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Paul Laster

Paul Laster

Articles (34)

Amy Sherald paints the anonymous and the famous

Amy Sherald paints the anonymous and the famous

Most artists aren’t on a first-name basis with the Obamas, but Amy Sherald is. Last year, she went viral after painting former first lady Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, D.C. Selected out of the 20 artists who submitted portfolios for the prestigious commission, Sherald allows that her reaction to landing the gig wasn’t typical. “I didn’t go, Oh my God,” she says. “I just sat down and kind of went, Whew! But I knew I couldn’t internalize it until I was finished, which was two years later.” Now, a few days before the opening of her solo exhibit at Hauser & Wirth—her first in NYC since the portrait—Sherald sits in the gallery amid her signature likenesses of African-American subjects rendered with gray skin tones (“I want the images to exist universally”) to discuss a career that might be best summed up by the word knitted across her sweater: ALRIGHT. Photograph: Hollis Johnson How long have you been making art?Since I was a kid, but maybe only in earnest since I shelled out for an MFA. I knew then that art was going to be my career. I didn’t invest $65,000 to do something else to pay back my loan. Do you paint from photographs or from life?I use photos. Photograph: Hollis Johnson How do you find your subjects?Usually by walking or driving around. When I see someone, I have to put the car in park and jog back half a block to try to catch up to them. Don’t they think that’s weird?It’s a bit awkward. But once I take out my cell phone to show the

Filmmaker Gus Van Sant has always been a painter at heart

Filmmaker Gus Van Sant has always been a painter at heart

When you hear the name Gus Van Sant, you probably think of the auteur behind indie classics such as Drugstore Cowboy and My Own Private Idaho or Hollywood hits like Good Will Hunting. Most likely, you don’t think of him as painter, but that’s what he studied at the Rhode Island School Of Design (RISD). After setting aside his art to pursue film, it’s front and center again with his New York solo gallery debut at Vito Schnabel Projects. Titled “Hollywood Boulevard,” the show presents nine haunting canvases of nude men traipsing through Los Angeles. Sitting in the gallery dressed in a jean jacket worn over a black T-shirt and pants, the mild-mannered Van Sant talks about his show and the part L.A. plays in the paintings. When you were at RISD in the 1970s, did you expect to make it as an artist?No. The people in the classes ahead of me used to come back with scary stories about trying to succeed as artists in New York, so I figured the odds would be against me. Photograph: Ali Garber Wasn’t David Byrne at RISD when you were there? Did you know him? Yeah. I think he was one year ahead of me. Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, his bandmates in the Talking Heads, were there, too. We shared some close friends, but they moved to New York by the time I was in my senior year. Photograph: Ali Garber Once you started making films, you always seemed to associate them with art in some way. Didn’t Larry Clark’s photos of junkies influence Drugstore Cowboy?Yeah. Bruce Weber gave me copies of

Alex Katz brings light and movement to Midtown

Alex Katz brings light and movement to Midtown

The consummate New York artist, Alex Katz, 92, was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Queens and studied art at The Cooper Union following World War II. He began his artistic career during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism, a style he rebelled against with a form of realism that was informed by movies and advertising. But it wouldn’t be accurate to describe his work as Pop Art; rather it comprises smoothly stylized portraits (particularly of his wife Ada, Katz’s constant muse and frequent subject over 70 years) and landscapes (based, more often than not, on the area around his summer home in Maine). Katz’s work is regularly exhibited in all of the city’s major museums, and more recently, on the walls of the 57th Street subway station. And for the next few months, the Park Avenue malls between 52nd and 60th street will host a new outdoor installation by Katz organized by Kasmin in collaboration with Lococo Fine Art Publishers. Titled, Park Avenue Departure, the piece comprises a series of eight-foot high cutout figures of his wife Ada seen from the back. Recently, Katz, spoke about the piece, his approach to painting and the elastic nature of his wife’s image over the course of his lengthy career. Photograph: Diego Flores, © Alex Katz/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), courtesy Kasmin Gallery You’re almost the poster child for a certain kind of hugely successfully artist, one who seemed to rocket to art stardom with their first show—like the one you had in 1959 at Tanager Gal

