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Terry R. Myers

Terry R. Myers is a writer and independent curator based in Los Angeles, and an Editor-at-Large of the Rail.

Guest Critic

No One Gets to be Right

The focus of this Guest Critic section is something I’ve been wanting to do for some time. To ask several writers whose work I respect (often by disagreeing with it, and I hope that favor has been returned) to respond to a simple prompt: “I was wrong.”

Once upon a time, Ad Reinhardt Made Some Paintings That Just Might Be Pictures

Perhaps the question that was on my mind while rereading Reinhardt’s early lecture was in the air when it was written: did Reinhardt really have the courage of his convictions in his work at that time?

In Conversation

LARI PITTMAN with Terry R. Myers

I became a painter at Cal Arts in the 1970s when there was a way of approaching the making of art just generally. One of the things that still bothers me about painting are the way that painters talk about their work or the way painting is viewed. Of all the practices, painting is the one where the viewer—both the educated and the popular viewer—essentializes or over-essentializes the relationship between the object and the person who made the object. And that, I think, is problematic.

In Conversation

MARY WEATHERFORD with Terry R. Myers

On the occasion of her exhibition I’ve Seen Gray Whales Go By, critic and independent curator Terry R. Myers recently spoke with artist Mary Weatherford, who he has known since her first solo exhibition at Diane Brown Gallery in New York in 1990, in her studio in Los Angeles.

In Conversation

Deborah Kass with Terry R. Myers

Lecturer, critic, and independent curator Terry R. Myers recently spoke with artist Deborah Kass, whose forthcoming exhibition MORE feel good paintings for feel bad times will show at Paul Kasmin Gallery September 23 - October 30, 2010, about her life and work.


With this show, Ebner has made it abundantly clear that the last thing he wants to do is let his work just be, slapping us in the face with—of all things—paintings in the shape of “surrogate” fish.

Letter from TOKYO, GERHARD RICHTER New Overpainted Photographs

I didn’t make my most recent trip to Tokyo to see or write about a Gerhard Richter exhibition. It was a bonus, icing on the cake, if you will, that proved to me how important it is to take myself on occasion out of my comfort zone, especially when it comes to looking at the work of an artist who has changed art and has been heavily scrutinized for it.

JIM NUTT Coming Into Character

e are told by Jennifer R. Gross, in the catalogue accompanying this focused exhibition of Jim Nutt’s work (even with 70 paintings and drawings it is not a retrospective or a survey), that the artist “has expressed surprise that his unidentified women have been seen as male rather than as the clearly female subjects he intended.


Willem de Kooning couldn’t have been more clear about what he thought of retrospectives, despite his reluctant agreement to a mid-career survey in the late 1960s: “They treat the artist like a sausage, tie him up at both ends, and stamp on the center ‘Museum of Modern Art,’ as if you’re dead and they own you.”


No contemporary painter produces overload with as much restraint as Lari Pittman. For more than 30 years the unstoppable force of his pictorial imagination has collided head-on with the immovable object of his impeccable production, over and over, to the point of what would be, in less capable hands, overkill.


Is the bracing clarity of Richard Serra’s early work capable of speaking to—if not against—the slippery ambiguity of today? More than usual, the relationship between the work and site of this exhibition set up a then-versus-now situation that it never resolved, leaving me split, but not in the material way that Serra so emphatically had in mind back in the day.


The first line of curator Naomi Beckwith’s essay is a quote from the artist: “There was a time […] when the content of my work was coming from outside sources.” Indeed.

He-Who-Must-Be-Named is Sigmar Polke!

Sigmar Polke was a master magician among the principal tricksters of art history, a mischief-maker of illusions of illusion itself, not to mention reality, whatever, of course, we believed prior to witnessing his slights of hand.


Some of these Andreas Schulze paintings were shown in New York in late 2014, at Team Gallery in an exhibition called Traffic Jam. Now, several months later, here in Berlin, those paintings and some others are stuck again in a “stau” (translation, simply: jam).

