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IN PROTEST at Berkeley Art Museum

by Aaron Harbour on May 8th, 2012

I am excited about the potential of In Protest, an event organized in tandem by the Kadist Art Foundation and the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, to be held Wednesday, May 9th at 7pm.

Artists have been asked to design posters with a specific or abstract political message to be given away at this one night event. The list of artists includes many whom I instantly associate with politically charged practices such as Rigo 23, Martha Rosler, and Natasha Wheat and many whose posters may help recast their interests in a more political light.

The artists are Zarouhie Abdalian, John Baldessari, Amy Balkin, Dodie Bellamy, Charlie Dubbe, Amy Franceschini, Doug Hall, Kevin Killian, Paul Kos, Tony Labat, Shaun O’Dell, Rigo 23, Piero Golia, Jordan Kantor, Martha Rosler, Allan Sekula, Mungo Thomson and Natasha Wheat.

Questions of art praxes’ political potentials and limitations are constantly swirling, all the more so in these highly charged times of active protest movements. The world has yet to come to terms with the revolutions recently transpired or those still afoot. And the future is less than settled in nations whose ‘completed’ revolts in the Arab Spring have left them in a terrible and dangerous state of flux. A military government is still in control of Egypt and in advance of elections, vying political factions are falling victim to massacres such as the one in Cairo on May 2nd.  Closer to home (and much tamer despite the press’ over emphasis on its outlying criminal element) we have our local Occupy, revitalized in its May Day general strike. In each of these protests and in the more everyday ones (usually in the grand tradition of labor struggles, but also against abortion and pro or against various political personalities and parties) the arts play a major role, both as means of message production (signs, banners, et al.) and as a foothold for giving the myriad people some cohesiveness (ex. the various strains of music performed and DJed).

During a March 31st talk at the Kadist curator Nato Thompson, whose excellent exhibition Living as Form is about to finish its satellite run in SF, discussed various ways in which art could engage with a wider audience, purpose and potential, noting (I’m paraphrasing) the worst thing we could do is commission a bunch of posters. But is such a curatorial proposal so untenable? In the introduction to Dorathea von Hantlemann’s excellent How to Do Things With Art (2010), she describes her theme as, “How does art become politically or socially significant and what preconditions must be fulfilled in order to enable artworks to attain such significance?”

In Protest will raise these questions anew, confronting Thompson’s challenge and interrogating Hantlemann’s question. Each artist will address both the specific audience in attendance and the vitality of their medium (the poster and art as a whole) in the context of the museum and the wider political conversation. And we,  the viewers,  will walk away with works of art.

The Whitney Breaks New Ground

by Helen Homan Wu on May 19th, 2011

(images courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art)

You probably already know about the relocation of the Whitney Museum to the Meatpacking in Chelsea. It’s a massive project that has been keeping the staff at the Whitney pretty busy for the past year. The new building is designed by the renowned Renzo Piano (the Centre Georges Pompidou is one of my favorite buildings).  Without doubt, the building will become an art piece in itself, situated at the foot of the Highline with Frank Gehry’s IAC building and The Standard Hotel looming above and behind. This new and very contemporary space will be an amazing backdrop to cutting-edge and dynamic works, that is able to use both indoor and outdoor mutli-layered spaces.  Although the new location officially opens in the Fall, this Saturday May 21st, the Whitney will be hosting a one-day fiesta to shake things up. Complete schedule of events below.

“The new building will include more than 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries and 13,000 square feet of rooftop exhibition space, providing long-awaited opportunities to show more of the Whitney’s unsurpassed collection of 20th- and 21st-century American art in tandem with cutting-edge temporary exhibitions.” Continue Reading More »

Anthony Caro on the Roof

by Gabriella Radujko on May 17th, 2011

Spring in New York is a brief and uncertain period according to the Green Michelin Guide, but the weather held for the preview of “Anthony Caro on the Roof” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 25. The five, large-scale steel sculptures are typical of his work, with characteristic use of ground plane and prefabricated steel sections.  The English sculptor, 87, spoke to press, friends and admirers, in the midst of his playfully arranged works.  “I am very thrilled”, he said, no doubt referring to how supremely suited they were to the expansive Cantor Roof Garden, framed, no less, by blossoming trees in Central Park. Continue Reading More »

Eva Hesse: Studiowork

by Helen Homan Wu on February 15th, 2011

Courtesy of Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, gift of Helen Hesse Charash, 1979. Photograph by Abby Robinson

(from the Press Release..)

The German-born, American artist Eva Hesse (1936–1970) played a central role in the radical transformation of sculptural practice in the 1960s. Hesse belonged to a generation of artists, including Bruce Nauman and Andy Warhol, who expanded the conceptual and technical possibilities for art. BAM/PFA is extremely privileged to present a group of rarely seen sculptures that show the inner workings of Hesse’s studio practice. The objects, both small and large, range from raw material experiments to works in their own right, all of them revealing process and the moments between thinking and making. Organized by The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, this unprecedented presentation of Hesse’s small-scale experimental works has traveled to London, Barcelona, and Toronto before its appearance in Berkeley. Continue Reading More »

Mental States at the New Museum

by Howard Hurst on February 3rd, 2011

Courtesy of the New Museum

George Condo was born in 1957, meaning he is 53, the same age as my mother.

The artist’s newly opened retrospective “Mental States” at the New Museum, was exceptional in part for this reason. It was refreshing to see an exhibition of this weight and vitality at the New Museum. It was especially exciting considering the artist is not “younger than Jesus” but 4 decades into his mature career.

At the risk of seeming vague or trite, or both, there is something timeless about George Condo’s Work. During the 1980s, while friends like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Mary Heilmann were developing their own signature styles, Condo wasn’t. Rather, he was constructing his toolbox. The artist has become a master of appropriation, not of material but of style. He has an uncanny ability to pull inspiration and support from across art history. An avid museum visitor, the artist constantly footnotes artists as disparate as, Picasso, Bacon and Fragonard. Continue Reading More »

Casting Call for Marinella Senatore’s Film

by Helen Homan Wu on January 7th, 2011

This film will be part of a collaboration between the New Museum and No Longer Empty for The Festival of Ideas for a New City

On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century

by Gabriella Radujko on December 9th, 2010

Take a leap, 2009. Photo by David Allison © 2010 Sheila Makhijani

Agnes Berecz’s December 2, 2010 lecture/slideshow On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century, coinciding with the MOMA exhibition through February 7, 2011 and part of the Brown Bag Lunch Series gave maximum attention to the most minimal unit of drawing—the line.  On Line, explores the radical transformation of the medium of drawing.” Continue Reading More »