Material Witnesses: Art and AIDS at the San Francisco Arts Commission

“With(out) With(in) the very moment" brings together a group of eight Bay Area artists whose lives and practices were indelibly marked by their experiences of San Francisco in the early 1990s.…Read more

Cruising the Archive: Jonathan Weinberg on the History of the Piers

The piers were a world apart from the city, a place for initiations and new experiences, for experimentation and self-invention, for exhibition and for looking.…Read more

In the Studio: Betye Saar

Betye Saar, who turns 93 in July, remains both an evolving and an emerging artist. Though her prints, assemblages, and installations have been exhibited steadily since the ’60s, attention to her work has burgeoned in the past decade, among artists of younger generations and curators internationally.…Read more

Critical Eye: Charting the Inner Landscape

In her six-decade career, Graciela Iturbide has chronicled Mexican fiestas, including the Day of the Dead, which she returns to year after year; made a series of mysterious portraits of mask-wearing Mexicans, both Indigenous and mestizo; shot photographs at funerals and cemeteries with unsettling regularity; and attentively documented traces of the country’s pre-Columbian past.…Read more

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The two Piero Manzoni shows on view at Hauser & Wirth, “Materials of His Time” and  “Lines,” inevitably bring to mind the ample exhibition Gagosian staged a decade ago. Yet while that presentation surveyed Manzoni’s entire body of work, the Hauser & Wirth shows focus on just two projects from the meteoric career Manzoni enjoyed before, in 1963, being struck down by a heart attack at age thirty: his “Achrome” and “Linea” (L

ine) series. Thus, we do not encounter more illustrious (and infamous) works like his Merda d’Artista (Artist’s Shit, 1961), “Sculture viventi” (Living Sculptures, 1961), and Fiato d’Artista (Artist’s Breath, 1960). Any sacrifice in range, however, is more than made up for in depth. Curated by Rosalia Pasqualino di Marineo of the Fondazione Piero Manzoni in Milan, the exhibitions afford a sustained look at the dynamic work of just a few years—an output of far-reaching consequence not only for postwar Italian aesthetics but for the neo-avant-garde at large. As coeditor of the short-lived, multilingual journal Azimuth and an associate of the German ZERO artist group, Manzoni left behind a legacy vastly exceeding the often deceptive simplicity of his works. ...

In “Strategic Vandalism: The Legacy of Asger Jorn’s Modification Paintings,” curators Axel Heil and Roberto Ohrt framed Jorn’s practice of détournement as a kind of ground zero for various strains of appropriation art. Détournement is a technique that the Situationist International, which Jorn cofounded with the French theorist and filmmaker Guy Debord and others, developed in the late 1950s and ’60s. To détourn something is to give it

a new context in order to reroute and subvert its meaning. Jorn created his own version of the tactic in his “Modification” series, which comprises paintings he purchased at flea markets and altered with his own irreverent touches. In the most compelling example in the show, Ainsi on s’Ensor (Out of This World—After Ensor), 1962, he transformed a somber painting of suicide into an especially grotesque scene, adding a garish mask (an allusion to the work of Symbolist painter James Ensor) to the image of a man who had hanged himself in a dining room....

A pair of black platform heels and a gas mask were among the objects greeting visitors to Henrike Naumann’s three-floor exhibition at KOW, “Ostalgie.” The room was filled with nearly empty mauve-colored shelving units salvaged from a shoe store that was located in the 1990s in Brandenburg, which, before Germany’s reunification, had been part of the German Democratic Republic, aka East Germany. Among the footage playing on a dated monitor in

Naumann’s installation were sequences showing dancing blonde girls with gas masks superimposed on their heads. Naumann stated in an interview that she intends these young women to evoke ’90s East German ravers. In the exhibition, the artist—herself an East German kid when the wall fell—offered a series of installations that used ’80s and ’90s furniture and objects from the former East Germany to articulate how the abrupt transition to capitalism impacted everyday life. This opening installation, Die Monotonie des Yeah Yeah Yeah (Eastie Girls) (The Monotony of the Yeah Yeah Yeah [Eastie Girls], 2018), juxtaposed two kinds of responses to the trauma of reunification among Eastie youth: queer techno raves and neo-Nazi extremism. ...

IN 1968, a year marked by an uprising of social movements spanning from Rio de Janeiro to Paris to Lahore, the German artist Charlotte Posenenske offered a damning diagnosis of art’s relationship to political struggle: “Though art’s formal development has progressed at an increasing tempo, its social function has regressed,” she wrote in a manifesto published in the May 1968 issue of Art International. “It is difficult for me to come to te

rms with the fact that art can contribute nothing to solving urgent social problems.” The following year, Posenenske followed this statement to its most uncompromising conclusion: she dropped out of the art world entirely. Though she was increasingly recognized for her Minimal and Conceptual work within European art circles, Posenenske abandoned it to become a sociologist of factory labor, aiming to fight alienation and support workers’ self-management. That the output of her brief artistic career—which lasted just over a decade—is now the subject of a retrospective at Dia:Beacon suggests that she has entered the Minimalist pantheon. But would Posenenkse, who died in 1985 at age fifty-five, be pleased to find her work in the innermost chamber of the temple of Minimalism? Or would she prefer to redirect our attention to the building’s past life as a Nabisco box-printing facility...


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Anthony Hernandez, Suzanne Lacy, Gretchen Bender, Betye Saar, Stonewall at Fifty