Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Saltz’

Friday Hot Links

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Happy Friday! We want to share some art, design, and culture goodies shared by the SVACE faculty and community.


Lois’ SOMA (Print): George and Luke Lois design for encryption. (via Steven Heller)

Uber Logo (WIRED): Uber rebrands itself, but did it logo too far? (via Kevin Brainard)

GIF Impressions (Mashable): Twitter flirts with GIFs (via Robert Stribley)

Art Bites (SVA): Ten tips for art students by art critic Jerry Saltz. (via SVA MFA Visual Narrative)

Showing the Way

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Jerry Saltz credits Andrew Castrucci, SVACE faculty member, as a guardian angel of outsider genius Melvin Way.  Read Jerry’s words in Vulture:


“We owe his being discovered at all, saved, and brought to public light to the capable artist Andrew Castrucci, who discovered Way in 1989, when he was conducting art workshops in Keener Men’s Shelter, a hospital-cum-prison for the mentally ill on Wards Island. Seeing genius immediately, Castrucci devoted himself to Way — working with him, helping him in and out of institutions while the artist would sometimes disappear for long stretches, going on benders, turning up in emergency rooms or drug rehabs, other times arriving at Castrucci’s door with as many as 200 or 300 rumpled new drawings. Castrucci introduced Way to tidal charts, hermetic diagrams, medieval cosmographies, navigation maps, and Post-Impressionism, another art made up of an infinite number of marks. He introduced him to da Vinci’s notebooks and backwards writing, which Way claims to have decoded and interpreted. And Castrucci has always passed earnings from sales onto Way.”

We mentioned Melvin Way and Andrew Castrucci in a recent SVACE blog post, too.


Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Museums are a big deal and New York museums are the biggest.  In 2012, American museums took in 850m visitors, more than all the big-league sporting events and theme parks combined. Most of those visitors went to MoMA if modern art was on their list.


This week, MoMA announced its new expansion.  This is bad news to art and architecture critics, who have closed ranks against the new design and unfavorably compared the museum’s restless, relentless growth to a shark needing to move and a perpetual state of war.

The first problem is that MoMA will destroy the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) because the latter is in the way of connecting MoMA to the incoming condo designed by Jean Nouvel.  AFAM has drawn mixed reviews (“useless” – Jerry Saltz; “majestic” -Paul Goldberger), but nobody can doubt the wastefulness of demolishing a building erected just over a decade ago.

The second is that the expansion, envisioned by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, will have too much glass.  Critics are right to object to glass exhibition walls, because paintings can’t hang on glass – though sculptures might thrive.  But “glass” here is metaphorical, too.  The expansion sounds as if it will sacrifice intimacy and focused study, and instead invite in people-watching, distraction, and relational acrobatics.

IMAGE: Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The unspoken problem is that MoMA looks like a bully, or even a cannibal.  It condemned the Folk Art Museum to death after buying its building (or bailing it out?) in 2011.  And now the avant-garde and pedagogical DS+R look like its pinheaded enablers: Kissinger to Nixon, Smithers to Burns. They requested six months to review the salvability of the FAM, but determined that it had to go.  Martin Filler disagrees, supporting his position with a forensic study of photos: “The top floor of the Folk Art and MoMA buildings line up almost exactly, and any incongruities on other levels could have been easily corrected by slight inclines.”  Justin Davidson, more physiologically, sees it MoMA’s way: “The connective tissue between one structure and the next would have created disfiguring scars, the mechanical apparatus on top would have occluded the lovely skylights, and the idiosyncratic staircase would have to have been amputated in any case.”

IMAGE: Giles Ashford and NYRB

I join the disappointed appeal that DS+R, with MoMA, could have tried harder.  If they can’t wind a new program through that building, then they look unimaginative.  (Filler even proposes housing the Taliesin/Frank Lloyd Wright archive there.)  But there’s no evidence for claiming that  DS+R is a) negligent or b) abusive.  And anyway, when it comes to patching together buildings, isn’t it possible that these practitioners might exceed in technical scrutiny the critics outside?

Jerry Saltz, our most effective critic, frets about tearing down the walls to the Sculpture Garden.  Doing so will ruin that sanctuary.  Martin Filler predicts “a tourist mob scene indistinguishable from Times Square.”  But St. Patrick’s Cathedral, with free entry and about the same frequency of visitors, seems okay. Sure, it is bigger, but there are more Catholics, too.  Saltz also worries that the new design will “create havoc” on West 53rd Street.  “People carrying synthetic coffee drinks will stand there gawking at people who are trying to focus on the art inside this box.”  (This, you call havoc?)  But will performances in the Gray Box and Art Bay (“glass squash courts” – Saltz (ha!)) really be more compelling to watch than one’s own Instagram feed?  And how about that Art Bay?

+”The “Art Bay” is a triple height, multipurpose gallery with an operable glass wall that opens to the street.”


+”Fitted out with a technical ceiling and a floor lift that can subdivide the space into two levels, the Art Bay can be used for exhibitions and performances, as well as spontaneous events, all free to the public.”

-Floor lift?  That sounds really cool!

IMAGE: Diller Scofidio + Renfro

What doesn’t sound cool is the possibility that MoMA’s new performance spaces will house spectacles – staring contests, rain rooms, timed entries – to draw bigger and bigger crowds.  After all, MoMA’s attendance still lags behind its NYC siblings, such as the Met, with its crowds of six million, while the Whitney has fish in a barrel over at the High Line.  If putting Tilda Swinton in a glass box succeeded in winning hearts and minds, then bigger glass boxes seem expedient.  But What’s in the Box?  “It’s all the same flimflam: flexible spaces to accommodate to-be-named programming, the logic of real estate developers hiding behind the magical thinking of those who claim cultural foresight,” writes Michael Kimmelman.


I’m not an expert, but because the plans I’ve seen are sketchy, I’m saving my scorn for definitive plans, or even for the actual site experience itself.  DS+R needs to convince MoMA lovers that its design will alleviate congestion while adding viable exhibition space.  MoMA needs to convince us that it will fill its new squash courts with rigorous, inspiring activity.

Whether the new site will justify the wasteful destruction of the AFAM building is a good question.  A better question is why we trust the people behind the Taniguchi transformation with yet another transformation.  The Taniguchi reconstruction cost almost a billion dollars and its failures were immediately evident: not enough space for the art.  “All bemoan MoMA’s lack of space for the pre-1980 permanent collection,” says Jerry Saltz, who has been right about this since the Taniguchi overhaul.  (The new expansion doesn’t have a budget.)  And now MoMA is chronically crowded.  Who let that happen?

And why do they get another shot?

Fire in Our Bellies, Ants in Our Pants

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Pictures from the successful protest on December 19, 2010 against the Smithsonian’s descent to rabid censorship:

Onward Christian Soldiers - the crowd stretched from the Met to the Cooper-Hewitt Museums

Crossing Fifth Avenue

Death by Audio

Protestor X!

Lisa Phillips of the New Museum, which is showing Wojnarowicz' video

"This is what your parents used to do!" says Jerry Saltz

Artist Nayland Blake and "it's-complicated" friend

Conclusion at Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum

Air Rights

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Jaime Isenstein in "One Minute More" at The Kitchen

From the Gugg: “He considers visual art to be a microcosm of our economic reality, as both center on identical conditions: the production of goods and their subsequent circulation.” Is that accurate? What kind of goods? I always thought the economy operates on mass manufacturing, while art is commonly a distinct one-of-a-kind. Art is more like luxury goods, right? And that’s not really a microcosm of anything, just a mirror of excess wealth. I think McDonald’s burgers or Chevy trucks would be more of a microcosm.
“Sehgal seeks to reconfigure these conditions by producing meaning and value through a transformation of actions rather than solid materials.” Sort of like how you pay a hooker for a blowjob, rather than his/her lips. You can buy lips at the adult video store.

As of tomorrow, Friday, Guggenheim visitors will find a museum stripped bare by a bachelor.  33-year-old Tino Sehgal, younger than jesus, will take over the museum by emptying the walls and halls of artwork, staging two TBA performances, and subsidizing visiting crowds with 200 stooges hired to mingle with the tourists.  UPDATE: The NYT says he is 34.  My bad!

This show can be best understood through its influences.  He is a young artist, after all.  So art lovers seize the opportunity to list the inventory of gestures and exhibitions built around an empty space.  Artist Matthew Weinstein says on JSF (Jerry Saltz’ Facebook page), “nothing going on here is more radical then a sol lewitt drawing diagram, duchamp’s paris air ampule, and the entire career of john cage. and that’s fine. he’s working within a well established tradition, and adding to it.”

Magnus von Plessen at Gladstone

Saltz himself identified Gabriel Orozco’s Yogurt Cups, now at MoMA, as “an homage to the Empty Gallery as Work of Art.”  A few years ago, Ralph Rugoff curated A Brief History of Invisible Art.  Months ago, Adriana Lara appropriated the New Museum’s opening hours as her entry in its Younger than Jesus survey, as well as the daily ingestion of a banana by a museum guard, who would then leave the empty peel on the shiny floor.  In 2007, Urs Fischer excavated a giant pit from the poured concrete floor of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, literally ripping GBE a new hole.  Months before that, Terence Koh exhibited at the Whitney Museum a near empty gallery, occupied only by a charcoal-colored sphere and a Klieg light.  In 2003, Trisha Donnelly released I Am Taking Your Morning, a CD recording in which she describes how she steals every aspect of your morning: your bed, coffee, newspaper, cigarette break, etc.  In 2001, Simparch built a skate bowl at Deitch Projects, leaving the content of the show up to the skaters who made use of the space.  Since 1991, Rudolf Stingel has done show after show in New York of near-empty galleries.  You can find more examples of emptiness in each of the last few decades.


So it isn’t new to vacate a gallery.  But then isn’t it ironic how a show that owes so much to art history is banishing the tokens of that history?  We can best explain Tino Sehgal by invoking his ancestors in the brinksmanship legacy of dematerialization and relational aesthetics.  That tale had been reported by DIA, but then muted, when DIA went so Minimalist that it closed shop!  Yet Sehgal’s response to inherited art history is to wipe the walls clean, deforming the Guggenheim into one circuitous tabula rasa.

No, no! We said "Rasa"

This is poignant – or not – when compared to other negations of exhibition.  The Met had to withdraw Picasso’s The Actor after a woman ran into it (literally ripping Picasso a new hole, ha ha).  Worse, the Met is hiding its depictions of Muhammad and deleting “Islamic” from the “Islamic Galleries.”  (Read David Shapiro’s razor-sharp response at Muse.)  If the Met can’t defend itself against clumsy visitors, at least it can try to avoid pissing off bloodthirsty Muslim extremists.  At the Met, art is concealed under duress and fear; for Tino Sehgal, it’s the anti-exhibition basis of an exhibition.  Rigorous?  Or decadent?

The empty museum isn’t the goal of the show, it’s just the means to the real goal, which is the interaction of the visitors with each other and with the space.  “Sehgal seeks to reconfigure these conditions by producing meaning and value through a transformation of actions rather than solid materials,” says the Museum.  But is that a myopic view?  Hysterical?  Art has often been exchanged as anticipated action instead of material.  Again, Sol LeWitt wall drawings…  Or an advance payment for a commissioned portrait of some old Queen or other.  How about Momus’ Stars Forever album, whereby interested parties paid Momus $1,000 to write a song about them?  Jeff Koons did, and he paid not for the song itself, but for the service of creating a song.  (And it’s a great one.)

Breakfast of Chomp-ions

From the Gugg: “a visitor is no longer only a passive spectator, but one who bears a responsibility to shape and at times to even contribute to the actual realization of the piece. The work may ask visitors what they think, but, more importantly, it underscores an individual’s own agency in the museum environment.”  In other words, we won’t have to stand there all day looking at some crusty old painting, or cumbersome sculpture made by some dead guy.  We will be the art! Us!  I’d better order some teeth whitener!

Spencer Tunick

After all, people are more valuable than art.  That’s why I’ll hang in a museum when I’m dead, and my bedroom will be Landmarked, like Benjamin Franklin’s phantom house by Robert Venturi.  Guggenheim also says that Tino Sehgal “considers visual art to be a microcosm of our economic reality, as both center on identical conditions: the production of goods and their subsequent circulation.” Is that accurate? What kind of goods? I am no Ben Bernanke, but I always thought the mercantile economy operates on mass manufacturing, while art is commonly a distinct one-of-a-kind. Art is more like luxury goods, right? And that’s not really a microcosm of anything, just a mirror of conspicuous consumption. I think McDonald’s burgers or Chevy trucks would be more of a microcosm.  -The End.

Robert Venturi

UPDATE 02-10-2010: I finally saw the show. It was incredible! I plan to post something later this week about my trip.