Anne Prentnieks

  • picks October 03, 2017

    Judy Chicago

    In this “grab her by the pussy” presidential era, symbolism seems insufficient as protest—and yet it drove the reclamation of a historically derogatory term for female anatomy, giving rise to thousands of pink hats with kitten ears. Likewise, in the works that make up “Judy Chicago’s Pussies,” Chicago explores the iconography of the pussy as both feminine core and feline house pet, channeling wit, fury, and the inherent bodily and metaphysical power of womanhood.

    Traditional equivalences between cats and women—both seen as mercurial, manipulative, and cruelly seductive (think “sex kittens”)—are

  • picks February 24, 2017

    Andrea Joyce Heimer

    Of all the deadly human sins, envy is perhaps the most unavoidable. It makes us mourn the things we never had in the first place while reminding us of what we have to lose. In “A Jealous Person,” Andrea Joyce Heimer’s new exhibition, the artist has made narrative, quilt-like paintings that yearn for some sense of firm identity. Her complex renderings of flattened domestic interiors and natural landscapes are psychological minidramas. And their titles, though verbose, are deeply personal.

    I Am Jealous Of Those Who Can See Their Own Facial Features Echoing Down Their Family Lines Like A Voice

  • picks January 27, 2017

    James Siena

    Like the labyrinthine, filigreed patterns of an illuminated manuscript, James Siena’s new drawings, divided into three series—“Wanderers,” “Nihilisms,” and “Manifolds,” all 2015–16—transmogrify their subjects into florid, and occasionally textual, tableaux. Nihilism XI, 2016, has the phrase “JUST ANOTHER EON OF CHAOS AND CONFUSION WELCOME ABOARD,” drawn in intricate curls of script. Interwoven forms, like Celtic knots, levitate throughout the artist’s “Manifolds.” They are as finely wrought and as visually meditative as mandalas and are made from interlocking, braided-together, jewel-toned ribs.

  • picks September 13, 2016

    Inka Essenhigh

    Filled with fantastical paintings that becloud the currents between humankind and the natural world, this survey of Inka Essenhigh’s work unveils the artist’s gentle progression from flat, graphic works—evocative of Japanese woodcuts and various anime traditions—to more softly articulated compositions that call to mind early Disney and, of course, Bosch and Bruegel: the animator’s narrative forebears. With hot, acidy colors, Essenhigh contrasts the inner beasts of our nature against environmental forces both inevitable and engineered. Green Goddess II, 2009, offers up a ghostly green earth

  • picks June 10, 2016

    Billy Al Bengston

    Two concurrent exhibitions focus on the work of Billy Al Bengston in the decades following the 1966 close of Los Angeles’s epochal Ferus Gallery. Bengston’s idiosyncratic practice, influenced by the West Coast’s surf and high-gloss car cultures, cemented his reputation as a deeply original progenitor of LA cool. “Warm California,” on view at Andrew Kreps, serves up Bengston from 1972–76 via his “Draculas” series of works: screens, which feel like stained glass, painted on canvas and either stretched on frames or mounted between dowel rods, with muted depictions of irises (maybe the Dracula’s

  • picks February 26, 2016

    Shara Hughes

    Shara Hughes’s imagination yields rich, weird stuff. In earlier works, sundry abstract and natural forms are pushed through open-ended narratives within vibrant domestic spaces. In these dozen or so newer paintings, her psyche decides to peer out the living room window so that we can be made privy to an assortment of breezy and prismatic landscapes that plumb the depths of her idiosyncratic interior and exterior world views.

    Hughes deftly combines the richly saturated palettes of the early Impressionists with the darker psychological tones of more recent picture-makers such as Forrest Bess, Philip

  • picks December 11, 2015

    Rudolf Stingel

    Like a messianic magician unveiling his tricks, Rudolf Stingel unmasks shadowy illusions with pragmatic showmanship in works that appear to be one thing (spatial, metallic, liquid, carpet) but in fact are quite another (flat, matte, solid, paint). He even once produced a pamphlet of instructions for how to create his paintings: Here’s how it’s done, kids!

