Best of 2002: over the next twenty-two pages, eleven artforum contributors remember the high points of a year in art. (A Special Issue).
(2) Gerhard Richter (Museum of Modern Art, New York) Richter's paintings, according to critic Diedrich Diederichsen, "don't only stand for themselves. They are, so to speak, stage directions for viewing other paintings." Indeed, Richter, together with the more maguslike Polke, practically created critical and commercial appetites for such heresies as late-phase Picabias and vache-period Magrittes. By turns magisterial and campy, remote and intimate, cosmopolitan and regional, and of course representational and abstract, Richter is the Robert Musil, or rather the Man Without Qualities, of contemporary art. What a swan song for Robert Storr, who has very understandably left the American museum world for a professorship. That he felt compelled to spill as much ink as he did in his introduction expounding the various reasons for the belatedness of this show is no doubt symptomatic.
(3) "Cher Peintre, Lieber Maler, Dear Painter" (Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris) Due to odd good cheer and an ingratiating amateurishness, this exhibition managed to survive its own keynote: six showstopping, pulp Picabias from the early '40s. It took the next room's procession of Bernard Buffet nudes (like Modiglianis on diet pills) to move things along again. The rest was a very mixed though jazzy bag, with the late Martin Kippenberger, deservedly the hero figure of the show (whose "Lieber Maler, male mir" lent the exhibition its title), unfortunately not looking his best. In addition to Kurt Kauper's immemorial Cary Grant paintings, high points included works by John Currin (as usual), Brian Calvin, and Kai Althoff.
(4) Philip Taaffe (Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris) and "The Heavenly Tree Grows Downward" (James Cohan Gallery, New York) Last November I made a mental note to remember this show in Paris (it just missed the cutoff for 2001's Top Tens), one of Taaffe's best in a while, which is saying a lot since he never seems to have really bad ones. Two big, ecstatic classics, Lunapark and Toccata (both 2001), were on view along with some interesting recent developments like Terpsichore (2000-2001), whose surface pattern of animal skulls and lace doilies in flesh and butter tones suggested "some Warholian society-portrait-cum-vanitas," as my-husband-the-writer Brooks Adams not so succinctly put it. More offbeat, smaller works by Taaffe could be seen this fall in "The Heavenly Tree Grows Downward," an exhibition organized by Raymond Foye that also featured warlock paintings by Fred Tomaselli and by the late Harry Smith, a Beat-generation polymath (as well as the raison d'etre for this show) who is best known for having comp iled the definitive Smithsonian Folkways' Anthology of American Folk Music. Get hold of the catalogue: Foye, whose involvements with artists, poets, and music are often intertwined, has long produced some of the most beautifully conceived and considered books around.
(5) Carroll Dunham (New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York) Dunham's a first-rate American maverick whose work has been getting more eloquently fierce by the minute. He also deserves praise for some extrapainterly activities, like the freewheeling pictorial "curated" for the October 2002 issue of this magazine.
(6) AA Bronson (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) His contribution to the 2002 Biennial was a portrait painted in lacquer on vinyl, measuring seven by fourteen feet, of Felix Partz, his General Idea collaborator, two hours dead. Although part of a venerable tradition, this lurid and vertiginously angled image had the force of taboo-breakage about it. It wouldn't go away.
(7) Documenta 11 Okwui Enwezor and his team produced the most classically designed and best-installed Documenta in twenty years. Indeed the Fridericianum section of this exhibition often made me think specifically of Rudi Fuchs's grandly ceremonial spaces. (If I'm not mistaken, at least one artist, Hanne Darboven, was identically positioned, on the ground floor of the building's rotunda, on both occasions.) This was all the more remarkable given that Enwezor's globalist, content-driven show-full of videos and documentary films, several of them feature length--was in other respects meant to be the opposite of Fuchs's Eurocentric, formalist display. I found this show, or whatever portion of it could be viewed in a three-day, rain-drenched gulp, to be engrossing. Among my favorites were works by Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Kutlug Ataman, the Atlas Group, Zarina Bhimji, the Black Audio Film Collective, Constant, and Isaac Julien.
(8) Pat Steir (Cheim & Read, New York) An austere, majestic show of large, abstract, glowering, shimmering, pluming, splashing, misting canvases-perhaps this artist's best in a decade--at what has become Chelsea's most elegantly designed venue for grand-manner painting.
(9) Michael Raedecker (The Approach, London) Strange, lovely, desolate little landscape paintings--and one portrait taken from Giorgione--involving an extraordinarily eloquent use of thread.
(10) Palais de Tokyo (Paris) Perhaps the last great alternative space, in a deconstructed Fascist-style building in a fancy neighborhood and inspired (vaguely) by P.S. I. It's open from noon to midnight and has a hip bookstore and a zany canteen that serves good food.
1. Max Ernst, L'Ange du foyer ou Le Triomphe du surrealisme (The angel of the hearth or the triumph of Surrealism), 1937, oil on canvas, 44 1/8 x 57 1/2".
2. Gerhard Richter, Selbstportrait, 1996, oil on canvas, 20 1/8 x 18 1/4.
3. Clockwise from top left: Kal Althoff, Untitled, 2001, lacquer, paper, watercolor, and varnish on canvas, 15 3/4 x 15 3/4 x 1 3/4". John Currin, The Moroccan, 2001, oil on canvas, 26 x 22". Kurt Kauper, Cary Grant #2, 2001-2002, oil on panel, 90 x 56". Bernard Buffet, Annabel en T-shirt, 1960, oil on canvas 51 x 32".
4. Philip Taaffe, Terpsichore, 2000-2001, mixed media on canvas, 101 x 80 3/4". From "Philip Taaffe: Peintures recentes," Galeria Thaddaeas Ropac, Paris.
5. Carroll Dunham, Killer over the Water, 2000-2001, mixed media on linen, 96 x 84".
6. AA Bronson, Felix Partz, June 5, 1994, 1994/1999, lacquer on vinyl, 7 x 14'.
7. Isaac Julien, Paradise Omeros, 2002, color and black-and-white DVD projections, 25 minutes. Installation view.
8. Pat Steir, Bay of Mumbai, 2001-2002, oil on canvas, 96 x 96".
9. Michael Raedecker, Operator, 2002, acrylic and thread on canvas, 35 1/2 x 29 1/2".
10. Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2002.
Paris-based writer Lisa Liebmann has contributed to Artforum since the early 1980s.
(1) John McCracken (Lisson Gallery, London) A self-confessed proselytizer for the existence of extraterrestrial life, for the past thirty-five years John McCracken has continued to produce his uniform "plank" painting-sculpture hybrids, which he sometimes thinks of as "representing living beings who have come here from someplace else" or as "the geometrically expressed thoughts of such beings." The fourteen recent plank pieces in his luminous Lisson show confirmed McCracken's status as our leading cosmic Minimalist.
(2) "Something, Anything" (Matthew Marks Gallery, New York) After the purgatory that was Documenta II, it was a relief to come across Nayland Blake's "Something, Anything." The third in Matthew Marks Gallery's series of artist-curated summer shows, this often bizarre, gleefully eclectic, and curatorially promiscuous exhibition (titled after the Todd Rundgren album) featured works from the unlikeliest of bedfellows (e.g., Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Gaston Lachaise, Katharina Fritsch, and Chris Johanson). Their artworks were deftly set off by inspired thrift-store finds, comic-book art originals, and the artist/curator's own vast record collection, which provided the show's sound track. Following no discernible logic (outside Blake's evident passion for all this stuff), "Something, Anything" was a thesis-free gem-- further proof, if needed, that artists often make the best curators. (Documenta 12 organizing committee take note.)
(3) Christian Marclay (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) Compiled from hundreds of iconic film clips in which actors and musicians--including Marilyn Monroe, Michael J. Fox, and Jimi Hendrix--are depicted playing instruments, singing, or simply making noise, Christian Marclay's four-screen video installation Video Quartet was a genuine crowd pleaser during its three-month-plus SF MOMA run. Over the course of a year, Marclay meticulously orchestrated these diverse and fragmentary sonic and filmic interludes into a coherent visual and musical composition of breathtaking complexity and originality that raises the bar for all subsequent cut-and-paste productions.
(4) Gilbert & George (Serpentine Gallery, London) The twenty-six works in "The Dirty Words Pictures"--Gilbert & George's unholy Stations of the Cross--were created in 1977, the queen's Silver Jubilee year. Seen together for the first time, twenty-five years later, on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee, these brutal indictments of British society in the year that punk broke have lost none of their power to unsettle. Given G & G's ambiguous political intent, these are truly troubling works that mirrored a Britain at loggerheads with itself on the eve of the Thatcher years.
