- L.A.: Robert Mapplethorpe, As Above, So Below, at OHWOW. Opens today at 7pm, in West Hollywood.
- L.A.: Walead Bashty, Selected Bodies of Work, at Regen Projects. Through April 5, in Hollywood.
- L.A.: Nicola Tyson, at Susanne Vielmetter Projects. Opens Saturday, in Culver City.
- L.A.: Yoshitimo Nara, at Blum & Poe. Opens Saturday, in Culver City.
- L.A.: Ray Eames, In the Spotlight, at the Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery. Opens today at the Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena.
- Marfa: Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler, Sound Speed Marker, at Ballroom Marfa. Opens today at 6pm.
- NYC: Let’s Get Digital: Spectrum Presents a Conversation on Digital Art, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Today at 6:30pm, on the Upper East Side.
- NYC: Radiant Light: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedal, at the Cloisters. Through May 18, in Fort Tryon Park.
- NYC: Germaine Richier, at Dominique Lévy, in collaboration with Galerie Perrotin. Through April 12, on the Upper East Side.
- NYC: Jorge Pardo, Inert, at Petzel Gallery. Opens Saturday at 6pm, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Erwin Wurm, Synthesa, at Lehmann Maupin. Through April 19, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Kiki Smith: Wonder, at Pace Gallery. Opens today, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Sebastian Masuda, Colorful Rebellion — Seventh Nightmare, at Kianga Ellis Projects. through March 29, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Rashaad Newsome, Five, at the Drawing Center. Next Thursday, March 6, in SoHo. RSVP required.
- NYC: Abbott and Marville: The City in Transition, at Howard Greenberg Gallery. Opens April 11, in SoHo.
- NYC: Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder, In Orbit, at the Boiler. Opens today at 7pm, in Williamsburg.
- Tokyo: The Marvelous Real: Contemporary Spanish and Latin American Art from the MUSAC Collection, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. Through May 11.
- Beirut: Animism, at Ashkal Alwan. Through April 4.
I’ve got a profile of the donut-making luchador of East LA (aka Abel Nabor Campos, aka El Asesino Geminis) in the Winter 2014 issue of Lucky Peach and it’s got amazeballs photography by the awesome Naomi Harris. You can order the issue off of Amazon or better yet, subscribe to Lucky Peach and get a whole year’s worth!
The story is not online, so the only way to read it is to get the mag! Please check it. I’m really proud of this one. Nabor Campos has a truly inspiring story.
Performa Obscura, by Athi-Patra Ruga, in collaboration with Mikhael Subotzky. Part of the exhibit Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in collaboration with SFMOMA, in San Francisco. Opens Friday. (Photo: Ruth Simbao, courtesy Athi-Patra Ruga.)
- Oakland: Rick Prelinger, Lost Landscapes of Oakland, a screening, at the Oakland Museum of California. This Saturday at 3pm.
- Claremont, Calif.: Andrea Bowers: #sweetjane, at the Pomona College of Art Museum, and the Pitzer College Galleries. Through April 13.
- L.A.: Masood Kamandy, M.O.O.P. (Matter Out of Place), and Josh Reames, #PAINTING, at Luis de Jesus. Opens Saturday at 6pm, in Culver City.
- L.A.: Raster Raster, at Aran Cravey. Opens Saturday at 6pm, in West Hollywood.
- L.A.: In 2040…, at Jaus. Opens Friday at 6:30pm, in Santa Monica
- Fort Worth: Art and Appetite: American Art, Culture, and Cuisine, at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Opens Saturday.
- St. Louis: Dear Nemesis: Nicole Eisenman 1993-2013, at the Contemporary Art Museum. Through April 13.
- New Orleans: Mel Chin: Rematch, at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Opens Friday.
- NYC: Medium As Muse: Woodcuts and the Modern Book, at the Morgan Library & Museum. Opens Friday, in Midtown.
- NYC: Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe, at the Guggenheim Museum. Opens Friday on the Upper East Side.
- NYC: Lucas Samaras: Offerings From a Restless Soul, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Opens Monday, on the Upper East Side.
- NYC: Kelley Walker, at Paula Cooper Gallery. Opens Saturday, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Implicit Horizon, at Mixed Greens. Through March 15, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Erwin Redl, In Motion, at Bitforms Gallery. Through March 15, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Katie Bell, Light Weight, at Mixed Greens. Through March 15, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Re-View: Onnasch Colleciton, at Hauser & Wirth. Through April 12, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Jeff Baij, Yautja Moms, at Interstate. Opens Friday at 6pm, in Bushwick.
- London: A Not So Still Life: Naked Portraits by Lucien Freud, at Luxembourg & Dayan. Through April 5.
The Birthday Pig, 2007, a collage on light jet print, by Marnie Weber. Part of the exhibition Larry Johnson and Marnie Weber at Patrick Painter Gallery. Through March 15, at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. (Image courtesy of the artist and Patrick Painter.)
- L.A.: Hammer Lectures: The Future of Institutional Critique, with Judith Barry, Dara Birnbaum, and Mary Kelly, at the Hammer Museum. Today at 7:30pm, in Westwood.
- L.A.: Katie Herzog, Altered State Library, at Monte Vista Projects. Opens Saturday at 7pm, in Northeast L.A.
- Aspen: Amy Sillman, One Lump or Two, at the Aspen Art Museum. Opens Friday.
- Baton Rouge, La.: Rooted Communities: The Art of Nari Ward, at the Louisiana State University Museum of Art. Through April 10.
- Cambridge: Jorge Otero-Pailos, Space-Time, at the Keller Gallery. Through February 23, at MIT’s Building 7.
- Waltham, Mass.: Mika Rottenberg: Bowls Balls Souls Halls, Chris Burden: The Master Builder, and The Matter That Surrounds Us: Wols and Charline von Heyl, at the Rose Art Museum. Opens Thursday at 5pm.
- Philadelphia: Ruffneck Constructivists, curated by Kara Walker, at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Opens today, at the University of Pennsylvania.
- NYC: A Collective Invention: Photographs at Play, at the Morgan Museum and Library. Opens Friday, in Midtown.
- NYC: Pawel Althamer: The Neighbors, at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Opens today, on the Lower East Side.
- NYC: Diana Al-Hadid: Regarding Medardo Rosso, at Marianne Boesky. Through March 19, on the Upper East Side.
- NYC: Simon Evans, Edible Landscape, at James Cohan Gallery. Opens Thursday at 6pm, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Julian Crouch, Mark Stewar, Ragna Freidank and Christophe Laudamiel, Armchair Parade, at Dillon Gallery. Opens Thursday, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Henry Chalfant, at Steven Kasher Gallery. Through March 8, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Edward Clark, Big Bang, at Tilton Gallery. Through February 22. (Via Weisslink.)
- NYC: Karlheinz Weinberger, at Maccarone. Opens Saturday at 6pm, in the West Village.
- NYC: Richard Hart and Tom Kotik, at Field Projects. Opens Thursday, on the Lower East Side.
- NYC: Idiom II, at Pierogi. Opens Friday at 7pm, in Williamsburg.
- NYC: Tip Top, at Greenpoint Terminal Gallery. Opens Saturday, in Greenpoint.
- NYC: David Henderson, Patricia Satterlee and Jude Tallichet, at Valentine. Opens Friday at 6pm, in Ridgewood/Bushwick.
- Savannah: Tim Rollins and K.O.S., Rivers, at the SCAD Museum of Art. Through June 8, at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
- Montreal: Rick Prelinger, No More Road Trips?, a screening, at Concordia University. This Friday at 6pm, at the J.A. de Seve Cinema.
- London: La Fine de Dio: Maurizio Cattelan and Lucio Fontana, at Gagosian Gallery. Through April 5, in London.
- Bilbao: Ernesto Neto: The Body That Carries Me, at the Guggenheim Museum. Opens Friday.
- Sittard: Brandon Ballengée, Seasons in Hell, at Museum Het Domein. Opens Sunday.
- Doha: Mona Hatoum: Turbulence, at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Through May 18.
- Online: Guerilla Girls, Feminist Street Posters: 1985-91, at Gallery98.
The Death of American Spirituality, 1987, by David Wojnarowicz. Part of the exhibition Take it or Leave It: Institution, Image, Idealogy, at the Hammer Museum. Opens Sunday, in Westwood. (Collection of John Carlin and Renee Dossick. Courtesy of the Hammer.)
- L.A.: A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography, and Hiroshi Sugimoto: Past Tense, at the Getty Museum. Through June 8, in West L.A.
- L.A.: Fútbol: The Beautiful Game, at the L.A. County Museum of Art. Through July 20, in Mid-City.
- L.A.: Love is in the Air, at 2A Gallery. Opens Saturday, with an opening reception this Sunday at 7pm, in Downtown.
- Hartford: Allison Schulnik, Matrix 168, at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Opens Thursday.
- NYC: Doug Wheeler, at David Zwirner. Opens Thursday, at the 20th Street location, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Julije Knifer, at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. Opens Thursday, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Deborah Brown, Outer Limits, and Misrepresentation, a group exhibition, at Lesley Heller Workspace. Opens Thursday at 6pm, on the Lower East Side.
- NYC: Intimate Science, at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design. Opens Thursday, in the Village.
- NYC: Cassius Fouler, Painting is the Curse of the Drinking Class, at Pandemic Gallery. Opens Saturday at 7pm, near the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Sometimes, an argument needs way more than 140 characters. And in this case, that argument has to do with critic Dave Hickey’s talk in downtown Los Angeles last night. Hickey, the author of essay collections such as Air Guitar, was in town to promote his latest book, Pirates and Farmers, under the auspices of the Museum of Contemporary Art. I was in the audience and Tweeted Hickey’s rant-talk about the state of the art world. Already, there’s been some media kerfuffle about these Tweets, and they’ve been well covered in Modern Art Notes, followed by the L.A. Times. But I want to take the time to make a more nuanced point, one that goes beyond a few isolated Tweets.
Let’s be clear: I was at the talk because I do have some healthy respect for Hickey as a writer. He stays away from the word salad gobbledygook that is my art world nightmare, and for that I am grateful. I’m also a proud owner of Air Guitar. And as someone who regularly writes about travel, I find his essay on Las Vegas to be poetic and insightful — one that addresses, yet goes beyond all the Sin City tropes. That said, last night’s talk was a disappointment.
Now, before I continue, I just want to say that I wasn’t expecting to write about this talk in an official capacity, so I didn’t take notes and I didn’t record it. But I did want to address some of the general ideas. So please bear with…
Hickey said there are no critics.
First he went after the idea that there are no critics who are there to say “no” to artists. Certainly, that declaration avoids any mention of the fact that the act of criticism is in a crisis at a time when media is atomizing — and it’s a problem that certainly isn’t unique to the art world. What film critic today has the pull of a James Agee or Pauline Kael or even a Siskel and Ebert?
He said there are no critics who can explain difficult art.
This one was especially rich given that L.A. Times critic Christopher Knight was sitting right in the audience. But I also wonder if he perhaps has never heard of writers like Ben Davis and Amy Taubin and Roberta Smith (even if I disagreed with her mightily about that nightmarish Chris Burden show). Hell, turn to blogs like Hyperallergic, where writer Jillian Steinhauer dissected the context of Bjarne Melgaard’s S&M chair just nine days ago, providing some needed insight into a story that was little more than a headline in most feeds. There are lots of writers out there doing their damnedest to explain difficult to art at a time when the media industry is doing as little as possible to support them. I try to be among them. And like many of them, I can’t claim to always succeed, but I sure as shit try. But I guess in Hickey’s eyes, this doesn’t count, because none of these writers are him.
