Art Fag City at The L Magazine: Younger Than Jesus

by Art Fag City on April 29, 2009 · 18 comments The L Magazine

art fag city, Josh Smith
Josh Smith, Untitled, 2008, Mixed mediums on panel. 60 x 48 in

My latest review is up at The L Magazine.  An excerpt below:

I'm probably the only professional in the city who doesn't find fault in the New Museum’s tongue-in-cheek triennial title, Younger Than Jesus. Sure — it identifies an impossible task of finding “God-like talent” under age 33, but its irreverence matches the youth culture it represents (even if the absence of religion in the show is confusing to some). Certainly, that ambiguity hasn't been enough to thwart visitors; the title and show's concept have been remarkably effective in drawing new audiences to the museum. What's more, curating generationally makes a lot more sense to museumgoers, rather than trying to draw themes among artists working so diversely that any emerging thread is easily stitched.

While an artist's profile predictably influences critical response, until the museum's staff figures out how to hang a show in their new SANAA-designed galleries, only the work that literally sticks out will be reviewed. Not to state the obvious, but that's a very serious problem. Poor exhibition design inevitably results in the spatial privileging of certain artists and creates the necessity for repeated viewer visits. Considering the strong grouping of work that curators Lauren Cornell, Massimiliano Gioni and Laura Hoptman put together, it's a real shame. Not only do parts of the show disappear, but people consistently respond to the same work.

This is not, however, to place all the blame on the exhibition layout — some of the lower quality work fails to make any lasting impression. Josh Smith received only a descriptive mention for his work in the show this year in the Times, despite the prominent placement of his large messy painting on panel grids. Supposedly, his ugly mass-produced originals act like prints and purposely appear impoverished, but that's just another uninteresting discussion in support of empty investigations. Similarly, The Times gave Ryan Gander,an expository nod for his performance of a gallery attendant wearing a track suit with embroidered blood stains. Careful construction of the accidental isn't funny or poignant, though; it's just dumb.

To read the full piece click here.

  • seven

    A good critique of smith, paddy. Though i have found myself liking some of his work, and at other times being extremely turned off in an incredulous manner, I found the popular critic’s notion of his work absurd; that being, one should place importance and respect due to output alone….that his ouvre is remarkable simply for its prodigious output.

  • seven

    A good critique of smith, paddy. Though i have found myself liking some of his work, and at other times being extremely turned off in an incredulous manner, I found the popular critic’s notion of his work absurd; that being, one should place importance and respect due to output alone….that his ouvre is remarkable simply for its prodigious output.

  • seven

    A good critique of smith, paddy. Though i have found myself liking some of his work, and at other times being extremely turned off in an incredulous manner, I found the popular critic’s notion of his work absurd; that being, one should place importance and respect due to output alone….that his ouvre is remarkable simply for its prodigious output.

  • http://www.wwiiggss.com wwiiggss

    Paddy,

    Could you have your links open in a new window rather than leaving your site? It makes for better back-and-forth between your site and the link.

    Best Regards.

  • http://www.wwiiggss.com wwiiggss

    Paddy,

    Could you have your links open in a new window rather than leaving your site? It makes for better back-and-forth between your site and the link.

    Best Regards.

  • http://www.wwiiggss.com wwiiggss

    Paddy,

    Could you have your links open in a new window rather than leaving your site? It makes for better back-and-forth between your site and the link.

    Best Regards.

  • ak

    The archive on the 5th floor was noteworthy, i thought. just because it wasn’t “art” it didn’t make it any less compelling. you couldn’t peel me away from that highlight show of the last 30 years. and they had a copy of Being and Time in there. i like that you waited to write about this, taking into account other critics’ “analysis”… have to disagree though, didn’t find the show’s layout upsetting, thought it was fine. uneven, but fine.