Mika Rottenberg exposes the absurdities of globalism

Mika Rottenberg exposes the absurdities of globalism

Celebrated for imaginative video installations that examine globalism’s interconnected web of labor and manufacturing, Mika Rottenberg invents oddly claustrophobic work environments, where unlikely commodities are created on absurd assembly lines by (mostly) women. An Argentine-born artist who grew up in Israel before moving to New York, Rottenberg recently sat down to discuss her first institutional solo show in NYC (“Easypieces,” at the New Museum), her love of infomercials and how they remind her of art school. Is it true that infomercials influenced your early videos?Yes, I love infomercials! I’m not sure why, but there’s just something seductive about them, especially the set designs. I used to watch the Home Shopping Network—all those people talking about what they were trying to sell for hours on end. It reminded me of art school. Were you attracted to them because they seem surreal?Actually, I’m more focused on the real, so for me it’s more like they represent a reality that’s so bizarre it becomes surreal. Photograph: Ali Garber How do you come up with ideas for your work?It usually starts with some type of sensation, like a sound, or smell or feeling I want to explore. Chance can also play a part. Something in a conversation can spark an idea. Then I’ll watch hours of YouTube and do Google searches to further develop it. How does that work for something like your short, Sneeze, which shows businessmen sneezing out bunnies and other unlikely objects from their noses

Julia Scher’s work foresaw our world of privacy invasion

Julia Scher’s work foresaw our world of privacy invasion

At a moment when our lives are tracked and sold as data, Julia Scher’s installations from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s seem especially prescient. Combining CCTV footage with sculptural elements (a four-poster bed, a guard-dog statue), Scher’s pieces probe the proliferation of surveillance systems that dress invasions of privacy in the sheep’s clothing of security. Born in Hollywood and currently living in Cologne, Germany, Scher now returns to the U.S. for her first NYC show in 15 years, held at Ortuzar Projects, where she discusses her work and its sometimes confessional qualities. Photograph: Hollis Johnson Have you always been interested in surveillance? Actually, I started out as a landscape painter. What made you change? It started in art school, when I saw a photo by Susan Meiselas from El Salvador’s civil war. It showed a hillside firing range covered by targets with silhouettes of torsos. So, I began to paint people framed inside those same shapes. After a while, they began to remind me of TV monitors, so I switched mediums. Photograph: Hollis Johnson One of your earlier videos, Discipline Masters, from 1988, is just you addressing the camera about your childhood. It’s not really about surveillance, is it? It’s still related because surveillance is about exposure, about letting things out that you’ve been hiding. It’s a confession. You talk about your abusive parents in the video. Yes, living with them was like being in prison. Photograph: Hollis Johnson Was

Paola Pivi’s neon-colored bear sculptures take over Perrotin Gallery

Paola Pivi’s neon-colored bear sculptures take over Perrotin Gallery

An Italian artist who works in numerous mediums, Paola Pivi creates enigmatic work that involves animals and everyday objects. She’s lived in Alaska for the past decade, which probably accounts for her obsession with—and fear of—polar bears. Fuzzy, Day-Glo versions of them covered in feathers were presented in her 2013 exhibit at Perrotin, which marked the first New York show for both the artist and the gallery. She’s back with another ursine installation, only this time it comprises 70 baby bears crawling around Perrotin’s space. Sitting among them, Pivi explains how these carnivores came to feast on her imagination. Photograph: Hollis Johnson You live in Alaska, so have you actually crossed paths with a bear?Yes! You’re basically living on their land, and there are horrible stories of people being killed by them—even in town—and not that rarely. The Alaskan landscape is so beautiful, though, that you just want to park your car and start walking around, but I’m terrified of being attacked. Even when I’m back in Italy and go into the woods, I have to keep telling myself, There are no bears, there are no bears. They can make you into a meal. Something everyone forgets is that humans can be eaten. For this show, you’ve traded adult bears for baby ones. Why?Every time I have a meaningful experience, it trickles into my work five or six years later. In this case, it was when I adopted my son, who was five at the time. The process took a long time, so when he finally arrived it s

