Beyond the Art World
by Ben Davis

Nov. 19, 2010


I do not like the term "art world." It’s a useful term, of course, a kind of shorthand for something like "the professional sphere of the visual arts." "The art world thinks. . ." "Art-world concerns. . ." Etcetera. But the truth is, art is not a world unto itself. Art is part of the world. And that fact has to be a fundamental starting point for everything.

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Ben Davis Archives for 2010
Oct. 28, 2010
TRANSCENDENT TRASH
by Ben Davis

Fishing in the gutter with Ester Partegàs at Foxy Production.
Oct. 8, 2010
ART IN THE TIME OF AUSTERITY
by Ben Davis

A Tale of Two Art Worlds.
Sept. 28, 2010
ROLL TAPE
by Ben Davis

Zilvinas Kempinas’ "post-minimalist disco dungeon," Ballroom.
Sept. 19, 2010
GWANGJU RULES
by Ben Davis

Massimiliano Gioni’s "10,000 Lives" in Gwangju redeems the biennial.
Aug. 30, 2010
THE "EMERGING" CONSENSUS
by Ben Davis

“Greater New York” through the lens of "emerging adulthood."
Aug. 19, 2010
KURT LIVES
by Ben Davis

Letter from Seattle: Failing to attain Nirvana at the Seattle Art Museum.
Aug. 4, 2010
"SOCIAL MEDIA ART" IN THE EXPANDED FIELD
by Ben Davis

Squaring the circle of "art and social media."
July 16, 2010
MACHINE TOOL
by Ben Davis

Brion Gysin, pursuing the Other, on a cloud of smoke, into his own mind.
June 17, 2010
DESIGNER DREAMS
by Ben Davis

Alex Dodge’s anxiety of influence, towards the Apple Corp.
May 18, 2010
THE AGE OF SEMI- POST- POSTMODERNISM
by Ben Davis

An assessment of the state of an unfortunately still-relevant concept.
Apr. 9, 2010
CHILDISH AS HE WANTS TO BE
by Ben Davis

Billy Childish’s nihilistically amateurish flower painting.
Apr. 7, 2010
DIGITAL DESACRALIZATION
by Ben Davis

