Think of the paintings of Lucy Dodd as very, very low-relief earthworks along the lines of Robert Smithson’s or Michael Heizer’s. By making massive material processes and natural phenomena almost one-dimensional, Dodd's work widens the senses, makes the cosmic thickening visible, and uncrumples something fundamental. Although just looking at (or sometimes smelling) her large begrimed art is exhilarating enough, I wanted to run my tongue on a couple of the paintings that the David Lewis Gallery checklist says contain leaf extract, wild walnut, yew berries, liquid smoke, and flower essence. Other works include nettles, black lichen, saliva, iron oxide, charcoal, and dog urine. Some have fermenting smells; one seems to be darkening before our eyes. In this way, Dodd's paintings become two-dimensional animals with inbuilt chemistries, going through secret artistic caramelizations and painterly photosynthesis, converting liquids and semisolids into bliss. Mircea Eliade defined shamanism as "techniques of ecstasy." I see these techniques in Dodd's work. And the spirits of chaos.
Every week, Vulture faces the big, important questions in entertainment and comes to some creative conclusions. This week, we evaluated the artistic merits of Kanye's new music video, translated some Ja'mie slang, and defended The Food Network (sort of). You may have read some of these stories below, but you certainly didn’t read them all. We forgive you.
Lou Reed got Kanye West's Yeezus absolutely right. "No one's near doing what he's doing,” Reed wrote in a review just a few weeks before he died. “It's not even the same planet ... He keeps unbalancing you." The unbalancing act went full-tilt last week, when West released the video for “Bound 2.” Instantaneously, the Internet did what the Internet does: hate. The video was ridiculed as clueless kitsch. But I dig it, and I think it represents a part of a collective cultural fracturing, via an idiom that I call the New Uncanny.
The Museum of Modern Art is the Himalayas of Modernism. The galleries brim with masterpieces, and then some. In fact, this overstuffed museum now hangs drop-dead works everywhere: in hallways, by the elevators, in the stairwells. The art you’re walking past on your way to the famous stuff is sometimes better than what you’ll see when you get there. These eight paintings are located smack-dab on MoMA’s psychic median strip. Avoid traffic while looking, and deploy elbows as needed.
Every week, Vulture faces the big, important questions in entertainment and comes to some creative conclusions. This week, we prepped you for the opening of Catching Fire, looked back on 1998, and made a case for why Taylor Swift is queen of pop. You may have read some of these stories below, but you certainly didn’t read them all. We forgive you.
Nine years ago this week, MoMA opened its brand-new shiny $750 million building. Since this Garden of Modernism reopened, I’ve been gibbering about the dearth of art by women in the museum’s all-important permanent collection of painting and sculpture, installed on the fourth and fifth floors. MoMA is modernism’s mothership, so the way the story of modernism is told here is crucial. And the numbers are horrendous.
Michael Williams’s fourth show since 2007 at this painting-centric gallery gives electric evidence that his painterly promise has come to impressive fruition. In the two spacious galleries of the newly relocated Canada, I was stunned into something like a stupor by Williams's work. No matter how closely or long I looked at these eleven large colorful paintings, I could not gain a purchase on their surfaces. His new work delivers a sort of tranquilizer bullet to one's ability to detect haptic presence. A viewer knows there's paint on the canvas, and yet when one tries to focus on it through the multiple overlays of images and abstract fields, the paintings continually come into and then fall away from actually feeling physical. Philosopher Maurice Blanchot has written about such paradoxical "inaccessibility" as something being in "infinite pursuit of its own source." I know that I felt like Williams's new paintings suspended me in an optic warp that kept me probing their processes and painterly source.
The Queens Museum, a sometime stepchild of New York’s cultural life, has just reopened after a $69 million renovation that doubled its space (to 105,000 square feet) and aims at doubling attendance (to 200,000 visitors a year). Art critic Jerry Saltz and architecture critic Justin Davidson toured it together.
Every week, Vulture faces the big, important questions in entertainment and comes to some creative conclusions. This week, we revisited the Christmas classic Love Actually, obsessed over things Jennifer Lawrence said, and put together a compendium of cultural artifacts you probably missed in the past few decades. You may have read some of these stories below, but you certainly didn’t read them all. We forgive you.
Today on Reddit, our own art critic Jerry Saltz held his very first AMA. Here are our favorite answers from the rapid-fire online forum, which saw Jerry weighing in on all manner of art world topics, both highbrow and low — from the Louvre (“your architecture is stupid, and everyone gets lost there”) to Hova (“I fell in love with Jay Z's smile”).
Last night, Francis Bacon's 1969 painting Three Studies of Lucian Freud became the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction. After six minutes of bidding at New York's Christie's auction house, an unnamed bidder emerged victorious with a bid of $142,405,000. (Apparently, the bid of $142,405,001 came in too late.) This surpasses the previous record of $120 million that Edvard Munch's The Scream set in 2012. (We should note that this record is only for auction, as a version of Cézanne's The Card Players reportedly sold for upwards of $250–300 million to the nation of Qatar.) The piece itself is noteworthy for being particularly bright for Bacon, and for featuring another legendary artist, Freud, as the subject of the painting, at the height of their friendship (and possibly "friendship"). We can't help but think of all the actual bacon that person could've bought for that money, but that's just because it's breakfast time.
