of the gallery, Trouve's enigmatic work looks to identify and perturb the relationships between spatial and emotional conditions. Her belated US debut was ambitious enough to warrant more space than Gagosian's uptown venue could offer, but even in close quarters, it offered an alluring sampler of the artist's formidable range: uncanny scalar shifts, captivating cap·ti·vate  
tr.v. cap·ti·vat·ed, cap·ti·vat·ing, cap·ti·vates
1. To attract and hold by charm, beauty, or excellence. See Synonyms at charm.

2. Archaic To capture.
 objects set in inexplicably evocative arrays or deployed in wry room-altering interventions, physical and conceptual blockages that reroute the body and the mind.


9 Roman Signer (Swiss Institute Contemporary Art New York; curated by Gianni Jetzer) An all-too-infrequent New York appearance by the merry prankster of St. Gallen, "Four Rooms, One Artist" featured new pieces (involving actions utilizing prepared umbrellas, a white shirt, and an office chair; a piano full of Ping-Pong balls; and a Harold Edgerton-esque apple hanging from a string) as well as a package of older experiments (a Restenfilm, or "leftover movie") situated within a newly constructed installation. Fascinated, as always, by chance, and animated by a commitment to an economy of means, Signer devised the last--Cinema, 2010--to draw a representative inventory of his poetic devotions, from a ridiculous rocket-propelled boot spinning on a pole to a sublime blanket of heavy spring snow, slowly dislodging itself from sun-warmed tree branches.


10 Cady Noland (Rubell Family Collection, Miami) For those who came of viewing age in the late 1980s, few artists radiate influence like Cady Noland. Interpreter and reinventor of Pop; appropriationist par excellence; pivot point between commodity fetishization and demonumentalized installation, Noland is also a phantom--like Lozano, an art-world dropout--whose work has appeared sparingly, if at all, since the mid-'90s (unauthorized reinventions of her oeuvre, such as the Triple Candie faux survey in 2006, notwithstanding). Don and Mera Rubell, however, happen to have the real thing, thank you very much, and in their recent "Beg Borrow and Steal," they presented a brilliant sequence--including the showstopping room-size scenario of Budweiser cans and scaffolding, This Piece Has No Title Yet, 1989--a real-life experience a hundred times more potent than any postgrad seminar on the artifactual narratives of American abjection.


Co-organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY.

Victoria Noorthoorn


Victoria Noorthoorn is an independent curator based in Buenos Aires. Her recent projects include cocurating the 41 Salon Nacional de Artistas (2008) in Cali, Colombia, and the 7th Mercosul Biennial (2009) in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Her Marta Minujin retrospective opened last month at MALBA-Fundacion Costantini in Buenos Aires, and she is currently preparing the 11th Biennale de Lyon, which takes place in France next September.

1 Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Desert Park (Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil) This new outdoor project at Inhotim--by far the most spectacular contemporary art center in Latin America--offers a magical and alienating experience, transporting visitors to the realm of fiction and the otherworldly. Gonzalez-Foerster has created an impossible landscape, in which a carefully delineated area of blinding white sand evokes a desert or a beach that sharply interrupts the surrounding dense tropical forests. Punctuating this scene is a series of concrete bus stops, carefully transposed from the urban realm, in which viewers can peruse some of the publications that inspired the work, such as The Burning World (1964) by J. G. Ballard.


2 Zorka Wollny and Anna Szwajgier, Lodz--epopeja miasta (Lodz: The Epic of the City) (Fokus Lodz Biennale 2010, Poland) I was in awe of this beautiful performance, in which a symphony was played along one block of Lodz's legendary Piotrkowska Street. The music's composer, Artur Zagajewski, stood at his lectern in the middle of the cobbled cob·ble 1  
1. A cobblestone.

2. Geology A rock fragment between 64 and 256 millimeters in diameter, especially one that has been naturally rounded.

3. cobbles See cob coal.

 street to lead musicians--located on both sidewalks, as well as in various buildings overlooking the street--in playing his 2009 piece Unhum na 23 muzykow i 52 przechodniow (Unhum for 23 Musicians and 52 Passersby). Zagajewski made vigorous, sweeping gestures to communicate with even the most distant musicians. A flute was played beautifully on a balcony, while a violin sounded from a third-floor apartment, and drums clashed on the sidewalk nearby.


3 Diego Bianchi (Centro Cultural Recoleta The Recoleta Cultural Centre (in Spanish: Centro Cultural Recoleta) is an exhibition and cultural events centre located in the barrio of Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina. , Buenos Aires) This young, prolific, fabulous sculptor never ceases to surprise. On this occasion, he took over one of the main galleries of the Centro Cultural Recoleta with a web of sculptural configurations. Ominous and at times surreal figures were recognizable in the incongruous encounter of body parts that had been molded, distorted, cut, or twisted among piles of plaster, wooden pallets, plastic chairs, mannequins, tar, hair, and much else besides. With the fragile tension of his mise-en-scene hovering on the brink of revelation or collapse, Bianchi managed to evoke that often shapeless shape·less  
1. Lacking a definite shape.

2. Lacking symmetrical or attractive form; not shapely.

 angst that holds our throats in its invisible grip.


4 Lynette Yiadom-Boakye A series of provocative, refined paintings I saw in Yiadom-Boakye's London studio made for an impressive lesson in the political occupation of pictorial space. Each of the imaginary individuals depicted in the images grins (one could even say laughs) back at the spectator from an ambiguous and atemporal a·tem·po·ral  
Independent of time; timeless.
 setting. These characters appear fulfilled while comfortably asserting their own presence.


5 Marina De Caro The colorful, human-scale ceramic works produced during De Caro's residency last winter at the European Ceramic Work Centre in 's-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, had been dropped, while still fresh, from a height; this caused reams of beautiful drawings to be expelled from the diverse figures' lungs, ears, and mouths, as if they were tossing out scripts on future Utopias for the years to come. These sculptures were inspired by the political events in Paris and in the Argentinean cities of Rosario and Cordoba in 1968 and 1969. Indebted to the realm of fantasy, they seem eerily pertinent today.


6 Arctic Perspective Initiative This nonprofit group was founded by artists Marko Peljhan and Matthew Biederman to create infrastructures for open knowledge and technology exchange and to forge connections between artistic and scientific practices in the Arctic. So far, their projects have concentrated on the fields of housing, transport, and communications. The group (which staged an exhibition this year at the Hartware MedienKunstVerein in Dortmund, Germany) seeks to "empower the North and Arctic peoples through open-source technologies and applied education and training" in order to protect the autonomy of indigenous cultures and traditions--and also to preserve the possibility of nomadism--far from the processes of "normalization" that increasingly regulate social codes and behaviors today.


7 Alexander Schellow For his ongoing series "Storyboard," 2001- (some of which I saw this summer in his studio in Berlin), Schellow works with felt-tip pen on small sheets of tracing paper, reconstructing remembered urban scenes. He evokes these memories in meticulous pointillist poin·til·lism  
A postimpressionist school of painting exemplified by Georges Seurat and his followers in late 19th-century France, characterized by the application of paint in small dots and brush strokes.
 drawings that at times may become short animations, such as the three-second movies in the series "Spots," 2005-. The practice results from a combination of what remains of the seen and an obsessive attempt to recuperate re·cu·per·ate
To return to health or strength; recover.
 what has been protected from consciousness, thus challenging the usual processes of memory whereby specific details sink into oblivion forever.


8 Linda Matalon (Ballroom Marfa, Texas) In Matalon's wax and graphite drawings (featured in the group show "Immaterial"), the slightest gesture becomes the basis for an intimate diary, a palimpsest palimpsest (păl`ĭmpsĕst'): see manuscript.  of experiences. The minimal information the works provide--a stroke of graphite, an infinitesimal amount of dirt, the slightest cut--reveals a heritage that spans from Turner to Agnes Martin, Chris Burden, Eva Hesse, and Richard Tuttle. Each drawing challenges invisibility to speak not just of the sublime but of the coarse texture of the present.


9 Pavla Scerankova It was a pleasure to see the work of this young artist, whom I met through an old friend--the critic, curator, and art historian Tomas Pospiszyi. Scerankova's absurd constructions brought to mind both Dada and, surprisingly, Brazilian Neo-concretism. Clumsy and designed to fail, her kinetic sculptures prove perfect metaphors for the impossible solidity and permanence held to characterize our current social and economic structures.


10 Victor Florido This talented young artist was the most important discovery I made this year in my hometown, Buenos Aires. Visiting his studio, I marveled at his paintings, in which somber figurative references are carefully delineated only to cancel themselves out, in a gesture that questions the role of representation in art anew.


Sandhini Poddar.


Sandhini Poddar is assistant curator of Asian art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, where she has organized "Anish Kapoor: Memory" and "Being Singular Plural: Moving Images from India," which was on view this past fail at Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin and travels to New York in an expanded form in early 2012.

1 Amar Kanwar (Marian Goodman Gallery, New York) Kanwar is interested in the trajectories images take as they enter the public domain and assume a life of their own. His complex and poetic multichannel video installations such as The Lightning Testimonies, 2007, and The Torn First Pages, 2004-2008--parts of which may also be viewed as single-channel works outside of an art-world context--appeal to different audiences around the world, each with its own historical moorings. Deploying documentary and archival footage that unflinchingly addresses sexual violence and political repression, Kanwar aims to disturb the status quo of image absorption.


2 "Who Knows Tomorrow"

(Friedrichswerdersche Kirche, Alte Nationalgalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, and Hamburger Bahnhof-Museum fur Gegenwart, Berlin; curated by Udo Kittelmann, Chika Okeke-Agulu, and Britta Schmitz) Curating an exhibition based on national representation is never straightforward. Rather than develop a large survey show (which rarely succeeds) on Africa (still too often mistaken for a monolithic entity rather than a diverse continent), the curators invited artists whose works take up a multiplicity of African histories and communities, while engaging the site-specific architectural and sociopolitical so·ci·o·po·li·ti·cal  
Involving both social and political factors.


of or involving political and social factors
 inheritances of four major venues in Berlin. Certain pieces--El Anatsui's bold tapestry Ozone Layer and Yam Mound(s), 2010, with its hundreds of hand-beaten aluminum scraps that partly shrouded the Alte Nationalgalerie, as well as Zarina Bhimji's meditative 2007 film Waiting, at the Hamburger Bahnhof--went further, standing apart for their deft melding of accumulative LEGACY, ACCUMULATIVE. An accumulative legacy is a second bequest given by the same testator to the same legatee, whether it be of the same kind of thing, as money, or whether it be of different things, as, one hundred dollars, in one legacy, and a thousand dollars in another, or whether  processes (weaving, recording) and the layering of historical memory.