The Vatican puts the Sistine Chapel online, raising some questions.
Mar. 26, 2010
MINOR MIRACLES
by Ben Davis
Jessica Jackson Hutchins looks for a way out.
Mar. 10, 2010
IT’S NOT THE SIZE. . .
by Ben Davis
Scoring Jeff Koons’ "Skin Fruit" vs. Shaq’s "Size Does Matter."
Feb. 19, 2009
X OUT
by Ben Davis
The lesson’s of X-Initiative’s final show, "Bring Your Own Art."
Feb. 3, 2010
WHITNEY WATCH
by Ben Davis
A defensive self-abasement marks the spirit of the 2010 Whitney Biennial.
Jan. 28, 2010
THE BAUHAUS IN HISTORY
by Ben Davis
The Bauhaus and the contradictions of artistic utopia.
Jan. 7, 2010
PHOTOS FOR TINO
by Ben Davis
The erotics of Tino Sehgal’s photo ban.
Ben Davis Archives for 2009
Dec. 11, 2009
LOST IN MIAMI
by Ben Davis
Wandering through Art Basel Miami Beach 2009.
Nov. 24, 2009
IN DEFENSE OF CONCEPTS
by Ben Davis
A new battle between "conceptual" and "traditional" art.
Nov. 5, 2009
LOST IN TIME
by Ben Davis
Josh Gosfield imagines the life of completely made-up French pop star "Gigi Gaston."
Oct. 23, 2009
LIGHT TOUCH
by Ben Davis
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer represents the future of art -- but what kind of future is it?
Oct. 9, 2009
MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ANTI-NEA CAMPAIGN
by Ben Davis
Some questions for Patrick Courrielche, the man behind the "NEA propaganda story."
Sept. 28, 2009
THE NEW CULTURE WARS
by Ben Davis
A defense of the NEA conference call.
Sept. 18, 2009
SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED
by Ben Davis
Caragh Thuring’s end-of-painting paintings at Simon Preston.
Sept. 11, 2009
COMMUNISTS! IN THE ART WORLD!
by Ben Davis
Four art institutions that Glenn Beck should look into.
Aug. 7, 2009
THE MUSEUM BUBBLE
by Ben Davis
Who’s to blame for the pain of the non-profit art world?
July 28, 2009
BACON, HALF-BAKED
by Ben Davis
Why philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s book on Francis Bacon is so much tamer than Francis Bacon’s work itself.
July 20, 2009
IRANIAN ART NOW
by Ben Davis
"Iran Inside Out" at the Chelsea Art Museum.
June 18, 2009
BITTERSWEET CACOPHONY
by Ben Davis
Bruce Nauman’s vile, refreshing art.
June 10, 2009
BIENNALE DEGREE ZERO
by Ben Davis
Daniel Birnbaum’s "Making Worlds" is a Type 0 Biennale.
May 22, 2009
FAIREY TALES
by Ben Davis
The myth and reality of Shepard Fairey’s preppy Pop anti-authoritarianism.
Apr. 30, 2009
ANIMAL SPIRITS
by Ben Davis
The strengths and limits of Adel Abdessemed’s nihilistic guerrilla art.
Apr. 17, 2009
JESUS COMPLEX
by Ben Davis
The New Museum Triennial fails as a portrait of a generation -- but succeeds as an essay on the "naughty oughties."
Mar. 24, 2009
HE’S THE SHIT
by Ben Davis
Italian conceptualist Piero Manzoni was more of a professional than he seems.
Mar. 13, 2009
THE TWITTER ESTHETIC
by Ben Davis
The art fair experience finds the form of writing proper to it.
Feb. 23, 2009
PSYCO-SOCIAL STILL-LIFE
by Ben Davis
Ruud van Empel’s "Souvenir" series shows how history troubles our fantasies.
Jan. 29, 2009
CRISIS AND CRITICISM
by Ben Davis
The "crisis in criticism" meets the economic crisis.
Ben Davis Archives for 2008
Dec. 30, 2008
THE 2008 REVUE
by Walter Robinson and Ben Davis
"Fly high, fall hard," a motto for the times.
Dec. 11, 2008
PAWN SHOP CONCEPTUALISM
by Ben Davis
Jeff Sonhouse’s "composites" reach for a neither/nor esthetic.
Nov. 20, 2008
OH YES THEY DID!
by Ben Davis
The Yes Men and Friends take on the New York Times.
Nov. 11, 2008
DEAD HEAT
by Ben Davis
Berlinde de Bruyckere riffs on the wretchedness of life.
Oct. 15, 2008
SCENES FROM SHANGHAI
by Ben Davis
Searching for the soul of the Chinese art world.
Sept. 19, 2008
THE CHINA PRICE
by Ben Davis
Stalking the elusive Chinese collector at ShContemporary.
Sept. 5, 2008
ESTHETIC POLITICS?
by Ben Davis
The idea that art is a model for politics is the biggest art-critical boondoggle around.
Aug. 28, 2008
TWO FRIDAS
by Ben Davis
Frida Kahlo’s surreal Socialist Realism.
July 31, 2008
UP PERISCOPE
by Ben Davis
The unlikely tale of Scope Hamptons ‘08.
July 25, 2008
NATURAL FACTS
by Ben Davis
"After Nature" shows it’s easier to turn apocalypse into a motif than it is to imagine it sincerely.
July 16, 2008
THE RISE OF THE SUPERARTISTS
by Ben Davis
Takashi Murakami, Olafur Eliasson and today’s avant-garde.
July 14, 2008
THE IRAQI CENTURY OF ART
by Ben Davis
Mohammed al Hamadany’s Night of Fire and 100 years of struggle by Iraqi artists.
June 18, 2008
BUILDING BLOCKS
by Ben Davis
David Byrne’s Playing the Building: Once in a lifetime experience, or road to nowhere?
May 23, 2008
FIRE AND ICE
by Ben Davis
Sexual dysfunction and environmental consciousness at the Reykjavik Arts Festival in Iceland.
May 9, 2008
THE BILLY PAPPAS PROBLEM
by Ben Davis
Julie Checkoway’s documentary Waiting for Hockney raises questions about the sociology of art.
Apr. 28, 2008
THE INSIDER’S OUTSIDER
by Ben Davis
Henry Darger’s "unrealism" and the anxiety of influence.
Apr. 11, 2008
ART IN FLUX
by Ben Davis
Flux Factory’s final show marks the end of an era.
Mar. 13, 2008
CAI GUO-KILLER
by Ben Davis
In the basement with Chinese art star Cai Guo-Qiang.
Mar. 7, 2008
RAVE ON
by Ben Davis
A "rave review" for the Whitney’s 2008 biennial.
Feb. 15, 2008
THE BLING GAME
by Ben Davis
Say hello to Luis Gispert’s little friend.
Jan. 24, 2008
GATEWAY TO NOWHERE
by Ben Davis
Do-Ho Suh’s Reflection and art’s power to forget.
Jan. 11, 2008
COMMERCE AND CONSCIOUSNESS
by Ben Davis
The year in "complicit esthetics."
Ben Davis Archives for 2007
Dec. 24, 2007
MIAMI POST MORTEM
by Ben Davis
The "social unconscious" in Art Basel Miami Beach and beyond.
Dec. 4, 2007
WESTERN PROMISES
by Ben Davis
Piotr Uklanski’s ""Western"" Summer Love.
Nov. 19, 2007
DISASTER TEAM
by Ben Davis
The beauty of drowning Africans in Isaac Julien and Russell Maliphant’s "Cast No Shadow."
Nov. 12, 2007
GUY SMILEY
by Ben Davis
Yue Minjun, human logo.
Oct. 26, 2007
THE CONTRA IRAN AFFAIR
by Ben Davis
Shirana Shahbazi’s new work reacts against images of Iran, in a veiled way.
Oct. 11, 2007
ALL THIS USELESS BOOTY
by Ben Davis
Julie Heffernan’s anti-history painting.
Sept. 27, 2007
MAN AND SUPERMAN
by Ben Davis
Shaun El C. Leonardo, budding superartist.
Aug. 24, 2007
ART CLASS
by Ben Davis
Marx, "a new theory of the market," art and politics.
Aug. 1, 2007
FAIR FLIP-FLOPS
by Ben Davis
Commerce and/or personality at the third Scope Hamptons.
July 20, 2007
GLOBALIZED FEMINISM
by Ben Davis
Can Miwa Yanagi dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools?
July 17, 2007
REPLY TO STORR
by Ben Davis
The Venice Biennale, Africa and the "borrowed kettle."
June 13, 2007
POWER PLAY
by Ben Davis
Tom Friedman’s aluminum foil sculptures are portraits of Aby Rosen as a "fun" guy.
May 16, 2007
HOLLOW LAUGHER
by Ben Davis
David Godbold answers the question: Why isn’t postmodern art funnier?
May 11, 2007
PINAULT AND CO.
by Ben Davis
A glorious romance with power in "Sequence 1" at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.
Apr. 17, 2007
IRANIAN EVOLUTION
by Ben Davis
A secret politics in Abbas Kiarostami’s photos and videos.
Mar. 12, 2007
WHITE WALLS, GLASS CEILING
by Ben Davis
Why are there so many great women artists -- who can’t get a show?
Feb. 26, 2007
LA LA LAND
by Ben Davis
L.A. Art challenges New York on its own turf.
Feb. 23, 2007
ARTNET NEWS
Questions surround the patron behind the Venice Biennale’s African exhibition.
Feb. 14, 2007
NET WORTH
by Ben Davis
The dilemmas of science-as-art in curator Marisa Olson’s "Networked Nature."
Jan. 4, 2006
STEINBERG’S SIGNATURES
by Ben Davis
Saul Steinberg takes on Adorno and Benjamin.
Ben Davis Archives for 2006
Dec. 18, 2006
MORE ON MIAMI
by Ben Davis
A report on the Ink, Flow, Bridge, Aqua, DiVA, Pulse, NADA, Photo Miami and Scope art fairs.
Dec. 7, 2006
BLACK SITE SPECIFIC
by Ben Davis
CIA torture in Chelsea.
