The 2014 Libertas!

The 2014 Libertas!

 

The artblog Reader Advisor

The artblog Reader Advisor

 

“Who Are Who” at Studio for Propositional Cinema

“Who Are Who” at Studio for Propositional Cinema

 

B. Wurtz

B. Wurtz

 

Moving Walls 22 / Watching You, Watching Me at Open Society Foundations-New York

Moving Walls 22 / Watching You, Watching Me at Open Society Foundations-New York

 

READING ROOM: Henri Lefebvre, The Missing Pieces (Semiotext(e),…

READING ROOM: Henri Lefebvre, The Missing Pieces (Semiotext(e),…

 

Life, tissue culture and ethical ambiguities. An interview with Svenja Kratz

Life, tissue culture and ethical ambiguities. An interview with Svenja Kratz

 

Liverpool Biennial

Liverpool Biennial

 

On Collecting: Breaking the Borderlands of Function

On Collecting: Breaking the Borderlands of Function

 

Jeremy August Haik

Jeremy August Haik

 

Joan Jonas Lets the Ink Fly

Joan Jonas Lets the Ink Fly

 

ON VIEW at SculptureCenter: Puddle, pothole, portal Olga Balema,…

ON VIEW at SculptureCenter: Puddle, pothole, portal Olga Balema,…

 

Moyra Davey at Institute of Contemporary Art

Moyra Davey at Institute of Contemporary Art

 

Pure Love. Gabriele Porta

Pure Love. Gabriele Porta

 

Pure Love. Gabriele Porta

Pure Love. Gabriele Porta

 

Pure Love. Gabriele Porta

Pure Love. Gabriele Porta

 

Pure Love. Gabriele Porta

Pure Love. Gabriele Porta

 

Pure Love. Gabriele Porta

Pure Love. Gabriele Porta

 

Pure Love. Gabriele Porta

Pure Love. Gabriele Porta

 

Catherine Opie: Shifting Observations

Catherine Opie: Shifting Observations

 

Anne Canfield at Seraphin Gallery

Anne Canfield at Seraphin Gallery

 

Erik Thys at Objectif Exhibitions

Erik Thys at Objectif Exhibitions

 

UNTITLED PORTRAITS. GOLDSCHMIED & CHIARI

UNTITLED PORTRAITS. GOLDSCHMIED & CHIARI

 

Interview with Anthony Huberman

Interview with Anthony Huberman

 

About Sculpture # 4

About Sculpture # 4

 

Reduce / Reuse / Recycle, Ostwall 7, Dortmund at ehemaliges Museum am Ostwall

Reduce / Reuse / Recycle, Ostwall 7, Dortmund at ehemaliges Museum am Ostwall

 

Armando Lulaj selected to represent the Republic of Albania at the 56th Venice Biennale

Armando Lulaj selected to represent the Republic of Albania at the 56th Venice Biennale

 

Issue 168 out now

Issue 168 out now

 

The Noing Uv It

The Noing Uv It

 

Imi Knoebel

Imi Knoebel

 

New Work Friday #172

New Work Friday #172

 

Thursday Topics

Thursday Topics

 

WHAT’S ON: Gabriele Beveridge, Gold Diamond Park. November…

WHAT’S ON: Gabriele Beveridge, Gold Diamond Park. November…

 

Greer Lankton at Participant Inc.

Greer Lankton at Participant Inc.

 

Artists I’ve Shot

Artists I’ve Shot

 

Jeffrey Stockbridge at Painted Bride

Jeffrey Stockbridge at Painted Bride

 

Darren Bader

Darren Bader

 

Stéphane Barbier Bouvet at Truth and Consequences

Stéphane Barbier Bouvet at Truth and Consequences

 

Albert York

Albert York

 

Highlights 2014 – Tom Morton

Highlights 2014 – Tom Morton

In Britain, Glasgow International was a heaving buffet of treats (perhaps the choicest among them being Simon Martin at Kelvingrove and Alistair Frost’s working nail bar at Mary Mary’s offsite space), while Wysing Art Centre’s group show ‘Annals of the Twenty-Ninth Century’, with its weirdly successful cheesy-nightspot-meets-holodeck exhibition design, pointed towards the rural Cambridgeshire not-for-profit’s ongoing invention, and at BALTIC, Gateshead, a survey of Simon Bill’s goofily lyrical oval paintings felt long overdue. In London, some favourites brought their A-game (Erik Van Lieshout at Maureen Paley, Pierre Huyghe at Hauser & Wirth, Andro Wekua at Sprüth Magers, Ed Atkins at the Serpentine Sackler, Cullinan Richards at 5 Howick Place), while I was surprised, and delighted, to enjoy Richard Deacon at Tate Britain quite as much as I did. At the capital’s David Roberts Art Foundation, ‘Geographies of Contamination’ – a group show of artists including Nicolas Deshayes, Marlie Mul, David Douard, Magali Reus and Rachel Rose, curated by Vincent Honoré, Laura McClean-Ferris and Alexander Scrimgeour – made a persuasive case for a kind of grubby, seeping post-digital order, and Trisha Donnelly’s solo at the Serpentine still has me wondering, in the best of ways, at this most elusive of artists’ intentions. Taking its cue from a photograph of the Victorian ethnologist Augustus Pitt Rivers’ artefact-strewn billiard table, the group exhibition ‘On the Devolution of Culture’ at Rob Tufnell introduced a host of domestic scale sculptures (by, among others, Aaron Angell, Brian Griffiths and Mike Nelson) to the green baize in a complex, trans-temporal game of bait and switch. ‘Rembrandt: The Late Works’ at The National Gallery was, of course, incredible – these are paintings that would still glow if they were installed in a skip. Also of note were Camille Henrot’s ‘The Pale Fox’ at Chisenhale Gallery, Adam Linder and Jonathan P. Watts’s dance / text performance at Silberkuppe’s Frieze Art Fair stand and the first UK solo show of American sculptor Melvin Edwards at Stephen Friedman Gallery.

I’d sort of promised myself that I wouldn’t repeat any names from 2013’s highlights, but this has proved impossible. Andreas Angelidakis (at EMSTE, Athens), Jessie Flood Paddock (at Carl Freedman, London), Catherine Story (again at Carl Freedman), Matthew Darbyshire (at Stanny House, Iken), Alex Dordoy (at Inverleith House, Edinburgh) Alexander Tovborg (at Overgarden, Copenhagen): these shows were all too good to let pass without mention.

Highlights 2014 – Tom Morton

‘On the Devolution of Culture’, 2014, installation view at Rob Tufnell, London. Courtesy: Rob Tufnell

BOOKS
Craig Burnett’s Philip Guston: The Studio was a thoughtful, often funny and beautifully written addition to Afterall Books’ ongoing ‘One Work’ series, while Gilda Williams’s gem of a primer How to Write About Contemporary Art will, I hope, feature on the Christmas wish lists of many of my students. Ned Beauman birthed a new sub-genre, the south London corporate thriller-cum-chemical romance, in his characteristically clever novel Glow, while also writing some wonderfully odd journalism, such as this piece on New York’s Westminster Kennel Club dog show: http://ow.ly/FIAvs. Set in a Damien Hirst-less alternate universe, Jonathan Gibbs’s fictional history of the yBas Randall, or The Painted Grape was ecstatically reviewed by the British broadsheets, providing another hit for Norwich-based indie publishers Galley Beggar Press to follow Eimear McBride’s 2013 A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing. (Full disclosure: Gibbs is the husband of my mother’s cousin’s daughter – nothing like keeping these lists in the extended family). Will Wiles’s sophomore novel The Way Inn fused J.G.-Ballard-meets-Alan-Partridge musings on chain hotels with Lovecraftian horror to intriguing cut-and-shut effect, while listening to Lorrie Moore read from her short story collection Bark at London’s Purcell Room was one of my highlights – literary or otherwise – of the year.

Highlights 2014 – Tom Morton

Simon Bill, Milk Churns, 2002. Courtesy: BALTIC

TV, FILM AND PODCASTS
HBO’s True Detective was superb, right up until the final episode, in which slow burn nihilism gave way to hackneyed sub-Thomas Harris horror. Ultimately more satisfying was The Leftovers (also HBO), an almost unbearably bleak post-rapture drama, and the second season of BBC America’s enormously fun genetic engineering dramedy Orphan Black. In the cinema, The Grand Budapest Hotel was the best film that Wes Anderson has made for years, while Guardians of the Galaxy became the new benchmark for superhero movie making, eschewing Christopher Nolan-style grandeur for a kind of Tarantino-goes-family-friendly take on the space opera. British standup Richard Herring continued to issue podcasts of brilliant comic invention. Like his (rightly lauded) former double act partner Stewart Lee, he is at heart a formalist, although Herring cakes his rigour in a thick layer of hilarious, schoolboy smut. Alongside millions of others, I’ve found myself waiting breathlessly for each new episode of This American Life’s podcast Serial, in which a real Baltimore murder case is investigated in weekly installments. The format is so simple – and so arresting – it seems incredible that it has not been tried before.

Highlights 2014 – Tom Morton

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014

MUSIC
Ten tracks that kept me company during 2014: Rick Ross ‘Sanctified’; Todd Terje (feat. Bryan Ferry) ‘Johnny and Mary’; St. Vincent ‘Digital Witness’; Future Islands ‘Seasons (Waiting on You)’; Taylor Swift ‘Out of the Woods’; Beyoncé ‘Drunk in Love’ (the Feb ’14 Kanye remix); M.I.A. ‘Double Bubble Trouble’ (that video!); Caribou ‘Can’t Do Without You’; War on Drugs ‘Red Eyes’; FKA Twigs ‘Two Weeks’.

LOOKING FORWARD
Tino Seghal at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Roger Hiorns curating a show themed on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (or mad cow disease) at the Hayward Gallery, London; Elizabeth Price’s Contemporary Art Society Award show at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Mary Ramsden at Pilar Corrias, London; Charles Avery at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague; Ronald Cornelissen at Tropicana Rotterdam, Christian Marclay at White Cube Bermondsey; Tom McCarthy’s novel Satin Island, and Adam Thirlwell’s novel Lurid & Cute.

Highlights 2014 – Tom Morton

Mary Ramsden, Remote, 2014, oil on board, 51 × 41 × 3.5 cm. Courtesy: Pilar Corrias, London

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Middle: Questionnaire: Anna Maria Maiolino

Middle: Questionnaire: Anna Maria Maiolino

 

Interview with Tercerunquinto

Interview with Tercerunquinto

 

Farah Atassi

Farah Atassi

 

Histories of Post-Digital

Histories of Post-Digital

 

Willem de Rooij

Willem de Rooij

 

30th anniversary and full day of events

30th anniversary and full day of events

 

2015 programming

2015 programming

 

Peter Kogler

Peter Kogler

 

Derek Frech

Derek Frech

 

Dani Gal

Dani Gal

 

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

‘But c’mon Fox,’ I hear you cry, ‘we’re here to read about art not the price of eggs!’ OK, fair enough. 2014, for me, often seemed to have its gaze fixed on the past rather than the present, and notable retrospectives and surveys were thick on the ground. ‘The Heart is Not a Metaphor’, Robert Gober’s ‘this is your life’ moment at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, may not have been quite the immersive experience as his 2007 career overview at Basel’s Schaulager was, but I rarely tire of seeing his sculptures and installations. Gober’s work serves as a gentle and often moving reminder that Surrealism is the one art movement that never really disappeared or lost its power to disturb and entrance. I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed ‘Night and Day’, Chris Ofili’s victory lap at the New Museum, New York. In Britain during the 1990s heyday of Young British Art, Ofili’s work was so often reproduced in the media that it lost some of its pizzazz through overfamiliarity, so perhaps absence has made the heart grow fonder. (Protests erupted in New York when his 1996 painting The Holy Virgin Mary was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999. In 2014, we’ve got far bigger problems to worry about than offending the sensibilities of a few iconodule Catholics.) Amy Sillman’s survey show ‘One Lump or Two’ at the Hessel Museum of Art/CCS Bard (which toured from the ICA Boston) was not just funny and imaginative, but a testament to the possibilities of painting, and ‘The Production Line of Happiness’ – a wonderfully titled retrospective of Christopher Williams’ photography at the Art Institute of Chicago and MoMA, New York – was as crisply milled as the glass on a Leica lens.

Many of the past year’s retrospectives were dedicated to the sadly departed. We had Sigmar Polke’s inventive mischief at MoMA, New York and Tate Modern, London; Sturtevant’s pioneering work in the field of appropriation – also at MoMA – and a moving exhibition of painting by Leonilsson at the Pinacoteca do Estado São Paulo. And I mustn’t forget the small but knockout selection of small paintings by US artist Albert York at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York; bucolic landscapes, still lifes and allegorical works suggesting what Giorgio Morandi and Odilon Redon might have painted had they lived on Long Island.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Beatrice Gibson, ‘F is for Fibonacci’, 2014. Film still

Back in the land of the living, my other indelible exhibition memories from 2014 include, in no particular order: Camille Henrot’s exhibitions at Chisenhale, London and the New Museum, New York (without doubt one of the most compelling young artists working today), Scott Reeder’s deranged DIY science-fiction film Moon Dust (which received its New York premiere at Anthology Film Archive), Nathaniel Mellors’ equally far-out sci-fi short The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and Beatrice Gibson’s unsettling, funny and erudite new film F is for Fibonacci at Laura Bartlett Gallery, London (which involved European serialist music, the finance industry, and a tour of a virtual city in Minecraft given by an entertainingly precocious child dressed as a banker.) In New York there was a superb season of work dedicated to Scottish artist Lucy McKenzie at The Artists Institute, (technically speaking this began in 2013, but this constantly-mutating show crossed over to the early months of 2014), and other highlights of the year in the city included Tim Braden’s homage to Cornwallian modernism at Ryan Lee; Sanya Kantarovsky’s Saul-Steinberg-goes-Fauvist solo exhibition at Casey Kaplan; new works by Gary Panter at Fredericks and Freiser and by Jim Shaw at Metro Pictures. I was taken by Sara Cwynar’s richly coloured explorations of photographic representation and still lifes at Foxy Production, and it was nice to see artist-cum-garden-shed-inventor Steven Pippin resurface at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise. ‘Project LSD’, a set of artist-designed acid blotter sheets curated by Rob Tufnell for White Columns, surely had to be one of the more witty, original and zeitgeisty ideas for a show this year, given the resurgence of interest in psychotropic drugs today. As for art in 2015, I am curious as to what Lauren Cornell and Ryan Trecartin will pull together for the New Museum Triennial, and what the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art’s new director Anthony Huberman has in store for the San Francisco venue. The opening of The Whitney Museum of American Art’s new premises open on the west side of Manhattan in May is sure to spark all kinds of fun debates for and against, and it’s a dead cert that the Venice Biennale will be the usual mixture of duds and delights.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Scott Reeder, ‘Moon Dust’, 2014. Film still

With record attendance for this year’s Printed Matter Art Book Fair at MoMAPS1, New York – it was absolutely mobbed – I feel compelled to mention a few of my favourite art books of 2014. Firstly, I was unsure whether to categorize novelist, art critic and frieze columnist Lynne Tillman’s collection of essays What Would Lynne Tillman Do? (published by Red Lemonade) as an ‘art book’ or not, given its dizzying scope of topics. But this is my end of year roundup, so I’ll do whatever I please and put it top of the list. Aside from carrying possibly the wittiest title of any essay collection this year, it stands as a testament to the insistent clarity, intelligence, and integrity of this singular New York writer. The catalogue to Mark Leckey’s mid-career survey show at WIELS, Brussels, ‘Lending Enchantment to Vulgar Materials’, was also a beautifully designed hardback by Sara de Bondt, featuring sumptuous layout, crystal clear navigability and a deluxe gold cover typeset after a packet of Benson & Hedges cigarettes. (Full disclosure: I contributed an interview with the artist to this publication.) Lucas Blalock’s monograph Windows Mirrors Tabletops, published by Mörel Books, provided a playful and wide-ranging introduction to this US photographer’s work, along with an illuminating interview by David Campany. A dense variety of source material relating to one of Los Angeles’ most influential artists could be found in Allen Ruppersberg Sourcebook: Reanimating the 20th Century, published by Independent Curators International. (Special mention should also go to his solo exhibition of new work at Greene Naftali, New York, which opened near the end of 2014.) Another doozy for the archive nerds was The George Kuchar Reader, published by the consistently on-point Primary Information. This collection of archival images and correspondence from the late lamented Kuchar is worth the price of the book alone for his wildly funny and generous ‘Letters of Recommendation’, written for his ex-students at the San Francisco Art Institute. Celine Condorelli’s book The Company She Keeps (produced by Book Works, and elegantly designed by An Endless Supply on the occasion of her solo exhibition at Chisenhale, London) features rich conversations are the topic of artists and friendships. Raphael Rubenstein’s short book The Miraculous (Paper Monument) describes 50 canonical works of modern and contemporary art, but not by name, and nor, really as works of art, resulting in a dreamlike art history with echoes of Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics (1965) or Invisible Cities (1972). Finally, the catalogue to the exhibition ‘What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art 1960 to the Present’ at the RISD Museum, Providence, edited by Dan Nadel, should be made compulsory reading for every primer course on postwar US art history; a necessary corrective to the idea that New York-centric Pop, Minimal and Conceptual art were the only games worth watching. However, little of the above would ever even reach our bookshelves at home without the near-heroic work of those running small independent booksellers dedicated to visual art and culture. I’ve not the space nor knowledge to give a comprehensive list, but in the cities I’m most familiar with, shout outs go to: Artwords, Claire de Rouen, Donlon Books, Foyles, ICA, November Books and X Marks the Bökship in London; 192, 6 Decades, Brazenhead, Dashwood, Karma, Mast Books, McNally Jackson, Printed Matter and Strand Books in New York.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Sleaford Mods, 2014

The music section of these end-of-year roundups is often the part I enjoy writing the most, but I found 2014 to be an uneven year in terms of record releases. Try as I might to get inside FKA Twigs’ LP1 – her debut already tops a number of 2014 ‘best of’ lists – or Sleaford Mods’ angry and funny Divide and Exit (for me, a band whose lyrical wit – like a potty-mouthed John Cooper Clarke – outstrips the sticky-ness of their most recent music), and much as I wanted to like Scott Walker and Sunn0)))’s collaboration Soused – a pairing that made everyone do a double-take when it was announced – there was little that really wormed its way into my ears this year. I was happy to see that the ever-unpredictable Dean Blunt released a new LP with the surprisingly gentle-sounding Black Metal (which came on black labelled black vinyl, in black inner sleeves, in a black gatefold album cover, inside a black plastic bag, in case you missed the title). James Hoff’s Blaster was a bracing experiment with sound and computer viruses, and the impressive Unflesh, by Gazelle Twin – the project of Elizabeth Bernholz – was a serious and unsettling album of sparse vocals and electronics about subjects such as euthanasia, bodily horror, feral children, and gender politics. Russell Haswell – one of the most prolific electronic artists at work – produced the bullish 37 Minute Workout, which was made with a synthesizer, bass drum, hi-hat and clap module. It features of the most nervy, anxious dance tracks of the year, with its opener ‘Spring Break (Extended Freestyle Playlist Edit)’. Both Einstürzende Neubauten and Tindersticks this year produced tough and evocative responses to the centenary of World War One (Lament, and Ypres, respectively) that I admired for the ambition as much as anything. At risk of repeating one of my picks of 2013, I got hooked by Preternaturals, the latest album by Grumbling Fur; no great step forward since 2013’s Glynnaestra, but I’m a sucker for their Eno-esque pop melodies. Daniel Patrick Quinn – a musician based in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland – released Acting the Rubber Pig Redux, one of the most unique sounding albums of 2014: a mixture of field recordings made in the local countryside, looping rhythms, droning strings and pipes, plaintive brass and half-spoken observations about memory, landscape and travel. New albums by Ghostface Killah and Wu-Tang Clan (36 Seasons and A Better Tomorrow) were hugely enjoyable even though both sounded like hip-hop suspended in amber since the 1990s.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

V/Vm, ‘The Death of Rave (A Partial Flashback)’, 2014. Album cover

In fact, the 1990s kept coming back to haunt me this year; the first band I obsessed over as a teenager, Ride, announced a comeback tour for 2015, and Suede re-issued Dog Man Star, a 1994 album I can’t help loving for its over-reaching and often hammy ambition. Well worth the trip down nostalgia lane was the box set Suburban Base Records: The History of Hardcore, Jungle, Drum’n’Bass 1991–1997, a tendentious but great reminder of that point in the 1990s when dance music seemed to evolve at an almost weekly rate, and still carried a subversive, underground charge. (A good companion to this compilation was The Death of Rave (A Partial Flashback), a haunting, bittersweet record about the ghosts of rave and British dance culture, by V/Vm aka Leyland James Kirby.) This year we were also reminded of the unsung genius of Annette Peacock, with the reissue of her album Revenge (1968), made in collaboration with Paul Bley. Accompanying the publication of Different Every Time, Marcus O’Dair’s authorised biography of Robert Wyatt, Domino Records put out a two-volume compilation of Wyatt’s work. The first disc, Ex Machina, is a small but perfect group of tracks selected by Wyatt himself, reaching right back to The Soft Machine and Matching Mole in the 1960s. The second volume – titled with tongue firmly in cheek, Benign Dictatorships – collects together Wyatt’s collaborations and appearances on other musician’s recordings. If you’ve never before explored Wyatt’s work – and, given he is one of the most original musicians to emerge since the 1960s, you really must – these compilations aren’t half bad as a place to start.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Paul Thomas Anderson, ‘Inherent Vice’, 2014. Film still

In cinema, the buzz this year was all about Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, a film shot over a period of eleven years and tracing the coming-of-age of one Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from ages six to 17. It was, in many senses, an extraordinary achievement, although outstanding performances from Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as Mason’s parents were reminders that youth isn’t always as compelling to watch or listen to as maturity. I was initially blown away by the horror and claustrophobia found in Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin – its scenes of alien carnivorousness, evoked by little more than shots of a vast black pool of oil, were striking, and the film shared much of the dislocated atmosphere of Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). But on further reflection, the way Glazer’s camera drooled over Scarlett Johanssen, and the ambiguous class subtext of his shooting methods, left a bitter taste in the mouth. (It was hard to tell whether the film was laughing at the Glaswegians unwittingly caught by his hidden cameras, or aiming for a gruesome ‘eat the poor’ satire.) Although much more heavy-handed with its social allegory, I enjoyed Snowpiercer, directed by Bong Joon-ho (originally released in 2013 in South Korea, it only got its US release in summer 2014). This tense tale of class war and ecological catastrophe, set aboard a perpetually moving train where the poor live in cramped quarters at the back of the train whilst the rich live it up near the front, was the most visually impressive science fiction film of the year, even with its clear nods to Terry Gilliam’s 1985 masterpiece Brazil, and the early films of Jean-Pierre Jeanet and Marc Caro. (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes gets the Best Summer Multiplex Popcorn prize from me.) It may not be cool to admit, but my opinion of Wes Anderson turned around with The Grand Budapest Hotel. After the early delights of Rushmore (1998) and The Royal Tennenbaums (2001), I had presumed Anderson was lost forever to cloyingly twee tales about self-consciously quirky and over-privileged families, recycling the same stylistic licks and shots of Bill Murray looking all world-weary. What The Grand Budapest Hotel made me realise is that Anderson’s leading actor is his art direction. Forget the cast of people speaking lines, who have all the roundedness of characters in a Tintin adventure. (The fictional Balkan states of Hergé’s imagination must surely have been an influence on this film.) These actors are just there to animate his delightful sets and costumes, which dominate The Grand Budapest Hotel to such a degree that it almost seems like a witty avant-garde move. However my film of the year was by the other Anderson – Paul Thomas – for Inherent Vice. No director could ever hope to replicate the labyrinthine complexities of Pynchon’s writing, but drenched in warm Californian light and featuring compelling comic performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin, Anderson managed to create something that doesn’t match, but certainly parallels the stoned paranoia, conspiracy theories, maze-like plots, language games and slapstick action of Pynchon’s universe. Inherent Vice tells a tale of police corruption, racist gangs, rapacious property development, government conspiracies, the drug trade, and of paranoia both to the political left and to the right. Which is another way of saying that this movie is a heart-warming slapstick comedy for our miserable times. As the Wu-Tang Clan put it, here’s to a better tomorrow.

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Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

‘But c’mon Fox,’ I hear you cry, ‘we’re here to read about art not the price of eggs!’ OK, fair enough. 2014, for me, often seemed to have its gaze fixed on the past rather than the present, and notable retrospectives and surveys were thick on the ground. ‘The Heart is Not a Metaphor’, Robert Gober’s ‘this is your life’ moment at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, may not have been quite the immersive experience as his 2007 career overview at Basel’s Schaulager was, but I rarely tire of seeing his sculptures and installations. Gober’s work serves as a gentle and often moving reminder that Surrealism is the one art movement that never really disappeared or lost its power to disturb and entrance. I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed ‘Night and Day’, Chris Ofili’s victory lap at the New Museum, New York. In Britain during the 1990s heyday of Young British Art, Ofili’s work was so often reproduced in the media that it lost some of its pizzazz through overfamiliarity, so perhaps absence has made the heart grow fonder. (Protests erupted in New York when his 1996 painting The Holy Virgin Mary was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999. In 2014, we’ve got far bigger problems to worry about than offending the sensibilities of a few iconodule Catholics.) Amy Sillman’s survey show ‘One Lump or Two’ at the Hessel Museum of Art/CCS Bard (which toured from the ICA Boston) was not just funny and imaginative, but a testament to the possibilities of painting, and ‘The Production Line of Happiness’ – a wonderfully titled retrospective of Christopher Williams’ photography at the Art Institute of Chicago and MoMA, New York – was as crisply milled as the glass on a Leica lens.

Many of the past year’s retrospectives were dedicated to the sadly departed. We had Sigmar Polke’s inventive mischief at MoMA, New York and Tate Modern, London; Sturtevant’s pioneering work in the field of appropriation – also at MoMA – and a moving exhibition of painting by Leonilsson at the Pinacoteca do Estado São Paulo. And I mustn’t forget the small but knockout selection of small paintings by US artist Albert York at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York; bucolic landscapes, still lifes and allegorical works suggesting what Giorgio Morandi and Odilon Redon might have painted had they lived on Long Island.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Beatrice Gibson, ‘F is for Fibonacci’, 2014. Film still

Back in the land of the living, my other indelible exhibition memories from 2014 include, in no particular order: Camille Henrot’s exhibitions at Chisenhale, London and the New Museum, New York (without doubt one of the most compelling young artists working today), Scott Reeder’s deranged DIY science-fiction film Moon Dust (which received its New York premiere at Anthology Film Archive), Nathaniel Mellors’ equally far-out sci-fi short The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and Beatrice Gibson’s unsettling, funny and erudite new film F is for Fibonacci at Laura Bartlett Gallery, London (which involved European serialist music, the finance industry, and a tour of a virtual city in Minecraft given by an entertainingly precocious child dressed as a banker.) In New York there was a superb season of work dedicated to Scottish artist Lucy McKenzie at The Artists Institute, (technically speaking this began in 2013, but this constantly-mutating show crossed over to the early months of 2014), and other highlights of the year in the city included Tim Braden’s homage to Cornwallian modernism at Ryan Lee; Sanya Kantarovsky’s Saul-Steinberg-goes-Fauvist solo exhibition at Casey Kaplan; new works by Gary Panter at Fredericks and Freiser and by Jim Shaw at Metro Pictures. I was taken by Sara Cwynar’s richly coloured explorations of photographic representation and still lifes at Foxy Production, and it was nice to see artist-cum-garden-shed-inventor Steven Pippin resurface at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise. ‘Project LSD’, a set of artist-designed acid blotter sheets curated by Rob Tufnell for White Columns, surely had to be one of the more witty, original and zeitgeisty ideas for a show this year, given the resurgence of interest in psychotropic drugs today. As for art in 2015, I am curious as to what Lauren Cornell and Ryan Trecartin will pull together for the New Museum Triennial, and what the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art’s new director Anthony Huberman has in store for the San Francisco venue. The opening of The Whitney Museum of American Art’s new premises open on the west side of Manhattan in May is sure to spark all kinds of fun debates for and against, and it’s a dead cert that the Venice Biennale will be the usual mixture of duds and delights.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Scott Reeder, ‘Moon Dust’, 2014. Film still

With record attendance for this year’s Printed Matter Art Book Fair at MoMAPS1, New York – it was absolutely mobbed – I feel compelled to mention a few of my favourite art books of 2014. Firstly, I was unsure whether to categorize novelist, art critic and frieze columnist Lynne Tillman’s collection of essays What Would Lynne Tillman Do? (published by Red Lemonade) as an ‘art book’ or not, given its dizzying scope of topics. But this is my end of year roundup, so I’ll do whatever I please and put it top of the list. Aside from carrying possibly the wittiest title of any essay collection this year, it stands as a testament to the insistent clarity, intelligence, and integrity of this singular New York writer. The catalogue to Mark Leckey’s mid-career survey show at WIELS, Brussels, ‘Lending Enchantment to Vulgar Materials’, was also a beautifully designed hardback by Sara de Bondt, featuring sumptuous layout, crystal clear navigability and a deluxe gold cover typeset after a packet of Benson & Hedges cigarettes. (Full disclosure: I contributed an interview with the artist to this publication.) Lucas Blalock’s monograph Windows Mirrors Tabletops, published by Mörel Books, provided a playful and wide-ranging introduction to this US photographer’s work, along with an illuminating interview by David Campany. A dense variety of source material relating to one of Los Angeles’ most influential artists could be found in Allen Ruppersberg Sourcebook: Reanimating the 20th Century, published by Independent Curators International. (Special mention should also go to his solo exhibition of new work at Greene Naftali, New York, which opened near the end of 2014.) Another doozy for the archive nerds was The George Kuchar Reader, published by the consistently on-point Primary Information. This collection of archival images and correspondence from the late lamented Kuchar is worth the price of the book alone for his wildly funny and generous ‘Letters of Recommendation’, written for his ex-students at the San Francisco Art Institute. Celine Condorelli’s book The Company She Keeps (produced by Book Works, and elegantly designed by An Endless Supply on the occasion of her solo exhibition at Chisenhale, London) features rich conversations on the topic of artists and friendships. Raphael Rubenstein’s short book The Miraculous (Paper Monument) describes 50 canonical works of modern and contemporary art, but not by name, and nor, really as works of art, resulting in a dreamlike art history with echoes of Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics (1965) or Invisible Cities (1972). Finally, the catalogue to the exhibition ‘What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art 1960 to the Present’ at the RISD Museum, Providence, edited by Dan Nadel, should be made compulsory reading for every primer course on postwar US art history; a necessary corrective to the idea that New York-centric Pop, Minimal and Conceptual art were the only games worth watching. However, little of the above would ever even reach our bookshelves at home without the near-heroic work of those running small independent booksellers dedicated to visual art and culture. I’ve not the space nor knowledge to give a comprehensive list, but in the cities I’m most familiar with, shout outs go to: Artwords, Claire de Rouen, Donlon Books, Foyles, ICA, November Books and X Marks the Bökship in London; 192, 6 Decades, Brazenhead, Dashwood, Karma, Mast Books, McNally Jackson, Printed Matter and Strand Books in New York.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Sleaford Mods, 2014

The music section of these end-of-year roundups is often the part I enjoy writing the most, but I found 2014 to be an uneven year in terms of record releases. Try as I might to get inside FKA Twigs’ LP1 – her debut already tops a number of 2014 ‘best of’ lists – or Sleaford Mods’ angry and funny Divide and Exit (for me, a band whose lyrical wit – like a potty-mouthed John Cooper Clarke – outstrips the sticky-ness of their most recent music), and much as I wanted to like Scott Walker and Sunn0)))’s collaboration Soused – a pairing that made everyone do a double-take when it was announced – there was little that really wormed its way into my ears this year. I was happy to see that the ever-unpredictable Dean Blunt released a new LP with the surprisingly gentle-sounding Black Metal (which came on black labelled black vinyl, in black inner sleeves, in a black gatefold album cover, inside a black plastic bag, in case you missed the title). James Hoff’s Blaster was a bracing experiment with sound and computer viruses, and the impressive Unflesh, by Gazelle Twin – the project of Elizabeth Bernholz – was a serious and unsettling album of sparse vocals and electronics about subjects such as euthanasia, bodily horror, feral children, and gender politics. Russell Haswell – one of the most prolific electronic artists at work – produced the bullish 37 Minute Workout, which was made with a synthesizer, bass drum, hi-hat and clap module. It features one of the most nervy, anxious dance tracks of the year, with its opener ‘Spring Break (Extended Freestyle Playlist Edit)’. Both Einstürzende Neubauten and Tindersticks this year produced tough and evocative responses to the centenary of World War One (Lament, and Ypres, respectively) that I admired for the ambition as much as anything. At risk of repeating one of my picks of 2013, I got hooked by Preternaturals, the latest album by Grumbling Fur; no great step forward since 2013’s Glynnaestra, but I’m a sucker for their Eno-esque pop melodies. Daniel Patrick Quinn – a musician based in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland – released Acting the Rubber Pig Redux, one of the most unique sounding albums of 2014: a mixture of field recordings made in the local countryside, looping rhythms, droning strings and pipes, plaintive brass and half-spoken observations about memory, landscape and travel. New albums by Ghostface Killah and Wu-Tang Clan (36 Seasons and A Better Tomorrow) were hugely enjoyable even though both sounded like hip-hop suspended in amber since the 1990s.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

V/Vm, ‘The Death of Rave (A Partial Flashback)’, 2014. Album cover

In fact, the 1990s kept coming back to haunt me this year; the first band I obsessed over as a teenager, Ride, announced a comeback tour for 2015, and Suede re-issued Dog Man Star, a 1994 album I can’t help loving for its over-reaching and often hammy ambition. Well worth the trip down nostalgia lane was the box set Suburban Base Records: The History of Hardcore, Jungle, Drum’n’Bass 1991–1997, a tendentious but great reminder of that point in the 1990s when dance music seemed to evolve at an almost weekly rate, and still carried a subversive, underground charge. (A good companion to this compilation was The Death of Rave (A Partial Flashback), a haunting, bittersweet record about the ghosts of rave and British dance culture, by V/Vm aka Leyland James Kirby.) This year we were also reminded of the unsung genius of Annette Peacock, with the reissue of her album Revenge (1968), made in collaboration with Paul Bley. Accompanying the publication of Different Every Time, Marcus O’Dair’s authorised biography of Robert Wyatt, Domino Records put out a two-volume compilation of Wyatt’s work. The first disc, Ex Machina, is a small but perfect group of tracks selected by Wyatt himself, reaching right back to The Soft Machine and Matching Mole in the 1960s. The second volume – titled with tongue firmly in cheek, Benign Dictatorships – collects together Wyatt’s collaborations and appearances on other musician’s recordings. If you’ve never before explored Wyatt’s work – and, given he is one of the most original musicians to emerge since the 1960s, you really must – these compilations aren’t half bad as a place to start.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Paul Thomas Anderson, ‘Inherent Vice’, 2014. Film still

In cinema, the buzz this year was all about Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, a film shot over a period of eleven years and tracing the coming-of-age of one Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from ages six to 17. It was, in many senses, an extraordinary achievement, although outstanding performances from Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as Mason’s parents were reminders that youth isn’t always as compelling to watch or listen to as maturity. I was initially blown away by the horror and claustrophobia found in Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin – its scenes of alien carnivorousness, evoked by little more than shots of a vast black pool of oil, were striking, and the film shared much of the dislocated atmosphere of Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). But on further reflection, the way Glazer’s camera drooled over Scarlett Johanssen, and the ambiguous class subtext of his shooting methods, left a bitter taste in the mouth. (It was hard to tell whether the film was laughing at the Glaswegians unwittingly caught by his hidden cameras, or aiming for a gruesome ‘eat the poor’ satire.) Although much more heavy-handed with its social allegory, I enjoyed Snowpiercer, directed by Bong Joon-ho (originally released in 2013 in South Korea, it only got its US release in summer 2014). This tense tale of class war and ecological catastrophe, set aboard a perpetually moving train where the poor live in cramped quarters at the back of the train whilst the rich live it up near the front, was the most visually impressive science fiction film of the year, even with its clear nods to Terry Gilliam’s 1985 masterpiece Brazil, and the early films of Jean-Pierre Jeanet and Marc Caro. (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes gets the Best Summer Multiplex Popcorn prize from me.) It may not be cool to admit, but my opinion of Wes Anderson turned around with The Grand Budapest Hotel. After the early delights of Rushmore (1998) and The Royal Tennenbaums (2001), I had presumed Anderson was lost forever to cloyingly twee tales about self-consciously quirky and over-privileged families, recycling the same stylistic licks and shots of Bill Murray looking all world-weary. What The Grand Budapest Hotel made me realise is that Anderson’s leading actor is his art direction. Forget the cast of people speaking lines, who have all the roundedness of characters in a Tintin adventure. (The fictional Balkan states of Hergé’s imagination must surely have been an influence on this film.) These actors are just there to animate his delightful sets and costumes, which dominate The Grand Budapest Hotel to such a degree that it almost seems like a witty avant-garde move. However my film of the year was by the other Anderson – Paul Thomas – for Inherent Vice. No director could ever hope to replicate the labyrinthine complexities of Pynchon’s writing, but drenched in warm Californian light and featuring compelling comic performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin, Anderson managed to create something that doesn’t match, but certainly parallels the stoned paranoia, conspiracy theories, maze-like plots, language games and slapstick action of Pynchon’s universe. Inherent Vice tells a tale of police corruption, racist gangs, rapacious property development, government conspiracies, the drug trade, and of paranoia both to the political left and to the right. Which is another way of saying that this movie is a heart-warming slapstick comedy for our miserable times. As the Wu-Tang Clan put it, here’s to a better tomorrow.

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Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

‘But c’mon Fox,’ I hear you cry, ‘we’re here to read about art not the price of eggs!’ OK, fair enough. 2014, for me, often seemed to have its gaze fixed on the past rather than the present, and notable retrospectives and surveys were thick on the ground. ‘The Heart is Not a Metaphor’, Robert Gober’s ‘this is your life’ moment at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, may not have been quite the immersive experience as his 2007 career overview at Basel’s Schaulager was, but I rarely tire of seeing his sculptures and installations. Gober’s work serves as a gentle and often moving reminder that Surrealism is the one art movement that never really disappeared or lost its power to disturb and entrance. I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed ‘Night and Day’, Chris Ofili’s victory lap at the New Museum, New York. In Britain during the 1990s heyday of Young British Art, Ofili’s work was so often reproduced in the media that it lost some of its pizzazz through overfamiliarity, so perhaps absence has made the heart grow fonder. (Protests erupted in New York when his 1996 painting The Holy Virgin Mary was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999. In 2014, we’ve got far bigger problems to worry about than offending the sensibilities of a few iconodule Catholics.) Amy Sillman’s survey show ‘One Lump or Two’ at the Hessel Museum of Art/CCS Bard (which toured from the ICA Boston) was not just funny and imaginative, but a testament to the possibilities of painting, and ‘The Production Line of Happiness’ – a wonderfully titled retrospective of Christopher Williams’ photography at the Art Institute of Chicago and MoMA, New York – was as crisply milled as the glass on a Leica lens.

Many of the past year’s retrospectives were dedicated to the sadly departed. We had Sigmar Polke’s inventive mischief at MoMA, New York and Tate Modern, London; Sturtevant’s pioneering work in the field of appropriation – also at MoMA – and a moving exhibition of painting by Leonilsson at the Pinacoteca do Estado São Paulo. And I mustn’t forget the small but knockout selection of small paintings by US artist Albert York at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York; bucolic landscapes, still lifes and allegorical works suggesting what Giorgio Morandi and Odilon Redon might have painted had they lived on Long Island.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Beatrice Gibson, ‘F is for Fibonacci’, 2014. Film still

Back in the land of the living, my other indelible exhibition memories from 2014 include, in no particular order: Camille Henrot’s exhibitions at Chisenhale, London and the New Museum, New York (without doubt one of the most compelling young artists working today), Scott Reeder’s deranged DIY science-fiction film Moon Dust (which received its New York premiere at Anthology Film Archive), Nathaniel Mellors’ equally far-out sci-fi short The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and Beatrice Gibson’s unsettling, funny and erudite new film F is for Fibonacci at Laura Bartlett Gallery, London (which involved European serialist music, the finance industry, and a tour of a virtual city in Minecraft given by an entertainingly precocious child dressed as a banker.) In New York there was a superb season of work dedicated to Scottish artist Lucy McKenzie at The Artists Institute, (technically speaking this began in 2013, but this constantly-mutating show crossed over to the early months of 2014), and other highlights of the year in the city included Tim Braden’s homage to Cornwallian modernism at Ryan Lee; Sanya Kantarovsky’s Saul-Steinberg-goes-Fauvist solo exhibition at Casey Kaplan; new works by Gary Panter at Fredericks and Freiser and by Jim Shaw at Metro Pictures. I was taken by Sara Cwynar’s richly coloured explorations of photographic representation and still lifes at Foxy Production, and it was nice to see artist-cum-garden-shed-inventor Steven Pippin resurface at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise. ‘Project LSD’, a set of artist-designed acid blotter sheets curated by Rob Tufnell for White Columns, surely had to be one of the more witty, original and zeitgeisty ideas for a show this year, given the resurgence of interest in psychotropic drugs today. As for art in 2015, I am curious as to what Lauren Cornell and Ryan Trecartin will pull together for the New Museum Triennial, and what the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art’s new director Anthony Huberman has in store for the San Francisco venue. The opening of The Whitney Museum of American Art’s new premises open on the west side of Manhattan in May is sure to spark all kinds of fun debates for and against, and it’s a dead cert that the Venice Biennale will be the usual mixture of duds and delights.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Scott Reeder, ‘Moon Dust’, 2014. Film still

With record attendance for this year’s Printed Matter Art Book Fair at MoMAPS1, New York – it was absolutely mobbed – I feel compelled to mention a few of my favourite art books of 2014. Firstly, I was unsure whether to categorize novelist, art critic and frieze columnist Lynne Tillman’s collection of essays What Would Lynne Tillman Do? (published by Red Lemonade) as an ‘art book’ or not, given its dizzying scope of topics. But this is my end of year roundup, so I’ll do whatever I please and put it top of the list. Aside from carrying possibly the wittiest title of any essay collection this year, it stands as a testament to the insistent clarity, intelligence, and integrity of this singular New York writer. The catalogue to Mark Leckey’s mid-career survey show at WIELS, Brussels, ‘Lending Enchantment to Vulgar Materials’, was also a beautifully designed hardback by Sara de Bondt, featuring sumptuous layout, crystal clear navigability and a deluxe gold cover typeset after a packet of Benson & Hedges cigarettes. (Full disclosure: I contributed an interview with the artist to this publication.) Lucas Blalock’s monograph Windows Mirrors Tabletops, published by Mörel Books, provided a playful and wide-ranging introduction to this US photographer’s work, along with an illuminating interview by David Campany. A dense variety of source material relating to one of Los Angeles’ most influential artists could be found in Allen Ruppersberg Sourcebook: Reanimating the 20th Century, published by Independent Curators International. (Special mention should also go to his solo exhibition of new work at Greene Naftali, New York, which opened near the end of 2014.) Another doozy for the archive nerds was The George Kuchar Reader, published by the consistently on-point Primary Information. This collection of archival images and correspondence from the late lamented Kuchar is worth the price of the book alone for his wildly funny and generous ‘Letters of Recommendation’, written for his ex-students at the San Francisco Art Institute. Celine Condorelli’s book The Company She Keeps (produced by Book Works, and elegantly designed by An Endless Supply on the occasion of her solo exhibition at Chisenhale, London) features rich conversations on the topic of artists and friendships. Raphael Rubenstein’s short book The Miraculous (Paper Monument) describes 50 canonical works of modern and contemporary art, but not by name, and nor, really as works of art, resulting in a dreamlike art history with echoes of Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics (1965) or Invisible Cities (1972). Finally, the catalogue to the exhibition ‘What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art 1960 to the Present’ at the RISD Museum, Providence, edited by Dan Nadel, should be made compulsory reading for every primer course on postwar US art history; a necessary corrective to the idea that New York-centric Pop, Minimal and Conceptual art were the only games worth watching. However, little of the above would ever even reach our bookshelves at home without the near-heroic work of those running small independent booksellers dedicated to visual art and culture. I’ve not the space nor knowledge to give a comprehensive list, but in the cities I’m most familiar with, shout outs go to: Artwords, Claire de Rouen, Donlon Books, Foyles, ICA, November Books and X Marks the Bökship in London; 192, 6 Decades, Brazenhead, Dashwood, Karma, Mast Books, McNally Jackson, Printed Matter and Strand Books in New York.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Sleaford Mods, 2014

