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Bruce Nauman, Square Depression (detail), 2007

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Sculpture Now
August 22 - September 4, 2007

From deconstructed houses to towering steel curves and meticulous miniatures, contemporary sculpture is constantly disrupting and expanding our experience of space. Showcasing some of the form's best recent works, Skulptur Projekte Münster 07 brings dozens of site-specific installations to a sleepy German town, interrupting daily life with Susan Philipsz's haunting sound piece and Bruce Nauman's concrete pit. We interview Mexican sculptor Damián Ortega about his sardonic monuments and battles with cars and spotlight LA-based Katie Grinnan, who explodes space by fusing photographs with off-kilter structures. We review the catalogue from Richard Serra's landmark retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art, as well as new shows from paper magician Jane South, virtual visionary Craig Kalpakjian, and otherworldly sculptor Chen Zhen.

Gap Founder Proposes SF Museum
(International Herald Tribune, August 8)
Donald Fisher, the 78-year-old founder of the Gap, has announced plans to construct a museum near the Golden Gate Bridge. The proposed 100,000-square-foot building will house Fisher's enormous collection of contemporary art — said to be worth more than $1 billion — including pieces by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Alexander Calder, and Gerhard Richter. Most of the work resides in two galleries at the Gap's San Francisco headquarters, as well as in Fisher's homes. Some have opposed the idea of Fisher placing his museum in the Presidio, arguing that the private institution should not infringe on public space in such a pronounced manner.

Mystery Over Found Pollocks Deepens
(Newsweek, August 20-27)
Are they real? If they are, they'll be worth a lot. Abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock's Number 5, 1948 was sold last year by mogul David Geffen for $140 million — at the time, the most money ever paid for a single work. Now an exhibition at Boston College's McMullen Museum will display 25 works that may or may not be by Pollock. Found in an East Hampton storage locker belonging to a friend of Pollock's in 2002, the drip paintings have not been authenticated and will not be labeled as being made by the artist. Harvard scientists examined three of the paintings and found that they all contained pigments that were not invented until after the artist's death in 1956, but Alex Matter, the owner of the works, thinks they might have been made with paints not yet on the market.

Graffiti Art Goes Digital
(BBC News, August 9)
Is it still considered graffiti if it doesn't stick to a wall? Scottish scientists have created a program for mobile phones that allows users to uncover virtual artworks posted around their city. Unveiled at the Siggraph computer-graphics show in San Diego, the technology, called Spellbinder, operates using image-matching algorithms. Users send in location photos via multimedia text messaging; Spellbinder works out where the photo was taken, consults its database of digital content, and sends back a file with the image imprinted on it. In a related story, NYC street-art group Graffiti Research Lab has been running its own experiments with digital graffiti.

MOCA's Vuitton Shop Raises Questions
(Los Angeles Times, August 9)
In a move sure to raise some art-world hackles, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art has opted to include a fully operational Louis Vuitton boutique in the midst of its fall retrospective of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. Murakami, the leader of the "superflat" art style known for melding high and mass culture, has designed for the luxury-goods label in the past, and the show will offer limited-edition handbags with his designs ranging from $875 to $920. Underscoring the show's conflation of art and commerce was MOCA's chief curator, Paul Schimmel, who said, "People have touched base with the play between the commercial arena and high art, but this is a little more confrontational."