    haven’t read any other reviews, so i’m guessing, but… isn’t it interesting that the only work that absolutely stood out for being out of place, horribly out of place, were b&w photographs of the day-to-day life of black folk (artist and family). they were out of place because they are conventional works, without a trace of irony (a negative quality hard to attribute to any other work in YTJ, that i can recall at least), and, if such a distinction can be made, were antithetical to whatever avant-garde art is. and sure enough these were by a black female artist. so they “killed two birds with one stone”… that work had nothing to do with the other work in YTJ and more than anyone else it should insult the artist, latoya ruby frazier, but how could she turn that show down. this assessment is obviously independent of the quality of the work, but rather a comment how the work is (earnest b&w photography). her inclusion stuck me as disingenuous. there was certainly work that i liked less, possibly josh smith, if for no other reason i’m assuming he signed off on the wall-text, and a surely several other pieces i can’t remember. like perhaps many of the paintings. but the arrière-garde-ness of painting, in general, if there, is less obvious than, for example, in a series of black and white photographs, especially when wedged in between, if i remember correctly, ryan trecartin’s (obnoxious and annoying, but a reflection of “our times”) installation (that i felt i was physically rejecting–even though there was strong work in there, overwhelmed by the “celebrated” videos) and cyprien gaillard/koudlam’s magisterial video (soundtrack integral), the AIDS monument. so i guess placement of the show mattered a little, actually, not really, since the frazier photographs were very prominently placed. but just because i say i liked josh smith’s work less, this is also different than what i felt about frazier’s work, which was more or less complete indifference (aside from recognizing that it didn’t fit in). so liking it less in this case is better than indifference. i guess my point is, the Art World is VERY white (in culture, and demographics), it’s not worth pretending it’s not, and including a black, woman artist simply to address diversity (which is only my interpretation) isn’t a convincing gesture, and in another direction, there most certainly must exist more relevant (in the context of the other work in this exhibition, and what type of art YTJ is purporting to showcase) “artists of color”. i wish i could currently afford the expanded catalog, which includes considered, but ultimately rejected artists, which might contain some useful information. the end.

  • ak

    The archive on the 5th floor was noteworthy, i thought. just because it wasn’t “art” it didn’t make it any less compelling. you couldn’t peel me away from that highlight show of the last 30 years. and they had a copy of Being and Time in there. i like that you waited to write about this, taking into account other critics’ “analysis”… have to disagree though, didn’t find the show’s layout upsetting, thought it was fine. uneven, but fine.

    haven’t read any other reviews, so i’m guessing, but… isn’t it interesting that the only work that absolutely stood out for being out of place, horribly out of place, were b&w photographs of the day-to-day life of black folk (artist and family). they were out of place because they are conventional works, without a trace of irony (a negative quality hard to attribute to any other work in YTJ, that i can recall at least), and, if such a distinction can be made, were antithetical to whatever avant-garde art is. and sure enough these were by a black female artist. so they “killed two birds with one stone”… that work had nothing to do with the other work in YTJ and more than anyone else it should insult the artist, latoya ruby frazier, but how could she turn that show down. this assessment is obviously independent of the quality of the work, but rather a comment how the work is (earnest b&w photography). her inclusion stuck me as disingenuous. there was certainly work that i liked less, possibly josh smith, if for no other reason i’m assuming he signed off on the wall-text, and a surely several other pieces i can’t remember. like perhaps many of the paintings. but the arrière-garde-ness of painting, in general, if there, is less obvious than, for example, in a series of black and white photographs, especially when wedged in between, if i remember correctly, ryan trecartin’s (obnoxious and annoying, but a reflection of “our times”) installation (that i felt i was physically rejecting–even though there was strong work in there, overwhelmed by the “celebrated” videos) and cyprien gaillard/koudlam’s magisterial video (soundtrack integral), the AIDS monument. so i guess placement of the show mattered a little, actually, not really, since the frazier photographs were very prominently placed. but just because i say i liked josh smith’s work less, this is also different than what i felt about frazier’s work, which was more or less complete indifference (aside from recognizing that it didn’t fit in). so liking it less in this case is better than indifference. i guess my point is, the Art World is VERY white (in culture, and demographics), it’s not worth pretending it’s not, and including a black, woman artist simply to address diversity (which is only my interpretation) isn’t a convincing gesture, and in another direction, there most certainly must exist more relevant (in the context of the other work in this exhibition, and what type of art YTJ is purporting to showcase) “artists of color”. i wish i could currently afford the expanded catalog, which includes considered, but ultimately rejected artists, which might contain some useful information. the end.

