Andrew Witt

  • Jeff Wall, The Old Prison, 1987, transparency in lightbox, 27 1/2 x 90 1/8".
    picks February 15, 2023

    Jeff Wall

    There is a figure in Jeff Wall’s light-box photograph, The Old Prison, 1987, that is easy to miss. In reproductions, he is barely visible, lost in the long and protracted expansiveness of the panorama. Viewing the work in person, one sees the man pop out of the picture, punctuating the landscape in his red sweater. He stands close to the abandoned structure with his back turned away from the camera, looking off into the distance. The man is what Germans call a Rückenfigur, or back figure, a Romantic symbol synonymous with the work of Caspar David Friedrich. But unlike Friedrich’s paintings,

  • Camille Henrot, What Did U Say, 2019, watercolor on paper, 30 × 22". From the series “System of Attachment,” 2019–21.

    Camille Henrot

    When Camille Henrot set out to make a series of paintings during the first Covid-19 lockdown last year, she decided to reduce her palette to an intense and radiant red. This red seemed to channel the color of exhaustion, the crimson she saw when she closed her eyes and turned her face to a bright light—an emphatically physical mode of vision, explicitly screened through her own flesh and blood. On view as part of her exhibition “Mother Tongue,” curated by Julika Bosch, Henrot’s 2020 series “Is Today Tomorrow?” confronts the chaos of everyday life—sleep-deprivation, self-isolation—as a mother

  • Brook Hsu, Vicky, 2021, ink on canvas, 78 3/4 x 63".
    picks October 13, 2021

    Brook Hsu

    The faces that greet us in Brook Hsu’s exhibition “Fictions” glow as if animated by some phosphorescent substance. If they seem eerily familiar, it’s because the artist has borrowed her subjects from the films of Takeshi Kitano, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Tsai Ming-liang, transforming these characters into specters who seem to float on the ambient green ground of the canvas. In Nishi and Vicky, all works 2021, Kitano’s jaded detective from Hana-bi (1997) and the entrancing hostess from Millennium Mambo (2001), respectively, stare as if they were standing outside of time. Articulated through a slight

  • Rosemary Mayer, Endless Work (version 1), 1972, colored pencil and graphite on paper, 11 × 8 1/2''.
    picks October 15, 2020

    Rosemary Mayer

    Between 1972 and 1973, Rosemary Mayer constructed a series of innovative cloth sculptures dedicated to both forgotten and celebrated women of history. Hung, draped, and suspended from the wall, the works took on increasingly ambitious designs, incorporating cheesecloth and satin. Although abstract and nonrepresentational in their composition and material facture, the sculptures were conceptualized to serve a commemorative function. Hroswitha, 1973, named after the German medieval poet, thrusts out from the wall as if it were a figurehead on the bow of a ship. Animated and awakened, the abstracted

  • View of Josephine Pryde, 2020, Galerie Neu, Berlin.
    picks July 10, 2020

    Josephine Pryde

    Stretched across the entire south facade of Galerie Neu like a second skin is Exterior, Night, Day, 2020, a large collage of photographs of Neolithic carvings taken by Josephine Pryde during walks in Northumberland, England, and Galicia, Spain. The etchings, which date to the first millennium BCE and can be found throughout the western stretch of Europe, have been exposed to the elements and appear worn, smooth to the touch. Some are covered with lichen, dirt, and dead leaves; others collect pools of rainwater. Just below Exterior, Night, Day, in a window display adjacent to the gallery’s

  • Christopher Williams, Bergische Bauernscheune, Junkersholz, Leichlingen September 29, 2009, 2010, archival pigment print, 20 x 24".
    picks January 24, 2020

    Christopher Williams

    In Christopher Williams’s 2015 Whitechapel exhibition “The Production Line of Happiness,” the artist retained and incorporated the wall labels of the Malevich-inspired group exhibition “Adventures of the Black Square” that had immediately preceded his presentation. To further emphasize the reference to the previous exhibition, Williams fabricated wallpaper with lurid green stripes inspired by the French Conceptualist, Daniel Buren. The effect was surprising, incisive, and expedient, striking a dialogue between the historical legacies of abstraction and his own work. In their battered form, the