Neo Rauch’s dreamy drawings are the surreal thing at the Drawing Center

Neo Rauch’s dreamy drawings are the surreal thing at the Drawing Center

Best known for his haunting, dreamlike paintings, German artist Neo Rauch reveals a different side to his practice with a survey of works on paper at the Drawing Center. On view are 170 examples, spanning his 30-year career, and, like his canvases, these pieces were created through a kind of subconscious reverie in which his art is directly pipelined from his imagination. Many of his themes deal with Germany’s past and how it dovetails with his own: Born in 1960, he grew up in Leipzig while it was still part of the former East Germany, making him a witness to the events that preceded and followed the fall of the Berlin Wall. Photograph: Hollis Johnson Do you remember the first drawing you ever made?Yes. When I was two years old, I drew a picture of a woodpecker. I should try to find it and show it now Photograph: Courtesy the artist, Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin and David Zwirner, New York/London/Hong Kong, © Neo Rauch, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Do you separate drawing from painting? How big of a role does the former play in the latter?I don’t use drawings for preparing paintings or anything. The way I paint and draw is almost the same. I don’t think about what I do; I just let ideas stream through my hand to my brush or pencil. Drawing just happens for me. And, besides, these works are really paintings; they just happen to be paper. Photograph: Hollis Johnson Are there elements that recur from one piece to the next?Windows and trees,

Genesis Belanger talks about how reception areas are tools of oppression

Genesis Belanger talks about how reception areas are tools of oppression

Blurring the boundaries between mediums and styles, Genesis Belanger makes ceramic sculptures that explore the psychology of power and the anxieties that surround it. With a background in animation, fashion design and advertising, Belanger constructs dreamlike installations like the one resembling a receptionist area that’s currently on view in the New Museum’s window gallery. Recently, the artist sat down in her Williamsburg studio to discuss how such “liminal” spaces constitute a form of corporate control, and reflect our current political climate. How did you wind up making the work you do? I applied to grad school with a painting portfolio, but knew right away that I’d be happier creating three-dimensional work. Once I was there, I started experimenting sculpturally with all kinds of materials. My studio happened to be next to the kiln so I started using ceramics, as well, though I stopped for a few years after I received my MFA. Then I bought a small kiln, and as soon as I did that, I transitioned to ceramics full time. Photograph: Charles Benton You also studied fashion design, and you’ve worked in advertising. Did those experiences have a bearing on your approach? Yeah. I rely on a lot of skills that draw on fashion. For instance, all of my clay objects start as a flat slab, and I actually make patterns for the shapes I create, like the way you would when sewing a dress. As for advertising, I was attracted to it because of how brilliantly it deploys visual language, d

Nari Ward on folk art, found objects and creating havoc with his work

Nari Ward on folk art, found objects and creating havoc with his work

Born in Jamaica, Nari Ward burst on the international art scene in 1993 with a DIY installation of hundreds of discarded baby strollers in an abandoned Harlem firehouse, garnering critical acclaim. Since then, he has consistently shown a knack for transforming found objects into poetically and politically resonant artworks. Now the subject of a New Museum retrospective, Ward recently sat down in his Harlem studio to discuss race, recycling and whether his work conveys a message. Photograph: Jesse Untracht-Oakner, courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin New York/Hong Kong/Seoul Do you associate your work with the discussion surrounding the African diaspora? Definitely. I think that discourse revolves around the notion of connectedness—where you’re connected to, how you’re connected and who decides what those connections mean in terms of race, gender and popular culture. The questioning of those things is part of my mission as an artist. Your practice is also about Harlem, where you live and work. How did you wind up there? I started living in Harlem during the 1990s, when the city was struggling with AIDS and the crack epidemic. There was something dynamic about the situation—the abandoned buildings and the sense that New York was experiencing a critical moment. That’s when I started working with things I found on the street. Photograph: Studio LHOOQ, collection Jeffrey Deitch, courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin New York/Hong Kong/Seoul Would say you are practicing an art

Martha Rosler on gender, gentrification and the wages of war

Martha Rosler on gender, gentrification and the wages of war

A multidisciplinary artist, writer and social activist, Martha Rosler has spent 50 years delivering biting feminist critiques on subjects ranging from gender to gentrification. But she is perhaps best known for her collages that juxtapose housekeeping ads with scenes from the U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Now the Jewish Museum is focusing on these works and others as part of its survey “Martha Rosler: Irrespective.” Recently, Rosler sat down with us at her home and studio in Greenpoint to discuss her work, her neighborhood and the real meaning of cooking shows. Photograph: Hollis Johnson You work in a lot of different mediums—collage, video and installation. How would you summarize what you do? I find it tiresome to list the different ways I work, so I really try to avoid getting into categories. Let’s just say that I make art. Photograph: Hollis Johnson Then let’s start with something from early in your career. During the mid-’60s and early ’70s, you created a photomontage series where you mixed soft-core porn into appliance ads and shelter-magazine spreads. Were you saying something about how women were represented in the media back then? Not just back then. Women are still being objectified, converted into signs for desire and seduction by being sliced and diced and fragmented. Whatever they may be doing, women are always posed for the male gaze. It’s an old observation, but it remains true. Photograph: © Martha Rosler, courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Inn

Tony Oursler on art, technology, deep history and the Hudson River

Tony Oursler on art, technology, deep history and the Hudson River

A New York-based multimedia artist, Tony Oursler makes fractured narratives that mix technology with storytelling. Exhibited internationally, Oursler latest project, which was commissioned by the Public Art Fund, takes place through Halloween at Riverside Park. A love song to New York, Tear of the Cloud uses digital projection on the remains of an abandoned gantry, a weeping willow tree and the waters of the Hudson River to tell the tale of the city constructed from elements of history and urban myths. TONY recently sat down with the artist at his LES studio to discuss his theories on how things from the telegraph to artificial intelligence—and plenty in-between—are interrelated. Photograph: Andrew Tess How did you come to video as an art form? I started as a painter at Cal Arts and got introduced to the Portapak [an early protable video camera and tape deck system] about 10 minutes after I arrived there. I had always felt that something was missing from my paintings, in a visceral way. Growing up as a TV-generation guy, it seemed to just click immediately. From that moment on it was a kind of energy that worked with making images. You usually merge video with sculpture, right? Sculpture and installation, as well as painting—wall works and screens, as I call them. It’s the juice that flows through all of it. I make a few things that don’t plug in, but not that many. Are you more into the narrative or the visual impact? Good question. I was very conscious of that with Tear of

Artist Daniel Arsham on art, alchemy and Doc Brown’s DeLorean

Artist Daniel Arsham on art, alchemy and Doc Brown’s DeLorean

Celebrated for his re-creations of degraded pop-cultural artifacts in stone, crystals and volcanic ash, Daniel Arsham makes art that looks as though it was just discovered in an archaeological dig. That’s certainly the case with his current show at Perrotin New York on the Lower East Side: The Brooklyn-based artist presents a series of sculptures that includes a replica of the legendary DeLorean from Back to the Future. Recently, Arsham sat down with Time Out New York to discuss the show, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the role of alchemy in his art. Your pieces seem to have a quality that might be called retro-futuristic. How do you see it?A lot of my work has to do with a consideration of time and how archaeology looks at past civilizations. I’m trying to reverse-engineer that process to our own time. When I take a present-day object and make it appear like an ancient relic from the future, it creates a sense of temporal dislocation. It’s unsettling and interesting at the same time. Photograph: Andrew Tess But the finished pieces don’t really look like they’ve been excavated.No, but I didn’t want to just take an object and distress it to look old. I wanted to represent what a present-day object would look like in the future. So, the pieces are made from materials that we associate with geology, including volcanic ash and crystals—things that we imagine forming over a long period. I think that lends everything a visceral sense of time. Photograph: Andrew Tess Would you call yo

News (37)

