While working with toxic materials as a student, German artist Rebecca Horn contracted lung poisoning and was sent to a sanitarium for about a year between 1968 and 1969, during which time she was often bedridden and isolated from the outside world. Tragically, her parents also passed away while she was hospitalized. For two years afterward she continued to live in seclusion as she fully recovered, physically weakened for long periods of time and unable to visit with friends or family. This experience led Horn to experiment with individualized body extensions as a coping strategy. She sought new ways to engage with herself and with others, explaining that with extreme fever, “you crave to grow out of your own body and merge with the other person’s body, to seek refuge in it.”
With a career spanning nearly forty years (and counting) and a body of work notable for both its breadth and variety, Isa Genzken is an artist well worth a look. Her current show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York is a compelling retrospective, covering everything from her early minimalist sculpture and miniature assemblages to her street photography and memorial designs for the World Trade Center. Born and raised in Germany, Genzken has primarily worked in Cologne and Berlin, with some stints in New York. She studied under painter Gerhard Richter at the Dusseldorf Fine Arts Academy, and the two were married for a time after she graduated.
Known for painting grossly realistic melting objects and phantasmagoric landscapes, as well as for participating in the Surrealist group and performing attention-grabbing antics, Salvador Dalí may at first seem like a clashing presence against the towering, masterful figure of Johannes Vermeer. However, Dalí saw his work- especially his later output- as a continuance of the values laid down by the Old Masters, and he considered Vermeer to be the ultimate painter, superior even to Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, and Pablo Picasso. His fixation with the Dutch artist is traceable throughout his career, but The Lacemaker especially had a strong hold on him.
The human body as a subject has long fascinated visual artists. It has fallen prey to distortion and monstrosity, to sexualization and idolization, and so many other representations. In the 1970s many artists involved in the rising feminist movement turned to the female form as a symbol of oppression as well as power, some referencing Mother Earth metaphors and others satirizing 1950s domesticity and feminized consumerism. It became easy for any woman artist to be labeled “feminist” (a dirty word to many) regardless of her actual intentions or activism.
There are few things that make me as excited as movie poster design, unsurprising since it combines my two favorite visual media into one beautiful genre. I went through graduate school hoping I could write about posters but rarely getting the opportunity, until my final semester when I took a course on Latin American art during the Cold War. I immediately seized upon the chance to research Cuban film posters, which are truly fascinating both for their surrounding context and unique visual approach.