Essays

EssaysWeekend

Some Follow-up Thoughts on Michael Mazur (1935–2009)

by John Yau on December 14, 2014

Michael Mazur,

In the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, Looking East: Brice Marden, Michael Mazur, Pat Steir, at the Boston University Art Gallery, John Stromberg opens his essay, “Michael Mazur: A Delicate Balance” with this sentence: “Michael Mazur’s path to his recent paintings based on Chinese art has been less than linear.” Couldn’t this observation have also been made about Marden and Steir?

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Post image for A Single Woman Is a Witch: Battling to Save the Art Environment of Mary Nohl

Over a period of 50 years, the artist Mary Nohl transformed her yard as well as the interior and exterior of her cottage into an environment that stands in conversation with the surrounding land, lake, and her childhood memories. Almost immediately after the first cement sculptures materialized in the 1960s, however, she became known as “The Witch.”

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EssaysWeekend

Can I Be a Witness?

by John Yau on December 7, 2014

Michael Mazur,

I have been thinking about the difficulty of characterizing Michael Mazur in part because, while he became highly celebrated as a printmaker, his paintings have never received nearly the same attention. Once a label is attached, it takes years to remove it.

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Post image for How Rosalind Franklin’s “Photo 51” Told Us the Truth About Ourselves

Beautiful, isn’t it? Peer deep into this photograph’s heart, eye, vanishing point. Despite the beauty, no hammered stare, of any length, unlocks meaning or maker. The image (inviolate) defies casual analysis.

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Post image for Performing Publishing: Infrathin Tales from the Printed Web

In “Search, Compile, Publish” I identify some of the tactics used by artists who make books and other printout matter in the post-digital print space: grabbing, scraping, hunting, and performing.

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Post image for Cracking Open the Seductive History of Porcelain

MEISSEN, Germany — Of his extensive collection of ceramics, Oscar Wilde once remarked: “I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.” What Wilde felt he was increasingly failing to “live up to” was probably the sort of bourgeois respectability that is often symbolized by a set of good porcelain.

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EssaysWeekend

Gladys Nilsson’s Portraits of Everywoman

by John Yau on November 23, 2014

Gladys Nilsson,

There is something wonderfully incongruous and deeply disquieting about Gladys Nilsson’s art, which is primarily done in the medium of watercolor.

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Post image for Uterus Man, Pelvis Chariot, and the Irreverent Video Games of Lu Yang

If there’s any space that both parallels and accommodates Lu Yang’s highly exhilarating and provocative works, it’s a sprawling arcade, a cornucopia of weirdness and inappropriate ideas.

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Post image for Some Thoughts About Richard Serra and Martin Puryear (Part 2: Puryear)

Like Serra, Puryear went to Yale’s famed M.F.A. program (1969-71), but he attended five years after Serra had graduated. In fact, Serra and Robert Morris were visiting artists while he was a student there.

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Richard Serra, “Inside Out” (exterior view) (2013)

It is easy to forget that Richard Serra (b.1939) and Martin Puryear (b.1941) were born only two years apart. The different relationships that they developed toward craft and materials makes it all too easy to overlook that they are nearly contemporaries.

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