Alex Jovanovich

  • “CAMP: NOTES ON FASHION”

    Curated by Andrew Bolton

    Dandiacal is such a marvelous word—it sounds like a portmanteau of dandy and maniacal. Andrew Bolton uses it to describe a frock coat designed by Alessandro Michele for Gucci that, for this exhibition, will be installed next to a regal full-length portrait of Oscar Wilde (painted by Robert Pennington ca. 1884) wearing a similar item of clothing. Though most people think of camp as a mincing pink beast in marabou feathers, I like to imagine it as a glittering black widow with diamond fangs, a supple creature that threatens to fatally upend the straight and self-serious

  • “QUEER ABSTRACTION”

    Curated by Jared Ledesma

    Polari, a secret tongue that goes back centuries, is a car crash of languages (such as Italian, Yiddish, Romani, and back slang) that was once spoken by carnies, criminals, and gay men, mostly in the United Kingdom, to evade the keen ears of the law and “respectable” society. The fifteen LGBTQ+ artists in this show use abstraction as a kind of visual Polari to discuss queer eroticism and the more fluid, fabulous strains of sexual identity. Featured works will include Tom Burr’s cruisy, site-specific take on Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, 1981; Sheila Pepe’s sensual yet

  • Mel Odom

    “An addict of beauty” is what the novelist Edmund White dubbed Mel Odom during a public conversation only days after the artist’s solo exhibition, aptly titled “Gorgeous,” opened. White would know, because he’s an expert on the subject. And so is Odom, a maker of ethereal images that depict splendidly chiseled men and glamorous women who appear as though they’ve been tenderly reinforced with light. Thirty-five of his modestly sized drawings (the largest of which are only fourteen inches high), produced between 1975 and 2018, made up this show.

    Odom came to fame in the 1970s as a commercial

  • interviews March 18, 2019

    Ruben and Isabel Toledo

    Longtime couturier Isabel Toledo, who had the distinct honor of designing Michelle Obama’s 2009 inauguration outfit, and her husband, the illustrator, artist, and stage designer Ruben Toledo, have been collaborators for nearly forty years. The pair, based in Manhattan, have embarked on another singular adventure: a show commissioned by the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) for which the Toledos have created a new body of work that responds to the museum’s vast and extraordinary collection—which the duo talks about below. “Labor of Love” is on view through July 17, 2019.

    A COUPLE OF YEARS AGOVogue

  • “SUFFERING FROM REALNESS”

    Curated by Denise Markonish

    Many have staked their claim to the term realness, from the most piscine of drag queens to the scariest of political hobgoblins, whose “alternative facts” continue to wreak havoc on our already beleaguered reality. “Suffering from Realness” does not resolve to make the situation any less complicated. This group exhibition at MASS MOCA will feature works from seventeen artists who are carefully dissecting our messy, fact-challenged times—such as Cassils, whose (quite literally) muscular takes on gender and sexuality via performance, sculpture, and photography

  • PROJECT: KYLE VU-DUNN

    GEORGE SEGAL’S Gay Liberation, 1980, is a public sculpture in Greenwich Village that commemorates the site of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, an event many consider to have been the beginning of the modern LGBTQ-rights movement in the United States. Segal’s work shows two same-sex couples—male and female, in bronze and painted white—being gently affectionate with one another. Over the years, I’ve heard the monument referred to as ugly, racist, banal, and stupid, frequently by other gays. (“Why are they white people?” “Why was this made by a heterosexual?”) It is far from perfect. But it’s

  • Mitchell Algus

    Mitchell Algus is best known as a gallerist of a particularly rare stripe—one with a singular heart, famous for resuscitating the careers of great artists such as Barkley Hendricks, Lee Lozano, Joan Semmel, and Betty Tompkins, who, once upon a time, were nearly swallowed up by obscurity. He’s been showing art in New York for more than three decades, in various spaces and capacities, though he’s rarely made a proper living at it. (He was a science teacher for twenty-three years at Long Island City High School in Queens, which allowed him some freedom from having to sell art to pay the bills).

  • “RUBBISH AND DREAMS: THE GENDERQUEER PERFORMANCE ART OF STEPHEN VARBLE”

    Seditionary glamour girl Stephen Varble would’ve likely puked watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, as he was not very keen on the shameless self-promotion the program’s stars so readily embrace. The artist defied all kinds of categorization in his one-of-a-kind costumes and frocks—frequently made out of garbage—which he used for guerrilla performances that irritated New York’s hallowed sites of capitalist exchange, such as Tiffany, Chemical Bank, and sundry commercial art galleries. Varble died in 1984, as did much of his legacy. But the Leslie-Lohman Museum will bring his oeuvre

  • “VIJA CELMINS: TO FIX THE IMAGE IN MEMORY”

    The inexplicable thereness of a Vija Celmins–rendered image or object is difficult to parse. Be it via a drawing of rippling waters or a scrupulously crafted replica of a stone, she has the preternatural ability to turn the most common of vistas and subjects into moments of divine strangeness. “Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory” is the artist’s first North American retrospective in twenty-five years. The survey will feature roughly 150 paintings, sculptures, and drawings, including new works created specifically

  • Inka Essenhigh

    When I come across a work of art as weird and seductive and startlingly beautiful as an Inka Essenhigh painting, I haven’t the faintest desire to engage my critical faculties. I just want to be overcome by the supple, erotic strangeness of her surrealist narratives; the chitinous sheen of her works’ surfaces; her Prada-meets–Star Trek palette; and the gelatinous, ectomorphic figures. You want to dissolve into an Essenhigh painting, in the same way that she dissolves virtually all solidity within her forms and spaces. Every body, every thing looks as though it’s made of melted caramel, or flowing

  • interviews May 15, 2018

    Hermann Nitsch

    Hermann Nitsch, one of Viennese Actionism’s principal and last-surviving members, has been making his visceral and ceremonious work for decades. His art dives into the heart of human history and experience, plumbing its excruciating depths while celebrating its most ecstatic heights. The artist’s show at Massimo De Carlo in London, which runs through May 25, 2018, outlines the artist’s DAS ORGIEN MYSTERIEN THEATER performances, spanning almost sixty years. Here, Nitsch talks about the London show and the core philosophy of his work.