3 Adam Fuss (Cheim & Read, New York) Visitors to Fuss's exhibition were invited into a small, chapel-like room in which three large daguerreotypes were on view: The two depicting bare mattresses (one covered in writhing snakes, a leitmotif leit·mo·tif also leit·mo·tiv  
1. A melodic passage or phrase, especially in Wagnerian opera, associated with a specific character, situation, or element.

2. A dominant and recurring theme, as in a novel.
 of the show) were mounted on dimly lit gray walls, which beautifully offset the pictures' mirrored surfaces. Lying on the floor, where one might have expected an altar to stand, was an enormous daguerreotype daguerreotype

First successful form of photography. It is named for Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, who invented the technique in collaboration with Nicéphore Niépce.
 of a vagina (a nod to Courbet, and one of the show's many art-historical allusions). In a second, brightly lit room, images of snakes predominated, and their visceral symbolism attracted as powerfully as it repelled. Fuss's fecund fe·cund
Capable of producing offspring; fertile.
 interests in ancient mythologies, archaic photographic practices, and spiritualism spiritualism: see spiritism.

Belief that the souls of the dead can make contact with the living, usually through a medium or during abnormal mental states such as trances.
 coalesced in this indelible exhibition.


4 "Resemble Reassemble re·as·sem·ble  
v. re·as·sem·bled, re·as·sem·bling, re·as·sem·bles
1. To bring or gather together again: reassembled the band for a reunion tour.

" (Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi; curated by Rashid Rana) Artist Rashid Rana's group show brought together the work of forty-five established and emerging talents from his native Pakistan, with standout contributions from Hamra Abbas, Bani Abidi, Asma Mundrawala, and Mohammad Ali Talpur. The exhibition, which took the rebus as its structuring principle, so that correlations between otherwise unrelated works had to be deduced through visual, formal, and linguistic clues, upended stereotypical views on contemporary production from the region by steering clear of tropes and subjects prevalidated by the West.


5 Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives With a Palme Pal·me   , Olaf 1927-1986.

Swedish politician. As premier (1969-1976 and 1982-1986) he was widely respected for his efforts toward peace and disarmament. Palme was assassinated in 1986.
 d'Or from Cannes under his belt and a Hugo Boss Prize The Hugo Boss Prize is awarded every other year to an artist (or group of artists) working in any medium, anywhere in the world. The prize is administered by the Guggenheim Museum and sponsored by the Hugo Boss clothing company.  nomination this year, Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul is forging a new filmic film·ic  
Of, relating to, or characteristic of movies; cinematic.

filmi·cal·ly adv.
 language. Working out of the forests of northeast Thailand, this quietly humorous artist prefers to collaborate with the same actors across projects, enabling audience members to acquaint and reacquaint themselves with his recurring characters. The almost primeval setting of Apichatpong's latest film, its enveloping dreamlike atmosphere, and its cast of half-human, half-animal characters from another life conspire to demolish our linear understanding of time and beguile us into believing in reincarnation, if only for two hours.


6 Ai Weiwei (Tate Modern, London; curated by Juliet Bingham) Ai's site-specific installation for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern is sublime. Filling the monumental space with a thick carpet of one hundred million handcrafted and handpainted porcelain sunflower seeds, the artist has achieved the impossible--meeting a spectacle-oriented mandate with the most minimal of means. Visitors were invited to walk across the bed of seeds, transforming the installation into a participatory, and symbolic, sound-based work--until the realization that the ensuing porcelain dust was a health hazard led, alas, to the work's being roped off from the public.


7 William Kentridge (Museum of Modern Art, New York; curated by Klaus Biesenbach, Judith B. Hecker, and Cara Starke) The large-scale thematic exhibition of Kentridge's animated films, mechanized miniature theaters, prints, and drawings paid fitting tribute to a famously complex oeuvre. In perhaps the show's most memorable passage--a room containing two miniature theaters, Black Box/Chambre Noire and Preparing the Flute, both 2005--visitors were transported beyond the museum's walls by inventive, fantastic, yet politically charged stories that unfold through magic-lantern-like video projections, animated sculptural collages, and music.


8 Anders Krisar (Galleri Thomas Wallner, Simris, Sweden) Largely an autodidact au·to·di·dact  
A self-taught person.

[From Greek autodidaktos, self-taught : auto-, auto- + didaktos, taught; see didactic.
, Krisar decided to become a visual artist only in his late twenties, and despite having garnered recognition quickly, he remains an outsider. His work--primarily in sculpture and photography--is, for the most part, hermetic hermetic /her·met·ic/ (her-met´ik) impervious to air.

her·met·ic or her·met·i·cal
Completely sealed, especially against the escape or entry of air.
, even morbid, playing as it does with casting, molds, and deformation. Krisar has, nonetheless, created in a few short years a poetic, deeply felt body of work, exemplified in sculptures such as Sonja, 2007-2008, and M, 2008-10.


9 Sopheap Pich (Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York) Following in the footsteps of Chen Zhen and Montien Boonma, Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich conjures his art from an intensely personal place, with a refined eye for material and craft, as convincingly evinced in "The Pulse Within," his first solo exhibition in New York. His rattan rattan (rătăn`), name for a number of plants of the genera Calamus, Daemonorops, and Korthalsia climbing palms of tropical Asia, belonging to the family Palmae (palm family).  and bamboo sculptures simulating human organs, environmental waste, and water rafts are deeply woven into the artist's daily existence (his studio is near a lake), dredging up recollections of life in Cambodia under the brutal Khmer Rouge. Despite their recognizable themes, Pich's works never succumb to sentimentality, but, rather, stay afloat as poignant engagements with issues of time, memory, and nature.


10 8th Gwangju Biennale: "Maninbo--10,000 Lives" (various venues; curated by Massimiliano Gioni) Gioni's sprawling interrogation of the multifaceted lives of images and the equivocal ties we develop with them spans the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first, gathering artworks, relics, found objects, and photographs as its evidence. Within the massive historical sweep of the show, which unfolds in a labyrinthine lab·y·rin·thine
Of, relating to, resembling, or constituting a labyrinth.


pertaining to or emanating from a labyrinth.
 design, individual works such as Tehching Hsieh's Punching the Time Clock on the Hour, One Year Performance April 11, 1980-April 11, 1981, in which the artist investigates time through self-portraiture, as well as contributions from E. J. Bellocq, Harun Farocki, Jean-Luc Godard, Yasmine Kabir, Hito Steyerl, and Haegue Yang, expose and undermine our codependent relationship with visual representation.

An earlier iteration of the exhibition, co-organized by SF MOMA and the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL, was curated by Mark Rosenthal.

PHOTO: DAVID HEALD n. 1. A heddle.  

Chris Dercon


Chris Dercon is director of Munich's Haus der Kunst The Haus der Kunst (literally House of Art) is an art museum in Munich, Germany. It is located at Prinzregentenstrasse 1 at the southern edge of the Englischer Garten, Munich's largest park.  and will take up the position of director of Tate Modern, London, in spring 2011. He is curator of the Haus der Kunst's "The Future of Tradition, The Tradition of the Future," an exhibition of modern and contemporary artists from the Middle East, on view through January 9. His last exhibition in Munich, the retrospective "Carlo Mollino, maniera moderna" (Carlo Mollino, Modern Style), will open in fall 2011.

1 Via Intolleranza II, 2010 (directed by Christoph Schlingensief) Based on Luigi Nono's polemical opera Intolleranza 1960, Schlingensief's last major theatrical production--a ferocious dramatization dram·a·ti·za·tion  
1. The act or art of dramatizing: the dramatization of a novel.

2. A work adapted for dramatic presentation:
 of Africa and Europe's fraught relationship--is closely related to the director's final and most ambitious Gesamtkunstwerk: the "opera village" Remdoogo, a kind of ready-made Bayreuth under construction in Burkina Faso. In the months preceding his death at age forty-nine this past August, Schlingensief poured tremendous energy into Remdoogo while also relentlessly speaking and writing about the cancer in his own body and courageously enacting his fears onstage. His vitality was such that it was difficult to disbelieve dis·be·lieve  
v. dis·be·lieved, dis·be·liev·ing, dis·be·lieves
To refuse to believe in; reject.

To withhold or reject belief.
 Alexander Kluge (jargon) kluge - /klooj/, /kluhj/ (From German "klug" /kloog/ - clever and Scottish "kludge") 1. A Rube Goldberg (or Heath Robinson) device, whether in hardware or software. , who, in an interview, flatly insisted: "Christoph Schlingensief is not dead."


2 Diebedo Francis Kere ("Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement," Museum of Modern Art, New York; curated by Andres Lepik and Margot Weller) Rising architect Kere, Schlingensief's main collaborator in Remdoogo, was born in Burkina Faso in 1965. He trained as a carpenter after studying in Berlin and now uses local materials and traditional techniques to create highly effective and beautiful eco-architecture. One ingenious example was documented in MOMA'S excellent show: a Burkinabe primary school whose "floating" roof keeps the building cool. Kere fully intends to realize Schlingensief's dream of creating an opera house for one of Africa's poorest countries.

3 Oumar Ly (African Photography Biennial, National Museum of Mali, Bamako, curated by Michket Krifa and Laura Serani) Senegalese photographer Ly's series "Portraits de brousse" (Portraits of the Bush), 1963-78, was one of the great discoveries of the latest edition of this now legendary African photo festival. Ly, sixty-seven, lives and works in the north Senegalese town of Podor, but he traveled to his subjects' villages in the bush to take these casual yet startlingly revealing portraits (which Filigranes Editions published in a wonderful book in November 2009). It turns out that a man's voluminous robe, the traditional grand boubou bou·bou  
A long, loose-fitting African garment.