(5) The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal A hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival, independent filmmaker Matt McCormick's faux documentary/public-information film charts the efforts of civic officials to eradicate the graffiti that blights his hometown of Portland, Oregon. Through the daily overpainting of the graffitists' tags with successive layers of blocks of slightly off-key colors, Portland's graffiti-removal teams unwittingly create abstract compositions that bear an uncanny resemblance to Rothkos. McCormick's sly, subversive, and seductive film deserves a wider audience.
(6) "Lowland Lullaby" (Swiss Institute, New York) Dreamed up by Swiss mavericks Ugo Rondinone and Urs Fischer and the seminal New York spoken-word poet John Giorno, "Lowland Lullaby" won my award for surreal collaboration of the year. From beneath Rondinone's Op art-decorated, stagelike platform floor emanated a recording of Giorno reading his epic poem "There Was a Bad Tree," which provided accompaniment for Fischer's loopy drawings and sculptures. Like the Swiss Institute's inspiringly strange programming, "Lowland Lullaby" made absolute sense and no sense at all.
(7) Will Rogan (Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco) Will Rogan's solo debut at Jack Hanley's Valencia Street storefront space was a modest tour de force. Rogan is a canny observer of serendipitous urban tableaux: the dusty imprints of a soccer ball kicked repeatedly against a wooden fence; the paired impressions of the sole of a work boot and a bird's foot set in recently laid concrete; the sooty belch of a bus's exhaust on a city street. Rogan photographs these slight interruptions of daily life with a minimum of fuss and a gently pervasive charm that is all his own.
(8) Inventory (The Approach, London) Inventory is a group of London-based writers, artists, and theorists who, in their own words, seek to "explore the alternatives to the limitations imposed on these disciplines." In the pages of their eponymously titled journal and in their occasional exhibitions, Inventory interrogate the humdrum realities of contemporary urban life. As pseudoanthropologists, quasi sociologists, and latter-day Situationists, Inventory showed their contempt for the metropolitan status quo with the mural-size provocation that greeted visitors to "Requiem for the Empty Quarter," urging them to EVACUATE LONDON.
(9) Tariq Alvi (Cabinet Gallery, London) Tariq Alvi's discreet commercial debut, after a cruelly overlooked show at London's Whitechapel Art Gallery last year, confirmed his as a distinct voice in an increasingly moribund British art scene. Alvi is a kind of contemporary alchemist whose collagelike works, often forged from accumulations of printed ephemera, subtly evoke complex states of desire, abandonment, and alienation. Central to his Cabinet show was an enlargement of a garishly colored fast-food outlet's menu in which the name of every dish had been replaced with the word HELP.
(10) Dave Muller (CCS Museum at Bard College/UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles) A mercurial figure on the LA art scene, Dave Muller is an artist, musician, DJ, and grassroots curator best known for his Three Day Weekends, samizdat exhibitions of his and his peers' work. Less well known are Muller's own works: painstakingly rendered drawings, watercolors, and designs that often masquerade as announcements for exhibitions by artists as diverse as Jackson Pollock, Andrea Bowers, and Andy Warhol. Amada Cruz's beautifully installed survey of Muller's profligate production was a comprehensive introduction to this hard-to-pin-down artistic philanthropist.
1. John McCracken, Light, 2002, resin, fiberglass, and plywood, 95 11/16 x 12 x 8".
2. "Something, Anything." Installation view.
3. Christian Marclay, Video Quartet, 2002, stills from a four-channel color and black-and-white video projection, 14 minutes.
4. Gilbert & George, Bollocks We're All Angry, 1977, photocollage, 94 7/8 x 79 1/6". From the series "The Dirty Words Pictures," 1977.
5. Matt McCormick, The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal, 2001, still from a color film in 16mm, 16 minutes.
6. "Lowland Lullaby." Installation view. Foreground: Urs Fischer, Late Late Night Show, 2002. Platform: Ugo Rondinone, Lowland Lullaby, 2002.
7. Will Rogan, We Shall Be Reunited, 2001-2002, color photograph, 12 1/2 x 19'.
8. Inventory, "Requiem for the Empty Quarter." Installation view.
9. Tariq Alvl, Untitled, 2002, digital print on paper, 78 3/4 x 118 1/5".
10. Dave Muiler, The Garden (detail), 2000, acrylic on paper, 17x4".
Matthew Higgs is curator of art and design at the CCAC Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, and a regular contributor to Artforum.
(1) "Winogrand 1964" (International Center of Photography, New York) Working in the shadows of Robert Frank and the Kennedy assassination, Garry Winogrand spent the better part of the summer and early fall of 1964 driving cross-country, photographing the Americans. He printed only a fraction of the twenty thousand pictures he shot and showed very few of those in his lifetime. Choosing from the one thousand black-and-white images the photographer himself had culled as well as a largely unedited and never-before-exhibited archive of color slides taken on the same road trip, curator Trudy Wilner Stack put together a show of some two hundred photographs that both eclipsed and illuminated Winogrand's previous bodies of work. Perhaps because he was determined to shake off a deep-seated pessimism about the state of the American soul, Winogrand was unusually alert to every passing flash of sweet humanity. Though the resulting photos aren't exactly optimistic, their anxious, fragile hopefulness couldn't be more timely .
(2) Gerhard Richter (Museum of Modern Art, New York) Richter is hardly the only contemporary artist to work from photographs, but, on the evidence of this knockout painting retrospective, he's the only one who seems to understand their power. Richter pins down a photo's sense of impermanence, of a moment both preserved and lost. And he doesn't just translate blur, grain, overexposure, and soft focus from one medium to the other--he recognizes beauty, terror, and a weird sort of grace in both.
(3) Hans-Peter Feldmann (Centre National de la Photographie, Paris) I didn't really get Feldmann until I saw this retrospective and immediately fell in love. Like Richter, this savvy trickster plunders our collective image bank and taunts us with its goofy, pathetic contents. Working with a dizzying range of pop detritus--postcards, snapshots, news photos, pages tom from magazines--Feldmann channels Duchamp, Warhol, and Rauschenberg, but is at once funnier than any of them and even more rigorously artless. Like any good comedian, he knows that some of the best jokes are pointed and painful.
(4) Richard Avedon (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) Avedon's portraits have had to compete for attention with the relentless inventiveness of his fashion work, but the Met's impeccably installed retrospective allowed for no distractions. From the beginning, Avedon established a middle ground between stylization and naturalism and learned to spark encounters of such indelible intensity that the sitter's fame was almost beside the point. Though the results are often harsh, they're never pitiless; even when he zeroes in on their fatuousness or discomfort, Avedon lets his subjects burn incandescently bright.
(5) Roger Ballen (Gagosian Gallery, New York) Ballen's black-and-white photographs of poor South Africans in their grimy rooms are outrageously theatrical--mocking the matter-of-fact documentary mode they spring from--but no less alarming for their comic flair. The recipe: a heaping cup of Walker Evans, a sprig of Diane Arbus, some finely ground Joel-Peter Witkin, a liberal dash of coarse humor. For his part, Ballen cites Beckett and thinks of his subjects as a theater-of-the-absurd rep company, always ready for a new performance.
(6) Jeff Wall (Marian Goodman Gallery, New York) For all his obsessive image manipulation, Wall manages to keep it (super)real. His latest investigations of urban scruffiness understate their narrative fictions or dispense with them altogether, leaving us with stage sets whose emptiness is all the more highly charged. A flooded suitcase, some bundled branches, and a street-corner boulder are mute markers on the road to nowhere.
(7) Brice Marden (Matthew Marks Gallery New York) My memory of Marden's new paintings, with their earthy Indian colors and contained exuberance, is sublimely sensual, as if I'd tasted them or swam though their depths. But that memory has an ideal prompt: Bill Jacobson's announcement photo, pinned to my wall, of a canvas in Marden's studio captures the work's rich physicality with a clarity, sympathy, and reserve all its own.
(8) Steven Klein (at your newsstand) Klein, long one of fashion photography's favorite also-rans, was just about unbeatable in 2002, with audaciously out-there spreads in Dutch, L'Uomo Vogue, Pop, W, and The Face, which turned his panoramic tableaux of Larry Clark and posse into the magazine cover of the year. Working on instinct and raw nerve, Klein is never merely provocative. He somehow manages to strike a balance between excess and restraint, and in his hands, restraint isn't cool; it's hot.
(9) Matthias Vriens (The Project, New York) Vriens, the photographer most responsible for shooting Dutch into the forefront of the periodical avant-garde, filled forty-six pages of the magazine's final issue with the year's cleverest, sexiest men's fashion shots, although actual clothes were little in evidence. Then he topped that by going hard-core in Harlem with enormous photos of nude black and Latin men whose penetrating gazes were almost as riveting as their full-on erections. No Mapplethorpian controversy ensued, but Vriens made his point: When you've got it, flaunt it.
