Reviewing Artforum’s Advertisements October 2011 Edition

The ads for Paula Cooper Gallery recall the style of many of her artists—stark, dramatic, refined—and this black and white image for Robert Wilson’s "147 Spring Street Loft," an exhibition of the artist’s early performance works, is no exception. In it, a young Mr. Wilson looks like some mad scientist, presiding over one of his creations with both joy and terror at what he’s done. — MHM
Oh, so you like a well curated show? How about a two-page advertisement that's been meticulously curated by the fine people at Gallerie Forsblom? Joel Shapiro's sculptures can sometimes seem a little haphazard in the way that the shapes are twisted together, but the way the forms in this ad build on each other demonstrate what someone with a sense of space and a knowledge of the works can do for them. You feel as though there's a coded message in the works that you're suddenly able to decode. Where is that gallery anyway? — DD
What could this photograph of clasped hands, with its deeply saturated colors, suggest? Is it love, or death, or both? Kaari Upson's work is so multifarious we have no idea what this might say about the exhibition, but, complete with the scribbled information on the show, along with the artist's signature—is this a headshot, or a handshot, from a corpse, signed a la Richard Prince?—it is intriguing. And a little creepy. Make that a lot creepy. But in a good way. — SD
There he is, Rodney Graham, off again on one of his strange adventures into the past. Who is he this time? A fuddy-duddy developer in a ye olde photo shoppe, surrounded by all the implements that digital technology has since consigned to the dustbin. But what is that strange, window-shaped shadow behind him? Something noir-ish is afoot. At this point, we've lingered a good ten minutes on this ad, exploring its many details. Next step: to Chicago to see the exhibition! It is no mean feat, making us want to go to the Midwest. So, Donald Young Gallery, this is a winner. — SD
Gorgeous. The ad is a simple photo shot through the front window of a car that appears to be driving through some rural, wooded area. The text is penned with thin letters, casually but not haphazardly. The sun reflects off the lens of the camera. Ahead, there is only the open road. 'This is how we live: lightly and easily,' Ms. Braman and her gallery seem to be saying. Sign us up. — AR
Whoa, this banner's bold! Bold! Lettering like you've never seen. And this is an ad that seems to really understand the subject matter. It's almost as if they said, "How can we tweak this Magritte to make the spacial relationships even more confusing to you?" So in terms of grasping the work, the red bar is disorienting, but, at at the same time, it's also very balanced compositionally: every element is precisely centered and stacked. And the nudity certainly doesn't hurt the intrigue. — DD
This one feels less like an art ad and more like old political propaganda. There’s a small emblem in front of a monochrome background and text that looks way more ominous than it should: “Barry McGee is now represented by Cheim & Reid.” It wouldn’t surprise us to see this wheatpasted across the city to rally people behind a cause. — MHM
At first glance, this spread looks like one glorious ad. But then, with a closer look, one sees the two separate shows: Warhol's "Bardot" works and a new Mike Kelley extravaganza. Cloaked in rich neons and heavy makeup, the two figures in the ads embody a rare level of intra-gallery synergy, of marketing coherence. Londoners, you are lucky people. — AR

This month’s issue of Artforum is stellar. Focusing on art in Los Angeles, we get David E. James on the city’s alternative cinema, Linda Norden on the late Minimalist John McCracken and a portfolio of drawings from Raymond Pettibon. An image of a performance by L.A.’s Asco collectiveDecoy Gang War Victim (1974)—is on the cover, and there is a special project by Chris Burden.

We could go on. But we are here, at the moment, for the ads. There are some strong ones this month. Here are our favorites.

Must Reads

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