Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Prospect.3

Various venues, New Orleans

Paul Gauguin, Under the Pandanus (I Raro te Oviri), 1891, oil on canvas, 98 × 121 × 9 cm

It is odd to reflect that the idiosyncratic Prospect is the United States’ largest international art biennial. Its first iteration, in 2008, received an enthusiastic critical response but was still finding its infrastructural feet – as was New Orleans only three years after Hurricane Katrina or ‘the great storm’ (people in the city prefer not to humanize it with a name). Read the rest of this entry »

The Quiet Life

Artists and the Freedom of the Desert

 

A couple of miles into the unprepossessing town of Yucca Valley, in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree, California, is a turn-off for the Sky Village Swap Meet. There’s a sign, but it’s almost impossible to spot from the main road. Open on Saturdays and Sundays, the swap meet has been run for 35 years by Bob Carr, who stepped back from day-to-day operations earlier this year so he can concentrate on making art. Carr is 76. His masterwork is The Crystal Cave (2004–ongoing), a freestanding grotto made mainly from expanding foam and crystals. Customers at the swap meet can peer through circular windows in the structure’s lumpy brown walls and spy a miniature landscape painted green and brown, through which running water trickles over waterfalls and rock crystals sprout like alien flora. Read the rest of this entry »