Tag: Visual Arts

  • Celebrating the Not-Ready-for-Primetime Pioneers of Commercial-Free TV

    “Television is supposed to make the world one big culture,” pronounced the late Glenn O’Brien in the debut episode of his weekly hour-long public access television show, TV Party (1978–82). “Well, we never believed that, did we?” The eruption of public access — and the colorful, chaotic, eccentric programming that ensued — was a watershed […]

  • Hip-Hop Icon Fab 5 Freddy Draws From History to Combine Street and Fine Art

    For many Americans of a certain age, the initial exposure to hip-hop came by way of the breakdown on Blondie’s 1981 hit, “Rapture,” the part where Debbie Harry rapped, “Fab 5 Freddy told me everybody’s fly.” Thirty-six years later, the figure she was name-checking has proved himself no mere footnote. Fab started as a teenager […]

  • The Infinite Worlds of Arthur Russell

    At first, Charles Arthur Russell was just Charley. Growing up in Iowa during the Fifties and Sixties, Charley vacationed in the Midwest and Mexico with his parents and two sisters. As a teenager, Charley decided he wanted to be called Arthur. When he moved to Northern California in 1968 and found his way into a […]

  • Jason De León Dares You to Look Away From the Items Border Crossers Leave Behind

    In the summer of 2012, University of Michigan anthropologist Jason De León was doing fieldwork in Arizona with his students when they discovered the body of an Ecuadorian woman. As De León would later discover, she had been abandoned by her smuggler and died of dehydration on a hillside in the Sonoran Desert. She’d been […]

  • Is Maurizio Cattelan One of Our Greatest Artists — Or One of the Worst?

    Five years ago, the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan held a highly unorthodox exhibition of his entire body of work at the Guggenheim Museum. Cattelan is a conceptual artist who became famous starting in the 1990s for irreverent, absurdist installations that have sold for millions of dollars and split critics into factions of fervent devotees and […]

  • Fab 5 Freddy Remembers Glenn O’Brien, Downtown Icon

    I cannot stress enough how influential Glenn O’Brien was on my life. I went to Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn for about two semesters in the Seventies, and around that time I started reading Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. I became a huge fan of this column in the back: “Glenn O’Brien’s Beat.” Glenn would write […]

  • How Colleen Plumb Uses Her Art to Highlight the Plight of Animals in Captivity

    With Colleen Plumb’s animals, the surprise is part of the point: Wherever they appear, they are utterly out of context. Plumb has projected videos of rhythmically swaying elephants on a graffitied wall behind the Chicago River, across the opaque spray of an Oregon waterfall, and against a Parisian apartment building. More recently the projections have […]

  • Get Lost in the Enigmatic Landscapes of Master Engraver Hercules Segers

    The romance of the visionary who works in hardship, laboring beneath unbearable poverty or illness or depression, is only that: a romance. Some of the greats have certainly had awful fates in this world, but prodigies are not always punished per some cosmic law that demands suffering as a precondition for their existence. In truth, […]

  • On Display: Your Guide to NYC’s Spring Art Exhibits

    Critic’s Pick: Carnal Desire In one watercolor, a naked bedridden woman with amputated limbs erotically flashes her tongue. In another, a devilish nymph grasps an enormous snake writhing from her vagina. If you aren’t familiar with Italian artist Carol Rama (still virtually unknown in the U.S.), you might mistake the paintings — acerbically feminist, suggestive […]

  • Revolutionary Sisters: Artwork Forged in the Crucible of Battles Over Feminism

      Dindga McCannon remembers the meeting well. It took place in early 1971 in her studio, a decrepit fifth-floor walkup on 2nd Street just off Avenue B. “I was shocked that people came up the stairs,” McCannon says. “I had one of those walkthrough apartments with the tub in the kitchen. The lights were out […]