Art Criticism

Craig Owens (1950-1990) was a critic who wrote and lectured extensively on contemporary art. He showed particular interest in the issues of photography, postmodernism, feminism, and Marxist thought. A former associate editor for October and senior editor for Art in America, as well as professor of art history at Yale University and Barnard College, his writings were collected in Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture (1994). Owens died of an AIDS-related illness in 1990.

The Badger Series has issues and attempts, each episode, to resolve them. Recasting a glove puppet show through his own present day sensibilities, Paul assumes the role of kindly uncle mentor to a household of capersome woodland creatures. Mortality, self-sacrfice, depression, altered states of consciousness and transgressive art practices are all explored as part of their everyday lives together.

The Badger Series has issues and attempts, each episode, to resolve them. Recasting a glove puppet show through his own present day sensibilities, Paul assumes the role of kindly uncle mentor to a household of capersome woodland creatures. Mortality, self-sacrifice, depression, altered states of consciousness and transgressive art practices are all explored as part of their everyday lives together.

This tape examines the meaning, impact, and future of the early-1980s avant-garde through interviews with artists (Scott B., Robert Longo, Walter Robinson, Michael Smith), an art dealer (Helene Winer, Metro Pictures), a museum director (Marcia Tucker, The New Museum of Contemporary Art), and an art historian (Roselee Goldberg). “Whenever you feel confident that you know what’s happening at the outside edge, something’s always happening that you don’t know about. The avant-garde, if it exists at all... is determined by the artist, not the peripheral people like myself,” Tucker says.

Appropriating material from the introduction to the nightly television show, PM Magazine and a commercial for Wang Computers, Birnbaum uses enlarged still-frames from each of the sources to compound a new image of the indelible American Dream. To the soundtrack of an acid rock version of The Doors' L.A. Woman, repetitive images of an ice skater, baton twirler, cheerleader, and young girls licking ice cream, exemplify dominant cultural images of women — images that emphasize their performative nature: the idea that woman is a spectacle arranged for the (male) viewer's pleasure.

Public Discourse is an in-depth study of illegal installation art. The primary focus is on the painting of street signs, advertising manipulation, metal welding, postering and guerrilla art, all performed illegally. Public Discourse is about passionate artists who want their work to be seen by a wide range of people rather than be confined to the systemic structures of galleries and museums.

Peter Schjeldahl (b.1942) began writing his “poetical criticism” for Tom Hess at ArtNews in the mid 1960s. He has since written for both popular and specialized publications including The New York Times, Art in America, and The Village Voice, among others. In this interview from 1982, Schjeldahl discusses the critic’s relationship to the artist, the audience, artwork, and the professional community of art critics. He also reads some of his own poetry.Currently, Schjeldahl writes for The New Yorker and various art journals.

Andres Serrano was born and raised in New York. At fifteen he dropped out of high school. A few years later he attended the Brooklyn Museum School and studied painting and sculpture. After two years, Serrano decided that neither of these art forms were appropriate for his particular vision, and began to make photographs. Serrano’s work came to the attention of the general public as part of the controversy surrounding the issue of censorship and the NEA.

Ingrid Sischy was editor of Artforum in the 1980s and has been editor-in-chief of Interview magazine since the 1990s. In this interview with Robin White, Sischy discusses Artforum’s priorities, purpose, and goals.

“It’s an intricate history where painting, sculpture, performance, video, and photography are extremely connected to each other. As the editor of Artforum, I would feel at great fault to not include the best and the most interesting questions of each because they affect each other, and artists’ choices are not made in a vacuum.”

For the past 20 years Alexis Smith's mixed media work has explored primal American myths: the open road, the bad/good guy/gal, the quest for romance, and the search for paradise. This portrait of the artist explores the roots of her thought and work, and was produced in conjunction with her exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, held in November 1991.

 

Swamp Swamp and Wurmburth are each comprised of a series of tightly cropped shots of small, hand-made table-top sculptures or "sets".  Paint and many other materials that behave like paint (i.e. lotion, shampoo, foodstuffs) are blown through these environments with plastic tubing and forced air.  Each edited collection of shots makes an endless cycle of primal sludge and rupturing goo.  Often, they are reminiscent of nature television, surgical documentary, science-fiction landscapes, and primitive forms of puppetry and special effects.

John Tagg is a writer, educator, and a leading contributor to the development of art-historical and photographic theory, focusing on political analysis of institutionalized culture and interventions within it. He is a professor of art history at State University of New York-Binghamton and author of Grounds of Dispute: Art History, Cultural Politics and the Discursive Field (1992) and The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories (1988). Interview by James Hugunin.

A historical interview originally recorded in 1988.

Take Off, 1974

"I made Take Off in my studio apartment on Myra Avenue during my second year living in Los Angeles. As a member of the Feminist Studio Workshop, I was writing an essay at the time comparing male artists’ representations of their sexuality with female artists’. Vito Acconci was my model for a male perspective. I had been captivated by his videotapes; particularly Undertone, where he was supposed to be masturbating while seated at a table. The videotape was my ultimate response and commentary on Acconci as well as an expression of my own sexuality."

— Susan Mogul

“[A] rather perverse exercise in futility,” this tape documents Baldessari’s response to Joseph Beuys’s influential performance, How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare. Baldessari’s approach here is characteristically subtle and ironic, involving ordinary objects and a seemingly banal task. The philosophical underpinnings of Baldessari’s exercise are structuralist theories about the opaque and artificial nature of language as a system of signs.

"Fusco revives and embodies the chimpanzee animal psychologist Dr. Zira from the original Planet of the Apes films of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In her Skyped-in introduction, esteemed feminist theorist and technoscience philosopher Donna Haraway explains that Dr. Zira narrowly escaped death in the third film and has been living in hiding, observing human behavior through visual culture. In her lecture, Dr.

In April 1974, Video Data Bank co-founders Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield conducted their first interview, an in-depth conversation with art historian and curator Marcia Tucker. During the remainder of that year, Blumenthal and Horsfield went on to interview four more notable art world women: Joan Mitchell, Lucy Lippard, Agnes Martin and Ree Morton.

Allan Trachtenberg is one of the most esteemed figures in contemporary photographic history and cultural studies. He received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Emeritus Fellowship for his continuing work on Wright Morris. Other honors include fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation. Trachtenberg is the Neil Gray, Jr. Professor Emeritus of English and American studies at Yale University, where he taught for thirty-five years. 

Marcia Tucker (1940 - 2006) was a curator, writer and art historian, known for founding the New Museum of Contemporary Art after her dismissal from her curatorial post at the Whitney Museum of American Art due to creative disagreements. Tucker served as the visionary director of the New Museum from 1977 to 1999, during which time she organized major exhibitions like The Time of Our Lives (1999), A Labor of Love (1996), and Bad Girls (1994), and edited the series Documentary Sources in Contemporary Art. As a curator,Tucker championed social engagement, exploration and artistic process. She considered the museum a “laboratory” organization where both art and the practices of the institution itself were always in question. After leaving the New Museum, and until her death in 2006, Tucker worked as a freelance art critic, writer, and lecturer.

This work was produced in connection with Icono Negro, a three-artist show at Long Beach Museum of Art exploring the dynamics and distinctions of black video art. Three works featured in the show—Tony Cokes’s Black Celebration, Philip Mallory Jones’s What Goes Around, and Lawrence Andrews’s An I for an I—are shown in their entireties and commented upon by curator Claire Aguilar and video artists Ulysses Jenkins and O. Funmilayo Makarah.

Part of the Long Beach Museum of Art’s Collectors of the Seventies series, this tape enters the home and art collection of Dorothy and Herbert Vogel. The Vogels live in a nondescript high-rise in the Yorkville section of New York City’s East Side. Their three and a half rooms serve as their museum for Larry Poons, Robert Morris, Philip Pearlstein, Robert Mangold, Sylvia Mangold, Dennis Oppenheim, Richard Nonas, John Tuttle, Sol Lewitt, Dan Graham, Richard Nonas, John Chamberlain, Christo, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Robert Ryman.

Interview by Douglas Davis.

Michele Wallace's attention to the invisibility and/or fetishization of black women in the gallery and museum worlds has made possible new critical thinking around the intersection of race and gender in African American visual and popular culture, particularly in what she has called "the gap around the psychoanalytic" in contemporary African-American critical discourse.

It was 1990 and, although the iron curtain was falling, Soviet official control was still iron-fisted.  Camcorder reporter Skip Blumberg went along with a group of art aficionados on a tour of the Moscow studios of the unofficial artists, an underground community of talented, courageous and often wacky conceptual artists.  His report reveals an insider’s view of the art world and, at the same time, is a video about making a video.

Wurmburth, 2001

Swamp Swamp and Wurmburth are each comprised of a series of tightly cropped shots of small, hand-made table-top sculptures or "sets".  Paint and many other materials that behave like paint (i.e. lotion, shampoo, foodstuffs) are blown through these environments with plastic tubing and forced air.  Each edited collection of shots makes an endless cycle of primal sludge and rupturing goo.  Often, they are reminiscent of nature television, surgical documentary, science-fiction landscapes, and primitive forms of puppetry and special effects.