  • Senga Nengudi, Performance Piece, 1977, triptych (detail). Performance view, Maren Hassinger. Photo: Harmon Outlaw. © Senga Nengudi 2019.
    picks October 14, 2019

    Senga Nengudi

    When Senga Nengudi moved to New York in 1971, after completing her MFA at California State University, Los Angeles, she began shaping large sheets of durable, plastic flag fabric into figural silhouettes. Without a gallery to show her works, Nengudi installed her cutouts in the hallways and on the fire escapes of her apartment building in Harlem, and fastened them in alleyways, streets, and abandoned lots throughout the city. She called these forms “spirits,” or “souls,” and was drawn to how they would move and murmur when caught by a sudden breeze or a slight shift in the afternoon light. While

  • View of “Evan Lee: Full Circle,” 2019.
    picks October 07, 2019

    Evan Lee

    Evan Lee’s series of paintings “Fortune Happiness,” 2018, is distinguished by long shadows and listless figures that might be found in Edward Hopper’s canvases. But in Lee’s work, these figures are placed in city sites not pictured by his predecessor: salons, food courts, Chinese restaurants. His figures seem isolated, but they are never really so—heads down, they are entirely absorbed in their work, or in the screens of their phones.

    In Woman Under a Tree and Women with Umbrellas in the Sun, both 2019, Lee adopts a garish, almost Fauvist palette. In the former work, there is little chromatic

  • Hito Steyerl, Abstract, 2012, two-channel HD video, color, sound, 7 minutes 30 seconds.
    picks March 26, 2019

    Hito Steyerl

    A striking detail found at the margins of Hito Steyerl’s essay-film, Abstract, 2012, are the calluses that mark the tips of the artist’s fingers. These calluses are shown in a long countershot of Steyerl holding her phone in the sprawling Pariser Platz in Berlin. The artist is shown filming the severe facade of the weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin, whose bombs killed her childhood friend, Andrea Wolf, while she was fighting in the Kurdish resistance. The calluses index Steyerl’s obstinate presence and her determination to reanimate the residues of violence into a constellation of historical

  • Jill Mulleady, This Connection is Not Private, 2018, oil on linen, 66 x 58".
    picks December 03, 2018

    Jill Mulleady

    It is the twilight hour, a painter’s hour in Point Lobos (all works 2018). Bioluminescence creeps in at high tide as two women crouch at the water’s edge. What does the painter see then? A meeting place of strange currents. A body dries itself after skinny-dipping, another takes a long drag from a cigarette. Moments of respite glimpsed through a chain-link fence. In This Connection is Not Private, a man flips through his phone, while off in the distance the landscape burns, though Jill Mulleady’s figures express no concern for the disaster pictured on the horizon—they stare blankly, obstinately,

  • Rebecca Brewer, Silent Running, 2018, wool felt, aluminum hooks, steel chain, 15 1/2 x 5 x 1'.
    picks February 15, 2018


    Rebecca Brewer’s wool felt collage Silent Running, 2018, is hung like a specimen stretched out for examination. The textile is organized through the interlacings of a grid in which the dead matter of nature has accumulated above and below the surface—suspended, ossified, floating. The work resembles a net that has trawled through the ocean, corralling what looks like flotsam and jetsam.

    The closest sculptural equivalent to this hanging textile is Eva Hesse’s Contingent, 1969, a work whose fragility is counterbalanced by the associative violence of the hooks that hold the piece in place. Like

  • View of “Brent Wadden: Two Scores,” 2018.
    picks January 29, 2018

    Brent Wadden

    The surfaces of Brent Wadden’s large woven geometric abstractions repel one’s attention. The combination of chroma and line prevents one from becoming fully absorbed in either element, similar to the interaction of color and pattern in the compositions of Bridget Riley. Lines waver in the warp and weft of these works, which the artist calls paintings. Even though pieces such as Score 1 (Salt Spring) (all works cited, 2018) resemble the hard-edge abstractions of the previous century, and although the artist usually stretches the weavings around a support, that classification seems strangely