(10) "Le Dernier Portrait" (Musee d'Orsay, Paris) Death masks and deathbed portraits of people both famous and anonymous might excite a certain morbid fascination one by one, but gathered for this haunting show of memorial art they inspired something like wonder. Whether the subject was Robespierre, Proust, Piaf, or an unnamed newborn, the gravity of the work was both poignant and stimulating. You left the hushed galleries oddly refreshed, hungry for life.
1. Gerry Winogrand, New York, 1964, black-and-white photograph, 11 x 14".
2. Gerhard Richter, Hanged, 1988, oil on canvas, 71 1/8 x 55 1/8"
3. Hans-Peter Feldmann, Image, 1970s, color photograph.
4. Richard Avedon, John Martin, 1975, black-and-white photograph, 41 3/4 x 33 1/8"
5. Roger Ballen, Cat Catcher, 1998, black-and-white photograph, 15 x 15".
6. Jeff Wall, Dawn, 2001, color transparency on light box, 8' x 10' 1" x 10".
7. Brice Marden, Red Rocks (1), 2000-2002, oil on linen, 75 x 107". Photo: Bill Jacobson.
8. Steven Klein, foldout cover of The Face, October 2002.
9. Matthias Vriens, Image from Dutch, Summer 2002.
10. Francesco Antommarchi, Masque mortuaire do Napoleon I, 1821, plaster, 19 x 33 x 16".
Vince Aletti is art editor and photography Critic for the Village Voice. Male, a book of photographs from his collection, is forthcoming from Scalo/D.A.P. in 2004.
(1) "After The Scream: The Late Paintings of Edvard Munch" (High Museum of Art, Atlanta) Few seemed to notice that, after the screams of the 1890s, Munch happened to go on living and painting for some four decades. This vast terra incognita, charted by guest curator Elizabeth Prelinger, may lack the graphic punch of his youthful anxieties, but as Munch got older his work became even more subtly angst ridden. The self-portraits are especially harrowing, like painful diary entries that record everything from the grotesque optical distortions Munch saw reflected in his mirror during a period of near blindness to the loneliness of an octogenarian trapped in the Norwegian woods under Nazi occupation.
(2) "Mondrian, 1892-1914: The Path to Abstraction" (Musee d'Orsay, Paris) "Early" is being rediscovered as well as "late." At last, a full-scale view of the firm yet ethereal roots beneath Mondrian's heavenward verticals and earthbound horizontals. Curared by Hans Janss en, the exhibition traced the master's career from his responses to the Dutch landscape, with its flat vistas of earth and sky, up to the brink of abstraction, via the spooky realm of Mine Blavatsky. Here no less than in the abstract work to come, each brushstroke seems marked by a religious fervor, stripping to the core everything from trees and ginger pots to clouds and Theosophical communicants. The relentless concentration of Mondrian's work--whether early, middle, or late--makes for an awesome continuity.
(3) Barnett Newman (Philadelphia Museum of Art) A perfect complement to last year's Clyfford Still show at the Hirshhorn, this retrospective, curated by Ann Temkin, rekindled nostalgia for Newman's vision of a Vir Heroicus Sublimis ripping through a cosmic infinity of paint. The thrill and extremity of such obsessions radiated throughout the show, a reconfirmation for older viewers and a revelation for younger ones.
(4) Gerhard Richter (Museum of Modern Art, New York) Too long overshadowed in the States by Kiefer's historical rhetoric, Richter has finally been given his due on this side of the Atlantic. Curated by Robert Storr, the retrospective proved, among other things, that the whole of Richter is much more than the sum of its parts, an expanding universe that, like Warhol's, can embrace everything from political tragedy and abstract painting to sex and celebrity. And, like Warhol, he belongs to our age of virtual reality, cloning every kind of image, whether a Titian or a family photo, in an endlessly shifting focus. An indispensable master.
(5) Matthew Barney Barney's Wagnerian ambition keeps upping the ante. In [CREMASTER.sub.3] he blends Rheingold and Parsifal with the most awesome fictions of the twentieth century. Who else could move seamlessly from Fingal's Cave and Gaelic giants to a demolition derby in the Chrysler Building lobby and a chorus line of hallucinatory Rockettes in the Guggenheim rotunda? A hundred years later, Barney, like Bill Viola in Going Forth by Day, resurrects the Symbolist fin de siecle, reinventing the poetry of life cycles and epic myths.
(6) The Salvador Dali Revival Speaking of total immersion, Dali's star as a neglected pioneer of installation art is on the rise. At the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, Bonnie Clearwater's archaeological evocation of his scandalous presence at the 1939 New York World's Fair--the Dream of Venus pavilion, where Botticelli presided over a sultry grotto filled with crustaceans and live mermaids--showed it was high time to stop snickering at the venal Catalan and begin gasping at the daring of his three-dimensional imagination. For doubters, visit the outdoor and indoor spaces of Dali's Theater-Museum complex in Figueres, Spain.
(7) Josep Jujol (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona) Inspired lunacy must be part of the Catalan DNA. Starting as a close collaborator with Gaudi, Jujol soon began to sprout his own crazy branches from the architect's tree. The fantasy world he invented included every-thing from a Barcelona shop for Picasso's friend Pere Mafiach to, in his fervent Catholic moments, bleeding-heart chairs and crown-of-thorns tripods. What look like echoes of Miro's and Dali's metamorphic blobs turned up throughout the show in his melting mirrors and meandering lines--except that Jujol, the dates tell us, did them long before the dawn of Surrealism.
(8) Peter Halley (Mary Boone Gallery, New York) Madness and method also took over an entire gallery in Halley's wraparound spectacle, "Panic Room." Against a wallpaper of both computer-generated and painted explosions that revived Warhol's engulfing camouflage patterns, Halley shuffled his electronic geometries in silk screen, acrylic, and simulated stucco. And the floor-to-ceiling collisions let every eye-popping color in the synthetic rainbow scream for equal time. A gorgeous, perfectly calibrated blast.
(9) Hairspray In this Broadway remake of John Waters's film classic, the visuals alone are worth the ticket. In fact, the psychedelic, Day-Glo profusions of rock 'n' rolling sets (David Rockwell) and costumes (William Ivey Long) look like populist answers to Halley's installation. But then there's also the sublimely simpleminded music and lyrics (by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, of South Park fame), not to mention the fabulous Marissa Jaret Winokur and Harvey Fierstein, who more than repay their debt to Ricki Lake and Divine. In the words of one of the songs, "Go, go, go."
(10) The Piano Teacher Director Michael Haneke manages to burrow so deeply into the sadomasochistic passion of a Viennese piano teacher for her young male pupil that you feel locked into a case study from Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis. Even more amazing, the shocking goings-on, from quasi-incestuous mother-daughter relationships to brutal toilet sex, far transcend the lurid, thanks to the straight-backed, controlled acting of the regal Isabelle Huppert. Both monstrous and serene, this film replays in the mind like a trauma.
1. Edvard Munch, Jealousy in the Garden, 1918-20, oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 47 1/4".
2. Piet Mondrian, Village Church, 1898, gouache on paper, 29 1/2 x 19 1/8".
3. Barnett Newman, Untitled (No. 1), 1950, oil on canvas, 36 x 6".
4. Gerhard Richter, Onkel Rudi (Uncle Rudl), 1965, oil on canvas, 34 1/4 x 19 11/18".
5. Matthew Barney, CREMASTER 3, 2002, still from a color video, 189 minutes. 6. Salvador Dali, Dream of Venus facade under construction, 1939. Photo: Eric Schaal.
7. Josep Jujol, door hardware on Can Negre building, 1915-30, Barcelona.
8. Peter Halley, "Panic Room," 2002. Installation view.
9. Hairspray, performance view. Tracy Turnblad (Marissa Jaret Winokur) and Edna Tumbled (Harvey Fierstein).
10. Michael Haneke, The Plano Teacher, 2002, still from a color film in 35 mm, 130 minutes. Erika Kohut (Isabelle Huppert) and Walter Klemmer (Benoit Magimel).
Robert Rosenblum, a contributing editor of Artforum, is professor of fine art at New York University and a curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
(1) Lily van der Stokker (Le Consortium, Dijon) WHAT IS LOVE, WHAT IS LIFE, WHAT IS DEATH. Questions posed in a drawing from 1993 included in this show made me realize what a welcome antidote this artist offers, not just to bleaker days but to feel-good movies, Sunday sermons, and all that sham. Her latest wall paintings name-check people she knows and loves without the slightest hint of sentimentality, and it seems like an achievement... now more than ever. Color remains delicious, her hand unpredictable and buoyant. The tendrils that hang above the couch in Nice and Easy, 2002, have an ominous cheer, curled perhaps by Edward Corey. In one drawing she affirms OLDER WOMEN MAKING EXPERIMENTAL ART. Another claims: I FAKE NOTHING. Believe it.
