I’ve always remembered a story my father used to tell me, about how my mother was arrested in North Beach, San Francisco in the late 1950’s for walking barefoot in public. “Howl”, City Lights Books, and Lenny Bruce were often mentioned in the same conversations. Those were days when society and government heavily censored people - their writing, speech, music, public activity, and art - primarily out of fear, fear of anything different or non-conformist.Read More
Realist. Surrealist. Hippie. Punk. Bruce Conner (1933-2008) was all of these and more. A Bay Area pioneer in experimental film, collage, photography, conceptual works, and paintings, Conner challenged the limitations of medium, genre, and style, constantly breaking new ground.Read More
In an onstage conversation Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where Directors’ Circle donors were previewing “Bruce Conner: It’s All True,” it was emphasized that Conner, “the quintessential artist’s artist” by museum director Neal Benezra’s description, was a man of paradox.Read More
He made an art film about the Kennedy assassination and delicate, meditative paintings based on inkblots and autumn leaves. His haunting assemblages, like those of a viscerally rotting “COUCH” or a mutilated and gauze-shrouded “CHILD” bound in a high chair, hold an undimmed charge more than a half century after they were made. So do his photographs of San Francisco’s burgeoning punk rock scene of the 1970s and ’80s. Female nudes proliferate in his art. Mushroom clouds of nuclear bombs are forever blooming — one from the neck of a headless man in a collage.Read More
“WHAT A SHOW! WHAT A SHOW!” The reaction of the unseen, breathless, and elated MC at the end of Bruce Conner’s moving-image installation Three Screen Ray, 2006, is likely to be the exclamation of many a visitor exiting “Bruce Conner: It’s All True,” the revelatory retrospective of some 250 works currently installed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (through …Read More
Although John Altoon died in 1969, when he 43, his paintings and drawings look as fresh as the day they were made. They may, in fact, be even fresher.Read More
There are some artists you know are great immediately because they provoke such disparate and conflicting emotions simultaneously that they practically throw you physically off balance. John Altoon is one such artist.Read More
It’s taken a long time for Bruce Conner (1933 – 2008), the polymath San Francisco artist who was a major force in the development of both found-object sculpture and experimental film in the United States, to be given a major retrospective.Read More
Things to do with ArtReview!
if you're in Copenhagen in September...
By Louise Darblay
From 29 to 31 August, ArtReview will be in Copenhagen, hosting a talks programme at CHART, the second edition of the city's boutique contemporary art fair. Here's a selection of what else to see if you join us in the city of mermaids and armwrestling.
Kohn Gallery recently staged “American Aleph,” a retrospective of the influential West Coast artist Wallace Berman (1926–1976). Mostly self-taught, Berman fueled his output with improvisation and irreverent DIY methods.Read More
IDEAL HOME NOISE (9): BREAKDOWN, BERMAN, & GALEMBO
By JEFF JACKSON
WALLACE BERMAN: AMERICAN ALEPH
Edited by Claudia Bohn-Spector and Sam Mellon
Though he’s hardly a household name, Wallace Berman’s work casts a long shadow. He helped create the vibrant West Coast art scene of the 1960s, and was one of the luminaries featured on the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He’s been called a Beat artist and proto-Pop artist, but curator Johan Kugelberg more accurately describes him as “proto-punk, proto-DIY, and proto-appropriation art, and also post-Dada and post-Symbolist, and this and that, and whatever you want him to be.”
Berman’s multifaceted work refuses to fall into neat categories, which is why it’s remained a vital source of inspiration in the decades since his untimely death in 1976. He’s a major figure in American art whose true significance has yet to be fully realized.
The Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles recently mounted a Berman retrospective and their beautifully designed catalog serves as an excellent introduction to his work. It captures the full breadth of his output, including sculptures, collages, photographs, drawings, posters, film stills, mail art, and even images of pieces that are no longer extant.
There’s also a nod to his assemblage and literary magazine Semina, which lasted from 1955-64 and featured work from writers including Jean Cocteau, Herman Hesse, Robert Duncan, and John Wieners. For a deeper dive into this influential project, check out the recently reissued Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and his Circle.
American Aleph discusses Berman’s far-flung influences and the paths his work followed after an early gallery show was busted on obscenity charges. The catalog is most notable for the generous selection of Verifax collages he focused on during his final decade. These works feature a hand holding a transistor radio whose visual content continually changes: religious icons, politicians, pop stars, nudes, flowers, buildings, animals, and much more. They’re accompanied by Hebrew letters, deployed in ways that suggest mystical Kabbalistic associations.
This onslaught of images feels remarkably contemporary, leaving viewers to discern their own patterns and meanings. They’re mysteries whose depths remain unplumbed, transmissions vibrating on their own disruptive frequency.
On this episode of Daily VICE, VICE's Beckett Mufson meets up with legendary artist Ryan McGinness, known for incorporating symbols and icons into his work, to talk about his latest book and exhibition, Signals. The artist takes us inside his world of iconography and walks us through the process of creating a universal language with symbols.Read More
Ori Gersht uses a digital camera, off-the-shelf software and a high-end printer to make photographs that make you wonder what you are looking at. It’s a slippery enterprise. When it works, the uncertainty is sublime.Read More
The Museum of Modern Art has wisely advertised its Bruce Conner retrospective with an image ofBombhead, a 1989/2002 print in which an army general’s head is replaced with a mushroom cloud. This is a show that promises to blow your mind, and it lives up to that threat. Trippy, disturbing, entertaining, and whimsical all at once, “Bruce Connor: It’s All True” is a marvelous look at a figure whose gleefully anarchic work called for the end of culture as we know it.Read More
In 1963, Bruce Conner decided to find himself. He was back in San Francisco, after a year in Mexico documenting his search for mind-altering mushrooms (Timothy Leary has a flickering cameo in the resulting short film).Read More
In a time when the world is constantly depicted to us through images, what is real: the tangible world or the reflected world? Can we even make a distinction between the two? How does it affect our approach to what we encounter? Ori Gersht’s work addresses these issues through two photographic series, On Reflection and Floating World at the Kohn Gallery.Read More
Bruce Conner’s CHILD has been difficult from the start—hard to look at, hard to appreciate, and harder still to preserve. The controversial sculpture, completed in 1960, was Conner’s response to the gas chamber execution of Caryl Chessman, a man sentenced to death for kidnapping and raping a woman in Los Angeles.Read More
Art reviews from art critics Edward Goldman and Hunter Drohojowska-Philp.
Photographers as Magicians and Tricksters on Art Talk.Read More
In the late 19th century, Southern California attracted misfits, idealists, and entrepreneurs with few ties to anyone or anything. Swamis, spiritualists, and other self-proclaimed religious authorities quickly made their way out West to forge new faiths. Independent book publishers, motivational speakers, and metaphysical-minded artists and writers then became part of the Los Angeles landscape. City of the Seekers examines how creative freedom enables LA-based artists to make spiritual work as part of their practices.Read More
Artist. Visionary. Hipster. Mystic. Voracious consumer and conduit of modern culture. Wallace Berman immersed himself in all these guises, with a selftaught fervor and disarming sincerity. To those who know his artwork, he remains a uniquely prescient and compelling figure, even 50 years after his death in 1976, from a tragic accident caused by a drunk driver on the eve of his 50th birthday.Read More