    MY LONDON SHOW, at Massimo De Carlo, features different types

  • interviews May 07, 2018

    Cody Critcheloe

    Artist Cody Critcheloe—the heart of music, video, and performance pop group SSION, which he founded in 1999 while he was in high school—is releasing O, his first album in five years, on May 11, 2018 through DERO Arcade. The thirteen-track record features collaborations with artists such as Ariel Pink, Róisín Murphy, and Contessa Stuto, and draws inspiration from musicians including Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper, the Pet Shop Boys, George Michael, Atari Teenage Riot, and Hole. Here, Critcheloe talks about the making of O and the magic involved in crafting the perfect song.

    THERE WASN’T ANY CRISIS that

  • “Black Light: Secretive traditions in the arts since the 1950s”

    Art is rarely a rational product of human experience, as human experience is rarely a rational thing. That is why art is such a marvelous instrument for limning the divine. We expect it to take us elsewhere, be that the numinous edge of the self or the infinite. “Black Light,” orchestrated by curator and poet Enrique Juncosa, is a dense and multifaceted offering that explores the ways in which occult traditions have influenced artmaking—from Jungian conceptions of the imagination to the evolution of the superhero genre. Brace yourself for contributions from the

  • Gil Batle

    Gil Batle used to go to Walmart in Southern California and scrutinize the cashiers. He’d keep his eyes peeled for anyone who was new, bored, or unremittingly sloppy. When he found his mark, Batle would visit his or her checkout line with some expensive appliance in tow and would pay for it with a money order. But the piece of paper he’d hand over for his big-ticket item was an exquisitely made drawing—a counterfeit. Batle would then sell his stealthily looted merchandise on the street for cash to support his crystal meth addiction. His skills as a master forger got him into a lot of trouble;

  • picks January 19, 2018

    Michael Stamm

    Woe to the modern young urbanite who tries to remedy his existential queasiness with the sundry potions and palliatives offered up through the wellness-industrial complex. Is there any homeopathic pill, miracle woobie, blessed fruit, or chill yoga teacher that can coax you out of your rarefied malaise, your bummer ennui, as the world around us continues to burn?

    Michael Stamm uses these conditions as a pretext for his exhibition of paintings here. Thank goodness it’s flimsy. Stamm is a painter of exceptional skill and finesse who has the preternatural ability to synthesize the lessons of Alex

  • picks January 12, 2018

    Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

    Perhaps at the very heart of your subconscious rests Snoopy. Or a scribbly crescent moon with a smile and winking eye. For Genesis Breyer P-Orridge—pandrogyne (a two-spirit being of malleable gender), soft pornographer, and so-called wrecker of civilization—it’s a cartoony little tree that looks like a four-leaf clover, sitting next to a simply rendered house: an image straight out of kindergarten, or the verdant environs of Teletubbyland. It’s the first thing the artist draws when zoning out and doodling—an elementary scene that is at the center of many striking and extraordinarily complicated

  • picks November 10, 2017

    Scott Covert

    Death pairs well with glamour: Think of Marlene Dietrich’s prostitute-spy character in Dishonored (1931), as she applies her lipstick before meeting a firing squad; Bette Davis as terminally ill socialite Judith Traherne in Dark Victory (1939); or Divine’s punk murderess Dawn Davenport in John Waters’s Female Trouble (1974), where the actor soliloquizes from an electric chair like a demented starlet accepting her first, and final, Oscar.

    Scott Covert certainly understands the seductive appeal of merging Eros and Thanatos: For twenty-five years, the artist has traipsed the world, from Père Lachaise

  • interviews October 03, 2017

    Barbara Hammer

    Barbara Hammer, a beloved icon of lesbian and experimental filmmaking, has a very full season ahead of her: the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York is hosting “Evidentiary Bodies,” a retrospective spanning fifty years and featuring her never-before-seen artworks, which opens October 7, 2017 and runs until January 28, 2018; the New York Film Festival is screening five of Hammer’s 16-mm works, made between 1975 and 1989, on October 9, 2017; the gallery Company in New York is presenting an exhibition of her work, “Truant: Photographs, 1970–1979” from October 22, 2017 to November

  • interviews September 21, 2017

    Tabboo!

    Painter, theatrical designer, and drag artist Tabboo!, also known as Stephen Tashjian, was an essential figure in New York’s early downtown art and club scene. “World of Tabboo! Early & Recent Work” will feature a new batch of his paintings in addition to a suite of pieces he made when he first moved to New York and was living with his friend and collaborator Pat Hearn (who went on to open her own eponymous gallery in 1983). The show is on view at Gordon Robichaux in New York from September 24 to November 19, 2017. Additionally, a selection of Tabboo!’s works will be featured in “Club 57: Film,

  • picks August 11, 2017

    “The World Without Us”

    If you’ve been at all conscious since the start of this dreadful year and never once wished for Armageddon, you probably shouldn’t be trusted. “The World Without Us,” the darkly suggestive title of this group exhibition, casts the assembled works as detritus from a civilization—ours, of course—gone to hell. This is not a negative assessment of the pieces on view, but rather a testament to the misanthropically groovy black energy they radiate as a whole.

    Upon entering the space you notice Lin May Saeed’s fabulous Lioness Relief, 2015, a Styrofoam and wood sculpture of the titular creature wading