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The Spring Issue: Pavel Zoubok on Collage

March 28, 2011 | by

David Poppie (1969–), Rabbit Hole, 2010, colored pencils on panel. Courtesy of Pavel Zoubok Gallery.

Pavel Zoubok, the curator of our spring portfolio, opened his first gallery space in New York in 1997. Fifteen years later, it remains the only gallery in New York devoted exclusively to collage, though it has, over that time, helped nurture a broad revival of interest in the cut-up for the digital age, as artists and admirers turned on by remixing and repurposing have discovered again the appeal and the craftsmanship of the truly handmade. Earlier this winter, Pavel sat down to discuss his gallery, the portfolio, and the expansive medium to which they are both devoted.

What is collage?

I have always used the term in a very broad way to include, obviously, cut and pasted paper, but also assemblage, photo montage, photo collage, some mixed-media installation. Over the years, I’ve even included painters in my program, but they are painters who use collage either as part of their working process or as part of their imagery. My sense of the term is less medium-specific and more idea-specific. It’s really about collage as an aesthetic tradition, as something we weave in and out of the history of art and the larger cultural history.

One of the threads in that history is collage’s appeal to writers and poets.

Absolutely. There is such a rich tradition of poets making collages: for example, the French poet Jacques Prevert and the Czech collagist Jiri Kolar, who started his career as a poet and actually considered his collage works to be poetry—just visual poetry as opposed to the written word. I think also of somebody like John Ashbery, a longtime collagist, and of course Joe Brainard.

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Portfolio: Paul Gabrielli’s Toys

March 25, 2011 | by

Paul Gabrielli is a young deconstructionist sculptor who often works with false trompe l'oeil. His current show, “Generally,” includes a remarkable series of hung sculptures showcasing found, repurposed, and refined objects behind blister packs and mounted on backboards of edited landscape photography, toys lost in the uncanny valley between desire and critique.

Untitled, 2010, cloth, aluminum, C-print, archival board, plastic, staples, oil, acrylic, 13 x 11 x 1/2 in.

I call these pieces toys, but they’re more like tchotchkes. That might be a horrible thing to call a piece of art, but there’s something to be admired about the tchotchke: you own it, but it doesn’t function; you just kind of look at it. It’s not a relationship, like with toys, where you can actually play with them.

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Alexandra Kleeman on “Fairy Tale”

December 16, 2010 | by

The winter issue of The Paris Review opens with debut fiction by Alexandra Kleeman, a young writer, part Taiwanese, who was raised in Japan and Colorado. She recently left behind her graduate studies in rhetoric at the University of California at Berkeley, where she planned a dissertation on cognitive science and experimental poetics. She lives now on the west side of Manhattan and is pursuing an M.F.A. at Columbia University.

“Fairy Tale” is your first story to be published. Is it your best story?

It’s probably my favorite story. I was trying to be funny and I’m naturally very serious. I hope it’s kind of funny.

What makes it a fairy tale?

My original title was “Knives,” which seems very different, but the logic of the piece always had that sort of fairy-tale element to it: There’s a sense in which the world depicted is, on one hand, very tight and claustrophobic, but on the other hand extremely open, like anything could appear in it anytime. It would be a completely irrelevant question, in that setting, whether something was believable or not. Instead, you’re actively learning the rules along with the character. That’s the way the later part feels, to me, anyway, but really the first part is strongly amnesic.

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Claire Vaye Watkins on “Gold Mine”

December 14, 2010 | by

Claire Vaye Watkins was born in Nevada and lives in Ohio, where she is putting the finishing touches on a debut collection of stories that all unfold in her home state, from down south in Nye County and Las Vegas, to Reno, Lake Tahoe, Virginia City, and the Blackrock Desert, the site of Burning Man. “Gold Mine,” which appears in our new issue, takes place entirely at a Nevada brothel.

What brought you to the bunny ranch as a setting?

