Many Hats/One Head - The Accidental Curator

Epiphanies happen but do not last. One of the functions of art is to preserve such moments of revelation in order that we may savour and study their many dimensions, as James Joyce demonstrated. The history of art is a fabric of epiphanies woven by many hands; the present tense of art is the outer edge of that work in progress. At any point in the process that edge may be ragged and uneven, and the pattern in formation disturbing and hard to discern, reflecting the difficulty of making art in troubled times. We are living in just such times. Robert Storr, Think with the Senses – Feel with the Mind. Art in the Present Tense, exhibition catalogue for the 52nd Venice Biennale, 2007

Robert Storr is a painter who supported himself by sheetrocking, carpentry, and house painting, along with occasional art writing, when in 1990, with only an MFA in studio art, Storr was picked out of the chorus line by the newly appointed Kirk Varnedoe, Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, to be a curator in that same department. What followed was an eventful twelve-year run at MoMA, with his tenure ending as Senior Curator. Then there was a stint as the first Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, as well as the overall directorship of the 2007 Venice Biennale, making Storr the first and, thus far, only US-born curator chosen for this role in the 112-year-old exhibition. All of this was followed by the deanship of the Yale University School of Art.

Still a professor of painting at Yale, for this Tuesday Evenings presentation Storr talks about learning on the job as a way of life during a period of extraordinarily complex, rapid, and far-flung changes in the "art world" -- now a polycentric, culturally diverse, and ever-morphing economic and politic alternate reality -- as well as the abiding values that draw people to art and into an "art community" primarily inhabited by makers of various kinds.

Robert Storr lives and works in New York. In addition to his posts at The Museum of Modern Art, New York University, Yale University School of Art, and his role as director of the 52nd Venice Biennale, Storr has curated and published catalogues for numerous exhibitions, including monographic shows on Elizabeth Murray, Gerhard Richter, Tony Smith, and Robert Ryman. In April 2016 Storr was awarded the insignia of Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ambassador to the US. As a renowned author and critic, he has been a contributing editor at Art in America since 1981 and regularly contributes to exhibition catalogues and art publications such as ArtForum, Frieze, Parkett, Corriere della Sera (Milan), and Art Press. His most recent publication, Intimate Geometries: The Work and Life of Louise Bourgeois, was released on February 15, 2017.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.

The Meantime: Before Digital, After Analogue
No matter what its imagery has been about—autobiography, ancestry, race, all those things that comprise memory and its inexorable corollary, the passage of time—the art of Annette Lawrence has always been, in some respects, a practice, a concerted making of circles, squares, grids, and spirals. Joel Weinstein, “Mixed-media Artist Has a Line on the Ethereal,” Dallas Morning News, May 27, 2000

Annette Lawrence works with text and information, often in response to physical space and time. Her practice is grounded in autobiography, counting, recording, charting, and layering quiet notations of everyday life. Her subjects of inquiry range from body cycles to ancestor portraits, music lessons, and unsolicited mail. Lawrence’s recent work engages time and accumulation through 25 years of journal-keeping. Her recent graphite drawings are circular grids based on charts made while digitizing handwritten journals. There is a clear sense of the amount of writing over the years, though not so much of what is written. Fueled by personal ambivalence about how much to reveal and how much to withhold, the drawings give a dynamic macro view of the activity of journaling over time while maintaining the inherent privacy of the writing. Notations of the presence or absence of an entry become data visualized in patterns that share resonance with pre-Columbian calendars, celestial charts, woven baskets, tubes, spheres, and discs.

For this Tuesday Evenings presentation, Lawrence reflects on being born toward the end of the analogue age, coming of age as the digital age developed, and maturing in the full-blown digital age as she shares observations concerning how the materiality of the information system that shapes one’s youth informs the ways in which one interacts with new information systems, as well as noting aspects of living in the transition between them.

Annette Lawrence, originally from New York, lives and works in Denton, Texas, where she is Professor of Studio Art in the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas. Her work has been widely exhibited and is held in museums and private collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Dallas Museum of Art; Rachofsky Collection, Dallas; ArtPace, San Antonio; and Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, and was included in the 1997 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Lawrence received the 2015 Moss/Chumley Award from the Meadows Museum and the 2009 Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Award from the Dallas Museum of Art.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.

Places of a Present Past is filled with an archaeological ethic, metaphorically digging down, both spatially and psychologically in the depths of transnational grief. Noah Simblist, Places of a Present Past

Noah Simblist, a curator, writer, and artist, presents “Places of a Present Past: The Historiographical Impulse in Art Practice.” In this context, the artists that Simblist discusses act as historians. However, these artist-as-historians are “less interested in the truth than the way we feel through the legacies of past traumas. They reveal the oblique ways that we repress historical trauma, burying it in the very sites of their origin,” says Simblist. His talk focuses on a publication that he edited, Places of a Present Past, which brings together three exhibitions showcasing the work of video and new media artists working internationally that were presented at SMU’s Pollock Gallery in 2014, curated by Simblist and the Pollock Gallery’s 2014 curatorial fellow, Sally Frater. These exhibitions shared a common theme: addressing the traces of trauma on particular sites and paying close attention to the lasting impacts of war. The exhibitions explored in the publication include Jin-me Yoon’s Extended Temporalities; the group show Where Are You From?, which included artworks by Aissa Deebi, Kamal Aljafari, and Dor Guez recounting the story of the Israeli occupation of Palestine; and the Sarah Morris film 1972.

