Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Many are the travellers I have spoken concerning them, describing their tracks,
and what calls they answered to. I have met one or two who have heard the hound,
and the tramp of the horse, and even seen the dove disappear behind a cloud,
and they seemed as anxious to recover them as if they had lost them themselves."
Thursday, October 29, 2009
His movement, more deeply classical than is commonly acknowledged, took Balanchine's segmentation of the body into new levels of complexity. If it seemed as if a dancer were going in several different directions at once, it was because they probably were. His ability to conjure living sculptures from two or more bodies was as compelling. And he treated his works, at least until this last decade, as recombinant, as if to be mixed like a salad with whatever ingredients were next at hand, including the sound. His dancers, consequently, were sometimes as surprised by the music as the audience.
The music was an additional source of controversy, being "musique concrete" or based on chance operations devised by his partner, the composer John Cage , and others in his sphere. Retrospectively, these have proven to be a very distinguished roster, Earle Browne, Christian Wolff, David Tudor, Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Lucier, Gordon Mumma to name a few. Cage and Mumma, in particular, were blithely able to create the auditory equivalent of a katzenjammer or even a train wreck, and a few of Cunningham's strongest critical partisans never-the-less objected to the decibel levels that chance apparently decreed, preferring the mysterious silences punctuated with web-washes of sound that characterized Browne or Wolff. The point, however, was to violate the sense of inevitability to which music in the west has aspired, and open perception to the random.
It always puzzled me that Cunningham and Cage could break so many rules and reveal so much beauty. Perhaps this was because it was purposeful, not merely nihilistic, and if shocking not merely meant to shock. Cage's noise-music had the happy effect of making me hear my surroundings anew-the overtones of the dish drain! the Webern-like properties of the dripping faucet! And often after viewing Cunningham's dances, it would seem to me that the pedestrian traffic of a Manhattan intersection would be mysteriously elevated into a dance. Thus did the random come to make the random seem deliberate. The real underpinning of Cage's and Cunningham's work was not anarchy, but a Buddhist mindfulness transposed to the conditions of New York. This present-mindedness shook the pedestal of preconception and unobtrusively re-sacralized daily life.
Before Merce was hobbled by arthritis, he was also one of the most arresting stage presences I have seen, always as alert as an exclamation point. In the early days, he was frequently compared to a faun strayed from a satyr-play, which can be seen in his incredibly goofy wrestling bout with a five or six sleeved sweater documented in Antic Meet. This was a parody, it is said, of Martha Graham's self-regarding psychological strip-tease way of shedding clothes onstage. Others compared him to the Winnebago Trickster figure who at one point in the myth-cycle removes his penis, which grows a propeller, and chases him around a lake. Things like this seemed to happen to Merce, more or less. Later still, he became a bemused deity moving among his dancers haplessly making adjustments (making anarchy) in the midst of, say, an exquisite and intricate quintet. He was not like Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin, but something in his demeanor recalled the greats of silent comedy.
Many years ago, the choreographer Elizabeth Streb invited me to see an "event" at Cunningham's Westbeth studio. It was a sultry July evening, and soon a lightning storm blew across the Hudson; its progress could be seen through the great studio windows as a backdrop to the dancers. When it came upon the building the electricity went out, but the concentration of the dancers did not, and we watched them silhouetted in the dark or illumined by a sudden flash of lightning. They did not waver an iota, I recall, but somehow seemed monumental, imperturbable, as if we were permitted to spy upon the hidden workings of an angelic crew. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever pried my eyes to see. Then the lights came back on, and Merce did a cryptic, calligraphic solo. It didn't seem much at the time, but several hours after, back at my loft, I found myself impulsively standing up and repeating what I remembered of it. It was as if his little solo had gotten under the radar, and registered its impact without my knowing it. His work was like that.
De Quincy, who devotes pages of Confessions of an English Opium Eater to the Prisons, projects a curious error on Piranesi's etchings. He finds in one the figure of Piranesi himself (how he is so identified is unknown) who is seen not only on the ground floor of one such prison,but at intervals on the stairs. He finds in Piranesi, in short, the same effect which in heraldry is called mis en abyme, in which the image contains an image of itself and that in turn an image an image of itself ad infinitum.But couldn't these receding figures on the stairs be Piranesi's descendants rather than Piranesi himself? There would be not only Kafka, then, but Borges, and Dino Buzzati, and the Cavafy of The City, and M.C. Escher and George Tooker among visual artists. Several artists of our time might find themselves on Piranesi's stairway, among them Anne and Patrick Poirier, Cheryl Goldsleger, Jean-Michel Fauquet, and most recently,the photographer Lorie Nix.
