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Douglas Gordon, Proposition for a Posthumous Portrait, 2004 (detail)

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New British Art
April 19 - May 2, 2006

The Tate Triennial shakes up London this week with a fresh look at contemporary British art. Swiss curator Beatrix Ruf is in charge, mixing up work from 36 artists, and we survey her smart selections. Across the Thames, the finalists for the Beck's Futures prize fill the rooms of the ICA with worn-out shoes, rock 'n roll, and fast-talking hucksters. We interview the feisty Martin Creed about his role as a Beck's jury member and his current projects, and profile the adventurous Lali Chetwynd, a past Beck's finalist and present participant in the Tate Triennial. For savvy reviews of other art shows and cultural events in London this week, investigate the current issue of our sister publication Flavourpill London. Finally, we tap into London architecture with a book on Sir Norman Foster's famous "Gherkin," and survey gallery shows around the world, from comedic capers in Chicago to street art in São Paulo.

  SFMOMA presents The Surreal Calder, a collection of rarely seen pieces from the Alexander Calder Foundation, as well as a sampling of works by Calder's surrealist peers. Now through Sunday, May 21st.

Gonzalez-Torres to Rep US in Venice
(New York Times, April 7)
Cuban-born conceptualist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who died of AIDS at the age of 38 in 1996, has been chosen as the United States representative to the 2007 Venice Biennale. The exhibition, operated by the Guggenheim Museum, will feature the debut of a previously unrealized work by the artist — two reflecting pools forming the sign for infinity — as well as well-known pieces involving a large string of lights, a stack of papers, and 12 black-and-white photos of "ideal" men.

Brazilian Architect Wins Pritzker Prize
(Architectural Record, April 11)
The 77-year-old architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha has been awarded the field's top honor, the Pritzker Prize. Praised by the Pritzker jury for his "bold use of simple materials" and "deep understanding of the poetics of space," Mendes da Rocha is known for combining technical virtuosity and style with a Brazilian brand of brutalism. The majority of the architect's work is located in his hometown of São Paulo, including the Museu de Arte Contemporânea and Paulistano Athletic Club.

Kaprow, Father of Happenings, Dies
(Los Angeles Times, April 8)
Allan Kaprow, an artist who combined theatre, painting, and sculpture into public performance events, died of natural causes at 79. Kaprow, a founding member of UC San Diego's visual arts department, advocated bringing viewers directly into his artworks — which he called "happenings" — in order to blur the boundaries between artist, observer, and artwork. Kaprow was a pivotal figure in the Fluxus movement, and he was known for installed environments such as Yard, in which visitors navigated a space filled with spare tires.

Melancholy Marks Milan Design Fair
(International Herald Tribune, April 12)
This year's annual exhibition of Design Academy Eindhoven, on view during Milan's design week, has a downbeat air, featuring biodegradable cardboard coffins and pressed porcelain festooned with rats and skulls. Critics theorize that design's turn away from the recent trend of romanticism toward something darker makes sense in light of European economic, ethnic, and environmental problems.

Renzo Piano's Morgan Library expansion opens, many more US projects on the way more »

Finnish artist takes Artes Mundi Prize more »

Young artists caught in a market frenzy more »

German firm to build Holocaust memorial in Vienna more »

Royal Academy and Saatchi team up to celebrate American art more »

Serra's popularity grows in California with new acquisitions more »

Barneys' celebrated window dresser replies with wit to art world scorn more »

Michael Darling named new curator at Seattle Art Museum more »

Israeli video artists achieve international success more »

Boston's ICA builds a world-class collection for its new home 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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[ Tate Triennial ]


Angela Bulloch / Daria Martin / Cerith Wyn Evans / Kaye Donachie

A fairly recent newcomer to the international scene, the Tate Triennial is staking out a spot among the cluster of popular fairs and biennials. Originally organized to coincide with the launch of Tate Britain, the Triennial is still establishing its identity as a showcase for British art. The first installment, Intelligence, was held in 2000, and the second, Days Like These, took place in 2003.

Kunsthalle Zürich director Beatrix Ruf, a guest curator with a subjective approach, is organizing this third chapter. Instead of summarizing or encapsulating any one artistic trend, Ruf chooses to discern and investigate patterns of similarity between the 36 artists on view. Selecting work from an eclectic mix of practitioners, from the senior and celebrated figure Ian Hamilton Finlay to the lesser-known Muzi Quawson (a young photographer in her final year at the Royal College of Art), Ruf ensures that a diverse range of British art is included in the Tate's latest showcase.

