THE INDEPENDENT VOICE OF THE VISUAL ARTS
Our editor-in-chief, Michel Ségard, likes to say that art and science are much the same thing. Reflecting on these words, we remembered the famous last lines of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: “From so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
Endless forms—wonderful, perhaps, but not always beautiful—are site-specific artist Tara Donovan’s stock-in-trade. Assistant Editor Nathan Worcester traces the evolution of the sublime to understand why her recent exhibition at the Smart was so moving. With the backdrop of economic inequality, climate change, and other selective pressures, Phillip Barcio speaks with the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial’s executive director, Todd Palmer, about the event’s ongoing adaptation during these interesting times.
Speaking of societal turmoil, K.A. Letts considers “Landlord Colors: On Art, Economy, and Materiality,” which posits a kind of convergent evolution by artists in Detroit, Turin, Athens, Seoul, and Havana in the midst of similar upheavals. Reviewing “After Stonewall: 1969-1989,” Michel Ségard documents an epoch in the LGBTQ community that was, to bastardize Stephen J. Gould, all punctuation and no equilibrium.
Sometimes the greatest changes can be traced through the practice of a single, dynamic individual. Emelia Lehmann describes how Tetsuya Noda’s unique, diaristic prints have both shifted and stayed the same over the decades. Another lone genius, Martin Beck, explains his approach to figure drawing. In his interview with New Art Examiner veteran Diane Thodos, Beck challenges art-making strategies that capitalize on mass production: “I think a good piece of art that is handmade shows the artist’s journey. They talk about Degas always struggling to find the form… When you take a piece of art that's been fabricated, made to order, you don't feel anything. Do you feel the factory worker making it?”
As if in answer, Rebecca Memoli reviews the MCA’s retrospective on powerhouse artist, fashion designer, and Kanye associate Virgil Abloh. Abloh tries to avoid changing his designs by more than 3%—a canny adaptation to the marketplace and a challenge to the likes of Beck. Are the two philosophies in competition? If so, which is the fittest in a neoliberal order?
We hope you find these and our other articles inspiring, especially if you are a practitioner. Though the art world can be an unforgiving ecosystem, there are many niches to exploit (or, more politely, explore). May the forms remain endless—and may human creativity continue to evolve.
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