This week at The L Magazine I talk about the Wade Guyton show at The Whitney. As a few avid art readers may know, the show was anointed with great reviews by both Roberta Smith at The Times and Jerry Saltz at New York Magazine, each lauding Guyton for his innovation. I don’t agree with this idea at all, arguing in this piece, that work actually hews fairly closely to pre-existing conservative art world values. Also, even within the frame work of those values, the show’s just not very good. My thoughts on why, below.
“I don’t want Wade Guyton’s printer,” my mother told me as we walked through his mid-career retrospective OS at The Whitney. I can’t say I blame her. The third-floor exhibition is filled with more than 80 mostly grayish striped canvases, all produced by a printer with a reliably faulty inkjet. Nothing is printed perfectly.
In the art world, we recognize these errors as a familiar trope—the celebration of imperfect beauty is so common it has become a cliché—but now that a computer did it, Whitney curator Scott Rothkopf believes we should get excited again. When Guyton prints Daniel Buren-like stripes over a reproduction of a Frank Kupka or an unidentified modernist sculpture, we’re reminded that art’s historical lineage can be infinitely repeated and remixed by the touch of a button. The trouble is that the same concept is laid bare every time any one of us decides to shoot a reproduction with our iPhone. For people like my mother, the conceit isn’t particularly impressive.
To read the full piece, click here.