Origin Stories: ‘Materializing ‘‘Six Years”: Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art’ and Mickalene Thomas at the Brooklyn Museum; Rosemarie Trockel and Judith Bernstein at the New Museum

Courtesy the artist, Lehmann Maupin and the Brooklyn Museum
Courtesy Brooklyn Museum
Courtesy Brooklyn Museum
Courtesy Benoit Pailley/New Museum
Courtesy Benoit Pailley/New Museum
Courtesy Jesse Untracht-Oakner/New Museum
Courtesy Jesse Untracht-Oakner/New Museum

But Lee Lozano’s Dialogue Piece (1969) provides some particularly good reading. Her premise was, “Call or write people for the specific purpose of inviting them to your loft for a dialogue,” and on gridded graph paper, she recorded her calls and the ensuing conversations: “May 14 1969 Call Poonsie (Larry Poons). He answers phone, we made a date for May 21.” “Call Johns at Castelli. David White at Castelli says he is busy.” “Dan Graham and I have an important dialogue.” There’s little record about what these dialogues were about (many seem to be about astrological signs and to have taken place while the participants were high), but the gossipy minutiae are scintillating: Robert Morris does it, Walter de Maria never returns Lozano’s call, Marcia Tucker stays in the loft talking for three hours.

The show, organized by Catherine Morris, the curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, and Vincent Bonin, an independent curator based in Montreal, is thankfully scant on biographical information. Ms. Lippard, who is now in her 70s, has curated more than 50 exhibitions but never worked as a museum curator or had a gallery; her column on art was to be found in The Village Voice, not Artforum, and she never earned a Ph.D., though she’s accumulated eight honorary degrees. She co-founded Printed Matter, among other alternative spaces, and infused her curatorial practice with activism—she was involved in anti-war and art workers’ rights movements and was a champion of women artists. Her curatorial presence helped to define an era.

With women’s issues, and women’s votes, one of the focal points of this year’s presidential election, it is heartening to see women’s work—curatorial and artistic—take center stage in our city. With Sharon Lockhart’s show newly opened at the Jewish Museum, and Martha Rosler, another mid-career activist artist, literally taking center stage at the Museum of Modern Art in November when one of her “garage sale” pieces occupies the atrium, the trend continues. Let’s hope that galleries, whose rosters still feature disproportionate numbers of male artists, start to catch up.


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