Author: Leslie Camhi

  • Double Exposure: William Eggleston and Enrique Metinides

    ‘Life is in color, but black-and-white is more realistic,” director Samuel Fuller once said. Two exhibitions—a retrospective devoted to the sumptuously hued visions of a decadent Southern gentleman, and a show of vintage black-and-white prints, south-of-the border tabloid fodder by a man of the people—suggest he was only partially right. Both artists were given Brownie […]

  • The Met Shares a Sublime New York Photo Album by Rudy Burckhardt

    ‘You couldn’t build a city like New York in good taste,’ Rudy Burckhardt—photographer, filmmaker, painter—observed in 1994 of the hometown he’d adopted some six decades earlier. That was, in large measure, what he liked about it. Of the countless bohemians who’ve fallen in love with New York, Burckhardt’s feeling for the metropolis that inspired his […]

  • Flora! Flora! Flora! It’s Plants as Muse in a Big Group Show at a Manhattan Bank

    Greenery in corporate lobbies, much like the art there, is often a form of window-dressing—an attempt to render the unlovely face of international capital more humanly appealing. Countless philodendrons have suffered in silence as droning masses of salarymen passed them by, unnoticed, in glass-clad atriums. Implant, a show organized by the Horticultural Society and currently […]

  • The Museum of Modern Art Surveys—and Builds!—Some Curious Experimental Homes

    I recently found myself, in the company of a small child, gazing upon a whale skeleton at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris and thinking that the space between its ribs compared favorably with the average two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. That real-estate-obsessed New Yorkers are flocking to “Home Delivery,” MOMA’s survey of over a century […]

  • The Met’s Century of Photography

    Photography astounds us by its very ubiquity. If there exist, in the 21st century, lives still unrecorded by the camera, or corners of the world where photography’s reach has not yet penetrated, their purview is rapidly shrinking. At the same time, the rapid-fire onslaught of fleeting images in our digital universe produces a kind of […]

  • Robert Mapplethorpe’s Instant Precious Relics

    “We Poets in our youth begin in gladness,” William Wordsworth wrote ruefully in 1807, “But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.” The poet’s words came back to me while viewing this collection of some 100 mostly unknown Polaroids taken by Robert Mapplethorpe between 1970 and 1975. They are transitional works in more ways […]

  • Olafur Eliasson’s Anti-Sublime Enchantment

    “Art is about communication,’ I reminded a painter friend as she sang the praises of a mutual acquaintance, a sculptor with a prickly personality who makes notoriously recondite and difficult work. “Think so?” she responded. “I’d say art is about research.” Communication or research? How interesting it is to view the history of modern and […]

  • The Cooper-Hewitt Celebrates Rococo

    Design is dead, the material world’s sacred monster, Philippe Starck, announced to a German magazine a few weeks ago, citing all the “unnecessary” things he had created in the course of his 40-year career. The only objects he still felt attached to, he said, were “maybe a pillow, and a good mattress.” But even without […]

  • Ashley Bickerton: Gone Native

    Ten art fairs (the Armory and nine satellites) opening in one week can inspire anyone with a desire to flee to the tropics. Once you’d arrived, though, you’d find that Ashley Bickerton had already gotten there. Bickerton first made his name in the 1980s as part of a splashy quartet of artists (including Jeff Koons) […]

  • The 2008 Whitney Biennial and the Failure of an Empire

    If there’s anyone left who still doubts that we’re living at the end of the American empire, they can find confirmation for this state of affairs at the current Whitney Biennial, the latest edition of the museum’s oft-maligned survey of contemporary American art. Is this a matter for regret? Not entirely. One might feel nostalgia […]

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