[French, from Malinke bubu.]
, makes the perfect backdrop for female sitters.


4 Rashid Johnson (Art Statements, Art Basel; and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles) In Basel and Los Angeles, Johnson presented scenes from another black history in a most original way, creating an uncanny installation in the form of a carpeted meditation room--slash-library. There, visitors were invited to peruse sculptural shelving units full of books, records, and other artifacts relating, if sometimes obliquely, to the Boule--an elite, semisecret black fraternal organization whose members have included such towering figures as Frederick Douglass.


5 "Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity" (Walther Collection, Neu-Ulm/Burlafingen, Germany; curated by Okwui Enwezor) Since the mid-1990s, erstwhile investment banker Arthur Walther has been building an extraordinary collection of contemporary African photography. Happily, the trove now has a public venue of its own in the Bavarian town of Burlafingen. In this relatively out-of-the-way setting, Enwezor organized a grand inaugural exhibition, showcasing the collection's riches and, in one section, ingeniously juxtaposing African photographers and their European counterparts.

6 "The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600-1700"

(National Gallery, London; curated by Xavier Bray) In seventeenth-century Spain, Catholic sculptors and painters did their part for the Counter-Reformation by teaming up to create expertly carved and poly-chromed devotional statues. The goal was to make the faithful feel as if they were in the actual presence of the Savior and the saints; the result was a new kind of realism. With his straightforward and beautiful juxtaposition of sixteen sculptures and sixteen paintings, Bray proved that the "hyperrealistic" principles of painters such as Diego Velazquez and Francisco de Zurbaran were predicated on their intimate knowledge of three-dimensional modeling techniques. Contemplating Pedro de Mena's 1663 statue Saint Francis Standing in Ecstasy, I hallucinated that I was looking at the man himself.


7 "Design Real" (Serpentine Gallery, London; curated by Konstantin Grcic) Munich-based product designer Grcic, who studied carpentryjust like Kere, not only is one of the most important figures in his field but also has a deep understanding of the work of his colleagues. At the Serpentine he organized a sharp, clear exhibition that celebrated the past decade's most innovative industrial designs, all of which--hooray!--are available to a mass audience.

8 "Long March Project: Ho Chi Minh Trail Ho Chi Minh Trail

Former trail system, extending from northern Vietnam to southern Vietnam. It was opened in 1959 and used by North Vietnamese troops in the Vietnam War as the major military supply route.
" (Long March Space, Beijing; curated by Lu Jie, Song Yi, and Xu Tingting) For this exhilarating ongoing project, twenty-eight artists, thinkers,journalists, and curators retraced the circuitous paths by which North Vietnam once tunneled resources to its insurgent INSURGENT. One who is concerned in an insurrection. He differs from a rebel in this, that rebel is always understood in a bad sense, or one who unjustly opposes the constituted authorities; insurgent may be one who justly opposes the tyranny of constituted authorities.  comrades to the south. These peregrinations served as the central critical metaphor of a multiplatform enterprise, based at Beijing's Long March Space and supported by the Prince Claus Fund, that explores the social, political, and economic networks linking Southeast Asia, China, and the world. When I visited the Long March Space in the spring, my impulse was to embark on the trip immediately.


9 Saloua Raouda Choucair (Maqam Art Gallery, Beirut) Choucair, born in 1916, is one of the pioneers of abstract art in Lebanon. Though clearly attuned to Western modernisms, she situates her intricate paintings and sculptures--which remind me of Lygia Clark's folds--in the mystical tradition of Sufism. While Western viewers are gaining a better understanding of the contemporary art of the Middle East, we often ignore or fail to grasp earlier work from the region. Choucair calls on us to correct our oversights and challenges us to accept a continuity between Arab modernism and the art of the new century.


10 "Mehr Teppich/More Carpets"

(Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, Berlin) I am a huge and, until recently, furtive fan of textile art. But suddenly, to my gratification, many in the contemporary art world are raving about textiles. Bortolozzi undertook an ambitious research program, not only finding carpets made by, of course, Robert Rauschenbergand Dieter Roth with Ingrid Wiener, but also tracking down earlier floor art by the likes of Lucio Fontana and Carol Rama. A good selection of contemporary practitioners, such as Rosemarie Trockel and Albert Oehlen, lay underfoot as well.

Co-organized with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Helen Molesworth


Helen Molesworth is the chief curator at the Institute of contemporary art, Boston The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is an art museum and exhibition space located in Boston, in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The museum was founded in 1936 with a mission to exhibit contemporary art. . She is currently working on "dance/draw," an exhibition that traces the persistence of line in post-medium art. Additionally, she is organizing a show about the art of the 1980s, which will open in winter 2012.

1 Sharon Hayes, Parole (Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) This haunting video, projected on multiple screens, presents a fragmented Godardian narrative--literary scholar Lauren Berlant discusses intimacy's philosophical implications, someone reads a love letter, and so on. The redheaded red·head·ed  
1. Having red hair.

