Posted inBooks

Wheel Life: Paul Scheerbart’s Quest to Build a Perpetual Motion Machine

My favorite shelf in the home library is where Raymond Roussel, the Comte de Lautréamont, E.T. A. Hoffmann, Leonora Carrington and other writers form a brilliant phalanx of eccentricity and marvel. I turn to it like a five-hour energy drink, sampling a few pages of, say, Raymond Queneau or Heinrich von Kleist when in need of a shot of alternative reality (I’m waiting for cable to start producing surreality shows in which men and women practice automatic writing while in trances).

So what fun to add Paul Scheerbart and his perpetual motion machine to the line-up, an altogether delightful addition to the foule folle. A German writer who was born in the Prussian port of Danzig and lived in Berlin for much of his life, Scheerbart (1863-1915) was a jack of all genres — art critic, playwright, novelist, poet, etc. — with many muses.

Posted inArt

Second Sight: The Photographs of George Hendrik Breitner

It’s unlikely, half a century from now, that a shadow oeuvre will appear among the personal effects of many contemporary artists, a secret body of work that parallels or even exceeds their public output. This is what happened with the Dutch painter George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923), whose several thousand photographs emerged from obscurity only in 1961 and might plausibly have been lost forever.

Posted inBooks

A Photographer Looks at London’s Tattoos

Photographer and photojournalist Alex MacNaughton’s latest book titled London Tattoos, is a lighthearted book of portraits featuring Londoners and their tattoos. Shooting his portraits in the studio against a neutral white background, reminiscent of white gallery walls, MacNaughton treats tattoos, and the bodies they are etched upon, like works of art. Showing only one image of each person fully covered in street clothes, MacNaughton crops and edits his photographs to show different parts and pieces of the body.

Posted inArt

Virtually Sketching in Metal

In his first solo show, Bernard Klevickas has staged the space of Orchard Windows Gallery on the Lower East Side for contemplating industrial process and the aesthetics of machinery and its methods. Turbulence is a small, but detailed, show of sculptures created between 2002 and 2012 from metal and plastic, all with consciousness of surface and form.

Posted inArt

The Man Behind the Squeegee

Corinna Belz’s new documentary, Gerhard Richter Painting (playing at Manhattan’s Film Forum from now until March 27), offers a rare glimpse into the life and work of the celebrated and self-proclaimed “secretive” German artist. For a little more than 90 minutes, we watch Richter labor over two new paintings, as well as devise upcoming gallery shows and attend large-scale exhibitions of his own work. Although the reasoning behind Richter’s artistic choices may remain largely mysterious, a sympathetic rendering of the artist emerges.

Posted inArt

Dancing at the Whitney

When the list of the 2012 Whitney Biennial artists was made public, it included a very interesting trio of names, probably not immediately recognizable to most of the visual arts world: choreographers Sarah Michelson and Michael Clark, and theater director/playwright Richard Maxwell. All three are extremely well known in their respective fields, but how and why are they relevant to the Biennial audience? Hyperallergic asked me to write a series of articles looking at performing arts, not performance art, in the museum context, and whether it’s an important, or completely arbitrary, shift in visual arts programming.