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John Yau

John Yau has three books that have landed or will soon land on earth: Joe Brainard: The Art of the Personal (Rizzoli, 2022); Tell It Slant (Omnidawn, 2023); John Pai: Liquid Steel (Rizzoli (2023). An exhibition, Disguise the Limit: John Yau’s Collaborations, will open at art museum of the University of Kentucky in Lexington in January 2024, curated by Stuart Horodner.

In Conversation

Simon Frost with John Yau

On the occasion of Simon Frost’s recent exhibit, Nimbus, at Peter Blum SoHo, which will be on view till May 10, 2008, the artist welcomed Rail Art Editor John Yau on-site to view his new body of work.

In Conversation

Richard Artschwager in Conversation with John Yau & Eve Aschheim

Shortly after Richard Artschwager’s exhibition of paintings and sculptures opened at Gagosian Gallery (January 24–March 8, 2008) the Rail Art Editor John Yau and his wife, the painter Eve Aschheim visited the artist in his Manhattan apartment and home in Upstate New York to discuss his work.

Tribute to Bruce Conner (1933-2008)

Bruce was innovative in a wide range of mediums, including filmmaking, drawing, photography, and sculpture. He possessed an impeccable logic that he would follow through on, no matter the consequences.

In Conversation

Robert Mangold with John Yau

While preparing for his new exhibit, Robert Mangold: Drawings and Works on Paper 1965–2008 (on view from March 6th through April 4th, 2009), the painter sat down with Rail’s Art Editor John Yau.

In Conversation

John Yau with Phong Bui

Coinciding with his recently published monograph A Thing Among Things: The Art of Jasper Johns, Art Editor John Yau paid a visit to the Rail’s Headquarters to talk about his observations of Johns’s work with Publisher Phong Bui.

In Conversation

Robert Bergman WITH JOHN YAU

On the occasion of his three one-person exhibitions, Selected Portraits at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, (Oct. 25, 2009 to Jan. 4, 2010), Portraits, 1986-1995 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. (Oct.11, 2009–Jan. 10, 2010), and A Kind of Rapture at Yossi Milo Gallery (Nov: 5, 2009- Jan. 10, 2010), Robert Bergman welcomed Art Editor John Yau to his New York City studio to talk about his life and work.

In Conversation

HELMUT FEDERLE In Conversation with John Yau and Chris Martin

Just a day before the opening of his new exhibit, Scratching Away at the Surface (Peter Blum, 99 Wooster Street, October 29th, 2009–January 2, 2010) Helmut Federle welcomes Art Editor John Yau and painter Chris Martin at the gallery to talk about his life and work.

In Conversation

DAN WALSH with John Yau

Dan Walsh welcomed Art Editor John Yau to the site of his exhibit Days And Nights at the Paula Cooper Gallery to talk about his new group of paintings.

In Conversation

DAVID REED with John Yau

On the occasion of the current exhibit of his working drawings and color studies, which is showing for the first time at Peter Blum SoHo till March 6, 2010, the painter David Reed welcomed Art Editor John Yau to view the works at the gallery a day before the opening reception. Afterward, they both sat down to talk about his life and work.

In Conversation


On the occasion of his new exhibit Secret Storm: Paintings 1967-1975 (March 17–April 17, 2010), which for the first time, brings together this group of provocative and controversial early paintings as well as watercolors and drawings from the period, the painter Mark Greenwold welcomed Art Editor John Yau to the DC Moore Gallery to look at the works, and to discuss his life and work.

In Conversation


Just a few days before the artist’s opening reception of her recent exhibit Errätus at Galerie Lelong (March 18 – May 1, 2010), Ursula von Rydingsvard welcomed Consulting Editor Irving Sandler and Art Editor John Yau to her Brooklyn Studio to view the works and then discuss her life and work.

In Conversation


In the midst of installing his first exhibition at Betty Cuningham Gallery in collaboration with Bernd Schellhorn of Berlin, Germany (April 1 – May 22, 2010), Norbert Prangenberg took time off to sit down with Rail Art Editor John Yau on site to talk about his life and work.

In Conversation


Shortly before his exhibition at The Pace Gallery, Thomas Nozkowski and Rail Art Editor John Yau met at the gallery’s warehouse to discuss his new paintings and drawings.

In Conversation

LOIS DODD with John Yau

Shortly before her exhibition at the Alexandre Gallery, Lois Dodd and Rail Art Editor John Yau met at the gallery to discuss her new paintings.

In Conversation


Shortly after RIG, Phyllida Barlow’s debut installation with Hauser & Wirth (September 2 – October 22, 2011) opened in London, Editor John Yau and the artist talked on the phone about her exhibition.

In Conversation


After Hurricane Irene prevented them from meeting at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, Maine, where a selection of his sculptures was on exhibition, Richard Van Buren and John Yau met in New York to discuss his work and his upcoming show at Gary Snyder Gallery (November 10 – December 17, 2011).

In Conversation

Charles Seliger with Phong Bui and John Yau

Rail publisher Phong Bui and art editor John Yau talk with painter Charles Seliger about his life and work in conjunction with the current exhibit of his new paintings at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

In Conversation

Irving Sandler with Phong Bui and John Yau

Rail publisher Phong Bui and Art Editor John Yau paid a visit one sunny Saturday to the author’s home/office which he shares with his wife Lucy Freeman Sandler, scholar of Medieval art, to talk about his life and work.

In Conversation

Jasper Johns with John Yau

On the occasion of his exhibition, Jasper Johns: An Allegory of Paint, 1955-1965 which will be on view at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. from January 28 to April 29, 2007, the artist welcomed the Rail’s art editor John Yau to his home to talk about various subjects. Before the interview took place, Johns asked Yau not to ask him about the philosophy of the exhibition because he didn’t know what it was.

In Conversation

Mark di Suvero with John Yau

On the occasion of the artist’s recent exhibit of indoor sculptures at Knoedler & Company and the installation of his large public works at Storm King Art Center,The Rail’s John Yau visited Mark di Suvero’s studio in Long Island City on a sunny spring afternoon to talk about his life and work.

The Photography of Robert Bergman

Robert Bergman is a photographer who extends out of the tradition of Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams, poets who possessed a bottomless empathy for their subjects. And, like a poet, his work can be found in a book, rather than in a gallery.

In Conversation

MARY FRANK with John Yau

Shortly before her show, Transformations: Wood Sculpture, 1957–1967, and Recent Photographs opened at DC Moore (May 5 – June 4), Mary Frank invited Artseen Editor John Yau over to her studio to discuss the sculptures, drawings  and photographs she would have in the exhibition.

In Conversation

Whitfield Lovell with John Yau

On a June afternoon John Yau interviewed Whitfield Lovell about his charcoal drawings on wood surfaces and other found objects.

In Conversation

Merrill Wagner with John Yau and Eve Aschheim

On the occasion of her traveling survey, Looking at the Land, which will be on view at the Ben Shahn Gallery, William Paterson University (October 29–December 2006), and the University of Rhode Island (January 15–February 28, 2007), Merrill Wagner welcomes the Rail’s art editor John Yau and painter Eve Aschheim to her studio to talk about her life and work.

In Conversation

June Leaf with John Yau

Recently, while June Leaf was having an exhibition of paintings and sculptures at the Edward Thorp Gallery, Rail Art Editor John Yau stopped by her studio to discuss the show and her recent work.

In Conversation

Jonathan Lasker with John Yau

Shortly before Jonathan Lasker’s show opened at Cheim and Read on March 29th, on view till May 5th, 2007, Rail Editor John Yau stopped by his studio to talk about his recent paintings.

Alone and Together on The Stage of The World

Yun-Fei Ji was born in Beijing in 1963, the son of an army doctor and his wife. When he was ten, his mother sent him to study with an army officer who drew illustrations for combat-training manuals.

In Conversation

Harry Roseman with John Yau

On the occasion of Harry Roseman’s recent exhibit 100 Most Popular Colors at Davis & Langdale Company, Inc., which will be on view until October 20, 2007, the Rail’s art editor, John Yau paid a visit to the artist’s studio in Hyde Park, New York, to talk about his life and work.

In Conversation

Allan Graham in Conversation with John Yau

Allan Graham welcomes Brooklyn Rail’s John Yau to his studio and home, east of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In Conversation


Shortly before the opening of his exhibition, Louder Milk at Pierogi (April 8 – May 8, 2011), Tom Burckhardt invited ARTSEEN Editor John Yau to his studio to discuss his new work.

In Conversation

Irving Petlin with John Yau

Irving Petlin discusses the Peace Tower with John Yau.

In Conversation

Squeak Carnwath with John Yau

This past July, art Editor John Yau visited Squeak Carnwath in her studio in Oakland, ca, to discuss her upcoming show at Nielsen Gallery, Boston (October 21 – November 25, 2006).

In Conversation

Bruce Conner with John Yau

"I decided it would be interesting to submit an article to ArtNews about Bruce Conner making a peanut butter sandwich, peanut butter being one of my favorite foods and main standbys during periods of economic distress. I also decided that it should be compulsively and precisely detailed."

In Conversation

Yvonne Jacquette with John Yau

In conjunction with the painter’s two on-going exhibits at Museum of The City of New York, which she shares with her late husband, the painter, filmmaker, photographer Rudy Burckhardt (February 1 to May 11, 2008) and at DC Moore Gallery (from March 26th to April 26th, 2008), Yvonne Jacquette welcomed Rail Art Editor John Yau to her loft/studio in the garment district to talk about her life and art.

In Conversation

Stanley Whitney with John Yau

On the eve of his three-person exhibition (January 8th–February 14th, 2009) at Team Gallery, Rail Art Editor John Yau paid a visit to Stanley Whitney’s Cooper Square studio to talk about his life and work.

In Conversation

DAVID ANFAM with John Yau

While in New York for the opening of Norman Lewis: Pulse–A Centennial Exhibition at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, David Anfam met with Art Editor John Yau to talk about his life and work.

In Conversation


On occasion of the artist’s new exhibit The Party Is Over, which will remain on view at Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue till March 6, 2010, Elisa Sighicelli paid a visit to the home of Art Editor John Yau to talk about her new body of work and more.

In Conversation

Alison Elizabeth Taylor with John Yau

In the midst of preparation for her first one-person exhibit at James Cohan Gallery, which will be on view from Sept. 7th to Sept. 30th, Alison Elizabeth Taylor takes time off from her busy schedule to welcome Rail art editor, John Yau, at her Brooklyn Navy Yard studio. After a brief viewing of her only oil painting, “Subjects F9-L9 Finish Corporate Pride Project”, they sat down and began to discuss her life and work.

In Conversation

Suzan Frecon with John Yau

One Sunday afternoon last month at Suzan Frecon’s Hell’s Kitchen studio, Rail’s consulting editor John Yau spoke with the painter about her new body of work which will be exhibited at Peter Blum Gallery from November 17 to January 14, 2006.