I grew up Pahrump, Nevada, where prostitution is legal. There were two brothels near my house and the school bus used to drive past them every morning. As a girl I was especially fascinated by one, the Chicken Ranch, because it was done in this ornate dollhouse Victorian style, which I’d never seen before, with dormers and flower boxes and painted in lovely pastel pinks and blues. I wanted to live there.

Of course, as I got older my relationship to those buildings became more complicated, let’s say. But a part of me has always been enchanted by them. There’s something magical about a brothel. It’s this alluring Eden compound in the middle of nowhere, even if it’s also grotesque and exploitative and dangerous.

For a story about a brothel, it is remarkably chaste; the only sex act depicted is between the gay madam and his married male mentor.

You’re right, there’s a lot of dirty talk but not much business. Does that make me a tease? I suppose I was more interested in the emotional bonds between the characters—Manny and Joe, Manny and Michele, Michele and Darla, Darla and Manny—because in this world that’s the stuff that can really get you into trouble. I don’t find the sex part of prostitution that interesting. (Such a tease line.) It’s the emotion work that gets me. As I see it, sex isn’t the real currency at the Cherry Patch Ranch—it’s affection and intimacy. And everybody’s looking for it.

I’d originally written this story without the affair between Manny and Joe, but Manny felt entirely too stable. We couldn’t see what Michele meant to him. I needed something to knock him off kilter, to make him more vulnerable, more lonesome, hornier. So I broke his heart.

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Good-Bye to All That: The Art Boom and Bust

September 22, 2010 | by

Art Basel Miami during the boom.

“The plug was pulled, but life went on—invigorating life,” Jerry Saltz wrote last fall in a typically optimistic survey of “art after money.” You could hear the refrain everywhere, in galleries and studios, museums and bars: The bull market had been unbearable, turning work into a kind of mortgage payment, so maybe the bust would be good for art in this town. Saltz said it already was: “It’s as if a bunch of spotlights went out when the market crashed last October, and now, as they flicker back on, we’re able to see new green shoots busting out of the establishment’s cracks.”

But not much has changed in New York since 2008, when that speculative boom ended and an exercise in disaster capitalism began. This season, the big-deal September show at the biggest-deal New York gallery, Gagosian, is the blue-chip debut of derivative Deitch darling Dan Colen. Money is still cool-hunting. This week, Saltz called the Gagosian show, dismissively, “an event straight out of 2007.” But one of these is an elephant and one is a gnat, and the market is stampeding again.

New galleries have emerged since the crash, whole neighborhoods of them in fact, and new work has been assembled, sculpted, painted, and filmed—some of it very good work. But we are still beholden to art fairs, where the hustle is the spectacle, and we still anxiously await future auctions, when we’ll learn how well we’ve done—in collecting, in working, in making assessments. We are still enamored of gags, puns, and trompe l’oeil. We still tend to follow the scent of sweat where it pools—that antinomian territory called, in the generation after Basquiat anyway, downtown. Better would be to chase uptown, so to speak, after shows that, if young, aren’t insolent; if brash, aren’t gimmicky; and that do not rely for their power on the incongruity between the work and its staging. From here that frisson looks like a form of irony—and we want to say good-bye to all that.


Thomas Guinzburg (1926-2010)

September 9, 2010 | by

It is with great sadness that The Paris Review has learned of the death of one of its founding editors, Thomas Guinzburg.

A Marine veteran awarded the Purple Heart for his service in World War Two, and a former editor of the Yale Daily News, Guinzburg was just two years out of college when he became the Review's first managing editor. He was also, nominally, a part-owner, having matched George Plimpton's and Peter Matthiessen's initial "investment" in the venture with a contribution of $500. He eventually became president of The Paris Review board of directors. He was planning the magazine's fiftieth anniversary celebration with George Plimpton the night the editor died in 2003. Guinzburg was invaluable in helping direct The Paris Review in the years that followed.

For many years the president of Viking Press, a publishing house established by his father, he later became chairman of the American Book Awards. He also served as consultant to Doubleday & Co. and as governor to Yale University Press. He will be missed by his many friends and admirers and remembered as one of the most distinguished publishers of our time. Read More »