Noah Simblist is Chair and Associate Professor of Art at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. His artwork has been shown internationally; he has curated, co-curated, and co-produced exhibitions and events, including, most recently, New Cities Future Ruins in Dallas in 2016; and he has contributed to Art Journal, Modern Painters, Art Papers, Terremoto, Art Lies, Art Pulse, Art21, and other publications. He has contributed to and edited publications, including Beyond the Aesthetic and the Anti-Aesthetic and Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good, and is in the process of editing a volume about Tania Bruguera’s The Francis Effect, a project co-produced by the Guggenheim Museum, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and SMU.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.

Being the Opposite

We can discuss Orchard as a possible answer to the question about collective and critical art practice today. Establishing a space for different relations between art and the social is political in my understanding. I am not saying that this is the only way in which the political needs to be enacted, but it is one possibility, and Orchard was a concrete and functioning example. Ulrike Müller, in “An Idea-Driven Social Space,” by Andrea Geyer and Ulrike Müller, Grey Room 35, Spring 2009

Rhea Anastas, an art historian, critic, and curator, is a cofounder of Orchard, a twelve-person artist-run gallery on New York’s Lower East Side. For this Tuesday Evenings presentation, “Being the Opposite,” Anastas introduces the projects of this co-operative gallery, which had a predetermined lifespan (2005–08) and became the embodiment of a certain strain of critical artistic discourse, and she discusses relationships between Orchard’s work and her newest writing.

Rhea Anastas is based in Los Angeles, where she is Associate Professor in the Art Department at the University of California, Irvine. Anastas’s books include Dan Graham: Works 1965–2000, coedited with Marianne Brouwer and published by Richter Verlag, and Witness to Her Art: Art and Writings by Adrian Piper, Mona Hatoum, Cady Noland, Jenny Holzer, Kara Walker, Daniela Rossell and Eau de Cologne, coedited with Michael Brenson and published by Bard College. Her most recent publication, Double Bind, is a book-length dialogue co-written with artist Leigh Ledare. She is editor of a forthcoming book of writings that captures the artist’s voice in dialogues, essays, scripts, statements, and letters by Orchard’s cofounders and the wider community who co-created the exhibitions and public discourse of the gallery.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.

The most conceptually compelling work of art in the Guggenheim’s But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa is also its least visible. Debriefing Session II by Public Movement, a research-driven Israeli collaborative, takes the form of a secret, one-on-one meeting between a Public Movement agent and a participating audience member. Risa Puleo, “A Pair of Performances Exposes the Politics of How Museums Operate,” Hyperallergic, September 28, 2016

Alhena Katsof, Director of Strategy and Protocol for the Israeli performance research group Public Movement, focuses on recent projects with Public Movement, including Debriefing Session II, 2015, and the durational exhibition National Collection, 2015, while touching on other aspects of her work as an independent curator and writer. Reflecting on her collaboration with Dana Yahalomi, Director of Public Movement, Katsof presents a selection of projects that address art and politics in public space. By discussing the ways in which exhibition histories are part of civic choreography, she investigates the relationship between cultural institutions, social ritual, and the nation-state. Drawing on her background within the field of curatorial studies, Katsof examines the participatory nature of politics and, in particular, Public Movement’s recent body of research about Modern art made in Palestine before 1948.

With diverse interests and profound passion as an independent curator, Alhena Katsof has organized exhibitions and performances at White Columns, Andrew Kreps Gallery, Regina Rex, and with Lucie Fontaine. In 2017, she is co-curating the first US-based film commission by the artist duo Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, which will premiere during a solo exhibition at Participant Inc. and travel to the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. She co-authored the book Solution 263: Double Agent, as part of the Solution Series edited by Ingo Neirmann and published by Sternberg Press (2015), and her writing has appeared in a variety of notable magazines and books, including the upcoming anthology The Artist As Curator, edited by Elena Filipovic and published by Mousse Publishing. In addition to curating and writing, Katsof is a faculty member at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.
Photo credit: Public Movement, National Collection, Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Photo by Oz Moalem

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.

Why Does Fred Sandback’s Work Make Me Want to Be Ridiculous?

Sandback was willing to risk his sculptures being nothing at all, and so he was able to create works of art that feel relevant to everything. Adam Lerner on Fred Sandback

Adam Lerner, Director and Chief Animator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, opens this Tuesday Evenings season with “Why Does Fred Sandback’s Work Make Me Want to Be Ridiculous?” Believing that institutions can easily lose their connection to the soul of art, Lerner discusses his unconventional approach to keeping the sacred impulse alive. His talk addresses why he brings magicians, go-go dancers, assorted livestock, and other unexpected elements into the walls of the museum alongside serious exhibitions of contemporary art.