In Conversation


On the day before her exhibition Natural Sympathies opened at Alexander and Bonin, Art Editor John Yau sat down with Sylvia Plimack Mangold at the gallery to discuss her recent work.

In Conversation


A week before the opening reception of a new body of paintings at Tibor De Nagy Gallery, Richard Baker welcomed Art Editor John Yau to his DUMBO studio to view the works, and to talk about the painter’s work.

In Conversation

Stephen Westfall with John Yau

On the occasion of his new exhibit at Lennon Weinberg, Inc., which will be on view until April 22, Rail art editor John Yau visited Stephen Westfall’s loft/studio last week to discuss his life and work.

In Conversation

Yun-Fei Ji with John Yau

During his brief visit to New York for his first one-person exhibit at James Cohan Gallery, “Water that Floats the Boat Can Also Sink It: New Work by Yun-Fei Ji”, which will be on view till December 22, the artist came to visit Rail’s art editor John Yau to talk about his new body of work.

In Conversation

JUAN USLÉ with John Yau

This interview was conducted via e-mail in Spanish. It began after a series of conversations, in which Juan Uslé and I decided that this would allow him to feel most at ease in language.

In Conversation

Catherine Murphy

Leading from the painter Catherine Murphy’s home in Poughkeepsie, New York to her studio is a beautiful path of brown sand over a field of frozen snow made by her husband the sculptor Harry Roseman.

In Conversation

Rosalyn Drexler with John Yau

After her mini-survey I am the Beautiful Stranger, Paintings of the ’60s, which was sensitively curated by Arne Glimcher at PaceWildenstein (March 16–April 21), Rosalyn Drexler paid a visit to the Rail’s Headquarters to talk with Art Editor John Yau about her life and work.

Wade Guyton

Wade Guyton is the perfect artist for these nightmarish times. He makes black monochromes using a large format Epson printer; the “paintings” are printed on pre-primed linen.

David Reed

In a 1990 interview with Stephen Ellis, David Reed defined his position vis-a-vis the debate regarding the death of modernism and the ascendance of postmodernism: “I don’t want to be the last painter, and I don’t want to be the first. I want to be part of a continuum.

Drawing Connections: Baselitz, Kelly, Penone, Rockburne and the Old Masters

It’s no secret that writers begin as readers. Even a genius such as Mozart listened to his sister practicing on the piano before he began playing it himself, and shortly afterward, at the age of five, began composing.

Bill Jensen Notes from the Loggia

Drawing is one way to get out of a hole. Ever since Bill Jensen arrived in New York from Minneapolis in the early 1970s, bringing with him drawings of spirals and ellipses, drawing has been central to his practice.

Harriet Korman Recent Paintings and Drawings

Since her first exhibition in Germany in 1970, when she was in her early twenties, Harriet Korman has been sectioning the canvas into distinct compartments. Initially, she did this by precisely spacing thin vertical bars across the surface, methodically divided by thinner horizontal ones.

Rodrigo Moynihan

A contemporary of Francis Bacon (1909-1992), Rodrigo Moynihan (1910-1990) was in his early sixties when he began painting still lifes and self-portraits in the studio, and these paintings occupied much of his attention until his death.

Thomas Nozkowski Paintings

Might it not be time to begin rethinking what happened in painting in the 1980s? Typified by some as the moment when painting came back from the dead, and judged by others as further proof of painting’s retrograde position, the eighties was a decade full of hoopla, with lots of posturing both inside and outside the art world.


Something of that porousness between machine and human is to be found in Lydia Dona’s most recent exhibition, which consists of one large, three-panel painting (seven feet high and sixteen feet wide) and four prints. The ostensible subject is what lies behind the surface of upscale, urban lives.

Jasper Johns

Ever since he completed his groundbreaking Flag (1954-55), Jasper Johns has persistently and, for many, annoyingly defined himself as an individual of no special merit, fixed identity, or authorial “I,” who stands outside both the Marxist definition of worker and the romanticized notion of the artist as hero.

June Leaf Paintings & Sculpture

These days you would think that the only woman artist over seventy-five is Louise Bourgeois. And yet, even if Leaf didn’t pave anyone’s way, and was in fact a completely isolated figure, as she has been called by some observers, her work—she paints, draws, and makes sculptures—demands far more attention than it has received.

Philip Guston Works on Paper

In 1929, Philip Goldstein—he changed his named to Guston in 1935—enrolled in Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles, where he formed a lasting friendship with a fellow student, Jackson Pollock.

Abstract Expressionism: A World Elsewhere

A lot of reviewers have focused on the fact that this exhibition is the inaugural show of the American branch of Haunch of Venison, a commercial gallery that was bought by Christie’s, an art auction house, which is owned by Francois Pinault, a billionaire collector (did any of his money recently disappear?).

Chris Martin Works on Paper

Chris Martin is not afraid to make art that openly alludes to the work of Paul Feeley, Alfred Jensen, Philip Guston, Forrest Bess, Blinky Palermo, and Frank Stella, but in a way that is sophisticated and innocent.

Imi Knoebel

Is anyone surprised anymore when the culture mavens at the New York Times get it all wrong, again?

Melissa Meyer New Works

When Stephane Mallarme said that everything exists to end up in a book, he didn’t mean an art history book written by a university professor with an axe to grind.

Philip Guston 1954-1958

This exhibition of eight paintings that Philip Guston completed between 1954 and 1960 got me thinking about the one or two surprises that I have encountered in nearly all of this artist’s exhibitions that I have seen since his retrospective in 1980, the year he died, and how there is very little explanation or follow-up to them.