The music section of these end-of-year roundups is often the part I enjoy writing the most, but I found 2014 to be an uneven year in terms of record releases. Try as I might to get inside FKA Twigs’ LP1 – her debut already tops a number of 2014 ‘best of’ lists – or Sleaford Mods’ angry and funny Divide and Exit (for me, a band whose lyrical wit – like a potty-mouthed John Cooper Clarke – outstrips the sticky-ness of their most recent music), and much as I wanted to like Scott Walker and Sunn0)))’s collaboration Soused – a pairing that made everyone do a double-take when it was announced – there was little that really wormed its way into my ears this year. I was happy to see that the ever-unpredictable Dean Blunt released a new LP with the surprisingly gentle-sounding Black Metal (which came on black labelled black vinyl, in black inner sleeves, in a black gatefold album cover, inside a black plastic bag, in case you missed the title). James Hoff’s Blaster was a bracing experiment with sound and computer viruses, and the impressive Unflesh, by Gazelle Twin – the project of Elizabeth Bernholz – was a serious and unsettling album of sparse vocals and electronics about subjects such as euthanasia, bodily horror, feral children, and gender politics. Russell Haswell – one of the most prolific electronic artists at work – produced the bullish 37 Minute Workout, which was made with a synthesizer, bass drum, hi-hat and clap module. It features one of the most nervy, anxious dance tracks of the year, with its opener ‘Spring Break (Extended Freestyle Playlist Edit)’. Both Einstürzende Neubauten and Tindersticks this year produced tough and evocative responses to the centenary of World War One (Lament, and Ypres, respectively) that I admired for the ambition as much as anything. At risk of repeating one of my picks of 2013, I got hooked by Preternaturals, the latest album by Grumbling Fur; no great step forward since 2013’s Glynnaestra, but I’m a sucker for their Eno-esque pop melodies. Daniel Patrick Quinn – a musician based in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland – released Acting the Rubber Pig Redux, one of the most unique sounding albums of 2014: a mixture of field recordings made in the local countryside, looping rhythms, droning strings and pipes, plaintive brass and half-spoken observations about memory, landscape and travel. New albums by Ghostface Killah and Wu-Tang Clan (36 Seasons and A Better Tomorrow) were hugely enjoyable even though both sounded like hip-hop suspended in amber since the 1990s.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

V/Vm, ‘The Death of Rave (A Partial Flashback)’, 2014. Album cover

In fact, the 1990s kept coming back to haunt me this year; the first band I obsessed over as a teenager, Ride, announced a comeback tour for 2015, and Suede re-issued Dog Man Star, a 1994 album I can’t help loving for its over-reaching and often hammy ambition. Well worth the trip down nostalgia lane was the box set Suburban Base Records: The History of Hardcore, Jungle, Drum’n’Bass 1991–1997, a tendentious but great reminder of that point in the 1990s when dance music seemed to evolve at an almost weekly rate, and still carried a subversive, underground charge. (A good companion to this compilation was The Death of Rave (A Partial Flashback), a haunting, bittersweet record about the ghosts of rave and British dance culture, by V/Vm aka Leyland James Kirby.) This year we were also reminded of the unsung genius of Annette Peacock, with the reissue of her album Revenge (1968), made in collaboration with Paul Bley. Accompanying the publication of Different Every Time, Marcus O’Dair’s authorised biography of Robert Wyatt, Domino Records put out a two-volume compilation of Wyatt’s work. The first disc, Ex Machina, is a small but perfect group of tracks selected by Wyatt himself, reaching right back to The Soft Machine and Matching Mole in the 1960s. The second volume – titled with tongue firmly in cheek, Benign Dictatorships – collects together Wyatt’s collaborations and appearances on other musician’s recordings. If you’ve never before explored Wyatt’s work – and, given he is one of the most original musicians to emerge since the 1960s, you really must – these compilations aren’t half bad as a place to start.

Highlights 2014 – Dan Fox

Paul Thomas Anderson, ‘Inherent Vice’, 2014. Film still

In cinema, the buzz this year was all about Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, a film shot over a period of eleven years and tracing the coming-of-age of one Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from ages six to 17. It was, in many senses, an extraordinary achievement, although outstanding performances from Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as Mason’s parents were reminders that youth isn’t always as compelling to watch or listen to as maturity. I was initially blown away by the horror and claustrophobia found in Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin – its scenes of alien carnivorousness, evoked by little more than shots of a vast black pool of oil, were striking, and the film shared much of the dislocated atmosphere of Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). But on further reflection, the way Glazer’s camera drooled over Scarlett Johanssen, and the ambiguous class subtext of his shooting methods, left a bitter taste in the mouth. (It was hard to tell whether the film was laughing at the Glaswegians unwittingly caught by his hidden cameras, or aiming for a gruesome ‘eat the poor’ satire.) Although much more heavy-handed with its social allegory, I enjoyed Snowpiercer, directed by Bong Joon-ho (originally released in 2013 in South Korea, it only got its US release in summer 2014). This tense tale of class war and ecological catastrophe, set aboard a perpetually moving train where the poor live in cramped quarters at the back of the train whilst the rich live it up near the front, was the most visually impressive science fiction film of the year, even with its clear nods to Terry Gilliam’s 1985 masterpiece Brazil, and the early films of Jean-Pierre Jeanet and Marc Caro. (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes gets the Best Summer Multiplex Popcorn prize from me.) It may not be cool to admit, but my opinion of Wes Anderson turned around with The Grand Budapest Hotel. After the early delights of Rushmore (1998) and The Royal Tennenbaums (2001), I had presumed Anderson was lost forever to cloyingly twee tales about self-consciously quirky and over-privileged families, recycling the same stylistic licks and shots of Bill Murray looking all world-weary. What The Grand Budapest Hotel made me realise is that Anderson’s leading actor is his art direction. Forget the cast of people speaking lines, who have all the roundedness of characters in a Tintin adventure. (The fictional Balkan states of Hergé’s imagination must surely have been an influence on this film.) These actors are just there to animate his delightful sets and costumes, which dominate The Grand Budapest Hotel to such a degree that it almost seems like a witty avant-garde move. However my film of the year was by the other Anderson – Paul Thomas – for Inherent Vice. No director could ever hope to replicate the labyrinthine complexities of Pynchon’s writing, but drenched in warm Californian light and featuring compelling comic performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin, Anderson managed to create something that doesn’t match, but certainly parallels the stoned paranoia, conspiracy theories, maze-like plots, language games and slapstick action of Pynchon’s universe. Inherent Vice tells a tale of police corruption, racist gangs, rapacious property development, government conspiracies, the drug trade, and of paranoia both to the political left and to the right. Which is another way of saying that this movie is a heart-warming slapstick comedy for our miserable times. As the Wu-Tang Clan put it, here’s to a better tomorrow.

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ON VIEW at SculptureCenter: Puddle, pothole, portal Olga Balema,…

ON VIEW at SculptureCenter: Puddle, pothole, portal Olga Balema,…

 

“Artificial Complexion” at Various Small Fires

“Artificial Complexion” at Various Small Fires

 

Front: The Quiet Life

Front: The Quiet Life

 

Front: The Quiet Life

Front: The Quiet Life

 

Front: History 2.0

Front: History 2.0

 

Front: History 2.0

Front: History 2.0

 

Front: Town & Country

Front: Town & Country

 

Front: Town & Country

Front: Town & Country

 

Front: Loaded Vehicle

Front: Loaded Vehicle