My contribution to the April issue of The Brooklyn Rail considers the notion of readymade color, the implications of the current Whitney Biennial, and the fleeting nature of symbolic and political meaning.
“At the Museum of Modern Art, the current exhibition ‘Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today’ examines two separate but related meanings of readymade color. The first category is color that is store-bought rather than hand-mixed, and the second is “found” color appropriated from everyday life. Perhaps a third category should have been established for color that conveys political and emotional baggage. The fiercely-contested presidential race, energized by the Iraq debate, is bombarding us with cadmium red, titanium white, and ultramarine blue patriotic imagery: waving flags; campaign buses plastered with candidates’ logos and slogans; stars and stripes on bumper stickers. At the same time, the small-minded presidency of George W. Bush, during which the status of the United States as an international political standard-bearer has atrophied, is reflected in American artists’ increasing disenchantment with universal themes and greater fascination with the mundane, the non-visual, the personal, and the transitory. The curators of the Whitney Biennial, Henriette Huldisch and Shamim M. Momin, have declared this year’s exhibit to be about “lessness,” and gathered artwork that seems dedicated to the notion that all glory is fleeting—or, more specifically, that our glory has fled.” Read more.