Blogs Centerpoints Julie Caniglia

Julie Caniglia edits and writes for Walker, the bimonthly magazine for the Walker Art Center, and writes on all manner of cultural topics for other publications as well.

Robert Bergman, Alec Soth, and contemporary portraiture

    Robert Bergman: Portraits, 1986-1995 opened at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts a few days ago, following a pretty amazing triple-play last fall, with Bergman shows at the august National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; P.S. 1, the MoMA affiliate in Queens devoted to contemporary art; and the Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea. Among a host of glowing […]

 

Untitled, 1989; © Robert Bergman

 

“Adelyn, Ash Wednesday, New Orleans, Louisiana”; 2000; Alec Soth

Robert Bergman: Portraits, 1986-1995 opened at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts a few days ago, following a pretty amazing triple-play last fall, with Bergman shows at the august National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; P.S. 1, the MoMA affiliate in Queens devoted to contemporary art; and the Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea. Among a host of glowing reviews (see below) and compelling profiles of the Minneapolis-raised Bergman (who turned down a show at the MIA in 1968 and has worked almost entirely outside art-world circles until now), critic Andy Grundberg sparked a controversy in the current Aperture magazine when he concluded that ”  … Bergman is out to convince us that he is a great photographer. Unfortunately, he has appeared a half-century too late.”It wasn’t long before Alec Soth called out a “photo critic rumble!” on his Little Brown Miscellanea blog, pointing to Aperture’s Exposures blog, where David Levi Strauss countered Grundberg with the title of his response, claiming that Bergman is “Right on Time.” Reading the review, the response to the review, Grundberg’s counter-response, and the commentary from others is a great primer on some key issues related to contemporary photography.

Which brings us back to Soth. It’s too bad the Bergman show ends (August 22) before From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America opens (September 12); it would be fun to zip between the MIA and the Walker and compare the formidable portraits by these two photographers.

That said, would it spark another photographic controversy to claim that the average art fan might conduct such an exercise just as well or even better with a dual-monitor setup? (To be clear — a display of considerably higher quality than is presented on this page.) Photographs reproduced in books are one thing — in a recent interview related to his show here, Soth said “A picture in a book is often nearly as good, and sometimes better, as a picture on a wall” — but has a similar argument been made for photographic display on computers? Notwithstanding the shift to digital photography over the past 15 years or so, that idea seems more germane than ever with the impending iPad revolution.

Robert Bergman’s work reviewed in (among many other places):
The Wall Street Journal
The Washington Post
Brooklyn Rail

Is artistic authenticity blind?

 Two juicy accounts of the closing party for MOMA’s performance-art blockbuster, Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present: Artforum’s Diary covers the whole star-studded, designer-garbed affair, while Jezebel homes in on a remark by the show’s curator that raised the question of just how clearly Abramović could see the more than 1,500 people who came to sit […]

"Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present: at MoMA - New York. Photo by Marco Anelli. © 2010 Marina Abramović

 Two juicy accounts of the closing party for MOMA’s performance-art blockbuster, Marina Abramović: The Artist is PresentArtforum’s Diary covers the whole star-studded, designer-garbed affair, while Jezebel homes in on a remark by the show’s curator that raised the question of just how clearly Abramović could see the more than 1,500 people who came to sit opposite her in an epic performance piece also titled The Artist is Present. Luckily, the enterprising Jezebel blogger tracked down a friend of Abramović who clarified that the glasses the artist uses are reading glasses. Scandal averted! 

By the way, Marco Anelli‘s collected portraits of the artists’ partners-in-staring constitute a fantastic art project in themselves. MOMA.org presents them as an elegant slideshow; they’re also at the museum’s account on Flickr. Clicking through them on Flickr becomes as another kind of exercise in duration — not just because the collection, like the closing party, is star-studded (will Björk be the next sitter?); you also can’t help noting the minutes that each person held out under the all-consuming and, yes, focused stare of “the grandmother of performance art.”  

Eiko and Koma are two other venerated performers from the same generation as Abramović. Though they consider their work to be dance/theater/visual art rather than performance art, they will be undergoing their own exercise in duration, Naked, in the Walker’s Gallery 2 for the month of November.

Outside notes on coming (& current) attractions

Alec Soth, whose survey From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America opens at the Walker in September, has an exhibition focusing on his portraits at the American Academy in Rome. The New York Times just published a portrait of the utterly charming Eiko and Koma as they prepare for their three-year Retrospective Project, which brings […]

Alec Soth, "Mother and Daughter, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1999"

Alec Soth, whose survey From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America opens at the Walker in September, has an exhibition focusing on his portraits at the American Academy in Rome.