He is no fan of art schools.
Look, I’m no defender of art schools. I think they often churn out tons of boring copy-cat artists bent on hyper-conceptualizing the hyper-conceptual, producing art that has little connection to real life. The Whitney Biennial (which is kind of like a fair of art school artists) often makes me want to claw my eyes out and I think that some artists would be better served working in a Bolivian tin mine than they would in the average MFA program. But Hickey’s criticisms — that most art teachers are “big fucking failures” who want to crush the aspirations of their students — felt like nothing more than totally excellent soundbites that didn’t go beyond Twitter levels of profundity. And all of it seems downright silly given that Mr. Hickey is the proud owner of a Ph.D. and a professor of English. Ultimately, what I’d love to know is why he thinks art school doesn’t work and what the alternative should be.
And there’s the whole bit about identity politics.
This one was confusing because his talk was all over the place and he paused on several occasions to re-organize his thoughts and refer to his notes. But my takeaway on what he said was that identity politics, coupled with art school bureaucratization, had done away with the “art underground,” a term he used to describe the rabble of avant-garde artists who didn’t give a crap what the mainstream thought of their work or ideas. Hickey told the L.A. Times that identity politics
“tribalized and broke up the art underground…it turned it into a tribe of women, a tribe of Black people, a tribe of gay people. It used to be all of us, together, just down in the dirt.”
Um, really? Is this really the underground as it existed? Towards the end of the talk, Hickey was waxing nostalgic about the Max’s Kansas City days, when everyone knew everyone and you could just show up at some random artist’s studio for the hell of it. It’s hard not to be nostalgic for the days when the art world was small. All I’ve ever known is the bloated universe we inhabit now. But I also am wary about being hostage to a false nostalgia. Let’s make no mistake: the Abstract Expressionists drinking it up at the Cedar Tavern, Andy Warhol and the Max’s Kansas City crew, the cool kids at L.A.’s Ferus Gallery were a pretty monolithic crowd: overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male. Black artists, Latino artists, women artists were often simply not part of the equation — and, in fact, often built their own institutions apart from the rest of the art world, simply because they had no access to it. (Want examples, see the catalogues from various Pacific Standard Time Shows: Now Dig This!, Asco: Elite of the Obscure, Doin’ it in Public.)
Part of the reason Hickey’s statements in this area really rankled me is because recent years have seen various critics dismiss the idea that identity may be something important in art. (See Ken Johnson in the NYT and Philip Kennicott in the Washington Post.) To see yet another critic do the same was discouraging. Why identity (of the non-white male kind) is not taken seriously by some critics is simply mystifying to me. The effects of prejudice — call it clubbiness if you will — are very real. As Deborah Vankin notes in her piece in the Times, artist Micol Hebron has challenged the poor representation of women in the L.A. commercial gallery scene in her work. Entire biennials go by without the presence of a Latino artist. Important works by Black artists languish in museum collections, rarely put on view.
That said, like some of these critics, I *am* wary of theme shows that trivialize the notion of identity to gain social currency. (See my reference to “Cinco de Mayo” shows in my story about Chicano art in ARTnews.) But that doesn’t mean that the issue of identity should be banished. And it’s certainly no art world-wrecker. The art world is doing that all on its own, largely through money and totally un-transparent backroom dealing. But these issues — money, professionalization, institutionalization and academia, and identity — they’re all tricky, complicated topics that merit some degree of scrupulousness and nuance. Hickey’s talk did everything but. It was a slew of generalities meant to titillate and induce reaction: jokes about a period when Black artists could get accepted to anything and Hannah Wilke’s chest.
I’m no prude. I swear like a sailor and have the sense of humor of a teen boy. But the fact is that from a self-professed explainer of difficult art, I simply expected more.
