I am watching a black man gyrate in front of me in a thong over gray briefs. A tuft of synthetic, orange hair peeks out from the front of the triangular fabric. His nearly-shaven head glistens as beads of sweat trickle down his face. His dark eyes stare intensely at us.
There are a number of things that distinguish Zak Prekop, who was born in 1979, from other young painters. The most important one is that he hasn’t turned what he does into a style or, in today’s parlance, a brand consisting of signature gestures. For while he has developed a method of making based on collage and optical disturbance, he has kept his options open. He embraces both the literal and the fictive as well as intertwines them in ways that are assured and compelling.
To walk into the artist Robert Gober’s installation of paintings, photographs and writings by Forrest Bess — a visionary painter and self-described, self-surgically-altered “pseudo-hermaphrodite” — was to encounter art frontloaded with (as the reader put it) “cultural significance while also being visually intoxicating, or mesmerizing, you can choose a description.”
“One picture leads to another,” Alec Soth tells the two filmmakers in Somewhere to Disappear (2011), a documentary that follows him around during the last two years that he worked on his photographic book, Broken Manual (2006-11). Later, in the film, he says: “I want to be carried.” Soth yearns for a subject to overwhelm his curiosity, leading him into places and situations that he couldn’t have otherwise foreseen. Photography is his means of discovering both the self and the Other, and where the two meet. It is how he finds “a path through the world.”
The Spanish artists Patricia Gómez and María Jesús González, who exhibit under the moniker Gómez + González, fashion works from the vestiges of soon-to-be-demolished places. In these architectural spaces, they put their training as printmakers to use, creating monoprints of walls and doorways, using a modified version of strappo, a technique used in the conservation of frescoes. Instead of a copper plate or lithography stone, the matrix for the print is provided by the building itself, whose outer skin is transferred to a thin, transparent fabric. The prints are complemented by photographs and video documenting the process and the sites.
This week, New York Times opens its photo archive to Tumblr, what’s going on in Qatar, Facebook’s image policy, Ai Weiwei speaks, a vintage interview with Warhol goes online, a Titian stays in the UK, newspapers on Pinterest and more.
Allison Miller is a young abstract painter who lives in Los Angeles, a city of few pedestrians. It is a vast, sprawling circuitry of vehicles and traffic jams, of getting from one place to another in the shortest and most efficient manner. You can still find neighborhoods to live in, but you cannot walk very far. Poor people take the bus. Taxis need a GPS. Wandering is not permitted.
I left the 2012 Whitney Biennial with a feeling of leadenness that no amount of free coffee (available at Monday’s press preview, and many thanks for that) or Werner Herzog’s video ode to beauty (“Hearsay of the Soul,” 2012) could alleviate.
This week, whither Santa Fe? a newbie goes to the Miami art fairs, Marina Abramović makes German men cry, Elmgreen & Dragset Fourth Plinth sculpture unveiled, UK’s guerrilla tree sculptor and more.
America, says Charlie Citrine in Saul Bellow’s novel Humboldt’s Gift (1975), is proud of its dead poets. Especially the mad ones: the bridge-leapers, the drink-guzzlers, the pill-snackers. Robert Lowell thought everyone was tired of his turmoil, but he obviously wasn’t thinking ahead to the possibilities he and his fellow scribblers presented to the movie business. You can only imagine the film gurus and movie execs surveying the poetscape of the twentieth century with nods of excited approval, foaming about their mouths. Drink, adultery, jealousy, madness, suicide: who knew poets led such cinematic lives!
Once when I was breaking up with a girlfriend, she told me, “You act like a nice guy, but really you’re not.” Or maybe she said, “You pretend to be a nice guy,” I can’t quite remember. Anyway, I was taken aback. Would it be better to just habitually act like an asshole, rather than trying to do so as little as possible? Although I know my capacity for niceness is, like everyone else’s, limited, I try to cultivate my better qualities to the extent that I can. But then, what if, as a result, someone mistakenly comes to believe that I am nicer than I really am? Does that make me a bigger jerk than the guy who’s just self-evidently a jerk on the surface?
At the far end of the main gallery Thomas Scheibitz mounted the painting “Untitled (No. 632)” on a slant within an inset in the wall of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. Its four rectangles, thinly painted in rose and violet washes or a combination of violet, green and brown, with varying densities of white brushed along the edges, were simultaneously divided and framed by a wide band that is partially painted industrial gray with some of it khaki.