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Adriana Czernin, Untitled, 2004 (detail)

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Art in Madrid
February 8-21, 2006

Madrid explodes with contemporary art this week as the high-powered ARCO art fair hits town, bringing special exhibits of new media work and a survey of the Austrian art scene. We interview Spanish artist Joan Fontcuberta, a photographer and digital artist with a background in semiotics, and celebrate Austrian renegade Hans Schabus, who turned a modernist building into a rugged mountain at last year's Venice Biennale. Not to ignore the Americans, we review an anthology of Ed Templeton's photos of the California skateboard scene and cover shows from Atlanta to LA featuring twisted figures, perverse presidents, and flying gangstas.

  A full bar serving funky Himalayan cocktails, DJs sampling sounds from mountain paths, contemporary artists mingling with paintings from the past, plus film, theater, and so much more. Check out the K2 Lounge at the Rubin Museum of Art (RMA) — the premier Himalayan art museum in the Western world — showcasing the arts of the Himalayas and where they lead you.

Pompidou Plans Global Growth
(Today, February 1)
The president of France's Centre Pompidou, Bruno Racine, has outlined the institution's plans for global growth. Funded largely by the French state, the Pompidou is planning a series of initiatives to retain its position as a leading contemporary art institution in the face of expected budget cuts and international competition. The museum will embrace creative uses of digital technology, while exhibitions for 2006 include the hotly anticipated Los Angeles-Paris and celebrated sculptor David Smith. Racine is keen to develop the Pompidou's Asian outreach, with proposed satellite sites in Hong Kong and Singapore. Beijing and Shanghai are also possible targets for the brand's expansion.

Museum Acquires Hallmark Collection
(Mercury News, January 17)
Kansas City's Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has acquired the Hallmark Photographic Collection, owned by Hallmark Cards Inc., which comprises 6,500 works and is estimated to be worth $65 million. The collection, which specializes in American photography, includes 320 works by Harry Callahan as well as works by Alfred Stieglitz, Andy Warhol, and Annie Liebovitz. Keith Davis, former director of the Hallmark arts program, will now join the museum, which organized a teaser exhibition of the collection. The acquisition comes at a critical point for the museum, which will conclude its expansion next year.

Thom Mayne's Cincinnati Success
(Los Angeles Times, January 31)
Thom Mayne's newly completed Student Recreation Center at the University of Cincinnati is the latest in a series of high-profile commissions by the university, which includes buildings by starchitects such as Peter Eisenman and Frank Gehry. Mayne's multi-function recreation center impressively integrates elegant formal tension with stunning interiors. The building completes landscape designer George Hargreaves' $233 million Main Street project, the largest in the history of the university. In related news, Thom Mayne's Morphosis is among five architectural firms competing for a 2-million-square-foot overhaul of the Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, campus.

Nam June Paik Dies
(Times Online, January 31)
Korean-born Nam June Paik has died at age 73. Paik studied music in Japan before moving to West Germany, where he met John Cage and George Maciunas, founder of the Fluxus art movement. Paik's first art exhibition followed in 1963, featuring a groundbreaking installation of multiple TV screens. Paik then moved to New York, where he collaborated with Cage, David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, and Charlotte Moorman, among others. Reports indicate his ashes will be kept at the Nam June Paik Studio in New York City, at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, and in Korea.

Artist duo's "endless kiss" chosen for Berlin homosexual memorial » more

LACMA snags Dia chief to fill director slot » more

David Hammons receives unauthorized "photocopy" retrospective » more

Man sentenced for attack on Duchamp's urinal » more

Hans Ulrich-Obrist takes position with Serpentine » more

SoHo fire damages Koolhaas' Prada store and Art in America and Guggenheim offices » more

Curator mixes art and architecture at Winter Olympics » more

Lawyer holds stolen paintings for 28 years in hopes of finder's fee » more

Hou Hanru announced as curator for 10th Istanbul Biennial » more

Australian authorities crack down on flag-burning artwork » more

Note: Some online publications require registration to access the articles. If you encounter a registration screen, try akreader1 as the username and password.

