Actor JAMES FRANCO Reviews Frieze New York for 032c & Gets Photographed

Frieze_2014_JF-7339Frieze in New York for the third time this year. A beautiful Sunday morning out on Randall’s Island, felt like the first day of summer. From the outside the fair already seemed more restrained than last year: no King Kong-size Paul McCarthy inflatable pig on the lawn, just the tent. Because we were so early and the crowd was light we could look at the art. Also inside the art seemed more restrained than last year, not in a bad way. The objects really felt like objects, the paintings were paintings on the wall, discrete in their objecthood, reverberating. It felt like a new-modernist moment when abstraction rules and the mode of production is in the fore. The works that drew my attention are all of a moment when outsider art has become insider art, a moment set in motion by two artists whose work is in the show: Christopher Wool and Larry Clark.



The opaque patterns of Wool’s work and Wool himself have influenced—directly and indirectly—artists such as Mark Flood (prominent at London’s Stuart Shave Modern Art) and Jeff Elrod (coming off a hit show at Luhring Augustine), who are both having their time in the contemporary art sun. Larry Clark’s collages have always been some of his best works, and his influence on the younger generation—the Harmony Korine Satanic Circle with its outsider art of visionary abstraction—is undeniable. In some ways Harmony (who’s presenting a painting show at Gagosian’s uptown gallery) is the lynchpin for these two giants, having worked with Clark on Kids in the early 1990s and collaborated with Wool on prints around the same time. Korine, Wool, Flood, Elrod, Dan Colen (whose work is now on view at the Brant Foundation), and even Rob Pruitt all share, at least in many of their recent paintings, a blurring and abstraction in order to emphasize the material that makes up the image. In Flood’s case the paint is literally pixilated. And if these artists aren’t making abstract images, they are utilizing non-traditional kinds of application: Korine paints with brooms and hair brushes while Elrod uses a combination of digital and analogue techniques to achieve abstractions mixed with hard lines of negative space where material has been excised by adhering tape on the canvas and then pulling it off once the image is painted. The granddaddy of this technique is Ed Ruscha, whose work is shown by Gagosian in abundance at the fair. Ruscha’s word paintings, often inscribed with negative space against a painted background of landscapes, ships, etc., are the precursors Elrod’s digital scribbles, Korine’s graffiti-influenced word codes, and Clark’s street culture.



Although its imagery is primarily abstract, this work appears to reach out to the real world through its means of production: digital sketches, painting with unconventional objects, and the collaging of different pop-culture images. This is a rebellion against art that says too much. In fact, it is these artists MO to not give too much away through statements. If you are an outsider artist who’s now on the inside—a director who paints, a hot shot of the new generation, or a rediscovered star of the older generation—your mode seems to be what Korine calls “visionary,” meaning a heightened engagement with the urban, postmodern world, but in neither a personal  nor political way. It seems that what distinguishes these artists is often the how they paint and not what or the why.





  • Life Exists: Theaster Gates’ Black Image Corporation

    Theaster Gates' “The Black Image Corporation” presents photographs from the holdings of Chicago’s Johnson Publishing Company, a sprawling archive that shaped “the aesthetic and cultural languages of contemporary African American identity.” Gates approached the project as a celebration and activation of the black image in Milan through photographs of women photographed by Moneta Sleet Jr. and Isaac Sutton – of black entrepreneurship and legacy-making. “Life exists” in the Johnson archive, he says, just as it exists and should be honored in other places of black creativity.More
  • FRIDA ESCOBEDO: The Era of the Starchitect is Over

    Rising Mexican architect Frida Escobedo is relentlessly inquisitive, eschewing stylistic constants in favour of an overriding preoccupation with shifting dynamics. Personal curiosity is the driving force behind her practice, which makes he an outlier in a profession dominated by extroverted personalities keen on making bold assertions. "I think it really is a generational shift," Escobedo says. "The idea of the starchitect making grand gestures with huge commissions is over."More
  • “I live a hope despite my knowing better”: James Baldwin in Conversation With Fritz J. Raddatz (1978)

    Born in Berlin in 1931, editor and writer Fritz J. Raddatz relied on food delivered by African American GIs after the death of his parents. To Baldwin he was an “anti-Nazi German who has the scars to prove it.” Debating his return to the USA after 25 years, Baldwin explores the political climate in America at the end of the 1970s in a conversation at home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence.More
  • House as Archive: James Baldwin’s Provençal Home

    For her new book, Magdalena J. Zaborowska visited the house Baldwin occupied from 1971 to 1987 “to expand his biography and explore the politics and poetics of blackness, queerness, and domesticity”. Here, she narrates her early journeys to Baldwin’s home and proposes a salve for its recent loss: a virtual presentation of Baldwin’s home and effects.More
  • Where are the real investments? Theaster Gates on James Baldwin

    The Chicago-based artist talks to Victoria Camblin about materializing the past, the house as museum, and preserving black legacies. Social and artistic engagement, Gates suggests, may allow the contents and spirit of Baldwin’s home, and others like it, to settle in lived experience.More