Considering “New Art”

The wonderful thing about New Art is that it may be old, depending on how you—as the interested party—may want to define the term, or phrase as it may be.

Rethinking Curating by Beryl Graham: Book Cover

As curator Steve Dietz has observed, new media art is like contemporary art—but different. New media art involves interactivity, networks, and computation and is often about process rather than objects. New media artworks, difficult to classify according to the traditional art museum categories determined by medium, geography, and chronology. These works present the curator with novel challenges involving interpretation, exhibition, and dissemination. Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media views these challenges as opportunities to rethink curatorial practice. It helps curators of new media art develop a set of flexible tools for working in this fast-moving field, and it offers useful lessons from curators and artists for those working in such other areas of art as distributive and participatory systems.

Lucian Freud by Lucian Freud: Book Cover

One of the greatest living painters and portraitists, Lucian Freud (born 1922) brings a powerfully obsessive scrutiny to bear upon his subjects. “I want the painting to be flesh,” Freud has avowed, and through this aspiration he achieves almost devastatingly unsentimental and revelatory portraits of his sitters, as he translates the act of scrutiny into strokes of paint. Lucian Freud: The Studio is the essential book on the artist.
Grandson of Sigmund Freud, born in Germany in 1922, and permanently relocated to London in 1933 during the ascent of the Nazi regime. After seeing brief service during the Second World War, Freud had his first solo exhibition in 1944 at the Alex Reid & Lefevre Gallery in London. Despite exhibiting only occasionally over the course of his career, Freud’s 1995 portrait “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” was sold at auction, at Christie’s New York in May 2008, for $33.6 million—setting a world record for sale value of a painting by a living artist.

Furthermore by Jeffrey Fraenkel: Book Cover

Every five years or thereabouts, the renowned Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco finds itself with a number of unrelated works of photography that stand out as special, and which ultimately get collected in one of the gallery’s award-winning and sought-after quintannual publications. These publications, every one of which has been a masterpiece of photography publishing, and swiftly becomes a rarity, constitute a kind of ultimate connoisseur’s survey of photographic gems. As with previous anniversary publications, the present trove, collected in Furthermore, includes a fantastic collection of images by photographers unknown, such as an X-ray of a change purse, a Polaroid from a prison yard, a collage of the moon’s surface radioed to earth from an unmanned spacecraft-all of which appear, as usual, alongside several dozen photographs made by serious artists with complicated intentions.

Rachel Whiteread Drawings by Allegra Presenti: Book Cover

Rachel Whiteread: Drawings accompanies the first museum survey of drawings by this artist, tracing her career from the late 1980s to the present. While Whiteread’s public works such as House, the monumental cast of a 19th-century terraced house in the East End of London that earned her the Turner Prize, Water Tower, which graced the skyline of downtown New York, and Untitled Monument in Trafalgar Square are renowned, her works on paper have remained largely unknown to the general public. This book explores Whiteread s draftsmanship, a lesser-known yet fundamentally important aspect of the
artist’s creative process. “My drawings are a diary of my work,” Whiteread explains, and like the passages in a diary her drawings range from fleeting ideas to labored reflections.

When Frida Kahlo died in 1954, her husband Diego Rivera asked the poet Carlos Pellicer to turn her family home, the fabled Blue House, into a museum. Pellicer selected some paintings, drawings, photographs, books and ceramics, maintaining the space just as Kahlo and Rivera had arranged it to live and work in. The rest of the objects, clothing, documents, drawings and letters, as well as over 6,000 photographs collected by Kahlo over the course of her life, were put away in bathrooms that had been converted into storerooms. This incredible trove remained hidden for more than half a century, until, just a few years ago, these storerooms and wardrobes were opened up. Kahlo’s photograph collection was a major revelation among these finds, a testimony to the tastes and interests of the famous couple, not only through the images themselves but also through the telling annotations inscribed upon them. Frida Kahlo: Her Photos allows us to speculate about Kahlo’s and Rivera’s likes and dislikes, and to document their family origins; it supplies a thrilling and hugely significant addition to our knowledge of Kahlo’s life and work.

Cartographies of Time by Daniel Rosenberg: Book Cover

Cartographies of Time is the first comprehensive history of graphic representations of time in Europe and the United States from 1450 to the present. Authors Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton have crafted a lively history featuring fanciful characters and unexpected twists and turns. From medieval manuscripts to websites, this volume features a wide variety of timelines that in their own unique ways—curving, crossing, branching—defy conventional thinking about the form. A 54-foot-long timeline from 1753 is mounted on a scroll and encased in a protective box. Another timeline uses the different parts of the human body to show the genealogies of Jesus Christ and the rulers of Saxony. Ladders created by missionaries in eighteenth-century Oregon illustrate Bible stories in a vertical format to convert Native Americans. Also included is the April 1912 Marconi North Atlantic Communication chart, which tracked ships, including the Titanic, at points in time rather than by their geographic location, alongside little-known works by famous figures, including a historical chronology by the mapmaker Gerardus Mercator and a chronological board game patented by Mark Twain.

The wonderful thing about New Art is that it may be old, depending on how you—as the interested party—may want to define the term, or phrase as it may be.

Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg

Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg is a revealing photographic look at the counterculture as chronicled by the movement’s great poet. Ginsberg began photographing in the late 1940s when he purchased a small, second-hand Kodak camera. For the next 15 years he took photographs of himself, his friends, and lovers, including the writers and poets Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and Gregory Corso as well as Beat personality Neal Cassady. He abandoned photography in 1963 and took it up again in the 1980s, when he was encouraged by photographers Berenice Abbott and Robert Frank to reprint his earlier work and make new portraits; these included more images of longtime friends as well other acquaintances such as painters Larry Rivers and Francesco Clemente and musician Bob Dylan. Ginsberg’s photographs form a compelling portrait of the Beat and counterculture generation from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Lillian Birnbaum: Transition

For five years, noted Paris-based portrait photographer Lillian Birnbaum documented a group of girls during their transition from childhood to young womanhood, examining their initial, innocent awakenings to their own feminine allure. This is a state that is particularly difficult to capture, according to essayist Doris van Drathen, in Lillian Birnbaum: Transition, for Birnbaum’s photographs “present that delicate space between the unconscious and the conscious; the passage from a world of dreams, chaos and fantasy into a world more and more contained by the forces of reality.”

Lee Friedlander: America by Car

Enduring icons of American culture, the car and the highway remain vital as auguries of adventure and discovery, and a means by which to take in the country’s vast scale. Lee Friedlander is the first photographer to make the car an actual “form” for the photographer. Driving across most of the country’s 50 states in an ordinary rental car, Friedlander applied the brilliantly simple conceit of deploying the sideview mirror, rearview mirror, the windshield and the side windows as a picture frame within which to record the country’s eccentricities and obsessions at the turn of the century. Presented in the square crop format that has dominated his look in recent series, and taken over the past decade, the nearly 200 images in Lee Friedlander: America by Car are easily among Friedlander’s finest, full of virtuoso touch and clarity, while also revisiting themes from older bodies of work.

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