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Johan Simons, Time (detail), 2008

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Dutch Contemporary Art
July 9-22, 2008

Many may be familiar with Amsterdam's bawdy reputation and its smoky coffee shops, but less is known about the Netherlands' contemporary artists. In this issue of Artkrush, we fête Sonsbeek 2008: Grandeur, an international sculpture exhibition in a park in Arnhem, and highlight Lara Schnitger, whose pornographic photo collages and textile sculptures, such as Fun Bags (are those breasts or condoms?), conflate the maternal with the illicit. Artkrush contributing editor Shana Nys Dambrot talks with Marlene Dumas about her survey show at LA's Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as the Dutch art world's unique position on the wings of the international stage. For our media pick, we recommend False Flat: Why Dutch Design Is So Good; and, in a flyby tour of the world's galleries, we look at Tim Lee's photographic revelations about pop culture and musical virtuosity at Houston's Contemporary Art Museum and Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno's Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, a distillation of one of soccer's most captivating and conflicted figures, screening at daadgalerie in Berlin.

Gehry Gets Golden Lion
(Archinect, June 29)
Architect Frank Gehry has been handed bad news with the good lately. The good: he was recently named the recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale. The board commended Gehry for his formal experimentation, saying that he had "transformed modern architecture" and "liberated it from the confines of the 'box' and the constraints of common building practices." The bad: Gehry's technology building at the University of Iowa has been completely flooded, while his proposed research building at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design, mired in a funding controversy, has been put on hold.

Malanga Sues Chamberlain Over Warhol
(New York Times, June 26)
Poet, photographer, and longtime Andy Warhol associate Gerard Malanga is suing artist John Chamberlain over the sale of a silk-screen work attributed to Warhol. The 1967 315 Johns is an enormous grid of Chamberlain's likenesses, and Chamberlain sold the work in 2000 for more than $3 million after the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board said the piece was genuine. While Chamberlain claims that Warhol gave him the piece in exchange for some of his own, Malanga contends that he and two friends made the work in 1971 as an homage to Warhol. Neither Malanga nor Chamberlain has official documentation for the work.

High Line Presents Final Designs
(Architect's Newspaper, June 25)
Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro unveiled plans for the ten-block path of the abandoned High Line between W. 20th and W. 30th Streets in New York's Chelsea neighborhood. The $71 million makeover includes a "thicket" of plants on the walkway up to W. 23rd Street, a wooden bleacher running alongside a block-long lawn with expansive city views, an empty billboard that will frame visitors' views of Tenth Avenue, a wooden walkover suspended above preserved grasses, and three blocks of wildflowers. The walkways will be narrow enough that pedestrian traffic could become congested, so joggers will have to look elsewhere to get their heart rates up. "You have to think of it as a garden, not as a street," said city-planning director Amanda Burden.

Dead Artists' Works Rise in Value
(International Herald Tribune, June 26)
They may not have been commercial successes while alive and working, but Steven Parrino, Al Taylor, and Jack Goldstein are now proving to be posthumous art-market successes. Over eight years and five shows in New York, Team Gallery had only sold two of Parrino's works, one for $9,000 and the other for $10,000. The artist recycled his unsold paintings by rearranging their shapes and cutting them with scissors. But after he died in 2005 in a motorcycle accident, Gagosian Gallery was able to sell one of his pieces for $1 million. "On the one hand, it's incredibly romantic," artist Robert Longo said. "These artists are finally getting their due. On the other hand, it's about a commodity. There's a limited supply."

Jeff Koons' Balloon Flower (Magenta) fetches record $25.8 million at auction more »

Filmmaker Steve McQueen named UK representative for Venice Biennale more »

Philippe Starck to host design-competition reality show more »

Louise Bourgeois' life in sculpture more »

Chinese artists and galleries look to the West more »

Installation artist Thomas Hirschhorn explains his Hotel Democracy more »

Painting Sol LeWitt's last wishes at MASS MoCA more »

Controversial Mexican painter Daniel Lezama takes on touchy subjects more »

Olafur Eliasson's NYC Waterfalls make big splash more »

Viktor Vasarely's daughter-in-law charged with stealing artworks by the renowned op artist more »

Collector sues Louis Vuitton over allegedly unauthenticated Murakami bags more »

YBA Tracey Emin to make retrospective debut at Edinburgh Art Festival more »

Art collector Donald Hess to open museum dedicated to multimedia artist James Turrell more »

Video and installation artist Paul McCarthy surprises in new Whitney show more »

