Printer Friendly

Previews: three times a year Artforum looks ahead to the coming season. The following survey previews fifty shows opening around the world between May and August.

Katharina Fritsch


June 3-August 30

Curated by Bice Curiger

IMAGINE SOL LEWITT OR DONALD JUDD in love with old fairy tales, haunted not only by the formal archetypes of geometry but also by the iconography of piety, commerce, and everyday life in their most generic aspects. The resulting combination--as improbable, or as beautiful, as the encounter, so dear to Lautreamont, of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissection table--might have resembled the work of Katharina Fritsch (born in 1956 in Essen, Germany). Driven by a search for maximum visual impact, and fabricated with an obsessive perfectionism, her various productions--small or large, two- or three-dimensional--must surely count among the most memorable of the past three decades, over the course of which they have been launched into the world in measured doses.



"Many of my sculptures first exist as an immaterial picture that suddenly emerges in my mind's eye. It's like a vision, a picture that just appears. I think in pictures," Fritsch declared in a 2001 interview with curator Susanne Bieber. The artist's mimetic objects correspond to this conception (Platonic, some would say) of the image as a virtual and sudden totality. "Whoever finds herself confronted with Rattenkonig (Rat-King), 1991-93, which may be Fritsch's masterpiece--or, to take two examples of works included in this exhibition, Elefant, 1987, a green, life-size model of an elephant, or Tischgesellsehaft (Company at Table), 1988, thirty-two anonymous-looking male figures seated at a long table in a scene that always reminds me of the men hiding in the forest in the Grimm fairy tale "The Twelve Brothers"--can attest to the durable impression Fritsch's apparitions make on their spectators. One might describe her endeavor as the pursuit of "simple forms," to borrow the title of a 1930 study (Einfache Formen) by historian of art and literature Andre Jolles, who deploys the phrase in his analysis of discursive formations such as legends, proverbs, riddles, jokes, and--indeed--fairy tales. Fritsch offers a highly elaborate visual equivalent of these linguistic or literary forms, which in her work are ceaselessly reinvented, transformed, retransmitted.

A further aspect of her oeuvre is perhaps most evident in Museum, Modell 1:10 (Museum, 1:10 Model), 1995, presented in the German pavilion of that year's Venice Biennale. In making this gigantic model of an octagonal building in the middle of a clearing in a forest of plastic trees, Fritsch was inspired by both Vierzehnheiligen, Balthasar Neumann's famous Baroque church near Bamberg, Germany, and Walter De Maria's Lightning Field. If the full-scale construction of the project is lamentably still pending, the model nevertheless constitutes, as an emblem of a solitary Utopia, one of the most successful and enigmatic manifestations of the idea of sculpture as place.

With some eighty works, including twenty new pieces, this retrospective offers an exceptional chance to take stock of Fritsch's crucial contribution to contemporary art. The show includes several of the artist's series of screenprinted enlargements of postcards, through which she has since 2001 been investigating the banality of the socially shared souvenir. In her reproductions of tourist attractions and commonplace scenes, such souvenirs emerge as empty receptacles that each of us invests with meaning corresponding to the measure of personal history they call up. Here again, the quest for a degree zero of the image that would liberate the capacity for imaginative projection in all of us--a paradoxical, even impossible kind of stereotype, one characterized by absolute singularity-marks Fritsch's artistic path.

--Jean-Pierre Criqui

Translated from French by Jeanine Herman.

Travels to the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Nov. 5, 2009-Feb. 7, 2010.


James Ensor


June 28-September 21

Curated by Anna Swinbourne

James Ensor (1860-1949), the Belgian Symbolist and proto-Expressionist, is a perennial favorite among people with the right taste. One of the very tippy-top paintings in any American collection is his--Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889, 1888, at the Getty. Sadly, that work will not travel here, although the show does feature the Museum of Modern Art's no less iconic Masks Mocking Death, made the same year. Skeletons, masks, and puppets are mainstays of Ensorworld iconography, and yet for all his trafficking in lurid mayhem and morbidity, Ensor nevertheless suspires an air of transcendence. So we can thank moma for mounting this large-scale, thematically organized exhibition of approximately ninety paintings, drawings, and prints and for publishing a hefty, scholarly catalogue. At last, the heart sings, something worth looking at! Travels to the Musee d'Orsay, Paris, Oct, 2009-Feb. 2010.--David Rimanelli


