Its Wikipedia entry calls it “a short and violent movement,” and even compared with the aesthetic extremes of the 1960s, the unrelenting art of Vienna Actionism stands apart. After the passage of fifty years, the questions it raised about the limits and origins of art remain no less troubling or closer to resolution.
A big part of the art world is art history, and nowhere is that clearer than in the recent spate of exhibition revivals.
Photography’s initial accomplishment was to allow for the instantaneous transformation of a four-dimensional object or event into a static, two-dimensional representation. However, in the catalogue for the 1970 exhibition Photography into Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, Peter C. Burnell insisted that the medium could be pushed to even greater creative possibilities.
“The intestine is a hole that we can never fill,” Anna Maria Maiolino tells the curator Helena Tatay in a wide-ranging interview published on the Documenta 13 website, “just as we can never fulfill desire.”
Matthew Day Jackson’s Something Ancient, Something New, Something Stolen, Something Blue presents, as its very title suggests, a confused medley of disconnected work. If in time the exhibition isn’t simply forgotten, it will surely serve to demonstrate the ills of over-production, and the hubris of New York’s cavernous mega galleries.
Yesterday afternoon, Hauser & Wirth opened the doors to its new space in Chelsea for a preview. The gallery’s only home until now in New York has been a townhouse on the Upper East Side, which, like all buildings of its sort, makes for a narrow, multilevel (and sometimes fragmented) art-viewing experience; the new gallery, the site of the former Roxy nightclub and roller rink on West 18th Street, is pretty much the opposite — a cavernous warehouse that, although it’s technically only one floor, seems to expand and spread in every direction.
As my colleague Thomas Micchelli pointed out in his review of siege, Phyllida Barlow’s exhibition of sculpture at the New Museum earlier this year, she has something in common with Hans Hoffman. Both were teachers who have an impressive roster of distinguished students. In Hoffmann’s case, it included Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Alfred Jensen and Red Grooms. Barlow’s students include Douglas Gordon, Steve Pippin, Tacita Dean and Rachel Whiteread. However, whereas Hoffman’s students eclipsed their teacher, this is hardly the case with Barlow.
The most galvanizing room, hands down, in the current Whitney Biennial is the Forrest Bess micro-retrospective put together by sculptor Robert Gober. And on Tuesday, in what could be a trend, another museum-quality exhibition opened, organized by another sculptor — Matthew Day Jackson’s “Science on the back end” at Hauser & Wirth.