I am trying to remember where I first saw the Poirier's early work--Sonnabend? The De YoungMuseum? They had constructed a vast ruined neo-classical city out of charcoal in a dim room .It had stadiums, temples, monuments, a fallen colossus, racetracks, and thoroughfares.We viewers loomed above these like titans in mourning. I found the work unsettling then--charcoal was once wood and the wood a tree:now it is burnt; an altogether more symbolically freighted material for models than cork.There was also the sense of clumsiness that being a giant in the near dark provoked, a sensation almost of guilt at the ruin of such a vast-if even-so miniature civilization, as if we off-stage were somehow at fault.Finally, there was what we might call the Ozymandias effect, a mixture of regret with relief at the passing of civilizations,for so many monuments have been made under the whip, and not only during antiquity.
Charles Simonds, at about the same time, was covertly placing his tiny and artfully constructed models on fugitive sites through the Lower East Side.If the imagery of thePoiriers might be described as Graeco-Roman with a dollop from Roland Topor's cartoon epic,the Fantastic Planet added, Simonds' seemed to derive from the abandoned cliff dwellings in New Mexico or the bee-hive shaped brick structures--prototypes of the dome--originating in Cappodochia. He invented an anthropology of the little people who had dwelled there--it was an age of anthropology, with the semi-Utopian counter-cultural aspiration to posing alternative social structures--and his placement of these beautifully constructed buildings was done with the co-operation of the neighborhoods,which were then mostly poor. His work is now in museums, and the neighborhoods are high-rent.
A salient feature of the Carcerari is the wedding of the constructive with the destructive , a quality especially noticeable when the earlier versions are compared to the much revised later plates, which sacrifice coherency for depth. The earlier Prisons are buildings; the later Prisons are buildings and the destruction of buildings and the reconstruction of buildings over the relics of their destruction.It is this quality of multiple perspectives which causes them to be cited as proto-cubist.
Something of this multiple-perspectivedness is to be found in the paintings of Cheryl Goldsleger, whose work, on first glimpse,seems to be a skillful depiction of early Renaissance or late nineteenth century Beaux Arts architecture, but proves on inspection to be many layers of depictions of such buildings skillfully --I am tempted to say almost harmonically--sequenced to co-exist, as if we are viewing their construction through layers of time. Her colors are mostly amber, honey,and black, remindful of architectural drawings of Bramante or the Sangallo clan, done in sepia or bistre. Now and then she will overlay what might be called a "memory scaffolding" over the other layers in white. She glazes a sedimentary metaphor for time on the flat surface of canvas.
Two others I admire who also use architecture to metaphorize the workings of time are Jean Michel Fauquet, who does sequences of dark stairways descending (they don't appear to ascend)into oubliettes, and Lori Nix, whose recent photographic sequence, The City, is a surveyof the imagery of disaster.Nix has had to take pains to clarify the point that these works were conceived before the destruction of the Twin Towers. This says more about our historical attention-span than her art.Nor would post 9/11 imagery account for a vein of humor in the dread--there is an archaeopteryx or pterodactyl or something with leathern wings not to be found in an aviary flying above the ruins of" The Library". The aquarium has pools of recent fishes on the floor.The museum of natural history is in ruins but its dioramas are intact.Here is an interior of a clocktower, obviously defunct.It looks exactly like where I would liked to have lived as a boy.There is a vacuum cleaner show-room, the view outside its window overgrown with bramble.These are painterly photographs of exquisitely fabricated images of destruction. Their colors are saturated, autumnal,sunset, with the streaked skies of storms only recently receding, of broken columns--a repertoire of romantic cliches revived by a hint of parody:they are toy tableaux after all,which evoke concrete disaster.
Anne and Patrick Poirier show at Sonnabend
Cheryl Goldsleger at Kidder Smith in Boston(but I saw her work at Hodges and Taylor Gallery in Charlotte, N.C.)
