November 12, 2018

Well Met

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Great day of previews with Dennis Hollingsworth. @christiesinc

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November 11, 2018



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November 6, 2018

James Kalm Rough Cuts on Color Matters

Wonderful to see Loren Munk's (aka James Kalm)report on "Color Matters", a group show that I am in including painters Koen Delaere, Carl Fudge, Kim Young-Hun, Jamie Martinez, Noriko Mizokawa, and Joseph Nechvatal. at Galerie Richard, LES/NYC.

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October 25, 2018

Color Matters

Galerie Richard
121 Orchard Street, LES/NYC.
I'll be at the opening from 5-8pm, hope to see you there!

Press Release below the fold.

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October 19, 2018

For Your Consideration: Apprehensions

I found this video via a recent Quite Frankly podcast, an interesting look at what might be in store for us in the near future. Check it out.

Here's Keiichi Matsuda's website.

And this is a behind the scenes look at Matsuda and his process for creating the video:

What to make of this?

First, I'm impressed by Matsuda's skill set, I'd like to know more about the applications he needs to pull it off.

Secondly, as for the anticipated future, it reminds me of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. The set design for that movie was a landmark achievement in apprehending a potential future scenario. Snipping Wikipedia:

Ridley Scott credits Edward Hopper's painting Nighthawks and the French science fiction comics magazine Métal Hurlant, to which the artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud contributed, as stylistic mood sources.  He also drew on the landscape of "Hong Kong on a very bad day" and the industrial landscape of his one-time home in northeast England. The visual style of the movie is influenced by the work of futurist Italian architect Antonio Sant'Elia. Scott hired Syd Mead as his concept artist; like Scott, he was influenced by Métal Hurlant. Moebius was offered the opportunity to assist in the pre-production of Blade Runner, but he declined so that he could work on René Laloux's animated film Les Maîtres du temps - a decision that he later regretted. Production designer Lawrence G. Paull and art director David Snyder realized Scott's and Mead's sketches. Douglas Trumbull and Richard Yuricich supervised the special effects for the film, and Mark Stetson served as chief model maker."

As you might conclude as I did after reading this, that Scott's and Mead's achievement was a monumental synthesis of history and collaboration. While it is unfair to diminish Matsuda's feat by comparison -it is laudable after all to stand on the shoulders of giants -- Matsuda's contribution suggests a virtual version of Scott's 2019 Los Angeles (¡yes, 2019!) overlayed on Medellin, all that was imagined to be physically built is instead built via augmented reality... either by screen mounted contact lens or a method of projection onto the retina itself or if Elon Musk capricious imagination comes to fruition, some kind of direct merger with AI via a brain/mind/machine/software meld.

My third impression watching Matsuda's HYPER-REALITY, I thought that such a virtual environment would impoverish the real one. At the dawn of modernity, Chicago architect Louis Sullivan coined the famous phrase Form Follows Function. What I learned in architecture school was that Sullivan limited ornament only to the parts of the building where people would directly experience it. He set the stage for Adolph Loos to advocate the elimination of ornament altogether when he wrote Ornament and Crime. Curiously, the fulcrum of Loos' thesis was that (...snipping Wikipedia once again...)

Loos introduced a sense of the "immorality" of ornament, describing it as "degenerate", its suppression as necessary for regulating modern society. He took as one of his examples the tattooing of the "Papuan" and the intense surface decorations of the objects about him--Loos says that, in the eyes of western culture, the Papuan has not evolved to the moral and civilized circumstances of modern man, who, should he tattoo himself, would either be considered a criminal or a degenerate.
Well, that's mighty white of you, Adolf. I wonder what Loos would make of our contemporary condition, tattoos everywhere and soon, the whole world tattooed cybernetically? Does it necessarily follow that the physical world would be impoverished? Or would we live in a more streamlined form-follows-function aesthetically modern environment as we toggle online and offline? Either possibility finds me apprehensive, especially for the latter because it would render the development of architectural history at a standstill, the state in which I had found it as a student so many decades ago.

A fourth impression. Virtually annotating the world isn't the only possibility. The world could also be edited, parts of it erased, cloned, stamped, blurred in a live action version of Photoshop. We could each be living in our own best possible world, blissfully or tragically unaware of the best possible worlds of other people around us. Another kind of dystopia. A sugar coated one.

