Ara H. Merjian

  • JANNIS KOUNELLIS

    Curated by Germano Celant

    As one of the artists central to Arte Povera, Jannis Kounellis (1936–2017) transcended that influential but limiting rubric with a body of work as striking in lyrical allusions as it is rich in material immediacy. Curated by Germano Celant, who named and championed the movement, this retrospective, the first since the artist’s death, will feature seventy works created between 1958 and 2016, thus providing a comprehensive assessment of his aesthetic evolution—from the proto-Pop paintings he made in postwar Rome to his installations of quotidian things inducing sensory

  • TAKING SHAPE

    IN COLD SPRING, New York, just a few stops before Dia:Beacon on Metro-North’s Hudson Line and across the river from Storm King Art Center, sits a new museum: Magazzino Italian Art. Its founders—Nancy Olnick, a New York City native, and Giorgio Spanu, from Sardinia by way of Paris—plainly envisioned the space as an additional destination along an already distinguished art corridor. Well before it opened its doors, Magazzino was expected to fill a pedagogical gap: the lack of a wide audience familiar with postwar and contemporary Italian art. Despite the relative prominence of Arte Povera

  • “Giorgio Griffa: A Retrospective 1968-2014”

    Featuring three dozen works, this exhibition forms a retrospective in nuce of an artist only belatedly receiving his institutional due. Born in Turin in 1936, Giorgio Griffa came of age when painting’s increasingly embattled status often gave rise to extrapictorial experiments. If Griffa clung doggedly to painting, he refused to stretch it into framed propriety. Instead, he developed the technique he uses to this day: Applying acrylic directly to unprimed canvas, he folds and unfolds works unceremoniously, letting creases add to the effect of his pastel strokes, which

  • “Italian Futurism”

    FROM THE FRONT PAGE of Paris’s Le Figaro in February 1909, the “Founding and Manifesto of Futurism” heralded not only a new cultural movement but, in the same hectoring breath, its own proleptic obsolescence. “When we are forty, others who are younger and stronger will throw us into the wastebasket, like useless manuscripts . . . !” So declared the Futurist poet and impresario F. T. Marinetti, hurling his now-famous paeans to youth, speed, and the sovereignty of the machine. He vowed to demolish celebrated monuments, artworks, and academies—those past glories to which Italy’s cultural

  • picks March 21, 2014

    Jordan Kantor

    Jordan Kantor works consistently with the visual afterlives of the French modernist tradition, as evidenced in his 2011 show, which included photographic reproductions of Monet’s paintings, passed through the further medium of slides. In his latest exhibition, which includes painting and collage, it is Manet whose work lingers in the wings—particularly his 1867 self-organized exhibition that was subjected at the time to charges of absurd eclecticism (the gallery invitation alludes coyly to Manet’s “Anevue de l’Alma” exhibition, printed in the same design and featuring the word “tableaux”).

  • picks January 22, 2014

    Miller Updegraff

    In a kind of homecoming for the artist George Grosz—who lived and taught in New York City for two decades until his death in 1955—Miller Updegraff’s latest solo show lends new life to the exiled German’s most salient motifs: bourgeois pigs and prostitutes, military officials and disaffected city denizens. Adapting tropes from Grosz’s drawings of the 1920s, Updegraff’s paintings form at once a palimpsest and a compendium of his work: withering X-rays of Weimar Germany’s social and political angst, rendered in caricatural line. Interestingly, in several instances Updegraff does not use pigment to

  • picks October 29, 2013

    “On the Relativity of Distance (and Some of its Consequences)”

    From Milton Gendel’s reviews in Art News of Alberto Burri’s work to Cy Twombly’s perennial presence on the Italian peninsula, the postwar art scenes in Italy and the United States have long enjoyed a good degree of cross-fertilization. “On the Relativity of Distance (and Some of its Consequences)” takes up this intersection, the first part featuring work by artists practicing in both countries between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s and the second segment featuring work by contemporary artists at the National Academy School who have worked under the sway of this earlier generation. Rather than

  • film October 29, 2013

    Vampire Diaries

    “NOSFERATU. Does this word not sound like the deathbird calling your name at midnight?” The rhetorical question of this introductory title card in F. W. Murnau’s 1922 film Nosferatu would seem a heavy-handed addendum to Bram Stoker’s classic. And yet, few films of the silent era can lay claim to a more nuanced treatment of gothic gloom than Murnau’s. Film Forum offers up this hymn to the night just in time for Halloween, along with a 1979 homage by Werner Herzog. With outsized ears, rat-like teeth, and two sets of hideously long nails, Herzog’s eponymous count—played by the controversial Klaus

  • picks August 13, 2013

    Brian Duggan

    Built specifically for the ISCP gallery space, Brian Duggan’s latest installation, “We Like It Up Here, It’s Windy, Really Nice,” recreates the roof of an Indonesian train carriage. The whimsy of the installation’s title takes on an ironic clang in light of what it actually represents: concrete balls hung over railway lines by the country’s government to discourage individuals from riding atop train roofs. In Duggan’s work, metal-colored balls attached to heavy chains dangle ominously above a gangway of bowed plywood. Animated by fans, the balls’ kineticism—along with the noise of an attendant

  • picks July 24, 2013

    Cameron Gray

    Huddled in a corner sporting green hair and an amusing poker face, Cameron Gray figured as a part of his own exhibition’s opening night. Mustard and ketchup bottles lay strewn next to a stack of free T-shirts featuring one of the artist’s designs. On the walls, a few sexy pinups have had their faces replaced with psychedelic patterns, while a sultry photograph features Marlon Brando with his eyes topped by two fake donuts. The admittedly garish aesthetics here coupled with the artist’s impish narcissism (see the exhibition’s title, “Cameron Gray: Birth of a Legend”) seem tempered by a genuine

  • picks July 11, 2013

    “October 18, 1977”

    Assembled by guest curator Birgit Rathsmann, “October 18, 1977” brings together nineteen artists to reflect upon a single day and its rapport with the anxiety of its era. On this night, three members of the militant West German Communist Baader-Meinhof group died in prison, ostensibly through collective suicide—a ruling that has proven polemical since its official decree. Having assassinated several high-profile bankers and industrialists, the group loomed large in the turbulent German Autumn of 1977, in which the dreams of the New Left bled into something more nightmarish. The Baader-Meinhof

  • picks July 08, 2013

    Ben Grasso

    Nearly all of Ben Grasso’s paintings on view in his latest solo exhibition reveal a kinetic, transitive world of architecture on the move—a status underscored by titles like Renovation I, Renovation II, Adaptation, and Rebuilding a Lost Civilization, (all 2012). The building in this last image floats in a vaguely axonometric space, at once coming undone and revealing how it might be put together. Here, several of thirteen paintings recall computer modeling or assembly diagrams. These are not, however, mere technical exercises. The irony of an unlikely midair suspension is tempered with the