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[ ARCO '06 ]


Belen Uriel / JiYeun Hong / Leandro Erlich / Ines Doujak

Last year, Madrid's venerable ARCO fair began with a literal bang. Early the first morning of the annual contemporary art fair, a car bomb exploded outside the venue hosting the five-day event. The terrorist attack came courtesy of ETA, a Basque separatist group. More than 40 people were injured; thankfully, no one was seriously hurt.

Hopefully, at this year's fair the only thing causing an adrenaline rush will be the fierce competition for attention — and collectors' Euros. ARCO's 25th edition features 197 international galleries from 35 countries who have shelled out thousands of dollars to rent booths; 81 other dealers have been invited to exhibit gratis in the curated invitationals. Following the overstimulated paths of Art Basel Miami Beach, London's Frieze Art Fair, and others, ARCO will not only host the main fair but has increased the number of side projects that feature edgier, emerging artists.

New-media projects — ranging from video and digital manipulation to net art and hacking — are showing at theblackbox@arco. Cityscapes presents urban-related exhibitions created by 19 international curators, including Singapore's Eugene Tan and Jacob Fabricius of Copenhagen. Project Rooms explores the latest art trends, as selected by two influential Spanish curators, Agustín Pérez-Rubio and Octavio Zaya. Meanwhile, Austria, with 22 galleries represented, is spotlighted as the guest country.

ARCO has added two new art projects: Sixteen Spanish Art Projects, curated by María del Corral, the former director of the Reina Sofía National Art Center; and On Youth Culture, which features work from Californian skateboard/street artists such as Clare Rojas, Ed Templeton, and Barry McGee. Rounding out the experience are the "Expert Forum," lectures and panel discussions on the state of art criticism, guerrilla art tactics, and new forms of art practice such as "biotechnological art."

As if that's not enough stimulation, Madrid Abierto (Open Madrid) offers ten public art interventions throughout the city; and this year, for the first time, ARCO has local competition from a satellite art fair, the upstart Art Madrid. Started by a group of 18 Spanish galleries who felt ARCO was too straight-laced, Art Madrid brings more than 50 international galleries, including London's Emma Hill and Germany's Kunstagenten, to the Crystal Pavilion in Casa de Campo park, on the outskirts of Madrid. (AF)

ARCO '06 takes place February 9-13 at Feria de Madrid in Madrid. Madrid Abierto began February 1 and runs through February 26 at various locations throughout the city. Art Madrid started on February 7 and continues through February 11.

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Luis Gispert & Jeffrey Reed: Stereomongrel
Los Angeles

Kantor/Feuer Gallery
Now through February 18

  Stereomongrel, the film-based collaboration between artists Luis Gispert and Jeffrey Reed, is a coming-of-age tale at heart: when a little girl's tenth birthday party turns sour, modern art (specifically, the Whitney Museum's permanent collection) comes to her rescue. The project's elaborate art direction, strong symbolism, and rapid-fire editing sustain its double duty as object and fable. Accompanying photographs, such as Curators and Señoritas Suicidio, reference hip-hop culture, urban sexuality, gender stereotypes, and other works of modern and contemporary art. The complex engineering, sharp wit, and mysterious beauty of the film and photographs deftly couch art's ability to advance global culture in the sparkling costume of a fairy tale. (SND)

Currents 96: Tim Eitel
Saint Louis

Saint Louis Art Museum
Now through March 5

  One of the newly famous Leipzig painters, Tim Eitel fuses abstraction and figuration in his serene, philosophical paintings. Roaming through art galleries and dramatic landscapes, his figures strike poses of contemplation — coy reincarnations of Caspar David Freidrich's Wanderer. In this update on Romanticism, Eitel paints the human body with a flat, crisp photorealism and inserts it into expansive, semi-abstract spaces. The paintings range from relatively sincere images of man vs. nature to meta-statements about art history and art viewing, in which individuals wander among Piet Mondrian and Takashi Murakami paintings. In this show of fourteen new works, however, the images are less referential, and Eitel includes inanimate objects among his solitary subjects. (BR)

