Alex Jovanovich

  • Candy Jernigan, CANADIAN STATIONERY PT I: Three Notebooks And A Pen, n.d., colored pencil on paper, 12 x 16".
    picks July 22, 2019

    Candy Jernigan

    There’s always a lot of junk in galleries. But here, the garbage is pure gold.

    The late and forever great Candy Jernigan (1952–1991) had a thing for the discarded and defiled, be it pop-tops, moist cigar butts, or a rat’s carcass. The artist, who lived in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, sourced the materials for her collages and drawings from the filthy, crime-addled streets right outside her studio door. Jernigan’s Found Dope, 1986, a taxonomic display of drug paraphernalia including residue-y dime bags and crack vials, was presented by the artist at a neighborhood meeting as proof of the sordid

  • PORTFOLIO: PHILIP VAN AVER

    OSCAR WILDE famously lamented that the fabulousness of his blue china was difficult “to live up to.” Looking at Philip Van Aver’s exquisite gouache-and-ink paintings—tiny paper masterpieces no bigger than a valentine, yet filled with more love hours than can ever be repaid—I understand this failure of spirit in the presence of beauty. His bucolic scenes of shapely boys and Dionysian he-creatures frolicking, fighting, or posing in realms of Pre-Raphaelite splendor would have likely made Wilde swoon (and John Ruskin a bit squeamish).

    I am loath to call Van Aver’s paintings and drawings miniatures

  • View of “Judy Fox,” 2019. On wall, from left: EdenPlant 9, 2018; EdenPlant 10, 2018; EdenPlant 14, 2019. Foreground: Eve, 2014–17.

    Judy Fox

    Crepuscular, cancerous, unclean: Judy Fox’s eerie, life-size effigy of a dead Snow White, 2007, is nothing like Disney’s apple-cheeked version of the tortured young blueblood. Fox’s is grim—authentically Grimm—decked out in long, weedy braids and lying nude atop her glass coffin, surrounded not by seven mournful dwarves but by queasy, gonadal sculptures with tits for legs, physical manifestations of Christianity’s capital sins. Many moons ago, when I first encountered this tableau at New York’s P.P.O.W gallery, I was overtaken by the exquisiteness of Fox’s installation. Yet the artist’s black

  • “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, Them, ca. 1980, graphite on vellum, 14 × 11".

    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

  • View of “Ruben & Isabel Toledo: Labor of Love,” 2018–19.
    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, Doll I, 1987, fabric, trim, vitrine, 10 3⁄4 × 36 3⁄4 × 13 1⁄2".

    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