    This latest show is made up of three large paintings and a smaller work on paper. The paintings, all from 2012, could have come straight from his how-to manual. Their monochromatic russet surfaces seem to glimmer in the light, the weave patterns

  • picks November 27, 2015

    Joseph Kosuth

    Prone to immersive installations over the course of his influential career as a pioneer of Conceptualism, Joseph Kosuth presents more than forty of his text- and light-based works from the past fifty years in the jam-packed exhibition “Agnosia, an Illuminated Ontology.” Words, phrases, diagrams, and pictures creep and crawl along the walls and ceiling beams, with their guts—electric cords and darkened stems of neon—on full view. It is a retinal overload that simultaneously blurs and distills the cacophony of meanings within each work.

    Some examples of the chaos, organized neither by chronology

  • picks November 09, 2015

    Deana Lawson

    Deana Lawson's candid portraits are, like one's identity, at times crafted or found, but regardless are a composite of history and politics (of, in no particular order, geography, gender, and race). Her current show at the Art Institute of Chicago gathers together fourteen of her recent and semi-recent photographs showing meticulously posed moments, documentary-style shots, and reprints of found visual relics. The pictures point to the gendered experience and aesthetics of blackness in certain geographies, among them Brooklyn, Haiti, Jamaica, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Detroit. Some

  • picks September 18, 2015

    Dana Schutz

    A broadly accepted metonym for claustrophobia and unwanted social confrontation, the elevator receives top billing in Dana Schutz’s new series, “Fight in an Elevator,” 2015 (a title to which one could aptly add “and Variations on a Theme”). In energetic, large-scale paintings and smaller black-and-white (though no less vibrant) drawings, the artist trains her acerbic eye on the phenomenon of tight spaces and how people—specifically, Schutz’s misshapen, often deranged characters—deal with them. Where Schutz’s past works have long explored various surreal state-of-being narratives, these new

  • picks August 14, 2015

    Jack Pierson

    The island is a premier existential metaphor, and the works in “onthisisland,” Jack Pierson’s exhibition of some sixty-plus ephemeral oil and watercolor paintings, graphite drawings, and driftwood assemblages, offer new and fluid insight into the artist psyche. Pierson created the series during a four-month stay on the Floridian island of North Captiva, and the works, mostly small in scale, expose the poetics of process. Pierson practices his own variation on automatic drawing—he’s dubbed the results “Anagogic Paintings”—based on the Surrealist method. At once lushly abstract and confidently

  • picks July 22, 2015

    Peter Doig

    Deceptively immaterial yet richly layered, thirty of Peter Doig’s wall-size paintings, along with dozens of prints and studies, open like portals into other dimensions—temporal, physical, metaphysical. Arranged neither thematically nor chronologically, the paintings often appear to shimmer in and out of focus, like panes of stained glass stacked atop varying light sources. In Milky Way, 1989–90, a black panel of pointillist stars is reflected in water, bordered by moonlit lime-green foliage. Cinematic yet still, the painting shows Doig’s early interest in capturing darkness and light, shadows

  • picks July 10, 2015

    Ane Hjort Guttu

    The title of Norwegian artist Ane Hjort Guttu’s exhibition of five film and installation works, “Eating or Opening a Window or Just Walking Dully Along,” refers to a line in W. H. Auden’s poem “Musée des Beaux Arts” describing artists’ portrayals of people’s busy indifference to those who suffer. Like Auden does in his poem, the characters in Guttu’s ambitious film Time Passes, 2015, reflect on Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, ca. 1558, and its depiction of farmers and seamen oblivious to Icarus, just fallen from the sun, splashing in the sea beside them.

