paula cooper gallery

The New Yorker | Bruce Conner: REPORT and MARILYN TIMES FIVE

If you missed the recent MOMA survey dedicated to the quicksilver Bay Area artist, who died in 2008, at the age of seventy-four, this show makes a fine introduction. A recently restored version of Conner’s 16-mm. film “Report,” from 1967—on view alongside the ingeniously irritating avant-girlie movie “Marilyn Times Five,” made in 1973—considers how a nation processes trauma, the magnetic appeal of conspiracy theories, and the slippery nature of time. 

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THE ART NEWSPAPER | The gospel according to Bruce Conner: on the artist's show at Paula Cooper Gallery

In one way or another, much of the late, San Francisco-based artist Bruce Conner's best work is about radical change. His 1976 film CROSSROADS, which will be included in his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (3 July-2 October), is culled together from footage of US nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands. It is a catalogue of how swiftly such awful weaponry can alter a quiet landscape. Another film, REPORT (1967), includes footage of a serene John F. Kennedy riding through Dallas on 22 November 1963. Along with it comes audio of the journalist Sam Pate's frantic radio announcement, just after Kennedy was assassinated that day, that "something has happened in the motorcade route." 

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FORBES | Last Chance: Bruce Conner @ Paula Cooper Gallery

Perhaps the most aggrandizing quality of Bruce Conner is his veiled honesty. It’s not always immediate or even explicit, as he was known to ascribe the credit for his works to others, but it’s there. It seeps through in his popular experimental films, densely inked drawings, and fiercely candid interviews.

 Originally from Kansas, Conner hauled his roots to San Francisco, coming of age during the Beat Generation. A pioneer by all accounts and a serial artist, Conner found the familiar in radical, counterculture movements, working across disciplines.

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ARTFORUM | Critics' Pick: Bruce Conner @ Paula Cooper Gallery

Well known for faking his death at least a few times before he died in 2008, Bruce Conner was forty-five when he took on a project to shoot at the nascent San Francisco punk club Mabuhay Gardens for one year. The resultant series of “27 PUNK PHOTOS,” 1978, was originally published in the magazine Search and Destroy, and it’s one of the highlights of this exhibition, which features an array of his gelatin silver prints, collages, drawings, and a film. The show aptly traces his career-long penchant for merging light with shadow, and for finding sensation along the edge—a visual concordance he shared with his friend Jay DeFeo—and an interest that should be seen en masse in his 2016 joint MoMA and SF MoMA retrospective.

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HYPERALLERGIC | A Few Reasons Why Poets Love Bruce Conner

Bruce Conner (1933–2008) was a protean artist, who achieved something that is unlikely to be equaled anytime soon: he reinvented himself in every medium he took up, while remaining true to his perfectionist impulses. Restless and open to experiment, his diverse oeuvre includes film; photography; assemblage and sculpture; painting; printmaking; drawing and collage. In each of these mediums he utilized very different methods, from taking photographs, for example, to making photograms, that resulted in discrete bodies of work, quite a few of which have yet to see the light of day.

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THE BROOKLYN RAIL | Bruce Conner @ Paula Cooper Gallery

My initial encounter with the work of Bruce Conner happened in the mid-’60s when I was invited to see the short film A MOVIE (1958), screened in a church basement somewhere off a highway near Wellesley, Massachusetts. It was a chilly, dark, concrete place, but somehow it didn’t matter. My experience with this film was a formidable one. It had a remarkable impact on my thinking, serving as my introduction to semiotics. For one, I was stunned by Connor’s use of unpredictable juxtapositions. A MOVIE is both non-narrative and experimental, made largely from found and recycled footage, including scenes from old Westerns with Indians on horseback chasing covered wagons; to motorcycle and stock car races, which often ended in violence or fatality; to African tribal women carrying monumental, totemic structures on their heads.

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