Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: whitney biennial

Buck Ellison

‘Rain in Rifle Season, Distributions from Split-Interest Trusts, Price Includes Uniform, Never Hit Soft, 2003’, 2021, archival pigment print, 102 × 135 cm. All images courtesy of the artist

The handsome blonde man in the photograph reclines on a wrinkled Persian rug, an arm’s length from the camera. His smiling eyes gaze fondly into ours. Maybe he’s about to say something. But what?

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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 »

Tony Greene

MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles

Tony Greene, …understand…, 1989  Courtesy of Judie Bamber  © The Estate of Tony Greene

Tony Greene, …understand…, 1989
Courtesy of Judie Bamber © The Estate of Tony Greene


When Tony Greene made the 20-odd works in this exhibition, all dated between 1987 and 1990, he knew he was dying of AIDS. This very fact makes even his least political paintings almost unbearably poignant. Greene’s art is devastating and immediate because it is his answer to a question that everyone should consider from time to time: What would you make if you knew you only had a few years to live? Read the rest of this entry »

Lutz Bacher

Ratio 3, San Francisco


Have you seen ‘The Twilight Saga’ (2008–12)? Me neither. But, like you, I know who Robert Pattinson is. For a spell last year, the vampire movies’ British star seemed to be everywhere, the dramas of his private and professional life broadcast on all channels of the news media. Perhaps it should have come as no surprise to find him framed, glowering through darkened glass, in Lutz Bacher’s exhibition at Ratio 3, the first at the gallery’s new premises in San Francisco’s Mission District. But it was a surprise, nevertheless, despite Bacher’s reputation as one of the most consistently surprising artists working in the US today. Dissonance, elision and confusion have been her stock-in-trade since her career began in the 1970s. Even Lutz Bacher is reportedly a pseudonym. Read the rest of this entry »