In the predigital era, an experiment in community-based virtual network-building is launched in Los Angeles. Philip Glahn and Cary Levine uncover the activist collective Mobile Image’s project of 1984, Electronic Café.
Edith A. G. Wolfe on two recent studies of “discrepant modernities” in Latin America
Andrew Yang shares a “transdisciplinary cluster” of works that engage the concept of the Anthropocene. When it comes to climate change, Yang asks, “Which we is responsible, or most at risk? What sorts of people, organisms, and entities does we invite or exclude?”
By Marie Watt
Marie Watt first encountered Joseph Beuys’s work as a college student studying abroad. While working on an MFA at Yale, she wrote a reflection on the artist’s I Like America and America Likes Me from the perspective of Coyote, for a course taught by the art historian Romy Golan.
By Camila Maroja
Camila Maroja reviews the exhibition and catalogue, Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium.
By Kate Morris and Bill Anthes
On November 15, 2016, a “National Day of Action,” demonstrators in cities from Los Angeles to New York took to the streets in support of the efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline (DAPL). According to tribal leaders, the presence of the pipeline constitutes a dire threat to the tribe’s water supply, and will desecrate scores of sacred, historical, and cultural sites along its intended 1,172-mile route.
By grupa o.k. (Julian Myers and Joanna Szupinska)
Art history has long included studies of exhibitions as episodes or turning points within more expansive narratives. Such moments have opened art histories based in the studio, or among the members of a small, bohemian circle, to a larger social field that includes politics, audience, and market, before returning to the private or small-group interactions that have equally served to drive art’s internal means.
By Rachel Middleman and Anne Monahan
In 1974 news that David Smith’s executors had stripped paint from some of his sculptures catalyzed a long-running public conversation about executors’ responsibilities to artists, artworks, and art history. Forty years later, news that the same estate’s administrators tried to stifle the exhibition and sale of Lauren Clay’s diminutive, painted-paper objects inspired by that earlier incident has yet to prompt a similar critical response.
By Nazar Kozak
Around 9:00am on January 24, 2014, Maxym Vehera, an amateur artist, comes to Hrushevskyi Street in Kyiv, mounts his portable easel some one hundred yards from the riot police line, and spends five hours painting the scene of a street fight in progress. Black smoke from the burning barricade veils the sky, tear gas irritates the frosty air, a stun grenade explosion shuts all senses down. The canvas falls to the ground, into the mixture of snow and ashes. Vehera picks it up, wipes off the dirt, and continues to paint amid chaos.
By Amy A. DaPonte
Millions of Turkish immigrants settled in Germany after World War II to answer the call of politicians who needed to refresh the labor force after the war. Images of Turks at work or leisure in the parks, homes, markets, shops, and bars of 1970s West German cities populate Candida Höfer’s large, multiformat series entitled Türken in Deutschland (Turks in Germany, 1972–79).
By Lauren Richman
Lauren Richman reviews Hilary Roberts, ed., Lee Miller: A Woman’s War, and the exhibition Lee Miller: A Woman’s War, and Walter Moser and Klaus Albrecht Schröder, eds., Lee Miller, and the exhibition Lee Miller, aka Lee Miller—Photographs and The Indestructible Lee Miller
By Elizabeth Mangini
In 1968, while demonstrating students occupied university buildings less than a mile away, the Italian artist Mario Merz hung a handful of neon lights bent into the numerals 1, 1, 2, 3, and 5 above the kitchen stove in his home on Via Santa Giulia in Turin. It wasn’t yet an artwork, just something to think about in the place where he and his wife, fellow artist Marisa Merz, gathered to talk with each other and with friends.
By Roger F. Malina
We are witnessing a resurgence of creative and scholarly work that seeks to bridge science and engineering with the arts, design, and the humanities. These practices connect both the arts and sciences, hence the term art-science, and the arts and the engineering sciences and technology, hence the term “art and technology.”
By Penelope Vlassopoulou
Penelope Vlassopoulou began her Metamorphosis series in her home city of Athens. The series evolved in multidisciplinary dialogue with diverse urban environments including Berlin, Belgrade, and Chicago. In March 2015, Metamorphosis returned to its point of origin with no water tracing a link between Greece’s historical past and the country’s current predicament.