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October 17, 2018


Legerdemain is quite a word. It seems at first blush, something to admire. And it is, sort of. Looking up its definition in the dictionary, legerdemain is the skillful use of one's hands when performing conjuring tricks. We rightly admire the magician only when we suspend disbelief. When we go wrong, we let ourselves fall under a spell, we believe that a rabbit is miraculously pulled from the hat. We are deceived.

The word jumped out at me when I read Kenny Schachter's recent column in ArtNet Magazine regarding the Banksy stunt. Here's the final paragraph:

In a realm as chockablock with legerdemain as the art world, what matters, at the end of the day, is the the audience enjoyed the show. With his star turn at Sotheby's, Banksy gave us all a command performance.

I'm posting this because a week ago, I wrote a note about the Banksy action. And then I sat on it to see how it would age.

A note on the Banksy stunt.

What happened wasn't destruction. What happened was a theater of destruction. The piece was modified, not destroyed. Banksy probably was aware that the immediate systemic market value of art is driven by notoriety. The value of the Mona Lisa was supercharged by the news of its theft. Guernica is certainly a masterpiece (although recently, I had a conversation with a friend who questioned this assumption), but its topicality in the midst of WWII and its sympathetic instrumentalization as anti-war propaganda is in the driver's seat of its valuation. Watching the PBS program Antiques Road Show recently, I marveled at remarkable works of art and craft whose valuations were a pittance, contrary to the expenditure of creativity, imagination and soul in their making. Other objects were assigned astronomical valuations simply because they were Pop culture talismans, forever dependent on the whim of contemporary valuation.

Shock is no longer new. This, is the riddle of our time. Artists should attend to that reality.

What does transgression serve? This question opens a way to distinguish its various forms. It can either serve art intrinsically, it can serve the game (when art = money), or it can simply serve itself. Is art simply a stunt? Banksy was canny, shrewd in matters of business and marketing. He staged a theater of transgression, carefully calibrated to play within the acceptable domain of the collectable artifact. He didn't dissolve the piece in a pool of acid. It didn't combust in the pyrotechnics of flash paper. What was placed before the auction house was a work in progress, a performance to an audience who are disposed to delight in dramas of disobedience. He made something calculated to be notorious and thus to increase its value, which it did double by some estimates. The system of art (and some call it an industry, a term that should be abhorrent) begs to be hustled.

Banksy cited in his Instagram, one of Picasso's famous quotes "The urge to destroy is also the creative urge". Indeed, transgression is the wheelhouse of art. The progression of art history is the generational succession that questioned cultural inheritance and remade art to suit the contemporary milieu. Like the solvent and binder of painting, art proceeds in sequences of dissolving and uniting in turn. The big question today is whether art history exists. Or better formulated, can it... should it... exist after Fukuyama wrote The End of History and the Last Man?

The continuing revolution of modernity addicts us to the frisson of transgression and beguiles us to forget the need to resolve -if even for a fleeting moment- the chaos and snap art into a new gestalt. But what if an artist includes the marketplace into their creative realm? Did Banksy undertake a critique and resolution? Did he outperform Koons? Did he exceed Rauschenberg's erased de Kooning?

I think the ultimate question is whether it is actually more than mere novelty. What if Banksy is striving to be more than the outlaw graffiti tagger, an identity that has rusted quite a bit since its birth in the 70's. He clearly wants to be a rogue agent in the art marketplace, a tagger in the auction house. What if he is instead an in-law of the market, an engineer of a gamed system? Can one be both?

What about art? Is the Bansky action an evolution in art history?

Does art history even exist?

Kenny Schachter and much of our art world seems to be amused by the sleight of hand in the gamed system. Whether they are seeing a staged act or a miracle of transgression is a distinction that remains to be seen.

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Review Panel

Last night, ArtCritical's Review Panel convened for the '18 Fall season premier at the Brooklyn Library Dwek Center. ArtCritical editor David Cohen moderated a panel including Laila Pedro, Barry Schwabsky and Roberta Smith.

It was a very interesting line up in terms of both guest critics and subject exhibitions. Smith was sparky, Schwabsky erudite and Pedro enlightening. The discussion led off with Morimura and Pope L and as usual, the first two shows up to bat tends to dilate in the evening. The second pair of Bowling and Heyl ended with a very sharp critical parsing.

Quick links:
Frank Bowling: Make It New

Charline von Heyl: New Work

Yasumasa Morimura: In the Room of Art History

Pope.L: One thing after another (part two)

I took notes...


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