Jean Michel Fauquet at Chaim Hanin
Lori Nix at Clampart in New York and MillerBloc in Boston
Brace is represented by Edward Thorp. Flexner is shown at D'Amelio/Terras in New York and Hosfelt in San Francisco.
"...the black fugatos are strumming the black of the black...Thick strings stutter the finial gutturals.He does not lie there remembering the blue jay, say the jay.His grief is that he mother should feed on him, himself and what he saw,In that distant chamber, a bearded queen..."(Wallace Stevens:Madame La Fleurie)
Space in our time has grown steadily more eccentric, more nest-like than building-like. It is as irrational as Mies or Mondrian was rational. Architecture seems to be attempting its own dis-embodiment, and sculpture a space which makes earlier installation artseem almost classical.If there is some familial resemblance to Conceptual Altar Space or Immersive Assemblage Space, it is a Gothick decade later, with its mutant concerns.
A sculpture of braided horse-hair ensnaring a tide of silk roses punctuated with hyper-alert taxidermied pheasants and plovers, as do the sculptures of Petah Coyne, turns the whitest cubicle into...what? The names which one comes up for it---gesticulative spatial expressionism or Carnival of Souls Rococco--are absurd, but the work is a marvel.
Coyne's work first reminded me (A)of a Victorian relict seen in a great home, a floral arrangement made of the rosettes of braided hair of the female family members and kept under a bell-jar (B) the women's-training- hospital ghost in Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior, which abided by day in a pencil eraser but which by night rolled around on tenacled eye-balls to crush the breath from the sleeping(C) Poe's mystical yearning for Annabel Lee and/or Ligeia(D) Hearses from a horse-drawn time (E) Bernini. It is the sense that the sculpture turns the room on a centrifugal force of its--the sculpture's-- making which brings up Bernini. Coyne's work seems to tilt the room off its armature.
In a Bomb interview with Lynn Tillmann, Coyne spoke admiringly of Miss Havisham in GREAT EXPECTATIONS, the Miss Havisham of the sealed off wedding-banquet chamber,whose wedding cake was colonized with rats and festooned by spiders, who had not changed from her wedding gown in thirty years after being jilted at the altar. This accounts, indirectly, for the sense of her earlier pieces being like brides and their own cast-off bouquets, a synthesis of the wedding and the funeral. Miss Havisham alarms us because in some sense she is buried alive,like Madeline Usher or Persephone. She becomes the death-bride ; the Russian surrealist Tchelitchev referred to her as the White Lady.
The myth of the rape of the bride by the underworld is more central to modernism than is commonly observed. It appears not only in Poe, among the pre-Raphaelites, in poets as different as William Carlos Williams and Rilke, but was critical to the early days of feminism, which attempted many revisions of the myth of Persephone. Obviously, it marked the strong sense among women that they had been seized, captured, and confined--entombed-- in unwanted identities.This is a political truth with an historical dimension, as events in the world testify. It is also a metaphor for the imaginative faculties of the human Psyche under warrant, hence its appearance in Dickens and Poe. This is the Self kidnapped from Ceres, or Mother Nature,by Pluto ("RICHES"), into the airless and artificial mirror realm of cunningly be-jeweled counterfeits. According to Guy Davenport, it is the diagnostic myth of the mental illness of western culture from the nineteenth century on.
This is the vein that Coyne taps. The artists she cites as influences--Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, Anne Hamilton--don't form a school or even resemble each other much, but they do outline a geneology.The keen awareness of the abjection of the flesh, the tumnescent neediness and the decay of the body, are Bourgeois' contribution; the de-regulation of minimalism in favor of a willed awkwardness,lopsided eccentricity,is Hesse'--along with her tangled skeins. Ann Hamilton provided both hair-as-metaphor and hair quite literally, as she gave Coyne the horsehair used for her 1993 DIA installation-- those famous stairways covered with hair. What these artists have in common is the will to revise further and further into the intuitional unknown. There is nothing neatly rounded off or pat about any of them.
