Richard Prince, the very famous 64-year-old artist, loved Instagram. He’d joined it in the middle of last year, when he’d gotten a new iPhone. “It’s almost like it was invented for someone like myself,” he says. “It’s like carrying around a gallery in your pocket... Everything became easy. It was enjoyable. It reminded me of a free concert.” Prince is a member of the “pictures generation”— the group that, in the 1970s, began making art out of appropriated and rephotographed mass-culture images — so the idea of being able to conveniently dip in and out of this endless river of photos, and get instant feedback on his own, enthralled him.
New York is about to be awash in art, with the Whitney Biennial going up and the Armory Show coming to town. But New York is always awash in great art (much of it not for sale—imagine that). Here, critic Jerry Saltz has created six walking tours of galleries, museums, and the street, singling out 43 particular pieces he loves. The slideshow can give you only a taste—illustrated or crudely reproduced—so put on good shoes, and take a look at these works for yourself.
These artists will engage with the old Whitney building as they close it down.
The character of Donelle Woolford (fictionally b. 1980; above left) was created by the middle-aged white artist Joe Scanlan and is embodied by the actress Jennifer Kidwell. Wearing man-drag, she’ll reenact a 1977 stand-up routine by Richard Pryor.
A local artist paid Ai Weiwei a strange compliment on Sunday by smashing one of the sixteen vases in the Chinese artist and activist's installation "Colored Vases" at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Maximo Caminero tells the Miami New Times that he was protesting local museums excluding Miami artists while spending "many millions now on international artists." He was inspired by one of Ai's most famous works, "Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn," a series of photographs in which Weiwei smashes an ancient Chinese vase. "I saw it as a provocation by Ai to join him in an act of performance protest," said Caminero.
Hudson — the founder of the Feature Inc. gallery, who went by one name — was one of the greatest of his generation, a generation that was rich in art-dealer talent. Feature opened on April Fool's Day 1984 with a show of work by Richard Prince, and was eventually among the first to exhibit the art of Takashi Murakami, Raymond Pettibon, Tom Friedman, Charles Ray, B. Wurtz, Judy Linn, Richard Kern, Lisa Beck, Tom of Finland, and many others. Hudson was 63, but seemed timeless. He was one of the last of his kind, and among the smartest, wittiest, and most visionary gallerists I've ever known — old-school in that he almost seemed not to want to be a dealer. He just loved art and artists.
You don't paint; I don't paint. But we both like painting. Could one of us, in our first time ever picking up a brush, re-create by hand, with no one's assistance, an exact replica of one of the most beautifully complex paintings in art history — Johannes Vermeer's The Music Lesson? The question is like something out of a Borges short story, imagining the impossible possibility of a one-to-one scale map of the world that covers the world, or the old statistical saw about monkeys and typewriters. The mind-blowing answer given in this documentary foray into the depths of human drive is: Not only can this be done, but we can see it, over the course of 80 quietly intense minutes. Far from deflating our sense of art or giving the lie to past definitions of artistic ability, Tim's Vermeer, which opens in New York this weekend, proves that the way to greatness is always in redefining skill and following obsession. (Read my colleague Bilge Ebiri's review here.) If this film doesn't leave you saying "Holy shit!" nothing will.
As a noxious cloud of anemic abstract painting and sculpture continues to blanket the art world — and junior postmodernists churn out handsome harmless knockoffs, all involving scraping, scribbling, silkscreened images, spray paint, stenciling, staining, and some drips — a small survey of the late Moira Dryer is a quickening pick-me-up. The day Dryer died from cancer in 1992, at just 34, the art world lost a great gritty painter. Starting in 1986, her work startled the art world, then stuck in a similar rut of cool formalist abstraction. This eight-painting show couldn’t be better timed.
The To Do list in this week's New York Magazine directed New Yorkers to the latest solo exhibition of photographer Jackie Nickerson. Her latest series is called "Terrain." The photos, taken all over Africa, show the basic task of gathering food. Where they diverge from ethnology, though, is in the poses — bodies support giant sacks, masses of vegetables or leaves, a Terry Gilliam tangle of vines. We simultaneously see people as people, as transport, and as sculpture. Click through this slideshow for a sample of her striking work, and then see the show at Chelsea's Jack Shaiman Gallery through February 15.
1. Defining a new form.
We live in the age of the selfie. A fast self-portrait, made with a smartphone’s camera and immediately distributed and inscribed into a network, is an instant visual communication of where we are, what we’re doing, who we think we are, and who we think is watching. Selfies have changed aspects of social interaction, body language, self-awareness, privacy, and humor, altering temporality, irony, and public behavior. It’s become a new visual genre—a type of self-portraiture formally distinct from all others in history. Selfies have their own structural autonomy. This is a very big deal for art.
What was Wade Guyton to do? When last we saw him in his full-on 2012 Whitney retrospective, deploying Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, bitmapped files, and inkjet printing on linen, Guyton had non-painted himself into a corner. On the one hand, he pushed these technologies beyond their limits in amazing ways, establishing a signature open way of making paintings that proceeded from artists like Reinhardt, Kelly, Warhol, Robert Morris, Dan Flavin, Christopher Wool, and the Pictures Art crowd. He developed a complex quantum touch, simultaneously there and not there, located between painting and printmaking, a computer and a printer, and dependent on the transmission of pure information. I liked two of the para-paintings in his survey so much I had the artist Vincent Zambrano make me perfect copies, using TIFFs of the originals, processed through Adobe Illustrator. I love them.
In naming DIA director Philippe Vergne its new director, the beloved and lately bedeviled Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art has taken a step to put itself out of the misery it's been in for almost six years. Born of an art community's mutual desires for a great museum and opened in 1983, MoCA has mounted an extraordinary number of exemplary group shows, surveys, and retrospectives. Everything was going swimmingly until the aughts, when it was discovered that under director Jeremy Strick the institution had spent down much of its endowment and was for all practices broke. From there, this great museum has had a season in hell. From the perspective of many in L.A.'s tight-knit art world, the low-water mark was Jeffrey Deitch's recently ended tenure.
When the Museum of Modern Art wrapped up six months of foregone agonizing and decided to raze the American Folk Art Museum, it claimed to be sacrificing a small work of architecture for the sake of Big Art. MoMA’s prescription for the ideal viewing experience is more galleries, more wall space, more hallways, and bigger lobbies. MoMA isn’t so much growing as it is engineering itself to pump high-volume crowds as efficiently as possible through its art-lined pipes.
To the Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art:
I write to you about the Museum of Modern Art’s planned redesign, including the removal of the former American Museum of Folk Art. Last week, Diller Scofidio + Renfro unveiled a design that replaces AFAM — a useless place for the exhibition of art, and a building whose demolition I have advocated — with even worse spaces. Their generic technocratic edifice is scornful to art, and will be less conducive to looking at art than the building it will replace. These designs are contemptuous of art, artists, and the museum. On behalf of the art community, I implore the trustees and board members to stop and reconsider the entire plan.
A few years ago, I was talking with an older filmmaker who referred casually to the photographers whose work he most admired. “Adams, Evans, Cosindas,” he said, ticking them off. Adams was Ansel Adams, of course; Evans was Walker Evans. But Cosindas? Hmm.
Back in 1978, a now-long-out-of-print collection called Marie Cosindas: Color Photographs was published with an introductory essay by Tom Wolfe, who wrote at great length about the quiet and painstaking and untrendy ways in which Cosindas worked. He ranked her with Klimt and Caravaggio. “A glow and a creamy richness quite unlike anything that had been seen in color photography” was his description. Another hmm.
