Monday, December 29, 2008

A 1

The Wrestler.

Loss - of glory, of youth, of love – is a theme that really keeps me in my seat. And other people’s loneliness always, but always puts tears in my eyes.

And I just love seeing wrinkles on the big screen. Mickey Rourke looks fantastic, if you ask me.

I guess the only thing that bothered me was the choppy filming and editing of the match scenes. And perhaps a few too many behind the head while walking shots. Oh, and some of the daughter scenes were just a wee bit cliché. But, who cares!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mudra 2009

As the calendar year winds down, art writers everywhere are hypothesizing about what’s next for art now that what we have known is almost a thing of the past. The mega bucks artists and collectors have been spending on art is drying up, galleries are closing everywhere, dealers are apparently thinking safe. The art world (as they call it) is bracing itself.

All I think we artists can do is continue. The burden is not upon us to predict, to forge new ways for art – although if either results, great. It is upon us just to keep making work as candidly as we can. We can’t count on what’s outside, but perhaps we can on what’s inside. Even if it is in flux, it is our own.

I myself feel anxiety, but excitement too. A more serious art scene may burgeon; the uncommitted may lose their steam. Might a kinder time be coming?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No Denying It

In November, Michael Kimmelman – typical of his arrogant assuredness – wrote in the New York Times that French film had been shying away from tackling meaty issues since the New Wave because of an identity crises sparked by their collaboration with the nazis. He calls it Cinema of Denial. Sure, there was "La Haine (Hate),"in 1995, but not much else. And it’s true, there are a lot of stupid, provincial comedies coming out of France, usually involving a likeable, well-dressed guy, his slightly mean but beautiful wife and his beautiful lover.

But what Kimmelman overlooked are recent films coming out of France that do one of the things the French do best: psychology. And I think that’s both meaty and honest. It's this conflicted, tense psychology that people are seeing when they say a movie is “so French,” I think.

Here are a few noteworthy examples I’ve seen of late:
"Kings and Queen" and "A Christmas Tale" (now out in theaters). Both directed by Arnaud Desplechin and staring actor Matthieu Amalric – playing appealing rebel characters in both (above in "Kings and Queen"). Now these are both all about completely fucked-up and complex families, but life goes on in a non-sentimental way and that’s what I like about them.

Then there’s Olivier Assayas’s "Late August, Early September," which is beautifully edited. Great fades! And while there are a lot of romantic triangles and accepted sexual no-no’s– and I think very erotic sex scenes - it really gets into people being blunt with each other both with words and in action in ways we Americans just aren’t. The story mostly centers around a writer who falls ill, and the changes that that spurs within himself and those around him. No violins, thank god, but realism, yes.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mark your calendars

I will be giving an artist’s talk about text-based art – including my own – at the Slag Gallery on January 24, 5-7pm.

It is tentatively called Not Conceptual No: The Inner and Outer Languages of Text-Based Art.

Other working titles:

Please stop calling it conceptual please

It’s not conceptual, it’s not

Not conceptual Not

As of today, the description is as follows:

In this presentation, Molly Stevens will survey how text has been used in art as a declarative form, a psychological form and a visual form of communication. She’ll discuss Christopher Wool, Cy Twombly and Jean-Luc Godard among others, as well as her own work in video, drawing and signage.

I think the names of other artists is important. It could turn people on or off. Twombly is the big name, Wool is the cool cat, and Godard is the surprise. Other candidates for this part of the blurb: Matt Mullican, Jenny Holzer, Glen Ligon or…

Opinions welcome.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


While I’m the first to hate Richard Prince without really having seen much of his work, I found Martha Schwendener’s scathing critique of his work and current show in this week’s Village Voice to be sophomoric. I agree: he’s a symbol of the art market and what it will be immune to; he’s searching for a new shock that shakes as much as his appropriation work did; he’s competitive. What else is new. Plus, her idea that he – and what he represents – has triumphed over feminist movement that imploded is a bit of an easy punch. Feels old. My humble opinion.

This said, I think we have to add Prince’s joke paintings to our list of text-based art. I like their faux-pas-ness, I do. But my hunch is that they are affect, like the rest of his shit. He lucked out on this one.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gallery Crawl

Here’s what I saw on Friday that I thought was worth it:

Luigi Ghirri at the Aperture Foundation
Humble photographs mostly from the 70s that are surprising and poetic. His work often looks like a created set or still life, but they’re clearly found. Above Modena (1973)

Karen Heagle at I-20
Although she may be known for her more pulpy imagery, I was attracted to a series of still lifes with vultures. Her painting process was vigorous and the poetry was all there. Unfortunately, this show closed on December 6.

Kay Rosen at Yvon Lambert
Text-based wall paintings and small format works. She plays with language, reading vs.seeing and graphics. Why I’m not jumping up and down, I don’t know. I think I like a little more human touch.

Joyce Pensato at Friedrich Petzel – Now this is may be too much human touch. Very visceral portraits of cartoony-monsters. I like how she did one right on the wall. That’s brave. Makes me want to.

I liked Jason Karolak’s paintings at Massimo Audiello because they feel both human and mathematical. Also, I was interested in the selection of work at Mitchell-Innes and Nash that included the work of Cady Noland, Matt Mullican, Frances Stark and Amanda Ross-Ho. But, the fact that three of these artists were in this year’s Whitney Biennial makes me feel that my taste is being taught.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The list grows

Got to add Jack Pierson to our list of text-based artists (he also photographs, etc., yes I know). I'm most familiar with his word sculptures made from discarded signage. They suggest a faded fame, a lost celebrity, something like Sunset Boulevard.

This approach was notoriously appropriated by Barney’s, the fashion haven. As much as I think it sucks for Pierson, this is what happens. The ideas get taken and twisted. I don’t think there’s much you can do to protect against it. If it's any consolation, I can tell the difference.

This piece below is from Pierson’s student years. I like. Very steal-able.

Monday, December 1, 2008


There’s no better way to repress family tension than watching movies. Here’s what the Stevens watched over the holiday.

27 Dresses-Perhaps the whitest movie ever made, culminating in the two main characters dancing on a bar to Billy Joel.

Slumdog Millionaire – Good entertainment. And I liked how subtitles became a style choice.

A Christmas Tale – I dig. A psychologically rich story about a family’s whose members really don’t like each other and are honest about it. But they never the less stick together, and that strikes me as uplifting. Catherine Deneuve and the guy from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Milk – Boring. But, Sean Penn.

Do the Right Thing – I forgot how visually stylized it was - I think in a good way. And still funny. But, I realize I’m not as radical as I was when it came out and that depresses me. Oh, and I want a knuckle ring that spells a word.