Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sculptor John Chamberlain Dies at 84

John Chamberlain Gallery, Dia Beacon

Writing in Slog, Jen Graves’ reflections on Chamberlain betray a sense of regret for not having looked harder. “He made the same thing so many times, it became impossible to see it,” she wrote, vowing to find the car crash in the next sculpture of his she saw. At ArtNet, Charlie Finch writes: “it is difficult to remember when Chamberlain was young, innovative and experimental…He coulda done better [sic]” in an obit that ran less than six hours after news broke of the artist’s death.

Not everyone shares Mr. Finch’s knack for discarding a piece of news – no matter how recent, sudden, or upsetting – as trivial. Others are willing to wait a while longer to make up their minds. Meanwhile, the sculptures, many of which are on long term view at Dia Beacon, aren’t going anywhere.

Read the full post on Art Fag City.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chris Burden

Though canonized for his work in body art and performance art in the 1970s, for the past four years Chris Burden has moved his skills towards moving architecture and sculpture. When looking at “Metropolis II” (2011), his room-sized, bafflingly complex road way of matchbox-sized cars, one begins to understand how life in Burden’s home city of Los Angeles can often feel so de-centered as to be placeless. “It wasn’t about trying to make a scale model.” he says. “It was more to evoke the energy of a city.” In a short documentary on the sculpture, the chiming minimalist background music played under an interview with Burden recalls a Michael Mann film. California art and Hollywood action movies apparently have a lot in common.

No less an ode to wide-open spaces is his "Beam Drop" (2008). You can't help but be reminded of the Los Angeles landscape when looking at the background of a video reposted today by Hyde or Die.

Flux Factory Honors Paddy Johnson

Flux Factory Director Christina Vassallo with Paddy Johnson
Filled with naches, I visited the old DIA foundation location in Chelsea last night to see my editor, Paddy Johnson, honored for her work on the art blog Art Fag City. During a silent auction to benefit the Flux Factory, presenters talked about how much she has done to lend exposure to emerging artists and to improve public dialogue with honest, intelligent criticism that "meets the reader at eye level." One of my co-workers got a little teary eyed after Paddy gave a speech. It was really touching. 

If you missed the auction event because of a work-related scheduling conflict, a babysitting obligation, or a crucial visit to a karaoke bar, worry not. This time of year, there are still many opportunities to help this organization. By buying the work made by their resident artists, or make a fully tax-deductible donation, you can go a long way towards supporting the work Flux Factory does giving time, mentorship, and exposure to young and emerging artists in Long Island City. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Art of Loving Phil Collins

"Revolt against a tyrant is legitimate; it can succeed. Revolt against human nature is doomed to failure...Most of us have to conquer and ceaselessly reconquer the person whom we desire." - André Maurois, The Art of Loving.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Films for Grown-ups

AFC's critics try to blend in when they go out in public with clever disguises
“The system is destructive: Grown-ups are ignored for much of the year, cast out like downsized workers, and then given eight good movies all at once in the last five weeks of the year.” Such was David Denby’s justification for letting an early review of “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” slip in The New Yorker before the film’s theatrical release, responding to an disapproving email from producer Scott Rudin for having violated the film’s press embargo date. Notwithstanding the terms of their disagreement (which, with Rudin’s retort, “You’re an honorable man,” sound pretty personal), Denby makes a good enough point. While you may feel guilty about buying into the late-December consumption spree, there are a few gems not to be missed.

Read the full list on Art Fag City.

Before Irréversible, There Was Henri-Georges Clouzot

It’s good news that MoMA will be showing a series of films by Henri-Georges Clouzot between now and Christmas. Long before today’s vogue for “extremity,” Clouzot made films that fiercely challenged audiences’ moral and emotional sensibilities, creating some of the most admirable achievements in French cinema. If, like me, you wish there were more movies like  “Enter the Void,” or “L’Enfant,” ”Demonlover” or “Ma Mère,” then this is a retrospective for you.
None of those movies, incidentally, are Clouzot’s. They’ve come up in conversation among critics on large number of films from France made in the 21st century that sometimes resemble snuff. Extreme libertinism abounds in the oeuvres of Catherine Breillat and Philippe Grandrieux. François Ozon’s work frankly portrays genital mutilation and cannibalism. Gaspard Noé’s films have featured a nine-minute rape scene and a vagina cam (earning John Waters‘ ardent respect). In an essay in Artforum, James Quandt pulled together the trends toward extreme violence with the term “The New French Extremity,” disapprovingly attributing their hardcore sensibilities to something shallow and weak. Granted, these films aren’t for everybody, though in their exploration of the darker facets of the human nature, they owe an awful lot to Clouzot.

Read the full post on Art Fag City.