Visual Art

"Intricacies of Phantom Content" and Trickle-down: Yours for the Mining

Diamonds are certainly Hilary Pecis' and Elyse Mallouk's best friends
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REVIEW Diamonds are certainly Hilary Pecis' and Elyse Mallouk's best friends. But even though the sparklers in their complimentary exhibits at Triple Base Gallery let off a familiar, enticing shine, do they reveal new facets?

Like antlers, rainbows, and feathers, gemstones and crystal-inspired geometric forms have bobbed to the surface as a motif of the zeitgeist, as seen both on gallery walls and the loud prints and new rave colors that adorn the merchandise at Urban Outfitters (not to mention Lady Gaga's day-to-day wardrobe). I don't fault Pecis' art for its timing. Read more »

"2012: Super-Bato Saves the World"

Fully-functional, gaudy, lusty, but also mystically calm slot machines in the style of souped-up Camaros
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REVIEW Energy must not be conserved in Enrique Chagoya's universe. From his earlier pieces on paper through his show-stopping work on linen at the turn of the century (Le Cannibale Moderniste, 1999; Aparición Sublime, 2000; Pocahontas Gets a New Passport (More Art Faster), 2000), the experimental printmaker's mock-specificity and hidden sensitivity — both aspects of a brilliant pictorial stubbornness — leave the whole body buzzing. This is art that gathers energy from its viewers as much as its subjects. Read more »

Recession, renewal

Larry Rinder transforms the Berkeley Art Museum's secret treasures into a "Galaxy"
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REVIEW When it comes to the negative impact that economic recession has upon the art world, there are as many problems as missing dollars. Yet among contemporary artists, such times tend to skew various views back toward those whose work isn't epically expensive to begin with, a development that can be welcome. Moreover, careful budgeting can inspire reflection rather than a mad dash to acquire the newest, most expensive, and trendiest work.

At least two significant survey shows in 2009 follow this impulse in search of revelation. Read more »

"Leave the Capital"

A multiartist endeavor, ranging from overt to oblique, addressing the economy and matters of rough trade
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PREVIEW What is it with Bay Area group art shows named after album and song titles by the Fall? Last month brought "I Am Kurious Orange," an exhibition and performance at David Cunningham Projects that slightly twisted the name of 1988 album by mush-mouth Mark E. Smith's band. Read more »

Looking at 'Looking In'

The making and unmaking of Robert Frank's The Americans
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More on SFBG.com:
>>Johnny Ray Huston's take on the epic SFMOMA Robert Frank retrospective

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"All original art looks ugly at first," Clement Greenberg wrote in defense of modern art. Implicit in Greenberg's statement is the sense that time would eventually vindicate what was seen as anathema to prevailing tastes. Read more »

That crazy feeling

The humor, sadness, and everything-ness of Robert Frank's The Americans -- 50 years later
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>johnny@sfbg.com

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Robert Frank, "San Francisco, 1956"

The world writes a story far beyond — or deeper and more twist-riddled than — any author's imagination. How else to explain the fact that Robert Frank's peerless photographic book The Americans turned 50 the same year that Barack H. Obama was elected president of the United States? Read more »

"Otl Aicher: Munchen 1972" and "Veronica De Jesus: Do the Waive"

Corporate branding and athleticism
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REVIEW The 1972 Munich Olympics is mostly associated with terrorism, with Marc Spitz running a distant second. But Otl Aicher's graphic design for the event exemplifies the better possibilities of the fusion of humanism and capitalism that characterizes each incarnation of the international event. A member of the White Rose movement and friend of Hans and Sophie Scholl, who were arrested and executed by the Nazis, Aicher later made his name through graphic design concepts that possess a rare fusion of experience and imagination. Read more »

Now you see him

A last look at "William Kentridge: Five Themes"
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It takes a lot to get your head around William Kentridge. His nebulous existence in the world of modern art makes him a slippery figure, able to exist between things we can name. Read more »

Accidental, with purpose

Theophilus Brown peels away expectation and returns anew to abstraction at 90
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What began as a frugal effort to make use of leftover paint, something all painters grapple with on occasion, has spawned a late career style that realigns everything previously thought about the artistic practice of Theophilus Brown, now 90 years old. Read more »

Call it Afro-Surreal

AFRO-SURREAL: Black is the new black -- a 21st century manifesto
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I'm not a surrealist. I just paint what I see. — Frida Kahlo

THE PAST AND THE PRELUDE

In his introduction to the classic novel Invisible Man (1952), ambiguous black and literary icon Ralph Ellison says the process of creation was "far more disjointed than [it] sounds ... Read more »