Ruf highlights the tendency of today's artists to appropriate and recast visual-cultural material from the recent past. The exhibition weaves connections between recent art and past movements, as well as between different contemporary figures. The legacy of Duchamp is ever present, uniting the works of such artists as Douglas Gordon and Angela Bulloch. The magic realism of Peter Doig's compositions relates to the reactivation of romanticism in Christopher Orr's bleak renditions of the sublime. Lucy McKenzie's critical reinterpretation of erotic cartoons shows affinities with the art of Cosey Fanni Tutti, who explores the production conditions of the porn industry. The revival of modernist deconstructions in the serial collages of John Stezaker calls to mind the use of archive material in Luke Fowler's documentation of the English composer Cornelius Cardew's Scratch Orchestra.

Running alongside the main exhibition, a series of performance pieces by artists such as Tino Sehgal, Lali Chetwynd, and Pablo Bronstein complement the film, painting, photography and sculpture on display, giving the Triennial an all-inclusive feel. (HV)

Tate Triennial 2006: New British Art is on view at the Tate Britain in London through May 14.

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Edgar Arceneaux: The Alchemy of Comedy . . . Stupid

Gallery 400
Now through May 13

  Edgar Arceneaux's intricate installation is a trippy scientific experiment of sorts — the variables are sound, color, words, and audience; the subject of analysis is comedy. Arceneaux deconstructs the form and content of a routine by comedian David Alan Grier as he performs it in three separate Chicago settings. Grier's difficult, queasy-funny jokes filter through a disorienting multichannel video installation with multiple audio tracks that fade in and out within the space. The monitors and projections focus alternately on Grier and his audience while onstage lighting changes from green to red to yellow with each location, encouraging viewers to divorce delivery from punch line, laughter from discomfort, and examine their own interpretations of humor. (AMM)

Frank Gehry: Art + Architecture

Art Gallery of Ontario
Now through May 7

  In 2002 the Art Gallery of Ontario hired local boy Frank Gehry for its dramatic, multimillion-dollar renovation project. Gehry, who grew up near the gallery, approaches its original boxy forms with sensitivity, merging them with his signature metal skin and a fishlike glass encasement. With construction underway, the AGO is exhibiting drawings, models, and photographs of four recent Gehry projects: the Disney Hall in LA, the Stata Center at MIT, the DZ Bank in Berlin, and the Millennium Park Music Pavilion in Chicago. The exhibition reveals the creative evolution of each project, from Gehry's expressive, abstract drawings to his intricate, large-scale models. Each project embodies a surprisingly different aesthetic, proving that Gehry continues to reinvent himself into his 77th year. (BR)

Frank's Drawings: Eight Museums by Gehry is also on view at the University of Toronto Art Centre through June 17.

Luisa Lambri
New York

Luhring Augustine
Now through April 29

  For nearly ten years, Luisa Lambri's photographic investigation of architecture has maintained a conceptual rigor on a par with serial works such as Sol LeWitt's illuminated sphere study or Bernd and Hilla Becher's typologies of industrial structure. Lambri's subtle and ethereal images often focus on the play of light and shadow in domestic interiors designed by modernist giants such as Luis Barragán and Marcel Breuer. Through sequential photos presented in puzzle-like fashion, she captures sunlight moving across a room or the opening and closing of shutters. Unlike Candida Höfer's stunningly operatic shots of Venetian palaces, this Milan-based artist strikes a much more personal and intimate tone — a singular view of sophisticated domesticity. (CYL)

Choque Cultural at Fortes Vilaça
São Paulo

Galeria Fortes Vilaça
Now through April 20

  As art galleries stagnate in white-cube commercialism, we forget their potential as spaces for invention and exploration. Shaking up this equation, Fortes Vilaça and Choque Cultural trade artists for simultaneous exhibitions, with Fortes Vilaça receiving a dose of Choque Cultural's playful side. Zezäo's graffiti paintings overtake the outdoor sidewalk and walls, and Fefê Talavera's humorously menacing "typographic monsters," made from assembled cutout letters, climb around the gallery's interior. Other artists such as Tinho and Rafael Highraff also incorporate graffiti elements, producing paintings and installations that pop and swirl with color and characters, reminding the art world of its own unconventional energy. (JG)

A simultaneous exhibition of artists from Fortes Vilaça takes place at Choque Cultural through April 20.

