Robert J. Hughes

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The Theatre of the Bizarre   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Max Klinger at Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg May 12th, 2012 - September 16th, 2012
Posted 9/1/12
The German artist Max Klinger (1857-1920) gives us the troubled eroticism of dreams. A fascinating show at Strasbourg's Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, "Max Klinger – The Theatre of the Bizarre," running through September 16, is the first exhibition of his work in France. Between 1878 and 1915 Klinger executed fourteen sequences of etchings, which inspired artists such as Edvard Munch, Max Ernst and Giorgio de Chirico. His engravings are Schopenhauer-influenced ruminations on love,... [more]
Meditation in Motion   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
John Chamberlain at Galerie Karsten Greve July 12th, 2012 - September 1st, 2012
Posted 8/3/12
A sculptor is interested in forms in space, in light on forms, in gravity and presence. The sculptor John Chamberlain (who died last year) explored those ideas in his vibrant and glowing photographs too. Using a Widelux camera, which is able to capture a wide angle without distortion, Chamberlain recorded images in a cinematic way – capturing motion, but blurring them into abstracts that seem like swaths of color smeared on a canvas by Gerhard Richter: reality as a remembered rush of light and... [more]
Voyage, Voyage   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Daniel Richter at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac - Paris July 4th, 2012 - July 28th, 2012
Posted 7/22/12
Desolation is a primary color. At least it is in the saturated tints of Daniel Richter's universe. The paintings that make up "Voyage, Voyage," at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, evoke, as do so many works featuring solitary figures in vast landscapes, the enigmatic romanticism of Caspar David Friedrich. But here the effect is indeed desolate rather than pastoral, anguished rather than contemplative. Richter's paintings at Thaddaeus Ropac have a similar Friedrichian sense of scale – but they don't... [more]
Saint Anne at the Louvre   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Leonardo da Vinci at Musée du Louvre March 28th, 2012 - June 25th, 2012
Posted 4/7/12
Art restoration is the unraveling of a mystery: how did the artist do it, what did he do, and what instrument did he use to do it with? At the Louvre, an exhibition devoted to the restoration of Leonardo da Vinci's great The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne is like a visual police procedural. It examines Leonardo's intentions, motivations, first attempts and final realization of his painting, using preparatory drawings, drafts and contemporary versions created by artists working in Leonardo's... [more]
Seeing Double   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Henri Matisse at Centre Pompidou March 7th, 2012 - June 18th, 2012
Posted 3/24/12
Matisse didn't do things by halves. He did them by twos and threes, sometimes by many more. "Paires et Séries," a stirring exhibition at Centre Pompidou here in Paris shows Matisse to have been someone who tried always to stretch himself, representing the world in the truest possible way, as he saw it, which meant that the truth, or the representation of it, was different depending on the moment in which it was captured. Everything was true and everything changed, and visual truth was, of... [more]
Fakery & Wit   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
at Les Arts Décoratifs February 2nd, 2012 - November 15th, 2013
Posted 3/5/12
Trompe-l'œil is that rare subset of art and fine arts where part of the fun in seeing it is in realizing you've been had. Fakery rules. Wit is rewarded. The museum of Decorative Arts in Paris – Les Arts Decoratifs – is running Trompe-L'œil: Imitations, Pastiches and other Illusions, a survey (mainly through the decorative arts) of this art that doesn't take itself seriously, one that only wants to deceive. The craft of trompe-l'œil has always had something about it that we might now consider... [more]
Art by Obsession   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
James Castle at Galerie Karsten Greve January 14th, 2012 - February 29th, 2012
Posted 2/11/12
All art involves some sort of obsession. In work by some gifted amateurs obsession overcomes skill, training, even coherence. In Paris right now are two shows devoted to so-called primitive artists (a better term might be "untrained"): the Frenchman Marcel Storr and the American James Castle. Each demonstrates the power of the self-taught artist to forge his own way, one different than a path he might have been taken had he been schooled, had he been, somehow, "normal." Each operated under a... [more]
The Devil's Fidelity   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Nina Canell, Matias Faldbakken, Cyprie Gaillard, Tim Lee, Mai-Thu Perret, Mark Soo at Galerie Marian Goodman - Paris January 13th, 2012 - February 18th, 2012
Posted 2/5/12
