Visual Art

Looking up

Sales and salvation were art world keywords in 2006
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In late 2006 several major art-market events — record-breaking auctions and 14 Miami Beach art fairs — provided a bracing contrast to a slew of exhibitions concerned with the immaterial, experiential, mystical, and social. These instances clearly illustrate the exciting, age-old tensions between the thrill of commerce and the quest for artistic integrity.
In November a Christie's sale of impressionist and modern art yielded nearly half a billion dollars. Read more »

All that heaven and earth allow

Gods, stars, and burnt offerings mark Anselm Kiefer's dark worlds
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(To read Marke B.'s take on Anselm Kiefer, "Crash and Burn," click here.)

REVIEW Recently, in an Amish schoolhouse shooting, five girls were killed and five wounded by a man who was "angry with God" and haunted by thoughts of molestation.
One girl escaped. In the earliest versions of the story, nine-year-old Emma Fisher simply snuck out. It was later said that she misunderstood the shooter's instructions in English and thought she was supposed to leave. Read more »

Crash and burn

Anselm Kiefer's mighty works are far too heavy to dance
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To read Stephen Beachy's take on Anselm Kiefer, "All That Heaven and Earth Allow," click here.)

REVIEW You could go into “Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth” looking for a rush of monumental drama and cosmic philosophizing, for German guilt writ large, and for abnormal feats of technical skill. Or you could go in looking, as I did, for laughs.
Well, not laughs exactly, but at least a little humor. Read more »

Fits and housing starts

"Suburban Escape" plumbs the art of California sprawl
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REVIEW There's a new multistory condo complex rising on a sliver of SoMa between the freeway and the Caltrain tracks. It's on one of those heretofore undesirable plots that stood vacant for decades, holding their own as a weedy buffer zone between transportation and industry. I wonder if the contractors are using a new high-tech glass that, in the space of a faux bay window, will neutralize the din of traffic. Who'd want to live there?
San Francisco is an urban area, don't you know. Read more »

Goldies Visual Art winner Chris Duncan

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Artist Chris Duncan came to Northern California for the Tahoe powder — and to get away from his routine in Delaware and his native New Jersey of catching hardcore shows every weekend and doing absolutely nothing else with his life. Duncan recalls he and a friend "snowboarded for a season, and it was rad and it was horrible at the same time. Read more »

Goldies Visual Art winner Yoon Lee

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A good photograph captures an instant of life within a fraction of city space. The oft-awesome paintings of Yoon Lee — on display earlier this year in a solo show at the Luggage Store — condense seconds, days, and weeks of urban life into images of striking movement and color. Blurs from passing cars; a person glimpsed from the corner of one's eye; the liquid shifts of Vampire Princess Miyu anime dreamscapes on a TV screen — these are a few of the everyday materials within Lee's alchemy. Read more »

Goldies Visual Art winner Tim Sullivan

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In his most recent San Francisco exhibition, at the cozy Little Tree Gallery in the Mission, Tim Sullivan managed to reanimate the late blond bombshell Jayne Mansfield. Mind you, he did it with a low-tech visual effect — a full-color glossy of the actress attached to a flat-screen monitor, a shifting blue sky visible through little almond-shaped slits in the eyes of the photograph. But the mixture of sublime pop (the elaborate media construct of Mansfield) with an almost metaphysical art reference is a key movement in Sullivan's appealing photography, video, and sculpture. Read more »

Pop lives

Phil Collins (not that one) and Fahamu Pecou add spirit to Warhol's legacy.
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REVIEW There are different doors through which one can enter dunya dinlemiyor (the world won't listen), a 2005 video installation by British artist Phil Collins. One can chart the many passages that lead from Collins's work to the music of the Smiths, whose vocalist Morrissey chose an image from Andy Warhol's Trash to adorn the cover of the group's second attempt at creating a proper first album. In turn, those doors lead to Warhol's earlier screen tests, which Collins deliberately invokes through dunya dinlemiyor’s song-length portraits of Smiths fans in Istanbul. Read more »

The soul stirrers

See That My Grave Is Kept Clean sets PR against the spirit of Harry Smith
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The set is modestly spare, a disheveled if not quite ramshackle affair, being the basement studio of an imaginary low-watt radio station run by a solitary disc jockey (Peter Newton) with a thing for Japanese culture, an anguished relation to the American scene, and an insomniac disposition. Read more »

Big bang

Artists embrace spirituality and their many selves at "Cosmic Wonder"
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REVIEW Near the end of "Song of Myself," Walt Whitman's woozy celebration of the universe contained within, he asks, "Do I contradict myself?" then responds to his own query, "Very well, then, I contradict myself." This is followed by the oft-cited parenthetical thought, "I am large — I contain multitudes," a sentiment that has been variously expressed in art since Whitman did so at the turn of the 20th century. Read more »