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(18) image itself still reigns in wager’s work, and
Lawrence weiner, Marian Goodman Gallery her method appears akin to peeling the skin
off the face of the world.
it’s kind of cool seeing weiner at the same
time as Kara walker, since both use graphic Perhaps only cheim & read rivals Mitchell-
media applied to the wall, and as ed ruscha innes & nash for miniature museum-quality
(see below), who also plays with the use and exhibitions. But while the former was indulging
meaning of letters and words. i love weiner’s itself in Steir, the latter put on a generous
bushy beard and his loping, sloping gait; that display of (12) aLBerTo BUrri’s art, spanning
he keeps a boat in Holland and that it seems practically the artist’s entire professional
his wife is always with him. He probably drinks career. There’s a work from 1951, Nero e Oro,
a ton and screws a lot and has a grand time, an early mixed-media collage that already
which is refreshing in this city and artworld evinces Burri’s singular interest in pure
where everyone seems focused on the pleasures matter’s potential for aesthetic candidacy.
of the bank account. i also love how open- But Burri realised quickly that art required
ended his work is: epigrammatic, it can touch some form of intervention, some type of
on so many ideas and set your mind to thinking. transformation; only, in italy in the 1950s,
Ultimately, it’s about the cogitation that there could be no triumphant artistic promotion
underlies the process of art: making it, of the self as there was in the US. one had to
viewing it. in his case, you think it, you find other ways of intervening, so Burri took
own it. to burning the papers, vinyls and plastics
that made their way into his Combustione series
However, all these things written in different of paintings, which he began during the late
typefaces on the wall or printed on posters 1950s and continued to make until the mid-60s,
and exhibited together look like a catalogue when he turned to ‘accretion’ as a new means
for a print shop. of ‘making’.
(19) is it possible that contemporary artists do
roGer Mayne, Gitterman Gallery not see these avenues of practice as open to
them today? certainly the Cellotex works that
Mayne’s photographs of shabby London, Sheffield, Burri began making during the 1980s demonstrate
Leeds and Dublin streets during the 1950s, the that even the best artists cannot maintain the
patched doorways, the crumbling plaster, the pace of innovation and must sometimes settle
kids with grimy faces and moth-eaten jumpers, for reconfiguration. or resettle: Burri’s
telegraph the physical and psychological Grande Sacco (1953), an arrangement of
discomfort of lives lived in damp poverty. stretched, painted and sewn-together burlap
Their matter-of-factness eschews commentary, panels, shows the artist hard at work finding
heightening their aesthetic and emotional other ways of ‘making’ a picture.
punch. They are sober and communicative,
highlighted by moments of joy, as when a boy Like Burri, (13) SHiniqUe SMiTH begins with
dances with his arms outstretched while his similar reconfigurations – of discarded
urchin companions look on. This is as good as clothing and assorted everyday items. The
it gets. Like Jacob Lawrence, someone else’s artist’s first solo show, All Purpose, at the
life gets in your guts. Moti Hasson Gallery, takes these items and
bundles them, quite literally, into piles, and
(20-21) at times into shrines, in an effort to overcome
BarBara KrUGer Picture/Readings: 1978, their resolute ‘thingness’. But it is Smith’s
Mary Boone Gallery, eD rUScHa Gunpowder collages that move back into the territory of
Ribbon Drawings, craig F. Starr associates innovation: there the graffiti mark, the
calligraphic stroke, is made a ‘thing’ in and
Barbara Kruger’s deadpan images of nondescript of itself, which forever alters its connection
buildings shot in california and Florida – to a ‘maker’. Similar to the clothing bundles,
pink stucco balconies, a droopy plant in a the collages are rife with the traces of some
plastic pot seen through a window and suchlike kind of subjectivity – the wearer’s, the
– owe a debt to ruscha’s photos of parking lots artist’s – but one that has been lost, or
and gas stations, those equally generic places perhaps discarded.
that define so much american urban space (there
are also nods to Dan Graham, Douglas Huebler To borrow ian Hacking’s terminology, one must
and John Baldessari). opposed to each image is be fully engaged in both ‘representing’ and
a story describing a scene one could imagine ‘intervening’, in both the philosophy and
happening within these anonymous structures. experiment of artistic practice; and again,
in one a woman who has discovered a lump in her Burri’s work demonstrates just how intertwined
breast watches smoke rising from a cup of were these concepts in a postwar europe for
instant coffee. not the kind of content the which traditional aesthetic categories and
macho ruscha would go for. practices had been rendered obsolete at best
and bankrupt at worst.
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