(2) Wayne Gonzales (Paula Cooper Gallery, New York) History painting is back, but does it look like any we've seen before? The entwined psychological depth and surface remove we associate with Cady Noland's forensic investigations, but painted and weirdly cinematic. Even when Gonzales takes on the most disturbing images, it's hard not to be seduced: A frame from the Zapruder film, at the very moment a bullet passes through the side of the president's head, is transformed into a kinetic impressionist landscape, a gorgeous rush and swirl of pure color. A stripper in jack Ruby's Carousel club, suffused in metallic copper, appears to be dancing in the haze of a smoke-filled room. Gonzales's subject is also painting and perception itself, and a wide range of techniques and effects are continually put to the test. How is something made visible? And what do we see? In his portrait of Oswald based on a photo that may have been doctored to include a rifle, he goes ahead and paints the rifle anyway.
(3) Wolfgang Tillmans (Palais de Tokyo, Paris) The sign at the entrance--WARNING: SOME IMAGES IN THIS EXHIBITION MIGHT HURT SOME SENSITIVE PERSONS--seemed unnecessary. At least when I was there. Two young boys giggled delightedly at a picture of a puckered anus. A young couple kissed intensely in front of a grid of Concordes. An elderly woman studied a tiny photo of an ant and its shadow. It's Tillmans's sensitivity to the world around us that makes looking at people looking at his pictures such an endless pleasure.
(4) Andrea Fraser, Little Frank and His Carp (Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York) Who would have thought institutional critique would evolve into such smart burlesque? Or that Fraser's acting would become so sly and self-assured? Little Frank is Gehry, and the carp is the Guggenheim Bilbao, to which Fraser succumbs by way of an Acoustiguide tour. As a seductive male voice lays bare all of the building's many charms, Fraser responds in kind, and a slow hump of the wall ensues. The visitors' reactions in the background? Priceless.
(5) Art Basel Nowadays, with museums looking more like art fairs, is it such a surprise that a fair--and this the queen of them all--would end up as one of the year's more memorable events? I took a break from the wheeling and dealing one afternoon and crossed town to see the three-museum extravaganza "Painting on the Move." How a show so mired in inertia earned that title is anyone's guess. A much livelier statement about painting could have been put together simply by walking around the fair. Of work by younger artists in "Painting on the Move," nothing was as impressive as Lisa Ruyter's monumental Stations of the Cross, 2002, on view in the fair's Art Unlimited section. Susanna Kulli's booth devoted to John Armleder put his room in the Museum fur Gegenwartskunst to shame. And a little Gerhard Richter cathedral tucked into a corner of Basel's Kunsthalle was left high and dry by a glorious mid-'60s speedboat back at the Messeplatz.
(6) Isabella Kirkland (Feature Inc., New York) Exquisitely rendered paintings of endangered and extinct species, flora and fauna, based on firsthand research, all painted life-size. Consider the price of a shahtoosh shawl, made from the superfine wool of the Tibetan antelope. $17,000. Actual cost: three dead antelope. Kirkland's is the most ravishing activist art I've ever seen. That she rarely makes more than a picture a year only magnifies her endeavor.
(7) Oliver Payne and Nick Relph (Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York) 1010 WINS, the news radio station, guarantees: "You give us twenty-two minutes, we'll give you the world." Mixtape's twenty-three minutes opens up worlds, plural, and feels like a cassette from a friend. Here the songs are filmed moments--brutal, awkward, and tender--visual jokes, and homemade flickers cut to Terry Riley's hand-spliced loop of Harvey Averne's rendition of "You're No Good," a slab of late-'60s soul given endless groove. Crank it up!
(8) Wire, Read & Burn 01 (Pink Flag) The inventors of English art punk emerged in the late '70s, shot off three still-influential albums, went their separate ways, returned in the late '80s, and are back again--with a vengeance. "Germ Ship" ("Get on board, fatal attraction, germ ship, germ ship"), "Comet" ("It's a heaven-sent extinction event"), and "Ist Fast" ("Who's the bastard? Where's the payoff?") have been running through my head for weeks. Delivered with all the pissed detachment of '77, mixed with the sinuous, machine-driven soul of '87. And it sounds like now.
(9) Permanent Food (Les Presses du Reel) If you, like me, can't afford one of Maurizio Cattelan's ridiculously sublime sculptures, just pony up twelve bucks for this "magazine about magazines," which he started back in 1995 with Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. In every issue, pages lifted from other journals worldwide give a sense not only of the accepted dementia of modern life as seen through advertising, fashion, celebrity, and current events, but of Cattelan's eye for the poetry of it all.
(10) George W. Bush Best reason I can think of to avoid living vicariously through your children.
1. Lily van der Stokker, Nice and Easy, 2002, acrylic paint and couch with embroidery, dimensions variable, Installation view.
2. Wayne Gonzales, Untitled, 2001, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 76".
3. Wolfgang Tillmans, Concorde (detail), 1997, 56 color photographs, each 11 1/2 x 8 1/2".
4. Andrea Fraser, Little Frank and His Carp, 2002, still from a color video. 6 minutes.
5. Lisa Ruyter, Stations of the Cross (detail), 2002, acrylic on canvas, 14 panels, each 11' 6" x 8' 6". Installation view.
6. Isabella Kirkland, Trade, 2001, oil and alkyd on canvas, 36 x 48".
7. Oliver Payne and Nick Relph, Mixtape, 2002, still from a color film in 35 mm, 23 minutes.
8. Wire, Read & Burn 01 (Pink Flag, 2002).
9. Cover and spread from Permanent Food No. 9.
10. George Bush and George W. Bush fishing on the Fidelity.
A critic and independent curator based in New York, Bob Nickas will coorganize the 2003 Biennale de Lyon.
(1) Matthew Barney (Museum Ludwig, Cologne) There are any number of breathtaking moments in Matthew Barney's CREMASTER 3, the most extravagant artwork I've come across this year (and not just this year)--like the sequence in which a skeletal zombielike body emerges from the mud in a tunnel beneath the Chrysler Building and is placed in the backseat of a '38 Imperial New Yorker parked in the lobby. And who could forget the scene at the track? I for one can't get those disgusting "dead" horses out of my mind.
(2) Documenta 11 (x 2) One unbearably hot afternoon in Kassel I was thankful that two great projects were served up alfresco. Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster's Park--A Plan for Escape, indeed a park within a park, consisted of elements that had nothing in common before they were invited to play a role in the artist's slightly melancholic escapism: a large lava rock from Mexico, a telephone booth from Rio, a rosebush from Chandigarh. In the butterfly-shaped pavilion erected on a grassy lawn, cinematic ghosts appeared through the windows, shadows from Antonioni's La Notte, Tsai Ming-liang's Vive l'amour, and Resnais's Last Year at Marienbad. Less melancholy but just as crazy, Thomas Hirschhorn's bizarre Bataille Monument turned out to be an entire jerry-built village devoted to spreading the philosopher's message through all possible media, including that of Turkish cuisine. Excellent Bataille Doner Kebab.
(3) Tobias Rehberger Thanks to Rehberger, the Dresdner Bank cafeteria in downtown Frankfurt now has several time zones. You can have an appetizer in Shanghai, main course in Milan, and dessert in Dubai. Chairs, tables, and lamps on the various "islands" are designed to reflect the artist's personal (mis)conception of these and other cities where the bank does business. The lighting in a given time zone continuously adjusts to match the intensity of sunlight registered on photovoltaic cells and then "streamed" via the Internet from one of the bank's foreign offices--turning an otherwise dull space into a Babel of imaginary journeys.
(4) Spencer Finch (Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris) This New York-based artist's lighting devices are even more complex. A recent example: Based on the molecular structure of the blue pigment that corresponds to the color of the sky (on a particular day in May) over Los Alamos, site of the first nuclear bomb explosion, Finch designed a radiant sculpture incorporating hundreds of lightbulbs. A fascinating and perplexing object but also a real beauty of a chandelier.
(5) Dieter Roth, Gesammelte Interviews (Edition Hansjorg Mayer) These 350 pages of conversation with the late great artist about virtually everything can be read aloud (I tried) as a curious marathon theater piece reminiscent of Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape--but considerably longer. I had the pleasure of seeing Dieter Roth in action only once, and this book brings back the memory (of a very long dinner with red wine and monologues...and more red wine) so vividly that I keep waiting for a second helping.
(6) Eva Hesse (Museum Wiesbaden) I went to see the Hesse retrospective thinking I would get an art history lesson. How wrong I was. The show, organized by SF MOMA's Elisabeth Sussman and the Museum Wiesbaden's Renate Petzinger, was one of the summer's great contemporary-art experiences, and not just for academic reasons--a lesson in itself.
