Critical Trilogy

a critic's millennial journey



Master of Ceremonies Klaus Beisenbach presenting himself with the First Place Award for Best Exhibition of Digital Media or Film for his curation of “Pipilotti Rist: Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters)” at the Museum of Modern Art

The crucial fact about curation that the International Association of Art Critics-USA celebrates at these annual AICA Awards is this: art may last through the centuries , but art exhibitions generally are fleeting!  Our organization stresses the importance of art-ti-fact, a record of a brief moment when the planets are aligned to reveal underlying patterns by way of a new door of perception afforded by the public presentation of art.

One of the great things about this event is seeing the projected images from shows (see below) you may have missed or want to see again.  Not to mention getting a face attached to the years of hard labor it takes to mount a noteworthy exhibition!

“You like to take pictures,” Dr. Francine Miller said as she handed me her camera on the way to the stage where AICA co-President Phyllis Braf  was introducing Master of Ceremonies Klaus Biensenbach, Curator at MOMA and PS 1.

Hard getting work as a critic these days, so I stay versatile…

The timing of these awards, in a snowstorm no less, was portentous.  We were celebrating art institutions right in the midst of all the talk of yet another art publication (Art on Paper) folding, corporate domination of the American culture and Roberta Smith’s bull’s-eye “Post Minimal to the Max”  in Sunday’s New York Times

Edel Rodriguez’s witty post-minimal sheep, as in “people are sheep,” propelled the arrow right home to its target — the New York art institutions!  I applauded Smith’s final flourish:  “Message to curators: Whatever you’re doing right now, do something else next.”

(An aside: At the preview of the Roni Horn show at the Whitney Museum,  I walked into a gallery empty, but for a few post-minimalist tubes propped against the wall, which prompted only one thought: “They haven’t finished installing yet!”  I was left feeling similarly empty at the Hirshhorn’s Anne Truitt showin Washington, D.C.  I was wondering if Post-Minimalism was a way to be inclusive of female artists who aren’t really saying anything — except that it’s good to have longevity with a good dealer!)


I like to think so!  In the midst of this paradigm shift, it was helpful to remember last night that the art of Picasso and Bacon was once considered truly shocking and completely unacceptable for public display!

John Richardson accepting his Best Show in a Commercial Gallery award for Pablo Picasso's "Mosqueteros" at Gagosian

Curator Gary Tinterow of the Metropolitan Museum of Art accepting the Best Monographic Museum Show in New York City award for "Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective."

There were some unexpected delights as well!

Anna Swinbourne not forgetting to thank her husband during her Academy Award moment as she graciously accepted the First Place Historical Show award for "James Ensor" at the Museum of Modern Art

Stephen Tashjian (Tabboo) accepting Best Performance Second Place Award for "Tabboo: The Nightingale" at Participant, Inc. in New York City

Klaus Biesenbach giving his curator collaborator Susanne Pfeffer a hug after announcing they received the Second Place Award for Best Exhibition of Digital Media, Video or Film

I captured some great faces at the AICA Awards reception.  Terence Koh got my award for best coat!

AICA Member Roselee Goldberg, Founder of Performa, with artist Terence Koh and Stephen Tashjian ("Tabboo! "the Nightingale")

April Hunt of PS 1, simply gorgeous!!

Second Place Winner of Best Digital Media, Video or FIlm, Susan Pfeffer (left), organizer with Klaus Biesenbach, of "Kenneth Anger" at PS 1 Contemporary Art Center

AICA Awards Producer Francine MIller with AICA Co-President Marek Bartelik and MOMA's Anna Swinbourne

Phyllis Braff, AICA Co-Preside

Always with the erudite comment, my friend Ed Rubin summed upthe majority of the figures that did the heavy lifting forthis year’s shows:

A "model curator type" from the Guggenheim Museum accepting the First Place Award for the Best Architecture or Design Show

“Most of the women accepting awards were tall, thin, dressed in black model curator types, with foreign accents”

For the most outrageous  individual style, we had to wait until the next stage — the  reception.!

For example,  this unidentified fellow (below) came equipped with his own chest of medals!

But the biggest surprise of the evening was how much I loved the highly erotic performance in the Rotunda! Talk about “Contemplating the Void“!

Never before was the building, with its spiraling walls so pristine white, experienced for the splendor of its primitive design –THE KUNDALINI SPIRAL of the ancient Sumerian Ziggurat!

How did I know of this connection?  Because of the museum’s  fabulous “Frank Lloyd Writght: From Within Outward,” which won First Place for Best Architecture or Design Show.


As Wright undoubtedly intended, his design can be best appreciated in its stark nakedness!


February 17, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Thank you for photos and captions.

    Susanna aiming to go see Ordover’s 1979 photos
    at White Columns

    Comment by susanna cuyler | February 19, 2010 | Reply

  2. looks like fun,we in AICA Ireland cannot match such grandeur,but great to see Phyllis and the gang at play, liked the moments of verbal whimsey too.

    Comment by ciaran bennett | March 8, 2010 | Reply

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