Installation view of Picasso Sculpture. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, September 14, 2015–February 7, 2016. © 2015 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Pablo Enriquez
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The praise for the recent Museum of Modern Art exhibition, boldly but simply entitled Picasso Sculpture, contained one superlative after another. Roberta Smith, writing in the New York Times, asserted of the show that “Many exhibitions are good, some are great and a very few are tantamount to works of art in their own right — for their clarity, lyricism and accumulative wisdom.” Peter Schjeldahl told his New Yorker readers that he felt Picasso was likely “more naturally a sculptor than a painter,” though “all his “training and early experience, and by far most of his prodigious energy, went into painting.” Such claims as these mean that their subject occupies an immense place in the canon of great artists, and a pivotal position in the long stretch of art history. Though known for his nearly stupefying reputation as the master modernist painter, and now also as Picasso the genius sculptor, we need not let his repute become the be all and end all of our ways of looking at, and measuring the weight of, this complex individual (I almost said phenomenon). There have been negative assessments before this; John Berger’s The Success and Failure of Picasso (1965), for example, remains a book well-worth reading. But the amount of laudatory print on the subject, in popular and academic idioms, grows a bit more daunting every year.

More… “Measuring Genius”

Charles Molesworth has published a number of books on modern literature. His most recent book is The Capitalist and the Critic: J.P. Morgan, Roger Fry and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (U. of Texas).
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ART/NOT
The elusiveness of Richard Tuttle's "Both/And" can be panic-inducing – until you remember that art doesn't always need a definition.
BY MORGAN MEIS
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Hilton Kramer, longtime chief art critic for the New York Times, was never a shy man, at least in print. He thought of art criticism as a battle. There was a war, as Kramer saw it, between good art and bad art or – maybe more crucially – between art and non-art. Kramer saw himself as a warrior on the side of Art and The Good. In this war, it did not pay to be nice.

Reviewing an exhibit at the Whitney Museum by the young artist Richard Tuttle in 1975, Hilton Kramer wrote, “To Mies van der Rohe’s famous dictum that less is more, the art of Richard Tuttle offers definitive refutation. For in Mr. Tuttle’s work, less is unmistakably less.”
More… “Art/Not”

Morgan Meis has a PhD in Philosophy and is a founding member of Flux Factory, an arts collective in New York. He has written for n+1, The Believer, Harper’s Magazine, and The Virginia Quarterly Review. He won the Whiting Award in 2013. Morgan is also an editor at 3 Quarks Daily, and a winner of a Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers grant. A book of Morgan’s selected essays can be found here. He can be reached at morganmeis@gmail.com.
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STILL ALIVE
Why photograph Theo Jansen's kinetic sculptures, the Strandbeests? Well, why photograph anything alive?
BY MORGAN MEIS
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If you are lucky, and if you happen to be on the Dutch shore of the North Sea, and if it is a windy day (a not-unusual occurrence), you just might see a new sort of creature walking down the beach. This creature will be walking in fits and starts, activated by gusts of wind, animated in one part of its “body” and then another. Atop the creature, you will see sheets of fabric that look like sails of a small ship. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that the rest of the creature is made entirely of plastic tubing, what’s known as PVC. PVC stands for “polyvinyl chloride.” The white plastic tubing you’ve seen in thousands of bathrooms and kitchens is PVC. Upon even closer inspection, you’ll notice that the creature is made of PVC and nothing else. You’ll ponder that for a moment. Nothing but PVC. How does it move, then? Isn’t there a motor somewhere? Aren’t there electronics on the inside telling the creature when and how to move? You’ll become shocked and disoriented by the realization that the creature isn’t controlled from anywhere else or by anyone else. It is simply walking of its own accord, having a little stroll on a windy day along the beaches of the North Sea, as if it were alive.
More… “Still Alive”

Morgan Meis has a PhD in Philosophy and is a founding member of Flux Factory, an arts collective in New York. He has written for n+1, The Believer, Harper’s Magazine, and The Virginia Quarterly Review. He won the Whiting Award in 2013. Morgan is also an editor at 3 Quarks Daily, and a winner of a Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers grant. A book of Morgan’s selected essays can be found here. He can be reached at morganmeis@gmail.com.
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An ideal bust for the Victorian parlor

Just past the front door, in the Atrium of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, are six “ideal” busts. The busts are installed near window ledges and against walls, high above the floor, so that everyone is guaranteed to walk right by them. The busts are female figures, carved in white marble. Their faces are posed in the neoclassical style – impassive, serene – with pupil-less eyes cast blindly down, or toward an invisible horizon. 

Stefany Anne Golberg is a writer and multi-media artist. She has written for The Washington Post (Outlook), Lapham’s Quarterly, New England Review, and others. Stefany is currently a columnist for The Smart Set and Critic-in-Residence at Drexel University. A book of Stefany’s selected essays can be found here. She can be reached at stefanyanne@gmail.com.

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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, February 21–September 1, 2014. Photography by Kris McKay © SRGF.

My wife, the over-observant Shuffy, noticed a group of children playing with geometric shapes cut from pieces of black paper. The children were arranging these shapes on larger sheets of construction paper. The construction paper was lying on the floor of the Guggenheim Museum and the Guggenheim Museum was in the midst of its exhibit of Italian Futurism.

“Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe.” Through September 1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. 

One wonders what Filippo Tommaso Marinetti would have thought about these children. Marinetti (1876-1944) was the founder of Futurism. In 1909, he wrote a document that has since become the most famous testament of Futurism. It is known as The Futurist Manifesto. The fourth “principle” of Futurism states, infamously: “We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the… More…

A tragedy depicted with Lego.

Sean Kenney makes life-size sculptures of endangered animals out of Lego bricks. Adam Reed Tucker reconstructs famous buildings throughout the world in Lego form. Beth Weis specializes in Lego as home décor. Some people grew up building with Legos, and then never stopped. Lego invaded their minds and now they view the world through a Lego prism. These people have made Lego into a full-time profession. So much so that Lego now has an officially recognized category of what they call “Certified Professionals.” There are nine of these Certified Professionals at present. They are good at making things with Lego.

“Brick by Brick: the LEGO Brick sculpture of Nathan Sawaya.” Through April 13. Agora Gallery, New York.

Certified Professional Nathan Sawaya got his start at the Legoland theme park in Southern… More…

There’s a place in France where the naked ladies dance. There’s a hole in the wall where the men can see it all. Except in this case, the lady isn’t dancing. She’s lying naked in a park. Her legs are splayed open to reveal a hairless vagina, more of a cleft than anything else. A waterfall glitters in the background. She could be a corpse but for the fact that she is holding a lantern with her left arm. From the peephole in the wooden door we cannot see her head.

“Marcel Duchamp: ‘Étant donnés’” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Through Nov. 29, 2009.

This is Marcel Duchamp’s last work. It is three-dimensional, something like a diorama. The naked woman is a life-sized model made from a cast of a woman Duchamp was once in love with. The… More…

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There was nothing nice about Bauhaus. The Bauhaus artists were in love with death and destruction. Sure, they wanted to build. But they wanted to build from a fresh pallet, a tabula rasa. They were militants when it came to art. Art, for them, wasn’t simply about beauty, or function, or form. Art was about everything. They would make art life and life art. And all of it would have clean lines and sharp angles. The whole world would be glass and steel. They would smash the universe into a better version of itself.

If nothing else, the audacity is to be admired. Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus school, once wrote in a manifesto:

Let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen without the class-distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsmen and artists! Let… More…