By Amanda Jane Graham
In 1974 the choreographer Trisha Brown moved to 541 Broadway in SoHo, New York City. The cast-iron “nexus” for postmodern dance, commonly referred to as “the dance building,” had what the former Brown company dancer Elizabeth Garren describes as a “communal atmosphere.” Purchased and renovated by the Fluxus founder George Maciunas “with dancers in mind,” 541 was wider than the majority of the standard buildings in the neighborhood, and more important, it contained no interior pillars, making it an ideal choreographic work space.
By Chris Taylor
Chris Taylor reviews Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art (2015), written and directed by James Crump.
By Emma Chubb
Three horizontal screens stretch across two gallery walls, suspended from the ceiling and hung in a slight arc. At first, the two flanking screens remain dark and only the center screen is illuminated. It shows an expanse of blue water, waves rippling with gold and reflecting the setting sun as they gently curl forward onto a barely visible beach.
By James Walsh
I’ve been working since 2008 on a long, complex project centered on plants that grow in both the arctic (I always use the lowercase) and New York City, of which there are a surprising number. Along with identifying and pressing these plants, I’ve been reading eighteenth-century herbals and floras and more recent works on edible plants and botany generally, and have had a particular interest in mental travel and in writers who combine botany and literature.
By Godfre Leung
Godfre Leung reviews Sabine Breitwieser, Laura J. Hoptman, Michael Darling, and Jeffrey D. Grove, Isa Genzken: Retrospective, and the exhibition Isa Genzken: Retrospective; Kathy Halbreich, ed., Alibis: Sigmar Polke, 1963–2010, and the exhibition Alibis: Sigmar Polke, 1963–2010; and Elodie Evers, Magdalena Holzhey, and Gregor Jansen, eds., Leben mit Pop and the exhibition Leben mit Pop.
By Daniel Rosenberg
When design is excellent, graphics reveal data, writes the infographics guru Edward Tufte. Good information graphics allow the reader to see relationships not apparent in data without visual form. In principle, such graphics do not impose interpretations but, by showing relationships, make interpretations possible.
By James McAnally
Common Field was born of a singular moment, a shared time of simmering scarcity matched with an abundance of artist-centric models springing up globally. The emergent network is quickly becoming a central figure within a spectrum of new alternative forms increasingly coming to define a deflated decade.
By Sonal Khullar
Sonal Khullar reviews InFlux: Contemporary Art in Asia edited by Parul Dave-Mukherji, Naman P. Ahuja, and Kavita Singh.
By Christian Nagler
By Swagato Chakravorty
Swagato Chakravorty reviews Surface: Matters of Aesthetics, Materiality, and Media by Giuliana Bruno.
By Thyrza Nichols Goodeve
For several years, Carolee Schneemann has presented an ever-evolving performative lecture about her work, starting with drawings she made at the ages of four and seven. I first saw it in 2009 at St. Mark’s Church.
By Elizabeth Legge
Elizabeth Legge reviews Sharon Kivland’s Freud on Holiday series.
By Adair Rounthwaite
It seems obvious to state that photographs play a central role in our ability to study participatory art. Art historians, however, have largely bracketed this as an issue that might be important for how we conceive the politics and aesthetics of participation.
By Dorota Biczel
Dorota Biczel reviews Making Art Panamerican: Cultural Policy and the Cold War by Claire F. Fox.
By Brian Molanphy
This introductory selection of texts on ceramics includes books that offer general foundations as well as essays that exemplify specific investigations.
by Sampada Aranke
Sampada Aranke reviews Bound to Appear: Art, Slavery, and the Site of Blackness in Multicultural America by Huey Copeland.
By Daniel R. Quiles
The subtlest of deceptions lies in wait in a “1000 Words” feature on Roberto Jacoby in the March 2011 issue of Artforum.
By Tamara Díaz Bringas
Playball, habría dicho el umpire para iniciar aquel partido de béisbol con tantos artistas y ningún pelotero. Playball, habrían oído los jugadores, sospechando tal vez que el juego había empezado en verdad mucho antes de aquel 24 de septiembre de 1989.
By Tamara Díaz Bringas
“Play ball!” the umpire would have said to start that baseball game with so many artists and not a single ballplayer. “Play ball!” the players would have heard, perhaps suspecting that the game had really begun long before that 24th of September in 1989.
Charissa N. Terranova reviews Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes.
By Elisabeth Kley
Although mystery has surrounded the life of Forrest Bess since he died in 1977, quite a bit of the cloud is dispelled in Chuck Smith’s new book, Forrest Bess: Key to the Riddle. A follow-up to a film Smith made in 1999, it is an ideal combination of monograph and biography.
By Nell Andrew
In a recent landmark exhibition on the intersection of art and dance, Danser sa vie, the Centre Georges Pompidou displayed an enigmatic photograph identified as the artist Sophie Taeuber dancing at the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916. It is not uncommon for a photograph to stand in as an icon of a live event and offer what we hope is access to some present now passed, but for decades scholars have disagreed on the date and location of the Taeuber photograph.
By Tina Rivers
When H. H. Arnason published the first edition of his 1968 book The History of Modern Art, it ended with a one-page entry on “Psychedelic Art.” Positioning the inchoate movement as a bridge between the modern and contemporary periods, the entry was a blueprint for a future that would never come to pass, and was expunged from all further editions, helping to relegate psychedelia to the proverbial dustbin of history.
By Jennifer Doyle and David Getsy
Well before I met Karin Higa, I knew of her as a curator of Asian American art, a prominent voice in the contemporary art world, and an author whose writings I frequently assigned to students.
By Matthew Goulish
In order to begin I must tell a horror story. I will try to mitigate the horror, through accuracy of telling, through facts, and through a degree of humility before them. Yet I will acknowledge it. I mean I already have. Horror is not fact.
By Amy Lyford
It is exciting to read two books that demonstrate the power, impact, and necessity of art history’s engagement with critical race studies—especially in the context of scholarship on modernist American art.
By Tammy Rae Carland and Ann Cvetkovich
As I remember, we met in 1995 in Portland, Oregon, through our musician girlfriends. I had just finished graduate school and had gone to New York, to the Whitney Independent Study Program, and I was about to be deployed, which is the way I think about it, to my first teaching job in the middle of Indiana.
By Sarah Betzer
Spurred by global economic contractions, by the attention of politicians, legislators, and pundits, and certainly also by the historical curiosity and critical orientation of its ranks, the academy at present is in the thrall of self-scrutiny. What is the past, present, and future of the research university, an invention of stunningly recent vintage and yet of remarkable structural resilience?
By Lane Relyea
By Michael Jay McClure
Allow for a problem within contemporary art, a problem concerning emptiness. After experiencing and writing on installations that, say, immersed me in cave systems, faux-hospitals, or forests, after navigating landscapes of fur or video labyrinths, I found myself, often, elsewhere. A group of contemporary installations seemed overwhelmingly spare, a few small objects, and I began to wonder what such a shift of spatial tenancy meant.
By Maymanah Farha
As the methodical beat of a handheld drum begins to pound, a bearded, turbaned figure is shown lying on a bare floor. Overcome by emotional agony, he moves as though waking from a trance. A mane of dark hair frames his painted face as the camera zooms in and his melodic eulogy to lost love commences.
By Katy Siegel
Life is not an idea, but ideas are part of life. Thinking is the only way out of our enmities and miseries. Vision—seeing better and more freshly, with less habit and personal bias—awakens us to life.
By Christine Mehring
Following on the heels of his signature photorealist blurs, Gerhard Richter’s abstract paintings have long exemplified a “permanent break in style as principle of style,” as Klaus Honnef noted in the artist’s first retrospective catalogue in 1969.
By Louise Fishman and Carrie Moyer
This all came to me in the last couple of weeks. In the late 1980s, early 1990s, my partner and I had gone to Madrid to see the big Velázquez retrospective. I’d never been to the Prado. I spent a lot of time looking at the Velázquez and wandering around the museum. Eventually I found Goya’s Black Paintings.
By Elyse Speaks
In 1958 Lee Bontecou began experimenting with a technique for making sculpture based on binding fabric to thin steel frames or armatures. Executed first on a small scale that oscillated between the form of the model and the form of tabletop sculpture, the works were emphatic in their distance from the shape and tenor of the dominant field of welded metal sculpture.
By Josephine Halvorson
The nineteenth-century painter Samuel Palmer lived within two hundred yards of the cemetery, making drawings, notes, and paintings in what he called the Valley of Visions in an effort to “bring up a mystic glimmer.” Sinclair, London Orbital Acid rain has eroded the words. Lichens, like Van Gogh blooms in orange and yellow, cling to the mauve stone.
By Gregory H. Williams
During the past decade a steady flow of critical writing on contemporary painting has appeared, much of it seeking to define changes to the practice that have taken place since 1990. In several often-cited essays, a shared theme has emerged in which late-twentieth-century painting is described as undergoing a crisis of containment.