(7) Philippe Parreno (Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris) Invited to mount a midcareer show at a major museum, artists tend to present the pieces they've done over the years. Philippe Parreno, however, has made so few artworks in the traditional sense that this wasn't really an option. Parreno's "Alien Seasons" in Paris this summer set new standards for strangeness--in a good way: It was all about unexpected connections and the ambient spaces they produce. Every time a computer-generated cuttlefish appeared in an underwater video projection, some event was triggered in a different part of the exhibition--a somewhat fishy curatorial innovation.
(8) Dan Graham (Kunsthalle Dusseldorf) "Droll thing life is--that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself--that comes too late," wrote Joseph Conrad. Many artists have worked with delays and with the psychology of belatedness, but no one with the precision of Graham, who's always right on time.
(9) Eija-Liisa Ahtila With new pieces at Kiasma (Helsinki), Tate Modern (London), and Documenta 11 (Kassel), Ahtila convinces again: Why her stories about psychological disintegration fascinate so much I don't know, but I can't get enough of these Finnish voices, so lyrical and yet so frenzied.
(10) Marcel Odenbach Sooner or later everything turns to video, but how did we get here? Without an understanding of Odenbach's evolution from the mid-'70s to the present, one can't really claim to know much about the development of video as medium on the European continent. It seems that most technical innovations were first put to artistic use by Odenbach; a few years later, others would follow. With a very selective retrospective at the Frankfurter Kunstverein and a brand-new installation a few yards away at the Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Odenbach makes his case. I'm still dizzy from the double projection Mir hat es den Kopf verdreht (It turned my head), 1996 but now at least I know what I'm talking about.
1. Matthew Barney, CREMASTER 3, 2002, production still from a color video, 189 minutes.
2. Left: Thomas Hirschhorn, Batallie Monument, 2002. Installation view. Photo: Thorsten Arendt. Right: Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Park--A Plan for Escape, 2002. Installation view. Photo: Thorsten Arnat
3. Tobias Rehberger, untitled (Tokyo), 2002. Installation view, Dresdner Bank, Frankfurt. Photo: Wolfgang Guntzel.
4. Spencer Finch, Blue (Sky over Los Alamos, New Mexico, 5/5/00, morning effect), 2000. Installation view, Postmasters, New York, 2000.
5. Dieter Roth, Gesammelte Interviews (Edition Hansjorg Mayer, 2002).
6. Eva Hesse (from left), Torl, 1969, Sans II, 1968, and Vinculum 1, 1969. Installation view.
7. Philippe Parreno, Allen Seasons, 2002, color video projection, 7 minutes 30 seconds, Installation view. Photo: Marc Domage.
8. Dan Graham, Double Exposure/Landscape Photo Pavilion II, 1995, architectural model with two-way mirror and color transparency, 19 3/4 x 42 x 42".
9. Eija-Lilsa Ahtlia, The Present, 2001, still from a color video projection, 34 minutes 39 seconds.
10. Marcel Odenbach, Mlr hat es den Kopf verdreht (It turned my head), 1996, two-channel color video projection, 5 minutes 8 seconds, Installation view.
Daniel Bimbaum, a contributing editor of Artforum, is director of the Stadelschule art academy and its Portikus gallery in Frankfurt.
1 Igloolik Isuma Productions/The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat) It was easy to appreciate the social imperatives of this Inuit film collective's documentary work at Documenta 11; harder, within the time constraints, to admire the extraordinary artistic accomplishment of their Camera d'Or-winning first feature, The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat), directed by woodcarver turned filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk. A tale of love and hate in an exceptionally cold climate, Atanarjuat dramatizes a thousand-year-old tale of festering evil on the frozen Canadian tundra. The first film ever to be performed in the Inuktitut language, it's a cross between a cave painting and a Shakespearean tragedy. Atanarjuat furnished the most indelible cinematic image of the year, of the eponymous hero running for his life, naked and bleeding, across the freezing arctic wastes.
2 Chris Ofili (Victoria Miro Gallery, London) It may seem extravagant to compare Chris Ofili's The Upper Room, 1999-2002, to the Matisse chapel in Vence or the Rothko in Houston, but this was the territory he dared to stake with this hugely ambitious painting installation, conceived in collaboration with architect David Adjaye. Nothing prepared you for the experience of turning the corner of a deep, dim corridor into a soaring walnut-faced interior studded with thirteen intensely colored, precisely lit paintings. Against the velvety surround of the wood each work glowed with a spectral luminosity, as if just landed from another planet. Ofili's trademark tropical pointillism, with those appliqued drifts of glitter and stars trapped within layer on layer of incandescent resin, here described the motif of thirteen turbaned rhesus monkeys, each realized in a different hue. The Upper Room was decorative and theatrical, yes, but its choreography of color, light, and space created a splendid temple to painting in se cular times.
3 Shirana Shahbazi (Citigroup Private Bank Photography Prize 2002; Photographers' Gallery, London) Rank outsider Shirana Shahbazi wrested photography's big prize with her ongoing series "Goftare nik" (Good words). Shahbazi's sharply designed installations mix photographs and commissioned billboard paintings and cast her native city of Tehran in a clear, cool light, purged of the romantic tropes that dominate depictions of contemporary Iran. The imagery of the Orientalist imaginary--the desert, the odalisque, the veiled woman--is stripped bare as Shahbazi ponders the complexities of a society caught between the competing forces of tradition and change.
4 Diller + Scofldio (Swiss National Expo 2002, Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland) Architectural folly or technological tour de force, Duller + Scofidio's photogenic Blur Building floated above Lake Neuchatel like a piece of weird ectoplasm. "Built" out of innumerable drops of glacial water siphoned from the lake and forced through 31,400 tiny high-pressure jets, this performing structure expanded and contracted, rose and sank, in reaction to the changing weather. A triumph of form over function-plastic raincoats requisite.
5 Francis Alys The power of human endeavor over intractable nature was also the theme of Francis Alys's supremely biblical performance When Faith Moves Mountains, a work realized on the desiccated Ventanilla dunes outlying the Peruvian capital and home to thousands of disenfranchised shantytown dwellers. On April 11 hundreds of local people equipped with shovels gathered at the foot of a giant sand dune and collectively shunted the sixteen-hundred-foot-long mound four inches in one direction. Moses met Sisyphus in a gesture at once heroic and futile--confirming Alys's place as one of the most compelling mythicists around.
6 Wolfgang Tillmans (Palais de Tokyo, Paris) Evans on the subway, Eggleston in the kitchen, Moholy-Nagy atop the radio tower, Stieglirz beneath the moon: Tillmans's work has always reverberated, for me, with photography's ancestral voices. And yet here, in an airy, sweeping space at the back of the Palais, with the huge cameraless abstractions brought into graceful harmony with the smaller figurative pictures, he looked strikingly original and seemed to have found his essential subject somewhere between photographic process and photographic image, between the material and the ethereal.
7 Richard Prince, Paintings and Photographs (published by Hatje Cantz, to accompany exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Museum fur Gegenwartskunst Basel, and Kunsthalle Zurich) The book has always had a special place in Richard Prince's oeuvre, and these two handsome volumes preserve the rambunctiousness of his work in print while comprehensively reprising the painting and the photography. Prince's own writing threads through the images in the form of elusive third-person allegories that tease at the relationship between looking and libidinal drive. Brilliant in its iconicity, its blatant cliches, its boisterous enthusiasms.
8 Matthew Barney (Museum Ludwig, Cologne) With the CREMASTER cycle now complete, it's hard to imagine a more definitive Matthew Barney exhibition--and impossible to resist the visual fascinations of his unendingly complex symbolic universe. To talk or write about the incomparable Barney is to get lost in a maze of meanings and metaphors, and yet it is testament to his supreme mastery that this exhibition served both films and sculpture while remaining lucid and absorbing throughout.
9 Keith Tyson (South London Gallery/Kunsthalle Zurich) Keith Tyson has always inspired virulent opposition and passionate support: I'm in the latter camp, seduced by his spirit of restless experimentation and his ability to filter diverse bodies of human knowledge--from quantum physics to artificial intelligence to probability theory--into exuberant and utterly unpredictable works of art.
10 The Office (BBC Television) TV doesn't get more perfect than The Office, a comedy that, in its second season, propels the form to a new level: so excruciatingly real it's almost unwatch-able. Set in Slough, England's most featureless town, in a paper merchant's establishment, The Office is presided over by insufferable boss David Brent, a character more mortifying than Basil Fawlty. You'll never label your stapler again.
1. Zacharias Kunuk, The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat), 2001, still from a color film in 35 mm, 172 minutes.
2. Chris Ofill, The Upper Room, 1999-2002. Installation view.
3. Shirana Shahbazi, untitled, 2000-2001, acrylic on canvas, 9' 10" x 16' 5". From the series Goftare nik" (Good words), 2000-.