This is why I don't think Coyne's work is kitsch, as it has been accused of being.Those undulating beds of roses, each with their own separate sigh, animating each otherby implication, over which some fatal candle has dripped, and which are interwoven withthose aforementioned birds and leaping taxidermied squirrels, remind me of a constellation of things without being quite like anything else I've seen. That's a complex response. And formally what keeps it far from cliche is Coyne's feeling for orphaned forms, for fungal shapes and weed shapes,the way twigs are plaited together by the flood which casts them ashore as detritus, by algae, and stumps, and curly willow, by the revival and transmutation of life through the process of decay.Those upsidedown bouquets which are also chandeliers or those biers which appear to rustle are also nests in which souls seem to gather. She calls them her "girls".
Sunday, October 25, 2009
there are big pieces with small ideas and vice versa
there are schools but not trends
what was once a trend is now a historical option
an historical option is not perceived as in being any chronological order but as an item on a menu equidistant to all others
there were virtuoso scissorers who I thought of, absurdly, as string players and artists who were literally string players
black on black which always has a matte vs shiny mystique was undergoing a revival
there were any number of permutations on the theme of the scary clown or the innocently- but- fatally- demon born
that our Gothick is more Teutonic than the Gothicizing modes of previous decades; it has a Hoffmannesque quality to it. One of his heroines turned into a carrot.And if a certain morbidezza is the mood it is the mood of more than a moment.
Graphite artists of utmost nuancedness, photographers of urban prairies of desuetude or other alienation effects--always alienation effects--under enlargement.the morganatic marriage of art to costume legitimized ,the triumph of the C print.the happy sense that an artisanal technique did not,after all, require the aegis of irony to assist in its revival.
in every major american city a major painter of celestial blues, blues out of medieval books of hours transposed to the twenty-first century;why now?
special status to Sofrinitsky, and in hearing them, I can hear why. He manages to give a human amplitude to what can sometimes seem pathological, special case, like a madhouse made of venetian glass. But it was Sofrinitsky's recording of a very great piece of music, the Chopin op. 60 Barcarolle, which really floored me. This is a work to which Friedrich Nietzchte ascribed transcendent powers. Sofrinitsky's is among the best I have heard. Here,however, is where the fly is found in the ointment, in the comments made. Someone says that the Sofrinitsky blows away Dinu Lipatti's classic account , and someone else says that of the performance of Alfred
Cortot. I listened to both again, and to a performance of Artur Rubinstein's from 1958, and each seemed definitive as I listened, as did an admirable account by Krystian Zimmerman. And each, of course, was subtly different, the Sofrinitsky performance being almost two minutes longer than Dinu Lipatti's account, a minute longer than Rubinsteins, and three quarters of a minute longer than Cortot, as I dazzedly recall. The sound world of each pianist was also quite different--for tonal beauty it would be difficult to match Cortot, the earliest recording, but this impression soon evaporated at different times which each of the others. Completely unnecessary and ungenerous to demote any of these superb performances at the expense of the others, as the Chopin Barcarolle itself is the raison d'etre. In heaven there are many mansions. Which brings me to the imbecilic aspect of comparison here: if a great work has been played for over a century and a half by an array of pianists of the first rank there is room. Time has made room and we can choose different interpretations in different seasons. There is no need to beat excellence down. I have given up on "definitive" performances myself, though like anyone else I have my druthers. Strange but enlightening to hear a Beethoven sonata on a forte-piano. Years ago I would only listen to Bach or Handel if played on a harpsichord. To continue with this dogma, useful in its way, would have deprived me of the Bach and Handel of Andras Schiff, Richter, and Glenn Gould. Each has given me joy, and joy is always in short quantity. Apropos which, one You-tuber said of Gould's Bach that it exploded Sviatslav Richter's. By wicked coincidence, I had just listened to an interview with Glenn Gould in which he described Richter as the greatest musical communicator he had ever heard.
Friday, October 23, 2009
the entire rosters of 700 art dealers nationwide, 250 in Chelsea alone.
I suspect that the approximate figure of 14,000 artists whose work I viewed is too little.
It certainly was a quasi-mystical experience. I tried, without success,
to come up with some grand-scale oracular pronunciamento until I realized that I,too, was
succumbing to an afflatus of the election year. Thank Heaven, I was spared and so were you.
Also : I have always wondered what eyrie the large-scale surveyors of history--it could be Spengler,it could be Foucault--perch on.