2. Having a red head: a redheaded woodpecker.

Adj. 1.
 protagonist performs empathy while remaining mute and listens to it all via omnipresent sound equipment. When the red-haired attempts to capture the sounds emanating from a dancer's body, we know we are at the limit of our sensorium sensorium /sen·so·ri·um/ (sen-sor´e-um)
1. a sensory nerve center.

2. the state of an individual as regards consciousness or mental awareness.

n. pl.
 and at the threshold At the Threshold, whose son Lil E. Tee won the 1992 Kentucky Derby for W. Cal Partee, died March 23 of a stroke at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, Ind. The 21-year-old stallion stood at Wayne Houston's Stoney Creek Horse Farm near Mooreland, Ind.  of a new kind of knowledge.


2 Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns (Random House) Wilkerson's page-turner tells the story of the Great Migration, when millions of African Americans moved from the rural South to America's major cities, especially Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Reading it gave me not only a much-needed history lesson but also a more political and intimate understanding of the emergence and development of America's cultural centers.


3 Amy Sillman (Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York) Sillman continues her exploration of Abstract Expressionism but has added a mash-up of two forms of drawing: the cartoon and the diagram. One line is neurotic, humorous, and descriptive of the social systems that govern our interior lives; the other is directive, emptying, and schematic. The subject matter is sex--its bottomless pleasure and its profound awkwardness. The cartoon-diagram hybrid shows us this nexus at the levels of both fascia and bone. These paintings are not so much jolie laide as the deep American variant, sublime gawky.


4 Kerry James Marshall Kerry James Marshall (October 17, 1955- ) is an artist born in Birmingham, Alabama. He grew up in South Central Los Angeles and now lives in Chicago and teaches at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  (Vancouver Art Gallery The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) is the fifth-largest art gallery in Canada and the largest in Western Canada. It is located at 750 Hornby Street in Vancouver, British Columbia. ; curated by Kathleen S. Bartels and Jeff Wall) This exhibition demonstrated, once again, that Marshall is a great artist. (I await the proper installation of his work in the permanent-collection galleries at MOMA, the Met, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Philadelphia Museum of Art, established in 1875, chartered in 1876. When the city of Philadelphia planned to erect a building to house the Centennial Exposition of 1876, provision was made to keep the building permanently occupied; the Pennsylvania Museum and School , LACMA LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art
LACMA Los Angeles County Medical Association
LACMA Latin American and Caribbean Movers Association
, etc.) His project is severalfold: to introduce into the museum the images and history of African-American life, to make history paintings for the present, and to situate contemporary painting among its many competing image systems. His paintings are frequently stunning, due not only to their pictorial complexity and great paint handling but also to the artist's high regard for his subjects.


5 Lari Pittman (Regen Projects and Regen Projects II, Los Angeles) Curator Paul Schimmel once said Lari Pittman never drops a trick, and the thirty-year drawing and painting survey "Orangerie" formed a veritable dictionary of the artist's themes and motifs: eighteenth-century script, gourds, body parts, eggs, owls, silhouettes, a Technicolor palette, cacti, a host of decorative patterns, and myriad forms of mark-making. The new paintings offer a circus of glassy surfaces through which one can see the above and more, all in an attempt to reorient Re`o´ri`ent   

a. 1. Rising again.
The life reorient out of dust.
- Tennyson.

Verb 1.
 us to the world as Pittman sees it--a surfeit sur·feit  
v. sur·feit·ed, sur·feit·ing, sur·feits
To feed or supply to excess, satiety, or disgust.

v.intr. Archaic
To overindulge.

 of heterogeniety that everywhere resists our desire for control.


6 "elles@centrepompidou" (Centre Pompidou, Paris; curated by Camille Morineau) When the Pompidou announced plans to reinstall To go through the installation process once again, because files have become corrupted. See reload.  its permanent-collection galleries exclusively with art by women, my queer friends, who largely feel post-gender, greeted the news with ambivalence. But feeling postgender doesn't neutralize the institutionalization Institutionalization

The gradual domination of financial markets by institutional investors, as opposed to individual investors. This process has occurred throughout the industrialized world.
 of sexism under the rubric of "aesthetic excellence," a discursive formation that continues to thrive in "major" museums. The exhibition showed us that whether the galleries are filled exclusively with art by men or by women, the narrative sweep of twentieth-century art remains intact. But the real question is whether this is a sign of "victory" or an indication of the inadequacy of our current art-historical story.


7 Melvin Edwards (Alexander Gray Associates, New York) Using the same language as Mark di Suvero Mark di Suvero (born as Marco Polo di Suvero) is an American abstract expressionist sculptor born in Shanghai, China in 1933 to Italian expatriates. He came to San Francisco, California in 1941 with his father.  and Anthony Caro--welded steel, abstract arabesques, and the general look and feel of an industrial junkyard--Edwards's small but revelatory 1960s sculptures speak less to the problem of drawing or painting in space than to the ruthless history of American slavery and the long rule of Jim Crow. Like three-dimensional enactments of W. E. B. DuBois's notion of double consciousness, the works suggest that both "race" and "art" are untenable abstractions as well as everyday realities.


