Quick study

A Friday reading round-up that includes Art Forum on Mira Dancy and Sarah Peters, ArtNews on the Independent, Roberta Smith on Sharon Horvath, Martha Schwendener on Chris Martin, Raphael Rubinstein on Howardena Pindell, Jillian Steinhauer on Ken Johnson’s controversial Grabner review in the NYTimes, Walter Robinson in conversation with Phong Bui, and young artists as capitalist tools

Mira Dancy and Sarah Peters BODYRITE @ Asya Geisberg was selected as an Art Forum Critics Pick, and I agree, it’s a terrific show. Paige K. Bradley writes that “in all these works, one notes that the female form is less baggage to be dealt with than a cipher to be tossed around in a fast and loose game of suggestion and rehearsal.” Read more.

In an otherwise glowing review today in the NYTimes, Martha Schwendener objects to the all-glitter painting in the back room at Chris Martin’s Anton Kern show. “Mr. Martin can go too far, though. ‘Space is the Place,’ in the back gallery, is excessive in its application: a glitter blackout that�s like too much frosting on a cake.” I have to disagree. Not only is that painting the perfect finale to an outstanding show, but there’s no such thing as too much frosting on a cake. Or any other baked good.

Is it March already? I got confused when I heard that the Independent was opening last night. 
Andrew Russeth and M.H. Miller report for ArtNews that this one was organized to coincide with the fall auctions: 

Independent, founded by the art dealers Elizabeth Dee and Darren
Flook in 2010, has always presented itself as a kind of antidote to the
commercial circus that defines most art fairs. Held in the former Dia
building in Chelsea, it features natural light and clever installations
and a generally mellower vibe. Further contrasting the hectic feel of,
say, the Armory Show, which runs concurrently with Independent in March,
Dee has started a second edition of Independent, opening this week to
coincide with the auctions in New York. Called Independent Projects, it
will stay open for two weeks rather than the usual frenzied three days,
and feature 40 galleries, all presenting small shows by a single artist.
After the first weekend, the dealers will clear out and the fair will
transition into a massive group show for the public….”

With Zwirner, Gagosian, Gavin Brown and other blue chip galleries participating, it would seem that the Independent is a long way from its humbler beginnings. Read more.


In Art in America Raphael Rubinstein contributes “The Hole Truth,” an excellent essay about Howardena Pindell. “As well as dispensing with the stretcher, Pindell rejected, or at least didn’t insist upon, perfect rectilinearity. Her canvases often look like she cut them relying only on hand and eye, rather than any straightedge. Many of the paintings in the recent show feature slightly curving borders and dangling threads; one has a big notch cut out of a corner. Around 1978 Pindell began cutting her canvases into thin strips, which she then sewed back together with thick carpet thread, often leaving noticeable gaps between each strip….” Read more. [Image above: Howardena Pindell, Untitled, 1974-1975, mixed media on canvas, 42 1/2 x 66 1/2 inches.]


In The Brooklyn Rail, publisher Phong Bui sits down with Walter Robinson to discuss the art world, Robinson’s painting, normcore, and arts writing. “I started writing reviews for Art in America when Brian O�Doherty briefly served as the magazine�s editor. Very infrequently. On a very modest scale. If you look at the file cards for the writers at Art in America you�ll see, say, Rob Storr, card after card, writing review after review on important shows. Whereas it would take me like six months to write one 500-word text [laughs]. I remember I wrote on Nam June [Paik] and first I started with a history of video art. Then I threw all that out and wrote his biography. Then I threw all that out and actually focused on the show, which by then had been closed for two months. And since I hadn�t paid any attention to what was in the show, I had to call up the gallery and ask them for information, and write it all second-hand. It was an exercise in postmodernism! By the time I had started working at Artnet, after decades of practice, I was much better at it. Now I feel like I can always think of something interesting to say. When you�re just starting out, you look at the art and you know you�re intrigued, but you don�t really know what to say….” Read more.


Roberta Smith and I both dig “Cosmicomics,” Sharon Horvath’s painting show at Lori Bookstein through this weekend. In her short review last week, Smith took a swipe at less focused artists: “[Horvath’s] long cultivation of aspects of cartooning, overlooked art, patterning and lightweight materials found in much painting today has paid off with a combination of concentration and resonance that remains too rare.” Ouch.  Read more. [Image above: Sharon Horvath, Xlthlx,2014, pigment, ink and polymer on paper on canvas, 12 x 12 inches.]

At Hyperallergic, Jillian Steinhauer tackles Ken Johnson’s dismissive review of Michelle Grabner’s exhibition that ran in the NYTimes last week. “Grabner may make ‘bland art’ (his words), and she may be a ‘middle-class tenured professor and soccer mom,’ but to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between those two conditions, as Johnson does in the paragraph, is sexist (and classist).” I agree with Steinhauer. Johnson’s review was lazy writing–more like something a blogger without an editor (like me!) might publish, not the NYTimesRead more. [Image above: Michelle Grabner installation @ James Cohen.]


In a fascinating review of Boltanski and Chiapello�s book, New Spirit of CapitalismBenjamin Evans, a Ph.D candidate at the New School, director of Projective City Contemporary Art, and former director of NurtureArt, suggests that emerging artists in communities such as Minnesota, Berlin and Brooklyn are more mired in contemporary capitalism than we admit. It’s not just happening in Chelsea:

[Making a] connection between �emerging� artists and contemporary capitalism
isn�t quite so audacious. Reading this book while running a Brooklyn
gallery gave me the impression that at times the authors were in fact
writing about myself, my friends, and the legions of hungry artists I
came in contact with. For really, such artists are in effect budding
entrepreneurs, attempting to sell the brands that they have become. They
are not only the producers of a product, they are also its primary
advertisers, wholesalers, and often retailers. Success on any level
depends almost entirely on network performance, the ability to coalesce
with others around diverse projects. �Work� involves not only hours in a
studio, but also attending openings, going to parties, shaking hands,
schmoozing, making Facebook type �friends� who can immediately be put
into the service of further project development. All contacts are
potential partners on a project, potential platforms for network
extension. Being a contemporary artist without giving up the common
moral prohibition on instrumentalizing other humans is almost
impossible, as contemporary success is defined entirely by a marketplace
whose workings utterly require such instrumentalization….

I’m not sure what this means yet, but I’m definitely going to put the article on my students’ reading lists.  Read more.

Related posts:
Lovable: Chris Martin at Anton Kern
2014 Whitney Biennial: Curators’ statements, painting links
Sharon Horvath: Condensed visionary fictions
The slaves to facture vs. tentative doubters at Exit Art


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