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Posted inArt

Why There Are Great Artists (Part 3)

The rigorous parameters that Sylvia Plimack Mangold established in her earlier bodies of work (the floor paintings and the landscapes framed by “tape”) continue to inform her paintings of individual trees (specifically the maple, elm, locust, and pink oak), which have been focus of her attention since the early 1980s. Year after year, in different seasons and subtly changing light, the artist has returned to the same handful of subjects seen from the same tightly cropped viewpoint.

Posted inBooks

Tuning In: Devin Johnston’s Verse Seeks to Fill the Nothing with Song

The title of Devin Johnston’s fourth book of poems, Traveler, might suggest that the work will offer some series of narratives about moving from place to place. To be sure, the poems are generated by specific sites, from the Scottish Highlands to the American midlands. Yet, what characterizes these poems is an imagistic intensity and precision that evokes the process of engaged concentration, particularly in regard to the natural world.

Posted inBooks

The Verse That Could Happen: National Poetry Month to the Rescue?

A couple of months back I was sitting in an East Village dive bar enjoying, oh, I don’t know, my third or fourth whiskey (it was Tuesday, after all), when I noticed a very attractive girl next to me committing what appeared to be lines of verse onto a yellow notepad. Hang on, I thought: a fetching young poet sitting next to me in some blighted Manhattan grotto? What movie are you in, buddy? I stole a second glance. True enough, there was her pen scribbling curtly on the paper, and there were the one or two-word stanzas — illegible, from where I sat — filling up the left-hand side of the page in cursive, like the lines of an EKG.

Posted inOpinion

Required Reading

This week, the New Aesthetic, the Steins, Creative Time’s mission to push culture forward, Yung Jake’s Embedded, Eggleston goes from photography to contemporary art, Klaus Biesenbach’s tweets, Kickstarter vs NEA, art on The Simpsons and more.

Posted inArt

Open Secret

Stanley Whitney is in his mid-sixties. By his own account, he struggled in the studio from the early 70s to the late 80s, “just trying to make work.” The issue was to make something that was his, rather than to make something that was the right or approved of thing to do. Although it is seldom discussed publicly, this is the dilemma facing every African-American artist. You must be a spokesperson who produces testimony that can be regarded as representative of Black culture — the “I” speaking for the “we.” (Even after the death of the author, it seems that there is at least one “we” that must be spoken for in this postmodern world.)

Posted inArt

Why There Are Great Artists (Part 2)

Before writing about Sylvia Plimack Mangold’s shift from interiors to landscapes, I think it is useful to once again consider the floor paintings, which she worked on for about a decade, beginning in 1967. It is in these paintings that the artist defines an approach to subject matter from which she has never wavered. She will paint only what she observes, but with more rigorous parameters than simply investigating her immediate circumstances. Her subject matter will never suggest an elsewhere or material plenitude. She will make no allusions to fantasy, leisure, or social status. It is incumbent on us to reflect upon what she does and doesn’t do.

Posted inArt

Book Spurning: The People’s Library at OWS

When the NYPD — invasion-clad and riot-tooled — swiftly and forcibly dislodged protestors of the Occupy Wall Street Movement from their stronghold in Zuccotti Park on November 15 last year, they mangled and destroyed, among other things, the so-called “people’s” library, an impressive collection of books generously made available to the public on a barter-basis: take one, leave one. A Gutenbergian species of free trade, if you will.

Posted inOpinion

Required Reading

This week, Koons’ hanging train, Mona Lisa dates change, Bloomberg gets its name on Hirshhorn balloon, 20 must-see artist websites, the exit of Exit Art, the Dictionary of American Regional English is complete, 60 Minutes to tackle contemporary art and more …

Posted inArt

Some Things I Know About This Artist

Max Gimblett was born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1935. From 1962 to 1964, while living in Canada, he worked as a potter, an experience that has influenced his relationship to materials and process. In 1965, he moved to San Francisco, and began studying painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, and became friends with Phil Sims. It took Gimblett a decade to hit his stride.

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