Peter Saul, New Paintings

I wonder how many artists would readily admit that Peter Saul has influenced them. He certainly was the first to make high art out of strident and cartoony in-your-face images.

Patty Chang: The Product of Love

The slapstick performer, after skidding into a pratfall, always gives a wink to assure the audience that everything is okay. For all the strangeness she packs into her work, the performance and video artist Patty Chang never winks, allowing a merciless collision of hilarity, discomfort, and confusion to unfold.

FRANK LOBDELL: Figure Drawings

In 1960, Frank Lobdell told an interviewer “being anonymous is really the best condition to be able to create.” Thankfully, in the half-century that has passed since the artist made this remark, he hasn’t quite achieved his goal, but he has gone his own way, building upon his early encounters with the work of Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, of other Abstract Expressionists and, most importantly, Pablo Picasso.

The Difference Between Jerry Saltz's America and Mine


ROBERT RYMAN Large-small, thick-thin, light reflecting, light absorbing

Robert Ryman is always testing things. In 1953, while working as a guard at the Museum of Modern Art, he bought some paint and brushes because he “wanted to see what the paint would do, how the brushes would work. That was the first step. I just played around. I had nothing really in mind to paint.

MICHAEL MAZUR (1935-2009)

The first poetry reading I gave after graduating from Bard College in 1972 was because of Gail Mazur. Although she didn’t know my poetry or me, she graciously invited me to give a reading at the Blacksmith House in Cambridge, Mass. It must have been in 1973 or ’74, as Gail founded the series in 1973 and ran it for many years. I remember being very anxious about making the most of this opportunity.

CHUCK WEBSTER My Small Adventures

The key to Chuck Webster’s work is drawing. His first show at ZieherSmith in 2003—this is his fifth solo exhibition at the same gallery—was packed salon style with drawings, most of them less than two by two feet. Many were done on old paper, rather than the pristine sheets you buy in an art supply store.


One of the best things about the state of painting right now is that nothing is central. You can literally paint whatever you want in whatever way you want. Amid this chaos, a viewer like myself understands and (for a second or two) even sympathizes with the critics and theorists who hate painting, and who have declared that a realm in which they have no authority has ceased to have any validity.

JANE FREILICHER Recent Paintings and Prints

Jane Freilicher embarked upon her enduring subject in the mid 1950s, at the height of Abstract Expressionism. For nearly 60 years, and through the comings and goings of different styles (Pop art, Minimalism, Conceptual art, Neo-Expressionism), she has painted a vase of flowers in front of a window.

DANA SCHUTZ Drawings & Prints

Each figure is doing something absurd, impossible, and mundane, simultaneously swimming, smoking, and crying; using his front teeth as a wood chipper or plane; sleeping comfortably under a pile of coffin-like shapes (an inversion of the princess and the pea); talking on the phone while neatly cutting one’s eyelashes without blinking.


I am not sure when I noticed that “5 against 4” (2010 – 2011) and“Pharynx Dentata” (2010) faced each other from opposite walls, like confident duelers and lifelong partners.

JEAN CROTTI Inhabiting Abstraction

In April 1916, Jean Crotti (1878 – 1958) was in an exhibition at the Montross Gallery, New York, along with Marcel Duchamp, Albert Gleizes, and Jean Metzinger. The newspaper dubbed them “The Four Musketeers.”


Dear Laurel Nakadate: This is what I have dug up so far. You were in born in 1975 in Austin, Texas, and raised in Ames, Iowa, both university towns.


In 2009, Barbara Takenaga exhibited Langwidere (2009) at DC Moore, a series in which she challenged herself to paint the same painting 30 times. Each work was 12 by 10 inches, and started with a small circle, which became the origin of a widening spiral of variously-sized circles.


Joanne Greenbaum’s exhibition consists entirely of wildly colored, cacophonous abstract paintings measuring 16 x 12 inches, which are installed salon-style, with some paintings paired and others lined up diagonally, with the bottom left corner of the upper painting nearly touching the top right of the one below.


Josephine Halvorson is a contemporary observational painter whose work enters into a lively philosophical dialogue with an unaffiliated group of international artists that includes the German painter Peter Dreher, the Spaniards Antonio Lopez and Isabella Quintanilla, and the Americans Lois Dodd, Catherine Murphy, and Sylvia Plimack-Mangold.

Peter Acheson

In scale, Peter Acheson’s untitled, abstract paintings and watercolors range from diminutive to small. In fact, one could reproduce all of Acheson’s paintings actual size in a catalogue that would fit comfortably on someone’s lap.

Jules de Balincourt Unknowing Man’s Nature

Jules de Balincourt has a grab bag of tools at his disposal. They are his means to an end. He tapes, stencils, incises, applies oil, enamel, and spray paint to wooden panels.

Johns and Warhol (Again)

In recapitulating the death of painting, as well as further buttressing their assumptions as to what constitutes vanguard art, critics often construct a narrative bracketed by the dates 1958 and 1962, from the year that Jasper Johns first showed his hand-painted encaustic “flags” and “targets” at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, to the year that Andy Warhol stopped painting and began using silkscreens for the majority of his output.

The Red Earth Above, the Rim Job Below

The coincidence of concurrent solo shows at David Zwirner this month by Suzan Frecon and Al Taylor (1948 – 1999), both of whom I met many years ago, stirred up a lot of memories. One in particular was of a review of the 2000 Whitney Biennial that appeared in the Village Voice.

PETER SAUL Fifty Years of Painting / SVEN LUKIN Paintings, 1960 – 1971

Peter Saul and Sven Lukin are lone wolves in extremis. Both were born in 1934, Saul in San Francisco, CA, and Lukin in Riga, Latvia. They belong to the generation of Pop and Minimalist artists that began gaining attention in the turbulent ’60s.