It’s a couple of days into the New Year, and Jeffrey Deitch is in Los Angeles, that city that he, in three years as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art—and like so many swashbuckling, top-of-their-game Manhattanites who moved out West before him—ultimately failed to seduce. His plan was to transform the museum into a House of Deitchism: crowds, excitement, music, dancing, James Franco and Marina Abramovic, graffiti writers mixing it up with Andy Warhol’s soup cans, Kenneth Anger and the sisters of fashion label Rodarte. In short, the entire theatrical, multidisciplinary, occasionally pervy, finger-on-the-pulse aesthetic-entertainment complex that he’d helped stir up in New York, where for four decades he’d cavorted stylishly with a march of boldface names. It was a very New York concoction of cool.
The word art barely came up. Maybe that's why midway through this excruciatingly verbose three-hour closed-door briefing about MoMA’s second major rebuilding in less than ten years, I felt my eyes tear up and my stomach turn. (The breaking news, as you may have read in my colleague Justin Davidson’s review earlier today, is that the American Folk Art Museum is going to be demolished. He and I disagree about this, but I say it’s a building that was regrettably useless for art.) Meanwhile, the namesakes of the starchitecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, joined by MoMA director Glenn Lowry, whirred on about accessibility, flow, institutional interfacing with the city, connectivity, navigational legibility, surgical interventions, gestures of variation on the white cube and the black box (don't ask), social and performative space, micro-galleries, auto-critique, and "a large new architecturally significant staircase." The more I heard and saw, the sicker and sadder I got. Somewhere inside me, I heard myself saying my good-byes to MoMA. I thought, I have seen the best modern museum of my generation destroyed by madness.
The Museum of Modern Art is on the march again, advancing westward down 53rd Street, sweeping away the old American Folk Art Museum and planting its flag in the base of a future skyscraper. Previous iterations trail behind it like a supply chain: Goodwin and Stone’s 1939 original (which now looks like a dollhouse version of an art museum), Philip Johnson’s 1951 annex, Cesar Pelli’s 1984 interpolation, Yoshio Taniguchi’s austere monolith from 2004 — they’re all being preserved and updated. Only the American Folk Art Museum building, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s twelve-year-old gem, has to go, because, like a cobbler’s shack next to an airport, it’s in the way.
A few days after New Year’s, my wife and I made our annual postholiday pilgrimage to one of the sweetest and most visionary sights permanently on view in any New York museum: Carrie Stettheimer's fabulist two-story twelve-room dollhouse. Constructed between 1916 and 1935 and displayed at the Museum of the City of New York, it’s a wondrous candy-colored miniature of interior decoration, and it annually transports the two of us back to one of New York's most important, gloriously chic salons. Despite its atrocious placement in the museum's second floor hallway—it ought to have its own gallery—and even though it’s encased awkwardly in a wooden windowed box, the dollhouse is enough to remind indoor-dwelling wintered minds how much creative magic is always afoot around us.
If you need to be swept off your feet, the way it can happen when a visionary moment loosens your internal strictures and you behold the mist of another world, go to the Frick this month. There, alone in the Oval Gallery, is Johannes Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring. It is part of another one of those incredible embarrassments of New York art-exhibition riches we're so lucky to have, the fifteen-work knockout known as “Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting From the Mauritshuis.” This large-scale loan, seemingly bestowed upon New York by the Gods of Painting, came to us because this great Dutch museum is under renovation. Instead of putting the paintings in storage, the curators sent them on a world tour that includes a few weeks in New York. It probably won’t happen again in your lifetime, maybe ever.
Every week, Vulture faces the big, important questions in entertainment and comes to some creative conclusions. This week we lovingly prepared ten oral histories on some of our favorite micro moments from pop culture, defended Anchorman 2’s press tour, and took a minute to process Beyoncé’s album. You may have read some of these stories below, but you certainly didn’t read them all. We forgive you.
- Editorial Director
- Josh Wolk
- Deputy Editor
- Gilbert Cruz
- West Coast Editor
- Josef Adalian
- Senior Editor
- Kyle Buchanan
- Senior Editor
- Denise Martin
- Senior Editor
- John Sellers
- Staff Editor
- Amanda Dobbins
- Staff Editor
- Patti Greco
- Staff Editor
- Margaret Lyons
- Associate Editor
- Jesse David Fox
- Associate Editor
- Lindsey Weber