Martha Schwendener

  • culture December 14, 2016

    On Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois by Robert Storr

    This 828-page tome on the art and life of Louise Bourgeois, who was born in 1911 and died in 2010, is the product of some thirty years of work. It comprehensively surveys Bourgeois's career as an artist, which spanned nearly seventy-five years, with more than nine hundred illustrations.

    Christopher Lyon: First I'd like to say something about the book we're here to discuss. This 828-page tome on the art and life of Louise Bourgeois, who was born in 1911 and died in 2010, is the product of some thirty years of work on Robert Storr's part. It comprehensively surveys Bourgeois's career as an artist, which spanned nearly seventy-five years, with more than nine hundred illustrations. Chapters relating Bourgeois's life and analyzing her creative achievement alternate with portfolios, in chronological sequence, that show the unfolding of her oeuvre. The final chapter is a coda that

  • Rock/Music Writings

    Dan Graham’s migratory approach to media was on full view in his recent traveling retrospective, where you could see many an “artwork,” published in a commercial magazine, that later became an “essay,” reproduced in a museum publication or critical anthology. Same thing with Rock/Music Writings: A number of the texts here (there are thirteen in all) didn’t originate on the page or are better known in other forms.

    The most famous, “Rock My Religion,” from the early ’80s, started off as a video juxtaposing, with Godardian ruptures, the histories of rock music and the Shakers, religious dissidents

  • A Short Life of Trouble: Forty Years in the New York Art World

    You could quibble with a few things in Marcia Tucker’s posthumously published memoir, A Short Life of Trouble: Forty Years in the New York Art World. For instance, it takes a bit long to get to the art-world part; one travels first through Tucker’s early life, growing up in Brooklyn and New Jersey with a beautiful, critical mother and a withdrawn, workaholic father. Given the thin boundary between fiction and fact, we’ll never really know whether a twenty-four-year-old Tucker actually called up all of her “so-called friends” and told them “the relationship wasn’t working out,” or whether she

  • Lives of the Artists

    Formalist art critics used to say that the life of an artist was irrelevant to an understanding of his or her work,” Calvin Tomkins writes in the preface to Lives of the Artists, a collection of New Yorker profiles published over the past ten or so years. “In my experience, the lives of contemporary artists are so integral to what they make that the two cannot be considered in isolation.” For critics of a certain generation—me, for instance—educated by art historians more inclined to mapping Lacan’s L Schema than outlining an artist’s formative years, Tomkins’s statement is like a grenade.

  • Shuffle

    WE ARE ALL ARTISTS, SUPPOSEDLY.

    But after a certain age, most of us give up the ghost on pursuits that require costly studio space, state-of-the-art equipment, or too many rewrites. To the rescue comes Christian Marclay’s Shuffle (Aperture, $30), a deck of oversize playing cards, adorned with photographs of musical symbols found in the everyday world, that serves as a kind of artistic assist, aiding anyone in becoming a composer. The idea is to arrange the cards to create a score or a musical fragment. The directions suggest using “as many or as few of the cards as you wish,” playing alone