Aernout Mik


May 6-July 27

Curated by Laurence Kardish

"I am intrigued by the figure of the extra," Dutch artist Aernout Mik has said apropos of the anonymous figures in his films--who, like extras, seem content simply to be on the screen, without being the center of attention, as they move through his ominous and dreamlike scenarios that dramatize contemporary forms of power and control. This retrospective features eight of Mik's pieces, ranging from his earliest film, Fluff, 1996, to Schoolyard, 2009, a two-screen video installation commissioned for the occasion. Mik's enigmatic images of collective bodies in cinematic movement will be shown throughout the museum in both gallery and nongallery spaces, prompting visitors to negotiate the complex forms of continuity between the activity on-screen and that in the places where his work is shown.--Ina Blom

Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward


May 15-August 23

Curated by Philip Allsopp, Thomas Krens, David van der Leer, Oskar Munoz, Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, and Margo Stipe

Freshly scrubbed after a three-year restoration, Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum celebrates its golden anniversary with an exhibition devoted to the architect's pioneering conception of space. Wright understood the exterior forms of his buildings as direct expressions of their interiors, a once-revolutionary idea that lost currency as cutting-edge architects increasingly approached their buildings as decorated sheds, abstract compositions, or the sheer articulation of structural concepts and programmatic needs. This exhibition promises a timely counterpoint, presenting more than two hundred original drawings, photographs, video animations, and historical and newly commissioned models relating to sixty-four projects spanning Wright's vast and protean production. Travels to the Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, Oct. 6, 2009-Feb. 2010.--Scott Rothkopf

Claes Oldenburg/Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen


May 7-August 30

Curated by Carter Foster, Chrissie lles, and Dana Miller

The hard gone soft, the raw cooked: This is the Claes Oldenburg we know and love, the Oldenburg of Soft Toilet, 1966, and Giant BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich), 1963--shiny and tasty American wares fallen victim to gravity and deflation. But beginning in 1976, the artist's collaborations with the late Coosje van Bruggen seemed to reverse course, stiffening into polished monumentality. While the Guggenheim and the National Gallery's shared 1995 Oldenburg retrospective struggled to tie together these bodies of work, this survey leaves things largely bifurcated. Its first half, which includes rarely seen films, focuses on Oldenburg's protean investigations of production, from The Store to soft sculptures to mid-'60s Happenings. Its second features his and van Bruggen's little-known group of Brobdingnagian musical instruments, quite another take on collaboration and performance.--Michelle Kuo


Emory Douglas: Black Panther


July l5-October l8

Curated by Sam Durant

Emory Douglas, former minister of culture for the Black Panthers, made illustrations for the party's posters and insurgent newsletter covers from the mid-1960s through the '70s. While invoking Daumier, Heartfield, and Cuban poster art, the militant imagery commingles Kalashnikov rifles and African assegai with depictions of party members distributing free breakfasts to children and escorting the elderly through crime-ridden streets. This exhibition includes some 150 works, reconceptualizing a show from 2007 that Sam Durant curated for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Whether the presentations herald a new wave of radical chic or a recognition that some larger cultural crisis is dawning, what could be more timely than an exhibition about a self-proclaimed revolutionary who once called on artists to "take up their paints and brushes in one hand and their gun in the other"?--Gregory Sholette


University of Trash


May 10-August 3

Curated by Mary Ceruti and Sarina Basta

This May, artists Michael Cataldi and Nils Norman will use recycled and scavenged materials to transform SculptureCenter into a network of pavilions hosting workshops, talks, and him screenings, and a platform for investigating urbanism, alternative design, and the possibilities for pedagogy and activism inherent therein. The project owes much to the countercultural movements of the 1960s (the search for low-cost, environmentally sound "appropriate technology" for developing nations, for example), but its roots go deeper: to the "adventure playgrounds" of the '40s, where children were invited to create structures for play from discarded construction scraps. A module made in collaboration with students from the alternative high school City-as-School will provide a site-specific anchor, engaging urban design issues relevant to SculptureCenter's Queens neighborhood--homework for the summer, indeed.--Suzanne Hudson

Silent Pictures


August 14-October 11 Curated by Linda Norden

Thankfully overcoming the curatorial urges to which comics have lately been subjected--the high-low quibble and the drive to canonize--"Silent Pictures" instead undertakes an oblique investigation of the medium's essential qualities, examining formal structure and syntax through wordless and nonnarrative sequences. The show combines selections from Art Spiegelman's collection of rare early-twentieth-century wordless comics with materials gathered in the course of cartoonist Andrei Molotiu's research into contemporary abstract comics. The latter group includes work by an international array of artists (most not well known), including John Hankiewicz, Benoit Joly, Victor Moscoso, Jason Overby, Gary Panter, Ibn al Rabin, and Lewis Trondheim. With these pictures, what need for a thousand words?--Nicole Rudick