Abstract painter Elizabeth Murray dies at 66 more »

Ai Weiwei blasts fake image of China's Olympic games more »

New show spotlights outsider doll sculptor and photographer Morton Bartlett more »

Talking Second Life with video artist Cao Fei more »

Low marks for François Pinault's Venice premiere more »

Performance artist surrenders self and sub more »

Scotland's show offers tough-minded take on Andy Warhol more »

Graffiti fetches large sums, enjoys gallery legitimacy more »

Burmese political prisoner's art goes on display more »

Dancing about architecture more »

New book reveals Frida Kahlo's anguish with her infertility more »

San Francisco unveils designs for new transit center more »

Bob Dylan joins Pablo Picasso, other European masters in German show more »

Controversial Uffizi expansion gets green light more »

Dating services bring romance to London galleries more »

One of the year's best films is a gallery-only engagement more »

A look at the world's boldest buildings more »

Market for contemporary Indian art heats up more »

In defense of Stella Vine's celeb paintings more »

NYC gives graf artists a legal place to spray more »

Russia's National Center for Contemporary Art celebrates 15 years more »

Police investigate Richard Rogers-designed golf course in Granada, Spain more »

Bruce Wolmer, former editor of Art & Auction, dies at 59 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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[ Skulptur Projekte Münster 07 ]


Guillaume Bijl / Susan Philipsz / Pawel Althamer / Clemens von Wedemeyer

This summer, the inhabitants of Münster and a stream of international visitors are traversing the city's bucolic parks and cobblestone walkways in search of sculpture. Inaugurated in 1977 and recurring every ten years, Skulptur Projekte brings a series of outdoor sculptural interventions to this charmingly modest German town. For this fourth iteration, curators Kasper König, Brigitte Franzen, and Carina Plath have invited 36 international — but primarily Western European — artists to install site-specific works that reflect or disrupt life in Münster.

The town's residents feature prominently in the artwork, particularly in pieces by German artists Clemens von Wedemeyer, Marko Lehanka, Silke Wagner, and Andreas Siekmann. In Von Gegenüber (From the Opposite Side), a feature film shot around the city's train station, von Wedemeyer surreptitiously combines documentary footage with staged material. Screened in an abandoned movie theater that the artist re-commissioned, the piece exemplifies the growing presence of film and performance in this year's exhibition. Lehanka's Blume für Münster (Flower for Münster) has a more morbid outlook: a video monitor in the center of a giant blossom displays stories about Münster's residents, all ending in death. Part memorial, part kiosk, and part manifesto, Wagner's Münsters Geschichte von unten (Münster's History from Below) depicts activist Paul Wulf, who was sterilized as an adolescent by the Nazis, and establishes a permanent site and webpage for the city's political history. For Trickle Down: Der öfftenliche Raum im Zeitalter seiner Privaisierung (Trickle Down: Public Space in the Era of its Privatization), Siekmann protests growing privatization by destroying the kitschy, decorated plastic animals — used for city beautification — that have invaded public spaces in Europe since 1998.

Belgian artist Guillaume Bijl targets the cultural tourist by staging an exhilarating discovery with Archaeological Site (A Sorry Installation) — a fake church steeple sunk into a pit as if it had been buried and subsequently unearthed — while Scotland's Susan Philipsz employs a bridge's smooth, shaded underside to amplify and echo The Lost Reflection, one of the exhibition's few audio pieces. Polish artist Pawel Althamer provides a pastoral alternative to the city's established routes in his Sciezka (Path), a dirt footpath that ambles away from the city through fields of wheat.

Large crowds gather along the descending diagonal seams of Bruce Nauman's Square Depression, a project conceived 30 ago but only realized in 2007. Its time-capsule-quality makes it at home with the 39 permanent sculptures from past years by star artists including Donald Judd, Jenny Holzer, Claes Oldenburg, and Dan Graham. Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster condenses this impressive collection in her Münster Roman (Münster Novel), where current and previous sculptures shrink to one-fourth their size, condensing the easy pleasure of Skulptur Projekte Münster into a single miniaturized experience. (ASA)

Skulptur Projekte Münster 07 continues through September 30.

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Katharina Grosse: Picture Park

Gallery of Modern Art
Now through October 28

  In Katharina Grosse's latest painting installation, Picture Park, the German artist covers the central gallery of Brisbane's GoMA from floor to ceiling in swaths of color. Utilizing a spray gun — her tool of choice — Grosse saturates the gallery's three-story-high wall and an attached bundle of gigantic latex balloons with bursts of vivid hues. Evidence of brush strokes, referencing her older paintings, appears on a canvas and on large half-spheres mounted to the entrance wall. Two oversized wooden panels, covered in washes of sprayed color, obtrude from a mound of paint-caked soil on the gallery floor. In Picture Park, Grosse brings the language of color-field painting directly to the gallery walls. (EB)

Perspectives 157: Xaviera Simmons

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Now through September 16

  At the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Brooklyn-based conceptual artist Xaviera Simmons presents Electric Relaxation: Digital Good Time (How to Break Your Own Heart), an interactive environment and fluid meeting place between past and present. Enabling audiences to look, listen, and dance, Simmons, a practicing DJ, covers the gallery walls with hundreds of album covers from her private collection. Encompassing a range of genres — including gospel, blues, jazz, soul, and rap — the collective imagery constitutes a veritable history of African-American music. Archival film and video footage of musical performances plays silently on a nearby screen, while audio samples of Simmons' DJ work fill the gallery space with silky grooves. (LLP)

Jane South: Infrastructures

Weatherspoon Art Museum
Now through September 23

  Manchester-born Jane South returns to her alma mater, UNC Greensboro, with a compact exhibition of five sculptures and ten drawings. The show's centerpiece, Untitled (Long Gray Construction), is a large assemblage of grated structures — wheels, ovals, irregular boxes, and girders — mounted on the wall. Made entirely from paper, the work is hand-painted in a muted symphony of industrial grays and deep reds. South's abstract forms evoke Industrial Revolution-era cast-iron buildings and bridges. With its curving arches and knobs, Untitled (Yellow Fragment) resembles a cornice or an antique cash register. South applies intricate black-and-white shading to every surface, enhancing the three-dimensional forms while blurring the categories of drawing and sculpture. (HGM)

Craig Kalpakjian: Frequencies

Baukunst Galerie
Now through August 24

  Sinister and haunting, multimedia artist Craig Kalpakjian's digital images capture the mind-numbing monotony of generic office buildings. Created using 3-D modeling software, Kalpakjian's inkjet prints in this solo exhibition at Baukunst Galerie depict familiar glass skyscrapers, the exteriors of office-park buildings, and drab institutional hallways emptied of people and without signs of use. Disrupting the eerie calm of these virtual spaces, however, are expressions of violent revenge: bullet holes pierce an office building's reflective glass facade and broken plate-glass windows reveal the sky outside. In the lone video, Frequency, a glacially slow zoom down a grey corridor shows the door of an elevator continually opening and closing. (BR)

Chen Zhen: The Body as Landscape

Kunsthalle Wien
Now through September 2

  Known for conflating Eastern and Western philosophy, Chen Zhen, who died in 2000, was among a generation of Chinese avant-garde artists to emerge in the '80s. His mixed-media sculptural works address issues of health, both in the human body and in broader society. Chen's retrospective at Kunsthalle Wien includes the ambitious work Jue Chang, Dancing Body — Drumming Mind (Last Song). Comprised of about 100 pieces of furniture converted into makeshift drums, the installation invites viewers to pound on its surfaces, making the piece audible as well as visible. Conceived in response to Middle East conflicts during his time, this participatory work aims to create unifying resonances and dialogue. Elsewhere, Crystal Landscape of Inner Body presents human organs rendered in glass, emphasizing their fragile yet pristine nature, while in the installation Purification Room Chen coats a room of ordinary objects in a monochromatic layer of clay. (CYL)

Chen's installation Jardin Mémorable, is concurrently on view at Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Italy, through August 27.

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[ Katie Grinnan ]

Katie Grinnan

Katie Grinnan's colorful, tumultuously disjointed sculptures are choreographed wrestling matches between the second and third dimensions. Found objects become precisely arranged armatures for digitally stretched, cropped, and collaged photographs. Mounted on these off-kilter frameworks of concrete, plaster, and wood, the images create optical illusions of tilted houses, angular forests, and mutating bodies. The artist's entangled structures capture creation and demolition simultaneously, forming abstract narratives about nature, architecture, and perception that reflect the condition of modern culture.

