Heading through a phalanx of paparazzi into a screening of the movie, I feared that I too–a big, some would say addled, Barney fan–would be swept up by the bad buzz. Settling into my seat, anticipating the sight of an artist running on fumes, I prepared for my own private Barney hate-fest.
It never arrived. Which means I now have to try to explain not only why Drawing Restraint 9 is better than many in the art world think, but why it’s probably the best thing Barney has ever done. First, what had been an art of exquisite parts with moments of solidity has in Drawing Restraint 9 morphed into a ravishing, wide-ranging, symphonic vision. This is Barney’s Moby Dick by way of Beckett: a story that takes place nowhere but that touches on everything. Barney is still clinical, hermetic, grandiose, controlling, melo-dramatic, and aberrant; his work can be claustrophobic, drugged, operatic, and tyrannical. But now he’s taking these qualities to new levels: This is the clinical-sublime, the hermetic-sublime, the grandiose-sublime.
more from Jerry Salz at The Village Voice here.