Artist Frank Stella decries proposed copyright legislation more »

Herzog & de Meuron to design modern art museum in Calcutta more »

Lens turned on fashion photographer Mario Testino more »

Artist/activist Mona Hatoum surveyed in London more »

Guggenheim Bilbao is branching out more »

Fashioning a home from a recycled 747 airliner more »

Another alleged Pollock spurs new authenticity debate more »

Russian museum curator ousted after controversial show more »

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

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[ Art in the Park ]


Eylem Aladogan / Alain Sechas / Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger

The display of art in public spaces is an ideal arrangement, allowing for artistic discoveries in unexpected contexts, often to marvelous effect. The Public Art Fund and Creative Time in New York and London's Artangel have built rich histories supporting temporary, outdoor art projects. Art fairs are now following suit, with Art Basel's Public Art Projects and Frieze's Sculpture Park among the best, while Germany's skulptur projekte münster has presented a citywide exhibition of public sculptures every ten years since 1977. But the mother of all outdoor sculpture exhibitions is Sonsbeek, which began in Sonsbeek Park in Arnhem, the Netherlands, in 1949.

After previous iterations that displayed work in the park as well as in other parts of Arnhem, Sonsbeek 2008: Grandeur has returned to the exhibition's origins, once again making Sonsbeek Park the sole site for 26 commissioned outdoor projects by 28 international artists. Unique to this year's exhibition was a procession of the show's artworks carried through Arnhem's old inner city by citizens organized into various guilds. More than 1,000 people took part in the procession, and another 30,000 lined the streets to view the celebration. It was a key ingredient of curator Anna Tilroe's vision for the Sonsbeek's tenth show — a vision that sees "grandeur" as "the painful yet courageous struggle to transcend your own everyday limits," and used the communal walk as a means to "celebrate art as a symbol of human imagination."

Once the sculptures were installed in the woods, thickets, and ponds of Sonsbeek Park, a sublime interaction with nature commenced. Happening upon French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel's massive, glittering crown — made from hand-blown Murano glass spheres and suspended above a forest clearing — is awe-inspiring, but to ponder the piece alongside Mexican-born artist Brody Condon's wandering, medievally outfitted troupe of LARP (live-action role-playing) gamers is doubly magnificent. Likewise, finding three of Ghanaian-born El Anatsui's colossal sheets, which are based on ceremonial cloths and made from metal bottle caps and drink cans, draped over a cluster of flowering rhododendrons is a unique and extraordinary experience.

Dutch artist Rini Hurkmans created a Flag of Compassion that flies above a meadow and is being sold as a multiple to benefit charity. Madrid-based Fernando Sánchez Castillo made a fountain of Spitting Leaders, in which life-size bronzes of ruthless rulers vulgarly drench one another in a lake. Swiss team Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger constructed Mystery of Fertility, a dense installation of tree branches and gardening tools bursting through the eggshell-blue walls of a garden shed; at the heart of the assemblage, magenta salt crystals aim to encompass all of the violent action.

American sculptor Rona Pondick cast Head in Tree in stainless steel and placed it at the surface of a reflective pond. The head, made in Pondick's likeness, hangs like a piece of fruit in the barren tree, with the exposed roots suggesting a coiled umbilical cord. And high on a hill, Brussels-based Michel François alters the norms of ecology with Appearance of a Tree, offering an uprooted, yet still-living 25-year-old lime tree resting horizontally on a pedestal. The tree requires intensive care during the exhibition, but if it survives, it will be replanted to help keep Sonsbeek Park an enchanting setting for future artistic interactions.  - Paul Laster

Sonsbeek 2008: Grandeur continues at Sonsbeek Park in Arnhem through September 21.

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  Shi Guorui: New Work
Hong Kong

10 Chancery Lane Gallery
Now through August 30

Chinese photographer Shi Guorui presents a timely collection of five large-scale, black-and-white photographs, each at least two meters in length, that capture some of the most mesmerizing new cityscapes around the world. Working in situ within special rooms, Shi used the traditional pinhole-camera technique of the camera obscura to capture skylines that blur into the distance, endowing his images with an ephemeral quality. His negative-style prints — the lights and shadows are inverted — further set the tone, showcasing the blend of old character and recent growth in the modern metropolises of Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Las Vegas. Shi's photographs seize the spirit of their settings with curiosity and depth, making for simultaneously dreamlike and realistic urban portraits.  - Juliana Loh

  Tim Lee: Perspectives 161

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Now through July 13

Korean-Canadian artist Tim Lee assumes the starring roles in ten recent works that take a deadpan yet revealing look at pop culture and musical virtuosity. In Untitled (James Osterberg, 1970), Lee utilizes simple trick photography to re-create an outlandish backbend made famous by Osterberg (aka Iggy Pop). With Untitled (Neil Young, 1968), the artist uses skewed angles and sight gags to create a photographic diptych of himself as Young, levitating horizontal to the floor, with two feet on the wall, through the power of a wicked guitar cord. Aria: Goldberg Variations, a two-channel video installation, features Lee, a musical layman, deftly playing the Bach composition; the herky-jerky editing accentuates the piecemeal quality of the performance. Through low-tech mimicry, Lee humorously teases out subtle perceptual and cultural subtexts in historic pop-culture moments.  - Lisa L. Powell

  Harry Dodge & Stanya Kahn
New York

Elizabeth Dee Gallery
Now through August 2

Improvisation and self-conscious amateurism characterize the aesthetic of Los Angeles-based video and performance duo Harry Dodge & Stanya Kahn, who were recently tapped for the 2008 Whitney Biennial. All Together Now, the centerpiece of their current show at Elizabeth Dee, is a meditation on survival that feels more fatally banal than postapocalyptic. As Kahn's character forages through the detritus of a technologically dependent civilization, the video provides glimpses of new social formations, including a tribe of subterranean techies also featured in Masters of None. These two works are Dodge and Kahn's first videos without dialogue, and the contrast with the far more mesmerizing I See You, Man and Nature Demo reveals the artists' struggle to communicate in a world where words have failed.  - Adam Eaker

  Ugo Rondinone: twelve sunsets, twenty nine dawns, all in one.

Galerie Eva Presenhuber
Now through August 2

Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone has a knack for combining melancholy with humor, as illustrated by the clown figures in his earlier works. At Eva Presenhuber, the artist adds an Eastern touch to his repertoire with several massive sculptures shaped to resemble naturally eroded stones, imitating the scholar's rocks that adorn Chinese gardens, albeit finished in humble cement. Lining the walls, black pen drawings on small white canvases represent mundane scenes, with the dates of execution marked by newspaper clippings on the reverse — a contemplative gesture on the passage of time — while elusive pencil writings on the walls evoke haiku poetry. Four orange mandarins made from lead-filled bronze lie simply on the gallery floor, the lone bright spots in a stunningly sober, gray-toned show.  - Marlyne Sahakian

  Douglas Gordon & Philippe Parreno: Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

Now through August 9

Screening for the first time in Germany at Berlin's daadgalerie as a two-channel projection, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait was created by artists Douglas Gordon & Philippe Parreno as a spare, cinematic examination of French footballer Zinedine Zidane. Tracking Zizou's every move with 17 cameras throughout a 90-minute Spanish-league match in April 2005, Gordon and Parreno scrutinize their protagonist in close-up shots, only occasionally panning out to fan's-eye and aerial views. This isolated narrative is overlaid with fragmentary subtitles drawn from conversations with the player, and accompanied by a layered musical score featuring Mogwai, Zidane's breathing and shouts, and the stadium's roar. Resembling a dreamlike Velázquez, Gordon and Parreno's portrayal of the impenetrable and elusive athlete paints him as a 21st-century tragic hero.  - Sarah Stephenson

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[ Lara Schnitger ]


Lara Schnitger

Lara Schnitger's work evokes the eroticism, violence, and vulnerability of bodily forms. Working in diverse media, the Dutch-born, Amsterdam- and Los Angeles-based artist questions the norms of gender and sexuality as they are traditionally mapped onto figures, both two- and three-dimensional. Schnitger is best known for her large-scale sculptures, which feature knitted and sewn textiles drawn taut over seemingly haphazard wooden armatures. In the older works Vanity Man (2002) and Betty Ford (2005), ill-proportioned skeletons are barely reined in, threatening to break through their own makeshift skins. Humorously fragile, gendered or androgynous, Schnitger's constructions are at once alien and all too human.