Throughout his career, Lerner has curated numerous exhibitions and projects with contemporary artists, such as Barnaby Furnas, Liam Gillick, and Christian Marclay, as well as showcasing the nontraditional talents of astrobiologists, shamans, and pigeoneers, among others. In her 2012 New York Times article “Puppies, Paintings and Philosophers,” Carol Kino states that Lerner’s work to engage audiences is “reshaping what has become a stale model for a contemporary art museum.” Included in Lerner’s many projects is the exhibition Fred Sandback, co-curated with Nora Burnett Abrams at the MCA Denver, which becomes a point of reference for this Tuesday Evenings presentation.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.

Since the beginning of her career in the mid-1980s, Lorna Simpson has been well known for her conceptual photographs and videos that challenge historical and preconceived views of racial and sexual identity. The artist will speak on the occasion of FOCUS: Lorna Simpson, the first museum exhibition to feature the artist’s large-scale acrylic, ink, and silkscreened paintings.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.

Unlike most famous artists, KAWS has something few in visual art actually enjoy: rabid fans who wait on line for days just to see what his latest project will be. What makes this even more noteworthy is that he himself is a fan, subject to the same process of collecting stuff as a way of constructing one's identity as the kids around the globe who fetishize his work.

Carlo McCormick, Paper Magazine, November 4, 2013

Carlo McCormick, a critic and curator living in New York City, uses his unique insights and longterm friendship with the artist KAWS to set up the Modern's exhibition KAWS: Where the End Starts. With the perspective of a friend and the concerns of a cultural critic, McCormick wrote in Paper Magazine, for which he is senior editor, “Years ago John Waters told Paper that one of the things he loved best about art was that it was a hermetic little world that totally intimidated most people, and while we must agree with that, there are occasionally those exceptional figures like KAWS, who are able to reach a vast audience in utterly direct ways, that are ultimately transformative.”

Having written extensively on KAWS since early in the artist’s career, McCormick provides an art historical and cultural context for the work seen in this exhibition. His Tuesday Evenings lecture, titled “KAWS and Effect,” offers insight into figurative, narrative, and comic tangents in art that have influenced the work of KAWS. Featuring art from the KAWS’s personal collection, McCormick’s presentation looks at how outré historical figures such as Peter Saul, H. C. Westermann, Martin Wong, Keith Haring, and movements like the Hairy Who in Chicago and postwar Japanese pop have inspired and informed KAWS's own personal iconography and style.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.

Roberto de Leon and Ross Primmer take a native approach with their practice—no matter the location. David Sokol, “Locally Sourced,” Cultured Magazine, June/July 2015

Roberto de Leon, Jr. / FAIA, LEED AP, a partner and co-founder of De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop (DPAW), presents the ideas behind his environmentally and regionally sensitive practice for Tuesday Evenings at the Modern in conjunction with Fort Worth AIA’s 2016 Design Awards.

DPAW is a collaborative design studio focusing on public projects with a cultural, civic, or not-for-profit basis with a working methodology that draws inspiration from regional traditions of craft and fabrication, placing an emphasis on the potential of conventional materials and construction methods. Through an immersive process of research and investigation, the studio cultivates an understanding of contextual specificity as a nuanced relationship between place, time, and local culture. The strength of DPAW’s work has been recognized through numerous honors and awards and has been exhibited at many venues, including, most recently, the 2014 Istanbul Design Biennial and the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop purposefully embraces a design rigor aimed at simplicity and precision, with the underlying premise that innovation necessarily equals economy.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.

Ryan McGinness' approach to art and the art world is sardonic yet earnest, a mature version of the rebellious ethos that defined his youth in 90s skate culture. He’s soft-spoken and very tall, a gentle giant from Virginia Beach, long and far away from his current space on the top floor of a six-story former factory in New York's Chinatown. Beckett Mufson, “Ryan McGinness Thinks You’re Looking at Art Wrong,” The Creators Project, April 22, 2016

Ryan McGinness, a New York–based artist who grew up in the surf and skate culture of Virginia Beach, Virginia, is now known for his extensive vocabulary of original graphic drawings that use the visual language of public signage, corporate logos, and contemporary symbology. For Tuesday Evenings at the Modern, he presents “The Logic of this Work Is Stronger than the Logic of the World in Which it Exists.”

McGinness is credited with elevating the status of the icon to fine art through his paintings, sculptures, installations, and books. Concerned with the perceived value of forms, he assumes the power of this visual language in order to share personal expressions. The New York Times noted, “In the past decade, McGinness has become an art star, thanks to his Warholian mix of pop iconography and silk-screening.” Vogue declared, “Ryan McGinness is a leading pioneer of the new semiotics.”

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.

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