Robert Storr is the Dean of the Yale University School of Art. He was the commissioner of the 2007 Venice Biennale. He is the author of numerous catalogs, articles, and books, including Philip Guston.


Pettibon’s World

Raymond Pettibon: No Title (Ripped and wrinkled), 2008

If genius means anything anymore—for me it is the union of inexplicably keen insight with an uncanny capacity to say or show what others fail to articulate but everybody knows—then the artist Raymond Pettibon is one, the man of the hour at minutes to midnight on the Doomsday Clock. Fittingly, two exhibitions this spring show an artist obsessed with the larger, grittier, and often hallucinatory contradictions of “this American life.”

Pipilotti’s Pleasure Dome

Pipilotti Rist: Pixelwald (Pixel Forest), 2016

If you’ve been watching the news as much as I have these past several months you might be forgiven for forgetting that video as a medium can do more than provide a platform for talking—if not ranting—heads. I nearly forgot myself. The large-scale exhibition on Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist at the New Museum reminded me in the most enjoyable way.

The Great American Cubist

Stuart Davis: Report from Rockport, 1940

Stuart Davis, the only first-class Cubist to emerge from North America, concentrated single-mindedly on making art quiver with the energy he perceived around him, “jazzing up” details of the American Scene, in particular its stereotypical attributes, advertising hieroglyphics, and verbal colloquialisms. The core of the exhibition of his work, now at the Whitney, shows Davis applying his methodology to easel paintings of varying sizes—including small, amazingly intricate jigsaw-puzzle compositions.

Philip Guston: Hilarious and Horrifying

Philip Guston: The Studio, 1969

The tragicomic scenes in Philip Guston’s post-1968 work were filled with stubbly, cigarette-smoking, Popeye-like self-portraits mixed with hooded Ku Klux Klansmen (frequently self-portraits also), assigned roles equivalent to those of Babel’s marauding Cossacks. Those who grasped the significance of Guston’s challenge to established “high modernist” taste immersed themselves in the strange vision of contemporary life he portrayed in a tumultuous tidal wave of images.