What is the news? I once heard the head of small independent newspaper give a lecture about why news is not free. She explained that, in the age of the internet and digital information, people protest digital and print subscriptions to newspapers. But as the journalist rightly stated, information is free, news is not. There is a certain level of prestige, a factual quality to the front-page headline we see on The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Yet, as art historians and cultural critics, we have long since been aware that even these more accredited forms of news are not wholly truthful. Walter Benjamin taught us that media, including news, was always partially manipulated; and Susan Sontag showed us that even journalistic photographs are not a whole truth.
October 4, 2009 (2012)
But there is still something powerful about newsprint, especially the front page. If not in substance, at least in format: the bold headline across the top in serif font, the center image, flanked on either side by pillars of text. Perhaps this is why so many artists have been drawn to newsprint as an element of their work. We can now add Fred Tomaselli to that list of artists. On view now at James Cohan Gallery is Tomaselli’s ongoing exploration of the news, particularly the times, as the eponymous series suggests. His collaged and painted interventions into the headlining images of the front page beautify the ugly, as with July 15, 2009 (2012); shield the bare, as with October 4, 2009 (2012); and shed new light onto the harsh visuals of the 21st century to which we’ve become so desensitized.
July 15, 2009 (2012)
Fred Tomaselli: Current Events is on view at James Cohan Gallery through June 14.