I have always been sympathetic to so-called minimal art. That does not keep me from criticizing its determined aloofness, which, of course, was also one of its greatest strengths. As to the implied incompatibility between a political statement/information and a work of art, I don’t think there are generally accepted criteria for what constitutes a work of art. At least since Duchamp and the constructivists, this has been a moving target…
Contrary to popular belief, eagles are really not courageous birds; they are even afraid of bicycles, as [Marcel] Broodthaers wrote. Their power is due to projection. The same is true for art—and political power. They need the red carpet, the gold frame, the aura of the office/museum—the paraphernalia of a seeming immortality and divine origin… It is important that the Thatcher painting is an oil painting. Acrylic paint doesn’t have an aura… Another reason for making a painting was that I had been stamped a conceptualist, a photomontagist, that sort of thing. This was a way to mess up the labels…
It is true that I often play on the modes of the contemporary art world, and I try to make something that is accessible to a larger public, which does not care for the histrionics of the art world. As Douglas [Crimp] pointed out, it helps that these pieces do not have the look of hermetic “avant-garde” art…
Where the Left is sometimes unnecessarily vulnerable is in its tendency to make mechanical attributions of ideology. In that respect, it mirrors the Right. We should recognize that things need to be evaluated within their respective historical contexts. Taken out of context, they are likely to be misread and can play the opposite role from that of their original settings… If I had been too concerned about co-optation, I would probably not have been able to do the things I’ve done. It can have a paralyzing effect. I saw this with some colleagues and students in the ’60s and ’70s. They either stopped working altogether or went through tremendous personal crisis, from which some eventually emerged as cynical entrepreneurs. In either case, it amounted to a capitulation to the powers that be. It takes stamina and shrewdness to survive in this mess… We just have to reconcile ourselves to the historical contingency of things. Otherwise, we fall into the idealist trap of believing in universal meanings and values. — Hans Haacke*
*Yve-Alain Bois, Douglas Crimp, and Rosalind Krauss, “A Conversation with Hans Haacke,” October 30 (Autumn 1984): 22–48; reprinted in October: The First Decade, 1976–1986, edited by Annette Michelson, Krauss, Crimp, and Joan Copjec (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987), 175–200.
The New Museum celebrates its 40th birthday with a book that includes texts by Lisa Phillips, Johanna Burton, Lauren Cornell, Massimiliano Gioni, Joseph Grima, Julia Kaganskiy, NedRifkin, Alicia Ritson, Lynne Tillman, and Brian Wallis.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakyepaints “wet-on-wet,” completing by day’s end the figurative painting she started that morning. Her subjects are solitary black women and men—imagined, constructed portraits—rendered in oil on linen.
Join Yiadom-Boakye and New Museum artistic director Massimiliano Gioni for a public conversation on the occasion of the stunning exhibition LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE: UNDER-SONG FOR A CIPHER, which is curated by Gioni and assistant curator Natalie Bell.
In conjunction with MARISA MERZ: THE SKY IS A GREAT SPACE, the Hammer Museum presents the panel discussion “VOGLIAMO TUTTO”: POSTWAR ITALIAN ART on Tuesday evening, July 11, at 7:30 pm.
The words in quotes mean “we want it all,” and curator Marianna Vecellio, New Museum artistic director Massimiliano Gioni, UCLA Professor of Italian and gender studies Lucia Re, art historian Jaleh Mansoor, and moderator and Hammer chief curator Connie Butler will discuss the explosion of experimentation in art and design after the Second World War, and “the dynamic contexts that surround Marisa Merz’s work.”*
HAMMER MUSEUM, 10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles.