Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Frances Stark

Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

Frances Stark 2010_-_Pull_After_Push

I don’t believe it is cruel or unfair to say that a museum is probably not the natural home for Frances Stark’s work. The artworks that she has made over the past 24 years (the timespan covered by this retrospective) are many things – epistolary, diaristic, notational, self-referential, accretive, serial, slapdash, intricate – but they are not, in the main, the kinds of forms that museums are traditionally built to house. Read the rest of this entry »

The Kibbo Kift Kindred

Angus McBean. Kinsman on rock, Switzerland, 1930.

In 1929, the Whitechapel Gallery mounted an exhibition of painted tents, carved ceremonial totems, shields, banners, costumes, archery equipment, embroidery and weaving looms. These objects, all of them crafted by hand, were not the work of some remote island tribe, nor even medieval European artefacts, but the regalia of an idiosyncratic group of men, women and children, predominantly English and active during the 1920s, who called themselves the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift. This autumn, the Whitechapel Gallery has put many of those same materials back on display in a show co-curated by Annabella Pollen, the author of a meticulous new history of the group. Read the rest of this entry »

Robert Irwin

Robert Irwin

In 2007, Robert Irwin had a retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Held in the city in which Irwin has lived since the early 1980s and curated by the museum’s director, his old friend Hugh M. Davies, the exhibition was something of a homecoming tribute for the artist. He did not know it at the time, but a chance meeting during the installation of the exhibition would open the door to an unexpected new chapter in his career, one that this year is coming to fruition with exhibitions at Pace, New York, in the spring, and at White Cube, London (until 15 November). Read the rest of this entry »

Noah Purifoy

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Noah Purifoy

Noah Purifoy, Earl Fatha Hines, 1990, mixed media, 1.3 x 1 m

There are two entry points – architecturally but also thematically – to ‘Junk Dada’, the exhibition of sculpture by Noah Purifoy housed on the top floor of Renzo Piano’s Broad Contemporary Art Museum, at LACMA, curated by Franklin Sirmans and Yael Lipschutz. Read the rest of this entry »

Joseph Cornell

joseph cornell 2
Collage, it could quite reasonably be argued, was the most influential cultural innovation of the 20th Century. When Georges Braques and Pablo Picasso first affixed bits of patterned paper and oil cloth to their paintings, they changed Western ideas about artistry and authorship forever. They opened a door in aesthetics to appropriation – what would also come to be called sampling. Without collage, there would be no Grandmaster Flash, no Public Enemy. Probably no Lady Gaga. There would be no Frank Gehry or Rem Koolhaas, no Vivienne Westwood or Karl Lagerfeld. The Las Vegas Strip and the Dubai skyline would look very different. Read the rest of this entry »

Preparing to Live: Roger Brown in California

Rosa Californica, 1994

Rosa Californica, 1994

The tiny settlement of La Conchita, California, is one of those places that are at once utterly rational and crazily perverse. A neat oblong of ten streets perpendicular to the Pacific Ocean, it is almost as simple and idyllic as a seaside village could be—except that between La Conchita and the ocean lies the Ventura Freeway and a railroad. Until a few years ago, when a pedestrian tunnel was dug under the road, many residents chose to duck through a long storm drain instead of sprinting across six lanes of traffic when they wanted to watch the sunset on the usually deserted beach. (1)  La Conchita is hugged by mountains and is as close to the ocean as it is possible for non-millionaires to get anywhere between San Francisco and Mexico. It brought Roger Brown closer to the man he loved, whom he had lost only years before. It was the place in which he chose to draw closer to death, in an imperfect paradise of his own devising. Read the rest of this entry »

The Live/Work Gallery

Spaces is a feature of art-agenda that proposes a thematic examination of galleries based on the analysis of their physical and spatial configurations. Every two months, art-agenda publishes a new reflection on the spatial characteristics of galleries, their architecture, identity, and relation with their historical and geographical context.


The second feature of Spaces focuses on the confluence of domestic and exhibition environments.

ParkView-Feb2015-Installs-018_hires

In the first feature in art-agenda’s Spaces series, Chris Sharp enumerated the various species of apartment gallery, a family of spaces that he described as having evolved in contradistinction to the white cube. Sharp’s analysis was made largely along architectural—and thus stylistic and perceptual—lines. Wainscoting, paneling, and cabinetry are all pertinent identifiers of the apartment gallery, unless, as Sharp puts it, the room as been “white-cubified.”

Before reading his piece, I myself had been reflecting on the growing number of commercial galleries that are operated from dealers’ homes. My interest, however, was quite different to Sharp’s. What did it mean, I had begun to wonder, when the proprietor of a gallery actually lived in (or above) the space where they did business? Under what circumstances can art and life, commerce and domesticity, productively exist under the same roof?

Read more…

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