4. Diller + Scofidlo, Blur Building, Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, 2002.
5. Francis Alys, Cuando Ia fe mueve montarias (When faith moves mountains), 2002. Performance View, Lima. Peru, April 11, 2002.
6. Wolfgang Tillmans, Star Struck #3, 2000, ink-jet print, 11' 7 3/4" x 9' 6".
7. Richard Prince, Photographs, Paintings, and spread from Paintings (Hatje Cantz, 2002).
8. Matthew Barney, Chrysler Imperial (detail), 2002, mixed media. Installation view.
9. Keith Tyson, SLG Number 3.2 (Index), 2001, mixed media on paper, 61 3/4 x 49 5/8".
10. Still from the BBC Television series The Office, 2002. David Brent (Ricky Gervais).
Kate Bush is senior programmer at the Photographers' Gallery, London.
1 Sam Mockbee Let us now praise famous men. It can be hard for an architect to do something high-minded--build for the rural poor, say--and not come off as a missionary or a Birkenstock kook. Sam Mockbee was neither. He didn't play the game of shock (you know who you are), but neither did he condescend with the traditional forms it is always said "people" crave. Still, his low- or no-cost buildings in Hale County, Alabama, could rival any avant production (and didn't look out of place at this year's Whitney Biennial). One, a community center for Mason's Bend, has a fish-scale wall of overlapping Chevy Caprice windshields; it cost less to build than ten square feet of SoHo Prada. Mockbee died on December 30, 2001. He was fifty-seven.
2 Jared Della Valle and Andy Bernheimer If measured by opening night crowds and cameras, "A New World Trade Center" at the Max Protetch gallery in Chelsea was easily the biggest event of the New York architectural year. But if ranked by density of ideas, it was among the most slight. Protetch's all-media blitz could not hide the fact that there was next to nothing of interest in the show, only predictable, occasionally callous toss-offs. One exception was the study submitted by Della Valle and Bernheimer. This young team compiled a list of eighty Ground Zero power brokers, made eighty plastic blocks variously sized to reflect that power, and presented the set in an open case, ready for purposeful play. Hope for thought in a graveyard of form.
3 MVRDV, Thonik Studio The little building that MVRDV completed this year for the graphic design firm Thonik is a triumph of Dutch thrift. Faced with no budget and a drab Amsterdam courtyard, they made a dumb box: four sides, a flat roof, windows punched through concrete walls. Then they painted it orange. Bright orange. All of it. So smart.
4 John Johansen, Nanoarchitecture: A New Species of Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002) After studying with Walter Gropius at Harvard (and marrying his daughter), John Johnasen went on to design slick houses, some university brutalism, and a fragmented, before-its-time theater in Oklahoma City. Now, at age eighty-six, the architect has published the musings of his dotage: a collection of disarming, unpretentious projects--Froth of Bubbles, Air Quilt, etc.--that are shaped as much by the plastic jugs and other refuse he's used to model them as they are by his enthusiasm for science.
5 William Massie (P.S. I's "Warm Up" series) For years now the taste for blobs, driven by the possibilities and prejudices of new software, has outstripped the enduring facts of building. So plans that appear all droopy in the magazines often get cleaned up at the site. With his environment for the annual summer performance series at P.S. I--long screens of white PVC pipe on steel brackets and low foam pools finished with truck-bed sealant in garish colors--Massie put on a clinic in the effective application of doable construction to fashionable form. To make it work, a pipe was bent and its curve sampled to train a modeling program; the erratic frame was laid out and laser cur into thousands of interlocking one-off elements; the pools hid within them secret raster topographies, computer sketched and robot milled. Geekery notwithstanding, people still got naked at the parties.
6 Kool Museums? When a group of journalists visited Rem Koolhaas's Rotterdam office last June, he covered the presentation models of his Whitney Museum expansion with black trash bags. But he forgot about the sketch models on the floor. The new wing is a menacing concrete cobra that spirals up to overhang the old Breuer building. Poor Marcel. Meanwhile, Rem was more than happy to reveal a sophomoric conceit he's developing for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art: The collection would be displayed in stacked shipping containers. Forklifts would fetch the art. Bag, please.
7 Rector Street Bridge This pedestrian crossing by New York's SHOP Architects reconnects Battery Park City to the rest of the world. It is everything one could hope for in quickie construction near Ground Zero: modest, inspiring, respectful, and frankly ephemeral.
8 Brent C. Brolin, The Designer's Eye (Norton, 2002) This is not a pretty book. But it bravely tries to catalogue those little things that can make a building great (or not). Brent C. Brolin has compiled black-and-white thumbnail views of architectural details and then subjected each to a simple retouching. How would the Pompidou look without its cross bracing? Or the Chrysler Building without its spire? The before-and-after pairs argue convincingly that there is a fixed logic to the perceived effects of form. It's not all relative.
9 Minority Report Forget for a moment the mommy issues that are such an insipid feature of Spielberg's films. Forget the Hollywood ending. Forget, too, the errant Indiana Jones jokiness that found its way into this otherwise dark work of near-futurism. These weaknesses could not destroy what was conjured by the art direction, which gave us flying cars and merry-go-rounds, tomorrow's megastructures and yesterday's townhouses. Not since Blade Runner has there been a future with such a believable residue of the past.
10 Outsider Architects A new species of designer has joined the toilers, stars, artisans, old pros, and dilettantes who make up the menagerie of American architecture. Who were those brazen thousands who emerged this year to throw their hats and napkin sketches into the big ring at Ground Zero? To a one their proposals were preposterous--but no more so than the designs we've seen to date from pedigreed firms, corporate and cutting edge. Taken together, the countless resuscitated Twins, memorial redwoods, and world's tallest ziggurats carted out by our new folk architects will be a useful control as this grand experiment in public creativity proceeds. Thank you, amateurs. And welcome.
1. Sam Mockbee/The Rural Studio, Mason's Bend Community Center, 2000.
Photo: Timothy Hursley.
2. Jared Della Valle and Andy Bemheimer, Castle Building, 2002, acrylic, presstype, and spray paint, dimensions variable.
Photo: Jock Pottle/ESTO.
3. MVRDV, Thonik Studio, 2002, Amsterdam.
Photo: Nicholas Kane.
4. John Johansen, Mag-Lev Theater, rendering from Nanoarchitecture: A New Species of Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002).
5. William Massie, Playa Urbana/Urban Beach, 2002. Installation view.
6. Rem Koolhaas, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2002, architectural model.
7. SHOP Architects, Rector Street Bridge, 2002, New York.
8. Brent C. Brolin, The Designer's Eye (Norton, 2002).
9. Steven Spielberg, Minority Report, 2002, still from a color film in 35 mm, 145 minutes.
10. Proposals for a new World Trade Center by (clockwise from left): Michael H. McDonald; Don Scarcella; and Bud Jarrin. Courtesy of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.
Brooklyn-based architecture and design critic Philip Nobel is a contributing editor of Metropolis magazine and has written for the New York Times, The Nation, and Architectural Digest.
(1) Marc Camille Chaimowicz ("St. Petrischnee," Migros Museum fur Gegenwartskunst, Zurich) An overdue homage to this Proustian master poet of vanity, memory, and loss. Chaimowicz's subglamorous post-Pop scatter environments from the early '70S (in which the artist served tea to visitors) raised questions about public/private dichotomies, art/design boundaries, and identifications based on gender. The highlight: the great installation Celebration? Realife Revisited, part of the group show "St. Petrischnee"-- an exhibition offering a trip through a particular past (and a particularly flamboyant one at that), populated by Chaimowicz, Gustav Metzger, Manon, Michel Auder, Yayoi Kusama, Helio Oiticica, and Theo Altenberg, among others.
(2) Andreas Siekmann A year to experience the ubiquitous output of this high-octane intellectual adventurer and Hogarthian draftsman from Berlin. Siekmann's enigmatic-encyclopedic Aus: Gesellschaft mit beschrankter Haftung made Documenta; a few months earlier he cocurated (with Alice Creischer) an exhibition in Vienna on art and militancy. Along the way he prepared (for Salzburg and Brussels) a variety of works on forces of exclusion and zones of repression. As always, politically loaded topics were approached with wit and plenty of weird associative logic.
(3) Bureau d'etudes (http://bureaudetudes.free.fr) If you want to know how the global order really works you have to be able to spot (and resist) what the Bureau d'etudes calls the "industrial production of decoys." The group's ongoing "Wartime Chronicles"--an impressive cartography of global power networks--is just one example of its attempts to create a countercontext of "autonomous knowledge/power." Based in Paris and Strasbourg, the Bureau d'etudes cooperates with similar organizations and initiatives, most of them (dis)located in Europe, and all of them self-consciously part of the "movement of movements."
