Beer with a Painter: Albert Oehlen

The long-reigning bad boy of German painting has consistently poked and prodded at whatever preciousness we associate with the medium. The long-reigning bad boy of German painting has consistently poked and prodded at whatever preciousness we associate with the medium. Early in his career, fueled by his association with Martin Kippenberger and other Junge Wildeartists, he […]

Censorship, Not the Painting, Must Go: On Dana Schutz’s Image of Emmett Till

Presuming that calls for censorship and destruction constitute a legitimate response to perceived injustice leads us down a very dark path. The presence of blackness in a Whitney Biennial invariably stirs controversy — it’s deemed to be unfit or not enough, or too much. The current Whitney Biennial is no exception — the art press […]

Getty Acquires Concrete Poetry by Two Modern Pioneers of the Form

Works by Scottish poet Ian Hamilton Finlay and Brazilian poet Augusto de Campos have joined the Getty’s collection and will go on view in an exhibition opening next week. Tug, fug, chug, glug — such are the rhyming words used by the writer and artist Ian Hamilton Finlay in “Poem with 3 Stripes,” one of his […]

Moon as Muse: Centuries of Artistic Interpretations of Earth’s Mysterious Satellite

Through around 60 historical and contemporary objects, Lunar Attraction at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem considers the enduring artistic curiosity for the mysteries of the moon. SALEM, Mass. — As demonstrated by the metal cosmic forms on the 3,600-year-old Nebra Sky Disk, unearthed in Germany in 1999, humans have been visually reacting to the moon for an […]

A Luminous Look at Turner’s Port Paintings

An exhibition at the Frick Collection unites for the first time three of J.M.W. Turner’s 1820s port paintings, created in an age of newly open borders in Europe. As Ian Wardropper, director of the Frick Collection in Manhattan, remarked at the preview for the new exhibition Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time, J.M.W. Turner created […]

From Seminal Fluid to Sassy Scribbles: The “Non-Art” Works of Marcel Duchamp

Even after digesting this considerable amount of ostensibly transitory disclosure, Duchamp remains an unadulterated, irreverent enigma. While his readymades are a triumph of pure indifference over taste, admirers of Marcel Duchamp continue to be far from indifferent to this cryptic artist. By offering more than homage, Elena Filipovic’s The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp, […]

How the Met’s [1971] Sale of a Max Beckmann Painting Changed US Museums

Beckmann’s “Self-Portrait with Cigarette” belonged to the Metropolitan Museum until 1971, when its deaccession set off a series of disputes that reshaped museum practices. The moment Adolf Hitler’s voice burst over the airwaves one summer night in 1937 declaring steadfast opposition to so-called “degenerate art,” 53-year-old painter Max Beckmann knew his time in his native […]

An Ambitious Survey of the Titans of Abstract Expressionism

BAC:  We saw this exhibition during Frieze week in London, and it is one of the best exhibitions we have ever seen – bar none. This expansive AbEx show is brash, irreverent, and unconstrained, just like the period it aims to express. The titans of Abstract Expressionism are on view now at The Royal Academy of […]

Tino Sehgal Dances Across the Line Between Art and Life

Sehgal’s latest work will likely go down as one of the 21st century’s most interesting hybrids between contemporary art and dance. I came for one reason and one reason only: to see if Sehgal, 40, recipient of this year’s Hans-Molfenter-Preis, could successfully make the exodus from contemporary art back into ballet. Numerous connections to other […]

Like LeWitt and his meticulous instructions for creating his works, Sandback didn’t so much make things (at least not the things he eventually exhibited) as plan them. His sculptures, when they left the studio, consisted of configurations, measurements, and ratios, along with specifications for the type and color of the yarn or elastic that would […]

Etel Adnan’s Vibrant, Visual Poems

“Colorists are epic poets,” said Charles Baudelaire, and here at the Serpentine Gallery we have both: a painter of abstract landscapes and a poet, not to mention activist, scribe, and filmmaker. Described as a polymath by Hans Ulrich Obrist inthe exhibition’s catalogue, Etel Adnan certainly seems to be a woman of many talents. Born in […]

The Chilling, Anxious World of Mona Hatoum

Tate Modern’s retrospective of Mona Hatoum spans the artist’s 35-year career, and she has made a lot of art. Hatoum’s works mine geopolitics, gender, art history, and her own past to reveal a world that is frightening and complex. Hatoum’s practice is layered and asks for contemplation. By abstracting the everyday, objects are made distressing, […]

Lapis Lazuli: A Blue More Precious than Gold

The first blue pigment to hold its color was often prized over gold. The semi-precious stone lapis lazuli was ground into an iridescent pigment, sometimes called ultramarine, that seemed to shine when applied to the canvas. The first known use of it as a pigment goes back to 6th and 7th century BCE wall paintings in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, the country where […]

The Politics of Seeing, Being, and Visibility in Photography

Aperture Magazine‘s first issue dedicated to African American lives as represented by the medium of photography, “Vision & Justice,” was published last month. It doesn’t seem right to call this issue a magazine. It is a powerhouse book; it does so much heavy lifting. The artists involved include Dawoud Bey, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, […]

In Tate Modern’s New Wing, a Broader, More Global View of Art

LONDON — The day began in the Turbine Hall, the 85-foot-tall atrium at the heart of Tate Modern, the most visited museum of modern and contemporary art in the world. If the museum functions like a medieval cathedral — as the Lord Browne of Madingley, chairman of Tate’s Board of Trustees, suggested in a packet […]

Why Museums Are Granting Google Free Access to Their Collections

Google Cultural Institute recently revealed that it has engineered the creatively named Google Art Camera: a custom-built camera intended to capture “ultra-high resolution ‘gigapixel’ images” of artworks in museums around the world. It also sharedabout 1,000 of these photographs online that allow anyone with internet access to zoom in closely to examine the originals — or rather, representations of the originals — […]

Lessons in Gigantism: Richard Serra Makes It Work

There’s never a shortage of mega-art in Chelsea: a stroll one morning this week encountered such gallery-filling works as Jordan Wolfson’s deranged, chain-operated marionette (“Colored sculpture,” 2016) at David Zwirner and Anish Kapoor’s mammoth, packed-earth “She Wolf” (2016) at Gladstone. And then there’s Richard Serra, whose double-gallery blowout at Gagosian is Exhibit A for material-intensity-meets-overwhelming-scale. […]

Marcel Broodthaers’s Fraught Relationship with Words

Do words limit our experience of a given artwork? Gustave Flaubert believed that, “Explaining one artistic form by means of another is a monstrosity.” Art critic John Bergerwrote: “When words are applied to visual art, both lose precision.” And what if the words are in the art? Expressed by the artist herself? From Cubism to […]

Crunching the Numbers Behind the Boom in Private Art Museums

What kind of person opens a private contemporary art museum? According to a new reportby the art collector database Larry’s List and the Chinese art market site Artron, he’s probably in his 60s or his 70s; he’s probably from South Korea, the US, or Germany; he probably founded his museum in the last 15 years; and he’s most […]

Alec Soth’s Case Studies of America

“Our vision of America is so shaped by television and movies. All we see are Hollywood starlets and New York cops. We sometimes forget that there are whole other lives being lived in the middle of America. And some of these lives are really inspiring.” —Alec Soth, as told to SeeSaw Magazine in 2004