It’s Koons’s World—We Just Live in It

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“It was a look of horror … or a smile,” said Scott Rothkopf, curator of the exhibition Jeff Koons and moderator of a panel discussion called “The Koons Effect Part 1,” regarding the responses he received when telling others of his research for a retrospective on the artist. Artists were interested in Koons, to his surprise, and he noted that Pierre Huyghe is fascinated by the “story that didn’t get made,” and Andrea Fraser enjoys Koonsian economics. Tino Sehgal finds Rabbit (1986) to be an iconic work, the curator continued, and Kara Walker responds to the advertisements for art magazines from 1988–89. For this panel, Rothkopf invited four American artists to discuss what Koons’s work means to them and how it has affected contemporary art.

The Punch in the Face That a Poster Can Have

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Weeks after the Occupy Movement started, in September 2011, museums began racing to collect the posters, flyers, and other materials from the protests. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History dispatched archivists from Washington, DC, and the New-York Historical Society and the Museum of the City of New York sent representatives downtown. In an editorial for CNN published in November, Michele Elam, a professor of English at Stanford University, wrote, “Occupy art might just be the movement’s most politically potent tool in its dramatic reframing of the racial dynamics of a populist uprising frequently characterized as largely white and ‘hippie.’” Academics, museums, and the media clearly recognized the importance of both Occupy and its visual culture in American history.

Revealing Mystic Truths

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Is Bruce Nauman psychedelic? Though his early work is generally considered formally and conceptually apolitical, one wonders how much the culture in San Francisco in the mid-1960s—from the Free Speech Movement to the Summer of Love—influenced his mindset at the time. After Nauman graduated from the University of California, Davis, in 1966, he established a studio in a storefront in the Mission District, where he spent several years realizing a now-seminal body of work that drew from the city’s tradition of Funk art as well as Minimalism from New York and Finish Fetish from Los Angeles. Though the artist has only admitted to drinking a lot of coffee in the studio, might have he sweetened his beverage with special sugar cubes?

Help the Aged

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The twenty-five-year-old artist Amalia Ulman announced that she just had plastic surgery while spending time in California for her recent solo exhibition, Used & New, at LTD Los Angeles. The before-and-after pictures of her profile, projected onscreen above her, showed nearly imperceptibly minor work on her nose, straightening a slight bend. Ulman also revealed that she had Botox fillers injected under her eyes. According to comments in an Art in America interview published a day before this event, Ulman considers the eye fillers and the nose job to be art.

Conversation with the Sound of Its Own Unraveling

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The legendary artist Robert Morris doesn’t often participate in live interviews, whether in public, in person, or on the phone, so a recent appearance by him at the New York Public Library was a rare treat. Indeed, as the scholar and curator Jeffrey Weiss noted at the outset, “Agreeing to speak is not something he does too freely.” But when Morris, Weiss, and the art historian Julia Robinson gathered in celebration of Weiss’s new book, Robert Morris: Object Sculpture, 1960–1965, the ensuing conversation was a frustrating affair.

Real Estate: Living and Working

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Artists get gentrified out of the neighborhoods they’ve rescued. Can real-estate professionals and activists be hired or made available to advise artists? Can mortgages or loans be made available to make ownership possible? Is the dispersal that gentrification creates necessarily bad, or can it be renewing?

Hitting Rock Bottom

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“Welcome to the Armory Show TED Talks,” joked Christian Viveros-Fauné, a New York–based art critic who was the moderator of today’s panel. He said that everyone onstage for “From the Bottom Up: Rethinking Art Galleries in a Commodity and Event Dominated Ecosystem” is or was involved in exhibiting in a gallery situation or with an art fair, except for Georgina Adam, an editor-at-large for the Art Newspaper and a columnist for the Financial Times and BBC.com. If only the panel had been, like a TED Talk, uplifting and inspirational. When the dust settled, the speakers neither established a historical assessment of the art fair’s ascendance over the past twenty years, nor did they interrogate—and I choose this word purposefully because of Viveros-Fauné recent cynical, under researched rants—the perceived state of the art market and art world. While I recognize the panelists witnessed the rise of the art fair firsthand, their recollections of the recent past were grounded in anecdote, hearsay, and received wisdom.

Curatorial Assistance

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“I’ve been thinking a lot about biennials,” mused the artist Michelle Grabner, seemingly without irony. No kidding—she’s one of three curators of the 2014 Whitney Biennial, which opened to the public on the day of this panel, held at the Armory Show. “Here and Now: Biennials in the Twenty-First Century,” moderated by the curator and scholar Lynne Cooke, assessed not so much the current state of biennials—of which the Whitney’s signature exhibition is a leading example—but rather demonstrated how she and two other panelists have shaken off what some call “biennial fatigue” to reinvent the form and scope of these large-scale, super-hyped exhibitions that take place around the world every two, three, or more years.

The Market Is the Moment

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The question “How the Market Gives Form to Art” is one I ask not at all cynically. I think it’s the question of the ’80s and a difficult one to answer. My premise is that the drastic change in the art market over the last twenty years has effected a change in the condition of the artist as modernism defined it, that is, as outsider. The artist’s life is still difficult, the speculative nature of his or her work remains the same, generating insecurity and so providing a continuum with earlier times. However, today, opportunities are far more numerous than they were two decades ago and this seems to have reduced the artist’s identification with the marginal.

Stick to Your Gunns

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When Tim Gunn was writing his first book, the designer Diane von Furstenberg told him to never lose his voice as an educator. Gunn, a fashion consultant and the cohost of the television program Project Runway, had been struggling with the assignment of writing a self-help, makeover-oriented book instead of a history of fashion, which he originally wanted to do. He hated dressing books and body types. Gunn must have taken the advice he often gives to others—trust your gut and your instincts and know who you are—and he pulled through. In other words, he made it work.

 

IN TERMS OF

Reviews of lectures, panels, interviews, conferences, and other live speaking engagements in the visual arts.

 
Funding for In Term Of has been provided by the Arts Writers Grant Program.