Louise Bourgeois: Conscious and Unconscious

The exhibition “Louise Bourgeois: Conscious and Unconscious,” organized by the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) and shown at its gallery from January 20–June 1, 2012, features 30 works created between 1947 and 2009. One work that will remain in Qatar is the giant spider Maman (Mother), first shown at the Tate Modern’s giant Turbine Hall in 2000 with three monumental towers, I DO, I UNDO, I REDO.  I discussed these in Sculpture at that time. The towers were not shown in Qatar, but the current exhibition’s curator, Philip Larratt-Smith, gives these works new poignancy by discussing them explicitly in the catalogue in the context of Bourgeois’s other works and of the artist’s Freudian self-questionings of her life as a child and as a mother. Larratt-Smith links I Do to the good mother, I UNDO to the bad mother letting her milk drip as the baby goes hungry, and I REDO to the mother’s self-examination and redress of her state.

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Nevin Aladağ: Sahne | Stage

Running now through May 27, 2012, Nevin Aladağ’s exhibition “Sahne|Stage” populates ARTER’s Istanbul galleries with fantastical curtains of hair. In each composition, the brightly colored, artificial strands hang from a pole, alternately parted in the middle, pulled back, even braided or in loose pigtails. Elegant and evocative, these allusive works manage to convey specific hairstyles as well as functioning stage curtains. The larger works are interactive, and visitors can step into a recessed wall space behind the hair and perform as if on a stage or watch others doing so. This performative theatricality also extends to the works themselves—synthetic and often neon colored, they are  flamboyant costume wigs that don’t even try to look like real hair.

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Oliver Herring: Me Us Them

Oliver Herring, born in Germany and now living and working in Brooklyn, is one of the more innovative artists working in New York today. He is a person of both principle and experiment, and, perhaps most important, he remains interested in exploring the figure—through his early knit pieces, his vivid photo sculptures of people, his films and videos, and his performances. His wide profile of expression not only demonstrates Herring’s ease with many kinds of situations, it calls up the audience’s interest as well.  The book Oliver Herring: Me Us Them, published by the museum at Skidmore College, offers a somewhat brief but nonetheless sharp investigation into the motives and mechanics of Herring’s art. There is a long interview with author Ian Berry, and an essay by Lawrence Rinder, both of which offer ample insight into Herring and his work. Indeed, the interaction that occurs during the course of the conversation between Rinder and the artist allows Herring to do what he does best, namely, work out an intuitive interaction with another person that touches the social aspects of art and the art itself in highly interesting ways. (The scenario of Herring’s highly creative TASK, a communal art activity dependent on the participants’ ability to create something from inexpensive art materials, perfectly defines his progressive, democratic notion that everyone can and, most likely, should make art.)

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Claes Oldenburg (October Files)

The preface of Claes Oldenburg, published by the editors of the October journal, reads less like an introduction and more like a warning label, an Intellectually Explicit Advisory: prepare yourself, reader, for “a critical literature that is serious, sophisticated, and sustained.” It comes as no surprise that the essays at hand require a seriously sophisticated, sustained effort to read. They were not compiled for the casual fan or the easily concussed. Rather, they are “intended as primers in signal practices of art and criticism alike, and they are offered in resistance to the amnesiac and antitheoretical tendencies of our time.” While the intellectual intentions are clear, the subject, Claes Oldenburg, remains elusive. As Donald Judd admitted in a review in 1964, “I think Oldenburg’s work is profound. I think it’s very hard to explain how.” Without sacrificing the difficulty, Claes Oldenburg at least tries.

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Lin Emery

Emery is a long-standing member of the ISC and a former ISC Board Member. This gorgeous volume celebrates the work of New Orleans native Lin Emery’s sculpture from the 1950s to her current work on view in New York and an upcoming exhibition in her home city’s Contemporary Art Center. Philip Palmedo, who also wrote a recent article on Emery’s work for Sculpture magazine, thoroughly surveys the artists career and accomplishments.

The images of Emery’s work and that of artists who inspired her are reproduced exceptionally well, giving a visual counterpoint to Palmedo’s text. There is also extensive documentation of the artist’s career at the back of the book.

Once again, Hudson Hills Press has produced a beautiful and a much needed survey of an artist’s career.

—Glenn Harper

Book Information:
Lin Emery
By Philip F. Palmedo, with an introduction by John Berendt
164 pages, 122 color plates, $60
Hudson Hills Press, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-55595-369-0

Kiefer, Rembrandt, Kiefer

Challenged  by the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands to create a work in response to Rembrandt’s most famous painting, Night Watch, Anselm Kiefer (perhaps the most famous German artist of the past several decades) produced La Berceuse (for Van Gogh), a huge installation of glass and steel that interprets Rembrandt’s painting through a lens of Van Gogh’s admiration for his predecessor.

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Brian Wall

Brian Wall, published by Momentum in 2006, is a great retrospective on the artist’s 50-plus year career (a part of which was surveyed in an exhibition at Hacket/Mill in San Francisco last fall). The book includes extensive photography of Wall’s steel structures (as well as some drawings made by Wall in the 1990s and wooden Mondrian-like boxes constructed during the 1950s when he was in St Ives).

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