Some questions for Peter Saul

Some questions for Peter Saul

A radical American artist who mixes social issues with pop culture to make trippy, psychological paintings, Peter Saul has been identified with Pop Art, Funk Art and The Hairy Who, simply because his first art dealer, Allan Frumkin, was based in Chicago. Receiving a generous stipend from Frumkin for 30 years, Saul painted whatever he wanted, which is why his work is now so widely embraced. Current with his eagerly awaited New Museum retrospective, the 85-year-old artist sat down with TONY to discuss his lucky life and direct, instinctive style for making his highly controversial art. Why did you become an artist?I didn’t want to work in an office; I knew that by the time I turned 15. From the late-’50s to the mid-’60s, you lived in Paris and Rome. How did you manage to start a career over there?I didn’t know what to do and no one else knew either. I heard of five or six American artists in Paris, but I didn’t actually know their work because I’d skipped art history: My teacher told me that if I didn’t show up, he’d give me a B. Eventually, I managed to show my drawings to a dealer with galleries in Chicago and New York. He asked me how much I wanted for them. I said $15; he said,“I can do $25.” You were lucky.I’ve been lucky all my life, but I hope I’m not going to pay for it with some huge disease, if you know what I mean. The work you did back then has been described as a precursor to Pop Art. Do you agree?No. I didn’t know about Pop Art and I was pretty upset when I read a

Artist Mark Manders talks about his monumental Tilted Head at Central Park

Artist Mark Manders talks about his monumental Tilted Head at Central Park

Lately, Dutch artist Mark Manders has been constructing large, figurative bronzes that look like they’re composed of cracked clay, a trompe l’oeil method that continues in his public art piece, Tilted Head. A massive rendering of the eponymous subject who appears to have been cut in half and shored up with planks, it’s the Public Art Fund’s latest commission for Central Park’s Doris C. Freedman Plaza (60th Street and Fifth Avenue). With its eyes closed as if it were sleeping, dreaming of the green space just beyond, Tilted Head’s poetic quality speaks to Mander’s original ambition to be a writer, though he started creating art at age 18. Since then, he has become internationally renowned, representing Holland at the 2013 Venice Biennale, among other triumphs. Recently, he spoke with us by phone about his work and how the world could do just fine without it. Did you use a model for Tilted Head?No, I don’t work from models. The piece isn’t about any one person. It isn’t male or female. It’s just a head. I’ve read that you think of all your work as something you could have made at age 18. Why?At the time, I wanted to be a writer, but I became more fascinated with objects—how they relate to language and thinking. Instead of writing with words, I started to write with objects. I wanted to create a language out of them, and I always think back to then to see if I’ve succeeded.   Artist Mark Manders with Tilted Head at Central Park Photograph: Celeste Sloman   Rather than asking y

Artist B. Wurtz plants pots and pans as "Kitchen Trees" at City Hall Park

Artist B. Wurtz plants pots and pans as "Kitchen Trees" at City Hall Park

For 50 years, California native B. Wurtz (his preferred moniker) has been employing cheap, throwaway materials to create whimsical, idiosyncratic sculptures that touch upon, as he puts it, “sleeping, eating [and] keeping warm.” He labored under the radar for years, creating small-scale assemblages, but since 2011, he’s enjoyed worldwide success with solo shows at major museums and galleries, and is currently represented by Metro Pictures in Chelsea. Now, he’s stepping into the role of outdoor artist with a Public Art Fund project at City Hall Park. Titled Kitchen Trees, the installation comprises arboreal forms made from pots and pans that are hung with plastic fruit. The artist recently sat down with us to discuss his new work, his passion for recycling and his fascination with plastic. Photograph: Jason Wyche, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY How did you wind up choosing kitchenware to compose your installation?Since the early 1970s, I’ve been making assemblages out of everyday objects. I wanted people to look at things in a different way, but I also knew I needed to impose some order on the process. So, I came up with the idea of dealing with just three topics—food, clothing and shelter—which are the basics of human existence. Kitchen items fit right into the food category. Photograph: Jason Wyche, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY Are you making a point about recycling? Some of the everyday objects you use are considered trash—like shopping bags, for instance.Personall

