In 1978 when Jeff Wall created The Destroyed Room, a radiant tableau that formally linked a ruined domestic space to Eugène Delacroix’s 1827 painting The Death of Sardanapalus, he established himself as one of the most prominent figures in conceptually oriented photography. A writer and practitioner, he created a body of work—often rife with allusions to art history itself—that changed the way photographic images can be created and displayed. Contributing editor Hunter Braithwaite spoke to Wall about his upcoming exhibitions at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (October 22 through January 17, 2016) and Marian Goodman Gallery in New York and London (opening October 20 and 29, respectively), which will feature six new pieces.
In the 55 years since his debut at Leo Castelli Gallery, Frank Stella has led the conversation about contemporary painting countless times. On October 30, the Whitney Museum of American Art charts his nonpareil career with a retrospective that will take over the museum’s entire fifth floor. A solo exhibition of work from several important series is also on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York through October 10. Modern Painters contributing editor Hunter Braithwaite met with the artist at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, Colorado—where he was receiving the National Artist Award this summer—to discuss his long career in surprisingly no-nonsense terms.
Trevor Paglen shines a light on the shadowy confluence of technological innovation and state misconduct. Whether by photographing secret military installations from afar, or by parsing official documents to identify telling omissions, the aim is to see that which has been purposefully obscured in hopes that visualization leads to consideration. Having grown up on military bases (his father was an Air Force ophthalmologist) before coming of age in the Bay Area punk scene in the ’90s, Paglen is now based in Berlin. We met several times this May at the Istanbul International Arts and Culture Festival, where he had just spoken about a new body of work (on view at Metro Pictures from September 10 – October 24).
On an August afternoon in Detroit’s Banglatown—so named for the sizable Bangladeshi population—artists, designers, and property developers gathered in the garden of Kate Daughdrill’s Burnside Farm, plucking spring rolls from a picnic table made of beams salvaged from the burnt-out home next door. The lunch included a planning discussion for the third edition of Culture Lab Detroit, an annual design and urbanism symposium happening next month. It was business as usual for Daughdrill, who operates Burnside Farm out of her home and garden. Purchased for $600 in 2011, the house is just one of the many instances of artists and activists who’ve approached the desolation of the Motor City as a blank canvas.
If you were in a band that played a show in one of Memphis’s many clubs since the 90s, or if you were one of the many locals who made those clubs their second home, or even if you just caught some music while passing through the city, you might have seen Dan Ball standing in the front row with his camera.
Ball, a third-generation Memphian, has been taking photos of bands for three decades—while they performed, backstage, or wherever he could get them to sit for portraits. Some photos made their way into bands’ publicity materials, or appeared in one alt-weekly or another, but most ended up filed away in Ball’s house. When I first met Ball, he was somewhere in the midst of organizing and digitizing the past few decades of his work. We sat for hours in his living room, the blinds closed against the August heat, as he told me about how he went from studying film and photography at the University of Memphis to shooting some of the most influential musicians of the past 30 years—Alex Chilton, Jay Reatard, Three 6 Mafia, and Sonic Youth, to name a few—often in that very room.
Jillian Mayer’s first computer was on the bedroom floor, squeezed in a nook next to her bed. She remembers spending long hours basking in its light, her body folded over in some parody of prayer. “The computer is your shrine,” she says. “Think of the halo, Byzantine gold leaf—it’s now the glow of the screen.” But don’t expect egg tempera and mosaic. Mayer’s art is more Nickelodeon than Nicodemus. Using homemade props, Kid Pix colors, and the fonts, fades, and feel of predawn QVC infomercials, her work camps in an uncanny valley, a place just familiar enough to bring about some serious introspection as to how we should live in a world teetering above a digital abyss. And while you can find it on YouTube, or in David Castillo Gallery, her art is just as likely to be projected on the exterior of the Guggenheim, screened at Sundance, and confused with pornography on the streets of Montreal.
On a hot day in May, Monte Laster and I drove an hour and a half out of Dallas to Castle Rock Mountain, a ranch he had purchased just two weeks prior to serve as the American base for his community engagement platform—the French American Creative Exchange (FACE). I was in town for the first edition of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Soluna International Music and Arts Festival, which commissioned Laster to create a new project based on notions of place, identity, and dislocation. Although he was raised in Fort Worth, Laster has lived in France since 1989, primarily in the disenfranchised banlieue of La Courneuve, a fifteen-minute train ride north of Paris. “I’m 100% Texan and 80% French,” the artist said. Castle Rock was a bit of a homecoming.
The concrete was still wet when the new Garage Museum of Contemporary Art opened this week in Moscow’s Gorky Park, but that didn’t stop the crowds. Designed by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA for the expanding art space helmed by collector and magazine editor Dasha Zhukova, the Garage preserves Moscow’s architectural past, sets a new bar for the future of contemporary art, and revitalizes a park along the way.
A few weeks ago, artists of different generations and pursuits gathered in Istanbul for the Istanbul International Arts & Culture Festival (IST.), a weekend of free conversations and art exhibits—the stuff that brings together luminaries from fields as diverse as architecture, literature, and millinery.
Once a small series of workshops, IST. is now an international affair; past guests include Zaha Hadid, Gore Vidal, and Courtney Love. And if this fifth annual event proved anything, it’s that the art scene in this timeless city is fresher than ever.
There is not a single right angle in the studio that Math Bass keeps in Los Angeles’s historic Filipino town. This architectural quirk might occasionally prove frustrating, but it creates a fitting locale for Bass’s art, which slinks between hard geometry and the curves of the body. Her practice takes several forms, occasionally in conjunction: paintings, sculptures, and performances in which the human element shifts in and out of both the space and the viewer’s mind.