The Meta of Marble

Skira Editore Milano just published a monograph on British-Iranian artist Reza Aramesh. In addition to several texts, and an interview with the artist, ACTION: BY NUMBER contains a catalogue raisonné of his work from 2002 onwards, including Aramesh’s recent marble sculpture. I discuss the art-historical genesis and cultural meaning of these spectacular and frightening works in my essay “The Meta of Marble.” (pp.124–129). The book was released today, in conjunction with the opening of Reza’s site-specific exhibition NUMBER 207 at CHIESA DI SAN FANTIN in Venice. The exhibition was curated by Serubiri Moses, who also edited the monograph.

I first visited Reza’s London studio in October of 2022 to talk about his marble sculpture, and during this visit we made an incredible, serendipitous discovery. It turned out that we both knew, and loved, the late art historian and collector Thomas Frangenberg whom I met at “The Lives of Leonardo” conference hosted by the Warburg Institute in 2007. Thomas later co-edited a volume of the conference essays published by the Warburg Institute Colloquia series, and we became friends. One summer day in 2011 Thomas was my guide in Prague, sharing his vast and deep knowledge of Baroque sculpture and architecture. During a London visit the same year, I learned that Thomas was not your typical narrow-focus art historian (his academic specialization was Renaissance and Baroque)—he was also a very serious collector of contemporary art. [Click on the image below and go to page 74 to read about what happened to Thomas’ collection]

Thomas was a committed supporter of Reza’s work, and in the years before his untimely passing, he contributed to two of Reza’s catalogues. Reading Thomas’ essays made me want to write about Reza even more. It was something akin to art-historical providence, if there is such a thing. And now, that the book is out, we remember Thomas Frangenberg once again.

The Perfect Trifecta

My latest article for Quillette is about the perfect trifecta of performance art, sensationalist nudity, and media attention.

I Me Mine

This article published in Quillette is a cautionary tale about what happens when while looking at a painting one only sees their own reflection. As the historian Christopher Lasch pointed out four decades ago, disproportionate concern with “identity” is directly linked to the difficulties of establishing the boundaries of selfhood. And without the certainty of one’s own outlines, the narcissistic self takes over, adding to the cache of hashtag art history.

Art History cancelled

The April issue of the New Criterion has my article about the Santa Barbara Museum of Art debacle—the eleventh-hour cancellation of the “Three American Painters: Then and Now” exhibition, and the firing of its curator Dr. Eik Kahng.

Read and weep.

2024 Whitney Biennial: What to Expect

The upcoming 2024 Whitney Biennial: “Even Better Than the Real Thing” is billed as a departure both from tradition, and from reality. My take on what we might expect in this year’s edition is not up on The New Criterion website.

Tracey Emin’s new paintings

My review of the anodyne show “Tracey Emin: Lovers Grave” at NYC White Cube.

William Blake at the Getty

My last article published in 2023 was about the Getty exhibition of William Blake, the unrelenting radical who once said that “Where any view of Money exists Art cannot be carried on.” One wonders what the famously recalcitrant artist, poet, and religious visionary would have made of his work being presented by an institution whose endowment last year was $8.4 billion.