New York-based critic and independent curator Bob Nickas presents his musings on 100 paintings, choosing one from each year from 1915 through 2015. Beginning with Malevich’s Red Square and ending with John Armleder, Nickas suggests that painting is, and perhaps has always been, an assisted readymade. With some perverse choices and more than a few glaring omissions, Nickas has selected works in a personal, free-associative way, spontaneously and intuitively, accumulating work after work, engaging with the idea of art history as a game of cadavre exquis—exquisite corpse—to be played by one person who is always in a sense of two minds.
Bob Nickas has organized more than ninety exhibitions since 1984, and earned a reputation for an individual style that transgresses the accepted. Nickas was Curatorial Advisor at P.S.1/MoMA in New York between 2004-07, where his exhibitions includeLee Lozano: Drawn From Life; William Gedney—Christopher Wool: Into the Night; Stephen Shore: American Surfaces; and Wolfgang Tillmans: Freedom From The Known. He served on the team for the 2003 Biennale de Lyon, contributed a section to Aperto at the 1993 Venice Biennale, and collaborated with Cady Noland on her installation for Documenta IX in 1992.
His books include Painting Abstraction: New Elements In Abstract Painting, Theft Is Vision, Live Free or Die: Collected Writings 1985-1999, and The Dept. of Corrections. He is one of the authors of Defining Contemporary Art: 25 Years In 200 Pivotal Artworks, and of No Problem: Cologne/New York 1984-1989. 30/130, a survey of his books, catalogs and zines—130 produced over the past 30 years—as well as records, editions and ephemera, was presented at White Columns in 2015.
Pictured left: Marcel Duchamp, 1917. Pictured right: Norman Rockwell, 1921.