At Performa, Shana Lutker revisits a wild Dada play that featured a nose and some lips.
This is a study for props and costumes in "The Nose, The Cane, The Broken Left Arm", a piece by Shana Lutker that I saw staged last night in New York as part of this year's Performa festival, and that is playing again tonight. Lutker's piece revisits the events of July 6, 1923, when Andre Breton, future leader of the Surrealist movement, came to blows in a Paris theater with some adherents of the rival Dada group, led by Tristan Tzara, who that night was premiering his new play called "The Gas Heart". Lutker's directing and script both need lots (and lots) more work, but the historical material she unearthed is fantastic, as are the costumes for the characters in "The Gas Heart", the play within Lutker's play, whom Tzara named Mouth, Eyebrow, Ear, Neck, Eye and Nose. Apparently last night's outfits were "inspired" by the originals of Sonia Delaunay, but I've got a feeling that Lutker used some wonderful poetic license in giving us a few of these body parts.
Made for women, the newly launched Adult magazine explores sexually explicit literature and photography—and asks, is it possible for porn to be fashionable and artistic?
What differentiates erotica from porn?
Sarah Nicole Prickett, the founder and editor-in-chief of the "new erotics" magazine Adult, quotes seventies porn star Gloria Leonard: "The difference between pornography and erotica is the lighting."
Adult is a magazine not meant to be displayed, she explains. Rather, it should be "[kept] next to your bed, or under it." Given the content, that may be rightfully so. There's an excerpt on discovering sex with a painter from American novelist Dodie Bellamy's new book C*nt Norton; New York Food Magazine White Zinfandel provides an aphrodisiac breakfast recipe—an oyster omelet—because "you can't spell 'breakfast' without 'breast'"; author and former Voguette Stephanie LaCava chronicles the inner-workings of the Doc Johnson Adult Toy Factory just outside Hollywood; and Katherine Bernard explores Erica Jong's notion of the "zipless fuck" through literature.
It's The New Yorker meets Hustler meets Interview combined to fulfill one ultimate goal: satisfying one's "sexual narcissism." Yet how can a magazine that treads the line of explicit pornography remain tasteful and artistic, rather than objectifying, and possibly offending, women?
At the Venice Biennale, Sharon Hayes gets young women to ponder sex.
This image shows a moment from a video by Sharon Hayes that's up at this year's Venice Biennale. (The show closes in five days, and therefore seems to warrant a parting Pic or two from me.) Hayes's video involved putting straight-ahead questions about sexuality to 36 students at an elite all-women's college in New England. (Click here to see some clips, along with comments by Hayes.) This Biennale included a fair dose of art with spiritual aspirations, so Hayes's encounter with the real was a brave and useful counterweight. That may have been what won it a Golden Lion prize.
Iconic 5Pointz building whitewashed.
You win some, you lose some.
In October, New York buzzed as the graffiti artist, Banksy, painted a different work of street art almost every day for his Better Out Than In project. But apparently the graffiti fever passed by some New Yorkers. On Tuesday, commuters and residents of Long Island City, Queens, woke up to find one of the Big Apple’s most iconic graffiti buildings, 5 Pointz, completely whitewashed.
Named for New York's five boroughs, 5 Pointz has been a canvas for street artists since the 1990s. While the private owners, Jerry and David Wolkoff, have never interfered with the artwork, they now plan to redevelop the property into high-end condos, requiring them to demolish the building and erase over two decades of art.
After it was announced earlier this month that the building would soon be destroyed, artists and activists pulled together and filed a lawsuit to protect the buildings under the Visual Artists Rights Act. VARA, after meeting certain requirements, protects the artist’s work regardless of who “owns" it.
The famed fashion photographer strays from his typical celebrity subject matter to shoot the brilliant colors, patterns, and fabrics worn by locals from his native Peru.
“Alta Moda is quite different from the portraits I am perhaps best known for,” famed fashion photographer Mario Testino said of his latest exhibit.
Taking a bold approach in his newest venture, Testino has strayed away from his typical subjects—celebrities and fashion models—and traded them in for natives of his home country, Peru. Alta Moda—which translates from Spanish as “high fashion”—examines traditional Peruvian dress from the Cusco region of the country.
“I usually try to capture the moment,” Testino said. “But with this series, I wanted to do something very different—not just with my own work, but also with the practice of photography. I tried to fit as much time and history into each frame as possible—from the traditional and festive clothing to the Chambi backdrops to the Peruvian people in them.”
Gerard ter Borch made headlines, while his rival in Delft was painting maids with earrings.
