Weekend Reads

A Review From Beyond the Grave, Speculative Realism, & More

A Review From Beyond the Grave, Speculative Realism, & More
Here's hoping your weekend dive is a bit livelier than this.

The Eagle Has Landed: Gareth Harris explores the enduring, if scholarly, appeal of the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers (1924-1976), in a piece occasioned by MoMA’s announcement that a Broodthaers retrospective is planned for 2016. The artist is best known for his installation Musée d’Art Moderne—Département des Aigles (1968-72), a pioneering work of institutional critique that skewered the bureaucratic conventions of museum display, but curators and artists are rediscovering other works such as the gold ingots he stamped with eagles and priced at double the market value of the material (Danh Vo owns one).  (TAN)

The Last Word on Hopper: Somewhat belatedly, a review by the poet Mark Strand of the Whitney’s 2013 show of Edward Hopper’s drawings has appeared in the New York Review of Books (it was found, in handwritten form, in Strand’s notebook after he died in 2014, and was transcribed by his literary executor Mary Jo Salter). “The drawings,” Strand writes in one of many psychologically astute passages, “form a ritual by which he can feel absolutely free and in control of the subject. It was not that he needed to be sure how to paint a sugar dispenser or a salt shaker as in Nighthawks (1942), but that they should become his.” (NYRB)

Pay to Play: The Rhizome contributing editor Orit Gat writes a fascinating essay on the future of art criticism online. Commentators have long lamented the decline of criticism proper in favor of what is sometimes called art journalism, though Gat prefers the term “service criticism” to refer to the positive tone of recommendation utilized in much contemporary art writing. After reflecting on the power of ad revenue to fund crowdsourced or otherwise non-professional criticism, she ends the piece by calling for a revolution in art writing, although perhaps not in the direction you’d expect: “The more the internet veers toward paid models the better off we’ll be.” It’s an unpopular view in our currently Wild West-esque internet culture, but one that we’ll likely hear repeated soon enough. (Rhizome)

The Avant-Garde…Now in 3D!: Summer blockbuster season is currently in full effect, and silver screens across the country are lighting up with the latest examples of 3D filmmaking with such wonders as Jurassic World and Mad Max. The Berlin-based critic Esther Buss gives us a useful rundown of recent offerings by more experimental filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard and Blake Williams that take on this technology in the hopes of achieving something more than extra-huge explosions or sprays of water that make you cringe. Rather, Buss reminds us that stereoscopic images are over a century old, and that the techniques they entail are not only confined to Hollywood studios. (frieze d/e)

“Commodity Fetishism in Academic Form”:The Princeton English professor Andrew Cole takes on object-oriented ontology (OOO) and speculative realism, the trendy new philosophical schools taking certain sectors of the art world by storm, in this feature from the recent issue of Artforum. Cole seems most concerned with reminding his readers that many of the supposedly novel tenets of OOO and speculative realism derive from earlier systems of thought from the likes of Kant, Heidegger, and Marx. This is a rather dense essay, but one that’s worth reading if only for its contextualization of these nascent theoretical movements in the histories of thought they built upon. (AF)

Advising the Angel Investors The writer Sarah Thornton, known for her book-length studies of art-world sociology, profiles the Silicon Valley art advisory team Zlot Buell (the veteran art consultant Mary Zlot and the recent Stanford grad Sabrina Buell). The piece details their efforts to educate tech-world collectors on manners of art etiquette (such as offering the dealer who sold you a work the right of first refusal on a re-sale). It also debunks the myth that digital collectors want to focus on acquiring digital art; Ms. Zlot is quoted as saying, “They look at a screen all day long; they don’t need to look at another.” (The Economist)


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