Alex Jovanovich

  • picks June 02, 2014

    Charles James

    Charles James’s life wasn’t all debs, soigné parties, and Slim Keith. By the time of his death in 1978, after a lifetime of striking up bad business deals and alienating scores of friends and supporters, the visionary fashion designer was living in sheer squalor in New York City’s Chelsea Hotel: sick and a pauper, months behind in rent. Despite having a small coterie of minders (or nightclubbing fans who occasionally borrowed some of his renowned frocks to party in), he died alone.

    But James was far more than your average fashion-land burnout, and in this bravura retrospective, put together by

  • picks May 13, 2014

    Keil Borrman

    Keil Borrman’s second solo show in New York, “The Choice We Face,” is—to quote the press release—“a collaboration with some of New York’s leading audio designers.” For this exhibition, Borrman completed over twenty new paintings, many of which were designed to function as acoustic shields for the crown jewel: A hyperfabulous analog sound system composed of equipment lent by high-end audio-fetish manufacturers such as DeVore Fidelity, Rogers High Fidelity, VPI Industries, and Grado Labs.

    On opening night, little attention seemed to be paid to Borrman’s luscious abstract paintings in dourly preppy

  • interviews February 08, 2014

    Justin Cooper and Ross Moreno

    Artist-comedian Justin Cooper and artist-comedian–professional magician Ross Moreno are the coconspirators behind Chuckles+, a comedy/performance project they commenced in 2011. On February 9, 2014, they will perform at Harbor Gallery in Queens, New York. Here, Cooper and Moreno speak about their upcoming performance and its hybridism.

    CHUCKLES+ began as a simple framework to explore different approaches toward performative projects; since 2011, it has evolved into an ongoing investigation into the intersection between comedy and art. We think conventional “showbiz” structures—the variety show,

  • picks January 26, 2014

    Allison Schulnik

    Shit is death but also life—the stuff of waste and resurrection. Georges Bataille quite acutely understood this material’s deeply mortal qualities. So does Allison Schulnik. In “Eager,” her second solo exhibition at this space, the artist gives us ceramic sculptures, paintings, and a breathtaking new stop-motion puppet video that seems extracted from an imagination preoccupied by the numinous characteristics of nature’s various cycles, rife with sunshine and scat.

    Schulnik’s ceramics have a careless, expressionistic facture that one sees plenty of in contemporary clay artworks. But her energy is

  • slant December 10, 2013

    Alex Jovanovich

    AMERICA, like its psychic capital, New York City, is intolerable and bright. And, being Americans and New Yorkers, we are envied and reviled by many the world over—deservedly so. Nonetheless, I am grateful to be immersed in this marriage of misery and light, which is so often at the core of a truly memorable and, indeed, genuinely American art, some of which I was lucky enough to experience this summer, Gotham’s cruelest, most luminous season.

    Ken Price, “Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Works on Paper 1962–2010” at the Drawing Center (June 19–August 18, 2013); Albright-Knox Art Gallery (September

  • Heather Cassils

    In many contexts, soft is a derisive term. When describing character, it connotes wimpiness or gullibility; when describing physique, it suggests the flabbiness our fat-phobic culture finds utterly repellent. In 2011, Heather Cassils banished every trace of physical softness—without surgery or any kind of hormone treatment—by adhering to a grueling diet and workout regimen, gaining twenty-three pounds of muscle in as many weeks. For this solo show, Cassils used his body—now a paragon of hypertrophic hardness and butched-out sexiness—as both medium and prop.

    A display of twelve

  • diary October 27, 2013

    Bell, Book, and Candle

    Raconteur Kristine McKenna once asked the inimitable curator Walter Hopps why he loved art. His response: “Because it’s the most beautiful secret language we have.

    Sadly, these days it ain’t secret enough. Art fairs are cropping up everywhere, holding out the promise of instant cultural cachet to any dummy with deep pockets and a few connections. Plebes like me can buy a ticket to lookie-loo at any one of these high-end craft conventions, our new sacred, with the desperate hope of stumbling across something good (which happens… sometimes) or, indeed, even something great (much less than sometimes).

  • picks September 24, 2013

    Cary Leibowitz

    Cary Leibowitz collects disappointments like a comedian does one-liners—he has, in fact, made an extraordinary career of it. Indeed, after nearly thirty years, one would label Leibowitz’s body of work up to now as a kind of compendium of disappointments. And his current solo show, “Cary Leibowitz (Paintings and Belt Buckles),” is simply more of what we’ve come to expect from one of contemporary art’s best and bleakest post–Borscht Belt–style funnymen.

    One walks into the gallery choking on pink, a particular shade that seems to suffer as a cross between Barbie’s Dream Home and a bleached asshole.

  • picks July 24, 2013

    Ken Price

    My hope is that Ken Price spent the majority of his life as a very happy man. Though his last few years, plagued by throat and tongue cancer, were surely his darkest, he still managed until his death in 2012 to create a kind of artwork that is in short supply these days: exquisitely conceived and unabashedly joyous.

    “Ken Price: Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Works on Paper 1962–2010” is a survey of his relatively small-scale drawings, which, over the years, were created right in tandem with his modestly sized ceramics, but only recently have been receiving the kind of attention they so rightly

  • interviews May 21, 2013

    Brigid Berlin

    Brigid Berlin is an artist, actress, and one of the most memorable personalities to emerge from Andy Warhol’s coterie. In 2000, she was the subject of a documentary, Pie in the Sky: the Brigid Berlin Story, which was directed by Vincent Fremont. Berlin’s diaristic recordings of her life and milieu during the 1960s and ’70s—her Polaroids, audiotapes, and journals—recall much of early Conceptualism’s documentarian impulses, but include an acidity and dark wit that is entirely her own.

    I GOT INTO POLAROIDS even before Andy got into them because of some pictures I saw in Vogue in the early ‘60s by

  • interviews January 23, 2013

    John Torreano

    John Torreano is a New York–based artist and curator. He has taught in New York University’s studio art program since 1992. Torreano’s “Dark Matters Everywhere: Paintings, Prints & Sculpture” spans over twenty years of his gem-based works and is on view at Carl Solway Gallery in Cincinnati through March 23, 2013.

    BEFORE THERE WERE GEMS ON MY PAINTINGS, there were dots. At the time I was working in the style of lyrical abstraction and wanted to push against Greenberg’s idea of painting’s essentialism. I was painting dots to create additional illusions of space, to emphasize contradictory aspects

  • picks December 03, 2012

    Vaginal Davis

    A warm rose light that softly illuminates a darkened realm: This, of course, characterizes the presence of Ms. Vaginal Crème Davis—artiste, raconteur, and grand dame of drag and gender rebellion. This also happens to describe the scene one encounters when entering Participant Inc. to view her solo exhibition titled “HAG—small, contemporary, haggard,” a recreation of the HAG Gallery Davis ran from her tiny Hollywood apartment throughout most of the 1980s.

    The HAG simulacrum sits jewel-like near the end of Participant’s main floor, and is veiled in an artificial twilight haze by the assistance

  • picks October 24, 2012

    Rachel Foullon

    Thomas Hart Benton, Claire McCardell, John Ford, and Susan Howe, among many others, have reimagined America’s pioneering history as a romance of self-sustenance and hard work that carries an authenticity far greater than anything modern life could possibly allow. Rachel Foullon’s first solo exhibition at a museum, “Braided Sun,” which spans almost a decade’s worth of work, is a meditation on this cultural impulse, as she takes the emblems and materials of our hardscrabble agricultural past and transforms them into luminously beautiful, even fetishistic, sculptural objects.

    Foullon’s “Cruel