There are many possible ways to make a documentary about art and money. One tack might be to focus on the question of art’s value. Where does this value lie? Is art more valuable than a house? Than liberty? A human life? These are interesting questions, but unfortunately, Nathaniel Kahn’s new documentary, The Price of Everything, barely touches on them. Another approach might be to cast a broader net, and discuss blue chip art as one of many models artists have of making money off their work: regional artists selling to a local market, performance artists living off commission, workaday artists making souvenirs for tourists. These lives are interesting too, but Kahn’s documentary makes no mention of them. One could even make a comparative study of the few activities that receive market attention versus the many that have been practiced and continue to be practiced with no relation to markets at all: hobbies, cave paintings, ritual objects, outsider and underground art, decorative doodles in the margins of notebooks. This would be a fascinating typology, but unfortunately, Kahn’s documentary does not attempt it.
When I first entered this exhibit, I knew only bits and pieces of Whitten’s work - namely, his use of a “developer”, a handmade canvas-sized squeegee contraption that allowed him to make a painting in a manner of seconds. His developer paintings were on display, as were his homages, and sculpture from throughout his career.
What is the difference between erotic art and pornography; and why is it that the change of medium changes perspective?
These are questions Los Angeles based photographer Rowan Metzner is presenting in her latest photography book collection, Erotic Masters:A Photographic Exploration of the Provocative Works of Rodin, Schiele and Picasso, a collection of photographic representations of erotic works by modern masters Rodin, Schiele and Picasso. Each scene is photographed as if the original artists had done so themselves, inviting the viewer to contemplate the ultimate question: is photographed erotic art viewed as pornography?
“Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions, 1965-2016,” which was first shown at the Museum of Modern Art from March-July 2018, is an expansive and exhaustive retrospective of the artist and philosopher’s prolific body of work. Piper, who now lives in Berlin, was the first tenured African American woman professor in philosophy, and an intense attention to detail and masterful analysis is reflected in her work. The exhibition is mounted chronologically, and as such, you see Piper interrogate a variety of subjects over the course of her life: psychedelia and minimalism, time and space, meditations on philosophy, race, gender and abject embodiment, of social perceptions, of the death of both systems and people. Equally impressive is Piper’s command of media. Her works range from drawings and paintings, to sculpture, to photographs and essays, to performance. What unites her vast and masterful body of work is her attention to detail and a rigorous approach to the concepts she interrogates - and best of all, she has a sense of humor.
In the Gospel According to André, the documentary (directed by Kim Novak) takes account of the life of one of the fashion industry's most recognizable figures. André Leon Talley - born and raised in North Carolina, experienced his career birth in 1970s New York - as a one of a kind fashion editor flourishing amidst many of the most heralded artists, creators, movers and shakers of the age.
A pregnant woman, naked, leans back in a chair. Her arm is lifted behind her head, her face buried in her elbow, as she concentrates on her breathing. Her husband crouches beside her, his fingers cradling her ballooned lower belly, dipping just above her exposed vagina. She heaves, he heaves, a seemingly simultaneous labour, as the next chapter of their life crowns its head from the space between her legs.
The “David Bowie is” exhibit transforms the life of a music legend into a display of colorful artistry set to the backdrop of the singers greatest hit music at the Brooklyn Museum. The Bowie exhibit is unique in its style serving as a tribute to David Bowie and his diverse music.
If not for the police barricades currently surrounding it, the J. Marion Sims statue on the East side of Central Park and 103rd street could serve as a portrait of urban serenity to unknowing passerby.
It was as horrifying as it was life-changing, the lack of any facial feature or details erased from her quasi-cartoonish figures engaging in a chaotic interplay of violent revenge and total domination, confronting the viewer with the stubbornness of slavery’s legacy that had been transmuted into 150 years of racist governmental policy and cultural stereotypes.
A beautifully produced feast for the eyes, Sara Driver’s new documentary, Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat is chock-full of information, (skillfully edited) entertaining, uplifting, informative, gripping, and, most of all, a love letter to artists, art lovers, and the East Village.
Brooklyn Museum’s, We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women1965 -1985, retrospective, which closed on September 17, brings many fascinating pieces of work out from the archives to showcase a more idealistic and hopeful time.
‘Skin me, Brer Fox,’ sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, ‘snatch out my eyeballs, t’ar out my years by de roots, en cut off my legs,’ sezee, ‘but do please, Brer Fox, don’t fling me in dat brier- patch,’ sezee. Co’se Brer Fox wanter hurt Brer Rabbit bad ez he kin, so he cotch ’im by de behime legs en slung ’im right in de middle er de brier-patch.’
It is characteristic of our cultural moment that sincerity often sits uneasy in our stomachs. We’ve heard all the lines before. We know them from a million b-list movies we can’t quite recall, but which form a background of white noise to everything we take in today.
Biennials are a strange thing by their nature. Meant to represent the cream of the artistic crop, these biannual events offer an implicit promise for both artistic excellence (however one chooses to define that these days) and sharp social commentary. In this way the art displayed at a biennial serves a dual purpose: to assure highbrow connoisseurs that quality fine art is still being produced, and at the same time to reflect the zeitgeist. This zeitgeist does not belong to the rarified air of the New York art world, however, or the downtown scenesters sipping wine out of plastic cups in the antiseptic spaces of Chelsea art galleries. The zeitgeist is messy. It consists of violent video games, mass shootings, mind-boggling inequality, opiate addiction, racial tension, social media, and a consumer economy based on cheap labor, disposable products, and omnipresent advertising. In other words, it is about as far from 19th century French impressionism as one could possibly get.
On the occasion of “Too Late: the European Can(n)on is Here,” their second dual exhibition together at Shoestring Press, artists Lane Sell and Phil Rabovsky sat down with curator Madeleine Boucher in a tiny Brooklyn living room over no small amount of whiskey.
Currently on view are exhibits featuring the work of Irving Penn and Rei Kawakubo for fashion house, Comme des Garçons. I went to view both spectacles in the same day and saw Irving Penn’s photographs first. This retrospective of Penn’s work is the largest to date and celebrates the centennial of the artist’s birth.