Takashi Murakami: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow

Murakami has never relented from giving his work what it needs to stay, and stay for a long time.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Coming Back to See Through, Again

At first, Akunyili Crosby’s pervasive use of photographic transfer—taken from her personal archive as well as the breadth of Nigerian life as pictured in mass-media—appears to provide a literal pathway for the world outside of the work to enter: a goal of collage since at least Synthetic Cubism in which it had a certain shock value. Here, instead, the neatly arranged assortment of small images remain in the background, providing a quiet visual humming or buzzing amidst the more robust components of the work.

Matisse on the Move

“If we had the ‘Grand Jatte,’ maybe that would be the way to begin.” Unfortunately for MoMA Director Glenn Lowry—who offered this bit of wishful thinking in Arthur Lubow’s New York Times Magazine feature about the museum’s 2004 reopening and revised presentation of its impeccably well-rehearsed collection—the Seurat is not likely to leave its long-term home at the Art Institute of Chicago.


Somehow the sum of 100 percent offhandedness and 100 percent calculation, Bernard Frize’s paintings continue to defy even their own expectations.


New York didn’t get the Albert Oehlen survey it deserved. Although there are plenty of strong paintings among the twenty-five or so included in Home and Garden at the New Museum, and for the most part they are installed to sufficient impact, this show short-changes Oehlen’s crucial relationship to the legacy of New York painting since the 1940s, without which he would be far less the critical painter he has been for some time.

MARSDEN HARTLEY The German Paintings 1913 – 1915

The first installation of this exhibition of Marsden Hartley’s Berlin paintings must have been some homecoming, one that likely looked as if little or no time had passed, even though, in this case, it’s been a hundred years.

Letter from Copenhagen

I am indebted to the Louisiana Museum for sparking my interest in emerging Nordic art. Starting in the mid-1990s, my visits provided first encounters with the work of several artists who have held my attention ever since: Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Olafur Eliasson, Elmgreen & Dragset, Nils Erik Gjerdevik, Henrik Håkansson, Superflex, and Tal R.


Henrik Olesen, again and again, makes works that are feedback loops of the rather self-replicating and/or wormhole-y type. They convey information, and facilitate (our) understanding of it, back onto themselves, but they also threaten—rightly so—to upend the structures and/or dimensions that made such a cycle possible.

Jeni Spota: Fool’s Small Victory

I didn’t ask, but I have no doubt the title of Jeni Spota’s recent exhibition, Fool’s Small Victory, was borrowed from a compilation album by Faith No More that includes various B-sides and live recordings, five of which are different versions of a song called “A Small Victory.”

Elizabeth Murray

Even though it covers more than 25 years, this exhibition of Elizabeth Murray’s work is neither a retrospective nor a survey.


Eberhard Havekost has always made it clear that his paintings neither stand apart nor together as a “body of work,” as that term has been overhauled since postmodernism.


It was during my second visit to Susanne Doremus’s exhibition, open/closed, that I connected the title she gave the show to the door of the gallery. Like windows or drawers, a door has to open and close to work, and it’s clear to me that Doremus has the same expectations for her paintings, something that is nowhere near as simple as it seems.

ISA GENZKEN Retrospective

At first, this retrospective of Isa Genzken’s career seemed to come together as a heterogeneous yet unyielding portrait of the artist. Later, however, I realized that portraiture is a limitation that this work refuses without regret, as piece by piece, I came to the complicated conclusion that Genzken’s works are full-bodied recreations of herself, not mere symbolic representations, and definitely not depictions of anything autobiographical.


“Twenty years ago all the ambitious young painters I knew in New York saw abstract art as the only way out.” This sentence, the start of Clement Greenberg’s 1962 essay “After Abstract Expressionism,” provides a particular way into William Pope.L’s determined exhibition at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.

