Landscape in art has mythologized, documented, and reimagined the intertwined relationship between humans and the natural world for centuries. And it may reflect more changes than we realize: recent writing on the Anthropocene period that arguably began during the Industrial Revolution highlights the significant global impact of human activities on Earth’s ecosystems.
A reimagined signification of ash swirling in water broadly reveals the hegemony of the coal industry and the way that its power serves the pursuit of capital through the dispossession of land, water, clean air, health, property value, and financial stability from surrounding communities.
Ad Reinhardts paintings have been generally understood to be aligned with modernist purification. His thought, however, as revealed through his writing, was significantly more expansive than his paintings appeared.
On the occasion of the painters exhibition Bracket at Greenberg Van Doren Gallery (February 23 April 23, 2011), Cameron Martin took a break at his Greenpoint, Brooklyn studio for Rail Art Books in Review Editor Greg Lindquist to visit and discuss his life and work.
Antoine Guerrero left his position as Director of Exhibitions and Operations at PS 1, MoMAs satellite institution in Long Island City, on March 1, after 17 years at the helm. Known to his friends and colleagues as Tony, he served as a facilitator to realize and install artistss large projects with modest budgets and means.
In a series of conversations held over the past summer months and into a fall museum installation, artist Franklin Evans spoke with artist and Art Books in Review editor Greg Lindquist.
During the run of A Haunted Capital at the Brooklyn Museum (March 22 August 11, 2013) and while preparing for Witness at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (June 22 October 13, 2013), the artist discussed photography, activism, and the importance of portraiture.
In a working life spanning more than fifty years, Martha Rosler has made art that eschews medium-specificity, asks questions, offers propositions, and invites responses. While idea often appears to drive material expression for Rosler, she also considers, beyond a politics of representation, questions of visuality and aesthetics—a likely influence of her early training as a painter.
On a Saturday in November of 2016, during his exhibition Continuous Services Altered Daily at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut (May 1, 2016 February 5, 2017 and on view at the Bemis Center in Omaha June 1, 2017 August 26, 2017), David Brooks, an artist recognized for his commitment to illuminating our complex human relationship with the natural world, sat down with Greg Lindquist to talk about his current show, ecological activism, and scientific fieldwork.
In Quarries, Edward Burtynskys most recent series of photographs, sites of marble and granite quarrying in Vermont, Italy, Portugal, China and Spain are documented in varying stages of activity.
Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) is best known as a painter of modest-sized still lifes, depicting earthen-hued bottles, boxes, vases, jugs, and cups. The first large-scale Morandi retrospective in the United States, currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, consists of nearly a hundred still lifes and a dozen landscapes (out of the 1,700 paintings he made over his lifetime).
"Painting, Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) once declared, is the transcription of the adventures of the optic nerve.
Stuart Shilss intimate, easel-sized landscape paintings were suitably installed in Coleman Bancrofts Upper East Side walk up living-room-converted-gallery-space, whose grand fireplace mantel was absorbed into the exhibitions arrangement.
To make a sweeping generalization about Robert Grosvenors choice of materials across his career would be difficult or near impossible. There is little material continuity in his work, but rather conceptual outgrowths through material explorations.
Luc Tuymans (b. 1958) is best known for his captivatingly blurry, washed-out, and bleached representational paintings with latent yet powerfully evocative conceptual agendas. His traveling retrospective, which I saw at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, its second destination, is an ambitious exhibition that asks crucial questions across the development of Tuymanss oeuvre: Where do formal and conceptual shifts occur in his career and how does one affect the other?
Lisa Yuskavages large scale, enigmatic, and acerbic-colored paintings complicate how we view their female subjects. These women are mostly rendered either nude in a youthful, cartoonish manner with the curvaceous bodies and voluptuous breasts of soft porn, or as senescentoverly clothed in long dresses and turbans, suggesting babushkas or Mormons.
Joan Mitchells late paintings from the 1980s and 90s are rich meditations on the particulars of color and records of her bodys movement in space.
If you were to examine how we regard nature in its current condition, would you consider our culture to be in an entropic, near-apocalyptic downturn or on the verge of environmental revolution and innovation?
What codes of painting remain to be transgressed? With todays flexible and permeable boundaries, how is it possible to infringe upon or go beyond? Are we at a point where painting has ceased to adapt?
