Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: Apollo

Mary Corse

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Mary Corse, Untitled (White Diamond, Negative Stripe), 1965. Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 84 in. Collection of Michael Straus. Photograph © Mary Corse

I am standing in Mary Corse’s studio, a large white box with a sloping flat roof that she built two years ago beside her home in the wild landscape of Topanga Canyon, just a few minutes north of Santa Monica. She has lived on the same secluded property, first with her two sons and now alone, since 1970. One side of the studio is given over almost entirely to sliding glass doors which frame a stunning view of the Santa Monica mountains, green with chaparral and live oaks, with ochre rocks jutting in between. Corse apologises for the emptiness of the studio; it is late May, and several new works have just shipped to her solo exhibition at Lisson Gallery, London (11 May–23 June), while a long-term installation of her paintings opened at Dia:Beacon a few days earlier, following the institution’s acquisition of three works from the 1960s and ’70s and another from 2010. Many more pieces have been gathered at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where her retrospective – the artist’s first solo museum survey – opens in June (until 25 November). Read the rest of this entry »

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Grandfather: A Pioneer Like Us

Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

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Installation view of Grandfather: A Pioneer Like Us (1974) Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, February 4–April 22, 2018 Photo: Brian Forrest

In 1972, Carl Andre wrote a note to Harald Szeemann in response to the Swiss curator’s invitation to participate in documenta 5. ‘DO YOU HAVE AN ART SECTION?’ asked the irascible artist. As it turned out, the sarcastic enquiry was not entirely unfounded. Szeemann’s radical curatorial mission, developed in documenta 5 and pursued over the next three decades of his career, was to pollute the category of art history with artefacts from the entire field of visual culture, and to subordinate the static art object to a more fluid representation of a creative individual’s interior world. At documenta 5, there were areas featuring political propaganda, the art of the mentally ill, advertising, and science fiction. (A proposed pornography section was cancelled.) Read the rest of this entry »

Theaster Gates

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Study for Pavillion, 2017, Bricks, 16 1/2 x 24 1/4 x 21 1/4 inches. Courtesy Regen Projects

As the January rain washes the windows of Regen Projects in Los Angeles, Theaster Gates, dressed in a blue knee-length kaftan over jeans, is relaxed and buoyant, seemingly unfazed by the pressures of the year ahead. The finishing touches are being made to ‘But to Be a Poor Race’ (14 January–25 February), Gates’ debut exhibition with the gallery. In early March he will open a new body of work, ‘The Minor Arts’, in the recently renovated Tower Gallery of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The following month, in Helsinki, he will headline the IHME Contemporary Art Festival, where he will perform with his improvisational music ensemble, The Black Monks of Mississippi, part of a larger project for IHME that Gates is calling The Black Charismatic. In June, he unveils a new permanent installation for the sculpture garden of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

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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 »

Bill Viola

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When Bill Viola talks about his art, he refers to it as ‘our work’. He and his wife, Kira Perov, have been working together since they met in Melbourne, Australia, in 1977. The first thing Viola tells me, when I sit down with him at his studio in Long Beach, California, is that it is most important that my interview include Kira. Read the rest of this entry »

Donald Judd

Donald Judd, 101 Spring Street, 1970. Photo by Paul Katz.
© Judd Foundation. Courtesy Judd Foundation Archives

 

How do you feel about the term Minimal Art?’ asks the art historian Barbara Rose. ‘Well I don’t like it,’ replies Donald Judd, leaning into the table and smiling shyly. ‘What’s minimal about it?’ Scattered across the bare floorboards of the warehouse loft behind him are a tricycle, a child’s painting, a small forest of cacti in terracotta pots, a toy truck and an open trunk. Read the rest of this entry »

Carl Andre

Carl Andre building 'Cedar Piece', 1964

What is the most important thing to say about Carl Andre? Carl can’t remember. ‘What was it I once said?’ he responds when I ask him which, of all his contributions to the history of art, he is most proud of. ‘I didn’t make a great contribution but all I did was add the … It was something like …’ He tails off. ‘My mind is gone. I have no memory,’ he says simply and equitably. At 77, Andre is one of the most important living artists in America. Melissa Kretschmer, his wife, cuts in. She accompanies us throughout our conversation; nearly three decades Andre’s junior, she is better able to recall some of the details that evade her husband. Read the rest of this entry »