In his current exhibition [on view through Aug. 21] at the Museo Civico Diocesano di S. Maria dei Servi, a 14th-century deconsecrated church in Umbria, Banks Violette forgoes an easy comparison of his frequently Gothic references with the sacred context. Instead, the artist riffed off the church's vernacular style—its warm ambient light and simple floor plan, not to mention the folksy devotional paintings stored in the basement. Installing his aluminum scaffolds and supports, which allude to the idolatry and spectatorship of a concert, the effect is one of surprising consonance with the implied reverence of the chapel.
"Banks Violette" was curated by Benjamin Godsill in collaboration with Il Giardino di Lauri. Here, the artist discusses his interest in the incongruities of mid-century architecture and the clichés of exhibition making. Read More
Fittingly for the iconoclastic George Condo, the artist says the subject that brought about his first mature painting was the Madonna. That 1982 work is the lynchpin of a retrospective, "George Condo: Mental States," which opens at the New Museum tonight. The lender list alone speaks to the eclectic demand for Condo's work, and the excited build-up to the opening tonight.
Visitors to the exhibition will probably be familiar with the artist's scenes featuring screwed-up, clown-like, dumb-eyed subjects—often reproduced, most recently in a "banned" cover for Kanye West's most recent album. What they will here see is a themed survey that breaks down Condo's impassioned exploration of the human figure. The New York edition, curated by Laura Hoptman, is the show's first presentation; it will travel to the Hayward Gallery in London, and to Frankfurt and Rotterdam.
The artist is absent in the work of Barbara Bloom, but emerges periodically facilitated by potential for exchange offered by the art object. In her exhibition of sculpture currently at Tracy Williams, Bloom shows gifts in various manifestations: prior to the opening, the artist's young daughter opened a wrapped bicycle in the gallery, on the occasion of her birthday. The resulting work is a light-hearted, theatrical record of gift exchange: an opened box, scattered confetti and wrapped materials. The rest of the objects and imagined artifacts here include imagined gifts elaborating personal histories: sets of keys for Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, who kept separate apartments; rings for Freud's followers. These gifts rely upon the contracts of mutual knowledge and generate presence while de-stabilizing Bloom's authorial position. Read More
Last week saw two premieres in one night, as celebrated Swiss performance twosome Zimmerman & de Perrot debuted in New York with the ebullient "Gaff Aff" at the newly opened Jerome Robbins dance theater at the Baryshnikov Arts Center.
"Gaff Aff" roughly means "Staring at a Monkey," which is a bit of Surrealist absurdity but also indicates the performance's themes of self-realization and civilization. The performance begins with a stunning series in which a cardboard box is expertly maneuvered by an invisible actor inside the box, who slides, skips and jumps fantastically; tricks us into thinking there is no one inside; and miraculously gets unclothed and clothed. Later we learn it was Martin Zimmerman all along. The entire stage set is set up as a giant record player—a disk inside a square with a lever—and much of the show's movement in tension derives from the automated movement of the record. Dimitri de Perrot, the duo's DJ, sits at the side of the stage, scratching disks to create a soundtrack like a pulsing heartbeat, except with rising and falling intensities. His stationary position gives de Perrot the impression of control in the performance, which is not dissipated when in one instance Zimmerman swipes at him with a box. Read More
John Giorno's poetry proposes that anywhere you go, you can have an intense physical engagement with words. Since the 1950s, he's framed language with controlled, climactic line breaks and repetition, and an own affirmative speaking voice that, once it occupies your reading, warmly dictates your rhythm and interpretation. Giorno's Dial-a-Poem (1970) at the Museum of Modern Art let people the world over call in and access the intimacy of poetry. In pieces like "Suicide Sutra," (1973), Giorno proposes bodily and psychological redemption by considering the brain's place in space: "the air is liquid/thick/and heavy/pressing/in/on you."
Since the 1970s, Giorno has exhibited a evolving set of drawings and paintings based on his poetry. "Black Paintings and Drawings," his current show at Nicole Klagsbrun, his first with the gallery, includes paintings of words, set on a wall painted silver with stenciled poems reading in negative. The series emerged from an earlier schematic, exhibited at Almine Rech in Paris as drawings, explains the artist, "I hadn't thought of it then, but it's just like classic art, where you begin with drawings, and move toward painting."