The artist's recent forays into photo collage recontextualize pornographic signifiers of sexuality to comment on the dualistic role of the female body. Heavy-breasted women, mostly in masturbatory poses, are made motherly by Schnitger's strategic placement of screaming infant faces between their legs and against their bosoms. The ecstasy of orgasm becomes the agony of childbirth, leaving viewers to ponder the fine line between pleasure and pain, as well as their most widely circulated representations. Schnitger's interest in pornographic imagery also infuses her current sculptural projects, though in a subtler fashion. Private Dancer (2007), currently on view at the Arnhem Museum of Modern Art in the Netherlands, comprises a thick-limbed, maroon body ringed with white lace garters. Black strings dangle from the center of randomly placed pink, mammillary additions to the figure, referencing bondage, or perhaps puppetry. The Amazonian Miss Universe (2008) caused a stir at this year's Sonsbeek 2008: Grandeur, also in Arnhem, when some visitors were offended by the figural structure's porn-patterned right arm. Schnitger responded with an ironic amelioration, covering the exposed silk-screened genitalia with miniature hearts.  - Sarah Kessler

Works by Lara Schnitger are currently on view in Sonsbeek 2008: Grandeur in Arnhem, the Netherlands, as well as in Sonsbeek: Cross Over at the Arnhem Museum of Modern Art, both through September 21.

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[ Marlene Dumas ]  

Marlene Dumas
View more images »
Marlene Dumas is one of the most influential and controversial painters working today. Born in South Africa but long based in Holland, she brings a dark intensity to her work, favoring subjects with profound sociopolitical subtexts and addressing explosive issues of gender, race, religion, and explicit sexuality through the prism of her striking, graphic, heavily worked portraiture. A major mid-career survey, Measuring Your Own Grave, opened on June 22nd at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Artkrush contributing editor Shana Nys Dambrot asked Dumas for her thoughts on the occasion.
AK: For Measuring Your Own Grave, how involved were you in the decision to organize the show thematically, rather than chronologically?

MD: Absolutely involved — I know the difficulties of my works. I did it in dialogue with the curator, Connie Butler, and we worked with the architecture of the museum and the characteristics of the pieces. The works start to talk to each other when they get together in the rooms, and some don't like each other and seem to do each other no good, while others form new and better relationships when they (sometimes accidentally) meet. In Amsterdam, my friend and studio manager Jolie van Leeuwen and I had already tried out some combinations, working with a two-dimensional floor plan, but in three dimensions, things always change again. I always ask the members of the hanging team for suggestions too, when I'm in doubt. I'm not a linear thinker or maker — I embrace chance.

AK: You've written extensively about the search for meaning in your work and in art generally; whose responsibility is that — the artist's or the audience's?

keep reading the interview »

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  False Flat: Why Dutch Design Is So Good
Aaron Betsky and Adam Eeuwens
Phaidon Press

Examining the lay of the Netherlands and the history of its design culture, Aaron Betsky and Adam Eeuwens make a convincing argument for the primacy of Dutch design, which has captured worldwide fascination with its historic projects and dynamic new forms. Beginning with observations made during a bike ride from his home to his office at the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, Betsky discusses an impressive range of Dutch design concepts and contemporary designers — including architects MVRDV and UNStudio, industrial designers Marcel Wanders and Hella Jongerius, and graphic designers COMA and Irma Boom, who designed this lively tome. Boom strikingly counterbalances six chapters of Betsky's thought-provoking text and images with Eeuwens' six chapters of illustrations of buildings, bridges, posters, home furnishings, books, and magazines, as well as his incisive descriptions of their makers. From Gerrit Rietveld's 1924 Schroder House in Utrecht to Rem Koolhaas/OMA's 2008 Chinese Central Television (CCTV) headquarters in Beijing, False Flat affirms that Dutch design is experimental, influential, and vital.  - Paul Laster

Aaron Betsky directs the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale, which runs from September 14 to November 24.

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Cover Art
Johan Simons
Time, 2008
Installation view in Sonsbeek 2008: Grandeur
Dimensions variable
Photo: Herman van Ommen
Courtesy Sonsbeek 2008, Arnhem
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster

Deputy Editor
Joel Withrow

News Editor
Greg Zinman

Reviews Editor
H.G. Masters

Contributing Editors
Adda Birnir
Jennifer Y. Chen
Erin Cowgill
Shana Nys Dambrot
Sarah Kessler
Doug Levy
Andrew Maerkle
Mark Mangan
Bryony Roberts
Marlyne Sahakian
Peter Stepek
Sarah Stephenson

Adam Eaker
Juliana Loh
Cynthia Lugo
Lauren McKee
Lisa L. Powell

Mailer Design
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Mark Barry

Anna Altman
Morgan Croney
Andrew Steinmetz
Daphne Yang

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