Tina Modotti's life (1896-1942) is the stuff that mini-series are made of. That may not he the reason "Tina Modotti: Photographs," on view through Nov. 26 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is, according to a sign on the wall just inside the show's entrance, "made possible by a generous gift from Madonna." Still, it's nice to see showfolk stepping into an arena--museum exhibitions with a little grit to them--where government and corporate funds fear to tread.
Last Weekend Christo's Crew Of Rock climbers and construction workers was putting the finishing touches on the wrapped Reichstag. After lobbying the Bonn Parliament for 23 years for approval, after spending perhaps $10 million (being raised by the sale of the project's drawings and prints), the Bulgarian-born New York artist, 60, saw the once and future home of German democracy almost completely swathed in more than a million square feet of rippling silver polypropylene fabric.
As a poor kid in Detroit, Jackie Napoleon Wilson began haunting thrift shops, where he could buy a pair of shoes for a nickel. He also started collecting other things he found there. ""I consider it an honor to admire someone's forgotten treasures,'' says Wilson, an attorney and the grandson of a slave who lived to the age of 107.
SAN FRANCISCO'S MELLOW ART SCENE almost gives provincialism a good name. An alternative to New York's grimy infighting and Los Angeles's sunny air-kissing, it's proud of its beatnik assemblages, psychedelic rock posters and the slather-it-on painting school of David Park and Wayne Thiebaud.
PRUDENCIO IRAZABAL, 40, IS A SPANISH ARTIST WITH a studio in New York's Chinatown -- a postmodern situation if there ever was one. But Irazabal paints small, abstract, subtly colored canvases that attempt to discover the absolute bedrock of painting. "I'm interested in what painting was in the beginning," he says, "when it was concerned with feeling." This is a modernist enterprise if there ever was one.
August Sander's everyday folk if there's a word with a bad reputation around today, it's "stereotype." But without those invisible mental molds in which to slip specific images of people, to see how closely they fit, how else can we get a glimpse of universal human nature in pictures of the local butcher, coal hauler or policeman?
Why would 20,000 readers -- so far -- want to buy a book on the great cat painters of the world? (Not artists portraying felines, mind you, but cats who paint.) A spokesman for Ten Speed Press in Berkeley, Calif., guesses, "It panders to animal behaviorists, art historians and people who like Spy magazine." Sounds weird, but Ten Speed must know something.
Maya lin works minor miracles. As a 21-year-old undergraduate architecture student at Yale in 1980, she submitted the winning design for the magnificently conciliatory Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Her simple, noble granite Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala. (1989), conveys both the uniqueness and universality of that struggle without compromising either.