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Eleanor Heartney

Eleanor Heartney is a New York-based art critic and the author of numerous books about contemporary art. Eleanor Heartney’s Postmodern Heretics: The Catholic Imagination in Contemporary Art has just been reissued by Silver Hollow Press.

Performance by Shirin Neshat

On a stage above the audience’s eye level, men in white shirts murmur discreetly to each other as they page through dusty folios. They rummage through old books strewn on a long table, piled on the floor and stashed haphazardly on shelves.

In Conversation

RUSSELL CONNOR with Eleanor Heartney

The fantasy of art objects having lives of their own has a long history, encompassing everything from the story of Pygmalion to the Hollywood franchise Night at the Museum. Painter Russell Connor has made a career of speculating about what characters from various iconic art historical masterpieces might do if allowed to mingle and interact.

In Conversation

ANDRES SERRANO with Eleanor Heartney

Andres Serrano gained international fame—or some would say notoriety—in 1989 when his photograph Piss Christ became embroiled in the battle to defund the NEA. Over the years Piss Christ has continued to ignite controversy and is periodically attacked and defaced when it is publically exhibited. Meanwhile, Serrano has continued to create beautfully crafted, provocative photographs that touch on such themes as faith, sex, death, homelessness, race and bigotry.

In Conversation

with Eleanor Heartney

“I thought I could just walk my dog and make my garden but Petzel has this ability to persuade me. I have known him for three thousand years in Cologne. He teased me about not working, so I started again, with no idea what I was going to do. Give me bait and I rise to it. I’m lazy but I’m also a workaholic.”

In Conversation

Enrique Martínez Celaya with Eleanor Heartney

Eleanor Heartney speaks with the artist Enrique Martínez Celaya about his two concurrent exhibitions, the beauty of physics and philosophy, and why all artists should aspire to be prophets.

The Incredible Shrinking Art Critic

In old movies, I’ve noticed that the critic is always a snooty older white man—incredibly well connected, frequently corrupt, wielding enormous power over fate of artist, and very often graced with an upper-class British accent.

Refiguring The Future

Is there any way to mitigate the pernicious impact of the algorithmic takeover of life? Refiguring the Future, a conference held this May in Chicago, positioned artists as a first line of defense against Big Tech.

How Newness Enters the Art World

Newness was at the core of modernism—Harold Rosenberg extolled the Tradition of the New and Robert Hughes explored The Shock of the New. In 1936 Alfred Barr theorized the emergence of the New with a complicated engineering-style diagram that illustrated his theory that art evolves through a process of exhaustion and reaction.

Joe Andoe: Jubilee City

Painter and writer Joe Andoe offers another glimpse into this alternate reality. In his 2007 memoir Jubilee City: A Memoir at Full Speed, Andoe draws on memories of an unsupervised childhood and drug-fueled adolescence in Tulsa, Oklahoma filled with car wrecks, petty crimes, and maniacal substance abuse.

Pat Passlof: The Brush is the Finger of the Brain

What comes through in these paintings is a radiant pictorial intelligence, a questing curiosity about what paint can do and a willingness to take formal risks.

Lisa Yuskavage: New Paintings & Babie Brood

Men have entered the world of Lisa Yuskavage’s paintings. Of course men and boys have made fleeting appearances before, but in the past they always seemed to be there on the sufferance of the damsels, coquettes, witches, and Lolitas who are the native inhabitants of Yuskavage Land.

Wendy Red Star: Accession

Ethnographer James Clifford has written extensively about the fallacy of the “salvage paradigm”—the anthropological romance with the preservation of the last traces of traditional peoples and cultures.

Theaster Gates: Young Lords and Their Traces

The many facets of his multi-disciplinary practice glitter like shards of glass from a broken vessel, but it is not always clear how they can be pieced together.

The Sense of an Ending

The convergence of the death of Arthur Danto, the invitation to write something for the Rail on the 100th anniversary of Ad Reinhardt’s birth, and the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy has set me thinking about Ends.

Linda Nochlin

I can’t think of an essay that has been more influential on my thinking than Linda Nochlin’s seminal (if we may use that term in this context) “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

Who Has Your Back?

Like most people in this august profession, I stumbled into art criticism in the early 1980s through a slew of unlikely meetings. Following my failure to secure a “real” art job with my newly minted MA in art history, I found my home as an art writer through a series of encounters with remarkable individuals.

Eco-Feminism Revisited

The 1970s saw the simultaneous emergence of environmentalism and feminism as important social forces. At the time, it was obvious to many observers that the two movements were related.

Eleanor Heartney

I wrote about Tim and his group for various books and publications, we spoke together on panels, he helped me on various projects, and we shared many a tipsy conversation on the meaning of art, the messed-up-ness of the world and beauty of the spirit.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues