Had Rosler, she asked, drawn any new conclusions on her idea of the garage sale as a self-image? “Well, the artist is always the last to know!” Rosler joked. “But I have to say, it’s remarkable—I’m not that surprised—but it’s remarkable to me to see an active resistance of people to thinking of this as anything other than a space in which they get to buy something they want, and in which we are here to serve them. And who are quite grumpy about the possibility that something else might be infusing it with what it is.”
In Walker’s handling, “tell me what you’ve bought, and I’ll tell you who are” is less accusation, more intellectual puzzle, an investigation into the various ways the marketplace of products is also a marketplace of selves: “Branded material culture is something we tend to take for granted and don't think about very seriously,” Walker explained in an email exchange on the eve of the show’s opening. “And it's a pretty constant goal of everything I do to try to prod people to see something new in what's previously been overlooked.”
Employing such a loose curatorial approach, any similarities in artist styles emerged on their own. And the curatorial mission sought not so much to identify trends in contemporary black art practice as to find possible through-lines from prior emerging-artist shows. Fore is the fourth such exhibition presented by the Studio Museum, following Freestyle (2001), Frequency (2005–06) and Flow (2008). Not many of the works in Fore are tied to black culture or even to Harlem, a cultural touchstone for the museum, but if they were, assistant curator Naima J. Keith felt the expressions were complicated or reoriented in some way.(2)
“I didn’t find any themes,” she told me. The opening was well attended by art press, notably Sarah Thornton and Jerry Saltz. Donnelly led us through three galleries on the fourth and fifth floors, each of which looks like a separate show. One comprises a single, broken row of mid-20th century Eliot Porter photographs of small birds; another, a salon-style roadshow, spanning the late 19th and 20th centuries; and the third, a sort of answer to the New Museum’s recent Ghosts in the Machine, with Art Nouveau-style furniture pieces and 1980s microchip diagrams.
A Reagan-era Ed Kienholz installation is mounted again with a different president, and the same political message
Across the eyes of each of the large figures were blindfolds with the word ‘NO’ scrawled across them. It’s part of the piece’s operational rules. The country in which it’s displayed determines the color of the flashing lights and the flag held by the vice president, while a poll determines if the blindfolds read “YES” or “NO.” Pace had held a poll in the weeks leading up to the show asking art “Are you satisfied with your government?” I asked Kienholz how she felt about politics today. “Same as I felt about it then,” she replied swiftly.
The show—known simply as Richard Artschwager! (and up through Feb. 3, 2013)—is surprising and exciting and sincere and beautiful. And it even features its own exclamation point, a five-and-a-half-foot tall one, in stunning chartreuse no less, consisting of plastic bristles attached to a mahogany core and presented as a kind of gleeful surprise.
Four former winners of the beauty pageant had come to the press breakfast for artist Fiona Gardner and journalist Amy Zimmer’s Meet Miss Subways exhibition. It was as odd a location for a promotional breakfast as it always has been for a museum, tucked away inside the decommissioned Court Street subway stop on the A line (the station was open for only 10 years, from 1936 to 1946, before reopening as the museum three decades later). On display here are dozens of compelling latter-day portraits of the city subway system's promotional beauty-contest winners, as well as photos and ephemera from the contest's 35 years. But it was the living beauties, the former contest winners, who were the main attraction.
Vik Muniz and others figure out how to make profound photos in a world that generates 30 billion images a year
“That’s my favorite Aperture book,” Muniz said. “That art book of [Edward] Weston’s, but it doesn’t have that picture.” Muniz said pointing to his work, a portrait of Weston’s lover titled The White Iris, “I actually used the book to make that picture so instead of putting the picture back in the book, I put the book in the picture. If you look at the side, all the bits and pieces are from the book, put together.” “So you tore an archival book?” the woman asked. “Yes, it was a first edition!” Muniz responded, “It was very cannibalistic.”(1)
Both shows merit repeated visits. Many of the 58 drawings at the Frick are on view in New York for the first time, and none of the 100 works at the Morgan has been shown in the United States before. Drawn from two of the world’s great collections, London’s Courtauld Gallery and Munich’s Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, the exhibitions are awe inspiring. Both encompass works by the Italian and Northern European Old Masters (including Mantegna, Dürer, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt). In addition, The Frick show gives prominence to English and French artists from the 18th and 19th centuries, while the Morgan exhibit highlights exuberant drawings in the Bavarian Rococo style along with works from the late 20th century.
All of which is to say that, in aggregate, Regarding Warhol seems more like a celebration of what we already know about Warhol's legacy than an investigation of what we might not have considered. Many of the individual pieces in the show, including many by Warhol himself—the well-known but rarely-screened Empire State, say, or the Birmingham Race Riot screenprint, or IDiamond Dust Joseph Beuys—are not only fascinating to look at but have the potential to seriously impact the viewer. But they are rarely given the chance.
Popular design is often similarly opaque on the drawing board, and similarly transformative once out in the world. The struggle to understand the tenuous relationship between proposal and impact plays out again and again in Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900-2000, an exhibition on now at Museum of Modern Art of roughly 500 objects created for children (clothing, desks and chairs, notebooks, computer games, playgrounds, advertisements, films, television shows) between the years 1900 and 2000, many coming from familiar names in both art and child-rearing in the West—Steiner, Montessori, Bauhaus, Disney.
The Mark that I met upstairs will be at the gallery for the next week, on a mattress, on the ground, trying to play the guitar, impersonating the Mark I chatted with downstairs. Flood’s den upstairs could be a mock-up of the domiciles of his younger days: he has said that he would essentially squat in soon-to-be demolished buildings, thereby avoiding even the threat of rent (although he’d give the landlord a few hundred dollars for his stay).
Of course it's not just the old, familiar "information overload" complaint that actually echoed through the ages long before the digital era. For those of us who don’t give in to the paranoia that zettabytes of cat videos and baby pictures are unstoppably degrading the sanctity of The Image, it’s extraordinary to be confronted, as one is at the Guggenheim Museum’s current Rineke Dijkstra mid-career retrospective, with rather ordinary-looking images of rather ordinary-looking people, and to be intensely moved.
Up until the turn of the twentieth century, the story of American beer production was largely set in New York City. This is the story told at Beer Here: Brewing New York’s Beer History, a newly opened exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, on view through September 2. Consider two local American beer giants of the recent past: Schaefer and Rheingold. Both companies were founded by German immigrants in the nineteenth century and enjoyed nearly a century of national brand recognition thanks to Mad Men-era jingles touting them respectively as, “My beer is Rheingold, the dry beer!” and, “The one beer to have when you’re having more than one.”
A double opening at the Museum of Chinese in America announces an exciting new era for the institution may be at hand
MoCA, like other small, ethnically focused museums, occupies a unique place in the museum world, floating between history and art, with the potential to go in both directions. Founded strictly as a history museum (it was originally called the New York Chinatown History Project), MoCA has always had a mandate to preserve the cultural memory of Chinese-Americans and support the local community. But now, with a move to a new Maya Lin-designed building on Centre and Grand Streets (and art-centric curators), the museum has the will and the walls to host contemporary artists and special exhibitions. (Lin is also a co-chair of the museum's board.)