Amie Dicke: Private Property

Peres Projects
Now through April 22

  The worldly culture of fashion fascinates and repulses artist Amie Dicke. In this installation, she draws inspiration from the seductive, S&M-styled; work of photographer Helmut Newton to explore classical and contemporary notions of beauty. Dicke juxtaposes a studied array of domestic objects and family heirlooms blackened with duct tape against white plaster casts of her own legs and hands, investigating the relationship between presence and absence and, by association, possession and desire. Ultimately, Private Property questions whether commodity fetishization begins with the consumer or the consumed. Dicke assumes the persona of a Newton model for the exhibition poster, underscoring her ongoing subversion of fashion advertising's imperative to buy and trade desirability through an intimate immersion in aesthetic discourse. (CG)

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[ Lali Chetwynd ]

Lali Chetwynd

Through painting, performance, and collage, British artist Lali Chetwynd exuberantly conflates high and low culture, referencing such diverse subjects as Star Wars, Fassbinder, Giotto, Ed Wood, and Bertolt Brecht. Her intentionally amateurish style and tendency toward improvisation lend a humorous levity to the intellectual weight of her artistic explorations.

Past performances such as An Evening with Jabba the Hutt, Born Free, and The Hulk typify her use of handmade costumes made from found materials and carnivalesque staging to investigate contemporary mythologies and the fine line between the beautiful and the grotesque. These narratives are reinforced in the artist's Bat Opera paintings, inspired by the cover art for Meatloaf's classic Bat Out of Hell albums, which depict ravenous bats swooping over post-apocalyptic landscapes.

In The Walk to Dover, her recent commission for Studio Voltaire, Chetwynd took her ramshackle performance on the road, retracing the journey of Dickens' young hero David Copperfield. The artist and her collaborators traveled on foot, living off the land and the kindness of strangers, while re-creating the novel's key plot twists.

For this year's Tate Triennial, the artist continues her witty, lighthearted examinations of society and its constructs, presenting The Fall of Man — a puppet show that focuses on iconic historical texts, from the Bible to Rousseau to Marx's Das Kapital. (AK)

Tate Britain presents The Fall of Man, A Puppet Extravaganza! April 19 in the North Duveen galleries.

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[ Martin Creed ]


Martin Creed / Daniel Sinsel / Martin Creed / Blood 'n' Feathers

Shiraz Randeria interviews artist and musician Martin Creed, one of the six judges (along with Jake & Dinos Chapman, Cornelia Parker, Yinka Shonibare, and Gillian Wearing) of this year's Beck's Futures prize, about the competition, his own work, and his move to the Italian island of Alicudi.

AK: Are you happy being a Beck's Futures judge this year? Is it a lot of responsibility?

MC: Yes, I am happy. No, I don't think it is a lot of responsibility. There are many judges, and anyway, competitions aren't important.

AK: What is the process of judging? Do you all talk/argue in one room after having seen all the work, locking the door until you come to a unanimous decision?

MC: The process feels self-conscious: one of trying to look, think, and feel. Hopefully getting a feeling, which goes to a decision, but often not. I don't know.

AK: This year the work is on view in three different locations: the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, and the Arnolfini in Bristol. Will you see the work in all three venues?

MC: I think I will only see the show in London. I think it's a good idea to have different venues.

AK: Do you think the competition should also be turned on its head, so that the artists could judge the judges' art as well?

MC: Sure, I wouldn't mind that at all. Everyone judges everything most of the time anyway.

AK: How would you spend the £20,000 first prize award if you were an artist just starting out?

keep reading the interview »

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  30 St Mary Axe: A Tower for London
Kenneth Powell and Grant Smith
Merrell Publishers

Featured as the workplace for characters in Basic Instinct 2 and Woody Allen's Match Point, 30 St Mary Axe is one of the most celebrated new buildings in London. Commonly referred to as the "Gherkin" and jokingly called the "Towering Innuendo," the 41-story skyscraper is a favorite among architects, critics, and the general public. Designed by the innovative firm of Foster and Partners and engineered by Arup, the spiraling tower is the London's first ecological skyscraper — its tapering circular structure maximizes the use of daylight and stimulates ventilation. This insightful book, written by London architectural critic Kenneth Powell and illustrated by photographer Grant Smith, analyzes all aspects of the building, from the history of the site to its dynamic design, construction, and significance on the London skyline. (PL)

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Cover Art
Proposition for a Posthumous Portrait, 2004
Carved skull and mirror
19 3/4 x 19 3/4 x 19 3/4 in./50 x 50 x 50 cm
Private collection, New York
Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
Photo: David Heald
© Douglas Gordon
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