The ephemeral–the temporary, fleeting character of life–is a central principle in the art of Francis Als, the Belgian-born artist who currently resides in Mexico. He conceives his works in his own immediate surroundings–on walks through the streets of Mexico City. Working in the traditions of Fluxus and the Situationalists, he is captivated by such images as a wind-blown plastic bag, or sleeping homeless peoples, or the wandering shadow of a flag pole on the Plaza Major. Als’s explorations of public space and social conditions in Mexico City are the primary focus of this lavisly illustrated publication that features the artist’s Ambulantes (1992-2002), a slide series devoted to the itinerant street merchants of the Mexican megacity. The book also offers a current survey of his subversive, often politically-motivated work.
Olafur Eliasson’s installation The Weather Project cast a veritable spell over visitors to the Tate Museum of Modern Art in London as they gazed in wonder into a glowing artificial sun shrouded in mist in an exhibition setting transformed by the work into a neo-romantic landscape. In his installations, the Danish-Icelandic artist focuses on the factors that influence human perception in the age of technology–an approach that is more timely today than ever before. In an era in which our relationship to the world around us is shaped by the mediatization of human perception and our awareness of fundamental environmental loss, the juxtaposition of the natural and the artificial in Eliasson’s art compels us to reassess our notions about the authentic experience of nature. Works concerned with the phenomenon of light play an important role within his oeuvre, and they are the subject of this publication. Featuring an index of the 138 light and mirror installations completed between 1991 and 2004, this splendidly illustrated volume describes all of the essential aspects of this complex work. Essays by Jonathan Crary, Holger Broeker, Richard Dawkins, and Annelie Lütgens.
In 1979, Eric Fischl unleashed an uproar with his large-scale oil painting Sleepwalker, which depicted a teenage boy masturbating in a kiddie pool. As more than one essay points out in this slender catalogue of 30 years of the American artist’s work, the art world assailed not the figure’s behavior but the figure itself. Van Tuyl has assembled writings by Peter Schjeldahl, Carolin Bohlmann and Annelie Lutgens, among other scholars and critics, that delve into Fischl’s artistic development. The lively, accessible essays discuss his focus on the body, preparatory use of photography, shifting qualities of light, snapshot affinity for fleeting moments, and the scandalized outcry when Fischl rejected conceptualism and abstract expressionism for unabashed narrative. An interview with the artist proves him to be candid and articulate about his oeuvre and painting in general. But it is the work itself—the early glassine overlays, the now famous suburban tableaus, multi-paneled paintings from the mid-80s, images from India and Rome, and deceptively simple watercolors—that is most eloquent, speaking to deeply private experiences of alienation, shame and mystery as told by a gestural style rich in contrast and color. This volume takes the measure of a vital contemporary artist and a contentious moment in American art history.
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