The Modern Art Notes Podcast

This week's Modern Art Notes Podcast features Huntington curator Jennifer A. Watts, a leading expert on Carleton Watkins. Watts contributed two essays to "Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs," which was recently published by the Getty. I reviewed the book here and included it in my 2011 top ten list here.

Watts's essays address two of Watkins's lesser-known series: his California missions photographs and his pictures of southern California and Kern County. The Huntington has over 300 Watkins mammoth-plate pictures and hundreds of other Watkinses, making it the second-largest repository of Watkins' art.

In this week's draft, The Stranger art critic Jen Graves and I burrow into "Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs" to pick some favorite individual artworks.

Direct download: MANPodcastEpisodeEight.mp3
Category:art -- posted at: 11:49am EDT

This week’s program is a very special, seasonal episode, a show that focuses on what the holidays are all about: Shopping!

My guest is artist Brian Ulrich, whose work examines American consumerism. His work is the subject of “Brian Ulrich: Copia — Retail, Thrift and Dark Stores, 2001-2011,” a solo exhibition on view now at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Aperture just published his new book, “Is This Place Great or What,” which features works from the “Copia” series.

For this week's draft, I'm joined by Andrew Russeth, who writes about art for the New York Observer and who edits the paper's visual art website, GalleristNY. His personal website is the fantastic 16 Miles of String. On the occasion of the Frick Collection opening a new space, Andrew and I will discuss our favorite single galleries in American museums.

Direct download: MANPodcastEpisodeSeven.mp3
Category:art -- posted at: 10:36am EDT

This week's Modern Art Notes Podcast features biographer and critic Mark Stevens, one of the top experts on the life and art of Willem de Kooning. Along with co-author Annalyn Swan, Stevens wrote "de Kooning: An American Master," which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for biography. Prior to writing "de Kooning," Stevens was the art critic for New York magazine.

In this week's draft, Charlotte Eyerman joins me to discuss her Pacific Standard Time exhibition"Artistic Evolution: Southern California Artists at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County." Eyerman is the American director of the French Regional and American Museum Exchange and also works as an independent curator. She and I talk about how a many important artists, including Robert Irwin, Larry Bell and more, showed early works at the annual exhibitions of what is now the Natural History Museum, and how that work presages their more well-known art.

Direct download: MANPodcastEpisodeSix.mp3
Category:art -- posted at: 11:53am EDT

This week's Modern Art Notes Podcast features MoMA curator Leah Dickerman, who has organized "Diego Rivera: Murals for the Museum of Modern Art." The exhibition is on view until May 14. Rivera was a staunch communist and his murals include scathing critiques of American-style capitalism during The Great Depression -- and of the Rockefeller family, which lavishly supported both MoMA and Rivera himself. The show -- and the conversation I have with Dickerman -- resounds with echoes of today's American economic situation.

In this week's draft, Indianapolis Museum of Art curator Lisa Freiman joins me to discuss which artists might represent the United States at the next Venice Biennale. The State Department is currently reviewing nominations for 2013. Freiman was the commissioner of the 2011 pavilion, at which the U.S. exhibited Allora and Calzadilla.

Direct download: MANPodcastEpisodeFive.mp3
Category:art -- posted at: 11:48am EDT

Jennifer Steinkamp was the subject of a 2006 mid-career survey organized by the San Jose Museum of Art and she's exhibited all over the world, including in the Corcoran, SITE Santa Fe, Gwangju and Istanbul Biennials. Her work is on view now at the New Orleans Museum of Art as part of Prospect 2, the New Orleans-based biennial organized by curator Dan Cameron. A commission that she created for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is on view at museum's downtown Jacobs Building.

In this week's draft, School of the Art Institute of Chicago professor and chair of art history, theory and criticism David Raskin and I discuss artworks in the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago exhibition "The Language of Less (Then and Now)." Raskin wrote an essay for the show's catalogue

Direct download: MANPodcastEpisodeFour.mp3
Category:art -- posted at: 8:02am EDT

The American painter John Marin is typically regarded as one of the two or three greatest American modernists. Since Cezanne, no painter has made watercolors that are as vibrant as Marin's, and you'd be hard-pressed to find any artist who made the medium as central to his experiments as Marin did. Marin didn't just paint watercolors, he collaged them, scuffed them, drew on them and pushed watercolor as far as he could.

