For legendary mail and collage artist Ray Johnson (1927–1995), any ephemera of everyday material culture he encountered could potentially be art—including the bottle caps, abandoned toys, tennis balls, fragments of fractured ceramics, stickers, gloves, shells, and lost bathing suits found on his many beach walks. ...Read more
As downtown neighborhoods begin to gentrify, Detroit's artistic community continues the feisty, freewheeling mode of cultural entrepreneurship that saw it through the city's darkest days. …Read more
The curators of the US Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale have tackled the thorny and fashionable subject of the future of Detroit. The show, which opened Saturday and runs through November 27, is called “The Architectural Imagination” and it al…Read more
The cult comic Soft City, which will be released in large-format hardcover on October 4th from the comics imprint of the New York Review of Books, has an origin story as strange as its creator.…Read more
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by Robert Rhee
The traveling exhibition “Art AIDS America,” opening this summer at the Bronx Museum, finds renewed relevance in the culture wars of the 1980s and ’90s, especially the dual political-aesthetic strategies of the era’s most socially committed artists.…Read more
A veteran of the AIDS-activist group Gran Fury, Donald Moffett relates how, since the early 1990s, he has produced paintings made with cake-decorating tools, monochromes serving as screens for socially engaged video projections, assemblage-style sculpture…Read more
In remembrance of the Stonewall Riots that took place on June 26, 1969, catalyzing the modern LGBTQ movement, Holland Cotter spoke to twelve queer artists for our June 1994 issue. "As a direct result of Stonewall, sexual difference has become an area of o…Read more
In 1970, Robert Irwin gave up his studio and sold his art supplies. The midcareer painter and sculptor “simply stopped being an artist in those senses,” as he told Lawrence Weschler for the classic biography Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees. Irwin’s renunciation of objects was painful—“it was the loss of a way of thinking.” But in the late 1960s, it became clear to him that what mattered most were conditions, not objects, and he committed himself solely to making works centered on the light, space, and other qualities of their sites.
Irwin’s renunciation is legendary among artists, particularly in the West, the landscape of which shaped his convictions. Just as Tony Smith was inspired by driving the unfinished New Jersey Turnpike, Irwin had an artistic turni...Read more
Eighteen landscape paintings (all 2016) made up the exhibition Stephen Hayes called “In the Hour Before,” most depicting unremarkable terrain. Roseburg (10-1-15) resembles a Daubigny only just begun, with light camouflage colors—brown, tan, and Army green—limning a dull country expanse along a featureless road. In Tucson (1-8-11), several tall spindly palms line an empty street receding diagonally toward the horizon. An outsize stand of shrubbery in the foreground dissolves into a cluster of olive-green brushstrokes loosely applied, while, close by, a melting, indeterminate blue shape bleeds onto a sandy parkway. Squat, nondescript structures and a few more trees huddle at the edge of what might be a vacant parking lot; an anomalous blue-gray paint patch hovers over them, attached to no subject at all. A thinl...Read more
“I like the name Golden Square,” the Italian artist Massimo Bartolini writes of the Soho, London, square on which Frith Street Gallery’s main venue is located. “It makes me think of an enchanted place as well as of Malevich straying from the black.” His exhibition at the gallery served as a poetic interpretation of Golden Square’s history and its place in the popular imagination.
Certain works brought to life Charles Dickens’s description of the square—in the 1839 novel The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby—as “the region of song and smoke,” where “sounds of gruff voices practising vocal music invade the evening’s silence; and the fumes of choice tobacco scent the air.” Toscano (all works 2016)—a small machine tha...Read more
Rubens Ghenov’s paintings employ an abstract visual language of controlled spills, color-gradient shapes, and slender lines to conjure the displays of books, objets d’art, and pictures typically found on bookcases in the offices and homes of intellectuals. Where Carol Bove mined post-hippie Northern California with the books, feathers, and rocks in her early shelf-sculptures, Ghenov invokes the cosmopolitan collection of a fictional twentieth-century Spanish poet, Angelico Morandá, in the recent works (all 2016) he exhibited at Morgan Lehman.
Ghenov pours translucent acrylics and inks onto his canvases, creating opaque geometric forms that recall the abstract hallmarks of Concrete art, the avant-garde movement that originated in Brazil, where he was born. In Silence Fiction, Orchid 1, match...Read more