Hilton Als is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the coauthor, most recently, of Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor.
 (July 2016)


The Heroic Art of Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin, Taos, New Mexico, circa 1953

Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art

by Nancy Princenthal

Agnes Martin

an exhibition at Tate Modern, London, June 3–October 11, 2015; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, November 7, 2015–March 6, 2016; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, April 24–September 11, 2016; and the Guggenheim Museum, New York City, October 7, 2016–January 11, 2017
Martin was interested not in discord but in harmony. While Jackson Pollock said he was nature, Martin strove to represent how nature made her feel or should make us feel—humble, free. Nature was to her what it was to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “transparent eye” in his transcendentalist masterpiece, “Nature” (1836)—a space unrivaled in its ability to inspire and transform.


Peter Doig: The Transformer

Peter Doig: 100 Years Ago (Carrera), 90 x 141 inches, 2001

Peter Doig

an exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland, November 23, 2014–March 22, 2015; and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark, April 17–August 16, 2015

Peter Doig

an exhibition at the Palazzetto Tito, Venice, May 5–October 4, 2015
At times, when the fifty-six-year-old artist Peter Doig’s name comes up in certain art world circles—a world of curators, critics, and socially responsible artists who advanced on a steady diet of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari and the bitter milk of anti–“patriarchal privilege”—there’s a great hue and cry. To begin …

The Good-bye Girl

Diane Keaton in Looking for Mr. Goodbar, 1977

Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty

by Diane Keaton
The white girl has thin arms, expressive hands, and long hair. The first time we see her is in a series of black-and-white stills taken in a twilight world of bars and clubs and discos. They’re part of the opening credits for the 1977 film Looking for Mr. Goodbar, the …

Genius Breaking Through

Flannery O’Connor, 1950s

A Prayer Journal

by Flannery O’Connor, edited and with an introduction by W.A. Sessions
For some weeks before I read Flannery O’Connor’s posthumously published A Prayer Journal straight through, I read around it. The book’s length was not the problem. (At forty pages, not including a facsimile of O’Connor’s handwritten notes, this lovely volume rests in the hand like a collection of verse.) Nor …

Ghosts in Sunlight

Kara Walker: Burn, cut paper and adhesive on wall, 1998
Nostalgia is one thing, but making art out of the past is another thing altogether, a Herculean effort in that known and unknown landscape we might as well call the metaphysical. It’s the land where all artists dwell.


Free Associations: Collages

Janet Malcolm: Temperature of World Cities, 2011 (detail).

Last winter, I came into possession of the papers of an émigré psychiatrist who practiced in New York in the late 1940s and 1950s. The archive included a collection of manila envelopes, around six by ten inches, stuffed with folded sheets of thin paper covered with single-spaced typing: the notes the psychiatrist made after seeing patients (many of them fellow émigrés) in his office. As I studied the sheets with their inky typewriting and 60-year-old paper clips holding them together and leaving rust marks on the surface, my collagist’s imagination began to stir. I began to “see” some version of the collages on view here.

Discovering the Art of Boscoe Holder, Trinidadian Master

Last spring in Berlin, Peter Doig and Hilton Als co-curated an exhibition of portraits—mostly by young, unrecognized or forgotten artists—a show that included a rare look at the work of the remarkable but little known 20th-century Trinidadian painter Boscoe Holder (1921–2007). Here is a selection of his work, along with excerpts of a conversation between Doig, Als, and Angus Cook about the artist and his Caribbean milieu.

Cate Blanchett and Blanche Dubois

At one point during Blanche’s final mad scene in the Sydney Theater Company’s much discussed revival of Tennessee Williams’s modern-day masterwork, which just concluded its sold-out run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a woman sitting across the row from me began to sob uncontrollably. Despite her obvious pain, she could not look away from the stage’s brightly lit scene of daytime disaster. One wondered about the source of that spectator’s tears. Was it the sight of Blanche being led to her dark future, her sister Stella’s flush cheeked confusion, or both?