Like E.T. pretending to be a toy in Drew Barrymore’s closet, Patricia Piccinini’s sweet alien sculptures seem to be trying to blend into our machine age surroundings—at least sometimes. At Robert Miller’s
booth for the 2006 Berlin Art Forum fair, her sculpture of a woman thrown off balance by the alien creature hugging her face embodied every artist’s wish that his or her vision might affix itself to spectators
and alter their whole worldview. For her current show at Yvon Lambert New York, the Australian-born Piccinini offers a group of cute anthropomorphic machines. But look past the glossy paint and cool metal,
and a sleek, chic Vespa parked next to a shiny pink mini sidecar starts to resemble a mother animal protectively peering at its child. And two little mini machines curled up around each other take on the aspect of kittens cuddling. In this work, the cuteness comes undiluted, and the message remains the same as E.T.’s benediction: We should all “Beeee Goood” to whatever is around us.
John Waters famously proclaimed, “To me, bad taste is what entertainment is all about.” He would certainly have approved of Berlin-based painter Bernhard Martin’s “Prognosefehler” series, presented at his first solo show at Team Gallery in New York, which opens tonight. With their title loosely translating as “failure in prediction,” Martin’s compositions are carefully crafted, unexpected concoctions of disparate references, allusions, and source materials. There might not be enough overt vulgarity to satisfy Waters’ preference for the naughty/dirty variety of bad taste, but Martin’s art is nevertheless an intentional affront to conventional ideas about pictorial harmony and narrative coherence. As Team asks in one of its characteristically well-written press releases—a rare art form in the art world—”The question becomes not what exactly are we looking at, but rather, why are we looking?”
With Hillary Clinton having a realistic shot at the Oval Office, it’s clear that the “fairer sex” has come a long way. P.S.1 is celebrating this fact with “WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution”—the first comprehensive exhibition examining feminist art. Last night, the museum invited the hundreds of participating artists to roam the exhibit, which spans three floors, and enjoy a dinner and performance. “Looking from the future, the art movement that women produced in the sixties will probably be the most important in history. Before this, women weren’t working in art,” said Argentinian artist Marta Minujin, who has one of the most impressive pieces in the exhibit. It’s an igloo-like structure made of over 100 mattresses, where visitors can lounge and watch a video. “But the market is still undervalued! I worked with Andy Warhol, he was my friend, and my work goes for for $20,000, while his goes for millions.” Exhibit notwithstanding, looks like we still have a ways to go. “WACK!” will open to the public on February 17—when Minujin will put on a performance art piece at 3 p.m.—and run through May 12.
Last February, Peter Doig made history when his painting "White Canoe" sold for £5.7 million (about $10 million) at Sotheby’s, making the Edinburgh-born, Trinidad-based painter’s "Nightmare on Elm Street"-inspired image of an old man adrift on an ominously still lake the highest-priced painting by a living European artist. But it was the sale, not Freddy Krueger, that seemed ready to do "White Canoe" in. The work came under fire from other artists, who carped about its inherent worth and long-term investment value. Beginning this week, when the most comprehensive overview of Doig’s work to date opens at Tate Britain, the public can judge for themselves whether he’s earned his place in history. "There’s a purity and a rough beauty in his paintings," Doig’s friend Hope Atherton said. "His art reminds me of Neil Young’s ‘Live at Massey Hall’ album. It is the visual equivalent of Young’s epic songs like ‘Old Man.’ There’s a truth to his art."
With a new season of clothes fast upon us, it’s only right that fashion folk have their eyes, and ears, tuned to the future. But spare a moment to shake out the mind’s cobwebs, and think back to Hedi Slimane’s final show for Dior Homme: Can you remember the music? “Navigate, Navigate” was a 15-minute mash-up of stabbing guitars and skittering beats created expressly for Slimane’s runway by a theretofore unknown band, These New Puritans. Well, as of February 5, a copy of “Navigate, Navigate” can be yours! And as an added bonus, the band is even throwing in a remix of the song by DFA Records impresario Tim Goldsworthy. All of this is so much prelude to the March release of These New Puritans’ full-length debut, “Beat Pyramid,” a record founding Puritans member George Barnett gamely describes as “much less commercial” than the single.
“I would call our music intense,’ ” Barnett explains. “Like, it’s meant to be unnerving.” The fact that These New Puritans share a producer with superbly weird bands Liars and Einstürzende Neubauten lends some credence to Barnett’s take on “Beat Pyramid,” but on the other hand, Barnett also cites his friend Slimane as a major influence. “We all learned a lot from watching Hedi work,” Barnett acknowledges. “It’s like, mentally, he brings all these ideas and aesthetics together, and they’re all reflecting off each other, as though he’s got a hall of mirrors inside his head. It’s a very labyrinthine creativity. But all you see is the magic, the something-from-nothing he does. Hedi casts a wicked spell.”