Eight years after earning her MFA at UCLA, Grinnan has an impressive list of exhibitions under her belt. In late 2003, she enveloped New York's Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria in virally replicating imagery, and last year she had a solo show at the Pomona College Museum of Art. In the interim, she staged two solo exhibitions at ACME. Gallery in Los Angeles. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the UCLA Hammer Museum.

In recent years, Grinnan has generated increasingly dynamic forms by exploiting the tension between energy and fragility. As she recently explained in an Artnet interview: "The armature for the final image/structure is balance (visual, physical, and spatial), implying fragility and the abstract nature of one's perspective… I'm interested in the gap between what's there and what we want to see." (SND)

Katie Grinnan's work is on view in a group exhibition at Honor Fraser in Venice, California, through September 27.

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[ Damián Ortega ]


Damián Ortega

Born in 1967 in Mexico City, Damián Ortega began his career as a political cartoonist, but soon became inspired by the city's developing conceptual art scene in the early '90s. Today, he is considered one of the most innovative international artists. Working in a variety of media, he is best known for his provocative engagements with everyday objects. Artkrush editor Paul Laster caught up with Ortega — busy at work in his Berlin studio — to discuss his fascination with sculpture as well as his current and upcoming shows.
AK: What drew you to sculpture as your primary medium?

DO: Sculpture has a relationship with reality — a possibility of being rather than portraying something. For me, sculpture and installations create a reality, not a representation. My father was an actor, and I remember the dual perspectives of the act onstage and the experience backstage — the real face of theatre. I've always loved the dark, constructive space behind the scenes.

My artistic references, however, come from two-dimensional sources. I used to only make drawings, though I wanted to be a painter. In the early '90s, in Gabriel Orozco's workshop, my friends Abraham Cruzvillegas and Gabriel Kuri and I were reading Michel Foucault's Ceci n'est pas une pipe (This is not a pipe), and I began to understand that an object and its visual representation were two different things.

I remember those years as terrifying times when one completely changed one's ideology of art, exchanging a flat surface for volume and vacuum. A lot of new ideas came to us all at that moment. We realized that Yves Klein jumping into the void symbolized the end of painting and a big leap into reality. We cropped and destroyed our paintings and used the canvas to make three-dimensional pieces.

I love drawing on paper, but the physical experience of sculpture is fascinating. It's like visiting a stadium or being hungry and having a plate of food set down in front of you — you just want to cry.

AK: How do you define sculpture?

keep reading the interview »

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  Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years
Kynaston McShine, Lynne Cooke, John Rajchman, and Benjamin Buchloh
Museum of Modern Art

While the 40-year retrospective of Richard Serra's sculptural practice looms large at the Museum of Modern Art, its exhibition catalogue provides an invaluable guide to Serra's process and historical significance. Beautifully illustrated with black-and-white photographs that reflect the works' minimal nature, it moves from the rubber, neon, and lead pieces Serra created in the '60s to the steel works that he continues to make today — including foundry photographs of the three new massive sculptures produced for the MoMA show. The 400-plus pages of scholarly texts (highlighted by Kynaston McShine's insightful conversation with the artist, Benjamin Buchloh's analysis of Serra's early work, and Lynne Cooke's study of his sculptures in landscape) and reproductions of the sculptures in situ are bookended by portraits of Serra from his early days and his golden age. Like the artist's work, Serra's monograph is big, bold, and persuasive. (PL)

The exhibition Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years continues at MoMA through September 10.

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Cover Art
Bruce Nauman
Square Depression, 2007
82 x 82 ft./ 25 x 25 m
Courtesy Skulptur Projekte Münster
Photo: Arendt Mensing
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster

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