Curators' Notebook

SculptureNotebook is a Tumblr that features artists, events, books, and other cultural material pertinent to issues in contemporary sculpture.

Dec 17, 2010

Elad Lassry and Annette Kelm

Elad Lassry, Untitled, 2010. 35mm film (still). Annette Kelm, Untitled (Tribal), 2010. C-print.

Elad Lassry
Luhring Augustine
531 West 24th Street
New York, NY
October 30 - December 18, 2010

Annette Kelm Today
Andrew Kreps
525 West 22nd Street
New York, NY
October 28 - December 22, 2010

Two excellent solo shows by Elad Lassry and Annette Kelm are currently up at Luhring Augustine and Andrew Kreps in Chelsea and they merit being seen on the same day. In Lassry's staged photographs, collages are partially culled from found materials that animate and complicate both the analog and digital archive, employing seemingly mundane subject matter such as publicity shots, portraits of animals, nondescript landscapes, and still lifes of vegetables, to uncanny effect. Kelm's sequentially-minded work photographs objects, architecture and design motifs that adhere to historically significant correlations even as they undermine the promise of objectivity by adding props that seem surreal or appear to belong to a subjective mythology. The approaches are related but distinct, seductive yet unsettling.

Also on view at Luhring Augustine is Lassry's newest 35mm film Untitled (2010). In a related catalog release, I contributed an essay on Lassry's films, titled "Picture Perfect," to the first monograph dedicated to his work, published in the Kunsthalle Zürich series by JRP-Ringier and including additional essays by Bettina Funcke, Liz Kotz, and Beatrix Ruf. -FM

Nov 19, 2010



This publication project from editors Alun Rowlands and Matt Williams often includes an accompanying presentation of artworks and/or events that amplify each volume's gathering of artist writings. Ranging from poetry to criticism, its overall register is speculative yet focused, offering the practice of writing as a parallel mode to the visual. As the editors have put, "Novel asks us to think of writing as something distinct from information, as at least one real of cultural production that is exempt from the encompassing obligation to communicate." The design is impeccable and contributors to volume one and two have included Ei Arakawa, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Paul Chan, Michaela Eichwald, Henry Flynt, AC Gebbers, Melanie Gilligan, RH Quaytman, Josef Strau, Oscar Tuazon, and Emily Wardill. - FM

A recent presentation of Novel took place at dependance gallery in Brussels.

Nov 17, 2010

Prix Marcel Duchamp

Cyprien Gaillard, Pruitt-Igoe Falls, 2009, video still. Cyprien Gaillard, Dunepark, 2009, video still.

While in Paris visiting FIAC I took part in a conversation with Jérôme Sans (Cultural Curator of Le Meridien Group and a former Director at Palais de Tokyo) and artist Cyprien Gaillard on the topic of whether there was room for innovation in today's art world. Echoing Gaillard's practice, the conversation turned to past examples of Land Art, the urban architectural interventions of Gordon Matta-Clark, and how the notion of a natural sublime may have been subsumed and dispersed into architectural ruins, topographical extremes, and disastrous events. Interestingly, however, in fielding audience queries the emphasis gradually shifted from whether there is room for innovation (yes) to whether there is room for nostalgia? On view at FIAC was one of Gaillard's most recent videos Dunepark (2009) in which the artist initiates and oversees the excavation of a former Nazi communications bunker buried in sand outside The Hague. A couple of nights later Gaillard was announced as this year's winner of the Prix Marcel Duchamp, presented in partnership by the Centre Pompidou, national museum of modern art and FIAC. - FM

Nov 11, 2010

Fresh Hell / Carte Blanche à Adam McEwen

Clockwise from top left: Valie Export, 3 Figurationszeichen, 1976. Michelangelo Pistoletto, The Ears of Jasper Johns-Minus Objects, 1966. Geert Goiris, Liepaja, 2004.

Fresh Hell / Carte Blanche à Adam McEwen
Palais de Tokyo, Paris
October 20, 2010 - January 16, 2011

New York-based British Artist Adam McEwen is the latest artist to be invited to curate a show carte blanche for the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Adopting its title from a Dorothy Parker quip deployed in answering the intrusion of an unwanted phone call while attempting to write ("What fresh hell is this?" goes her infamous saying), McEwen has put together a lively show filled with affect and plenty of mischief. Medieval stone carvings (borrowed from the Musée Cluny in Paris) are placed before an untitled Rudolf Stingel foil-graffiti wall to welcome the viewer upon entering the exhibition and odd yet fitting couplings multiply concentrically from there. For instance, Rosemarie Trockel's mesmerizing and inimitable sofa piece Watching and Sleeping and Composing, 2007, catches the eye of Isa Genzken's tribute to Franz Kafka from across the room, while excerpts from Valie Export's photographic figuration series and samplings from the likes of Bas Jan Ader, George Herold, and Martin Kippenberger extend the varied note of melancholia that animates the heart of the show. Offset is McEwen's inclusion of a New York-tinged cohort that includes Rob Pruitt, Agathe Snow, Nate Lowman, and Hannah and Klara Liden. A suggestive show of affinities and admirations, McEwen's associations choreograph a playful seriousness that more than complements incisive previous iterations of Palais de Tokyo's carte blanche by Ugo Rondinone and Jeremy Deller. - FM 

Oct 22, 2010


Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Here and There, 1978. Courtesy the artist and Cabinet, London. Cordelia Swann, Mysteries of Berlin, 1979?82. Courtesy of Cordelia Swann and LUX, London.

9 September to 7 November 2010
Raven Row
56 Artillery Lane
London E1 7LS

It's quickly becoming no secret that one of the best places to see thoughtful and important shows in London is Raven Row, a relatively new non-profit space in the East End of London. Having shoe-horned two more contemporary gallery spaces on the ground floor, the beauty of the space itself is the otherwise more or less not-tinkered with 18th Century domestic rooms in a three-story flat. Ascending up either side of the downstairs galleries one finds intimate rooms with intriguing works of art (novel concept). 

And the current show is no exception as Polytechnic focuses on video, installation and tape/slide works made in the UK between the late seventies and early eighties byartistswho were developing new relationships between 'experimental' media and ideas of narrative. Organized by guest curator Richard Grayson, the works in the exhibition talk about autobiography, television, diaries, lost histories, sexuality, the communist bloc, popular culture, fictions, soap operas and murder. And highlights include Here and There (1978), a mesmerizing installation by Marc Camille Chaimowicz that yet once more shows what an influential forerunner and still overlooked artist he is (a fitting survey is overdue); The Mysteries of Berlin (1979-82), a dual-screen slide projection scrutinizing images from popular magazines of the day by American artist and long-time Londoner Cordelia Swann that would surely make many a NY "appropriation" artist circa 1980 green with envy in its equal parts smarts, equal parts pleasure success. 

In many ways a show that could be productively considered alongside "The Pictures Generation: 1974-1984" of this past year, "Polytechnic" is yet another excellent show from a stellar venue. Programmed and funded by its founding Director Alex Sainsbury, Raven Row's programming is not to be missed when in London, and highly worth following from afar as well. -FM

Oct 22, 2010

Walid Raad: Miraculous Beginnings

Walid Raad: Miraculous Beginnings
Whitechapel Gallery
October 14 to January 2, 2011

Wandering into Walid Raad's first mid-career survey without any context could likely be bewildering to say the least. What might at first appear to be fact unfolds as fiction in Raad's re-animating of history within the context of past wars in his native Lebanon. Yet just as seemingly archival material of highly charged political content is construed into Borgesian narratives that give back a sense of nostalgia, wry humor, and acutely felt inquiry to the time of war, terrorism, and violence (realities where it is too often assumed such humanism disappears), so too does Raad propose numerous ways of talking about the weakened status of the image in contemporary life. 

Apparitions, disappearances, and suppositions abound in Raad's profound form of visual storytelling. His largest survey to date, some of the titles of works on view convey a taste of his inimitable sensibility, including Secrets in the open sea, 1994/2004, and Let's be honest the weather helped, 1998/2006-2007, as well as Sweet Talk: Commissions (Beirut), 1987-present, and Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of art in the Arab World, 2008-present. While it is ultimately paramount to hear Raad speak in person on his projects if possible (for instance, the guided tour of his own exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery, NY, was a highlight of this past year), his voice seems to accompany the initially wary Whitechapel viewer even in absentia--beguiling, erudite, unsettling, and generous. -FM

Oct 7, 2010

Rob Swainston - Propositions

Rob Swainston - Propositions
David Krut Projects
526 West 26th Street, #816
New York, NY 10001
September 7 - October 16th, 2010

Brooklyn-based artist Rob Swainston has been pushing the boundaries of the mechanically reproduced imagery of printmaking for a number of years, both in his own large-scale installation work and animations, as well in his role as a master printer (having worked with Reena Spaulings, Dana Schutz, and Charlene von Heyl, among others). A new body of work on view at David Krut Projects in Chelsea takes Robert Rauschenberg's "combines" as inspiration, along with Deluzian notions of architectural history, and creates a veritable archive of the imprinted image. Contained within deep frames, a taking apart of his own past imagery through manipulation, repetition, and various forms of distress, makes for a three-dimensional materiality that extends the image into the territory of the object and makes for an highly associative, sensorial experience of socially charged abstraction. It's as if Swainston is responding to critic Leo Steinberg's discussion of the flatbed picture plane in Rauschenberg's work and revitalizing the discussion. -FM

Sep 24, 2010

Erin Shirreff and Sara VanDerBeek

Erin Shirreff, Signature, 2010. Sara VanDerBeek, Baltimore Window, 2010

Erin Shirreff: Still, Flat, and Far
September 15 - December 5, 2010
Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

Sara VanDerBeek: To Think of Time
September 17 - December 5, 2010
Whitney Museum of American Art

Having both recently participated in SculptureCenter's Knight's Move exhibition, Erin Shirreff and Sara VanDerBeek opened solo museum exhibitions this past week. Shirreff's exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and VanDerBeek's at the Whitney Musem of American Art, New York, both investigate time, landscape, and monument in divergent yet complementary ways. -FM

Sep 10, 2010

ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987—1993

Silence=Death Project, Silence=Death, 1987.

ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987—1993
White Columns
320 West 13th Street, New York

ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987—1993 is an exhibition curated by Helen Molesworth and Claire Grace that includes a newly commissioned installation by fierce pussy as well as a presentation of the ACT UP Oral History Project, a suite of over 100 video interviews with surviving members of ACT UP New York (shot between 2001 and the present) that provides a layered and well-researched view into a decisive moment in the history of the gay-rights movement, twentieth-century visual art, debates regarding healthcare in the United States, and the continuing HIV/AIDS epidemic. It also reconsiders the printed graphics and visual media that accompanied the movement and includes a series of readings and discussions. Originally presented at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, the exhibition's appearance at White Columns and related programming is not to be missed. -FM

Aug 27, 2010

Gwangju Biennial

Clockwise from top left: Lee Friedlander, Florida, 1963. Danh Vo, Untitled, 2010. Dieter Roth, Solo Scenes, 1997-1998. Tuol Sleng Prison Photographs, Unidentified Prisoners, S-21 Prison, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 1975-79. © Doug NivenTuol Sleng Museum of Genocide, Cambodia. Courtesy Doug Niven. João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva, Eye Model, 2006. Kerstin Brätsch, "Untitled" from Psychic Series, 2007. Henrik Olesen, Some gay-lesbian artists and/or artists relevant to homo-social culture I - VII, 2007. Gustav Metzger, Historic Photographs: No. 1: Liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, April 19-28 1943, 1995/2009.

Gwangju Biennial - Gwangju, Korea
September 3 - November 7, 2010

The Gwangju Biennial is one of the largest biennials in the world and has had some pretty amazing Artistic Directors over the years--from Harald Szeeman to Okwui Enwezor's dynamic entry in 2008, Annual Report: A Year in Exhibitions. This year Massimiliano Gioni (from the New Museum and Trussardi Foundation) opens 10,000 Lives: The Eighth Gwangju Biennial this September in Gwangju, Korea. Taking its title from a 30-volume epic poem by Korean author Ko Un--who was imprisoned for two years for his involvement in the 1980 South Korean Democracy Movement--the project is structured as a series of portraits that explore the passion for images and image-making and the desire to create substitutes, effigies, and stand-ins for our affections. It promises to be one of the most ambitious exhibitions of the past few years with works by 134 artists--made between 1901 and 2010--and though difficult to travel to, appears ready to push the dialog about how large-scale biennial exhibitions of contemporary art can be approached. -FM

Aug 13, 2010

The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today

Clockwise from top left: Sibylle Bergemann, The Monument, East Berlin, 1986. Bruce Nauman, Waxing Hot 1966-67/1970. Rachel Harrison, Voyage of the Beagle, 2007. Fischli and Weiss, Equilibres / Quiet Afternoon, 1984. Horst P. Horst, Costume for Salvador Dalí's Dream of Venus, 1939.

The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today
Museum of Modern Art
August 1 - November 1, 2010

The images speak for themselves in the Museum of Modern Art's The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today (through November 1). A compelling show, it takes up the influence and transposition between mediums and manages to be entertaining and insightful. While its thematic frames are often too broad, it stands as the starting point for a highly relevant conversation. -FM

Aug 6, 2010

Summer Reading

From Head to Hand: Art and the Manual
By David Levi Strauss  

David Levi Strauss' newest book, From Head to Hand: Art and the Manual, is a must read for those who enjoy criticism that is grounded in attentive engagement with specific works of art.  In this collection of essays, Levi-Strauss considers the creative act as one that requires and engages intelligence, passion, patience and an openness to the world.  He writes with knowledge and clarity about a range of work -- from the sculpture of Ursula von Rydingsvard and Joseph Beuys and the paintings of Leon Golub and Nancy Spero, to the writing of John Berger and Leo Steinberg. Levi Strauss is best known for his perceptive writing on photography and the relation between art and politics. Here, he focuses on the relationship between idea, material and labor, providing an example of how we might think about art and how that might shape the way we think about life and our presence in the world.  - MC

Jul 30, 2010


Top: Still from Our Magnolia, 2009.
Bottom: The Good Ship Blank and Ballast (after Brancusi), 2010. Installation view, Intensif-Station, K21 Dusseldorf

Murray Guy
453 West 17th Street, New York

The 16mm film Our Magnolia, 2009, currently on view at Murray Guy Gallery responds to Paul Nash's 1944 painting Flight of the Magnolia, intercutting a series of iconographic leaps -from the visage of Margaret Thatcher and footage of the looting of Iraq's National Museum at the onset of the Iraq War, through to the relic of a whale carcass, and magnolia trees in bloom ? to reanimate the associative potential of an image. Made by Nashashibi/Skaer (a collaboration between artists Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer), the show also includes their two-channel film installation Pygmalion Event (2008). 

Lucy Skaer also has a remarkable new project up at K21 in Dusseldorf, The Good Ship Blank and Ballast (after Brancusi), 2010, that includes an image made from a woodcut carved into the floor of the exhibition space. Installation shots of the project can be found at her gallery website. - FM

Jul 16, 2010

Charlotte Posenenske

Exhibition view: Pergola: Retrospective. Palais de Tokyo, Paris. February 19 - May 16, 2010

Charlotte Posenenske
Artists Space
38 Greene Street, 3rd Floor, New York

Following upon the long overdue and indelible exhibition of Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Enough Tiranny Recalled, that began Stefan Kalmár's tenure as Director at Artists Space this past Fall, Charlotte Posenenske brings another remarkable European artist to the attention of New York audiences. Marking the first one person institutional exhibition of her work in the US, the installation of Charlotte Posenenske's (1930-1985) Square Tubes Series D, 1967, has been re-interpreted into different iterations by guest artists Ei Arakawa and Rikrit Tiravanija.  - FM

Jul 2, 2010

The Mass Ornament

The Mass Ornament installation view, 2010.
Image via Gladstone Gallery

The Mass Ornament
Gladstone Gallery
515 West 24th Street, New York

John Rasmussen, Executive Director and Curator of Midway Contemporary Art in Minneapolis, has been running one of the best non-profit exhibition spaces going since 2001, and now he's put together a show that elegantly crosses mediums to flirt with themes drawn from the writings of German cultural critic Siegfried Kracauer. Taking its title from an indelible collection of Kracauer's essays, The Mass Ornament appears effortlessly installed and includes highlights from Patricia Esquivias, Matias Faldbakken, Jay Heikes, Patrick Hill, Lisa Lapinski, Michaela Meise, Gedi Sibony, and Alina Szapocznikow. - FM

Jun 18, 2010

Paul Ramirez Jonas: Key to the City

Bestowal ceremony via Creative Time

Paul Ramirez Jonas: Key to the City
Times Square, on Broadway, between 43rd and 44th Streets

This public art project invites you to explore the city on a micro-level. Pick up your key (in a bestowal ceremony) in Times Square and use it to gain access to everything from a bedroom closet in Gracie Mansion or early admission to the Met to the kitchen of a tortilleria in Corona where you can learn to make tortillas.   While reminiscent of a childhood scavenger hunt, and just as much fun, the work operates on the borders between public and private spaces and considers the degrees to which parts and aspects of the city are accessible and to whom.  -  MC

Jun 4, 2010

A Relative Expanse

Margarete JakschikUntitled, 2008. 

A Relative Expanse
Renwick Gallery
45 Renwick Street, New York, NY 10013

A Relative Expanse currently on view at Renwick Gallery continues a run of dynamic, thoughtful group shows organized by Maxwell Graham. Following last month's The Same Sight Slighter, which included memorable works by Bianca Beck, Heather Guertin, Charlotte Posenenske, and B.Wurtz, among others, this month's show features a discrete and finely balanced consideration of how certain artworks can condense, imbue, and even collapse our perception of space and volume. 
- FM

May 6, 2010

Xavier Le Roy

Xavier Le Roy in 'Self-Unfinished' Photograph: Katrin Schoof
Image via

Lecture by Xavier Le Roy
7.30pm, Friday 7 May 2010
Martin Segal Theatre Center, CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue, NY NY 10016
Admission FREE - first come first served

The Right of Spring:   
Self Unfinished:

Xavier Le Roy was originally trained as a biochemist and then became a dancer. But he has made his mark on the world as a choreographer.  Le Roy is often called a "conceptual choreographer" but what some might consider a brainy approach to dance is focused on the body, a heightening of the awareness of all of the senses, and the staging of the relationships between what is heard, seen, gesticulated or projected in the experience of performance.  
- MC

Apr 7, 2010

Operators' Exercises: Open Form Film and Architecture

Zofia Kulik, Przemyslaw Kwiek, Jan S. Wojciechowski, Pawel KwiekOpen Form, 1971. 

Operators' Exercises: Open Form Film and Architecture
Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery, Columbia University - Main Campus
1214 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027

If you're interested in knowing about the avant-garde cultural background that informs much contemporary Polish art, don't miss Operators' Exercises: Open Form Film and Architecture, on view through May 7th. Curated by Łukasz Ronduda and Mark Wasiuta with curatorial assistant Natalia Sielewicz, the exhibition approaches the status of a facsimile as it uses a bank of flatscreens, slide shows, and sleek vitrine displays to pack in an incredible amount of dynamic material into one small gallery. Focused on Polish architect Oskar Hansen's practice and theory of "Open Form" and the student-led experiments in art, film, performance, and architecture that his teaching inspired in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it is an ambitious yet agile exhibition filled with ideas and energy.  
- FM

Apr 2, 2010

Ursula von Rydingsvard and David Smith

Ursula von Rydingsvard, Droga, 2009. David Smith, Installation view, 2010
Images via and

Ursula von Rydingsvard: Erratus
March 18 - May 1, 2010
Galerie Lelong

David Smith
February 26 - April 10, 2010
Gagosian Gallery

On the Chelsea front, I recommend Ursula von Rydingsvard: Erratus at Galerie Lelong. Suggesting geologic, domestic, and organic forms, these works are monumental but far from static. They are simultaneously formidable and vulnerable. Nota bene: Von Rydingsvard will be the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the SculptureCenter opening in January, 2011.  

Also, be sure to see David Smith at Gagosian Gallery. The five works on view are all from the early sixties and suggest connections between architecture, landscape and human form.  This small but focused show not only reminds us why Smith is so influential but also how a few well chosen works can make a very engaging and complex show. 


Mar 26, 2010

John Bock and Charlene von Heyl

John Bock, Untitled (dance lecture), 2010 - performance detail. Charlene von Heyl, Woman #2, 2009
Images via and

John Bock
Feb 27 - Apr 3, 2010
Anton Kern Gallery

Charlene von Heyl
March 18 - May 1, 2010
Friedrich Petzel

When next in Chelsea, check out two significant solo shows currently on view. Following a memorable opening night live performance, Untitled (dance lecture), John Bock's most recent solo exhibition at Anton Kern features hard and soft, noisome and mesmerizing, debased and charmed. It closes April 3rd. Charlene von Heyl unveils a new painting series at Friedrich Petzel (through May 1st) that intensifies, ruptures, and ultimately extends the dialogue with her recent works on paper, including her unforgettable 2008 book project Sabotage. A side-note of interest is von Heyl's isolation of a salient fragment of text by George Didi-Huberman in the description of her show, a noteworthy acknowledgement of one of our most important critical voices.
- FM

Mar 4, 2010

Amazement Park: Stan, Sara and Johannes VanDerBeek

Johannes VanDerBeek, Documentation of Body/Building, 2007. Sanded magazine pages.
Image via

Amazement Park: Stan, Sara and Johannes VanDerBeek
June 6, 2009 - April 25, 2010
The Tang Museum at Skidmore College - Saratoga Springs, NY

Amazement Park is a yearlong exhibition that combines work by the influential filmmaker and artist Stan VanDerBeek (1927-1984) with work by his daughter Sara VanDerBeek (b. 1976) and son Johannes VanDerBeek (b. 1982). This long overdue institutional exploration of Stan VanDerBeek's work builds upon and extends an impressive exhibition of Stan VanDerBeek's films, collages, and installation works, that was organized by Sara and Johannes VanDerBeek at Guild & Greyshkul just prior to the artist-run gallery closing its doors in December 2008. Organized by the Tang's Curator Ian Berry, the exhibition takes its inspiration from a recombinant exhibition space envisioned by Stan VanDerBeek wherein an exhibition might be collaboratively remade and revised. In this case, the exhibition has shifted every month to include selections from each artist's work, including newly commissioned works by both Sara and Johannes VanDerBeek, formidable artists in their own right. Innovative in spirit, the exhibition is a highly successful example in experimental exhibition making. Amazement Park is on view until the end of April, and well worth the scenic drive up I-87.
- FM

Feb 23, 2010

9 Screens at MoMA

Alejandro Cesarco, Turning Some Pages, 2010. Digital video (color, silent, 13 min.)
Image via

9 Screens
February 3 - May 18, 2010
The Museum of Modern Art

If you normally skip the lines at MoMA and head straight for the members' desk to pick up your admissions tickets, you run the risk of missing one of MoMA's most experimental exhibitions in recent memory. MoMA invited artist Nicolas Guagnini to critique the workings of MoMA from an artist's perspective. the result is a series of 5 videos shown on the screens behind the ticket counter in the lobby. The New York-based artists and collectives in the exhibition are Fia Backström, Alejandro Cesarco, Bernadette Corporation, John Pilson, and Union Gaucha Productions (which Guagnini cofounded). Each video is screened continuously for three weeks and because the work is in the lobby, you need not buy an entrance ticket to see them!