A group show is like snippets of a conversation, a series of overheard remarks. Works comment on each other by their proximity to those of other artists. You can get only a sense of someone, as if you had met him or her at a party and exchanged a few words, and positioned that person in relation to the others there. But at least you get to meet someone. It's hard enough for an artist to be noticed today, so the very fine group exhibition at Marian Goodman Gallery Paris gives us a welcome... [more]
Jonathan Lasker   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Jonathan Lasker at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac - Paris January 10th, 2012 - February 2nd, 2012
Posted 1/21/12
Jonathan Lasker's paintings offer the excitation of contemplation, seeing as action, color as form. A show at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, through Feb. 2, features ten of this American artist's new works. Like most of his paintings, they consist of variations on a background of grids overlaid with shadowed or scribbled rectangular forms and heavy, sculptural squiggles of primary or secondary colors. Together they call to mind lines from an early Wallace Stevens poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at... [more]
We remember so few things about each year – we're often planning for the next day or week's activities – that it pays to sit back for a moment and reflect on what we took the time to see. We surely didn't forget what we spent hours (or minutes) trying to absorb, did we? For me, the definition of blockbuster, Parisian-style, was the great career-spanning Monet show at the Grand Palais in Paris. It was fairly easy to navigate, despite the crowds (and despite the long waits to get in – even with... [more]
Edvard Munch   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Edvard Munch at Centre Pompidou September 21st, 2011 - January 23rd, 2012
Posted 10/23/11
Few images are as known, or as appropriated, as Edvard Munch's painting The Scream. Luckily, in the exhibition devoted to him at Centre Pompidou in Paris, The Scream is not on display. This exhibition of some eighty works never before seen in France presents Munch as an observer of nature and someone who tries to distill emotion onto canvas. It also features his photography and even some of his films (he was fascinated by cinema). Although The Scream isn't here, several works that tickle the... [more]
Xavier Veilhan   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Xavier Veilhan at Galerie Perrotin - Turenne September 10th, 2011 - November 12th, 2011
Posted 10/16/11
French artist Xavier Veilhan gives us a distillation of forms: representation without detail. In his new show. "Orchestra," at Galerie Perrotin in Paris through November 12, Veilhan uses sculpture, mobile and painting to sketch objects in space without giving them more than what's necessary to identify them. They exist without meaning, whatever meaning is for Veilhan since he's not interested in story as much as thereness. For instance, in a large room just off the entrance, Veilhan has... [more]
The Projecting Stage   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Anja Kirschner and David Panos at castillo/corrales September 16th, 2011 - November 12th, 2011
Posted 10/12/11
Didactic, political and activist art can seem like so much homework. Which is why some artists go the genre route to put across ideas about politics and society. An exhibition at Castillo/Corrales Gallery in Paris features the work of German-born Anja Kirschner and Greek-born David Panos (who now work in London). Both explore social unrest through witty subversions of genre films. Now, a gallery isn't the ideal place to watch films – and the space at Castillo/Corrales isn't conducive to the... [more]
Hommage à Ján Mancuška   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Jesper Alvaer, Zbynek Baladran, Josef Bolf, Jonas Dahlberg, Oskar Dawicki, Jamie Isenstein, Vladimir Kokolia, Eva Kotatkova, Jiri Kovanda, Dominik Lang, Trevor Lloyd, Laurent Montaron, Roman Ondak, Boris Ondreička, Dan Perjovschi, Jan Serych, Jiri Skala, Tom� Svoboda, Tomas Vanek, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Christoph Weber at Galerie Jocelyn Wolff September 9th, 2011 - October 23rd, 2011
Posted 10/5/11
Conceptual artists illuminate the obvious by withholding meaning. They find the menace that lurks in the everyday utterance of people who keep things from each other. A show at Jocelyn Wolff Gallery in Paris is devoted to Ján Mančuška, the Bratislvan artist who died in June, at 39, from complications of a rare blood disease. Rather than the scheduled show of his works, the gallery decided to pay homage to him through the works of others.  In his creations, Mančuška played with conceptions of... [more]
Drawings   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Dominique Albertelli at Galerie Charlot September 6th, 2011 - October 15th, 2011
Posted 9/25/11
"The star has wept rose in your ears," begins a poem of that name by Rimbaud – slightly sinister in its acute tenderness, as if to feel, to sense, to be were to hurt. The drawings of the French artist Dominique Albertelli have a similar delicate brutality, evoking the ruptures between people who exist in a world they try to recognize while failing to communicate with each other. It's so difficult to remain true to whatever you think it is you are while trying to figure out whatever it is that's... [more]
About Human Desire   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Not Vital at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac - Paris September 9th, 2011 - October 15th, 2011
Posted 9/18/11
Much of modern sculpture takes the idea of the shape itself and assumes for it a suzerainty of three dimensional space, such as the works of Henry Moore, the unforgiving walls of Richard Serra or even the mobiles of Alexander Calder. Or it tries to offer an almost two-dimensional representation of the human shape in motion, in a severe landscape of ascetic memory, as with Giacometti's striding figures that seem to have sprung from an Etruscan burial ground. Not Vital, the Swiss artist, creates... [more]
Half-light of Memory   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Leiko Ikemura at Galerie Karsten Greve September 3rd, 2011 - October 22nd, 2011
Posted 9/12/11
The half-light of memory, an insubstantial reality, the in-between – these are the evocations of Leiko Ikemura's paintings, drawings and sculpture.  Her figures exist in a whirl of colors that have the soft rush of breezes, changes of seasons, airy incantations of nature hovering between universes felt and observed.  A new exhibition of her works at Galerie Karsten Greve in Paris shows hybrid creatures – who seem a fusion of waiflike female spirits and a Hello Kitty type of animal – that would... [more]
About Thereness   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
at Fondation Cartier April 5th, 2011 - September 25th, 2011
Posted 9/5/11
If you go to the "Treasures of Voodoo" exhibition at the Fondation Cartier, don't expect to enter a world of Haitian spells and possession and incantatory firelight dervishes. This is a serious show that explores the art and and symbols of African vodun, a religious cult that sprang from the west coast of Africa. This cult is mainly represented here by artifacts from Benin, which lies between Togo and Nigeria. This isn't to say the show isn't scary. It is. But not for any clichéd depiction of... [more]
No Place Like Home   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
at La Maison Rouge June 23rd, 2011 - September 25th, 2011
Posted 8/29/11
Anyplace that's home evokes nostalgia, scorn, longing. Even a desolate prairie. And often that nostalgia is coupled with a self-mockery at the heart's willingness to believe in falsehood. Artists from Winnipeg, a city smack-dab center in Canada's Manitoba, are like kids who, returning to the childhood neighborhoods that once seemed so large, are struck by their ordinariness, their feeble quaintness. They mock themselves for wanting to return to a place that their memories betrayed. And they... [more]
Paris-Delhi-Bombay   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
at Centre Pompidou May 25th, 2011 - September 19th, 2011
Posted 8/16/11
Every country is undiscovered, even the smallest, and even for its citizens. Each country is too diverse among even a homogeneous population to reduce it to a set of ideas or ideals or images. But as a subject for an exposition, it's hard to resist a country as varied as India, as old as India, as teeming with life, visual pizzazz, culture and contradictions as India. "Paris – Delhi – Bombay…" at Centre Pompidou in Paris through September 19, is an attempt to look at societal changes in... [more]
Joe Bradley: "Duckling Fantasy"   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Joe Bradley at Galerie Almine Rech May 14th, 2011 - July 30th, 2011
Posted 7/3/11
When I walked through "Duckling Fantasy," a show of Joe Bradley's new works at Almine Rech Gallery in Paris, I kept hearing in my head Shostakovich's third string quartet. These bold and vibrant paintings have that kind of lyrical and astringent energy: angular, ferocious, bristling with life. The paintings here seem rough at first – they've been created on unprepared canvas, in oil, oil sticks and pencils, and they have a child's sense of exploration. But an adult's fascination with... [more]
Bharti Kher   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Bharti Kher at Galerie Perrotin - Turenne May 7th, 2011 - June 18th, 2011
Posted 5/29/11
Bharti Kher's works evoke the eerie resonance of objects, how they figure in the aftermaths of our daily lives, the space between seeing and remembering, the chasm between what we do and what we leave behind. "Leave your smell," a new show of her works at Galerie Perrotin in Paris, through June 18, calls to mind a phrase from Elizabeth Bishop's short poem, To Be Written on the Mirror in Whitewash: "I live only here, between your eyes and you, But I live in your world." Kher looks at the... [more]
Camille Cloutier   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Camille Cloutier at Galerie Marie Cini May 7th, 2011 - June 4th, 2011
Posted 5/22/11
A chilly peace infests "L'Écho du silence," a show of Camille Cloutier's drawings at Galerie Marie Cini in Paris, through June 4. In one, the hollow figure of a faceless man dangles from a green ribbon. In another, a man similarly blank is festooned with feathers and peers off into a distance while standing atop a pile of tendrils. Two figures, one with his head on the other's shoulder, stand on the slippery edge of a cliff that drips colors. These are faces imperfectly beheld, the hermetic... [more]
Eric Nehr   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Eric Nehr at Galerie Anne Barrault May 7th, 2011 - June 18th, 2011
Posted 5/15/11
The people in the arresting photographs that make up Eric Nehr's show "rose blessé" at Galerie Anne Barrault in Paris (through June 18) have eyes you dare not meet in dreams, sunlight on a broken column. Here, these albinos from Panama and Cameroon don't quite stare out at you, but you sense them looking into you. For certain cultures, albinos are the hollow men: shunned, worshipped, killed, exiled. They are the tabula rasa for our fear of a soul without color. They are faces caught between the... [more]
Elmgreen & Dragset   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Elmgreen & Dragset at Galerie Perrotin - Saint Claude May 7th, 2011 - June 18th, 2011
Posted 5/15/11
Elmgreen & Dragset's works are "ghostlier demarcations" that create unsettling fictive worlds. Where the poet Wallace Stevens wrote (in "The Idea of Order at Key West") of how the imagination seeks to bestow meaning and order on the universe, which itself is illusory given our apprehension about reality, Elmgreen & Dragset take images of our world and craft slippery, dimly starred stories that play upon the tension of what we think we see, what we want to believe and what we remember... [more]
Bernard Piffaretti   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Bernard Piffaretti at galerie frank elbaz May 7th, 2011 - June 4th, 2011
Posted 5/8/11
The French painter Bernard Piffaretti's new works are acts of finding joy in the hope of connection. His new show at Galerie Frank Elbaz in Paris (through June 4) is called "bande-annonce," a French term that refers to the movie trailers one can see in theaters before a showing. These paintings in bright blues and yellows and reds have an exuberance of expectation, as if to say that we live in the hope that what we see will be as we have hoped. Unfortunately, we all know the trailers are... [more]
Madame Grès   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
at Musée Bourdelle March 25th, 2011 - July 24th, 2011
Posted 5/1/11
The couturier Madame Grès said throughout her long life (1903-1993) that she had wanted to be a sculptor. It's fitting, then, that an absorbing and lovely show of her creations "Madame Grès – La Couture à L'Oeuvre," the first retrospective of her work, is on display (through July 24) at the Musée Bourdelle. This small gem near the Gare Montparnasse is made up of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle's house, studio and garden where he worked from 1884 to his death in 1929. On display here are many of... [more]
Lucas Cranach the Elder   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Lucas Cranach at Musée Luxembourg February 9th, 2011 - May 23rd, 2011
Posted 4/30/11
Some artists define their time, others are defined by it. Lucas Cranach the Elder was both. The great German Renaissance painter and printmaker lived during the tremendous upheaval of the Protestant Reformation, through a continuing evolution in painting in Europe, and his art reflects a Catholic tradition and a nascent Protestant outlook, always with his own somber, probing and sensual style. "Lucas Cranach et son temps," or "Lucas Cranach and his time," at the Musée de Luxembourg, the... [more]
General Idea: Part 2   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Posted 4/17/11
Toward the beginning of "General Idea: Haute Culture," the retrospective of the great Canadian art collective, General Idea, at the Villa d'Art Moderne de Paris, you see a poster for the coming Miss General Idea pageant, and you wonder what that could possibly mean (more is revealed later). The structure of the show upends expectations, as did General Idea. You don't know exactly where you are. Even after you read the explanatory wall panels. But then, little by little, you become part of the... [more]
General Idea: Part 1   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
General Idea at Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris / ARC February 11th, 2011 - April 30th, 2011
Posted 4/10/11
Humor in art is a rare thing. Art is so, so very, very serious. Not to mention humorless. When certain artists do attempt humor, or even satire, the effect often falls flat. Not that many people (and fewer visual artists) are truly witty. And satiric humor can date quickly — when it works at all. That wasn't the case with General Idea, a Canadian collective made up of three men, Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson, which operated from 1967 to 1994. They were among the first artists to... [more]
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