Essays

Essays

The Elephant in Our Room

by Aram Saroyan on July 18, 2014

James Baldwin

LOS ANGELES — A central insight of James Baldwin’s writing had to do with the way racism diminished the racist as much or more than his victim.

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Post image for On the Maidan Uprising and ‘Imaginary Archive’ in Kiev

With a sharp tug, the soot-covered tire slides free from a pile stacked over my head. Then another. And another. Soon I have fifteen tires loosened.

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Post image for Running Numbers: The Conceptual Minimalism of Monika Wulfers

Public perception of the history of minimalist and conceptual art is dominated by male artists working out of New York City: Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Dan Graham, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Dan Flavin, and so on. A recent 2014 show of neon “drawings” by the German-American artist Monika Wulfers at the Elmhurst Art Museum suggests that this paradigm is not the last word on the genealogy of minimalism.

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Post image for Garry Winogrand and the Perils of Posthumous Prints

A deserved tribute to Garry Winogrand is turning into an ethical morass that does no one any good.

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Post image for Letter from Antwerp II: Rubens, More Diamonds, and Dogs

ANTWERP — The Jewish Diaspora and the diamond trade are not synonymous. Their stories don’t merely intertwine either. Together they have given rise to two cultural and literary archetypes, the Wandering Jew and the Court Jew.

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Post image for Letter from Antwerp I: Trains and Diamonds

ANTWERP — The Rubenshuis is not a long walk from the Station Antwerpen-Centraal (the Gare Anvers Centrale, if you like). Antwerp’s central train station rises above a wide promenade that can get you there. This marvelously sculpted stone terminal is defined by its gilded domes and clock that keeps accurate time.

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Post image for Jeff Koons, Kara Walker, and the Challenge of Public Art

As if his museum-filling Whitney retrospective weren’t enough, Jeff Koons currently has a massive sculpture on view at Rockefeller Center. “Split-Rocker” is comprised of two halves, one the recreated head of a toy pony rocker, the other the head of a toy dinosaur rocker.

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Post image for Bit Rot: The Limits of Conservation

Bad things can happen to almost any art. Casino impresario Steve Wynn famously stuck an elbow through his Picasso while bragging about the high price he was about to get for his trophy canvas, and a clumsy visitor to the Fitzwilliam Museum managed to trip on a staircase and take out a whole row of important Chinese vases displayed on an adjacent windowsill.

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Post image for Single Point Perspective: An Arcadian Moment in the Heart of New York’s Lower East Side

For anyone interested in poetry (not the same as verse); underknown art and artists; the artists and poets of the New York School after the death of Franz Kline and Frank O’Hara; collaboration; collage; a do-it-yourself spirit; the Lower East Side (particularly from the late 1960s until the late ‘80s, decades before it was gentrified); and the persistence of bohemian life, despite all the efforts to stamp it out, the exhibition A Painter and His Poets: The Art of George Schneeman, thoughtfully curated by Bill Berkson and Ron Padgett at Poets House, is a must-see.

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Post image for Thoughts on Richard Serra in Qatar

DOHA, Qatar — This spring, Richard Serra has made his mark on the Arab Gulf in a characteristically big way. Several important pieces are currently on view in Qatar, two of them permanent installations commissioned by the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA).

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