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Frances Guerin

20130613162923-8997868371_71bbe0e0fd_b Basel: Staid Yet Surprising   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 6/13/13

Last weekend I travelled to Basel for a conference. It's been years since I was in Basel, so many years, that my memories of the city are vague, but after twenty-four hours, I remembered where I was. Things tend to stay the same in Switzerland. In the years since I first went to Basel, the world has become a smaller place, Russia has assumed a role as a world power, China has become a leading economic and political force to be reckoned with, the Middle East has become increasingly unstable, global w... [more]

20130602195633-flood_piazza_san_marco_610x406 The End of the Line, The Last Days in Venice   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 6/2/13

I have been to Venice many times in my life, and I think my favorite moment is the approach. As the train pulls into Venezia Santa Lucia station I have the feeling that I have arrived. I feel as though I have arrived at the end of a pilgrimage, across the world, to another land, another era. It may have something to do with the fairytale beauty of this ancient archipelago, or it may stem from the sensation of a connection to the crusaders of the Middle Ages, a connection that is encouraged as I am... [more]

20120619144516-p79322_9 Andreas Gursky: Bahrain I   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 6/19/12

It was unclear to me why Andreas Gursky’s photograph of the Formula One racetrack in Bahrain I, 2005 was included in one of the chapters of the Patrick Keiller curated exhibition in the main hall of the Tate Britain. It may have been there simply because the photograph is owned by the Tate, but it looked out of place among otherwise de-aestheticized or minor works by other leading artists of the past three or four centuries. Similarly, Gursky being German and his subject matter being the Middle E... [more]

20120417084117-bruce Illuminating   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Adel Abdessemed, Saâdane Afif, Jean-Michel Alberola, He An, Stephen Antonakos, John Armleder, Fiona Banner, Jean-Pierre Bertrand, Pierre Bismuth, Monica Bonvicini, Nathalie Brevet, Stefan Brüggemann, Marie José Burki, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Hsia-Fei Chang, Chryssa, Stéphane Dafflon, Cédric Delsaux, Frédéric Develay, Carlos Cruz Diez, Laddie John Dill, Tracey Emin, Cerith Wyn Evans, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Daniel Firman, Dan Flavin, Sylvie Fleury, Claire Fontaine, Lucio Fontana, Michel François, Kendell Geers, Gun Gordillo, Douglas Gordon, Laurent Grasso, Jeppe Hein, Bethan Huws, Alfredo Jaar, Anne Marie Jugnet, Jeff Koons, Gyula Kosice, Joseph Kosuth, Piotr Kowalski, Brigitte Kowanz, David Kramer, Sigalit Landau, Bertrand Lavier, Thomas Lélu, Claude Lévêque, Glenn Ligon, Jill Magid, Pierre Malphettes, Xavier Mary, Adam McEwen, Tse Su Mei, Mathieu Mercier, Mario Merz, Eric Michel, Jonathan Monk, Francois Morellet, Thomas Mulcaire, Maurizio Nannucci, Bruce Nauman, Ivan Navarro, Melik Ohanian, Fritz Panzer, Laurent Pernot, Mai-Thu Perret, Martial Raysse, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Delphine Reist, Jason Rhoades, Hughes Rochette, Sarkis, Franck Scurti, Frank Scurti, Alain Séchas, Miri Segal, Keith Sonnier, Vassiliki Tsekoura, jan van munster, Alan Suicide Vega, Giancarlo Zen at La Maison Rouge February 17th, 2012 - May 20th, 2012
Posted 4/17/12

On the face of it, this exhibition, Néon. Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue? is just plain fun. With the Maison Rouge all lit up in different colored neon lights, both industrially produced and hand-crafted  tubes bringing the walls to life, inviting us to walk into spaces saturated in impossible colors. A visit to Néon is ostensibly a joyful, light way to spend an afternoon. Then as we quickly realize, neon has more to it than meets the eye. Neon lights may look pretty, but they are... [more]

20120325051402-aiweiwei_03 Ai Weiwei, Entrelacs au Jeu de Paume   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Ai Weiwei at Jeu de Paume February 21st, 2012 - April 29th, 2012
Posted 3/25/12

This exhibition is a great introduction to the controversial work of Chinese political art superstar, Ai Weiwei. I was skeptical, and given the intense publicity around Ai Weiwei, we should all be skeptical. When an artist who attracts this much hype for his vociferous attack on governmental regimes and global capitalism exhibits at the Jeu de Paume, there’s every reason to be dubious.   Ai’s work is copious and the artist is prolific, unsurprisingly given his Duchampian belief that art is life. One of t... [more]

20111229000827-02__12 Damien Hirst, The Complete Spot Paintings   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Damien Hirst at Gagosian - Paris January 12th, 2012 - March 10th, 2012
Posted 2/23/12