(4) Adriana Garcia Galan (Centre National de la Photographie, Paris) "The military is in love with sound," writes Hanns Zischler. There's ample evidence throughout the history of war, from the culture of marching music to the aural torture of drug lord Manuel Noriega (with Guns N' Roses). In Garcia Galan's ongoing examination of the soundscapes of armed conflict, the Colombian artist works with the songs and hymns associated with the four military groups active in her South American home country, music found on the ELN, FARC, Auto-defensas, and state army websites--and on Bogota jukeboxes. Her project reflects on the relation between listening and obeying in the spaces of psychoglobalization, where pop and war constantly intersect.
(5) Frieda Grafe (1934-2002) "Since Technicolor withdrew from the entertainment industry, it prefers to do its research for the army and for NASA," Frieda Grafe wrote in 1988--a line to be reread in Filmfarben (Brinkmann & Bose, Berlin, 2002), a collection of her essays and interviews on matters of color and film that reached bookshops a few weeks after her death in July. Grafe was the significant voice in postwar German film criticism, though her love for cinema (and her lovable prose) was largely incompatible with the discursive predilections of the film industry and the popular press. "If I like your films" she told filmmaker Heinz Emigholz in 1980, "you're in danger that they won't let you make any more."
(6) Justus Kohncke, Was ist Musik? (Kompakt) The persona of this Cologne-based musician's musician oscillates between excess and exhaustion. The year 2002 saw his notion of Schlagertechno, a hybrid of German chanson and electronic dance music, materialize with his second solo album. Striking a confident gay posture clad in camou-wear, Kohncke militantly combines his talents as singer-songwriter and gifted house producer while further developing longtime obsessions with, among other things, Abbey Road, Hildegard Knef, Morgan Geist, and-probably most important--Chic.
(7) Hans-Peter Feldmann (Fotomuseum Winterthur) An antiretrospective by this patron saint of conceptual photography. The beauty of homemade taxonomies and heartfelt skepticism. At moments the exhibit was almost too true to be persuasive (although "persuading" was never what Feldmann was about).
(8) "Zuruck zum Beton" (Kunsthalle Dusseldorf) The buried past of the West German punk era surfaced last year with Verschwende Deine Jugend (Waste your youth), an oral history of the late-'70s/early-'80s underground music scenes in Hamburg, Dusseldorf, and Berlin. Suddenly everybody and his/her neighbor was talking about Mittagspause, Malaria, DAF, Palais Schaumburg, Der Plan, and other period bands--and about subcultural politics in the time of RAF and AOR. An exhibition devoted to reconstructing this culture of refusal looked like the logical next step. The opening turned our to be a grandiose if double-edged event, hinged between sheer nostalgia and a reunion of the never united. A movie is in the making.
(9) Mel Bochner ("Photographs 1966-1969," Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA) I didn't have a chance to see the show, but the catalogue definitely made me want to hop the first plane. If only to observe the "lapidary clarity" (curator Scott Rothkopf) of Bochner's early Conceptual images meeting a significant challenge in his great Transparent and Opaque, 1968/1998, a set of color photographs of Vaseline smears and shaving-cream curls, executed by a professional photographer and funded by E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology).
(10) Protest Culture In Cologne an alliance of gallerists, artists, architects, and critics tried to prevent the demolition of the Josef-Haubrich-Forum. In Zurich the attempt to boot controversial theater director Christoph Marthaler from his office as head of the Schauspielhaus sparked comparable resistance. Memories of '68: In Cologne, Rosemarie Trockel made a film of the protest, starring actor Udo Kier reading a manifesto; in Zurich there were street performances, panel discussions, and other evergreens of civic (dis)obedience. Naturally the high culture enrages were deeply committed to the cause--and took much pleasure in their commitment. Worse things can happen.
1. Marc Camille Chalmowicz, Celebration? Realife Revisited, 1972/2000, mixed media, dimensions variable.
2. Andreas Slekmann, Aus: Gesellschaft mlt beschrankter Haftung (From: Limited Liability Company), 2002. Installation view, Documenta 11, Kassel, Photo: Roman Mensing.
3. Bureau d'etudes, "Wartime Chronicles," 2001-, screen capture.
4. Adriana Garcia Galan, Warmix, 2002, sound installation, 3 minutes.
5. Frieda Grafe and Josef von Sternberg, 1969.
6. Justus Kohncke, Was 1st musik?, 2002.
7. Hans-Peter Feldmann, Alle Kielder einer Frau (All the clothes of a woman) (detail), 1970s, 75 black-and-white photographs, each 3 1/2 x 3 1/2".
8. "Zuruck zum Baton" (Back to concrete). Installation view.
9. Mel Bochner, Opaque #4, 1968, color photograph, 1.6 x 20".
10. Rosemarie Trockel, Manus Spleen II, 2002, still from a black-and-white video projection, 10 minutes 30 seconds.
Cologne-based cultural Critic Tom Holert recently coauthored Entsichert: Krieg als Massenkultur im 21. Jahrhundert (Triggered: War as mass culture in the twenty-first century) (Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2002).
(1) Barnett Newman (Philadelphia Museum of Art) The best. Fantastic paintings rarely seen together, exquisitely hung by Ann Temkin. Reading Newman's writing, seeing the works in reproduction, his project seems like a great idea. In person, the paintings are much more than that. Working within a narrow set of possibilities (vertical lines and horizontal grounds), the artist somehow evades formula. His color combinations are eccentric, although beautiful, and his compositions never obviously geometric. The unexpectedness of one painting after another kept this spectator on her toes. As actions, the zips say "Kilroy was here"; as images, they become signposts, shouting at the passing spectator "You are here! Now!"
(2) Gerhard Richter (Museum of Modern Art, New York) The show was good, the artist is great. Some critics have voiced suspicion about "overproduction" of the late paintings, but they were among the best in show. Seeing them together with Richter's early representational works and the more conceptual paintings from the 1970s, it's no wonder we can't agree on what they-he--means. The artist's depth is revealed in the very variety of arguments that have been and should continue to be made on his behalf.
(3) David Reed (Max Protetch, New York) More graphically strong yet physically intricate paintings: A clear image emerges from each, despite the complexity of their manufacture. Horizontal bands of color underlie more translucent allover layers, subtly shifting value and hue in a way that infuses these very flat paintings with light. The artist uses flowing strokes of the brush or knife to animate his surfaces, and the forms seem to roll from side to side. Newman, Richter, and Reed find common cause: making the single frozen image matter in a world that never stops moving.
(4) Pierre Bourdieu (died January 23) Of all the recently fashionable French intellectuals, here was the least lionized and most useful. The Field of Cultural Production (Columbia University Press, 1993) is one of the sharpest tracts written about art in the past fifty years, surveying the scene with a sociological eye, explaining the way culture and class work without relying on tired formulations of market-driven vulgarians versus virtuous avant-garde. Most of all, Bourdieu insists that intellectuals and artists uncover their own social positions, instead of finger wagging (or finger flipping) the bourgeoisie. A brilliant, deeply human writer on subjects ranging from Algeria to the university to the art world, he will be missed.
(5) Gego (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) Severe, relentlessly spare, the sculptures--wire grids that bend and swell unpredictably--have an integrity both anonymous and intimate. Like the excellent Hesse exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, "Questioning the Line: Gego, A Selection, 1955--90" shows that while Eccentric Abstraction may be a cliche for the woman artist, it's a cliche with legs.
(6) Tom Otterness (Marlborough Gallery, New York) Otterness's "Free Money" show was funny and direct in its take on the subject. His little round men and women (done in bronze and dense rather than inflated) danced on fat money bags, searched for their last pennies, and tried to push landlords off buildings. Pick up a copy of the artist's coloring book Free Money and Other Fairy Tales and get the kids started early.
(7) Rock My Recession With the end of the bull market and the wobbling of luxury fashion, welcome the return of rock. As mass-media magazines wave the Strokes and Stripes, art waxes nostalgic for punk and hardcore, from Manchester to Manhattan, from Matthew Higgs to Matthew Barney. When culture producers stop the disco party and start touting the realness of rock, it's a sure sign torn jeans and tough economic times are ahead. If the end of the lush life has had real effects, like the sad demise of the New Art Examiner, at least there is an end in sight to the pledge of a DJ at every opening.
(8) T.J. Wilcox (Metro Pictures, New York) Wilcox extends his study of eccentric individuals to fans at midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show from Ohio to Paris. It was fascinating to watch the myriad Frankfurters and Janets dance delicately between the patented unconventionality of the movie characters they imitated and the rigid adherence to convention required by their imitative art form. Wilcox's video outdid much other work that trades on the built-in interest of subcultures (surfing, communes, Nazis), finding a parallel between its subject and aspects of art itself: audience, performance, identification, imitation, alienation, and participation.