Jack Tworkov: Against Extremes: Five Decades of Painting

In 1957, Jack Tworkov (1900-1982) wrote in his journal: “My hope is to confront the picture without a ready technique or prepared attitude—a condition which is nevertheless never completely attainable; to have no program and, necessarily then, no preconceived style. To paint no Tworkovs.”

Axell's Paradise: Last works (1971-1972) before she vanished

For those who are willing to go to a slightly out-of-the-way, risk-taking gallery, located at 1182 Broadway between 28th and 29th Street, now would be a good time to hightail it over there and discover the bright, bold, erotic paintings of the Belgian Pop artist Evelyne Axell (1935-1972).

Mark Greenwold A Moment of True Feeling 1997 – 2007

Consisting of thirteen paintings, five studies, and sixteen related drawings, Mark Greenwold’s exhibition A Moment of True Feeling 1997 – 2007 is an in-depth retrospective of his paintings of the past decade, which is, coincidentally, the span of time since his last exhibition.

Unica Zürn: Dark Spring

This is the first museum presentation in America of the drawings and paintings of Unica Zürn (1916-1970), who is known in the English-speaking world as the author of two books, translated as The Man of Jasmine & Other Texts (1994) and Dark Spring (2000).


Have seriousness and high-mindedness been placed on a pedestal to the exclusion of nearly everything else? It sure appears that way when I try to count all the exegetical tomes, essays, and reviews citing Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault while supposedly explicating a contemporary artist’s project.

AI WEIWEI New York Photographs 1983 – 1993

Ambitious from the beginning, Ai Weiwei studied English at the University of Pennsylvania and Berkeley before attending Parsons on a scholarship, which he soon lost after he failed an art history exam given in English. Over the next decade Ai Weiwei took more than 10,000 photographs, many of which weren’t developed until recently.

The New Landscape / The New Still Life: Soutine and Modern Art

In terms of both Cubism and modern art, Chaim Soutine did everything wrong with a forcefulness and sense of purpose that rivals Picasso’s. His thickly packed, gelatinous paintings have no overall unity or structural design, and they concede nothing to the decorative. In contrast to most artists, whether post-Cubists or not, he didn’t systematize his gestures. For all their use of viscous paint, they are remarkably unembellished with signs of the painter’s touch.

Joyce Robins & Harry Roseman

Joyce Robins’ ceramic abstractions and Harry Roseman’s simulations of drapery, curtains and napkins can be said to occupy the historical category of bas-relief.

Merlin James Paintings of Buildings

It is very easy and probably even comforting to think of Merlin James as a contrarian, and certainly many people do, but this lets you off the hook. The reason he has been pegged this way is because he is a highly articulate painter and writer who openly rejects the belief that painting is dead, and even has gone so far as to say that painting should not be included in exhibitions of works done in other mediums.

David Novros

In the first installment of an extensive, three-part interview with Thomas Butter in White Hot Magazine, David Novros, who traveled in Europe in 1963-64, recalled that “in Spain, I went to Granada, and saw the Alhambra, and it occurred to me that painting could have the same quality of being non-pictorial, or being ‘not a rectangle,’ not a picture in a rectangle.”

BRENDA GOODMAN Work 1990 – 2010

“Flesh,” Willem de Kooning famously said, “was the reason oil paint was invented.” A down-to-earth artist if there ever was one, he recognized the corruptibility of flesh, and to represent it one needed a susceptible material.

Al Taylor Early Work

The art world finally seems to be catching up with the sculptures and drawings of Al Taylor (1948-1999), who stopped painting in 1984, and began making constructions in 1985 (he made his first mature drawings as early as 1974). Dating between 1985 and 1990, this exhibition of “early work” serves as an introduction to the first five years of a wildly prolific and sustained outburst of sculpture and drawing that lasted fifteen years.

John Outterbridge

This was the first solo show in New York of the innovative sculptor John Outterbridge, who, at 76, is well-known as an artist, community activist, and arts teacher in South Central Los Angeles and Compton.

Thomas Nozkowski

Now that the possibility of being avant-garde is either a pipe dream or one more example of our sad need for spectacle, models of progress are heavily contested, and the withering away of craft of any and all kinds has become a predictable component of much contemporary art, might not abstract artists for whom drawing is an essential part of their practice be defined as radical Luddites?

Richard Prince Spiritual America

Let’s begin with the reasons why Richard Prince is having a large retrospective at the Guggenheim. The show, as even a fledgling student of semiotics knows, should be taken as a sign or symbol that, if closely examined, will divulge the true meaning of its origins.

Thomas Ruff

Thomas Ruff’s latest exhibition of large-scale, modified digital photographs is a continuation of an Internet-based project, jpegs, which he started in 2004. It expands upon his earlier, Internet-based nudes, where he downloaded and categorized, then altered and enlarged, low-resolution images of pornography.

Jess: Paintings and Paste-Ups

Jess (1923-2004) was twenty-five when he decided to become an artist, and felt, as he would later say, that he had come to art too late to learn how to draw. As he put it: “I didn’t start out as a child or young man to develop skills with the hand and eye."

Sanford Wurmfeld E-Cyclorama—Immersed in Color

My long held curiosity about Sanford Wurmfeld’s paintings was piqued by the announcement stating that this would be the first time E-Cyclorama (2008), “a monumental painting…made on canvas stretched onto a 37-foot-long oval cylinder” would be shown in the United States.


In his first solo show in New York, Joshua Marsh continues to explore as well as expand the slippery exchange between definition and deferral, a thing’s weight and light’s weightlessness. The subjects of his paintings are undistinguished domestic objects and outerwear.

Ingrid Calame Constellations

In his book Revisioning Psychology, James Hillman wrote: “We sail against the imagination whenever we ask an image for its meaning—requiring that images be translated into concepts.”

Nasreen Mohamedi: The grid, unplugged

The drawings and photographs of Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990) are slowly but surely becoming better known to a wider American audience. In 2003, Holland Cotter, who has been her most eloquent champion in New York, wrote in the New York Times, “if people, especially young artists, knew about Mohamedi, they would love her the way they do Eva Hesse.”


Since 1995-1996, when the often plain buildings in his work became a metonym for the physical thing we call a painting, Merlin James has mounted a compelling, well-thought-out challenge to the commonly accepted narrative that, historically speaking, painting was a stand-in for a window (concerned with three-dimensional space) that became a surrogate wall (concerned with the two-dimensional surface).


Dear Reader, can you imagine the following scenario? One day, in the spirit of Institutional Critique, the curators of the Museum of Modern Art decide to organize a series of exhibitions under the collective title “Missed Opportunities” and announce that the first show will focus on Maria Lassnig

Antonio López García

Antonio López García is the titular head of the Madrid Realists, a group of painters and sculptors little known outside of Spain. They are bound together by their commitment to working from direct observation, which many consider passé, if not altogether old fashioned and obsolete.

Xylor Jane: N.D.E.

First known for her works on paper, Xylor Jane now paints on square or nearly square wood panels. Her methodology continues to be simple and straightforward, a fat dot of paint carefully placed within each square of a grid. Think Georges Seurat meets Alfred Jensen meets Peter Young and you get an inkling of what the artist does with her deliberately limited vocabulary.


The graphite drawing “Towards 280 (Study)” (1976) proves to be a useful lens through which to consider this exhibition of drawings and paintings, drawn almost exclusively from the Thiebaud Family Collection, the artist’s studio, and from family members.

Edwin Dickinson in Provincetown, 1912 – 1937

“Style,” the poet Robert Kelly wrote, “is death.” And the Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Guided by such forces as the marketplace and a herd mentality, the art world valorizes stylistic consistency over the maverick.

Thomas Scheibitz: Missing link in Delphi

Painter and sculptor Thomas Scheibitz is sharp, smart, and funny without devolving into parody or citation. With a vengeful glee that I find utterly delightful, he turns formalist geometric abstraction and minimalist sculpture on their heads and glues a dunce cap to their feet. It seems to me that Scheibitz has taken a vow not to be boring, ponderous, or jokey.


Guest Room/Contemporary Art is the brainchild of Nicolas Lemmens and Olivia Delwart. Situated in a quiet neighborhood on top of a hill in what is known as upper Brussels (there are two levels to the city), the gallery is a small white cube facing onto the street; it is open Wednesday and Saturday from 2:00 to 6:00 pm, and by appointment.

KURT KNOBELSDORF Postcard from Florida

Kurt Knobelsdorf is a young artist who recognizes that one way to gain authority—as well as negotiate the minefield planted by those who fervently believe in any of the currently popular, theoretical-cum-marketplace isms—is to paint (the death of painting be damned), while steadfastly refusing to assimilate into the mainstream, particularly in terms of subject matter.

DANIEL DOUKE Bytes of Reality

This exhibition of 24 works (all completed since 2000) is the first museum exhibition of Daniel Douke, who has quietly left his earlier hyperrealism (also called photorealism) to become a painter/sculptor bent on meticulously mimicking an object down to its dents.

Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle

In 1957, Wallace Berman (1926-1976) had his one and only show at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. Two weeks after it opened, the L.A.P.D. Vice Squad closed the show because a copy of Semina, which was included in a sculpture, was considered “lewd.”

Don Van Vliet

Trying to make Don Van Vliet the painter and Captain Beefheart the musician and songwriter, not to mention Don Van Vliet the poet, fit under one umbrella, is like trying to climb Mount Tamalpais backwards. One can do it, but what’s the point?

Jake Berthot

There is something quintessentially American about Jake Berthot’s paintings and drawings. For one thing, he is self-taught, which means that, like Robert Ryman and Jasper Johns, two other largely self-educated artists, he is a perpetual student. In Berthot’s case, he uses underpainting and glazing to build his surfaces, as well as an isometric-orthographic grid (visible in many of his exquisite pencil drawings), in order to locate the tonality, mark, or line.

KATHY BUTTERLY Pantyhose and Morandi

Kathy Butterly is an American original whose closest forbearer is George Ohr (1857-1918), “The Mad Potter of Biloxi.” The formal traits she shares with Ohr include a penchant for crumpled shapes, twisted and pinched openings, and making (as Ohr was understandably proud to point out) “no two alike.”


The Swedish painter Eve Eriksson (1910-1992) would have turned 100 this year; and to mark the centennial of his birth, Thomas Kjellgren, the director of the Kristianstads Konsthall, has mounted a selection of more than 50 of the artist’s paintings and drawings (all untitled), most of which were done between 1978 and 1992, when he lived in Malmo.

Stuart Arends Wedges and A-Squares

Since 1980 Stuart Arends has been using a box as both a support and a surface. In 1985, he began working on a small cube that extended out from the wall. While he painted all six sides, the emphasis was on the three most visible.

Neo Rauch Para

As hermetic artists whose paintings pull the viewer inside, both Neo Rauch and Ad Reinhardt would likely agree on one thing; all art is political.

