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This month in Artforum: Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri was once a surveyor, and indeed, his camera combed the landscape like a theodolite, producing pictures that often possess a fathomless depth of field—auguring a day when all images might be rendered in such infinitesimal detail. In anticipation of the major retrospective of Ghirri’s work opening on April 24 at MAXXI, the National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome, Artforum presents a suite of never-before-published photographs by the artist and an essay on his work by historian Maria Antonella Pelizzari.
“Ghirri’s work reflected his awareness of the opacity of the world, and the consequent challenge of description.”
—Maria Antonella Pelizzari
· “Dispatch”: Artforum inaugurates a new series that seeks to expand the perimeter of the art world without flattening it, inviting critical discourse about art as it exists in tension with a specific site. For this issue, the focus is on the Caucasus region, and specifically on Georgia—a nation-state that has undergone an acutely contradictory and turbulent modernity and that is now seeing an unprecedented revival of artistic activity. Eleven distinguished contributors—curators Daniel Baumann, Irena Popiashvili, Wato Tsereteli, and Joanna Warsza; art historian Nana Kipiani; architect Nikoloz Japaridze; and artists Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Levan Chogoshvili, Gela Patashuri, Sergei Tcherepnin, and Andro Wekua—tell of the region’s torquing between radical and reactionary, East and West.
“The collapse of the USSR sucked Western culture into Georgia’s borders with the thirst of a vacuum. But Georgia was not a void: Its culture, and its architecture, was already incredibly diverse and incredibly dense.”
“Tbilisi was ready to teach me and my fellow visitors more than we ever expected, and for many it became a lesson in humility, or in Western hubris, if you prefer.”
“Like Tbilisi’s constantly reconfigured architecture, its contemporary art might best be characterized as form in motion.
· Claes Oldenburg‘s objects pulled the haptic marks of Jackson Pollock out into the three-dimensional world of the commodity, both contesting and extending the AbEx artist’s aims. As the Museum of Modern Art in New York opens an exhibition of Oldenburg’s early works this month, Branden W. Joseph bridges the break between Pollock and Pop.
“As Oldenburg put it, ‘Figurative vs. non-figurative is a moronic distinction. The challenge to abstract art must go deeper than that.’”
—Branden W. Joseph
· James Quandt takes the sweeping poeticism of Terrence Malick‘s films to task, on the occasion of the director’s new release, To the Wonder.
“When did Terrence Malick, perpetually associated by critics with the tradition of American transcendentalism, turn from Emerson to Thomas Kinkade, from the Over-Soul to the Over-Blown?
· And: John Baldessari, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, and Anne Rorimer pay tribute to their colleague and friend Michael Asher; Julian Rose takes a “Close-Up” look at Sarah Oppenheimer‘s architectural intervention at the Baltimore Museum of Art; Devrim Bayar pens an “Openings” on Turkish-born artist Ahmet Öğüt; and Benjamin Paul turns back time, reviewing new books by Alexander Nagel and Amy Knight Powell that link the Renaissance to the modern.
· Also: Richard Meyer reflects on what was left unsaid at “Intimate Collaborations,” a conference organized by Kaja Silverman in connection with the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s “Dancing Around the Bride”; William Kaizen tunes into the Nam June Paik retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC; Zehra Jumabhoy journeys to the first Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kochi, India; J. Hoberman goes overboard for Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel‘s Leviathan; and Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, founding principal of the Oslo-based architecture firm Snøhetta, constructs his Top Ten.
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