Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Pipplotti Rist: Pour Your Body Out (7353 Cubic Meters) – The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Posted in Reviews by jeremygoldsmith on December 10, 2008

Installation photoPippilotti Rist’s installation at the museum of modern art in New York is a stunning visual display that encapsulates the viewer in a swirling psychedelic environment of pleasure.


The imagery itself consists of visions of nature landscapes, animals, fruit, water, space, details of people and macro images of what seems like sub atomic particles and embryonic components, all of which Rist terms “spiritual vitamins.” Some of the images remind me of Fischli Weiss photographs, while others suggest the still life paintings of Marc Quinn and others reflect the dream like imagery of surrealist painters like Salvador Dali or Yves Tanguy.


There are no still frames; the video is in constant flowing flux. Standing in the room the fluid motion makes you feel at first somewhat dizzy, however, once you settle down it becomes much more pleasantly negotiable.


The video display occupies the entirety of the atrium on the first floor of the museum filling wall to wall at least 35 feet vertically of the three main walls. The gallery floor is carpeted with a dark red plush material with a smaller circular even more plush carpet filling the centre of the room. Sitting on top of that is again a circular shaped sofa with pillows allowing viewers to sit or lie down, relax and take in the whole video. Viewers are instructed to remove their shoes upon entry to as to ensure the carpets and sofas retain their soft and home-y feel.  To quote the text presented before entering the space: “Pippilotti Rist invites you to remove your shoes when in the area of the iris-shaped sofa. Please feel as liberated as possible and move as freely as you can or want to! Watch the videos and listedn to the sound in any position or movement. Practice stretching: pour your body out of your hips or watch through your legs. Rolling around and singing is also allowed!”  


Accompanying the video is a sound track that for lack of better description is “trippy”. I am reminded of Pink Floyd or Alman Brothers concerts mixed in with a bit of something like Massive Attack. The sound and video together is extremely relaxing, and something seems quite elemental about it, allowing the viewer in a sort of unsettling way to relate to the entirety of the piece. I suppose it is the womb like nature of the environment and its surroundings that make it feel like you are at home, experiencing life from the inside, before you are born.


All things considered, this is a fabulous work of art that transcends boundaries of film, installation and therapy.

“Isabel and other intimate strangers – Portraits by Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon” – Gagosian Gallery, Madison Avenue, New York

Posted in Reviews by jeremygoldsmith on November 26, 2008

baconIn contrast to Gagosian’s slightly disappointing exhibition of new Richard Prince paintings downtown, his Giacometti and Bacon show recently opened at the uptown Madison Avenue space provides an interesting insight in to the life and work of two very different yet frighteningly similar modern and post-war masters.


Drawn mainly from institutions and private collections around the world, the show brings together a group of works (many which have not been seen publicly for some time) by each artist that highlight the similarity between the artists’ ideas and philosophies. Throughout their respective careers, Giacometti and Bacon were both troubled by the existential challenges and mysteries faced by modern man expressed through the human figure and psyche. Portraits of friends and family were the predominant subject matter for both artists and while Bacon exclusively painted; Giacometti produced both figurative sculptures and paintings dealing with these themes. 


Spread across two floors in several galleries, sculptures, drawings and paintings by Giacometti are interspersed with both small and large scale paintings by Bacon, including a few large and small scale triptychs. The contorted forms in Bacon’s portraits which pull and twist the sitter into a deranged, anxious and distraught state echo the squashed and compressed, almost lumpy figures that Giacometti is so famous for. When confronted with the side by side comparison of the two artists’ works, it becomes alarmingly apparent that although working in a fundamentally different media, the artists share a similar style of working: that of constant pushing, pulling and re-working their respective media. The pronounced finger marks in Giacometti’s sculptures left behind during the working and moulding of the clay used to create the bronze casts correlates quite closely to the evidence of Bacon’s brush and palette knife on the surface of his canvases as he incessantly scraped and applied layers of paint in creating his haunting images.


Both artists’ works have the ability to appear aesthetically beautiful while at the same time haunting and discomforting. Meandering through the lengthy exhibition seeing all of these works in both contexts leaves the viewer in a state of excitement, perplexity and even distress. Furthermore, the exhibition inaugurates the new fourth floor galleries of the Madison Avenue space heightening the importance and surreal feelings experienced from manoeuvring or even gliding through the dramatic show.


It seems like an opportune time for Gagosian to present such a magnificent exhibition. Over the past few years Bacon prices on the international market are soaring to higher and higher levels which has attracted significant media attention throughout the art community. Additionally, the Tate Britain is currently holding a major Bacon retrospective drawing in art lovers from around the world and interestingly the first major exhibition of Giacometti’s work in Russia has recently opened at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. Considering that some of the newest major Bacon buyers have been Russians and such a high percentage of Gagosian’s recent buyers have been Russian, it seems only appropriate for him to point out this interesting and important connection between these two great and complex “blue chip” artists.

“Canal Zone” new paintings by Richard Prince at Gagosian Gallery, 24th Street, New York

Posted in Reviews by jeremygoldsmith on November 26, 2008


Larry Gagosian’s latest showing of recent paintings by Richard Prince is undoubtedly one of the most disappointing exhibitions I have seen this season. These new large scale works combine two of Prince’s most commercially successful series from recent years. The artist amalgamates themes and techniques from his “check book” and “porno” paintings with his “de Kooning-like” portrait paintings into unnecessarily large and hideous imagery that reminds the viewer both of messy and quickly painted German art from the 1980s and 90s and simply re-hashes of his own more recent work.


Walking into Gagosian’s 24th street gallery I was immediately impressed with the physical space. The grand expanse of white walls and freshly polished concrete floors creates a sense of anticipation and eagerness and I found myself excited with the prospect of seeing a show worthy of this “museum-like” space. Sadly, I was almost immediately disappointed. The three main rooms of the gallery are devoted entirely to these paintings, all nearly the same in scale. The imagery itself differs from painting to painting – some with a higher ratio of collaged “pin-ups” to painted figures and others feature more prominently rasta-like rocker collaged figures. In either event – the visual impact is the same.


Prince has been termed a “collector” for quite some time now – he uses, or more appropriately, appropriates images from varied sources, and pastes, prints or collages in other techniques these images on to his canvases. Like his “Nurse” paintings, Prince then obscures, alters and even paints over parts of the images transforming them, or re-configuring them to fit his own needs. The painted portions of the work remain loose and gestural as with his previous painted work, however, in these works he has even added Baldessari-like circular shapes to cover and conceal certain

elements of his figures’ faces. prince2

This technique along with the de Kooning and Picasso-esque figuration that he employs makes me feel as if Prince’s work has not truly evolved at all, but rather he has only re-assembled old appropriated imagery in a new format. Not only do I see this as somewhat boring and repetitive, but it makes me wonder if he has realised that he has a formula that works commercially and he is happier to make an “easy buck” than try and create something new and exciting like he did with his early photographs and “Joke” paintings.