Marilyn Minter, Betty Tompkins, and Others Gauge George W. Bush's Work
DALLAS — It’s useful to consider “The Art of Leadership,” former President George W. Bush’s solo painting debut, as a kind of sprawling installation that begins with the metal detector at the George W. Bush Presidential Center and ends with the gift shop, where Dubya Bobbleheads are for sale and an entire shelf is devoted to tomes ostensibly written by George or Laura. In the middle of the center there’s a lobby showcasing gifts from foreign nations to America and an impressive quasi-holographic projection up near the ceiling that shows various multi-hued Americans moving about. You enter the gallery space, where all the walls have been painted blue and are emblazoned with various Bush homilies, and where television screens show a documentary about 43’s artistic journey. There is background music playing that might best be characterized as falling under the genre of “inspirational elevator.” If you’re a New Yorker or a non-Republican, you have to steel yourself a bit and remember that the majority of attendees here are not visiting in any sort of ironic sense. When a security guard says that “history will judge [Dubya] kindly,” you are not allowed to laugh. Another thing that is off-limits, laugh-wise: Mocking the hanging methodology of the paintings themselves, which are positioned about eight feet above the floor, as if awaiting a dream audience of giraffes. It seems OK to take selfies with Bush’s self-portrait, or standing next to a painting of Bush’s father, who is rendered like a waterlogged potato, his cheeks blasted with rosacea, his eyes hound-dog, stoned-looking. There have been many reactions to these portraits, reactions based both on online gawking and IRL visits to the venue (I’ve also emailed a few prominent artists I admire to pick their brains, and we’ll get to their own judgments in a moment). Of course, it’s hard to judge this art dispassionately, the same way that it would be tough to listen to a Charles Manson folk album dispassionately. The whole concept is borderline ridiculous, and offensive, if you think Bush should be in jail rather than painting his pets, himself in the shower, or headshots of his former international pals. Bush has cited Winston Churchill’s thoughts in “Painting as a Pastime” as being formative. (Sample quote: “Just to paint is great fun. The colours are lovely to look at and delicious to squeeze out. Matching them, however crudely, with what you see is fascinating and absolutely absorbing. Try it if you have not done so — before you die.”) It’s easy and tempting to politicize a critique of Bush’s creative noodlings. And that’s why the fact that some of these paintings are unnervingly, weirdly good is so dismaying, as if the whole exhibition is designed to molest your liberal sensibilities: jumpstarting a discussion about how Hitler was also a painter, or why Bush didn’t choose to paint any pictures of dead bodies in Iraq, or how easy it would be to shoplift one of those Bobbleheads from the gift shop, simply to avoid donating any money to this history-effacing ego-temple. Not all of the portraits are good. Some are exceedingly terrible, as if Bush was dashing them off en route to a more interesting golf game: Rwandan President Paul Kagame looks pissed off and vacant, his head floating forgettably on a field of blue ether; King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia appears to be wearing a paste-on costume beard. But there are real gems here, some intentional, others less so — like Israel’s Ehud Olmert, painted with his mouth hanging open in mid-speech, his eyes nearly subsumed by multi-tiered bags. The portrait of Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Latvia’s first female president, is great, and Bush could and should rework this one as an abstract piece focused purely on the green background and the curling red wave of her hair. The best portrait in the show is the one of Czech leader Vaclav Havel, grinning in a grandfatherly way at something off the canvas. The surface is much more worked than in other paintings, and Bush has skipped the monochromatic backgrounds he typically uses in favor of a wall of books. A thin horizontal line of bare canvas is left along the bottom, and somehow that’s an oddly nice touch. Havel’s jowls have an interestingly complex topography. I’d be happy if I made this painting myself. But Bush, who famously governed from a boldly unforgiving position of unearned self-confidence, probably doesn’t care too much about what elitist art critics have to say about his efforts. He might be more interested in what more accomplished art world practitioners have to say (I’d call them his “artistic peers,” but I’m loathe to lump anyone into company with someone so reviled on a personal and political level). Marilyn Minter, for one, was not so impressed when I reached out for her opinion. “I taught intro to painting for half my life, and these pieces would be pretty much the minimum I would expect from a high-school student with no painting