Feature

Lifelike

The artwork in this “clever and entertaining” traveling exhibit compels visitors “to look, and then look again.”

Blanton Museum of Art, AustinThrough Sept. 22

The artwork in this “clever and entertaining” traveling exhibit compels visitors “to look, and then look again,” said Jeanne Claire van Ryzin in The Austin American-Statesman. A sense of mischief abides from the very start, where, just above the entrance, 12 pencils dangle overhead, stuck into the ceiling tile. You read them at first as likely the result of “an irreverent act by a bored security guard.” But look closer and you might notice that each projectile is an artist’s re-creation of a pencil, handcrafted down to each eraser’s tin fitting. And Mungo Thomson’s Between Projects is just the first piece in which exacting methods of fabrication transform otherwise mundane objects. That piece of cardboard lying against the wall? It’s actually a 2009 sculpture in bronze by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. That bag of garbage on the floor? Jud Nelson carved it from white Carrara marble. Those 1,000 sunflower seeds filling a nearby jar, meanwhile, are actually made of porcelain, and each one was hand-painted by a laborer in China hired by the artist Ai Weiwei.

“The most compelling artworks move beyond questions of craft into more ominous territory,” said Kate Green in Artforum. Subway, a 2010 installation by Argentine artist Leandro Erlich, consists of a steel subway door whose window appears to look into the next car, where three commuters sit staring into space. “Since the window is actually a video on loop, we know the trio is trapped and has nowhere to go.” A 10-foot-tall 2010 self-portrait by Rudolf Stingel, painted to look like a well-worn black-and-white photograph, becomes “an elegy to youth and its brevity, as well as to the tradition of painting as a meaningful form of representation.” Virtually every piece in “Lifelike” appears highly familiar, and virtually all “make the familiar strange.”

Recommended

Thailand is turning plastic waste into personal protective equipment
A monk in Thailand wearing PPE made from plastic bottles.
getting creative

Thailand is turning plastic waste into personal protective equipment

Taliban foreign minister asks to address the United Nations
Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.
seeking legitimacy

Taliban foreign minister asks to address the United Nations

Xi Jinping may have just signaled the end of international coal financing
Xi Jinping.
climate change

Xi Jinping may have just signaled the end of international coal financing

French still unhappy with Biden, but Boris Johnson stays positive
Boris Johnson.
'breath of fresh air'

French still unhappy with Biden, but Boris Johnson stays positive

Most Popular

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?
Elizabeth Holmes and James Mattis.
Samuel Goldman

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights
Editorial Cartoon.
Feature

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights

Former FDA commissioner questions whether researchers should continue to publish sequences of novel viruses
Scott Gottlieb.
sunday shows

Former FDA commissioner questions whether researchers should continue to publish sequences of novel viruses