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Posted inArt

Has Werner Herzog Made the First Art Stoner Flick in 3D?

Director and filmmaker, Werner Herzog’s latest, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, is a strange mix of flighty pseudo-intellectual reverie and jaw-dropping documentary. Filmed in the famously inaccessible Chauvet Cave in southern France with 3-D enhancement, and sprinkled with the usual eccentric Hertzogian locals, the movie cannot fail to entertain and simultaneously irritate — just like the great man himself.

Posted inBooks

Digging Into Ai Weiwei’s Online Diary

Reading through detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s blog, recently translated by Lee Ambrozy and published as an eponymous book by MIT Press, isn’t fun, and it’s not for the faint of heart. A carefully selected culling of the artist’s massive production of posts between 2006 and 2009, the volume is a guts-and-all portrait of the man who is in all likelihood the most important artist working in the world today. That he remains arrested without charge by the Chinese government only heightens the strained urgency of Ai’s posts, an avalanche of “writings, interviews and digital rants,” as the book’s tagline puts it, that range through political philosophy, aesthetic inquiry and simple documentation of daily life.

Posted inArt

Seven Artists Meet Seven Technologists, But Who’s Who?

Seven on Seven is an annual conference hosted by Rhizome and the New Museum that pairs seven artists together with seven technologists to collaborate on projects created in a 24-hour period. The event’s second outing was last Saturday, May 14. The first question that came to my mind while attending the event was — what exactly is a technologist? Through the presentation speeches and Q+A sessions that showed off the series of thought-provoking collaborative artworks, I began to get an inkling of what the word might mean, and what its implications could be. But at a time when new media artists are technological innovators and software developers are artistic creators, where do we draw the line?

Posted inBooks

Steve Martin Attempts to Skewer the Art World & Fails

You may know Steve Martin from being one of our time’s defining comedians, actors and celebrity figures. But along with those first few titles, the man is also a renowned collector of contemporary art, as well as a novelist and a playwright. These pursuits could be called hobbies if they didn’t require quite so much dedication. Martin’s An Object of Beauty (2010), his third novel, attempts to combine the actor’s sidelines in writing and art into a narrative showpiece that aims a satirical skewer at the art world. Unfortunately, the punch never lands. Object of Beauty is too simplistic and editorializing for an art world-savvy audience and too limping for readers just looking for a punchy narrative.

Posted inArt

Quattro Volte: A Film That Slows Down Time

Le Quattro Volte will mess with your perceptions. No hallucinogenic drug or psychedelic trip, this movie creates a heightened sense of reality by slowing actions and narrative down, simplifying them into only their base elements. Events happen quietly in this film, if they happen at all. A man traverses his village’s land. A goat is born, lives and dies. A mound of wood is burned into charcoal. These small things are magnified and intensified until they become casually monumental, a brushed confrontation with the ineffable scale of life and nature. It’s easy to come out of the film’s womb-like enclosure with the sense that everything around you is happening a long way off, moving too quickly.

Posted inArt

New Monuments on the Lower East Side

Entirely new work was made for New Monuments. “Artists were selected for the show, not specific works,” says show-organizer and participating artist Ben Godward, who basically commissioned the other four participants. They all have deep ties to the Bushwick art scene, and are all transplants from the Midwest.

Posted inArt

The Limits of Text and Image: Glenn Ligon at the Whitney

It is perhaps telling that the first piece in the exhibition Glenn Ligon: AMERICA, the most comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work to date, is not one of the text-based paintings for which he is best known, but “Hands” (1996), a massive canvas tacked to the wall of the exhibition’s entrance with pushpins, bearing the image of outstretched palms against a black background. Drawn from a mass-media photograph of Benjamin Chavis and Louis Farrakhan’s 1995 Million Man March, enlarged to the point of degradation and then screenprinted, what appears here is a copy of a copy of a copy, an image that can no longer articulate what it once represented.

Posted inArt

At MoMA, Drawing as the Politics of Living

Sometimes an exhibition reminds you of why exhibitions exist, those surprising moments when usually dull curatorial exercises become transcendent experiences, reinvigorating overlooked corners of art history. I Am Still Alive at the Museum of Modern Art is one of those exhibitions, defiant and vivacious as anything I’ve seen in New York in the past few years. The show focuses entirely on drawing, demonstrating contemporary drawing’s engagement with the politics of living and everyday life. This is art as struggle and art as achievement, nowhere more reaffirmed than in On Kawara’s telegrams sent to the artist’s dealers and friends simply stating: “I am still alive.” To make art and to fight through problems and conflicts, social or personal, through the medium of art is to be alive.