The Daily Pic: Becca Albee imagines a world of flowery front pages.
Some nice wishful thinking – or maybe magical thinking – from the artist Becca Albee, in the group show called "Burying the Lede" at Momenta Art, the non-profit in Brooklyn. The exhibition looks at artists who use the printed newspaper as subject or art supply – so it's no wonder an old print-hound like me would like it. Albee's contribution is simple: She scans war stories from the New York Times front page and inserts amateur flower photos where the blood and guts used to be, as though giving a glimpse of a better, and possible, future.
The Japan Society unveils meditative new works by Nineties Japanese Pop Art icon Mariko Mori. Justin Jones reports.
Museums are often a way to reclaim calm moments of meditation; to recharge and emerge renewed. This week, the Japan Society unveils a new exhibition, Mariko Mori’s Rebirth, which offers exactly that.
The show marks the first time the Japan Society has dedicated its entire space to a single artist. Completely transforming the gallery to reflect Mori’s vision, Rebirth takes the viewer on a meditative journey through the cycle of life, focusing on humankind’s balance and harmony with nature.
The exhibition is divided into three sections: origin, rupture, and rebirth. Upon entering Origin’s small, darkened exhibition space, the prehistoric Kaen-doki “flame vase” to the left marks one of the most important sources of inspiration for Mori according to Dr. Miwako Tezuka, curator of the show.
In 2003, Mori began researching ancient sites of the Jōmon culture – a prehistoric Japanese civilization that lived very closely to nature. The Jōmon used stone formations to create shrines, temples, ceremonial stages, and even grave markers, which represented both life and death. In her show, Mori simulates the Jōmon ancient stone formations, as a way connecting to their sense of balance and harmony.
A nude sculpture of the pop-icon, designed by the artist, appears on the cover of ARTPOP and billboards across the world.
Lady Gaga, performance artist and pop-icon, was being literal with her lyric “One second I’m a Koons, then suddenly the Koons is me” from her song “Applause.” She announced the cover for her upcoming ARTPOP album early Monday via Twitter and—surprise, surprise—it’s a Koons. Unveiled on billboards across the world, the cover is a sculpture by Jeff Koons. It shows Gaga clutching her breasts and a strategically based blue ball—an object that Koons has used for many of his works—between her legs. The cover will also be exhibited at the artRAVE ARTPOP’s release party along with the sculpture and appearances by artists Robert Wilson and Marina Abromović and the directors of the Applause music video.
The street artist caught fans by surprise this weekend with two non-graffiti works—a mobile garden and a satirical video. Justin Jones reports.
The hype is contagious—and everyone is drinking the Kool-aid. This past weekend, I took to the streets to see just how quickly the buzz surrounding the world’s most anonymous street artist had spread.
Just to refresh, the graffiti artist Banksy started a month-long residency in New York City at the beginning of this month. He’s already tagged seven areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn, unleashed a mobile installation, and produced a short video in the past six days. That may seem no different than any other street artist—but, this is Banksy, and anything he touchés could fetch upwards of a million dollars on an auction block.
The Daily Pic: At MoMA, Annette Kelm channels past mediocrity, and excels.
This is a recent photo by Annette Kelm, now on display in the "New Photography 2013" show at the Museum of Modern Art. I've been following Kelm's photos since her appearance in the Venice Biennale, and I remain pleasantly puzzled by them – which as far as I'm concerned stands in their favor. They are clearly not meant to be "good photos", in anything like the standard sense: They look like really crummy commercial photography from the 1970s. (In photography school in 1979, I took a shot that was remarkably similar to this one, complete with badly prepared striped background.) So I guess this is a kind of skilled restaging of an earlier photographic moment, with its virtue and interest lying not so much in the photographic end product itself – which is no better than its crummy prototype – but in Kelm's act of staging, which is virtuosic. (Especially since she's managed to channel a form of incompetence that almost predates her birth, as executed at a lousy photo school in Montreal by someone who luckily left the profession behind.) I like the idea that the excellence of a photograph could be, or maybe always is, as much in the act and moment of making as in the image produced by it.
A few days into the government shutdown, one Bulgarian artist is hoping to create a commentary about democracy—by staging a “bed time” reading of the Constitution. Ann Binlot reports.