French artist JR goes from street to gallery in his debut NYC exhibition

French artist JR goes from street to gallery in his debut NYC exhibition

Since starting out as a teenage tagger in Paris 20 years ago, the pseudonymous French artist JR (he won’t divulge his real name) has gone on to achieve global acclaim, winning the TED Prize in 2011 and appearing on 60 Minutes and the cover of the New York Times magazine. His notoriety comes from his approach to street art: Instead of graffiti, he plasters large photographic posters on outdoor walls around the world—sometimes with permission, sometimes without. Printed with head shots he’s taken of a diverse array of people from different countries, these posters convey his perspective on the issues of the moment—which, for his NYC gallery debut at Perrotin, involves the hotly contested fight over immigration and national boundaries. Recently, he spoke with Time Out New York about his art, his mission and how he uses social media to further both.   View of the exhibition Horizontal Photograph: Guillaume Ziccarelli, courtesy the artist and Perrotin             You’re self-taught, correct?Yes. I began taking photos when I was 17, just as photography was going from an expensive sport to something anybody could do thanks to digital cameras. I didn’t know anything about the art world, or even that you could have a job as an artist, but I knew that I wanted to share my work with everyone. Since there was no social media back then, it meant taking my art to the streets.   View of the exhibition Horizontal Photograph: Guillaume Ziccarelli, courtesy the artist and Perrotin        

See Yinka Shonibare’s colorful Wind Sculpture in Central Park

See Yinka Shonibare’s colorful Wind Sculpture in Central Park

Celebrated for his art exploring the links between colonialism and globalism, Yinka Shonibare MBE has created a instantly recognizable style of work through his inventive use of boldly patterned Dutch wax fabrics. A regular exhibitor at NYC's art galleries and art museums, the British-Nigerian artist has just added a major New York City public art project to his resume: Wind Sculpture (SG) I, a monumental outdoor sculpture being presented in Central Park by the Public Art Fund. We recently spoke with the British-Nigerian artist about his work and his hopes for what New Yorkers will get out his latest piece. What made you want to become an artist?I liked making art when I was in school, and I knew I wanted to do more of it. When I was about 16 years old, my family went on holiday to Rome, and I was completely blown away by what I saw there. Did your parents encourage you?Just the opposite! My father was a lawyer and he wanted me to go into law. But I was a rebellious kid, and the fact that my parents didn’t like the idea obviously meant that it was what I was going to do. I wanted to be part of creating beautiful things in the world, but most important, I liked the work of other artists. What plays a bigger role in your work, the concept or the aesthetic?I don’t separate the two. For me, the concept is in the aesthetic. With any kind of good art, content should be an extension of form and vice versa. Photograph: Courtesy Public Art Fund   You’re known for using brightly colo

Diana Al-Hadid melds sci-fi and spiritualism at Madison Square Park

Diana Al-Hadid melds sci-fi and spiritualism at Madison Square Park

One of the most audaciously experimental sculptors working today, Diana Al-Hadid melds figurative and architectural elements into objects that seem to dissolve into thin air. Made of materials like gypsum and fiberglass, her apparitions also appear as if they draw upon the ancient past. “History is everything in my work,” says the artist, who was born in Aleppo, Syria, before emigrating to Ohio. Her latest exhibition, “Delirious Matter,” represents her first public art project and comprises four sculptures installed around Madison Square Park. On a recent outing there, Diana Al-Hadid discussed her installation and what it took to transform the public space into a phantom zone.   Diana Al-Hadid, Synonym, 2017–2018 Photograph: Morgan Stuart             Why did you title your show “Delirious Matter”?Delirious is a reference to the way I play with illusion, instead of being true to my materials. Matter represents the show’s narrative framework, which in this case was inspired by an early-20th-century novel called Gradiva, by the German writer Wilhelm Jensen. I titled one piece after it. The story is about an archaeologist who becomes obsessed with a woman depicted in a Roman bas-relief. The book later became the subject of a psychoanalytic study by Sigmund Freud. Does that have something to do with why the sculptures depict female figures?To a certain extent. Gradiva is a woman on whom Jensen’s protagonist makes all of these projections. You could say the same for art itself, w