The New York Times just published a portrait of the utterly charming Eiko and Koma as they prepare for their three-year Retrospective Project, which brings them to the Walker this fall. The story’s reference to the “moving-painting” quality of their choreography is apt, since here the duo will perform a dance/visual art installation in Gallery 2 of the ongoing Event Horizon exhibition — for the entire month of November. That piece, Naked, is a new commission; they’ll perform another new work, Raven, a centerpiece of their multiyear retrospective project, at Free First Saturday on October 2.

Co-organized by the Walker, Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers opened last week at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., and arrives here in October; the first rave review is in, at the Washington Post.

Modern Art Notes’ Tyler Green greatly admires the Chuck Close: Life, the new biography by Christopher Finch — particularly for the full chapter that Finch devotes to Big Self-Portrait, a key piece in the Walker collection and the first work that Close sold. Check out our related item last fall about Chuck, Christopher, and Linda — wife of Christopher, who sat for Chuck in 1971. Big Self-Portrait is currently a highlight of Benches & Binoculars, on view through November 21.

Finally, take a little photo tour of the art scenes in Berlin and Leipzig or, closer to home, the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, IA, via two recent Walker Patrons’ Circle trips.

Bits & Pieces: art & inspiration

Inspiration as taste sensation: Many a diner has been delighted by “Spoon, Cube, and Cherry,” the dessert at the Walker’s 20.21 that pays tribute to the Spoonbridge and Cherry centerpiece in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In similar fashion, San Francisco pastry chef Caitlin Williams Freeman has gone on a bender with the art collection at the San Francisco […]

“Michael Jackson & Bubbles” by Jeff Koons, with “Jeff Koons White-Hot Chocolate” dessert by Caitlin Williams Freeman

Inspiration as taste sensation: Many a diner has been delighted by “Spoon, Cube, and Cherry,” the dessert at the Walker’s 20.21 that pays tribute to the Spoonbridge and Cherry centerpiece in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In similar fashion, San Francisco pastry chef Caitlin Williams Freeman has gone on a bender with the art collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Along with a Mondrian cake and the slyly named Koons-inspired dessert drink above, she’s concocted “works” for SFMOMA’s coffee bar that include a plate of cookies which, before consuming, you assemble into your own mini Richard Serra sculpture; a fudgsicle shaped like an Ellsworth Kelly sculpture; a Richard Diebenkorn parfait; and more. It’s a treat just to look at the spread on Readymade magazine’s website. Should it get you dreaming of a future career in pastry, browse the ArtsConnectEd website and tell us below which Walker artworks you’d turn into delectable edibles. (Dessert image above by Charlie Villyard.)

What inspires Alec Soth? The photographer, whose first survey opens at the Walker in September, just uploaded the second video for his “Continental Picture Show,” which is part of the New York Times’ Opinionator blog. People are, accordingly, quite opinionated about it. As part of its new MN Original program, Twin Cities Public Television also recently broadcast an interview with and a segment on Soth, which includes Walker curator Siri Engberg.

One city inspires another: Minneapolitans take a lot of ribbing for supposedly being slaves to New York — but today’s Wall Street Journal has a story about how the first-ever New York Gallery Week was inspired by one art dealer’s visit to the “Minneapple” –and The Quick and the Dead exhibition at the Walker:

“The week was conceived by Casey Kaplan—owner of an eponymous art gallery on West 21st Street—after experiencing the buoyant vibe in Minneapolis, where industry types congregated to see the Walker Art Center’s exhibit “The Quick and the Dead” last year.

‘You really felt a community in Minneapolis,’ Mr. Kaplan said. ‘A lot of gallery owners had flown in. There were people from MoMA. Every one was enthusiastic and wanting to be in the moment. It was such a contrast from New York.’ “

So was it just about New Yorkers transplanting themselves, for a moment, into our idyllic Midwestern metropolis, or is something more going on? Read the full story here.

Inspired to show off: On another photographic note: a couple of weeks ago, we invited people to step into David Lamelas’ spotlight, on view in The Talent Show exhibition, for a portrait. Check out all of the results here.

