Louise Lawler’s Beguiling Institutional Critique

I remember when photographs by Louise Lawler, currently the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, first hurt my feelings, some thirty years ago. They pictured paintings by Miró, Pollock, Johns, and Warhol as they appeared in museums, galleries, auction houses, storage spaces, and collectors’ homes. A Miró co-starred with its own reflection in […]

Philippe Parreno – Person of Interest

Close-shaven and bald, Parreno wears woven bracelets on his right wrist and has the words “do so” tattooed on his left, a reference to the hypnotherapist Milton Erickson’s theories of self-empowerment. He is shy and serious, with an ironic sense of humor so subtle it is easy to miss, and he follows many of his […]

The Met and the Now

America’s preëminent museum finally embraces contemporary art. Gertrude Stein’s famous remark that “you can be a museum or you can be modern, but you can’t be both” sounds archaic today. Every self-respecting urban center has its museum of modern art, and climate-change-denying business leaders will spend lavishly to get their name on its walls. The […]

A Fearful Frenzy: The Art Market Now

Life has been happier for many of us in the art world since we stopped caring about runaway commerce in art, which has seemed—but only seemed—to reduce all measures of aesthetic value to raw price. Sure, the billion-plus dollars shaken loose, since May, at three New York and London auctions of modern and contemporary works—with […]

The Danger Artist

Our final (so far) column on Chris Burden, by Peter Schjeldahl – you should read it. Burden adventured alone in wilds that aren’t outside civilized life but that seethe within it. He coolly structured convulsive experience.  His mastery of form made him a poet, as in a piece that I knew from hearsay and wrote […]

Take Your Time – New painting at the Museum of Modern Art.

Don’t attend the show seeking easy joys. Few are on offer in the work of the thirteen Americans, three Germans, and one Colombian—nine women and eight men—and those to be found come freighted with rankling self-consciousness or, here and there, a nonchalance that verges on contempt. The ruling insight that Hoptman proposes and the artists […]

Critical Reduction: Jeff Koons at the Whitney

Can money buy critical immunity? It certainly seems so, judging by critics’ response to the Whitney Museum’s retrospective devoted to the most expensive living artist,Jeff Koons. In this week’s edition of Critical Reduction, we boil down eight critics’ takes on the shiny extravaganza, which, befitting of such a divisive artist, tend to be either vividly enthusiastic or vehemently dismissive. […]