January 7, 2015 | by Dan Piepenbring
New paintings by Mamma Andersson.
Mamma Andersson’s new exhibition “Behind the Curtain” opens tomorrow at David Zwirner. Andersson, who was born in Sweden and lives in Stockholm, paints with a muted palette—she tends to draw from old photographs and films, theater sets, and well-preserved interiors. There’s a look-but-don’t-touch quality to her subjects, as if she’s visited some quiet museum, or snuck backstage, and has decided to flout the no-photography policy by simply painting the view instead. And so what should feel aloof or antiquated feels intimate, almost even illicit. These are things we’re used to seeing at a remove or covered in dust: busts, stays, thrones. Looking at her paintings reminds me of that voguish phrase, secret history, that’s cropped up in dozens of titles and subtitles lately.
“All of us who’ve become artists, musicians, poets, dancers, film directors—God knows what—we were all once children who loved to delve into our other ego, where anarchy and limitlessness reigns,” she told BOMB in 2007: “If (healthy) schizophrenia can keep capitalism at bay, maybe we all should be much more schizophrenic than we are. I think it’s nice to be muddled.”
“Behind the Curtain” is at David Zwirner through February 14. Read More »
January 6, 2015 | by Dan Piepenbring
Probably my favorite entry in The Paris Review’s print series is Marisol Escobar’s, from 1965. It hangs in our office, where, especially on hot summer days, I gaze at it when I’m feeling thirsty. It is, at zero calories, the ultimate in refreshment. But we can safely assume that Marisol had little interest in the contents of the magazine. “I don’t like to read,” she said flatly in a 1968 interview. “It bores me.”
Very well, Marisol. Agree to disagree.
For a few more days—until January 10—New Yorkers can see this print, along with other sculptures and works on paper by Marisol, at El Museo del Barrio, where she’s having her first solo show in a New York museum.
Marisol, who’s eighty-four now, is famously taciturn—she speaks no more than she has to. (Take these exchanges from another interview: “Do you watch movies or TV?” “No.” “Would you recommend sculpture as a career?” “Yes.” “Do you communicate with any other artists?” “No.”) She’s best known for her figural sculptures, which, like her Paris Review print, satirize the culture and fit comfortably—if singularly—into the tradition of Pop Art. But she’s cryptic, to put it mildly, about her process. “In the beginning I drew on a piece of wood because I was going to carve it,” she said in that ’68 interview. “And then I noticed that I didn't have to carve it, because it looked as if it was carved already.”
Rather than waste more words, then, I’ll get onto the work itself: below, more pieces from the El Museo del Barrio exhibition. Read More »
December 17, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
Aperture’s Lit issue introduced me to the work of Eamonn Doyle, a photographer based in Dublin. His series i is inspired by Samuel Beckett. As he told LensCulture:
I was re-discovering the work of Samuel Beckett, specifically the “trilogy” comprising the novels Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnameable. I began to be drawn towards a number of solitary “Beckettian” figures I saw on the streets of Dublin, people I had seen passing me every day who seemed to be treading the same ground, day in, day out … I wondered how I might approach the photographing of these people, who were after all (and who remain) near-total strangers to me … Is it possible to take photographs of these people in such a way that will honor their essential, even existential, distance from me? … This tension between, on the one hand, the attempt, and subsequent failure, to gain knowledge and, on the other, what happens in the act of attempting-then-failing is something that interests me. It’s a contradiction with which many of Beckett’s characters seem to be familiar. It’s also a point at which a representation, in reaching a limit point, acknowledges its status as an act.
December 10, 2014 | by John Ashbery, Ann Lauterbach, Richard Howard, and Ben Lerner
The latest issue of Aperture magazine focuses on the relationship between literature and photography. The editors were kind enough to share the feature below, in which four poets discuss some of their favorite photographs. It appears in Aperture magazine #217, Winter 2014, “Lit,” as “Collectors: The Poets.”
Sergio Larrain, Boulevard Saint-Germain, Before the Deux Magots Café, 1959.
I lived in Paris mostly from 1955 to 1965. This photograph, called Boulevard Saint-Germain, Before the Deux Magots Café, Paris 1959, is by Sergio Larrain. The Café Deux Magots was a favorite hangout of mine, at least when I was flush enough to afford it. I could conceivably have been there when the picture was taken. The photograph sums up beautifully the atmosphere of Paris on a rather chilly autumn afternoon, with well-dressed and well-behaved tourists sipping their café exprès and two fashionable cars, a sports car and a sedan. The three people chatting around the sports car are almost crystallizations of Parisians of that now distant era. The young man at far left, with his back to the camera, is an iconic silhouette of the time, with pleasantly rumpled clothes and both shoes planted firmly on the pavement. I keep this card tucked into a picture frame over my desk to remind me of the past in all its melancholy variety. Read More »
December 5, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
The cover of our new Winter issue features Stairs Building, a photograph by Marc Yankus, who’s been taking pictures of architecture since the nineties, though he doesn’t consider himself an architectural photographer. The building is in Manhattan, on Thirty-Ninth Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues. Marc wrote to me about it:
In Stairs Building, I was drawn to the strange design of the rectangles off the street-side facade and the discreet doors tucked away toward the back. I spotted the building from a rooftop party I’d attended—its unusual shape drew me in, and I felt compelled to come back and photograph it.
I’m not sure what it is about some buildings that just stops me in my tracks. Everything around them vanishes. I notice that I am often attracted to older architecture and unusual, forgotten buildings. For this portrait, I faded out the surroundings in a haze, making the featured building more prominent and monolithic.
This photograph was taken in mid-July, 2013.
In our new issue you’ll find “The Secret Life of Buildings,” a portfolio of sixteen of Yankus’s pictures with an introduction from our art editor, Charlotte Strick. Subscribe now and have a look. In the meantime, here’s a larger version of Stairs Building, plus a few additional photographs not included in the portfolio: Read More »
December 3, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
Douglas Coupland—you know him. Author of Generation X, and conflicted progenitor of the same term; occasional Financial Times columnist; one-time Paris Review Daily interviewee.
You may now see his likeness swathed in chewing gum.
Coupland, who’s also a visual artist, constructed a seven-foot sculpture of his head from polyester and resin. It sat outside the Vancouver Art Gallery all summer long, where passersby were encouraged to deposit their gum on it.