Huma Bhabha’s extraterrestrial art lands on the Met’s rooftop

Huma Bhabha’s extraterrestrial art lands on the Met’s rooftop

Best known for raw sculptures of fragmented bodies assembled from detritus and clay, Huma Bhabha makes mythological figures that mix Western and Eastern art, with dashes of science fiction. Tapped by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its annual Roof Garden Commission, the Pakistani-born artist has created two monumental bronzes that construct an otherworldly narrative high above Central Park. Here, Bhabha shares the inspiration behind her rooftop installation.   Huma Bhabha, Untitled, 2017 Photograph: Courtesy Salon 94         How did you plan your project?I had various ideas, but after visiting the Met a few times, I realized that I wanted to make the sculptures monumental, something I hadn’t been able to do previously. I settled on two large sculptures from the ones that I was considering and went from there.   Huma Bhabha, Untitled, 2017 Photograph: Joshua Aronson         Why did you decide to go monumental?I wanted to take a theatrical approach to the roof garden and treat it like a gigantic pedestal for the sculptures. I think of them as actors on a stage, with a cinematic backdrop of the park and New York City. I’m also thinking of the roof as a landing pad, where the sculptures look as though they’ve just touched down from outer space. Photograph: Joshua Aronson       Was the work influenced by anything in art history?It’s more like a digested understanding of works that I like from art history. I take an intuitive approach where the work just comes together, ev

Graffiti artist Barry McGee brings streets smarts to his latest gallery show

Graffiti artist Barry McGee brings streets smarts to his latest gallery show

Although Barry McGee is a graduate of San Francisco Art Institute, he made a name for himself as a teenage street artist whose tag became a familiar sight in the City by the Bay. By the mid-’90s, his paintings and drawings—populated with hobos, misfits and bold graphic patterns—were appearing in New York galleries like the Drawing Center and Deitch Projects. In 2013 he joined Chelsea’s Cheim & Read, where he’s about to open a solo show of drawings, paintings and sculptures. The artist speaks to Time Out New York about his graffiti roots and how they’ve affected his career. Photograph: Courtesy Cheim & Read       When did you start making art?I’ve been making it continuously since I was a kid. Photograph: Courtesy Cheim & Read       And working on the streets?I started in high school, as part of this fringe group of straggly kids trying to figure out how to beat the system.   Photograph: Courtesy Cheim & Read         Do you still consider yourself a street artist?No. I’m just someone who used to do graffiti. I never felt that there was any art to it, but on the other hand, that’s what I always liked about tagging—that and the fact that there’s a freedom to it, and that it can really piss people off. Art can do that too, though in a more mannered way. Graffiti is a separate universe from the art world. Photograph: Courtesy Cheim & Read       So you don’t do that anymore.Well, I did some tagging recently, but it was a special opportunity, so I took advantage of it. It’s

Go see an awe-inspiring light installation at a Brooklyn art gallery

Go see an awe-inspiring light installation at a Brooklyn art gallery

A British artist who lives and works in New York, Anthony McCall is widely known for “solid” light installations created by projecting beams of light in dark, mist-shrouded galleries. The result allows viewers to immerse themselves and transform their experience of space. Readying for the first American survey of his light pieces at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, McCall talked to Time Out New York about the show and his roots in performance art.   Anthony McCall, installation view, Hangar Bicocca, Milan, 2009 Photograph: Giulio Buono You call your installations solid light works. Why?I call them that because you’re surrounded by planes of light moving across the space and intersecting with one another. And you’re invited to enter these forms, which seem sculptural, but are made of something utterly immaterial. You can treat a plane of light as a wall if you like, but you also pass right through it. So in a sense I think of them as volumetric three-dimensional objects that you have to walk around. You have to move your body in relation to the form, which is a classic sculptural relationship. How do you create that effect?I use a haze machine to fill the space with mist. It turns the light into a visible plane. I do animations by hand—line drawings that I film frame by frame. Then I project them either horizontally or vertically. There’s an animated line in the center of each piece that produces the illusion of an object changing over time. So I consider the work a form of cinema

