There’s a certain weather-beaten tree stump at Ghost Ranch—the U-shaped, adobelike home once occupied by the famed American Modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe—where Josephine Halvorson, the first artist-in-residence at Santa Fe’s Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, often took breaks from her own work. It offered her a clear view of Cerro Pedernal, the narrow New Mexican mesa that appears in many of O’Keeffe’s desert paintings, and where the artist’s ashes are scattered. From here Halvorson could observe weather patterns forming around the mesa’s caprock, circling the top and then sweeping theatrically down its cliff face, racing across the plain toward her. Read More
David Hockney’s latest painterly passion, the results of which are currently on display at the Pace Gallery in New York City, consists of an elaboration of his ongoing fascination with reverse perspective, this time by way of notched hexagonal canvases, such as the one above. As I discussed in my catalogue essay for the show, this current round in his interest was in part spurred by his encounters with the thinking of an early-twentieth-century Russian Orthodox monk, but for my own part, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the work of Trevor and Ryan Oakes, young identical twin artists whose ideas I’ve been following for several years (as has David, after I introduced them to him).
Unlike the sorts of identical twins who develop secret languages from infancy, Trevor and Ryan (born in 1982), out of West Virginia and before that Colorado, had been carrying on a conversation, virtually since toddlerhood, on the nature of bifocal vision—what it is like, that is, to see with two eyes. (Around age ten, their parents once told me, they could be found sitting on stumps out in the woods, twenty feet apart, trying to work out what the depth perception might be of a dragon with eyes that far apart.) Notwithstanding their tender years, they’d been thinking about this stuff a long time—almost as far back as David when he started making his Polaroid collages. And as it happens, the ideas that seem most pertinent to Hockney’s current concerns are the twins’ theories on depth perception, which they developed when studying together at Cooper Union as they developed a system for making camera-obscura-exact drawings deploying no other equipment than their own two eyes (a facility that obviously came to fascinate Hockney). Read More
David Hockney’s show of new work, currently up at Pace in New York, is an explosively energetic exploration of reverse perspective. Hockney deploys hexagonal canvases, the lower ends notched out, so as to allow the eye to bend the picture far beyond the frame. As Hockney quips, “Far from cutting corners, I was adding them.” In Lawrence Weschler’s catalogue essay, Hockney suggests what he means by reverse perspective by way of an allusion to an experience he once had coursing through the arrow-straight eighteen-kilometer St. Gotthard Pass road tunnel, the tiny pinpoint of light ahead epitomizing “the hell of one-point perspective.” “I suddenly realized,” Hockney tells Weschler, “how that is the basis of all conventional photographic perspective, that endless regress to an infinitely distant point in the middle of the image, how everything is hurtling away from you and you yourself are not even in the picture at all. But then, as we got to the end of the tunnel everything suddenly reversed with the world opening out in every direction … and I realized how that, and not its opposite, was the effect I wanted to capture.”
In one of Hockney’s first experiments in his recent series, he took Fra Angelico’s San Marco fresco The Annunciation (a masterpiece of one-point perspective)—a poster of which used to grace the upper corridor of his elementary school—and turned it inside out, offering a sense of what it might have looked like in reverse perspective.
Weschler’s catalogue essay, from which we will be publishing two adapted excerpts this week and next, goes into further detail on the taproots and implications of Hockney’s current reverse-perspective passion. The first, below, involves an improbable recent mentor. —Nadja Spiegelman Read More
In 1970, after over a decade of intermittent hospitalization for mental illness, Unica Zürn committed suicide by jumping out the window of the apartment of her longtime companion, the Surrealist artist Hans Bellmer. Zürn is best known as the author of anagrammatic poetry and the semi-biographical novellas Dark Spring and The Man of Jasmine, but she was also a visual artist. She had a preternatural skill for creating phantasmagorical worlds. Her pen-and-ink drawings were exhibited at galleries throughout Paris and Berlin, and she participated in the 1959 International Surrealist Exhibition. Her artistic practice, often eclipsed by that of her husband, confounds her literary legacy. Read More
On the top floor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a printer is printing the news.
As the printer groans and stutters, long loops of paper gather on the gallery floor. It prints slowly, pausing every few minutes, as the paper grows into an endless ribbon over the course of a day. From a distance, it looks like a recycling heap. Close up, it looks like a Tara Donovan sculpture or the graceful curls of intricate origami.
There are RSS feeds coming in from all over the world, in English: Reuters, the Guardian, Al Jazeera, the New York Times, Haaretz, Der Spiegel, Fox News, the Times of India, others.
You’re invited to pick it up and read it. “Legendary Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker, 84, reveals he survived bite from poisonous spider.” “Anthea Hamilton review—gourds move in mysterious ways at Tate Britain.” “Detroit-area girl, 3, wounded after AK-47 accidentally fires.” “Lindsay Lohan named the new face of Lawyer.com.”
This is the German artist Hans Haacke’s News, part of SFMOMA’s broadly conceived new show “Nothing Stable Under Heaven” (open until September 16), which deals with tech, surveillance, resistance, and instability of all kinds.
“It’s Twitter!” a visitor joked on a recent afternoon, dropping the article he was reading back into the paper pile and walking away. Read More
Never have I wanted to touch a photograph as badly as I wanted to touch Zoe Leonard’s Red Wall 2001/2003 (Leonard typically includes two dates with each photograph, the first signaling when the photo was taken, the second when it was printed). It’s an image of such saturated—such tactile—redness that it was, for a beat, difficult to accept that it was only a representation of a wall, flat and smooth and framed. Red Wall is a minimalist monochrome wet dream that inspires a maximalist yearning—an outsized, outrageous need. Read More