When I walked into Gagosian Gallery’s recently opened Paris space, one street back from the city’s most imposing shopping stretch, the Champs Élysées, I felt as though I had come home. In the light drenched space, made brighter by the gallery’s clean white walls, I was surrounded by paintings. And they are paintings that, for me, demonstrate contemporary art at its most brilliant and exciting. Here, on the pulse of the tourist hub, a stone’s throw from the Élyssée Palace is the Paris episode of... [more]

20120310154509-forgottenspace23234 Allan Sekula & Noel Burch   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 12/5/11

I was looking forward to The Forgotten Space for a number of reasons: my longstanding interest in shipping, in travel and in adventures on the sea, of course, but also because I have followed Noel Burch’s and Allan Sekula’s work since I was a graduate student. Having done my time as a student of Annette Michelson at NYU, I was among those brainwashed into believing that, after Noel Burch’s To The Distant Observer there was nothing left to say about Japanese Cinema. And coming to work on early cinema in t... [more]

20111111074547-baselitzfraudfc Georg Baselitz   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Georg Baselitz at Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris / ARC September 30th, 2011 - January 29th, 2012
Posted 11/10/11

Nothing I have to say about Georg Baselitz’s sculptures will do justice to their magnificence. And from the start, it must be clear that much of their magnificence has to do with the way they are exhibited at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Each monumental sculpture is given its own space, a space it devours with the intensity of its emotion, a space into which we are invited to become embroiled in this intensity. Though it is difficult to privilege any of the sculptures above others,... [more]

20111107084847-hourcadesalon34 Patrick Hourcade, Chapelle de la Salpêtrière until December 4   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 11/4/11

For those of you who have never ventured into the wiles of the Gare d’Austerlitz neighborhood in the 13th, you need to plan a trip to hospital. In the gardens of the Hôpital Universitaire la Pitié Salpêtrière is the 1677 L’église Saint-Louis, the hospital Chapel (47 Boulevard de l'Hôpital, Paris 75013; Tel:01 42 16 04 24). You won’t find any tourists here. True to its function as a place of worship for the sick, their families, and the staff in attendance, in the 17th century, the classical struc... [more]

20111024040835-yongbaekbrokensdmmf7 Layers upon Layers   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Lee Yongbaek at Pin Gallery September 24th, 2011 - November 20th, 2011
Posted 10/24/11

Lee Yongbaek: Angelus Novus at Pin Gallery was the pick of the exhibitions that I saw in Beijing on my afternoon at 798. Lee Yongbaek was chosen for the Korean Pavillion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. And as I understand it, Angelus Novus is a version of the works he presented in Venice. Lee Yongbaek’s work fulfills my two essential criteria for art worth spending time with. First it is a truly multi-media exhibition in which he pushes at the boundaries of each medium, photography, video... [more]

20110910183314-05__9 Painting's Evolution   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Gerhard Richter at Galerie Marian Goodman - Paris September 23rd, 2011 - November 3rd, 2011
Posted 9/26/11

At Gerhard Richter’s latest Paris exhibition, Painting 2010-2011, an exhibition of arguably the greatest living painter, there are two series of images and one sculpture. Ironically, despite the exhibition title, despite the immense body of work that gives Richter his reputation, only one of the series of images is made from the material of paint. And yet, the others, 6 Standing Glass Panes and Strip (2011), the sculpture and a series of computer printouts, have everything to do with painting. Even as... [more]

20110919095851-anamendieta234d Provocative but not Belligerant   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Ana Mendieta at Galerie Lelong - Paris September 8th, 2011 - October 8th, 2011
Posted 9/19/11

This long awaited exhibition of Ana Mendieta’s work in Paris, appropriately titled Blood and Fire, divides Mendieta’s early and late work into the two halves, two rooms at Galerie Lelong. The interpretation of Mendieta’s works are always up for grabs because they carry an obscurity and an ambiguity that open them out to an address of so much more than what is actually represented. Mendieta’s work is always provocative but never belligerent, thus carrying with it a wealth of possible interpretations... [more]

20110919065429-candidahoferneuesmus34099 Absence at the Center   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Candida Höfer at Galerie Yvon Lambert September 10th, 2011 - October 9th, 2011
Posted 9/19/11

Like others of the descendents of the German realist photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher — Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth, to name just two — Candida Höfer’s insistence on a repetition of composition, subject matter, and thematic concerns, might tempt us to argue that there is nothing innovative or individual about any of her photographs. Nevertheless, seeing eleven large-format photographs together in Erinnern at Yvon Lambert this afternoon, I am very quickly reminded how misleading this assumption... [more]

20110808061923-13--8 Making a Camera Perform   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Lewis Hine at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson September 7th, 2011 - December 18th, 2011
Posted 9/12/11

For years I have written about Lewis Hine’s photography as the benchmark of all photographic experimentation and development in the twentieth century. I have discussed his work in reference to, for example, New Objectivity, Soviet Montage, the social conscience work of the British Documentary tradition of the 1930s, and even made reference to it in my forthcoming book on amateur film and photography in Nazi Germany. I have always believed that Lewis Hine’s photography is everywhere present in all o... [more]

20110905075202-andreas_gursky_lo Two Libraries   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 9/5/11

As my American friend and I left disappointed from the Marc Desgrandchamps exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, we passed by two of my favorite pieces in the permanent collection. Poorly hung, hidden underneath the huge staircase, poorly lit and not enough space in front of it to experience its full effect, is one of Andreas Gursky’s more difficult images, Bibliothek, 1999. I say difficult because unlike his best known work from the past fifteen years, Bibliothek confuses the trademark horizont... [more]

20110408183037-11__4 Why Beaches?   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Marc Desgrandchamps at Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris / ARC May 13th, 2011 - September 4th, 2011
Posted 8/30/11

This week I went with my American friend to the Marc Desgrandchamps exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. This exhibit is closing this week and although I am not much of a fan of contemporary French painting, I had read some good reviews and word has it that Desgrandchamps is an important artist. Unfortunately, there was little in the paintings to persuade me to review my preconceptions, but rather than race through an otherwise disappointing exhibition, my friend and I de... [more]

20110822014140-monetorangerie11s On the Water   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 8/22/11

With little happening in the galleries in August, my colleague and I decided to be tourists for a day and visit the Monet murals at l’Orangerie; embarrassingly, neither of us had ever been. Fortunately, the real tourists were out enjoying the sun and we were able to retreat peacefully into the cool, dappled light of the Nymphéas—what we know as The Water Lilies—made between 1914 and 1926. Both of us are big fans of the Monet paintings at the Musée Marmatton in the 16th arrondissement, so we had e... [more]

20110711183454-04--7 Brancusi, Film, Photography, Images sans Fin au Centre Pompidou   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Constantin Brancusi at Centre Pompidou January 27th, 2010 - November 7th, 2011
Posted 8/8/11

I had no knowledge of Brancusi's work in photography and film, so it was a delight and a joy to discover the seriousness and creativity with which he pursued both. Brancusi the photographer and Brancusi the filmmaker were every bit a part of his Paris intellectual environment as Brancusi the sculptor. My overwhelming impression of his work in the new media is its complement to the great innovations in the avant-garde of the 1920s. In spite of the varying degree of proficency with the camera, his use... [more]

20110521200628-15--5 Jane Evelyn Atwood, Photographs 1976-2010   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Jane Evelyn Atwood at Maison Européenne de la Photographie June 29th, 2011 - September 25th, 2011
Posted 7/26/11

Continuing my theme of the marginalized at the mercy and manipulation of the authorities, I went to see the Jane Evelyn Atwood retrospective at the Musée Européene de la Photographie. The exhibition shows four of her main series, with a sprinkling of some of the “other” work. Atwood's work belongs to the genre of photography that sits somewhere between photojournalism and art - the compositions are powerful, her use of light is clearly very staged and very expressive, and yet her task is, as one... [more]

20110711014645-1 Rembrandt et la Figure du Christ   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Rembrandt at Musée du Louvre April 21st, 2011 - July 18th, 2011
Posted 7/11/11

This small exhibition is not groundbreaking; at least its proposition as an exhibition will be of no great revelation to anyone with even a fleeting knowledge of Rembrandt's painting. The premise is to demonstrate what we already know: that Rembrandt painted his Christ figures after "real life." The subtext that he was more interested in the representation of emotion than he was in biblical narratives is equally indisputable. Given the predictability of the exhibition narrative which is designed... [more]

20110703052757-kees Kees van Dongen   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Van Dongen at Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris / ARC March 25th, 2011 - July 17th, 2011
Posted 7/3/11

I knew very little about Kees van Dongen's painting before I visited the current exhibition at the Musée de l'art moderne de la Ville de Paris. I had seen and loved The Corn Poppy, in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, but as we all know, one work in isolation usually does not give a clear perspective of an artist's work. And for the most part, my introduction to van Dongen's oeuvre was colored by high expectations and inevitable disappointments. My overwhelming sense of van Dongen's oeuvre was of i... [more]

20110227174421-001__2 Manet, Inventor of the Modern   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Edouard Manet at Musée d'Orsay April 5th, 2011 - July 17th, 2011
Posted 7/3/11

The only way I could bear the crowds I knew would be at the Musée d’Orsay for the Manet extravaganza was to go with a friend, her twelve-year-old son, and his friend; at least I could go under the illusion that I was on a mission to educate the boys about one of France’s greatest painters. Of course, the boys raced through the exhibition at breakneck speed, while my friend and I wove our way in and around the crowds to devour the luscious paintings, some of which were familiar, others I had neve... [more]

20110611041323-ocean Mitch Epstein   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Mitch Epstein at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson May 4th, 2011 - July 24th, 2011
Posted 6/11/11

Epstein’s latest photographs, American Power, big, shiny and new, represent the way that “power” in its most extreme and varied forms, is threaded through the very fabric of daily life in the contemporary US. Inspite of their aesthetic appeal, the images are frightening. There is nothing upsetting or shocking about the photographs themselves; on the contrary, they are pristine, meticulously composed, slick and sometimes beautiful photographs. However, what the photograph is and what it shows could... [more]

20110530224331-anishkapoorsdff70 Anish Kapoor   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Anish Kapoor at Grand Palais May 11th, 2011 - June 23rd, 2011
Posted 5/30/11

A friend who visited Anish Kapoor’s Leviathan, the latest in the Monumenta series at the Grand Palais, told me that it was “beautiful”. He used words such as “breathtaking”, and “divine” – and had an image of something that would be ethereal, gorgeous, dreamy, something that would give the experience of serenity. And as I entered the belly of Leviathan, I felt my body swaying, I became nauseous, not knowing where to look, completely disoriented, wanting to find a place to stand; my experience of this mind... [more]

20110509071552-tuymansperfect Luc Tuymans   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Luc Tuymans at Bozar - Palais des beaux-arts de Bruxelles February 18th, 2011 - May 9th, 2011
Posted 5/9/11

On the way home from a research trip to Germany, I got off the Thalys in Brussels to visit the Luc Tuymans exhibition in its final days of its two-year world circuit. I have always been dismissive of Tuymans, convinced that he does nothing that hasn't been done before by better, more reputed artists. I had concluded the work was derivative – before I had even seen it in any substantial form. How wrong I was! Although Tuymans' brush barely appears to have touched the canvas, this is painting tha... [more]

20110503012544-struthsdtdaintree Thomas Struth at the K20   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 5/3/11

The best way to judge whether or not photography is any good is to see it in reproduction. At least this is my new theory after having seen the Thomas Struth retrospective at the Düsseldorf Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen this afternoon. This is seriously sophisticated photography that must be seen in the flesh. In a photograph I didn’t know, the hulls of two vessels out of water are shot from below, emphasizing their enormity, making them colossal and monstrous. There are no people to commun... [more]

20110425060304-marosesdfx Paris in Spring   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 4/25/11

Paris in Spring. It sounds so perfect, and I think this might be the one month that the myth of perfection in Paris actually comes true. Unlike New York where Spring can come very slowly and reluctantly, in Paris, Spring has a habit of arriving on time. As the mild European sun beams down on this already visually stunning city, the buildings, the avenues, even the Seine, simply glow in Springtime. The flowers are out in the Jardin du Luxembourg; Parisians take up their seats on the sun-drenched café... [more]

20110126195120-004__1 Without beginning or end   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Aernout Mik at Jeu de Paume March 1st, 2011 - May 8th, 2011
Posted 4/25/11

Despite only eight video installations, Communitas is a huge exhibition that could take hours, maybe even days, to go through. This is primarily because there is no telling where the beginning and end of the video loop of each work might be. We can sit and watch for extended periods of time and never see the same scene twice. In fact, in only one of the installations did I recognize something I had already seen. The absence of beginning and ending, the unknown locations, the movement through scenes... [more]

20110301192240-010__3 François Morellet   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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François Morellet at Centre Pompidou March 2nd, 2011 - July 4th, 2011
Posted 3/28/11

I really wanted to love the new “re-installation” of François Morellet’s work at the Centre Pompidou. However, as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t.  Because as gorgeous as many of the works are, like all light sculptures, their meaning is generated by their definition of space, their rhythms, reflections and refractions of public space. And when installations that at their inception define, articulate, even form castles, cathedrals, and the squares and promenades of Europe, when... [more]

20110228162554-la_baigneuse Ingres' Bathers   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
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Posted 2/28/11

It is difficult to describe the perfection of the bather’s silken skin in Ingres’ La Baigneuse Valpinçon dite La grande baigneuse (1808). And her flesh is so sensuous that it’s difficult to know where to stand in order to imbibe this perfection. Ingres will paint the same skin, the same woman in the same pose again and again. He will repeat her for commissions, as a sketch and again in competed works such as le Bain Turc (1863) and never is she as beautiful as she is in La Baigneuse Valpinçon. And t... [more]

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