8 Charles Burchfield (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; curated by Robert Gober) Burchfield was a master animator of the inanimate: His trees are ghoulish ghoul  
1. One who delights in the revolting, morbid, or loathsome.

2. A grave robber.

3. An evil spirit or demon in Muslim folklore believed to plunder graves and feed on corpses.
, his rocks whisper, his houses moan. Gober emphasized Burchfield's amazing tendency to add sheets of paper to putatively finished drawings in a kind of infinite expansion of the known world. Installing works atop wallpaper designed by Burchfield, Gober also took a decisive step toward breaking the white cube's stranglehold on the contemporary curatorial imagination.

9 Roni Horn (Tate Modern, London; curated by Mark Godfrey, Carter E. Foster, and Donna De Salvo) I recently heard an anecdote in which David Antin, on being asked how he was doing, replied: "I'm waiting for Minimalism to die." And who isn't just a touch fatigued by the way all sculpture must establish Minimalism as both its ground and its lodestar lode·star also load·star  
1. A star, especially Polaris, that is used as a point of reference.

2. A guiding principle, interest, or ambition.
? Horn appears to be simultaneously fed up and indebted--hence Pink Tons, 2008, her massive five-ton cube of pink glass, was shot through with imperfections: cracks that refracted sunlight through the undulating waves of its vertiginous ver·tig·i·nous
1. Affected by vertigo; dizzy.

2. Tending to produce vertigo.

vertiginous adjective Related to vertigo, dizzy
 interior. The shade of pink was shocking--the color of the most sensitive of flesh. The sculpture sat obdurate and silent but expectant, waiting for the day it would, due to the forces of minute molecular movement, break open, shattering in ecstasy.


10 Ishimoto Yasuhiro (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; curated by Yasufumi Nakamori) In 1953 and '54, Ishimoto Yasuhiro (born 1921) took a series of photographs of the seventeenth-century Katsura Imperial Villa Katsura Imperial Villa

Estate constructed in 1620–24 on the southwestern edge of Kyoto, Japan. It was an outstanding attempt to integrate the styles of the Heian period with the architectural innovations spurred by the development of the tea ceremony.
 in Kyoto. Before this gem of a show, the images were known only through a 1960 book edited by famed architect Kenzo Tange, with an introduction by Walter Gropius. In this iconic book, Tange radically cropped and sequenced the photos to force the relationship between Japanese imperial architecture and international modernism. The exhibition showed the photos as Ishimoto had intended them along with Tange's versions, posing questions not only about reception and intentionality intentionality

Property of being directed toward an object. Intentionality is exhibited in various mental phenomena. Thus, if a person experiences an emotion toward an object, he has an intentional attitude toward it.
 but also about the historical scope and present-day meaning of that ever-fetishized construct, globalism glob·al·ism  
A national geopolitical policy in which the entire world is regarded as the appropriate sphere for a state's influence.


Co-organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY.

Co-organized with the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


Tate Modern, London

Hal Foster

FOR A LONG TIME I carried around a caricature of Theo van Doesburg Theo van Doesburg (Utrecht, August 30, 1883 – Davos, March 7, 1931) was a Dutch artist, practicing in painting, writing, poetry and architecture. He is best known as the founder and leader of De Stijl. , the leader of De Stijl. I saw him as an animator along the lines of Marinetti or Tzara, more skilled at publicity than at practice, and at best an effective foil for more gifted collaborators such as Mondrian, J. J. P. Oud oud  
A musical instrument of northern Africa and southwest Asia resembling a lute.

[Arabic 'd, wood, stem, lute, oud.]
, El Lissitzky, Schwitters, and Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp. I thought his abstraction was mostly vapid, too often a didactic reduction of cow or card players to colored rectangles--the kind of thing that can give the whole enterprise a bad name. And his aesthetic moves appeared helter-skelter--at times hubristic, as in his one-man challenge to the Bauhaus on its own turf (he moved to Weimar in 1921), at times quixotic, as though his 1922 Congress of Constructivists and Dadaists could actually mediate such contradictory movements, and at times opportunistic, as if he had to attend every party no matter what the theme (this modernist Zelig participated in seven groups in a professional life of only seventeen years). Like many cliches, my image of van Doesburg as avant-garde gadfly gadfly, name for various biting flies, especially those that attack livestock, e.g., the botfly and the horsefly. , by turns dogmatic and charlatanish, is not exactly wrong, but it is hardly just, and "Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde"--an ambitious exhibition at Tate Modern, organized by Gladys Fabre, Vicente Todoli, and Doris Wintgens Hotte--corrected it. Here was van Doesburg

in his multiple modes as painter, polemicist po·lem·i·cist   also po·lem·ist
A person skilled or involved in polemics.

polemicist, polemist
a skilled debater in speech or writing. — polemical, adj.
, and designer, and in his various milieus in the Netherlands, Germany, and France (with select works by many associates, famous and not), presented in a way that revealed both his conceptual rigor rigor /rig·or/ (rig´er) [L.] chill; rigidity.

rigor mor´tis  the stiffening of a dead body accompanying depletion of adenosine triphosphate in the muscle fibers.
 and his artistic range. God knows what tourists made of this varied archive of modernist experiment, but for aficionados it was a treasure--and one more in a good string of modernist shows at Tate Modern in recent years (including "Albers and Moholy-Nagy: From the Bauhaus to the New World" in 2006 and "Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism constructivism, Russian art movement founded c.1913 by Vladimir Tatlin, related to the movement known as suprematism. After 1916 the brothers Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner gave new impetus to Tatlin's art of purely abstract (although politically intended) " in 2009).


