No Dogs Allowed: How William Wegman Broke the Rules of Conceptual Art

No Dogs Allowed: How William Wegman Broke the Rules of Conceptual Art

The mid-century East Coast variety of Conceptual art was all about rules—dictums defined the idea, like lines in a drawing. Artists like Sol LeWitt established procedures through which a work of art could be reproduced by anyone with the instructions to make it. Others, like Adrian Piper, posited rules to a viewer who, by following along, participated in an artistic act. This notion that an idea could be defined as a work of art was seen as radically democratic and anti-authorial. It was hailed as a “dematerialization of the art object” by critics like Lucy Lippard and John Chandler, and a challenge to the prevailing mythology of the artist's hand. But for all this air of iconoclasm, it took a real jokester to truly turn these paradigms around, to show how opaque and forbidding orders could actually reinforce stoic notions about art. Or so might argue Doug Eklund, curator of Before/On/After: William Wegman and California Conceptualism.

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American Artists Abroad: Stephanie Herdrich on Italy’s Influence on American Art

American Artists Abroad: Stephanie Herdrich on Italy’s Influence on American Art

The great pleasure of American Painters in Italy: From Copley to Sargent is that it reveals history to be both transferable and transmutable. The exhibition of paintings and works on paper takes as its subject the landscape, culture, and history of an old European country, as seen through the eyes of foreigners who sought to imbue the art of their own young and idealistic nation with culture and legacy.

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Critiques of Power and Toxic Masculinity—Kelly Baum on ‘Leon Golub: Raw Nerve’

Critiques of Power and Toxic Masculinity—Kelly Baum on ‘Leon Golub: Raw Nerve’

Those who knew Leon Golub will tell you that he was one of the most caring artists you could meet, a personality seemingly at odds with his paintings—merciless, unflinching expressions of what he called “the nightmare of history”—a nightmare that “has no beginning and no end.” Leon Golub: Raw Nerve is the first museum retrospective of the painter in this country since a 2001 exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. It wastes no time catching us up to the artist’s work. On the morning that I interviewed Kelly Baum, who organized this survey, I arrived at the galleries shortly before she did. While I waited, I took a seat near Golub’s final paintings, a vantage from which I could see, as the elevator doors opened, shock wrench the groggy faces of early-morning visitors.

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Seeing the Northern Renaissance through Contemporary Eyes

Seeing the Northern Renaissance through Contemporary Eyes

Located between The Met’s hall of medieval sculpture evoking a majestic cathedral and the open atrium of early modern art is a bridge between two worlds. Relative Values: The Cost of Art in the Northern Renaissance is a pithy exhibition of sixty-three works dating from the sixteenth century and displayed on stark metal screens like those used in modern cold storage facilities, in vividly colored cases, and accompanied with labels that denote the objects’ values on the sixteenth-century market. Visually, the exhibition marks a departure from other Renaissance exhibitions curated by the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, which often evoke a sense of place by dressing the galleries in sixteenth-century decor. In a sense, the intention here is reversed: rather than send viewers back in time, the objects are brought forward to today.

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Jimmy Robert on ‘Imitation of Lives’

Jimmy Robert on ‘Imitation of Lives’

Bucharest-based artist Jimmy Robert has a diverse practice, encompassing a variety of media. Often, his works begin where the artist himself began—in photography and video—evolving into sculptures, performances, and more. Robert’s performances comment on or re-interpret iconic works of art—his commission for Performa 17, Imitation of Lives, was performed over a November weekend at Philip Johnson’s modernist masterpiece, Glass House, in New Canaan, Connecticut. Robert and I spoke prior to Performa, when the artist had just returned to Bucharest following a rehearsal in Connecticut. Robert was in the later stages of organizing his intervention, making final decisions about objects to include, references to cut, and choreography to adjust.

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Larry Clark: When Artists Buy Art

Larry Clark: When Artists Buy Art

When photographer and film director Larry Clark published his first photobook in 1971, it wasn’t Tulsa’s frank depiction of drug-use, sexuality, and violence that caused a stir. Photography had long looked at the disaffected. It was the collapse of any objective distance. Clark wasn’t an passive observer, he was one of them. There’s also a way in which Clark’s private art collection, which began sometime in the 1960s, reflects a deeply personal attachment to art and images.

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Artistry Vs. Novelty: Wolf Lieser on Virtual Reality as Art

Artistry Vs. Novelty: Wolf Lieser on Virtual Reality as Art

In the Whitney Museum’s first biennial of its new Chelsea home, one of the most controversial works is one of new media: Jordan Wolfson’s Real Violence (2017) is experienced through virtual reality headsets. Via Oculus Rift, the viewer is forced out of the museum and onto a New York street, where the artist waits with a baseball bat. Before viewers have time to accustom themselves, Wolfson swings, repeatedly wailing the bat and stomping his foot into the face of an animatronic doll—rendered lifelike through post-processing—which spouts too-human blood. Back in the museum, metal handrails help deter viewers from looking away. All of this is overlaid, through headphones, with the recitation of a Hebrew prayer.

(Republished in Czech by 25fps on June 20, 2018)

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Ernst Fischer on the Vision Machine

Ernst Fischer on the Vision Machine

When I met Ernst Fischer in his shared Sunset Park studio, he had just completed a trade of a photograph for two bottles of homemade mead, which he opened upon my arrival. Over the first few glasses, I told him how I came across his work in 2015 at CUE Art Foundation, and he explained how he moved from filmmaking to photography in his mid-twenties by falling into advertising work. After working for years in London and Berlin, where he grew tired of the pressure to print his photographs in series, Fischer came to New York to undermine his own practice.

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