While a general thesis eluded me, I did have the pleasure of discovering for myself
a number of artists of whom I had been unaware; some have influenced
my thinking, and I will write about them eventually.But for a time, here is the list of those I found compelling, starting in Chelsea, but proceeding to Brooklyn,Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Austen, Los Angeles, Scottsdale, San Francisco, Seattle,
Portland, Montreal, and Toronto.
(footnote: as this list was put together before the economic crisis,it inevitably
mentions dealers no longer in existence; it is important to remember that their artists
still are.To those dealers who remain: permissions to reproduce work will speed
any comment I might make, and the prompt response to correspondence
will provoke astonishment as well as gratitude. The asterisk means: I adore you from afar; the + means seriously elegant work;the marginilia preserves my notes, but inclusion is proof of my admiration.)
|DL. Alvarez||Derek Eller|
|roger anderson||Sarah Meltzer|
|esao Andrews||J Le Vine|
|paolo Arao||Jeff Bailey Gallery|
|assume vivid astral focus*|
|John Connolly Presents after the wake, an orgy|
|ali Banisadr||Leslie Tonkonow|
|gary Baseman||The big stories are all fairytales|
|james Barsness*||George Adams||He draws like Rackham; he thinks like Tex Avery|
|tony Bechaka||Andre Zarre|
|Berkowitz and Brua||Derek Eller||tables climb walls decked with the soul's laundry|
|Tim Bishop||J Le Vine|
|suzzane Bocenagra||Lucas Schoormans|
|Hilary Brace*||Edward Thorpe||Apparitional Whiteness from the Hollow Earth|
|jeff Burton||Casey Kaplan|
|dean Byington*||Leslie Tonkonow||an Heir of Richard Dadd|
|olaf Breuning||Metro Pictures|
|ingrid calame||James Cohan|
|james casabere +||Paul Kasmin||the de Chirico sublet|
|jonathan Callan||Nicole Klagsburn|
|Beth Campbell||Nicole Klagsburn|
|martines Canas||Julie Saul|
|gillian Carnegie||Andrea Rosen|
|nathan carter||Casey Kaplan|
|St Clair Cemin*||Sikkemma Jenkins|
|peter Coffin*||Andrew Kreps||the wreck of the Hegel in the form of crunched stairs|
|lia Cook||Nancy Margolis|
|george condo||Luhring Augustine||De Kooning and Saul Steinberg fight over a broad|
|petah coyne*||Gallerie Lelong||Miss Havisham and Madeleine Usher discuss Nerval|
|edith derdyuk+||Haim Chanin||String theory meets Atropos|
|leonardo Drew*||Sikkemma Jenkins|
|jeff Elrod+||Fredericks Freiser|
|jean-michel fauquet||Haim Chanin||Physical stairways to metaphysical oubliettes|
|angelo filomeno*||Galerie LeLong||as true (and as artificial) as Chopin or Baudelaire|
|roland fisher||Von Lintel|
|roland Flexner*||D'Amelio Terras||Taoist of the profound soap bubble|
|Mark Fox*||Larisa Goldston||The Paganini of Scissors shapes a Tornado|
|adam Fowler||Margaret Thatcher Projects|
|Francesca Gabriani||Sarah Meltzer|
|stan Gregory||Sunduram Tagore|
|orly Genger||Larisa Goldston|
|sam Gibbons||Claire Oliver|
|richard Greaves*||Andrew Edlin||The bigfoot of the Canadian Rockies|
|stan Gregory||Sunduram Tagore|
|Andreas Gursky||Matthew Marks|
|diana al hadi||Perry Rubinstein|
|Liz Halloran||DCKT||streaks of speed in progress|
|trenton doyle Hancock||James Cohan|
|Jacob el Hanani||Hosfelt|
|lyle ashton harris||CRG Gallery|
|kent hendricksen||John Connally||Presents Part of the problem is that my boyfriend dabbles in dark arts|
|oliver Herring*||Max Protech||Victor Frankenstein's career in high fashion|
