Reviewing Artforum’s Advertisements: January 2012

  • It was hard to crack the cover of Artforum this month. Just look at that supremely weird 1959 Claes Oldenburg sculpture on the cover, called Street Head I (“Big Head,” “Gong”). It’s made of chicken wire, newspaper, glue and paint, and is roughly five feet across. We would happily stare at it all day long.

    As we do each month, we have carefully evaluated the magazine’s advertisements, weighing their merits, debating them in the office. We present our favorites in the slide show at left.

  • Listen: it's a guy with an awesome hat and a monkey. What else do you need to know? — Michael H. Miller

  • For one thing, in print, this ad spreads over two pages and is really imposing. Also: It kind of looks like that person in the awesome bell bottoms is floating. — M.H.M.

  • Bortolami has been on a roll lately with spare, barely-there ads for their shows. I have no idea what's going on in Mr. Wesley's advertisement, but it makes me think about early kinetic sculptures, film projectors and grainy video art—all wonderful things. Also, the gallery wins bonus points for omitting specific dates for the show, forcing a visit to its website. (It opens Jan. 20: that's tonight!) — Andrew Russeth

  • What's great about this ad is that it would also fit in at a Bed, Bath and Beyond catalog. — M.H.M.

  • Take your associations and shove them—that's what this frenetic ad says to me. The artist has been working with Batman since 1996. Other pop-culture icons included in the show are "Homer Simpson, Groucho Marx, Mickey Mouse, and a character the artist refers to as 'The Juicer,'" according to the press release. — DD

  • Mr. Sternfeld's photos make color the main attraction, but do this so subtly that it often isn't even the first thing you notice. Look at the continuity, the flow from the vest to the arms to the watch to the shirt on the far right. Plus, doesn't it remind you of "Dawn of the Dead?" Everyone loves "Dawn of the Dead." — D.D.

  • Pure class. Minimalist Dan Flavin penned the very decorative script in this letter to the deeply under-appreciated Abstract-Expressionist painter James Brooks. Mr. Flavin explains that he plans to show Mr. Brooks's work at his Hamptons museum. Would Mr. Brooks like to come visit? Oh, by the way, he mentions, his friend "Don" [Judd], as a student at Columbia, "wrote a paper, important to him, about a painting of yours." The text is just tricky enough to read that one needs to focus for a moments. This may be the longest we have ever looked at an Artforum ad. Can't wait to see the show. — A.R.

  • The detail isn't perfect in this photograph, but it's truly an eclectic mix here. To the left, there's a skull with the curly hair of a French king. To the right, there's a marble trash can. Turtles at the top. Unformed, Minimalist what-have-yous near the bottom. It seems more fun than comprehensive, but isn't that what we're after? — D.D.

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