Michael Heizers immense earthwork, Double Negative, is experienced less as the sculptural presence of an object than the sculpted absence of a void.
Robert Smithsons Spiral Jetty is arguably the most famous, least experienced work in the earthworks/land art canon. Most know it from iconic aerial photographs, some by Smithsons accompanying text and some by his dry, factual, yet far-reaching film.
Three dimensions are real space, Donald Judd emphatically wrote in Specific Objects in 1965. That gets rid of the problem of illusionism and of literal space, space in and around marks of color Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface.
While the interstitial concern between the two-dimensional work of James Brooks and Dan Flavins fluorescent constructions is light and its perceptual characteristics, as well the two artists friendship and mutual respect, their procedures and chosen media could not be more divergent.
Ali Banisadr has described his painting as a translation of sound into imagery, an attempt to synthesize the visual and auditory aspects of memory. For Banisadr, these memories are derived from the first twelve years of his life spent in Tehran, where he experienced the bombings of the Iran-Iraq war.
Although Five Myles may have aimed at inclusiveness in its current group exhibition of drawings by Rebecca Smith, Mildred Beltre, and Rana Khoury, it reads as three solo shows. Each artists diverse sensibilities are reflected in titles naming their individual aesthetic concerns.
In Breaking Through: Richard Bellamy and the Green Gallery, 1960 1965, author Erik La Prade synthesizes a rich and sometimes superfluous account of Richard Bellamy during the years of the Green Gallery's operation.
There are few things in the real world that Dan Flavins light environments correspond to. Viewing a Flavin sculpture is about experiencing electric color inhabit its surroundings. This fluorescent-borne light washes blank walls with glowing, gradient hues, appearing painted.
With the vibrant and saturated colors of plein air spring landscapes and closely cropped flora, Lois Dodd captures an optimistic view of modern rural life, though noticeably and curiously absent of people. Her Landscapes and Structures exhibition, a survey of paintings from 1969 through 2007 at Alexandre Gallery, rather than demonstrating a diversity of subject or approach, shows a remarkable consistency of an aesthetic vision grounded in the direct observation of reality and a sensitivity to oil paint.
Painting at its strongest melds the slowly unfolding process of seeing, both externally and internally, with the distinctive vision of its creator. Taking on a life of its own, painting stands outside of any temporal moment. Yet to depict any such moment paradoxically requires significantly more time for it to be visually parsed and understood.
Maya Lins current exhibition is difficult to view without questioning how its specificity of materials and forms describe her environmental concerns. Three Ways of Looking at the Earth at PaceWildenstein displays three sculptural pieces central to her traveling museum exhibition Systematic Landscapes whose last stop, fittingly, was in Washington, D.C., where 27 years ago this November Lins Vietnam Veterans War Memorial was dedicated.
For her debut North American solo exhibition, in a sub-basement space at Y Gallery, Chilean artist Alejandra Prieto recasts coal as an aesthetic object. No longer dust and dirt, this combustible sedimentary rock is repurposed as a signifier of socioeconomic labor, environmental peril, and luxury commodity.
The recent exhibition of Mogensen’s work at Del Deo & Barzune reunites paintings from the late 1960s and ’70s, along with one outlier from 2015.
Since the railroad-style building next door to my apartment is adjacent to a parking lot, I can see its entire inside wall as a façade rather than a continuous row of houses. This bleached yellow vinyl siding is attached in foot-wide, horizontal striations that span the entire length of the building.
the breathing of and listening / to paint / the openness, sensuousness, messinessthe restlessness
Tape and steel are the constituent materials of Rebecca Smiths sculptural practice, and now they are the subject of her exhibition at the New York Studio School. Almost as if to emphasize this fact, Smith has titled her exhibition after these materials with an ironically complex machismo ring that evokes the Modernist sculpture of her father, David Smith.
In his Hirshorn retrospective, French artist Yves Klein (1928 1962) is presented with theatrical and retinal abandon. Kleins brief (less than 10 year) career arc encompasses a number of approaches, from performative and conceptual modes to materially-bound painting.
Eric Holzman has a fondness for aged surfaces, which he creates as substrate for his modestly scaled drawings of landscapes, portraits and still-lifes. Drawings 1990-2007, a recent exhibitionat the New York Studio School, surveys the variety of touch he achieves with watercolor, egg tempera, charcoal and graphite.
Can newness be considered new any longer? Is the concept of originality in contemporary art even possible or relevant? Interpreted as fresh, transformative, or even deliberately backward-looking, the idea of newness seems empowered by our own personal and idiosyncratic senses of perception, achieved via emotional, intellectual, and physical responses to art.
While Martins landscapes and fragments of nature from the aughts implied socio-political and ecological issues, and were even framed by a robust discourse in a 2009 monograph around the history of the Hudson River School, the sublime, and what is now decried as settler colonialism, Martin frustratingly would not explain why he was using landscape.
Rackstraw Downes paintings reveal the material function of the American landscape. He works onsite, with attention to the slow, unfolding process of seeing and a meticulous, almost microcosmic depiction of detail. Many of his previous vistas have focused on the interstices of industry, contraposing the natural and man-made.
Tbilisi, Georgias capital where nearly half of its population resides, now has an international art fair and a steady flow of unfettered capital funneling into large development projects of former Soviet factories as well as the accompanying problems of gentrification and worsening economic inequality.
Take a cue from Occupy Wall Street set up your tent in any privately owned public space.
A lingering trauma brings relief from the nightmarish suffering caused by loss, even as it perpetuates the grief. Yet through the act of creating, the symptoms of trauma can be lessened. Empathy can be established with inanimate objects and people. When we allow it, our capacity to feel beyond ourselves deepens, and the container of what pain we can tolerate is expanded and extended.
For more than two decades, Alexis Rockman has been depicting the natural world with virtuosity and wit. He was one of the first contemporary artists to build his career around exploring environmental issues, from evolutionary biology and genetic engineering to deforestation and climate change.
Would you be as interested in seeing men fly, unattached and free, as you would be in seeing a man with, I dont know, two hundred pounds of cement strapped onto him and lets see him get two inches off the ground? Philip Guston asks this of art historian David Sylvester in a 1960 BBC interview, adding: I think creation is something like that.
Frédéric Chaubin argues that the fantastical late-Soviet architecture in his monograph CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed is reflective of an aesthetic freedom that came as a result of the Soviet Unions waning power.
During the 1990s, a surge of underground music flooded popular culture. The mainstream success of such bands as Nirvana, Green Day, and Offspring was built outside of corporate influence, on a groundswell of support from the do-it-yourself punk and independent music scenes.
Visitors to the Ai Weiwei retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D. C. are offered two varied forms of learning additional information: a traditionally produced hardcover book ($39.95) and a double-stapled magazine format ($5).
Scholar and critic David Joselit, is perhaps most known in the recent discourse of art for his 2009 essay Painting Beside Itself, which appeared in October, where he also is an editor.
Timothy Morton spoke with artist and Art Books in Review Editor Greg Lindquist to discuss his new book Hyperobjects (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). Their discussion about ecology and art resonated with the particular New York meteorological spirit approaching the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.
Both Visible and Invisible, Object and Interface:
By Greg Lindquist
Site proposition and completion in painting, sculpture, and participation
In the early 1990s at a College Art Association panel, the veteran painter Rackstraw Downes presented Nature and Art Are Physical, a paper reflecting on the landscape artist. The essay has become the title of a collection of his writings on art from 1967 to 2008 and is an appropriate statement for the aesthetic ideology of Downess own paintings.
This collection of essays, which emerged from a 2012 conference of the same name at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukees Center for 21st Century Studies, assembles texts by a group of scholars who expand on numerous challenges involving engagement with the nonhuman, such as climate change, biotechnology, genocide, terrorism, and war.
To mark the end of the year, the Rail’s Art Books editors, Ben Gottlieb, Maya Harakawa, and Greg Lindquist, each selected three notable books from the past year to share with our readers.
Donald Judd Writings (Judd Foundation/David Zwirner Books, 2016) at once resembles a brick and a bible. With compact, cuboid dimensions and containing over a thousand thin, silky pages, this exhaustive collection is itself a cheekily “specific object.” Judd’s son Flavin shared in its design and suggests in an introduction that we view his father’s writing as a “tool for future use.”
Hans Haacke’s writings, like his art practice, bring to light the largely obfuscated systems of social relations that circumscribe an art object and its experience. Institutional interests and their relations determine power and ideology, of which an artwork circulating in this context may become a complicit representation.