MARILYN MINTER, Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Marilyn Minter doesn’t merely use photographs; she uses them up. It is critical that for the past fifteen or so years the photographs have been hers to bleed dry: this part of her process contributes greatly to the overall cycle of creation and destruction that determines how her work is made as well as how it looks.

Letter from BERLIN

I’ve written about exhibitions by two of these artists before. With Ruff, I remain captivated by what I called the “swaying” of his rigorous production, functioning as focus instead of distraction; with Tillmans it’s still about how he consistently reminds me to never take anything for granted.


It wasn’t a wave of nostalgia that came over me entering Kavi Gupta’s gallery for Jessica Stockholder’s first solo exhibition in Chicago, probably because I had just had one upon encountering the first part of Stockholder’s A Log or a Freezer (2015).

Larry Johnson

Roland Barthes’s description of Tokyo and its empty center could be a perfect portrayal of the work of Larry Johnson: “The entire city turns around a site both forbidden and indifferent, a residence concealed beneath foliage, protected by moats, inhabited by an emperor who is never seen, which is to say, literally, by no one knows who.”

Made in L.A. 2012

Last year, in Chicago, for the first time anywhere, I taught a course on 20th and 21st century Los Angeles art, a survey that started with artists from the 1920s. I was confident that the early stuff would be a revelation, if only because of how much effort is still put into maintaining the notion that everything started at the admittedly vital Ferus Gallery.

12 Paintings by LAURA OWENS

While messing around with the procedures of painting for the past 20-or-so years, Laura Owens has rebuilt the category of painting into something not to be messed with. Right now, she is on a tear.


Sadie Benning’s recent works fit together beautifully while resisting fitting in completely with other things to which they could be compared. The complexity of their situation as such is what gives them their eye-catching personality, an attitude provided mainly by the disarming procedures of their production.

ROY LICHTENSTEIN The Black-and-White Drawings, 1961–1968

Abandoning the diminishing returns of the “touch” of Abstract Expressionism (and, to be sure, it had run its course in his work of the 1950s), Roy Lichtenstein set out to achieve something much harder in both senses of the word.


It could be argued that Gabriel Kuri’s approach to sculpture has been over-rehearsed during the past century, but on rare occasions art such as his demonstrates that it will always be possible to brush the formal and conceptual cobwebs off of any way of working and provoke actual surprise if not innovation.

Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age

What is “Painting 1.0?” One would think that somewhere, anywhere, in an ambitious exhibition like Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age an attempt would be made to answer that question with clarity and conviction, if only to anchor the curatorial pinpointing of “Web 2.0” (defined as the shift to user-generated content and increased interactivity) as the new thing that has made painting so interesting today.

Peter Doig

Nothing in Doig’s work is ever left completely to the mercy of what memory can do to what we always try to call the past, and nowhere have I absorbed this more than I have in Japan. I would like to think that the absent presence of this exhibition will linger for me to take in the next time I am there, or at the next Doig exhibition I see, wherever it may be.

Letter from TOKYO

During my most recent six-week trip to Japan, with my sense of distance and displacement quickly reestablished I was struck by the serendipity of concurrent retrospectives of the, yes, groundbreaking work of Atsuko Tanaka and Jackson Pollock, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MoT) and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, respectively.

Cy Twombly: The Natural World, Selected Works, 2000-2007

No painter since Pollock has refused to separate landscape and language more than Cy Twombly. His work is at its best when “no” withstands “yes,” when all of the things that make it beautiful to look at in the affirmative are never left to their so-called natural devices.

Standing Still and Walking in Kassel

No way was I anticipating coming to the conclusion that dOCUMENTA (13) is a triumph. I arrived a cynic and left a skeptic, and a joyful one at that.

Linda Daniels: Splits

Linda Daniels’s exhibition at Left Field in Los Osos confirms my assessment that her paintings of the past five or so years are not only the best that she has made, but also the result of the rigorous yet ebullient trajectory of her work that has transpired over the past forty years.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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