(9) WIP Walk-in Painting, not a real estate abbreviation. Practitioners of widely varying excellence but almost equal interest range from Michel Majerus (Friedrich Petzel, New York) to Joan Mitchell (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York). Best seen in the fresh third room of the Jo Baer show at Dia Center for the Arts, New York, in which the paintings were installed at varying heights and the painted sides of the canvases played on perspective and shadows. Fifty years after Greenberg, somewhere between the easel and the mural is still a good place to be.
(10) David Rees, Get Your War On (www.mnftiu.cc) From the Apollonian to the absurd. This strip offers the best political commentary in the flood of post--9/II blather. Chockfull of visceral rage, these clip-art office workers capture the tension between the buttoned-down bonhomie and repression of daily life and the insane danger and degradation of the larger political world.
1. Barnett Newman, Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue II, 1967, acrylic on canvas, 10' x 8' 6".
2. Gerhard Richter, Januar (January), 1989, oil on canvas, 10' 6" x 13' 1 1/2".
3. David Reed, #484, 2001-2002, oil and alkyd on linen, 3' 4" x 14'.
4. Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production (Columbia University Press, 1993).
5. Gego, Vibracion en negro (Vibration in black), 1957, painted aluminum, 29 1/2 x 23 9/15 x 17".
6. Tom Otterness, Last Penny, 1999, bronze, 27 1/2 x 27 1/2 x 18". Photo: D. James Dee.
7. The Strokes.
8. T.J. Wilcox, Midnite Movie, 2001, stills from a color video, 12 minutes 49 seconds.
9. "Jo Baer: The Minimalist Years, 1960-1975." Installation view, Dia Center for the Arts, New York, 2002.
10. David Rees, panels from Get Your War On, September 27, 2002.
Katy Siegel, a contributing editor of Artforum, teaches contemporary art history and criticism at Hunter College, CUNY.
(1) Paul Sietsema (Regen Projects, Los Angeles) Despite what you may have heard, Sietsema's second film, Empire, is not about Clement Greenberg's apartment nor about the princess's salon in the Hotel de Soubise, but about the relation between the representation of space in painting and sculpture and kinds of flatness. Given the bloated nature of much film proposed as art these days, how inspiring that Sietsema's handmade, silent baroque is just twenty-four minutes long. Its unerring if indefinable tone--austere, although not without dry wit--mesmerizes.
(2) Michele O'Marah (Goldman Tevis, Los Angeles) Appropriating Martha Coolidge's funny but shrewd girl-positive essay on LA teens in the '80s allows O'Marah to relish Day-Glo hues, "Material Girl" asymmetry in haircuts and fashions, and the tubular syncopations of Valley speech. Not slacker, not camp, O'Marah's Valley Girl proves being brainy doesn't preclude having lots of fun.
(3) In Praise of Love Jean-Luc Godard's entire career could be seen as an interrogation of the difference between Hollywood movies and other kinds, how each uses the other. Given new levels of disdain for "difficulty"--Jonathan Franzen's nonreading of William Gaddis in the New Yorker was only one of the year's more depressing examples--it's thrilling to have Godard's difficult, vibrant, and haunting meditation on, among other things, the psychic and bodily consequences of Resistance (all kinds), in the form of an elegiac valentine to Paris and filmmaking.
(4) Tracy Morgan In an SNL skit about the post-9/11 Emmys, Morgan appeared as Della Reese in a lovely ensemble made of garbage bags and black electrical tape, sending up celebrity, media, and the new sobriety. As Brian Fellow, host of Safari Planet, Morgan is able to negotiate the zany mental wanderings of a not exactly bright but enthusiastic intelligence. Among his giddily Andy Kaufman-like cerebrations, Morgan has proposed that he be cast as the first black James Bond. He should be. In One Mic, his super, televised stand-up gig, he discussed many things I'd love to see new Bond girl Halle Berry deal with.
(5) Joan Mitchell (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) The trajectory of her long, expatriate career, most of it spent exploring matters out of favor (relations of abstraction to nature; expressionism), moves me as much as, perhaps even more than, Jackson Pollock's short one. Her best paintings produce a rush approaching OD. If color were cocaine, she'd outmuscle the Cali cartel.
(6) Fastlane (Fox) For proof that an hour of television needn't be burdened with plot or character development (or perhaps even a script) to channel the ontology of the medium, as a friend put it (first apologizing for the highfalutin terms), there's Fastlane. Intense LA color, mall fashions styled with hip-hop flair. In the first minutes of the McG-directed(!) premiere episode, a blonde reaches across a racecar driver as they speed around a track, to see if he's wired (a cop). Sliding her hand down the back of his jeans, she asks, "You wax?" Van (Peter Facinelli) replies, "Yeah, but don't tell the other guys." Cut to this flashback: Facinelli taking the position (bent over, pants down, butt showing) as his partner asks him to spread his cheeks--so that he can hide the wire better. He does and proceeds to fart in his partner's face. Delightful, ontologically delightful.
(7) Vincent Fecteau (Berkeley Art Museum) and Rachel Harrison (Milwaukee Art Museum) Twin moments of brightness in a dismal Whitney Biennial, Fecteau and Harrison also shone this year in their first solo museum outings; seemingly having little in common, the two artists extend the sculptural in daring, witty, and winsomely unexpected ways. Fecteau presented thirteen compact sculptures made over the past two years, including an impossible corner of girders held up by twigs, and a white domed affair, perhaps inspired as much by a baked Alaska as by some ideation of butt cheeks. ridged with rope and punctuated by two seashells, half a walnut shell painted seashell white, and rank splatterings of what could be seen as urine. Through craft notions and quickly shifting scale, he effects profundity with the barest of means and a palette (tans, dusty grays, midnight black) that would make Morandi--and probably Kristen Bjorn--smile. Harrison's trademark sculptures--like Unplugged, 2000, a boxy construction of slightly gaping wooden slats, useless electrical outlets, and a hijacked still of Michael Jackson blessing a rabbi--look as if she were hybridizing sculpture and photography; she's not. Both artists fuck with recent art history and theory ("theatricality"; Serra-esque monumentality; Minimalism) to consider, post-postmedium, what "sculpture" can be now--smarts, pleasure, and belief throttling rationalization.
(8) Sturtevant (Daniel Blau, Munich) A killer show of some of her earliest works on paper--from 1965 to 1969--deploying the physics of Lichrenstein and Johns, among others, to catalyze mental restructuring. Until there's some reckoning with her vital work, an accurate history of contemporary art will remain unwritten. Repeat after me.
(9) Anne Carson, If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho (Knopf) Study the space she demands be given to Sappho's every fragment--it's beyond Mallarmean the blank beauty of the pages. I love that Carson has the clout to persuade Knopf to print ancient Greek en face--in a mainstream book! There is no one thinking more acutely about the forms and genres in which voice is given presence. The intro's great, the notes a revelatory, intellectual romp, and the translation--well, Carson can do no wrong. My new favorite poem is no. 179: "makeup bag."
(10) Marcelino Goncalves (cherrydelosreyes, Los Angeles) A subtle debut. Goncalves considers the possibility of narrativity in paint, his Quietudes inspired by but not really about the brief utopias staged in fashion photography, how they differ from those painted (cf. Fragonard, Hockney), where sexuality isn't used as a theme but as an effect of light.
1. Paul Sietsema, Empire, 2002. still from a color and black-and-white film in 35mm, 24 minutes.
2. Michele O'Marah, Valley Girl, 2002, still from a color video, 116 minutes.
3. Jean-Luc Godard, In Praise of Love, 2002, still from a color film in 35mm, 98 minutes. Edgar (Bruno Putzulu).
4. Tracy Morgan as Brian Fellow, host of Safari Planet, from the NBC series Saturday Night Live, 2002.
5. Joan Mitchell, L'Arbre de Phyllis, 1991, oil on canvas, 110 1/4 78 3/4".
6. still from the Fox series Fastlane, 2002. Deaqon Hayes (Bill Bellamy) and Van Ray (Peter Facinelli).
7. Left: Vincent Fecteau, untitled, 2002, papier-mache, acrylic, shells, and rope, 9 x 16 x 16 1/2". Right: Rachel Harrison, Reno, 1999, cement, Parex, wood, and color photograph, 50 x 19 x 22".
8. Sturtevant, Johns 0 through 9, 1965, encaustic on newsprint, 5 x 12 1/2".
9. Anne Carson, If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho (Knopf, 2002).
10. Marcelino Goncalves, Receiver, 2002, oil on panel, 12 x 12".
An Artforum contributing editor, Bruce Hainley teaches in the graduate line arts program at Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles. Sex, his collaboration with John Waters, will be published by Thames & Hudson in 2003.
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|Date:||Dec 1, 2002|
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