National Life Insurance Company Building, project, 1924–25, by Frank Lloyd Wright. Part of the exhibit Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, opening Saturday. (Image courtesy of MoMA and The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives.)
- NYC: Carrie Mae Weems, The Museum Series, at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Opens Thursday, in Harlem.
- NYC: Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris, at the Metropolitan Museum. Opens today, on the Upper East Side.
- NYC: The Flowering of Edo Era Painting, at the Metropolitan Museum. Opens Saturday, on the Upper East Side.
- NYC: Hassan Hajjaj: Kesh Angels, at Taymour Grahne. Through March 2, in Tribeca
- NYC: Shirin Neshat: Our House is On Fire, at the Rauschenberg Foundation Project Space. Opens Thursday at 6pm, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Indie Tech Talks #16: Eddo Stern, at the NYU Game Innovation Lab. This Thursday at 7pm, in downtown Brooklyn.
- NYC: Resisting surveillance in practical and day-to-day situations, a panel with Adam Harvey, Geneviewe Hoffman, Becky Hurwitz, Ceren Erdem, at Apexart. This Saturday at 4pm, in downtown Manhattan.
- Northampton, Mass: The Eye is a Door: Landscape Photographs by Anne Whiston Spirn, at the Smith College Museum of Art. Opens Friday.
- L.A.: Fictions, with Josh Atlas, Srijon Chowdhury, Guan Rong and Alexandra Wiesenfeld, at Klowden Mann. Opens Saturday at 6pm, in Culver City.
- L.A.: LA Art Book Fair 2014, at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Starts this Friday at 11am through Sunday.
Untitled, 2011, by William O’Brien. Part of the artist’s solo show, William J. O’Brien, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, opening Saturday. (Image courtesy of the artist; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago; Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York.)
- NYC: Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, at the Guggenheim Museum. Opens Friday.
- NYC: The Little Prince: A New York Story, at the Morgan Library & Museum. Opens Friday, in Midtown.
- NYC: tranzit, Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module, at the New Museum. Opens today, on the Lower East Side.
- NYC: Antonio Canova, The Seven Last Works, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Opens today, on the Upper East Side.
- NYC: Guy Ben Ner, Soundtrack, and Austin Lee, Ok Ok Ok Ok…, at Postmasters Gallery. Opens Saturday at 5:30pm, in Tribeca.
- NYC: Ferran Adrià, Notes on Creativity, at the Drawing Center. Opens Saturday, in SoHo.
- NYC: Sol LeWitt: Horizontal Progressions, at Pace. Opens Friday, on 25th Street, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Girls Against God magazine hosts Wolf Moon Gathering, an afternoon performance, at MoMA PS1. This Sunday at 3pm, in Queens.
- NYC: Wayne Herpich, New Vision Display, at Blackston Gallery. Opens Thursday at 6pm, on the Lower East Side.
- Ithaca, N.Y.: Beyond Earth Art, at the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University. Opens Saturday.
- Chicago: Wordless!, a performance featuring the work of Art Spiegelman and Phillip Johnston, at Logan Center Performance Hall, at the University of Chicago. This Saturday at 3pm.
- Fort Worth: Focus: Fred Tomaselli, at The Modern. Through March 2.
- L.A.: Tea and Morphine: Women in Paris, 1880 to 1914, at the Hammer Museum. Opens Sunday, in Westwood.
- L.A.: Timothy Walker, at the Craft & Folk Art Museum. Opens Saturday, in Mid-Wilshire.
- L.A.: Kaz Oshiro, Chasing Ghosts, at the Charles White Elementary School Gallery. Opens Friday, in Westlake/Macarthur Park
- L.A.: Corporeal Impulse, at the Vincent Price Art Museum. Through April 12, in East L.A.
- L.A.: Blinding Desire: Unfolding Artists, at Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis. Opens Saturday, in Westchester.
- Santa Barbara: Alice Aycock Drawings: Some Stories are Worth Repeating, at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Opens Sunday.