February 17, 2012









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December 11, 2011

A Column of (and On) Contemporary Art

A Review of Maurizio Cattelan: All at the Guggenheim

Chang W. Lee for the New York Times

Chang W. Lee for the New York Times

At risk of tritely introducing an artist by claiming that he or she needs no introduction, it so happens that Guggenheim Chief Curator Nancy Spector’s expository statement provides an excellent survey of his career, a worthy complement to her institution’s current Maurizio Cattelan retrospective.

In a sense, a major museum exhibition, even (or perhaps especially) at the Guggenheim, represents a kind of demise, Cattelan’s often-noted obsession, an expression of Heidegger’s Being-unto-Death in which the artist is ‘looking back,’ per the parlance, at an oeuvre that has ossified into something cohesive on the premise of comprehensiveness, a body of work that is consummate—immortalized—in a way that can be only defined in terms of mortality.

Nevertheless the work is not collectively bereft of the myriad meaning that it had in 1989, 1990, 1991, etc., though many of the specimens are indeed taxidermied. If there is an overall sensation that Cattelan has turned the museum into a mausoleum, it’s worth noting that it’s impossible (and futile) to determine whether the artist has done utmost respect or disrespect for the dead.

In any case, I was immediately struck by the sheer presence—i.e., the physicality—of the elaborately-suspended spectacle. The radically vertical arrangement attenuates the otherwise vertiginous nature of the atrium, allowing the viewer to see each piece from virtually every angle, a veritable infinity of perspectives and, likewise, juxtapositions that simply could never be achieved in a regular gallery space.

Indeed, the overarching sense of discovery is refreshingly more like a curio shop than the partitioned tabula rasa of, say, MoMA’s sixth floor: one encounters the smitten pope thrice over (La Nona Ora, 1999); a readymade bicycle; a particularly long-eared leporid; anti-authoritarian sentiments abound; sleeping dogs; banality revisited time and again; and, of course, the artist himself at varying levels.

The five-story spiral of Wright’s sometimes-frustrating interior imparts an anthropomorphic scale to the mass of artwork to brilliant effect, the undeniable totality made manageable as it unravels in the viewer’s two-dimensional orbit. By presenting the work as a kind of anti-architecture, Cattelan transcends—or at least annuls—the antagonism between artist and architect to realize a near-perfect stasis between figure and ground, each fulfilling the destiny of the other.

It’s not so much that Cattelan has exploited the space as an ideal (as Matthew Barney did rather callously, or at least cartoonishly, in his magnum opus), but that he has masterfully harnessed its potential as a venue. Gravity and tension cancel out as pure inertia—physically, if not quite figuratively—to incorporate the disparate objects as a self-contained system that can be circumnavigated as a world. (As in Sartrean phenomenology, Cattelan’s world is subject only to ontological inquiry; one gets the sense that not even Spector herself could convincingly justify the existence of these artworks.) Read the rest of this entry »

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September 1, 2011



» “Ed Hardy.


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July 18, 2011


berlin-1berlin-2berlin-tvt1berlin-tvt2berlin-3berlin-tvt3berlin-4berlin-5berlin-6 Read the rest of this entry »

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April 20, 2011

Why Weiwei?





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December 13, 2010

Ai Weiwei – Sunflower Seeds


Amazing; even more so after seeing this:

He seems like a nice guy.


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July 27, 2010


…a.k.a. link dump / linkage /clickage from the past month; more to come…

  • Very Bushwick and very fabulous (NYT)
  • You know how we do in Brooklyn (Inc.)
  • Pitchfork is Times-worthy.
  • I managed to avoid reading any commentary on Inception until I actually saw it for myself yetserday, though at this point, I cannot possibly hope to catch up with all of the bandwidth that has been spilled (not to mention plot spoiled)—in theory and in practice, for example—over Nolan’s polarizing masterpiece. Also: A.O. Scott on film criticism in the digital age in theory and in practice; Dileep Rao (who plays Yusef) gives us the straight dope; Jonah Lehrer speculates on the neuroscience behind the film. Plus, Jonah Lehrer on LSD (in a manner of speaking)
  • Am I guilty of “a breezy writing style”? (The Economist; related: China’s microblog macro-crackdown)
  • Amid all the talk of his new book Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis also finds time to reflect on American Psycho (The Guardian)
  • Sasha Frere-Jones endorses music in cloud form (The New Yorker)
  • Tom Vanderbilt included a link to Dave Horton’s unabashedly self-righteous five-part essay on the fear of cycling in his own musings on bicycle highways for Slate. Definitely required reading for anyone who chooses to bike for transportation (as opposed to simply for leisure), with the caveat that it feels a bit too much like justification for my sense of entitlement that I feel when I tell pedestrians to get out of the bike lane. Still, the car culture of the US is easily worse than that of the UK (where Horton’s expertise lies; at least London has congestion pricing) and the essay actually affirmed my fear that cycling still has a long way to go.



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July 8, 2010

Big Bang Big Boom

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June 15, 2010

The Creators Projection

Intel × Vice’s recently-launched Creators Project feels a bit contrived on premise—i.e., a tech titan’s attempt to co-opt the cool—but the production value and content is really quite good. In fact, it’s just as well that Vice/VBS.tv gets a shit-ton money from a corpulent corporation with cash to spare; hence, the (free) star-studded NYC launch party. (It’s already sold out, but I’m going out of town that weekend anyway… speaking of which, I’m going to be out of town this weekend as well, so let’s just say that June’s editorial calendar will be a little leaner than usual.)

James Powderly (above) may be an engineering whiz, but Brock Davis is pure pop fun:

via Oak

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June 7, 2010

Unsorted Links

UPDATE: Rearranged with respect to the next post; trust me, it’s better for everyone this way.


Richard Barnes - Murmur 8, December 14 2005

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