Essay

The Flight of Tradition: Calder’s Work in Bronze

Alexander Calder consistently worked across a variety of artistic disciplines and in disparate materials, moving fluidly among painting, drawing, and sculpture through­out his career. Undoubtedly, Calder is best known for his innovations in three-dimensional and kinetic art; his name is practically synonymous with the genre he invented — the gravity-defying mobile — which, in turn, is associated with buoyancy and motion. This is the mate­rial and conceptual nature of what has become known as Calder’s most iconic work.

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Essay

Marc Quinn: Reality Show

Marc Quinn’s latest series of sculpture-portraits, ‘Allanah, Buck, Catman, Chelsea, Michael, Pamela and Thomas’, opens a provocative new chapter in the artist’s already extensive exploration of the relationship between corporeality and spirituality. Intent on debunking the conceit that one’s physical appearance necessarily represents an accurate or even appropriate incarnation of one’s psyche, Quinn has continually sought out subjects who exemplify an obvious disconnect between body and inner being.

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Essay

Jeff Koons: Humankind Before All

At Almine Rech Gallery, Jeff Koons is presenting a selection of seventeen works from the past two decades of his production ; recent, and less recent works will be brought in together with brand new works : works from the Celebration (1994-), Popeye (2002-), and Hulk Elvis (2005-) series, will be seen with a few works never yet seen in public, such as a pair of paintings from the artist’s latest series Antiquity (2009-2012).

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Essay

Jeff Koons’s Antiquity Series—A Reflection on Acceptance

Much of Jeff Koons’s oeuvre offers a vast and powerful backdrop against which can be played, over and over, our obdurate resistance to accept the most fundamental human attribute, namely our libido. This life-bound sexual energy, linked with survival and procreating instincts (but not necessarily used as such), constitutes the core impulses of most of our behavioral patterns and offers the prevailing subject matter of most of Koons’s works.

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Essay

John Cage: The Multiple Paths of “Instantaneous Ecstasy”

I dedicate this essay to my students in two seminars I taught on John Cage. The first class (spring of 2008) was co-taught with Professor Geoffrey Burleson, Director of Piano Studies. While I first discovered Cage through my abiding interest in Jasper Johns’s and Robert Rauschenberg’s artistic careers, suddenly facing the task of teaching a seminar on this unclassifiable musician-artist-thinker-poet-critic-composer-mycologist was akin to facing an abyss: mesmerizing and scary.

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Essay

Robert Indiana: The Love of Painting

The years between Pollock’s quasi–suicide (1956) and the rise of the Pop phenomenon (1962) mark a cultural shift on the North American artistic scene. This short and intense period is essentially marked by antagonisms, tensions, and contradictions. There is a profound sense of anxiety at this moment – the apparent easy and transparent vocabulary of abstraction that took over the New York art scene after WWII belies a much deeper conundrum of conflicted artistic possibilities. And this creative confusion, in turn, reflects a conflicted world steeply engaged in the Cold War, divided between the consumerist euphoria of the Post–War economic boom and the abiding threat of a worldwide conflagration.

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Essay

Joseph Beuys: Set Between One and All

Beuys and Warhol shared together a clear insight and vision of the deep quake that had shaken the time-honored foundations of the art world. With the abandonment of all past criteria of excellence and the rapid obsolescence of the notions of originality and genius, the gates became suddenly opened for all to claim their share of artistic creativity, fame and success. Anyone and everyone could lay a claim to fame (Warhol); anyone and everyone could become an artist (Beuys). Both artists embodied the demographic revolution in the art world that can be considered as the most marking art historical phenomenon in our era: the people massively conquered the art scene.

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Essay

Representing Limitlessness: Rachel Howard’s Repetition is Truth – Via Dolorosa

One enters a room with fourteen Stations of the Cross by Rachel Howard–her Via Dolorosa. Monumental, quiet, graceful, discrete, luscious, restrained and yet, at the same time, forceful, masterful, deafening – these paintings yield more layers of emotions than one can absorb all at once. Response: a gasp, silence; trying to catch one’s breath, aghast. A simple yet definite experience of the sublime is taking place. So rarely do we experience such strong aesthetic emotions in the presence of recent works of art that I feel the need to check and ponder how Howard’s works conjure up such a response.

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