experience,” she said. “The act of painting can be immensely therapeutic. His guilt level must be so intense, and the concentration that painting requires might offer some relief. It’s either that or the bottle, I suspect.” Marc Dennis — another painter whose photorealist technique is miles away from Dubya’s wonkier portraiture — is more supportive: “It’s cool that GWB is painting; more people ought to try it. At this point in his path as a painter, his works are more about craft and technique rather than skill and talent, but still have merit. When he decides to paint his wife, then we’ll see if he has what it takes.” Natalie Frank, whose figurative works often take liberties with actual physiognomies, has no patience for Bush’s sideline hobby: “While there have been many criminals who have been great artists — Friedrich Schroder Sonnenstern, Caravaggio, Egon Schiele — George W. Bush is not one. Why waste the time and ink to consider an abysmal president, war criminal, and dilettante painter: is there not art all over the world that would be grateful to be introduced into the dialogue? (Note to self: Find out if Hillary sculpts?)” Austin Lee, who recently had a celebrated show of eccentric portraits at Postmasters, reminds us of the part of Bush’s oeuvre that is not included in this exhibition: “I think Bush paints dogs better than people. I actually like the painting he made of Barney. He probably loved that dog.” Betty Tompkins — who occasionally paints faces but more often focuses on more penetrating subjects, in a literal sense — isn’t buying it. “A man who had been a very bad president did some paintings that are not very good,” she said. “He showed them in his own presidential library along with photos of him with the famous men he had painted. None of this is interesting to me. When I taught painting, the thought that popped most often into my head was how very hard it is to do a good painting. When I looked online at the paintings he had done, I thought the same thing. Peter Plagens is saying on Facebook that this is all a ploy to soften up the folks for a Jeb run. He might be right. I hope the idea fails. I’m not interested in another member of that family being in the White House.” Sanya Kantarovsky, a young painter who has a show coming up at Casey Kaplan in May, takes a nuanced but ultimately dismissive stance. (I’d initially asked him to critique Bush’s very strange portrait of Putin, since Kantarovsky was born in Moscow and spends quite a bit of time in Russia.) “George W. Bush’s most recent painterly effort has been severely over-sensationalized,” he said. “The previous paintings attributed to the former president a few years ago were more interesting, if only for their Kahlo-esque haptic intimacy and introspection. This new batch is pretty boring in comparison. Take for example W’s portrait of Putin: one might expect Bush’s personal experience with his subject to imbue this portrait with some kind of insider’s insight. Instead we are presented with a familiar phenomenon to anyone who has ever seen fan art of any sort: an embattled attempt to capture a likeness from a photograph with pasty earth tones. Yes, this painting has a bit of a yard sale charm to it, but then again, what amateur painting of Putin wouldn’t? The myriad of presidential doodles, from Lyndon B. Johnson’s aliens to Reagan’s American-dreamy cowboys, football players, and horses, are not only more interesting as visual artworks, but also more telling of their authors. I prefer their candid lightness and humor to the staged extravaganza of W’s anemic portraits.” Canadian painter Brad Phillips went out on a limb in praising Bush’s output more than most. “Many accomplished artists may be horrible people (myself) or may have done awful things, and we aren’t aware of it,” he said. “The derision surrounding the portraits painted by George W. Bush tends to be inextricably tied to his status as war criminal, and even those who like the works can’t be more complementary than call them ‘accomplished amateur’ or well-made kitsch. However, were I to encounter his work in a gallery in New York, besides the relief I’d feel at seeing a painting that wasn’t an easy design-based abstraction, I would feel drawn to them as good works: not great works, but good works. Not great, because in his self-portrait, unknowingly or not, he’s painting like Elizabeth Peyton, who I think is highly overrated. His portraits most resemble the work of Luc Tuymans, who also has been showered with too much acclaim. However, Bush is perhaps more earnest about his politics than Tuyman’s occasional nod to the Congo or pointless portrait of Condoleeza Rice, and his muddy awkward paint handling seems to genuinely indicate a desire to craft his own odd realism, not the lazy ‘deskilled’ greige of Tuyman’s works. Unencumbered by his track record, Bush shows more promise than many painters getting press in 2014.” Marilyn Minter, Betty Tompkins, and Others Gauge George W. Bush's WorkSelect Photo Gallery: Slideshow: Marilyn Minter, Betty Tompkins, and Others Gauge George W. Bush's WorkPublished: April 15, 2014 Read full article here