Tonight, sometime after 7 p.m., Christopher Wool’s signature 1988 work, Apocalypse Now, will be auctioned at Christie’s, and estimates for the selling price are in the $10 to 15 million range; the last week or so has seen similarly record-high contemporary art purchases. Instead of catering to carefully selected museums and collectors, auction houses sell to the highest bidder. They find two people who want the same work and get them to bid as high as possible; often those who buy work will only sell it again in two years.
Lady Gaga’s #ArtRave wouldn’t — in fact, barely did — exist without that hashtag. Or all sorts of hashtags; this event was a product of our hashtag economy, an album release party for #ArtPop, a streaming-video promo sanctification for Gaga (or yet another one) that also served as a kind of symbolic, pagan arranged marriage between her and the idea (or at least some idea) of Jeff Koons, who made the album cover for her. His “gazing ball” series, a high/low riff on classical statuary to which he appended mystically infused globular lawn ornaments, was the basis for that cover depiction of her, which you had to walk around when you entered this temporary temple in the Brooklyn Navy Yard: a huge white, nude statue of Gaga herself, legs spread, hands on her breasts, a big reflective blue gazing ball between her knees, like an out-of-body womb. She’s not looking down into it, as if examining herself, or hoping for a crystal ball glimpse of her future, but rather looking straight ahead, over it, across the length of the massive room to the wedding cake stage where she would ultimately perform.
Every week, Vulture faces the big, important questions in entertainment and comes to some creative conclusions. This week, we wrote a lot about Thor, enumerated the reasons why men should watch Scandal, and wondered if Hollywood is ever going to make movies about black people that aren't total bummers. You may have read some of these stories below, but you certainly didn’t read them all. We forgive you.
The second I saw Thomas Eggerer's current large show at Petzel Gallery — the artist's fourth here since 2004—I thought, This overrated art star is way out of gas, going through the motions. As I lingered, looking, going from work to work and back again, things only devolved. I thought, I know this feeling. It's that, sadly, these purposeless humdrum shows by fairly well-known artists are becoming more common.
In the catalogue accompanying Christopher Wool’s impressive retrospective now at the Guggenheim, the artist Richard Prince writes of this artist’s multiple uses of “spray-painted swirls … transfer drips, splatters, puddles, and ‘by-the-by’ patterns,” and how they “taught an old dog new tricks.” The “old dog” here is painting; the “new tricks” are the ways in which Wool’s greasy-looking, commanding surfaces, the narrow formal confines he set for himself, and his ambiguous polycentric spaces create alchemical cyclotrons. Wool’s paintings of blocky letters, words, and phrases; abstract graphic fields filled with erasures; and boxy geometries implausibly synthesize the gesturalism of mid-century Modernism—now out of style, semi-forbidden—with cooler art from the age of mechanical reproduction. Think of his paintings as places where Warhol’s disaster, flower, and Rorschach paintings meet Pollock’s and de Kooning’s, all done in black mucoid goo. The results have made Wool, 58, among the most influential mid-career American painters.
Every week, Vulture faces the big, important questions in entertainment and comes to some creative conclusions. This week, we wrote about a bunch of scary movies, excoriated Banksy, and eulogized Lou Reed and River Phoenix. You may have read some of these stories below, but you certainly didn’t read them all. We forgive you.
Our monthlong snorefest is over. British self-promo man and Batman-graffiti-artist Banksy has concluded his one-work-a-day "New York Residency." Say good-bye to flash mobs of tourists running from painting to painting taking selfies; to easy “art world” fodder for tabloids and local TV crews; to sledgehammer-obvious cheekiness, drop-dead pictorial banality, and glib political commentaries painted on New York City walls. Never mind the fact that Banksy fanboys and fangirls passed at least a dozen better pieces of street art every time they rushed to see one of his paintings — no other graffiti artist has a PR machine remotely like Banksy’s. You can almost hear him laughing all the way to the, well, bank. As for his works, some have already been removed and the owners are likely cashing in for sums in the five- and six-figures. Good for them. Those works that remain, without the spotlight of hyped-up publicity, now look as trite, generic, and as boring as they really are.
Banksy completed his NYC residency today with some balloons in Queens. "And that's it," the artist wrote on his website. "Thanks for your patience. It's been fun. Save 5pointz. Bye." This post was originally published on October 16, but now includes the entire month's worth of local Banksy works.
It's the talk of the town, especially on the Internet: Banksy, world-renowned recluse and PG-13 provocateur is wreaking organized havoc on the streets of New York City. The result, the public show "Better In Than Out," is part scavenger hunt and part performance piece, with a new work popping up each day throughout the month of October, in neighborhoods far and wide.
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