Here we are again, on our regular Monday visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. This picture was painted in around 1658 by Gerard ter Borch, and is now on display in the Met's newly rehung Old Masters galleries. It is by Vermeer’s much more famous and successful contemporary, and lacks much of what we moderns love in Vermeer: His proto-photographic light, his cryptic, event-free subjects, his wide-angle deep space. That “lack” may be precisely why pre-modern Dutchmen so preferred ter Borch. As I’ve argued before, we may want to put ourselves in their eyes, and redress the balance between the two artists.
Selfies may be all the rage, but there’s still nothing like a framed portrait. From famous faces to twins, a look at the spontaneous collection of winners at London's Portrait Gallery.
In the age of selfies, Instagram, and Snapchat, it’s almost impossible to peruse the sixty new portraits selected for this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize in London’s National Portrait Gallery without considering the difference between an image framed on a wall and one that has a brief life on your smartphone. The question is: does the installation of an image in the hallowed halls of a venerable institution hamper a feeling of familiarity? Is an image on a cell phone—up-close and personal—always a friendlier face?
The first image that you see when you enter the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition space swiftly stomps out any such assumption: Rosie Hallam’s Lily Cole greets gallery-goers with a warm and welcoming smile. Model-cum-actress-cum-art-historian (with a degree from the University of Cambridge no less), Cole effortlessly straddles the realms of social media and the arts. Here, she’s caught on camera in an informal portrait, fresh-faced, free of make-up, with loose hair, and wearing a floral dress and cosy knit cardigan.
The sixty portraits on show have been whittled down from the 5,410 submissions entered by 2,435 contemporary photographers around the world. Works by young students hang alongside those of established professionals; portraits printed in brilliant color are juxtaposed with ones in black and white; formal commissions of famous faces accompany spontaneous snapshots of family and friends. The question on everyone’s lips: “Which is your favorite?” The answer, more often than not: “It’s too hard to choose!”
The curation of such a merry (and complex) company was surely no easy feat. Yet somehow, despite the divergent approaches and subjects, the captured characters converse with ease.
In the Hirshhorn's "Damage Control", a woman has a different take on breaking things.
Watch a clip from Dara Friedman's "Total", a 1997 film which I recently saw in the show called "Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950" at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington. (I previewed it in the New York Times.) Friedman's conceit is simple: She filmed herself tearing a room to shreds then projects it in reverse, so we see the decor reassemble itself. The piece drove home something I noticed throughout the Hirshhorn show: that the few women who've made art about destruction have had a quite different take than the boys' (and I do mean "boys"). Yoko Ono offers herself up to the scissors of strangers; Mona Hatoum makes hand grenades of delicate glass; Laurel Nakadate mourns 9/11 (or at least plays at it). And Friedman presents herself as undoing any destruction she's caused. It's not hard to think of her piece as a response to Jeff Wall's seminal (pun intended) "Destroyed Room", from 1978, a huge photo for which he carefully staged the utter destruction of an unnamed woman's room. He constructs, but plays at destruction; Friedman destroys but presents it as tidying up.
Not all art is easily placed in a museum; some pieces are intrinsically linked to the location in which they were created. A new book collects the best of these works in the Americas.
Site-specific art is some of the most exciting art on the planet. It’s not the art that’s generally in museums and galleries. More often you’ll find it in open fields, in libraries, in opera houses, in caves, on highways, in plazas, in sculpture parks, in state capitols, on the street, in the desert, in office buildings and even in hydroelectric plants. “Site-specific art.” It doesn’t sound good does it? It sounds formal and restricted, but at its best, it is immersive, moving, and very often overwhelming.
Five years in the making, Art & Place (published this month by Phaidon) includes some of the most outstanding examples of site-specific art in the Americas: from the markings of hunter-gatherers who stencilled the shape of their own hands onto cave walls some 9,000 years ago in a canyon in Patagonia, Argentina, to Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate that reflects the constantly changing city and sky in Chicago’s Millennium Square. The book’s geographical structure allows for an exciting sequence of works that vary in time, medium, and approach. Here, Neolithic monuments are juxtaposed with land art, jungle carvings with downtown murals, and public works with personal projects, such as the sculptures—and folly—of the wealthy eccentric Edward James, in the tropical rain forest a ten-hour drive from Mexico City.
There are sites that are familiar to everyone, like Easter Island with its enormous Moai figures standing over eight feet tall, but also far lesser known works, such as the totem poles of the Haida people on the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia. Some are the creations of renowned artists, like Mark Rothko’s murals in the chapel commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil in Houston, or Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels that lie in the desert forty miles from the nearest town in Utah. Others express the genius of unknown artisans, such as the grisaille murals of the Monastery of San Nicolas de Tolentino in San Luis Potosí in Mexico, or of whole communities, like the caves painted in bright colors by the Chumash of California in a quest to communicate with the spiritual world.