Battles over the nation’s budget went unresolved on Thursday, resulting in the third day of the government shutdown. That same day, Bulgarian artist Borjana Ventzislavova was putting the finishing touchés on a performance art piece that reflects on the very documents that serve as the basis for American democracy: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Dakota Fine/Borjana Ventzislavova
It may seem like an unlikely marriage of ideas—the Constitution and performance art—but this weekend, Ventzislavova will debut a piece that seeks to fly in the face of that. She has assembled a makeshift bedroom in a corner of the parking garage at Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Skyline Hotel for 15-Minute Constitutional Bed Stories, a participatory performance piece that will take place for three hours each day of the (e)merge art fair, which takes place this weekend at the hotel.
The artist will invite visitors to participate in the piece by joining her for a 15-minute session in the bedroom, which is furnished with a bed, lamp, recliner and bedside table. Participants are free to move about and recite the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence out loud, state their opinions on them (or even ignore them) while Ventzislavova documents each “performance” by filming it and taking a Polaroid of the happening. Participants will get to keep a Polaroid snapped by the artist. “I really want to let people open up and show their thoughts or feelings—their relationship to those documents and what democracy means,” says Ventzislavova.
In 'Across the Ravaged Land,' Nick Brandt captures the stone remains of wildlife that Africa is losing. Nico Hines talks to the ex-Michael Jackson video director about his haunting new work.
Two thousand years ago, the stricken population of Pompeii was buried alive in the red-hot ash of Mount Vesuvius; the result was a preserved display of human suffering whose intensity has been unrivaled in the intervening centuries.
Strolling along the shoreline of a lake in Tanzania’s desolate Rift Valley, Nick Brandt encountered a modern version of that haunting scene. The British photographer’s otherworldly portraits of those statuesque figures are recorded in Across the Ravaged Land, the climax to a trilogy of books mourning the destruction of wildlife that once dominated the great plains of Africa.
The extraordinary carcasses of these creatures, which were calcified in the world’s most caustic lake, were revealed to the artist purely by chance. He was scouting for locations and the dry season had forced the salty waters of Lake Natron to recede, exposing the remains of dozens of bats and birds. “They are quite extraordinarily well-preserved down to the tip of the tongue of a bat, the minutest hair, each little claw on a swallow,” Brandt told me. “I just wanted to take portraits of these creatures like they were still alive because they were so perfectly preserved. It seemed so logical to me to put them back on branches and take their portrait.”
The Daily Pic: Emily Henretta's woodcut captures technology's fragility.
This is a detail from "Caesura" by Emily Henretta, on view now at Room East in New York. The piece is a woodcut printed on copper-green rice paper, and what I especially like about it is the way Henretta uses the crudest, most primitive printmaking technique to render a circuit board, that symbol of technological sophistication. What with Henretta's rips and the glitches in her printing, something seems wrong in our brave new world.
The Daily Pic: The sculptor David Adamo copies termites, insignificant creatures with big ambitions.
These sculptures by Berlin-based David Adamo are in his solo show at Untitled gallery in New York. At first, they look like more of the crafty, intuitive, "expressive" sculpture that's taking today's art world (and especially its market) by storm. It turns out, however, that Adamo's pieces are very closely based on real termite mounds. This means that objects that seem like abstraction are actually in the center of the realist tradition, closer to Houdon than to any Peter Voulkos retread. It also shows how the classically expressionist urge to give up conscious control over the creative act is doubly reversed in Adamo's latest works: He cedes control, but only by diligently copying the work of another creature – and that creature's creativity, in turn, is the product of a hive-mind rather than individual will or psychology.
The Daily Pic: 1930s paint samples help Morgan Fisher get at abstraction's heft.
When I first looked through the window of Bortolami gallery and spotted these and other paintings by Morgan Fisher, I thought "Oh no, not more late-in-the-day re-riffing on attractive Color Field abstraction". Then I went in and discovered a backstory that changes everything: The paintings are faithful enlargements of color chips from a brochure that Fisher's father, a builder of prefab homes, had offered to clients in about 1935. The paintings' compositions represent the "tasteful" combinations the brochure suggests for different rooms in a modern house.