A Guide to the Tribeca Film Festival
A Guide to the Tribeca Film FestivalThe Tribeca Film Festival, running April 16-27 in multiple theaters across Manhattan, is large enough to seem incohesive. Or maybe incohesiveness is the programming strategy? It’s hard to tell. Founded 13 years ago by producer Jane Rosenthal and actor Robert De Niro, it’s best thought of as the glitzier, more corporate-sponsored cousin of the New York Film Festival — the champagne to the former’s boxed wine. But if we’re being honest, champagne can be cloying, and it’s only fun to drink in small doses. And that’s how we feel about the Tribeca Film Festival. To help out those new on the festival scene, this year we’ve provided a starting map charting some of the themes of the festival. These pairings of films, possible double-features if you choose to view them that way, offer paths to follow — films for music fans, the literary minded, those who like great narrative cinema (or at least that which is based on a book by James Franco), or documentaries that highlight the creative process. “Time is Illmatic”“Super Duper Alice Cooper” Is the music documentary format is tired? It seems that every year, a new film is vying for our attention, attempting to bring a fading rock star back into the spotlight. This year, the festival presents “Super Duper Alice Cooper,” a portrait of the aforementioned shock-rock star whose more recent presence on golf courses and on reality shows has disfigured his legacy as a pioneering rock ’n’ roll performer. On the flip side, we have “Time is Illmatic,” a documentary about the rapper Nas that will bring in the hometown crowd, which is why it was selected for opening night, even if it looks like nothing more than a puff piece. “The Kidnapping of Michel Houllebecq”“Regarding Susan Sontag” Famous writers take over the screen in two widely different films. “Kidnapping” is a meta-fictional comedy starring Houllebecq as himself, a controversial fiction writer who is kidnapped. The story takes a real-life scandal as its inspiration — in 2011, the writer disappeared during a book tour, and his whereabouts have never been explained. The film proposes to tell what happened, and the audience is thrown into a strangely comic farce involving a rotating cast of bumbling characters who are desperately trying to be successful criminals but failing at every turn. On the flip side, there is “Regarding Susan Sontag,” a rote informational documentary about the titular writer that covers all the main events of her life but only tangentially examines her work. The film is worth it for all the vintage footage (as well as still-image montages created by Lewis Klahr), even if the talking-head interviews are tedious. “Newburgh Sting”“1971” Two docs that attempt to uncover hidden political narratives and highlight the underbelly of our current democratic system. “Newburgh Sting” focuses on an FBI plot to stop a purported terrorist attack deriving from a mosque in Newburgh, New York. There was no plot, it turned out — although you wouldn’t know it from the way former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police commissioner Ray Kelly puffed their chests in front of cameras. “1971” tells the story of a pre-WikiLeaks group called The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, which attempted to break into a federal bureau office in Pennsylvania with the intention of stealing files and leaking them. “Night Moves”“Palo Alto” Kelly Reichardt’s “Night Moves” tells the story of eco-terrorists who plot to blow up a dam, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard. Reichardt directed “Old Joy,” “Wendy and Lucy,” and Meek’s Cutoff,” three of the best films of the last decade, so this one should be a no-brainer. “Palo Alto,” on the other hand, we’re not so sure about. It’s based on a collection of short stories by ARTINFO favorite James Franco that tackle teenage lust and ennui. It also might have been the foundation of what some seem to believe to be a recent publicity stunt by Franco, although we think he just might be a pervert. “Art and Craft”“Ballet 422” Two films about the creative process with much different aims. “Art and Craft,” about serial art forger Mark Landis, who passes off impeccable reproductions to art institutions all over the country for the thrill, not the money, brings forward the question of authenticity in art —just because the artist makes copies does that not make him a real artist. “Ballet 422” is quite different, a process documentary not unlike the work of Frederick Wiseman that follows Justin Peck, a young choreographer for the New York City Ballet, as he constructs a new production from scratch. It’s a film that relies little on explanation — for the better — but stresses the collaborative efforts that go into making the greatest works of art. Published: April 15, 2014 Read full article here
Cartier & "Grace of Monaco"
Language English Featured: 0Order: 0Tags: Nicole KidmanGrace KellyCartierAuthor(s): Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop Read full article here