What binds these works together is an overriding sense of place: the subject or meaning of all these works is closely intertwined with the location in which they are situated. And it is this that makes them some of the most adventurous, bold, and exciting to experience.
Since the late 1950s, Raymond Depardon has been traveling the world capturing the beauty and despair of life’s “sweet moments.” A new exhibit focuses on his stunning use of color.
The first image in the new Parisian exhibition Un Moment Si Doux (A Sweet Moment) is a photo of a man lying on a bed; behind him, two walls of brilliant turquoise/blue meet over his left shoulder. Upon closer inspection, the image, taken in Vietnam in 1972, is grainy, almost hazy. Though the scene is spare, the effect is powerful: bright, solemn, contemplative. Such is the visual output of French photographer Raymond Depardon. A compendium of moments he captured the world over are displayed in their greatest breadth yet at the Grand Palais, adjacent to the annual Paris Photo festival occurring this week.
Curator Hervé Chandès selected what he deems Depardon’s color “moments”—images where color is truly the element that brings out the allure of the image. “Raymond Depardon and color photography are indissociable,” Chandès says emphatically.
Warhol's masterpiece sells for a fortune, and becomes the commodity that it's all about.
Warhol's "Silver Car Crash" sold for $104.5 million last night at Sotheby's in New York, which was either too little, or too much. Too little, because the night before, a much less important picture by Francis Bacon sold for $142.4 million at Christie's, breaking every record for an artwork at auction. It might have been nice if, for once, there were some correlation between such a record and the historical importance of the work that set it – as would have been the case with the "Car Crash". Last night's $104.5 million was too much, by exactly $4.5 million, because at an even $100 million, Warhol's picture would have matched the fake $100 million price tag that Damien Hirst, a Warhol devotee, attached to his diamond-studded skull in 2007. Hirst created a work, and a social "performance", of sorts, that was all about how art and artists enter the marketplace, but Warhol had staked out that territory 45 years before, in even more subtle and complex ways. It started in 1962, with the Campbell's soup can as iconic commodity, then within a year Warhol had expanded the idea to cover the commodity status of celebrities – Marilyn and Jackie and Liz (so famous that their first names are still enough to call them to mind) and soon Andy himself and the Superstars he created from scratch. And then Warhol's notion spread further, to cover even the calamities served up to us over and over again in tabloids and on the news – poisoned cans of tuna, suicide leaps and fatal car crashes. (The celebrities Warhol chose and created were also all calamities, of a sort, since even Liz had just survived a calamitous illness when Warhol pictured her and had starred on screen as a car-crash victim, and of course Warhol and his Superstars were models of broken lives.)
Warhol silkscreened his "Crash" in several "colorways" (he borrowed the concept from fabric and housewares marketing) but this silver version is best of all, because the shiny paint itself stands for the bullion that's at the symbolic heart of every transaction in a commodity culture. It's presented .999 "pure" in the work's right panel, and then on the left with a black image of disaster that reads as a tarnish on its surface. (This is just about the moment when Ralph Nader was starting to rouse the nation's consumers against the hazards built into the cars they were buying – although I note that this wasn't a movement against consumption itself, but in favor of a safer, purer form of it.)
So Warhol's Pop art – a misnomer if ever there was one – isn't a cheery celebration of Pop-ing commodity culture, though that's how it was often billed (sometimes by Warhol himself). And it's not a preachy, political attack on that culture, which was another common reading. It's a full-bodied portrait of commodification, with its lights and darks left intact and in play against each other, and in which we see ourselves. (The blank right-hand panel could be mirror as well as bullion.)
That portrait saw a kind of apotheosis last night, in an auction that declared and celebrated the greatness of this work of art but that also laid bare a culture of consumption that, more than ever, has escaped the bounds of reason. Warhol saw consumption as a force for democratization in an America where, he wrote, "the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest.... A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke." . But last night at Sotheby's, we saw consumption's new, darker side, as our insane economic divide (read this terrifying report) made itself clearer than ever and infected even a great work of art. After all, one way or another, every dollar of the record millions that got spent at Sotheby's was a dollar not paid out to the poor suckers making our cars and feeding on Campbell's soup – when they can afford even that.
Depicts a mangled body in car crash.
It's a gruesome thing to hang on your wall, but on Wednesday, an unidentified buyer shelled out a record-setting $105 million for Andy Warhol's "Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)." The 8-feet by 13-feet piece depicts a mangled body in a car's destroyed interior. It's part of Warhol's "Death and Disasters" and is signed by the artist, dated to 1963. It's considered a rare work because it has been only shown once publicly in 26 years. The previous record for Warhol's art was set six years ago when "Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)" fetched $71.7 million.