David Humphrey

Solomon Projects
Now through February 18

  With a palette of primary and secondary colors taken straight from Play-Doh, these new acrylic paintings by New York-based artist David Humphrey are simultaneously cheerful and mordant. A dedicated collector of amateur thrift-store paintings, the artist paraphrases those anonymous efforts in landscapes, still lifes, and portraits, clearly reveling in their bland, sentimental Americana nature. Many of Humphrey's works depict historical giants such as Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower (both amateur painters), who join Humphrey's surreal cavalcade of puppies, kitties, limp nudes, coloring-book landscapes, and peanut-butter jars. In Ike Paints from Life, Humphrey skewers propriety by showing the president, brush in hand, contemplating a man who has dropped his pants and sports a sad bunny mask. (MW)

David Humphrey is in a two-person show at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. in New York through February 25.

Robert Weingarten: 6:30 AM

George Eastman House
Now through February 12

  Robert Weingarten's new collection of sunrise photographs transforms the front lawn of the George Eastman House into a collection of revelatory waking moments. Titled 6:30 AM, the installation draws on a long tradition of landscape art, including the work of the Hudson River Valley School, Claude Monet's Rouen Cathedral, and Alfred Steiglitz's Equivalent series. Each of the 19 identically composed photographs were taken from Weingarten's home overlooking the Santa Monica Bay at the same time every day; thus the dramatic differences among the sunrises on display are due solely to a particular morning's natural light. Set in weatherproof Plexiglas casings, the images bring the West Coast to the Flour City, staking new ground in time-honored territory. (JG)

Nicola Tyson
New York

Friedrich Petzel Gallery
Now through February 11

  Nicola Tyson's new paintings continue her fascination with bodily distortion, featuring full-length figures that float against a single or split color field. With no reference to time or place, the images engage the viewer in a psychological dialogue. Several works show fantastic and gruesome bodily situations that could only live in one's subconscious. The figure in Twist crouches in space with legs spread wide apart yet also crossed, revealing an unnatural, alien-like flexibility. In Self-portrait: Signature Piece the arms and hands of a skeleton stick out of a long and shapeless monochrome dress. Though ridden with anxious intensity, Tyson's subjects are infused with a personality and quirkiness that manages to simultaneously charm and unnerve the viewer. (JC)

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[ Hans Schabus ]

Hans Schabus

As Austria's representative to last year's Venice Biennale, multimedia artist Hans Schabus united a number of his favorite thematic concerns in the monumental installation The Last Land. Schabus, 35, transformed the exterior of the Austrian pavilion into a wood-and-tarpaper facsimile of a mountain, while leaving visible swatches of the celebrated 1935 building designed by Josef Hoffmann. In addition, he fashioned a series of staircases and skylights that allowed visitors to view the nearby sea, and he presented a film of his travels by rail and boat to La Serenissima.

The work reflects Schabus' commitment to a rigorous, process-oriented art. Although he has not shown widely outside of Europe, he has repeatedly wrestled with the notion of the artist's journey — both literally and metaphorically — in pieces such as Western, in which he filmed himself paddling through Viennese sewers en route to his installation at Frankfurt's Manifesta 4 in 2002. Similarly, he constructed an enclosed series of empty white corridors for Astronaut (be right back), his exhibition at the Secession in 2003, where he showed a film of himself digging a hole out of his atelier.

Schabus' film pieces balance his fascination with the practical concerns of an artist's materials and workplace with a sense of meditative calm, in which a repeated action heightens awareness of one's surroundings. In 2001's Zentrale, Schabus undergoes an identity crisis — facing a demonic double in his studio, which is replicated in the accompanying installation. With his identity threatening to dissolve, the artist is seen being lifted into the night air on an amusement park ride, far removed from the material trappings of his own productions. (GZ)

Engholm Engelhorn Galerie presents Han Schabus' work in Austria at ARCO, February 9-13. The artist has a solo show at Galleria Zero in Milan in March.