The exhibition overturned my misconceptions one by one. Van Doesburg emerged less as an impresario on the go across Western Europe than as an idealist committed to an international modernism, and less as a publicity hound than as a newfangled artist for whom the networking of people, projects, and publications was the primary work. Although his politics were vague--a decrying of baneful bane·ful  
Causing harm, ruin, or death; harmful. See Usage Note at baleful.

baneful·ly adv.

Adj. 1.
 individualism was its main theme--van Doesburg was committed to the avant-garde as a small collective that might trigger a spiritual revolution (a sort of Leninism without Lenin on art). As for his own painting, well, head-to-head with Mondrian, he does pale (who doesn't?)--his compositions are without the oxymoronk intensity of intuition and necessity that distinguishes those of his compatriot--yet the loss is not as lopsided as one might think, and the comparison here allowed one to glimpse why to paint or not to paint a diagonal or a green could seem, at one point in the modernist age, a world-historical question. Moreover, there were superb examples of his production on view, including stained glass in De Stijl mode, graphic design in both Constructivist con·struc·tiv·ism  
A movement in modern art originating in Moscow in 1920 and characterized by the use of industrial materials such as glass, sheet metal, and plastic to create nonrepresentational, often geometric objects.
 and Dadaist idioms, and architectural collaborations with Oud, Cornelis van Eesteren, and the Arps. Here, too, van Doesburg doesn't win in every (perhaps any) category--his graphics don't match up to Lissitzky's and Schwitters's, or Piet Zwart's and Jan Tschichold's, and he was not the designer that Gerrit Rietveld was--but to view these juxtapositions as competitions is to miss the point of the collective project that was Doesburgian modernism (at least in principle--no doubt he was as vain as the rest of us, if not more so).


The cows and card players are still semiludicrous, but maybe at that time in modernist advocacy (ca. 1 917-1 8) a diagram was what was needed, and finally van Doesburg's abstraction is more capacious than these cartoons suggest. For the "De Stijl idea," as Yve-Alain Bois has shown, was a relational one: to distinguish a key component in one medium, and then to use it as a means to link that discipline with others, ideally through a shared element. (The classic example is the colored plane that binds De Stijl painting to De Stijl architecture.) "Harmonious combination comes about not through characteristic equality," van Doesburg wrote in the November 1918 issue of his journal De Stijl, "but really through characteristic oppositionality." Rather than a medium-specific idea of modernist art, this is a medium-differential notion that resonates to this day. (Much of the "expanded field" of sculpture operates in this way.)

Finally, as to his aesthetic moves, such as his challenge to the Bauhausler and his convening of Constructivists and Dadaists, I tend to favor his counterparts: Van Doesburg is too disdainful dis·dain·ful  
Expressive of disdain; scornful and contemptuous. See Synonyms at proud.

dis·dainful·ly adv.
 of function and program for me, and given the choice he might have opted for a total work of art over a total revolution. Yet these encounters were not simply stunts: He kept the pressure on the Bauhaus, whose 1923 shift toward design was not due to Walter Gropius and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy alone, and he brought a differential clarity to the Constructivist-Dadaist spectrum of the avant-garde. In fact, van Doesburg forced this particular dialectic (or is it an antinomy An expression in law and logic to indicate that two authorities, laws, or propositions are inconsistent with each other.

ANTINOMY. A term used in the civil law to signify the real or apparent contradiction between two laws or two decisions. Merl. Repert. h.t.
?), which he also embodied in his artistic persona. (Another merit of the show was that it displayed and documented the work of his Dadaist alter ego, I. K. Bonset, in some depth.) No doubt this performance was a taxing one; van Doesburg "scattered the poison of the New Spirit everywhere," as he said of his Weimar caper, and he absorbed more than his share of this elixir elixir /elix·ir/ (e-lik´ser) a clear, sweetened, alcohol-containing, usually hydroalcoholic liquid containing flavoring substances and sometimes active medicinal ingredients.

. Eventually he retreated to an abstraction that, though announced as a redemptive response to the catastrophe of World War I, had become semiacademic only a decade later, and he died from a heart attack in 1931, exhausted, one imagines, at the age of forty-seven.


"Van Doesburg and the International avant-garde: Constructing a New World" was organized by Tate Modern, London, in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum De Lakenbal in Leiden, the Netherlands.
COPYRIGHT 2010 Artforum International Magazine, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:the year in art
Publication:Artforum International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2010
Previous Article:The artists' artists: to take stock of the past year, Artforum contacted an international group of artists to find out which exhibitions and events...
Next Article:The year in climate controversy.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters