Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: Frances Stark

Frances Stark

Frances Stark, still from 'The Magic Flute', 2017, ©? Frances Stark (1)

Frances Stark, still from ‘The Magic Flute’, 2017

When artist Frances Stark was invited to participate in the prestigious 2017 Whitney Biennial, last year, she was in the middle of producing an opera. She had no time for interruptions. It was her first opera: Mozart’s Magic Flute, a re-orchestrated and retranslated version of which she recorded with a group of young musicians, and then turned into a text-based video with animated subtitles in place of the sung libretto. She considers the work – which premieres at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on 28 April – an experiment in pedagogy, an educative experience both for the players and the audience. It is the most ambitious and collaborative production of the 50-year-old Los Angeles artist’s career. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Frances Stark

Marc Foxx, Los Angeles


About three years ago, something unexpected happened in Frances Stark’s art. After two decades of making work about herself––about her anxieties and obsessions, her identity crises and motivational struggles––she started making work about other people. Stranger still, her subjects became, in most instances, young men of color.  Read the rest of this entry »

Frances Stark


“What is this? 
This is me writing.”

So begins a text Frances Stark wrote in 2002, part of a handmade publication titled The Unspeakable Compromise of the Portable Work of Art. For two decades Stark has been writing about writing, and making art about the vexing processes of artistic production. If that sounds limited in scope or overly solipsistic, then consider the range of themes that this activity has, in Stark’s hands, enlisted. From performance anxiety and creative block to exhibitionism (peacocking, as she often characterizes 
it), to the art market and artist community, to pedagogy, her favorite music and books, her sexuality, and her family, the Los Angeles–based Stark has never lacked for material. Everything in her life has the potential 
to be incorporated into her art. Her collage Push, 2006, shows exhibition invitation cards flying through her mail slot like a horizontal tornado. Read the rest of this entry »