|eva Hild||Nancy Margolis|
|julie Hirst||Pavel Zoubok|
|Karsten Hollier||Casey Kaplan|
|timothy Horn*||Hosfelt||the debate of the baroque with the rococo conducted in spun sugar|
|jacqueline humphries||Greene Naftali|
|butt johnson||CRG Gallery||I was in the outhouse when Daddy got raptured|
|cassandra c jones||Vanina Holasek Gallery|
|brian Jungen||Casey Kaplan|
|Ron Klein||Howard Scott|
|jolyn kystosek||Lucas Schoormans|
|Jeff Ladouceur||Zieher Smith|
|rezi van lankveld||Petzel|
|sarah Leahy||Kim Foster|
|Catherine Lee||Galleries Lelong||the disaffection of the great horizon|
|graham little||CRG Gallery|
|donald lipski*||Gallerie Lelong||the charioteer of found objects|
|nicola lopez||Caren Golden|
|john maeda+||Christenrose||So slick it becomes another substance|
|Marco Maggi*||Hosfelt||depict the cryptogram and decrypt the pictogram|
|frank magnotta||Cohan + Leslie|
|didier Massard||Julie Saul|
|tatsuya Matsushita||Mehr Gallery|
|josiah mc elheny||Andrea Rosen|
|maureen mc quillan||Mc Kenzie|
|james nakes||Paul Kasmin|
|ernesto neto*||Bonakdar||angelic snot sacks|
|aaron Noble||Pavel Zoubok|
|ludwika orgozelec||Nancy Margolis Gallery|
|jean michel Othoniel+||Sikkemma Jenkins|
|roxy payne||James Cohan|
|emilio perez||Galerie Lelong|
|diego perone||Casey Kaplan|
|ara Peterson*||James Connally presents|
|jaume Plensa*||Galerie Lelong Alphabody Fountainface|
|ken price||Matthew Marks|
|matthew ritchie||Andrea Rosen|
|john rappeleye||jeff bailey||Snakes writhe through skulls in desert blanched colors|
|mary reilly||DFN Gallery|
|anil reuri||Sundurum tagore|
|matthew ritchie||Andrea Rosen|
|michel angelo roca||ATM|
|jimmy joe roche||Rare|
|betsabee romero||Galerie Ramis Barquet|
|victoria Ryan||John Stevenson|
|ursula von rydinguard||Galerie Lelong||Treetrunk Tankards for Fafner and Fasolt|
|dennis rudolph||Perry Rubinstein|
|alain saret+||James Cohan|
|tojkijito Sato||Leslie Tonkonow|
|robert Sagarman||Marguerite Thatcher Projects|
|peter schuyff||Nicole Klagsbrun|
|michelle segre||Derek Eller||the cracquelature of the biomorphic forms found near Oz|
|hiroshi senjo||Sunduram Tagore|
|gary simmons||Metro Pictures|
|john stashkevitch||Von Lintel|
|james everett stanley||Freight+Volume|
|simon starling||Casey Kaplan|
|max streicher||Ricco Maresca|
|francesca sundsten||Jenkins Johnson Gallery|
|james Surls||Charles Cowles||Old Wild Cowboy Ropes Trickster Tree|
|barbara takenaga||Mc Kenzie|
|maki Tamura||Lucas Schoormans|
|whiting tennis||Derek Eller|
|gordon Terry||Jeff Bailey|
|fred tomaselli*||James Cohan||vast worlds from small aspirins|
|tam van tran||Cohan + Leslie|
|scott trealeaven+||James Connally presents The Commedia del Arte meets the Neopolitan Inquisition on toile|
|james Valerio +||George Adams|
|mark dean veca||J le Vine|
|michael velliquette||DCKT Gallery|
|mark wagner||Pavel Zoubok|
|kit white||Andre Zarre|
|terry winters||Matthew Marks|
|mike womack||Zieher Smith|
|c yass||Gallerie Lelong|
|Michelle Zapony||Esso||Spook girl sends large postcards|
|Rhonda Zwillinger||Pavel Zoubok|
(no James Turrell or Christian Boltanski or Mona Hatoum or Olafur Eliasson or Yayoi Kusama?
no one from certain galleries I greatly respect? No, merely a certain mental footweariness
and the understanding that a jeux d'esprit does not have to be ecumenical-- so many a blue chip's
been left out, not that I'd mind owning one) Oct.9th, 2009