Nov. 8, 2006
A MODEST PROPOSAL FOR THE ART WORLD
by Ben Davis
The solution to everything.
Nov. 8, 2006
MINNESOTA VICE
by Ben Davis
Angela Strassheim’s tortured photos of suburbia.
Oct. 25, 2006
CULTURAL KARAOKE
by Ben Davis
Nikki S. Lee’s "conceptual documentary" A.K.A. Nikki S. Lee.
Oct. 13, 2006
CRAZY QUILTS
by Ben Davis
Ai Kijima’s fabric collages bring Pop extravagance to a traditional form.
Sept. 20, 2006
DREAM FACTORY
by Ben Davis
Art and ads from director Michel Gondry.
Aug. 30, 2006
GLASS HOUSES
by Ben Davis
The art world lessons of Toledo, Ohio.
Aug. 18, 2006
RANCIÈRE, FOR DUMMIES
by Ben Davis
The Politics of Aesthetics by Jacques Rancière.
Aug. 3, 2006
DOWN TEMPO
by Ben Davis
The hidden history of the Bauhaus in Marianne Brandt’s photomontages.
July 20, 2006
SCOPE HAMPERED?
by Ben Davis
The second go-round for the Scope franchise in the Hamptons.
June 15, 2006
REFLECTED GLORY
by Ben Davis
The tortured journey of James Lee Byars fills six galleries in New York.
June 7, 2006
MOMENT IN THE SUN
by Ben Davis
Circa ’06 in San Juan, the first commercial art fair in the Caribbean.
May 31, 2006
RETRO ACTIVITIES
by Ben Davis
Marco Boggio Sella, Vadis Turner and Michael Bell-Smith take on the past.
May 4, 2006
INANE ASYLUM
by Ben Davis
Wooloo Productions offers up an immigrant "Survivor" as art in "AsylumNYC."
Apr. 21, 2006
THIRTEEN UNEASY PIECES
by Ben Davis
Chinese video art at P.S.1’s "The Thirteen: Chinese Video Now."
Apr. 11, 2006
THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BARNEY
by Ben Davis
Drawing Restraint 9 is a hoot.
Mar. 20, 2006
TWILIGHT OF THE TEEN IDOLS
by Ben Davis
Masturbating jocks and cheerleaders, courtesy Brock Enright and Ivan Hürzeler.
Mar. 10, 2006
THE ARMORY BOWL
by Ben Davis
Reading the semiotics of the Armory Show 2006, Mar. 9-13, 2006.
Mar. 2, 2006
LABELING THE WHITNEY
by Ben Davis
The art of text at the Whitney Biennial 2006.
Feb. 24, 2006
LOOK AGAIN
by Ben Davis
Photography in New York -- the AIPAD photo show, Tracey Moffatt, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Christopher Williams and Florian Maier-Aichen.
Feb. 10, 2006
RETURN FIRE
by Ben Davis
New images of art from Iraq in New York.
Jan. 25, 2006
WHITNEY WATCH
by Ben Davis
Whitney Biennial curators past and present talk around the 2006 installment.
Jan. 24, 2006
TECHNICAL KNOCK-OUTS
by Ben Davis
Dorkbot, "Breaking and Entering" at PaceWildenstein, "Superlowrez" at vertexList, "Dewanatron" at Pierogi.
Ben Davis Archives for 2005
Dec. 16, 2005
Pop Life
by Ben Davis
0100101110101101.ORG proves Europe kicks butt.
Nov. 23, 2005
Raging within the Machine
by Ben Davis
Gelitin's "Tantamounter" -- a good time is had by all.
Nov. 16, 2005
I Want My Mike Kelley
by Ben Davis
Mike Kelley at Gagosian Gallery.
Nov. 2, 2005
We Are Duchampians
by Ben Davis
"The Imagery of Chess Revisited" at the Noguchi Museum.
Oct. 12, 2005
Photo New York
by Ben Davis
A report from the 2nd annual photo fair in Manhattan.
Sept. 27, 2005
Knock Out
by Ben Davis
The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s "A Knock at the Door"
Sept. 12, 2005
The Baby-Satyr’s Club
by Ben Davis
Ohad Meromi at Harris Lieberman.
Aug. 26, 2005
August Company
by Ben Davis
The end of the summer at three shows in Williamsburg.
Aug. 17, 2005
Signs of the Times
by Ben Davis
Steve Powers and the Dreamland Artist Club at Coney Island.
Aug. 3, 2005
Ultra-Violette
by Ben Davis
Banks Violette rocks the Whitney.
July 19, 2005
Un-Hampered
by Ben Davis
The Scope Hamptons contemporary art fair in Southampton.
July 12, 2005
Letter Love
by Ben Davis
O.K. Harris documents the career of Don Celender.
June 21, 2005
Visible Flaws
by Ben Davis
Art theorist W.J.T. Mitchell's What Do Pictures Want?
June 7, 2005
A FUTURE PRESENT
by Ben Davis
D. Dominick Lombardi puts his mark on the apocalypse.
May 23, 2005
THE WILDER BUNCH
by Ben Davis
The artists associated with legendary L.A. dealer Nicholas Wilder.