What isn't an angel?
Meret Oppenheim, upcoming publication & January's "Angel-of-the-Month"
When I was a student at SFAI (RIP!) I routinely checked out the few Meret Oppenheim catalogs in the library to study the ways she condensed multiple (often contrasting) images into simple material gestures. For instance, Couple, where she joins two leather shoes by their sliced-off tips, is right up there with Brancusi’s Kiss and Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Perfect Lovers in its irreducible poetry, (although with added implications of violence, fetishism and disfunction.)
Last week I finally got to see the Oppenheim show at MoMA. More than any single artwork, the effect of the whole is immensely moving. One piece that caught me was a car’s side-view mirror, tipped up vertically, held by a pole and twig, scaled to a tabletop. The thick glass of the mirror is shattered. Its surface now looks like glittering rhinestones. As with all of her work, language opens the materials, and this one is called “Tears.” The title unfurls the object’s apparent simplicity: you start thinking about “looking back” —the oblique position of the side mirror on a car which does not reflect you, and how, now, even looking directly into it, you see only fragments of the spectral world; about memory and materiality; about the relation of history and regret and loss and beauty…
My essay “Art Groupie” — about being the subject of portraits by my friends Doron Langberg and Ian Lewandowski — is included in the catalogue for Face to Face: Portraits of Artists by Tacita Dean, Brigitte Lacombe and Catherine Opie curated by the inimitable Helen Molesworth at the International Center for Photography, New York, opening this week (27 January - 1 May 2023).
And now, I’m pleased to announce January’s Angel-of-the-Month:
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