Archive for the ‘art history’ Category

2024 Whitney Biennial: What to Expect

While the Whitney Museum of American Art’s webpage still defines the Whitney Biennial as “the longest-running survey of American art” (emphasis added), this year’s eighty-first installment will expand its reach well beyond the United States. The show includes artists from Chile, Britain, Korea, Indonesia, Canada, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland, Lebanon, Singapore, Mongolia, Finland, Sweden, Croatia, India, Mexico, and China. This mad dash for inclusivity is consistent with the theme of the 2024 Venice Biennale, “Foreigners Everywhere,” but, whereas Venice’s has always been an international affair, the Whitney’s has always been national, making it a radical departure.

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 […]

The Problem with Open Letters

In these movements we find defiant artists who, disgusted with the pretense of a corrupt civilization, went on to disassociate from the art that represented this civilization. For moral and not formal reasons, they sought to turn the page on the art that had come before—in Dada’s case, traditional and even modernist painting; in the case of Art Informel, on geometric abstraction á la Piet Mondrian. These artists voted with their brushes. Regardless of whether we like its results, this response of withdrawal and rejection is perfectly understandable.

In contrast, today’s artists opt for the activist mode to show their disillusionment with humanity. They vote with their keyboards, venting by e-signing, and then, e-withdrawing their signatures, before e-apologizing.

America’s Favorite Television Artist Strikes Again

The Joy of Painting—a TV series hosted by American artist Bob Ross, on which he would conjure up Alaskan landscapes in just 27 minutes of airtime—ran for 403 episodes between 1983 and 1994. Eventually syndicated to almost 300 PBS stations nationwide, it attracted over 80 million daily viewers of varying ages and backgrounds. According to […]

Evan Holloway’s “Scry if you want to” LP released June 29

Last November I visited Evan Holloway’s Los Angeles studio to tape our conversation for his upcoming exhibition “Scry if you want to” at Xavier Hufkens. It consisted of three new bodies of work: abstract paintings referencing 16th century writings by the inventors of Enochian magic John Dee and Edward Kelley, large-scale automatic drawings, and welded […]

Museums and willful ignorance

When Boris Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novel Doctor Zhivago, the Soviet press exploded with outrage. The year was 1958, and although Stalin was dead, he had instilled a lingering fear, and despite the liberalizations of his successor, Khruschev, critical portrayals of life in the ussr were still commonly demonized as enemy propaganda. […]

Who is afraid of risqué art?

The question of whether an artwork is offensive is now determined by the least generous interpretation of the most sensitive viewer.