  • picks June 05, 2015

    Chantal Joffe

    “Night Self-Portraits,” Chantal Joffe’s newest series of works includes fifteen sumptuous wet-on-wet paintings that depict Joffe and/or her daughter, Esme, in various poses, both solo and together as mother and child. A painter’s painter, Joffe treats the medium with an assured yet gentle, Hockneyesque irreverence, applying fluid and vibrant swaths of paint over richly colored grounds that she allows to peek through, subtly electrifying the images and suggesting the tint of artificial indoor lights. Like her pictures, Joffe’s titles are matter of fact and descriptive: Self-Portrait in a Red

  • picks May 22, 2015

    Xylor Jane

    In her latest show, Xylor Jane continues to explore the visual and cognitive qualities of numbers, mapping them onto canvases in compositions that resemble complex puzzles or decks for dark arts. In some works, such as Twelve Twenty One and Leap Second, both 2015, and RX Rose, 2012, Jane overlays staccato spots of paint on a solid ground. In others such as Threes, 2015, she applies a spectrum of hues in tightly packed, geometrically allocated spaces. This technique is magnified in Twenty Nine, 2015, a surface of glossy black paint brushed in different directions, each segment reflecting light

  • picks April 17, 2015

    Jason Metcalf

    “Hie to Kolob,” Jason Metcalf’s cathedral-like exhibition, explores the quintessentially American qualities of regional evangelism and religious art, especially the pioneer’s folklore of Mormonism. Metcalf himself was raised in Utah, and his personal history is deeply steeped in the residual culture around the state’s predominant religion. Titled after a Mormon hymn that incants aspirations to reach Kolob, a star recognized by the LDS Church for its supposed proximity to God. “Hie to Kolob” is a winking homage to the massive Christus installation at Salt Lake’s Temple Square, colloquially known

  • picks January 23, 2015

    Devin Troy Strother

    Given the current acme of self-referencing Buzzfeed culture—the phrase 90s nostalgia is a nearly ubiquitous descriptor for the millennials’ tics—Devin Troy Strother’s new works are a timely celebration of the cannibalizing nature of this generation’s zeitgeist. Here, Strother gives the 1990s Warner Bros. flick Space Jam top billing as an aesthetic jumping-off point for his lively installations, paving two of three rooms with basketball-court-inspired flooring and the third with loopy, space-themed carpet. Though three life-size cartoon-cutout Knicks introduce the show, Michael Jordan is center

  • picks December 21, 2014

    Steven and William Ladd

    Like chapters from a Nordic storybook, the works in the latest show by brothers Steven and William Ladd, “Mary Queen of the Universe,” layer narrative over tradition with folksy sincerity. Created via rigorous collaboration, the prints, topographical sculptures, books, and drawings here embody a meditative additive quality, repeating unique gestures and forms across invented landscapes that pay homage to the brothers’ shared memories. Abstractly functioning as allegory rather than illustration, the works are visually carved neatly into two- and three-dimensional compartments; grid-like drawings

  • picks October 24, 2014

    Niki de Saint Phalle

    Spanning two floors of galleries at the Grand Palais, this overdue comprehensive survey of Niki de Saint Phalle’s work begins with the French artist’s early “assemblages” of the late 1950s and ’60s, in which she packed together dolls, trinkets, and other domestic objects into densely textured sculptures of brides on horses, as in Horse and Bride, 1964, and of gigantic women giving birth, as in Bénédicte, 1965. The show is organized thematically, showing the evolution from these pieces to her iconic Gaudi-meets-Botero “Nanas” series from the mid-1960s, three of which rotate below spotlights on

  • picks October 23, 2014

    Mickalene Thomas

    At the center of Mickalene Thomas’s new body of paintings, drawings, and video work, a stately portrait reprises the artist’s depictions of one of her longtime models, Marie (Marie Femme Noire Nue Couchee 2, 2014). Building on Thomas’s challenge to the machismo innate in the Western canon, Thomas has endowed Marie with a single large eye, integrating a theme of seeing and being seen that reaches back to Manet’s Olympia and Titian’s Venus of Urbino. The motif replays throughout this new series of portraits, which are richly constructed by Thomas’s uniquely styled applications of paint. Translucent