Then, when Marin was 63 years old, he seems to have had a minor crisis related to his potential legacy. He wondered if his watercolors would be enough to secure his place in history. In 1933 he bought a house in Cape Split, Maine -- and started painting in oil.

An exhibition on view now at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth explores the work Marin made between 1933 and the end of his life twenty years later, demonstrating how he tackled oil paint even as he continued in watercolor. The show was co-organized for the Portland Museum of Art and by the Addison Gallery of American Art by one of the top scholars of American modernism and this week's podcast guest,Debra Bricker Balken. Before curating"John Marin: Modernism at Midcentury,"Balken organized exhibitions of Arthur Doveand of Dove and Georgia O'Keeffe. [Image: John Marin, Hurricane, 1944. Collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. A detail from this painting is in this week's MANPodcast.combanner.]

In our conversation Balken and I discuss:

  • Why John Marin bought his house in Cape Split and how it impacted his work;
  • Why he started painting in oil;
  • How much attention he paid to the rise of abstract expressionism -- and how much the abstract expressionists paid to him;
  • Whether Marin painted ambidextrously (!);
  • Marin's now-rare painted frames; and
  • Whether Marin had a significant impact on Jackson Pollock.

In this week's draft segment, Ed Schad and I look at artists whose work is featured in exhibitions and scholarship launched as part of the Getty-funded Pacific Standard Time initiative and who we think deserve in-depth, sustained attention from curators, critics and collectors. Schad is an assistant curator at The Broad Art Foundation and a critic who publishes in ArtSlant magazine, in LA Weekly and on I Call It ORANGES.

Direct download: MANPodcastEpisodeThree.mp3
Category:art -- posted at: 6:30am EDT

Charline von Heyl's first museum survey is on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia and will travel to the ICA Boston. Next year the Tate Liverpool will launch the first European survey of von Heyl's work. Last year von Heyl completed a major commission for the Worcester Art museum's Wall at WAM program. Inspired by the museum's 1963 Ellsworth Kelly (see below), the mural remains on view.

Because our conversation included a discussion the Worcester mural, the program's second segment is an outtake from last week's conversation with Baltimore Museum of Art curator Kristen Hileman about museums and large-scale commissions. We discuss why they usually go to men.

For images of the artworks von Heyl and I discuss and some images from the ICA Philadelphia exhibition, please see Modern Art Notes or

Direct download: MANPodcastEpisodeTwo.mp3
Category:art -- posted at: 10:15am EDT

This week's Modern Art Notes Podcast features artist Chris Burden and Baltimore Museum of Art curator Kristen Hileman. 

A star of the Getty-funded Pacific Standard Time series of exhibitions and related scholarship — only John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha are included in more PST shows — Burden is one of our most important artists. His Urban Light (2008) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is arguably America’s most popular public artwork. Later this fall, LACMA will open a second major Burden installation: Metropolis II (which is on a 10-year loan to the institution from a private collector). In 2008 Burden installed What My Dad Gave Me, a six-story sculptural installation commissioned by the Public Art Fund, at Rockefeller Center in 2008. He has been the subject of several retrospective exhibitions, including in 1988 at the Newport Harbor Art Museum, and at the MAK-Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna in 1996.

Among the highlights of our conversation:

  • Burden explains how Metropolis II was made;
  • He explains how his 'moon satellite' is becoming more possible;
  • He addresses whether or not he would re-perform his iconic early 1970s performances;
  • We learn what kinds of fantastic and unexpected objects are lying around his southern California studio and property; and
  • What role risk plays in his art now.

In the program's second segment, Hileman and I discuss our favorite long-term installations at American art museums. Next year, the BMA will unveil a major new Sarah Oppenheimer installation.

Special thanks to this weeks' advertisers: The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, The Menil Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

Direct download: MANPodcastEpisodeOne.mp3
Category:art -- posted at: 1:48am EDT