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[ Joan Fontcuberta ]


Joan Fontcuberta

Paul Laster talks with Joan Fontcuberta — a celebrated Spanish artist, curator, editor, and scholar — abouta celebrated Spanish artist, curator, editor, and scholar, about his imaginative photographic work, currently on view in New York and represented by several galleries at ARCO '06.

AK: You presently have two New York shows displaying two distinct bodies of work: Landscapes without Memory (the Orogenesis series) at the Aperture Gallery and Googlegrams at Zabriskie Gallery. How are these two series related, and how do they fit into your overall body of work?

JF: I do not come from a traditional fine arts background but from semiotics, the theory of information and communications. I even worked in advertising and journalism. Thus, all of my work is about representation, information, translation, codes, and so on. Truth is a more seminal question for me than aesthetics. Both the Orogenesis and the Googlegrams series deal with interpretation and tend to prove that truth is just an ideological convention. There is no truth, only the transferral of experience, points of view, and power.

AK: The Orogenesis series presents vivid digital landscapes made from scans of historical artworks such as a Henri Rousseau painting or Gustave Le Gray photograph, as well as parts of the human body, including an eye, hand, navel, tongue, and ear. How did you make these complex works, and what do they add to a philosophical dialogue about art?

JF: Computers have taken over many human activities, for instance, graphic illustration. Computers can generate and match the visual experience that we used to call photography, and cameras have become obsolete optical devices. For the Orogenesis series, I used a very simple 3-D scenery renderer called Terragen, which decodes cartographic data with convincingly photorealistic results. However, I fooled the computer by inputting not a map but an already existing landscape picture — a masterpiece in the history of painting or photography. The statement is that landscape is no longer based on the straight experience of nature but on the experience of previous images, say, on the experience of art. Thus, art and visual culture in general appear to embody our models to approach reality.

AK: The Googlegrams use another kind of computer software to create mosaics of disparate images that depict historical moments — from the first recorded photograph by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and Apollo 17's view of the earth to the haunting vision of train tracks approaching Auschwitz and Lynndie England's humiliation of an Iraqi prisoner at Abu Ghraib. What was your point of departure for this body of work, and what does it have to say about the nature of Internet imagery?

keep reading the interview »

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  The Golden Age of Neglect
Ed Templeton
Drago Arts & Communication

Living life on the carefree edge of LA's skateboarding scene, Ed Templeton seems to always have a camera in hand at just the right moments. A skateboarder for 20 years and a pro since 1990, Templeton captures a youth scene fueled by booze, cigarettes, and the endless pursuit of fun. Images of wide-eyed teens are juxtaposed with spaced-out revelers, scarred skateboarders, and reclining nudes. The graffiti streets and cluttered crash pads merge into an underworld realm filled with documentary drama. Accompanied by a gripping interview between the artist and Parisian curator Jérôme Sans, the seductive yet disturbing photos — shot between 1992 and 2002 — present a raw vision of youth. (PL)

Los Angeles' Roberts & Tilton Gallery presents Ed Templeton's paintings, photographs, and drawings in the On Youth Culture section of ARCO '06.

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Cover Art
Adriana Czernin
Untitled, 2004
Colored pencil on paper
45 x 62 in./114.3 x 157.5 cm
Courtesy Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster
Bryony Roberts
Andrew Maerkle
Greg Zinman
Nikki Columbus
Jocelyn K. Glei
Mark Mangan
Shana Nys Dambrot
Allison Kave
Marlyne Sahakian

Naomi Beckwith
Justin Conner
Rachel Cook
Lisa Cooley
Annette Ferrara
Jules Gaffney
Leigh Goldstein
Sarah Kessler
Jessica Kraft
Melissa Lo
Christopher Y. Lew
Natasha Madov
Shiraz Randeria
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
Hannah Vaughan
Michelle Weinberg

Anjuli Ayer
Morgan Croney

Mailer Design
Jessica Bauer-Greene
Mark Barry

Christopher Elam
Mark Barry

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