Antoni Tapies: The Resources of Rhetoric


May 17-October 19

Curated by Lynne Cooke and Manuel J. Borja-Villel

The 1960s gave birth to many of today's well-worn narratives--from painting's obsolescence, to the dissolution of medium specificity, to modernism's capitulation to pluralism--but Dia:Beacon is poised to interrogate the orthodoxy with a selection of mostly large-scale tableaux by Antoni Tapies, the Catalan master of the heavily worked surface. His mixed-media works prove that painterly abstraction was hardly finished and challenge the discourse around painting and opticality by emphasizing the materiality of the support with a distinctive blend of marble dust and plaster. Focusing on pieces from the '50s and '60s, this grouping maps the artist's analytic and referential terrain. When viewed in the same galleries as Donald Judd's works, the show should remind us that midcentury painting was also capable of attaining a kind of objecthood--one both literal and figural.--Colin Lang


Rachel Harrison


June 27-December 30

Curated by Tom Eccles

Brash, dispersed, hyperassociative yet precise, New York-based artist Rachel Harrison's work exacts virtuosity from cultural excess with wit and elegance to spare; one can see why her first major survey's title, "Consider the Lobster," comes from an essay by the late David Foster Wallace. Six reconfigured installations and a selection of sculptures and photographs made since 1995 compose the bulk of the show, which is accompanied by a catalogue with essays by curator Tom Eccles, Jack Bankowsky, Iwona Blazwick, and David Joselit. The second part of the exhibition (in the Hessel, and not traveling) takes a different tack, with Eccles and Harrison collaborating with six artists--Nayland Blake, Tom Burr, Harry Dodge, Alix Lambert, Allen Ruppersberg, and Andrea Zittel--in curating works from the Marieluise Hessel Collection. Travels to the Whitechapel Gallery, London, Apr. 27-Dec. 20, 2010.--Fionn Meade



Guy Ben-Ner


May 23, 2009-March 31, 2010

Curated by Susan Cross

Whether clandestinely setting up house with his wife and kids in functioning IKEA showrooms, performing a slapstick version of Moby-Dick with his daughter in a suburban kitchen, or having his son pretend to be a feral child encountering civilization for the first time (to cite three of the eight videos in Mass MOCA'S exhibition, which also includes drawings and costumes), Israeli-born artist Guy Ben-Ner clearly knows how to have fun. Indeed, the artist's overt sociopolitical critiques--the detournement of IKEA's lifestyle propaganda, the parody of white goods fetishization, and the critical take on education, say in the examples above--risk seeming pat or contrived in relation to the politics of advocating good times with the family. Nevertheless, it is tempting to set cavils aside in the face of Ben-Ner's vaudevillian chirpiness--especially, perhaps, with a newly commissioned video that features the artist and Mass MOCA'S director in a "Beckett-like'" scenario.--Alexander Scrimgeour


Jaromir Funke and the Amateur Avant-Garde


May 3-August 9

Curated by Matthew S. Witkovsky

A leading member of the Czech avantgrade in the 1920s and '30s, cofounder of the Czech Photographic Society, and an influential teacher, Jaromir Funke (1896-1945) produced abstract still lifes and images of modern and classical architecture whose provocative play of shadows and forms invites comparisons to the work of Atget, Man Ray, Morandi, and Sheeler. Rather than highlighting these affinities, however, the first extensive show of Funke's photographs outside Europe displays his lyric imagery alongside that of twenty-two of his compatriots, including Josef Sudek and Eugen Wiskovsky. Some seventy works will contextualize this lesser known movement of self-taught photographers within the interwar explosion of avant-garde art.--Nicole Rudick




May 21-September 13

Curated by Ruba Katrib

The 2007 "Grand Tour"--a high-octane trek through mega-exhibitions and fairs in Venice, Basel, Kassel, and Munster--was but one peak in the bubble-financed art world's far-flung, seemingly nonstop, ever grander parade. "Convention," presented in another city that became a principal stopover for the itinerant hordes, seeks to take stock of recent years' fairs, biennials, and related phenomena. Local artists (Jim Drain, Gean Moreno, Bert Rodriguez) and their international counterparts (Julieta Aranda, Superflex) will reflexively engage what critic Peter Schjeldahl has termed "festivalism" through, among other strategies, performances, site-specific installations, and collaborations with the Miami community. To jaded ears, such a survey sounds, well, conventional--and, in newly straitened circumstances, possibly anachronistic. But the show nonetheless offers a welcome opportunity for artists and museum alike to reflect on what it means to operate (or to have operated) in such an environment.--Brian Sholis
COPYRIGHT 2009 Artforum International Magazine, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Criqui, Jean-Pierre
Publication:Artforum International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2009
Previous Article:Photography.
Next Article:Outer spaces: Jeffrey Kastner on Bruce Nauman at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters