from Man Alive!
on now XL Recordings/Matador Records
from Man Alive!
on now XL Recordings/Matador Records
from Man Alive!
on XL Recordings/Matador Records
Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright
Knopf, 624 pp., $35.00
Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t just the greatest of all American architects. He has so eclipsed the competition that he can sometimes seem the only one. Who are his potential rivals? Henry Hobson Richardson, that Gilded Age starchitect in monumental stone? Louis Sullivan, lyric poet of the office building and Wright’s own Chicago mentor, best known for his dictum that form follows function? “Yes,” Wright corrected him with typical one-upmanship, “but more important now, form and function are one.” For architects with the misfortune to follow him, Wright is seen as having created the standards by which they are judged. If we know the name Frank Gehry, it’s probably because he designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, in 1997. And Gehry’s deconstructed ship of titanium and glass would be unimaginable if Wright hadn’t built his own astonishing Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue some forty years earlier. [Read more…]
from Ryukyu 琉球
on Nippon Columbia
Folk art and folk artists tend to be an underserved discipline in the contemporary American art world. We gravitate towards fine artists with prestigious arts degrees over the more commonplace culture of folk art, and when we do discuss the importance of art born out of folk tradition, as in most artistic disciplines, we tend to highlight white artists. From the music of Bob Dylan to the exultation of Grandma Moses, when we talk about folk art as something born out of Americana or something inherently American, we very rarely talk about Black artists. Yet folk art is historically important as an archive of culture encapsulated within creative expression, and creation by Black American artists is nestled at the center of Americana. [Read more…]
by Yelena Moskovich
Two Dollar Radio, 272 pp., $12.74
“But I see my mind’s asleep.
Were it to remain wide awake from this point on, we should quickly arrive at the truth, which may well be all around us now (its angels weeping)!” — Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell
And so, let us start by imagining those angels, weeping. Their tears, tiny silver scalpels. Their wings, mangled. Their faces, featureless and orphaned to pools of light. They are everywhere, traceless repositories for unheard screams and unheld children who grow fitfully into adults (housing mutated unheld children in the attics of their guts, the sacral basements of their anuses). Everywhere, innocents locked in metaphysical orphanages, everywhere, angels slashing at air with turquoise tears. [Read more…]
Alison Saar’s work combines the raw power of tribal art with the postmodern sophistication of complex cultural subtexts. Her work is made in a near devotional way, which infuses a rare emotional intensity into her new narratives on upturning gender and racial hierarchies. Few artists can use visual materials as skillfully to create such powerful political statements. Fewer still can combine aesthetic technique and conceptual acuity in artwork that is so heartfelt it resonates with the viewer viscerally, a sensation akin to listening to a Nina Simone song. This is a rare feat only an exceptional artist can accomplish, which makes her concurrent exhibitions, Syncopation, at L.A Louver, and Chaos in the Kitchen, at Frieze Los Angeles, stand out even amidst the art fair frenzy. [Read more…]
Born under a bad sign
Been down since I began to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck
You know, I wouldn’t have no luck at all
In the magical exhibition, A Conjuring of Conjurors, artist Lezley Saar herself becomes the master shaman as she explores the role of mysticism, spiritualism and religious rituals in the human quest for safety, survival and certainty. Known for her earlier works that examine those who dwell in the interstices of identity, Saar here creates fantastically invented narratives of soothsayers and seers who use amulets, bones and tinctures to fix what is broken, find what is lost, or cure all manner of maladies. [Read more…]
“…the deepest and earliest secret of all: that just as we watch other life, other life watches us.”
—Toni Morrison, “Memory, Creation, and Fiction”
The superlative Félix Vallotton exhibition recently at the Metropolitan Museum, titled Painter of Disquiet, was an enthralling view of the tension between Vallotton’s early anarchist political engagement and the abiding, rather staid (though always darkling) character of his oeuvre over his 44-year career. [Read more…]
Ghanian artist Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe’s gorgeously rendered oil paintings, on view at Roberts Projects, are stunning both in terms of their visual content and the literal application of the paint. One can make obvious allusions to artists like Kehinde Wiley or Wangechi Mutu, but these would only represent fleeting similarities as Quaicoe’s vision is very much his own. These paintings could be described as straightforward portraits, yet that would not account for their profound luminescence and the verifiable presence of Quaicoe in seemingly every brushstroke. [Read more…]
on Libra Records
Reviewed by John Payne
Since her 1996 duo set with Paul Bley on Something About Water (Libra), pianist-composer Satoko Fujii has led numerous groups in widely varied formats ranging from free jazz to avant-rock to new-music chamber works. The possessor of a most formidable set of playing chops, Fujii is an intellectually engaged and refreshingly progressive-minded musician whose idiosyncratically shaped and harmonized compositions have seen upwards of 80-plus releases on her and partner Natsuki Tamura’s Libra label (Tamura, who also goes by the name Kappa Maki, is on his own a beautifully unclichéd tone-warper with an equally brazen disregard for the hollow holys of his instrument). If you want a reference point for the kind of beyond-jazz musical freedom Fujii represents, you might think Carla Bley and Michael Mantler’s Jazz Composers Orchestra stuff of the early ‘70s. [Read more…]
by Fanny Howe
On a cold day near Lake Erie
I was in a double bind.
The snow was like a lamb
Shorn in the upper circle.
Someone pushed me over the ice and stones.
Someone else chattered behind.
A rubber nipple was pressed to my lips.
Gagged and spat until my tears were milk. [Read more…]
Mary Frank is not just a visionary. Neither was Charles Burchfield, back when Modernism was just bringing art back to earth. Yet showing them together brings alive their most unearthly twentieth-century visions. Frank has always had an eye on planet earth. She studied with Max Beckmann, the artist who refused to look away from Germany in the 1930s, even after Beckmann’s exile in America. And then she studied life drawing in New York with Hans Hoffman, the teacher of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. She has stood out among artists less than half her age in a 2009 group show of Natural Histories. She returns now to painting after a decade of photography with an eye to nature – her surroundings at home in the Catskills. That return, though, marks even her most naturalistic subjects as not altogether of this world. [Read more…]
1956 – 2020
by Henry Cherry
When Andy Gill died at 64 on Saturday, the sound of revolution was momentarily stalled. Gill was the co-founder of the UK’s Gang of Four, an avant-funk off shoot of that country’s monumentally impactful punk movement of the late 70s. Across ten albums and a barrage of EPs and singles, Gang of Four is best known for their bouncing ecstatic protestations like “To Hell with Poverty” and “Damaged Goods” and their big break on American radio, “I Love a Man in Uniform.” Gill’s sawing guitar, songwriting and production lay at the heart of the band’s dramatically seductive sound. As such, the power of his death resides in the music Gill is responsible for, and luckily, that music remains. Even as Gill lay in the hospital, suffering from pneumonia, the musician continued to work on new music, editing and annotating mixes for a yet to be released Gang of Four recording. [Read more…]
In an engrossing book published last spring called Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative, the Australian writer Jane Alison makes a trenchant observation about the “dramatic arc” long considered the foundation for plot. Swelling to a climax and then deflating, it resembles nothing so much as a phallus: “Bit masculo-sexual, no?” Alison’s book offers alternative possibilities for fiction based on patterns found in nature, such as the spirals of fiddlehead ferns, seashells, or whirlpools; the meandering path of a river; the radiating shape of a flower; the self-replication of trees or clouds; or the cells in a honeycomb. These structures aren’t necessarily feminine—as it happens, Alison’s investigation of them is inspired by her reading of W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants, a work of fiction written by a man with predominantly male characters. But if the dramatic arc has often been associated with the “hero’s journey” model of fiction writing (a lone man goes off on a quest to conquer something), it stands to reason that a novel centered on the stories of women—often communal, connected, operating on many layers—might best be served by a different narrative form. [Read more…]
Jaki Liebezeit: The Life, Theory and Practice of a Master Drummer
edited by Jono Podmore
Unbound, 320 pp., $16.94
The drum master Jaki Liebezeit pursued over a decades-long career an enduring fascination with the core truths of time as expressed via rhythm. Not just a musician who wished to perfect a technique or expand his range of drumming styles, Liebezeit took his fascination deeper, to realms in which the very whys and wherefores of rhythm’s true place in any musical mode were of paramount importance – as was by extension its metaphorical relationship to the human being’s role in larger collective society. [Read more…]
Hoot n Waddle, 120pp., $16.00
Premeditations is a poet’s ode to poets. With wry nostalgia, klipschutz (the name author Kurt Lipschutz goes by), a San Francisco poet and songwriter (who works closely with the musician Chuck Prophet), opens his paean to poetry by defending the increasingly endangered sacred space where one typically discovers words that fuel the spirit: a bookstore. “North Beach Threnody,” the volume’s opening poem, leads with this stanza:
A landmark, registered, and us inside it,
folded up in folding chairs, with
everything outside moving
fast in another direction.
at LAUNCH LA, Los Angeles (through February 8)
Reviewed by Genie Davis
Shula Singer Arbel, Carla Jay Harris and Christina Ramos each offer gorgeous, personal, figurative work in Contemporary Identities, now at Launch LA. Each artist explores personal and universal identities through contemporary figurative work. [Read more…]