Bits & Pieces: a Tino Sehgal tell-all, “The Subconscious Shelf,” and more

A new kind of art speak: Now that Tino Sehgal’s This Progress exhibition at the Guggenheim is over, its flesh-and-blood artworks are talking, giving the inside scoop on working a Tino Sehgal gig and “the pressure of nonstop thoughtful conversation.” A new kind of literary analysis: The New Yorker’s book bloggers have a nifty new service […]

A new kind of art speak: Now that Tino Sehgal’s This Progress exhibition at the Guggenheim is over, its flesh-and-blood artworks are talking, giving the inside scoop on working a Tino Sehgal gig and “the pressure of nonstop thoughtful conversation.”

A new kind of literary analysis: The New Yorker’s book bloggers have a nifty new service analyzing photos of readers’ bookshelves.

Image submitted to "The Subconscious Shelf"

What does last-minute airfare to Germany cost these days? James Turrell’s Wolfsburg Project, his largest-ever museum installation, closes April 5 at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. Here’s a video, if you can’t hop the pond. Or come console yourself in Turrell’s Sky Pesher at the Walker

James Turrell, Bridget's Bardo, 2009; © James Turrell, Foto: Florian Holzherr, 2009

A magical encounter with Dolphin Oracle II: read the account from Santa Fe artist and designer Amy Conway.

 

Abstract Expressionist postage stamps: Honor or oxymoron?

  Jonathan Fineburg, a University of Illinois art history professor and the author of Art Since 1940, a text familiar to many college art history students, was selected to choose just 10 artworks for the U.S. Postal Service’s  “Abstract Expressionists” stamps on sale today. He credits – here’s our MN connection – Joan “Joan of Art” […]

 

Untitled work by Mark Rothko, 1953

Jonathan Fineburg, a University of Illinois art history professor and the author of Art Since 1940, a text familiar to many college art history students, was selected to choose just 10 artworks for the U.S. Postal Service’s  “Abstract Expressionists” stamps on sale today. He credits – here’s our MN connection – Joan “Joan of Art” Mondale with influencing the USPS’ decision to create this micro-exhibition. In a process that calls to mind shrinky-dinks, the expansive visions of Joan Mitchell, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Robert Motherwell and Hans Hoffman, Adolph Gottlieb, and Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko (but not the work in the Walker’s collection, picture here) have been distilled to postage-stamp size, presented together on a sheet meant to evoke a gallery installation.

The art of “The Kiss”: Tino Sehgal, PDA, & V-Day

Tino Sehgal’s solo show at the Guggenheim Museum is a highlight of New York’s art season; Walker visitors, of course, will be familiar with Sehgal’s “situations” from his untitled show here two years ago, which included five pieces. That exhibition, however, didn’t include The Kiss (2002), currently wowing New Yorkers in the Guggenheim’s rotunda, which […]

Kissing in the Museum: "Anna and Michael at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center" by Megan Feldman (backpocketcamera.com)

Tino Sehgal’s solo show at the Guggenheim Museum is a highlight of New York’s art season; Walker visitors, of course, will be familiar with Sehgal’s “situations” from his untitled show here two years ago, which included five pieces. That exhibition, however, didn’t include The Kiss (2002), currently wowing New Yorkers in the Guggenheim’s rotunda, which has been totally emptied of art objects (this undoubtedly says something about museums and the recession … just not sure what that is yet).

Sehgal doesn’t allow official photos of his own work (which led the New York Times to use uncredited iPhone snaps in its review by Holland Cotter.) But folks at the Flavorwire culture blog were so inspired by The Kiss that they created a photo series “reinterpreting” it at several other museums around New York (including the photo here). Perhaps some amorous or otherwise inspired Twin Citians might to do the same on the Walker premises? Valentine’s Day is approaching, after all – so grab a partner (and maybe some chapstick), then upload your pictures to the Walker’s Flickr pool. For more on Sehgal, read the Times Magazine’s profile, which includes a fascinating account of how the Walker acquired for its collection the artist’s This Objective of That Object.

Calling all Minneapolis Sculpture Garden lovers: Preservation is at hand!

The Minnesota State Legislature is voting in the next few weeks on a bonding measure that could fund a badly needed renovation of the 22-year-old Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The article below, from the upcoming issue of Walker magazine, outlines the details.  Please take action by visiting http://garden.walkerart.org/bonding today. It’s quick, easy and will make all […]

The Minnesota State Legislature is voting in the next few weeks on a bonding measure that could fund a badly needed renovation of the 22-year-old Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The article below, from the upcoming issue of Walker magazine, outlines the details. 

Please take action by visiting http://garden.walkerart.org/bonding today. It’s quick, easy and will make all the difference.

MSG for bonding issue blog postWelcoming more than 7 million visitors since it opened, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden has become an integral part of Twin Cities life. When the Walker and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board partnered in 1988 to create the first major urban sculpture garden in the country, the vision, still very much alive today, was to combine an amazing outdoor space with world-class art and culture—two assets for which the state is renowned.  

 While Twin Cities and Minnesota residents are regulars, thousands of students and hundreds of schools groups from across Minnesota and the region visit each year. “It’s a unique place for learning,” says Lockie Chapman, a teacher who brings her Orono middle-schoolers to the Garden each year. “My students enjoy seeing works like the Spoonbridge and Cherry, which challenge their definitions of what a sculpture should be.”

And nearly half of the Garden’s visitors are tourists—from the all corners of the United States and far-flung countries alike. That amounts to $16 million in direct annual economic impact, according to Meet Minneapolis, the city’s official convention and visitors association. Melvin Tennant, its president & CEO, calls the Garden “a true destination for visitors to our state.” Walker director Olga Viso adds, “For more than two decades, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden has welcomed visitors into our park system and introduced them to the state’s remarkable arts community. Nearly everyone goes home with their own iconic image snapped in front of the Spoonbridge and Cherry. 

But years of wear and tear have taken their toll on the Garden. To renovate and preserve it, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, with the wholehearted support of the Walker, is pursuing $8.5 million in state bonding. “Every garden has a natural life cycle, and plants periodically need to be refreshed. For instance, the lifespan of arbor vitae—the trees that create the walls of the outdoor galleries—is about 20 years,” says Park Board superintendant Jon Gurban. “Also, in a place as heavily trafficked as the Garden, significant infrastructure needs must be addressed to maintain this vibrant public space.”

After a careful study, the prominent landscape architecture firm oslund.and.associates has recommended a range of necessary upgrades throughout the 11-acre landscape. Tom Oslund notes that “by taking advantage of efficiency improvements in mechanical systems and lighting in the past 20 years, we can significantly reduce the Garden’s carbon footprint. For instance, an eco-friendly irrigation system would allow us to capture rainwater runoff to maintain the plants. And improvements to the drainage system, as well as repairs to concrete walkways and granite walls, which were not designed with the expectation of millions of visitors, will allow us to preserve the unique experience of visiting the grounds.”

Preserving the Garden is in many respects a cost-saving measure, an idea borne out by comparing its original budget of $16 million—funded by private contributions—to those of newer sculpture gardens in other cities, ranging from the 4.5-acre Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines ($46 million, 2009) to the 22-acre Kansas City Sculpture Park ($95 million, 2007) to Seattle’s 9-acre Olympic Sculpture Park ($85 million, 2007). The Minnesota legislature is currently considering this bonding measure—if passed, it will ensure that the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden remains a vibrant icon for the state, not to mention a home to the single largest cherry in the country.

Please encourage your state legislator to fund the renovation of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Visit garden.walkerart.org/bonding today to draft and send an e-mail showing your support.

Bits & Pieces: Alec Soth; Xmas kitsch, Shanghai-style; the coming Inquisition; more

How to spend the money from all those gifts you’re going to return. Find some ideas browsing Alec Soth’s top 10 photo books of 2009. Fans of Soth’s earlier blog — and they were becoming legion — are elated that he’s back, at least in a bloggy kind of alter-ego way as one “Lester B. Morrison.”  They […]

Lester B. Morrison's Facebook photo

Lester B. Morrison's Facebook photo

How to spend the money from all those gifts you’re going to return. Find some ideas browsing Alec Soth’s top 10 photo books of 2009. Fans of Soth’s earlier blog — and they were becoming legion — are elated that he’s back, at least in a bloggy kind of alter-ego way as one “Lester B. Morrison.”  They should also keep an eye out for more information about Soth’s first survey, opening here at the Walker next September.

Christmas, as only the Chinese can do it: My friend Adam Minter, a writer based in Shanghai, has been snapping photos of every Christmas tree he’s seen in the past few days — 141, to be exact.

redemption house

The script at the bottom of that tree says “Redemption House.” See the other 140 Christmas trees — some pathetic, some downright creepy, and many pushing kitsch into entirely new realms — at Adam’s blog, Shanghai Scrap.