  • ak

    The archive on the 5th floor was noteworthy, i thought. just because it wasn’t “art” it didn’t make it any less compelling. you couldn’t peel me away from that highlight show of the last 30 years. and they had a copy of Being and Time in there. i like that you waited to write about this, taking into account other critics’ “analysis”… have to disagree though, didn’t find the show’s layout upsetting, thought it was fine. uneven, but fine.

    haven’t read any other reviews, so i’m guessing, but… isn’t it interesting that the only work that absolutely stood out for being out of place, horribly out of place, were b&w photographs of the day-to-day life of black folk (artist and family). they were out of place because they are conventional works, without a trace of irony (a negative quality hard to attribute to any other work in YTJ, that i can recall at least), and, if such a distinction can be made, were antithetical to whatever avant-garde art is. and sure enough these were by a black female artist. so they “killed two birds with one stone”… that work had nothing to do with the other work in YTJ and more than anyone else it should insult the artist, latoya ruby frazier, but how could she turn that show down. this assessment is obviously independent of the quality of the work, but rather a comment how the work is (earnest b&w photography). her inclusion stuck me as disingenuous. there was certainly work that i liked less, possibly josh smith, if for no other reason i’m assuming he signed off on the wall-text, and a surely several other pieces i can’t remember. like perhaps many of the paintings. but the arrière-garde-ness of painting, in general, if there, is less obvious than, for example, in a series of black and white photographs, especially when wedged in between, if i remember correctly, ryan trecartin’s (obnoxious and annoying, but a reflection of “our times”) installation (that i felt i was physically rejecting–even though there was strong work in there, overwhelmed by the “celebrated” videos) and cyprien gaillard/koudlam’s magisterial video (soundtrack integral), the AIDS monument. so i guess placement of the show mattered a little, actually, not really, since the frazier photographs were very prominently placed. but just because i say i liked josh smith’s work less, this is also different than what i felt about frazier’s work, which was more or less complete indifference (aside from recognizing that it didn’t fit in). so liking it less in this case is better than indifference. i guess my point is, the Art World is VERY white (in culture, and demographics), it’s not worth pretending it’s not, and including a black, woman artist simply to address diversity (which is only my interpretation) isn’t a convincing gesture, and in another direction, there most certainly must exist more relevant (in the context of the other work in this exhibition, and what type of art YTJ is purporting to showcase) “artists of color”. i wish i could currently afford the expanded catalog, which includes considered, but ultimately rejected artists, which might contain some useful information. the end.

  • ADD

    A fool is known by the multiplicity of their words. Your acute insight into the placement of LaToya Ruby frazier’s works are neither. The placement of her work within that show gives it credibility; that are present moment isn’t completely devoid of social responsibility and content. They weren’t filling a quota. In showing Frazier’s works YTJ actually showed someone who is the complete embodiment of an artist.

  • ADD

    A fool is known by the multiplicity of their words. Your acute insight into the placement of LaToya Ruby frazier’s works are neither. The placement of her work within that show gives it credibility; that are present moment isn’t completely devoid of social responsibility and content. They weren’t filling a quota. In showing Frazier’s works YTJ actually showed someone who is the complete embodiment of an artist.

  • ADD

    A fool is known by the multiplicity of their words. Your acute insight into the placement of LaToya Ruby frazier’s works are neither. The placement of her work within that show gives it credibility; that are present moment isn’t completely devoid of social responsibility and content. They weren’t filling a quota. In showing Frazier’s works YTJ actually showed someone who is the complete embodiment of an artist.

  • ak

    i am but a fool of are times.

    j/k

    my observations, although sincere, are borderline petty and pretty much inconsequential. i wish latoya ruby frazier continued success.

    word count: 27

  • ak

    i am but a fool of are times.

    j/k

    my observations, although sincere, are borderline petty and pretty much inconsequential. i wish latoya ruby frazier continued success.

    word count: 27

  • ak

    i am but a fool of are times.

    j/k

    my observations, although sincere, are borderline petty and pretty much inconsequential. i wish latoya ruby frazier continued success.

    word count: 27

  • jk

    ak, your point is a little strained. bw photography is no more derriere garde than say moments of nice, but pretty straight up conceptualism in the show, the art world is not overwhelmingly white, a lot of good work is being made by artists of color, and u would never have singled that artist were she a white photographer, oh whatever this is so boring. nothing will ever change.

  • jk

    ak, your point is a little strained. bw photography is no more derriere garde than say moments of nice, but pretty straight up conceptualism in the show, the art world is not overwhelmingly white, a lot of good work is being made by artists of color, and u would never have singled that artist were she a white photographer, oh whatever this is so boring. nothing will ever change.

  • jk

    ak, your point is a little strained. bw photography is no more derriere garde than say moments of nice, but pretty straight up conceptualism in the show, the art world is not overwhelmingly white, a lot of good work is being made by artists of color, and u would never have singled that artist were she a white photographer, oh whatever this is so boring. nothing will ever change.

Previous post:

Next post: