Real Rebels Don’t Take Corporate Cash

The Guggenheim recently closed a fun retrospective of the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. In it, hundreds of odd sculptural items hung from the museum’s ceiling at varying heights, gradually revealing themselves on the trek up the Guggenheim’s classic spiral ramp. From the child-size Hitler to the fake pigeons and animal skeletons, it was a kooky, enjoyable exhibit largely for its silly strangeness.

The artist and the Guggenheim didn’t see it that way, though. Their vision of the work was “bolder” and more “political:” “Cattelan creates unsettlingly veristic sculptures that reveal contradictions at the core of today’s society,” wrote the show’s curators. “While bold and irreverent, the work is also deadly serious in its scathing critique of authority and the abuse of power.”

All brought to you by Citibank, Xerox and dozens of other season sponsors.

How exactly is one supposed to take a “scathing critique of authority” seriously when it’s sponsored by cash from global banks and multinational corporations? It’s not that there isn’t an appropriate way to handle sponsorship—artists have had patrons for centuries—but the overwhelmingly vague petulance with which contemporary visual artists shroud their work always positions The Man as the winner, especially when artists call their work political. Nipping the hand that feeds them only highlights who is really calling the shots.

In The Road to Mecca, Roundabout’s Broadway revival of the 1988 Athol Fugard play, Rosemary Harris plays an eccentric South African artist whose bizarre, concrete sculptures have earned her the disdain and irritation of her neighbors. [Read more…]



Happy censorship day! The poster for Young Jean Lee’s just-opened Untitled Feminist Show has a little something in common with Google, Wikipedia and many other major sites that are protesting two anti-piracy bills: the censor’s little black rectangle. Gender norms and Internet freedom might not have much in common, but today they’re sharing some pretty arresting imagery.

Untitled Feminist Show, part of PS122’s COIL Festival, advertises itself thusly…

… as do these protesting websites:




Seems there’s been a run on virtual, wedge sharpies, eh?

“Artistic Ruins”?

John Stezaker, 2005, Cinema 1 II (Collage)

Jerry Saltz writes an accurate indictment of the visual art world in this week’s New York Magazine. His argument—contemporary art “contains safe rehashing of received ideas about received ideas”—just might apply to the theater: are we muddled in “a melancholic romance with artistic ruins, homesick for a bygone era”?

The full article can be found here; read on to check out excerpts…

[Read more…]

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