Masters of Fragrances Exhibition
Language English Featured: 0Order: 0Author(s): Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop Read full article here
Pierre Huyghe Retrospective at Museum Ludwig, Cologne
The exhibition Pierre Huyghe at Museum Ludwig in Cologne is the first major survey of the French artist’s work to date in Germany. The retrospective brings together more than 60 works and projects, including live situations, objects, photographs, films, drawings, and music. For more than twenty years, Pierre Huyghe has constructed site specific, time based […] Read full article here
Slideshow: Dallas Fêtes Sixth Art Fair with "Eye Ball"
Language English Featured: 0Order: 0Tags: PartiesAuthor(s): Benjamin Park Read full article here
Making Friends, and Money, at the Dallas Art Fair
DALLAS — Texas is often a foreign land in the mind of many clueless New Yorkers, myself included, who likely picture the state as a never-ending conclave of wild-eyed Republicans threatening secession (except Austin, which we know is officially Weird (TM), from a marketing standpoint). But in Dallas, first-time visitors might be shocked to see how central contemporary art is to everyday life. It’s a city of well-heeled and generous collectors, from the Rachofskys to younger couples like Derek and Christen Wilson; home to the Dallas Contemporary and Nasher Sculpture Center; a place where even the Cowboys football stadium is happy to flaunt its collection, with enormous pieces by the likes of Anish Kapoor, Gary Simmons, Mel Bochner, and Trenton Doyle Hancock. Last week’s sixth Dallas Art Fair brought plenty of non-Texans to town, but it was merely the market-driven heart of a full calendar of events (including Julian Schnabel and Richard Phillips exhibitions at Dallas Contemporary, the latter juxtaposing pornographic images with portraits of George W. Bush and Mitt Romney). Conversations with dealers made it clear that the fair is as much about making relationships as it is about making sales. It strikes an interesting balance: A place where you can browse paintings by the city’s own David Bates or the late Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson at Dallas-based Talley Dunn, and then go ponder the investment potential of new works by market darling Lucien Smith at Los Angeles’s OHWOW (showing at the fair for the first time). Certain galleries seemed to subtly tailor their programming to the locale — like New York’s James Fuentes, which was showcasing gnarly found-object assemblage sculptures by Alabama artist Lonnie Holley. A handful of others spotlight the kind of traditional wares and straightforwardly pretty baubles (and the occasional Hirst) that would be familiar to anyone who has spent time wandering booths in Palm Beach, Florida. It all makes for an interestingly contradictory experience for the average visitor. Part of the fair’s unique character may derive from its co-progenitor, Chris Byrne, a former gallerist who splits his time between Texas and New York, and who also moonlights as a sort of experimental graphic novelist. He launched Dallas Art Fair in 2009 with John Sughrue, thinking of themselves as their own ideal audience. The fair now has more than 90 exhibitors, growing exponentially through a kind of referral process, Byrne said, in which participating galleries bring their friends and peers on board. Milwaukee’s Green Gallery has been taking part for several years; this time it was showing works by Whitney Biennial curator Michelle Grabner (which sold for $5,000-$25,000), Richard Galling ($2,000-$5,000), and a sculptural installation by Margaret Lee. Nearby, New York’s Marlborough Chelsea slyly leveraged the hallmarks of typical fair-bait — shiny, reflective surfaces! Color, color, color! — in a subtle and smart way, featuring mirror works by Tony Mattelli (whose pieces sold for $45,000-$80,000, including a large rope sculpture) and eye-popping infographic paintings by Andrew Kuo ($15,000-$35,000). Fellow New York-based gallery ZieherSmith returned for its third year. Its interaction with Dallas began before it joined the fair, said Scott Zieher. The gallery donated works by Eddie Martinez, Chuck Webster, Laura Owens, and Liz Marcus to the city’s Two x Two charity auction, and was impressed with collectors’ generous reactions. This year, ZieherSmith showed pieces by Owens — an elegantly aggressive series of found-glass sculptures, cast from the artist’s own forearm and fist — as well as work from Paul Anthony Smith, Allison Schulnik, Webster, and Jason Brinkenhoff (the latter two are both now in the permanent collection of the Dallas Museum of Art). “Everyone here asks smart, engaged questions, and they want to know the answers,” Zieher said. “They’re deliberate, and they know what they want. There are people who are putting together careful collections — that engagement makes this fair special.” His booth combined the aforementioned names that already have an established local reputation with a series of abstract pieces by 