Barbara Kingsolver & Walker history: In Lacuna, Kingsolver’s first novel in nine years, a character named Tom Cuddy writes to the protagonist, Harrison Shepherd:

“The Department of State is getting into the art business. … the idea is to pack up a fresh load of paintings on Uncle Sam’s ticket, and parade them around the museums of Europe. A special show of American paintings to send overseas, to show those Parisians we’re not a bunch of rubes. … They recruited my old boss for the job, Leroy Davidson from the Walker. He only got 50 thousand clams to work with but he’s done a killer job, Leroy chose everything himself. He’s fed up with the Europeans sniggering about heart-throbbing landscapes and the American Scene, so he decided to give them an eyeful. Seventy-nine paintings, mostly Modern Art: Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, it’s a killer.”

Joseph LeRoy Davidson (1908 - 1980)

Joseph LeRoy Davidson (1908 - 1980)

Incidentally, work from those painters is currently on view in Benches & Binoculars. Two outlines of Davidson’s distinguished career (here and here)  note that he was an assistant director and curator at the Walker before moving to Washington and heading up the feds’ initial efforts at cultural PR through contemporary art (which, according to some, came into full flower with Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s). Our archivist Jill Vuchetich notes, however, that “the timeline is slightly off.  He would have been the first assistant director starting in 1940 when the Walker Galleries became the Walker Art Center, under director Daniel S. Defenbacher.”

Your most burning questions about art … answered! Watch the informative and instructional video below, which tells you how to submit queries for the upcoming Inquisition — a revival of a public quiz forum that played out at the Walker in 1940. In fact, Davidson probably got in on this game, as it was invented by his boss, Defenbacher.

Bits & Pieces: holiday design, “sagging,” celebrity art lovers

Marcel’s Wanders-ing here, and over there: Can’t get enough of Marcel Wanders’ holiday trinkets at Target? You might want to moon over the 312-page digital book that Wanders published on his website, which exposes the whole design process and then some, including “Santa’s rejects.” It’s well worth paging through. Also check out the wrapping paper, […]

Marcel Wanders cover for de Bijenkor's 2008 holiday magazine

Marcel Wanders cover for de Bijenkorf's 2008 holiday magazine

wander_target design book

page from Wanders' design book for Target, 2009

Marcel’s Wanders-ing here, and over there: Can’t get enough of Marcel Wanders’ holiday trinkets at Target? You might want to moon over the 312-page digital book that Wanders published on his website, which exposes the whole design process and then some, including “Santa’s rejects.” It’s well worth paging through. Also check out the wrapping paper, socks, teddy bears, lingerie, Christmas balls, vases, dresses, and table decorations he designed for the 2008 holiday season at de Bijenkorf, a department store in his home country. (This year, de Bijenkorf’ commissioned Victor & Rolf to create a Christmas collection—perhaps Target will bring that duo to this side of the Atlantic next year?)

“…and a giant cherry on a huge spoon”: Target’s 2009 festivities also include a new video and radio commercial with a song by the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers. Watch the video and try to guess which Singer has a day job at the Walker.

Enduring? Certainly. Endearing? You decide … an exhibition about “sagging” called Hang Time: The Enduring, Endearing Trend, is up at Pill House (aka Pillsbury House) in South Minneapolis through January 30. As curator Roderic Southall told MPR’s Marianne Combs:

“If I were asked to boil down the messages that are sent to saggers by those adults who object to it I would suggest the phrase ‘you low down dirty dog homo boy who lacks any positive sense of who you are . . . listen to me as I tell you how to be.’ I think that accurately reflects how little I think the dialogue has been worth. Why we have such a violent community dialogue about clothing in the midst of all of the other social challenges is worthy of study and, in a way, celebration.”

Fair enough. But as Combs and Southall himself point out, if something’s been going on for 20 years, hasn’t it transcended trend status? Count on a lively artist/community discussion on January 15 atat 6:30 p.m.

From the Archives: Celebrities in our Midst! One of our interns is going down to the archives and will soon be posting treasures she unearths there (following up on this post). For now, pay a quick visit to Eyeteeth, the blog of former Walker staffer Paul Schmelzer, to see Sonic Youth enjoying the Walker’s 2006 Cameron Jamie exhibition. He hasn’t yet visited the Walker — that we know of — but James Franco’s been making inroads of late in the contemporary art world, including an appearance as a presenter at the First Annual Art Awards; now the Wall Street Journal has published his lengthy piece about performance art, questioning whether his role as artist “Franco, just Franco” on General Hospital qualifies as such; it’s accompanied by a video in which he interviews “godmother of performance art” Marina Abramovic.

"Franco, only Franco" on "General Hospital"; image from ABC

"Franco, just Franco" on "General Hospital" (image from ABCO)

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