Fisher's installation doesn't use serious modernist art as the basis for 21st-century decor, as so many of today's abstract painters do. It makes clear that, from the beginning, decor went hand-in-hand with serious modernist art. Fisher isn't using color chips as raw material for his own aesthetic play, as is the norm in other color-chip art (there's a lot of it around...) Fisher is preserving the original aesthetics of the brochure, as a kind of document in the social history of art.
(Courtesy Morgan Fisher and Bortolami, NY)
Shunga, paintings of sex and pleasure beginning in 17th-century Japan, are the focus of a new exhibition in London. Chloe Ashby reports.
Perhaps The British Museum’s latest exhibition, Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art should come with a warning: “Don’t try this at home.”
After all, in 1861 an anonymous source observed: “a foolish couple copy the Shunga spraining a wrist.” For this exhibition—which offers a crash course in the ceaseless and inventive intertwining of limbs in the most beautiful way possible—the museum has imposed an age limit of 16 to enter.
Shunga are beautifully crafted erotic paintings, woodblock prints, and books; they are rendered with powerful outlines and brought to life with colorful pigments. Translated loosely as ‘spring pictures’ or ‘pillow pictures,’ Shunga were produced in Japan between 1600 and 1900, partly as a form of sexual education. They’re eerily beautiful and also wickedly funny: Tsukioka Settei’s Shunga parody of an educational book for women, Great Pleasures for Women and their Treasure Boxes (c. 1755), shows a couple making love while taking a break from making noodles.
Park Avenue Armory debuts Massive Attack V Adam Curtis, a film and concert performance that recycles the past to stunning effect.
Nothing is new. The past returns to haunt and seduce us.
That is the final message of Massive Attack V Adam Curtis, a 90-minute film and concert that opened this past Saturday, September 28th, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York.
For the film, BBC producer-director Adam Curtis wove together over 50 years of archived footage of politics, pop culture icons and eerie tragedies, from the Chernobyl disaster and Jane Fonda in her fitness days to Brit pop icon Pauline Boty and her daughter, whose tragic story haunted the night. The combination of clips formed a timeline intertwining a past that still sought an optimistic future to what Curtis sees as today’s fearful and managed culture.
Adam Curtis and Robert Del Naja perform at Massive Attack V. Adam Curtis at the The Park Avenue Armory on Sept. 26, 2013. (Stephanie Berger)
The Daily Pic: In 1782, Joshua Reynolds gave equal attention to a toff and his mount.
In 1782, Joshua Reynolds painted this portrait of the British gent George Coussmaker and his horse, now on view in the Metropolitan Museum's revamped Old Master galleries. Or is it a portrait of the horse and his gent? Given the British love of their mounts, I wonder if any other painter has been faced with as strong a need to perform equine flattery. I love the way the horse is made to wrap elegantly around the tree, and seems to cross its hooves just as its master crosses his legs. I bet George's lady love wouldn't have been rendered as lovingly. Reynolds apparently devoted 22 sessions to painting the master and two to painting the horse, but I might have guessed the reverse.
The Daily Pic: Video artist Omer Fast becomes a Vermeer for porn stars, showing them at work and adding his own poetry.
These images are from a new four-screen installation by Omer Fast, one of the world's best video artists, premiering at the Frieze art fair in London in a couple of weeks. There's more about Fast and his new piece in my profile of him in this weekend's New York Times.
Fast takes documentary (and also mockumentary) footage shot on a real hard-core porn set and remixes it, with typical bravura, to incorporate fictional storylines.
One reading of the work that didn't make it into my profile, and which Fast has mixed feelings about, is to see the porn and Fast's own piece and practice as having something in common. After all, there's not that huge a gulf separating art and porn as cultural commodities offered for sale, and any number of artists have been accused of bumping and grinding to appeal to an audience.
Fast told me that the reality of porn stars “is totally parallel to ours in the art world” – there’s the same daily, banal labor coupled to an aura of mystery, of exclusivity, of superstars and also-rans – “except theirs is taboo.” Given the vast circulation of porn in our world, Fast sees breaking down that hypocritical censure as part of the work his installation can do, simply by presenting pornography as a routine subject for art.