Kanemitsu in California during the 1960s and 1970s

The small selection of lithographs and works on paper by Matsumi “Mike” Kanemitsu (1922-1992) offered a tantalizing glimpse into the work of an artist who has largely been bypassed by history. The first time I came across his name was in “Personal Poem” by Frank O’Hara, which I read in 1971.

JASPER JOHNS Ink on Plastic

In 1961, while living on Edisto Beach, off the coast of South Carolina, Jasper Johns bought sheets of plastic from an art and drafting supply store in Charleston.

Rosalyn Drexler

I’ve waited thirty-five years to see this exhibition of paintings and painting-collages by Rosalyn Drexler, which she made between 1962 and 1967.

Katherine Bradford By Life & By Land, Recent Paintings

“Desire for Transport,” the title of one of Katherine Bradford’s recent, breakthrough paintings, evokes the dilemma of painting and, to some degree, all art in a nutshell.

Joe Brainard The Nancys

This small selection of Brainard’s hilarious reworkings of Ernie Bushmiller’s comic strip character, Nancy, celebrates the recent publication of The Nancy Book, published by Siglio Press, with an essay by Ann Lauterbach and a memoir by Ron Padgett.

Miroslav Tichý

Between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s, in Kyjov, a small city about 160 miles from Prague, a dirty, unkempt man wandered the streets daily, carrying contraptions that resembled cameras. His neighbors, depending on their level of faith in the communist ideal of civic progress, considered him either a harmless old coot or a stain on society.

Helen Miranda Wilson

In 2005, Helen Miranda Wilson, who has been celebrated for her small, highly detailed paintings of sky, landscape, still-life, and personal moments, began showing geometric abstractions, apparently having left representation behind.

Gregory Amenoff Facing North

The quandary with Gregory Amenoff’s paintings is that he has never stepped back and interrogated that initial flush of deep feeling he had about the American visionary tradition, particularly Arthur Dove, at its most optimistic heights.

Steve DiBenedetto Chaoticus

Best known for his symbolic paintings—encrusted surfaces jam-packed with lattices, neural networks, cracked TV screens, helicopters, Ferris wheels, and octopi pushing against the painting’s physical edges—Steve DiBenedetto first gained larger attention when his work was included in an eight-artist survey, Remote Viewing: Invented Worlds in Recent Painting and Drawing, at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2005).


There are two parts to this exhibition. In the main gallery space Judy Ledgerwood has hung eight paintings, all 60” x 60”, while in the north gallery she has completed a painting in tempera on three walls.

Julian Schnabel Navigation Drawings

What aberration allows bad artists to make terrific films? Why is it that the clichés that make for turgid art become acceptable and engaging when they are translated into celluloid? I am thinking of Julian Schnabel and Jean Cocteau, who, besides being self-aggrandizing artists who have made interesting films, also share a misguided obsession with Pablo Picasso.

Nicolas Carone: Recent Paintings

In the past few years, we have gotten tantalizing indications of Nicolas Carone’s achievement as a draftsman, as a sculptor, and as a painter. But the full extent of what he has done remains hidden, like an iceberg. Whatever the backstory, the reason for this is simple. From 1954 until 1962, Carone, who was born in 1917, regularly exhibited his work in New York, first at the Stable Gallery and then at Staempfli.

Miyoko Ito

While the paintings of Miyoko Ito (1918–1983) have been included in most survey exhibitions and books about Chicago art from 1945 to 1995, she still remains under known in Chicago, and all but invisible in New York.

Andrew Forge and Fairfield Porter: Works on Paper

The pairing of Andrew Forge (1923-2002) and Fairfield Porter (1907-1975) makes sense for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is their devotion to perception and their desire to grasp the tangible and intangible aspects of reality.

Chris Martin

On the way to or from Chris Martin’s exhibition, you notice a large painting in red and black, “Manikarnika Ghat (Dedicated to Frank Moore)” (2002-2003) mounted high on the outside side wall of the gallery, placed exactly where someone would display a billboard advertising the latest gadget, food, or reality show we need to know about if we are to consider ourselves informed.

Stanley Whitney

When contemplating Stanley Whitney’s matter-of-factly painted geometric abstractions, we should keep in mind these words of Ad Reinhardt: “all art is political.” The reason we should remember Reinhardt’s statement is because Whitney is an African-American abstract painter who makes no overt connection between the author and the self or, in academic parlance, his identity.

Carroll Dunham

When Carroll Dunham was in his cartoony, biomorphic period (1982-1993), critics said that he belonged to the same family as Bill Jensen and Thomas Nozkowski.

Charles Seliger: Ways of Nature

Charles Seliger’s place in history has yet to be fully secured. Born in 1926, he was the youngest and most precocious artist in the group that gathered around Peggy Guggenheim in New York in the 1940s (Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollock were also part of this circle).

GORDON ONSLOW FORD Paintings and Works on Paper: 1939–1951

The first solo show of Gordon Onslow Ford (1912 – 2003) in New York since 1946, which brings together major works made between 1939 and ’51, is a landmark event that, among other things, further expands our understanding of what was happening in art during the 1940s.


My first introduction to Toadhouse was in 2000 at As REAL as thinking, the large survey exhibition at SITE Santa Fe of conceptual artist Allan Graham, which was organized by Kathleen Shields.

John Ashbery: Collages: They Knew What They Wanted

For those who still need a guide, poets can be divided into two groups, those who have at one juncture or another used collage (or a related methodology) in their writing, and those who haven’t. The former are interested in what has been called (rather negatively) the experimental, while the latter regard themselves as traditionalists.

TOM BURCKHARDT 157 Elements of a Painting

What do you get when you cross a cartoonist’s animation sense with an abstract artist’s search for pure form? Answer: Tom Burckhardt, or at least one part of him and his uncategorizable project.

Nicholas Krushenick

Nicholas Krushenick (1929-1999) has rightfully been called the father of pop abstraction, which suggests that a lot of what is currently going on owes something to him. And while this is certainly the case, this well-meaning sobriquet doesn’t tell half the story.

Sylvia Plimack Mangold

Sylvia Plimack Mangold’s primary formal preoccupation is the unyielding pressure of space against the painting’s surface.

Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager (b. 1923) is an American original, and, like Lee Bontecou (b. 1931) and Peter Saul (b. 1934), he will never be seen as a mainstream artist. In his introduction of his longtime friend, Malcolm Morley (another interesting misfit), which he read at the Skowhegan Awards ceremony in 1992, Artschwager said something that holds true for his own work.

JASPER JOHNS New Sculpture and Works on Paper

For years now, whenever Jasper Johns has had a show, you could count on a reviewer to cite his best-known axiom: “Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it. Do something else to it…”

BILL RICE Paintings & Works on Paper

As the Lower East Side progresses toward a “total make-over,” and chic hotels and designer co-ops replace its tenements, I wonder where the community of poets and artists who cannot be assimilated will move?

Ad Reinhardt and the Via Negativa

Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968), Robert Lax (1915 – 2000) and Ad Reinhardt (1913 – 1967), who became lifelong friends, met in 1935 at Columbia University while working for the Jester, the school’s humor magazine.

Art World Doggerel

The first time we see him painting, he is in the bathroom, trying to paint a flower that had been given to him by Katharine “Kitty” March (Joan Bennett) the night before.

John Yau and Mie Yim

This morning they released my head

POETRY: After the Road

Between the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Clark Coolidge, Michael Gizzi, and I lived within 30 miles of each other, in that UFO zone connecting western Massachusetts and mid-Hudson Valley New York, we often got together. When we weren’t scouring the countryside checking out secondhand bookstores, and talking about whatever was our enthusiasm, we took road trips.

POETRY: The Poet of Post-modern Life

In his seminal essay, “The Painter of Modern Life,” Charles Baudelaire defined the modern artist, or flâneur, as a “solitary individual endowed with an active imagination.” This figurewas a detached but passionate individual walking through the city, carried along by its tumultuous crowds, observing but unobserved.

Why I Am a Member of the Christopher Middleton Fan Club

This is my list of the essential books of Christopher Middleton, the ones I believe you should read if you want to learn what he has been up to for the past 60 years:


From Dubai to Japan to Boston to Brooklyn to Romani Gypsy grandparents, the stories in Anatolia and Other Stories (Black Lawrence) are varied and, conceptually, architected on an intriguing premise. The first story, “Dubai,” reads like a Malamud folklore legend/Flannery O’Connor hybrid.

Still Believe In The Rainbow

More than thirty years have passed between Bill Zavatsky’s first full-length book, Theories of Rain and Other Poems (1975) and his second full-length book, X Marks the Spot.

In Conversation

John Yau with Donald Breckenridge

John Yau has published two dozen books of poetry, fiction and criticism as well as numerous essays and articles on contemporary art. He is the editor of Black Square Editions.

Another Example

I think it would be extremely pleasant and even comforting if I could find a new or at least different way to fuck up my life. If only I could delude myself for a few minutes more than usual, if only I could have a few minutes when I believe that what I am doing will turn out okay. It never does.

After A Self-Portrait by Francis Picabia

A french fry sticks its tongue out at you

In Conversation

ROBERT KELLY with John Yau, David Levi Strauss, and Phong Bui

On a late Saturday afternoon in August, Publisher Phong Bui and Art Editor John Yau drove up to High Falls, New York, to visit the poet and writer Robert Kelly at Consulting Editor David Levi Strauss’s library to discuss Kelly’s life and work.

Opinion Sonnet

John Yau has just completed a book of essays, The Wild Children of William Blake.

Philip Lamantia (1927-2005)

Philip Lamantia, whose poetry is “set like stars in snow,” became an enduring source of inspiration for a number of poets, myself included, in the 1960s.

from Opinion Sonnets

John Yau is the author of Further Adventures in Monochrome (Copper Canyon), the publisher of Black Square Editions, and a weekly contributor to the online magazine Hyperallergic Weekend. He is currently working on many projects.


John Yau’s next book of poems, Genghis Chan on Drums, will be published by Omnidawn this fall, while his monograph on Liu Xiaodong will come out from Lund Humphries, and his one on William Tillyer will come out from Rizzoli. He has poems forthcoming in Cafe Review and the New Republic.

Biography for Amphibians

Harnessed moon enchanting nostalgic armadilloes/Clipped tongue erased ornaments flooded…


John Yau has three books that have landed or will soon land on earth: Joe Brainard: The Art of the Personal (Rizzoli, 2022); Tell It Slant (Omnidawn, 2023); John Pai: Liquid Steel (Rizzoli (2023). An exhibition, Disguise the Limit: John Yau’s Collaborations, will open at art museum of the University of Kentucky in Lexington in January 2024, curated by Stuart Horodner.


John Yau has a book, Genghis Chan on Drums, forthcoming from Omnidawn (Fall 2021). A book of essays, Foreign Sounds or Sounds Foreign, is just out from MadHat Press, as is a chapbook, Bloken Exhaust, from Ink Cap Press.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2023

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