Madison Square Park is all aglow, thanks to artist Erwin Redl

Madison Square Park is all aglow, thanks to artist Erwin Redl

While it may seem that Madison Square has turned into a landing strip for extraterrestrials, it’s actually the handiwork of Erwin Redl, an Austrian musician turned artist who lives in the United States. He specializes in using computer-controlled lighting to build dynamic installations that dazzle with sci-fi effects. His latest piece, Whiteout, is no exception. Suspended in rows of lighted orbs from a network of cables strung between steel poles, Whiteout hangs just a couple of feet off the ground, creating a carpet of illuminated spheres that sway in the wind and change appearance according to a programmed sequence. Time Out New York recently met Redl at Madison Square to discuss Whiteout and the impact of music on his work. Why is your work so focused on light?I’m very interested in ephemeral media, which may come from my background in music. But I also come from a family of furniture makers, so by studying electronic music, I realized that I could combine technology and craft. I could use the same set of algorithms that are used to make music to make art. Does your musical background still factor into your work?Absolutely. I’ve always been influenced by the work of Steve Reich and European avantgardists like Iannis Xenakis, who is also a visual artist. Then, of course, there’s Bach and John Cage. His openness to chance has been very influential. For me, art and music are the same. They both explore the relationship between the abstract and the corporeal. Do you call yours

Laura Owens puts art history in a blender and presses puree

Laura Owens puts art history in a blender and presses puree

Mining the history of painting while exploring the boundaries between representation and abstraction, Laura Owens employs a diverse range of references in her eccentrically captivating paintings. Born in Euclid, Ohio, near Cleveland, Owens attended the Rhode Island School of Design and later CalArts outside of Los Angeles, where she’s remained for more than 20 years. Owens is now the subject of a highly anticipated midcareer retrospective at the Whitney, which she talks about along with finding inspiration in spam emails and Martha Stewart.   Laura Owens, Untitled, 2014 Photograph: Whitney Museum of American Art, © Laura Owens         How did you become an artist?I had a boyfriend who went to the Cleveland Institute of Art. So I’d go up there to see him and hang out with artists. I got into the punk-rock scene there and started to go see art shows and alternative theater. I figured that if I became an artist, I’d never get bored. Plus, I just wanted to get out of Ohio.   Laura Owens, Untitled, 1997 Photograph: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, © Laura Owens         So how did you?I went to summer art camp at Interlochen where one of my teachers was also a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He thought I should apply and told me what my portfolio should look like. If I hadn’t gone to Interlochen, I wouldn’t have known about RISD and CalArts.   Laura Owens, Untitled, 1997 Photograph: Collection of Mima and César Reyes, © Laura Owens         I’ve heard

Judith Bernstein dumps on Trump in her Drawing Center show

Judith Bernstein dumps on Trump in her Drawing Center show

A pioneering feminist whose work has dealt with gender politics for 50 years, Judith Bernstein cofounded A.I.R. Gallery (the first space devoted to showing female artists) in 1972, and was a charter member of such activist groups as the Guerrilla Girls, the Art Workers’ Coalition and the Fight Censorship Group. But she remains renowned for drawings that transform hardware screws into phallic symbols of male aggression. Recently, Bernstein has turned her attention to President Trump, whom she describes as the biggest and dumbest dick of all. With an exhibition at the Drawing Center about to open, the 75-year-old artist spoke to Time Out New York about her confrontational style.     Judith Bernstein, Fear, 1995. Photograph: Courtesy the artist         You’re best known for drawing dicks. When did that start?When I was a student at Yale in 1966. I began rendering dicks as a statement against the Vietnam War, but then the image evolved into a combination of screw and phallus—a kind of hybrid. I was thinking of screw and being screwed as a play on words. The images took on a life of their own, becoming hairy, fetishistic and biomorphic.   Judith Bernstein, Cabinet of Horrors, 2017 Photograph: Courtesy the artist         You mentioned the work being anti-war. How so?With dicks, you have erection and ejaculation—this sort of explosion. So it only seemed natural to use them to comment on war. I made a drawing in 1967 called Fun-Gun that’s an anatomical drawing of a cock with a tr

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