On my way to Pulse on Thursday, I read a review in the Wall Street Journal of the Luc Tuymans show at SFMOMA. The reviewer, David Littlejohn, suggested that art addressing modern history be judged by asking whether the artist "has something new, persuasive and productively thought-provoking to say, or has found a novel and mind-opening way to say it."
I don't know what he means by "modern history," but I think this standard applies to all contemporary art, which is in some sense contemporary history.
So I viewed Pulse's offerings with this standard in mind. Sad to say, almost all the art was tired, superficial, and boring.
Amid all this disappointing work, a few artists truly stuck out.
Otherwise, there is little to be said about Pulse. Plastic was a favored medium. Dung hills of acrylic paint, acrylic enclosures, polyurethane, tape of different colors, cutouts from magazines and who knows what else that are coated with some sort of goo. Plastic seems the perfect medium to characterize the word "unpersuasive."
Artists were really into their Sharpies this year, too.
(Conflict of interest note: I once bought a Powhida print and have participated in forums he organized.)
Photos: Laura Gilbert