The year 2005 in Art: reflections from here and there:
Best of 2005: 11 Critics + Curators Look at the Year in Art
HURRICANE KATRINA Ask Stockhausen. As if timed for the opening of the Whitney's Robert Smithson retrospective, this was arguably less a natural disaster than a case of Land art gone horribly wrong. An environmental and political tragedy of Spielbergian proportions, Katrina produced images of the sort of "naked life" we'd previously only identified with non-sites like Iraq. The drowned ghetto, the shooting of homeless looters, the police suicides, the forced evacuations, the superdomes filled with refugees—these are visions we can only try to erase. For some reason it was impossible not to imagine the hurricane as a terrorist act. And I guess it was—Made in USA.
via Artnet, (12/16/05):
THE 2005 ART REVUE
by Walter Robinson [excerpts]
[...] If you had to pick one word for 2005, it would be "cupidity," an ugly combination of avarice and ambition, especially when found at the very top of our most esteemed institutions. Worst of all is Paul LeClerc, head of the New York Public Library, and his advisor, John Wilmerding, a former curator and now trustee at the National Gallery of Art, who rushed to auction off the library’s priceless art collection -- including two Gilbert Stuart portraits of George Washington, one once owned by Alexander Hamilton.
It’s truly unbelievable -- New York’s public library is flogging its 200-year-old paintings of the Father of the Country. What’s next? The stone lions out front? They might bring a pretty penny! This astonishing crime, undertaken for a pile of silver, shames these so-called "custodians of culture" now and shames their legacy.
Cupidity is the word, too, for the leaders of our top museums -- the past and present directors of the Metropolitan Museum, the Getty Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and at least a half-dozen others. After decades of barely convincing denials, their institutions have finally been caught red-handed by the ten-year-long Italian investigation of the multimillion-dollar art plundering ring overseen by art dealers Robert Hecht and Giacomo Medici. [...]
Finally, a special citation for disgraceful behavior in 2005 goes to New York governor George Pataki and the right-wing press for their attack on art at Ground Zero. The right wing disgraces itself every day, of course, but in its absurd politicking over the 9/11 Memorial it purposely forgot that artists were among the victims of that tragedy. Artists were part of the World Trade Center community; they worked there, they had studios there and one of them -- Michael Richards -- died there. Contrary to the selfish claims of a handful of 9/11 relatives, art most certainly does belong at Ground Zero. [...]
Monet's "Water Lilies," which has been moved from the second-floor lobby to a room on the fifth floor of the Modern
via NYTimes (12/25/05): [excerpts]
The Highs and Lows
Old Masters and New Ethical Lapses
by Michael Kimmelman
DIGGING UP TROUBLE The growing scandal over looted antiquities from abroad, not to mention soiling American museums, fed into a particularly destructive foreign stereotype of the big, bad
United States, exploiting other countries.
SADDEST MOVE OF THE YEAR The New York Public Library disposed of one of the city's great civic treasures, Asher B. Durand's
"Kindred Spirits," in a closed auction for $35 million, which the library's curators didn't even learn about until hours before the public read about it in the newspaper.
BEST MOVE OF THE YEAR The Museum of Modern Art, which now has all the charm of the Cherry Hill mall on Black Friday, at least managed to shift Monet's beloved "Water Lilies" from the second-floor lobby; there, swallowed up in the unlovely vastness, it had looked, as the critic Peter Schjeldahl so aptly phrased it, like a soiled Band-Aid. Now it resides in a busy room on the fifth floor, jutting from panels that are like giant flapping butterfly wings. For the moment this will have to do. Call it a Band-Aid for a Band-Aid. [...]
The New York Scene
Visions From Nigeria and India and a Van Searching for Utopia
By HOLLAND COTTER
ANOTHER season of griping and cheerleading. Art fairs bordering on sales conventions were promoted as the most fabulous things. Aggrieved voices complained about the politics of hype, and about new art looking tiny and shiny and thin. A few old-time idealists dared to wonder if the art world shouldn't, maybe, offer a noncompliant critical alternative to the real world, of which it is at present an indistinguishable (and, let's face it, inconsequential) part.
At the same time, there were a few non-industry models to consider. Most were delivered by artists, including a few making long-overdue New York debuts. [...]
17 Days of Nothing You'd Ever Beheld
By ROBERTA SMITH
THE sight of one person taking things into her own hands is nothing new in the cultural sphere of New York, but it's still amazing to witness. Last month, RoseLee Goldberg amazed with Performa 05, billed as the city's first biennial of "visual art performance."
Working with a tiny staff, a shoestring budget and no institutional affiliation, Ms. Goldberg put together a program that covered a lot of aesthetic bases - old school, just out of school, high-tech, no-tech - and encompassed more than 60 scheduled events. She made some things happen, helped other things happen and provided a framework for still others that were already happening anyway. For example, the biennial coincided with "Seven Easy Pieces," a week of historic performance works restaged by the artist Marina Abramovic at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum that the museum and the biennial agreed, as they say, to "cross-promote."
So for 17 days, people crisscrossed Manhattan clutching bright-blue Performa schedules, often trying to squeeze two or three events into an evening. Sometimes the best events seemed to be the ones missed. And there were some that didn't quite seem worth the effort. But each day expanded the viewer's knowledge of performance art and its history. [...]
Photo: Annie Leibovitz; VOGUE: THE WIZARD OF OZ. The Wonderful Things He Does "The beneficent Oz has every intention of granting your requests!" bellows painter and photographer Chuck Close as the Wizard. Comme des Garçons robe dress. Comme des Garçons x Repetto Mary Janes. [more photos]
via Village Voice:
Francesco Clemente, Jasper Johns, Kara Walker, John Currin, and other friends of Dorothy
by Jerry Saltz
December 29th, 2005
[In] Annie Leibovitz "Wizard of Oz" spread in last month's Vogue, [...] famous artists play all the major roles, except Dorothy, who is represented by the super-long-necked British starlet Keira Knightley, outfitted in Balenciaga and the like. [...]
In the late 1990s, pretty, young, white, heterosexual artists adorned the pages of glossy magazines and gossip columns. Back then, artists were making a mockery of themselves while laughing all the way to the bank. The Leibovitz shoot is disconcerting but not bogus in a high-'90s way. It mixes genders and generations while treating artists as if they're movie stars. Of course, it still makes you wonder just how much attention the super-famous require. But whatever has happened, we're not in Soho anymore. [...]
via The Wit of the Staircase:
Friday, December 30, 2005
Wit's 2005 "Best Of" List: The Poor, The Fair And The Good [a few: 5 + 6]
5. "As Ugly As I Seem" by The White Stripes
Jack White sings about ugliness over the nearly indentical Christian-conversion era Bob Dylan tune "I Believe In You." White takes a song where Dylan has placed the power and responsibility outside himself and reclaims them. Dylan's Jesus seems a charming fiction to White, even Satan can get thee behind him, and while faith is beautiful, a rock and roll man from Detroit knows that sometimes things really are as ugly as they seem: "You want to take away from me/Things that are mine/And it's not your right/I bet you wouldn't expect a fight..."
6. The Frieze Art Fair
"I ate and ate and ate, no, I did not miss a plate. How much do these suppers cost? We'll take it out in hate." --Leonard Cohen, "Teachers"
"Nothing" an edition from Trans magazine, above.