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.”
The Morgan show epitomizes the artistic movement known as mannerism, of which Rosso is a celebrated practitioner. Derived from the Italian word maniera or “style,” mannerism burst forth in Florence and Rome in the early 1500s. Encompassing some 30 cannily selected objects in a single gallery, Fantasy and Invention exemplifies mannerism’s hermetic quality and its delight in erudition and exquisite detail.(2)
When the lights and elevators turned back on, the company decided to devote 15,000-square-feet of the space for a set of conservation labs called Art Crisis Solutions. Dozens of distraught artists, gallerists, and collectors from around the city flocked to the space, carrying their waterlogged and potentially mold-infused art objects in tow. “We basically created a M.A.S.H. unit,” said Leslie Gat, the director of the Art Conservation Group, which is based out of a light-filled studio on the third floor with enviable views of Manhattan. “We’re putting all our efforts into stabilizing the effects of the flood.”
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.
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.
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.
In these senses, at least, New Photography is a misnomer, or maybe an old habit. The feel is more of an intimate salon than an aggressive survey of those testing the outer limits of the artform. Sobriety, seriousness, and craft take precedence over boisterousness and wild creativity. This has its drawbacks, but all the artists represented are consistently engaging, and if the show implies that there is not much new under the sun, it also affirms that the view need not be any worse for that.
At 4 p.m. yesterday, a thoroughly tattooed employee was standing before one of the restaurant’s two green chalkboards, carefully filling in letters of the menu with blue and yellow chalk. Long desks stocked with fresh crayons and Playskool Draw and Story Pad faced the kitchen at the front of the room. On the wall a photo of the Montreal Canadiens circa 1963 hung below portraits of PS1’s graduating classes of 1947 and 1954, the students from ’54 looking noticeably less happy than those from ‘47. Folk Implosion’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop the Flow” played on the stereo. Eccentrically dressed people were drawing in the books and talking about Berlin.
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.
Although the term “Ivy” wasn’t used to describe the collection of elite colleges along the East Coast until 1933, Fitzgerald’s debut, along with Owen Johnson’s 1912 novel Stover at Yale, were the two novels of the early 20th century that best described life at the grand institutions of learning that we now call the Ivy League. The style that first developed on those campuses in the days of Stover and Blaine continues on to this day on runways from New York to Milan (not to mention the host of websites and forums for enthusiasts), yet this is the first exhibition of its kind.(1)
In the Western tradition, artists and philosophers long affirmed that nature “sheweth [the] handywork” of a mighty and providential demiurge—and that in imitating nature, practitioners of the various arts partook to some degree of the Maker’s creative mastery. For Cage, though, nature’s method of working was “purposeless play.” Shaped by his studies of Buddhism, Indian philosophy, and the I-Ching (the ancient Chinese “Book of Changes”) in the 1940s and 1950s, Cage incorporated aleatoric or “chance-controlled” elements into his ground-breaking work in all media, including the watercolors, prints, drawings, and scores on display at the National Academy.
The Quay brothers been working steadily as filmmakers, animators, illustrators, and set-designers since the early 1970s, and in On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets, the new retrospective of their work on view at the Museum of Modern Art (through January 7, 2013), a compelling case is made that their greatest achievement has been as interpreters and disseminators of Eastern European literary figures like Bruno Schulz and Franz Kafka.(3)
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.