27-year-old newcomer Lauren Silva. Zieher told me that Brinkenhoff, Schulnik, and Owens all performed very well at this year’s edition, with pieces selling in the $2,000-$15,000 range, and with the gallery doubling its total sales within the final two hours of the fair. Other highlights included a series of printed-vinyl-on-chipboard photo-paintings of forests, mountains, and fire by Peter Sutherland, presented by Bill Brady KC of Kansas City, Missouri, another first-time exhibitor. Sonia Dutton, of Austin and New York, presented a number of paintings by Dallas’s Marjorie Schwartz (several of which sold for $1,800-$3,000), architectural drawings by homeless Houston-based savant Richard Gordon Kendall (one of which sold, with another on reserve at $4,800), a massive, multi-paneled riff on Gustave Courbet by Dan Rushton, and a “mechanical flipbook” by Juan Fontanive (with most of the edition of 12 sold, at $6,200 each). San Francisco’s Jessica Silverman Gallery gave over the bulk of its booth to large- and small-scale Shannon Finley paintings, which are deliciously layered, sleek, and infinitely more nuanced in person than in reproduction. East Hampton’s Halsey McKay gallery showed Chris Duncan, Patrick Brennan, and Anne-Lise Coste, selling several Brennans and placing a site-specific Duncan commission with a Dallas collector. Franklin Parrasch Gallery sneakily tucked a tiny nine-panel Carl Andre floor piece beneath a mixed-media Daniel Turner. And Milan’s Brand New Gallery veered off the prevailing trend of the brightly eye-popping in favor of moody, murky, subdued abstraction from Keith J. Varadi, Ryan Conrad Sawyer, Gabriel Hartley, and James Krone. In many other places, though, color was king: Strauss Bourque-LaFrance and David Scanavino at KANSAS; Wayne Herpich at Blackston; OHWOW’s Lucien Smith/Nick van Woert/Diana Al-Hadid booth, which appeared to be the result of a bubblegum-factory explosion and where sales were brisk, with the bulk of the work sold by Saturday. Chris Byrne describes Dallas as a fertile place, and his fair as a kind of incubator — a place for galleries to make sales while networking and laying the groundwork for future projects and opportunities. Because Dallas is a comparatively young city in terms of art world development, it’s perhaps easier to trace the ways in which those connections play out. One such example: Dan Rees, whom Jonathan Viner showed at the Dallas Art Fair in 2012, then had a solo show at the city’s Goss-Michael Foundation in 2013. One of his works now hangs outside the Taschen outlet in the Joule Hotel, part of hotelier Tim Headington’s private collection. Viner seems to have done particularly well in the Dallas scene: A work by gallery artist Nicolas Deshayes is part of Headington’s collection, and I also spotted a few of his paintings at the home of the Wilsons. Another artist Viner represents, Josh Smith, had a two-person show with Jose Lerma during this year’s Arts Week at Oliver Francis Gallery, which is run by Kevin Ruben Jacobs, a curator at the Goss-Michael Foundation. (Viner sold out this year’s booth of works by Will Boone and Paul Cowan, so expect to see some of them hanging in Dallas homes next year.) Or consider the aforementioned Two x Two auction held in the fall, a joint fundraiser for AMFAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and the Dallas Museum of Art; the money that goes to the DMA is added to its Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund — specifically used to acquire work from galleries that have participated in Two x Two. Dallas is a city of such synergies, and the fair and surrounding Arts Week is a unique chance to watch a place grow into its own as an art center, one relationship at a time — as out-of-town dealers play the long-game, valuing slow-burn personal connections over the quick sale. Click on the slideshow to see images from the Dallas Art Fair. Making Friends, and Money, at the Dallas Art FairSelect Photo Gallery: Slideshow: See Photos from the Dallas Art Fair 2014Published: April 14, 2014 Read full article here
Slideshow: Marilyn Minter, Betty Tompkins, and Others Gauge George W. Bush's Work
Language English Featured: 0Order: 0Author(s): Benjamin Park Read full article here
Brian O’Doherty at Simone Subal and P!
Artist: Brian O’Doherty Venue: Simone Subal, New York; P!, New York Exhibition Title: Connecting the… Date: March 2 – April 20, 2014 Click here to view slideshow Full gallery of video, images, press release and links available after the jump. Video: Brian O’Doherty, Structural Play: Vowel Grid, 1970. Performance, Grianán Fort, Donegal, Ireland, 1998. Images: Video and images courtesy […]Contemporary Art Daily is produced by Contemporary Art Group, a not-for-profit organization. We rely on our audience to help fund the publication of exhibitions that show up in this RSS feed. Please consider supporting us by making a donation today. Read full article here
Slideshow: See Photos from the Dallas Art Fair 2014
Language English Featured: 0Order: 0Author(s): Regina Mogilevskaya Read full article here