Barry Schwabsky

  • Rosalyn Drexler

    “Women in Pop art” is a thing these days. And I’m not just talking about a few big show, such as the 2010–11 American touring exhibition “Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists 1958–1968” or the concurrent “Power Up: Female Pop Art” in Vienna. Individual artists including Evelyne Axell, Pauline Boty, Dorothy Iannone, and even Niki de Saint Phalle have lately been accorded critical attention as never before while also exerting influence on younger artists. The welcome reappearance of Rosalyn Drexler is part of this trend, and indeed crucial to it, but “Vulgar Lives,” a presentation of selected

  • Tal R

    “I want to make concrete rooms where the experience is absolutely abstract,” says Tal R. I wonder whether the Israeli-born Danish artist realizes that his aspiration is the reverse of that which was held by the American poet Marianne Moore, who famously desired to create “imaginary gardens with real toads in them.” Not a fiction, then, “with a place for the genuine” in it, but a genuine place capable of housing the notional and ideal. Still, Tal R also seems to be, in his own way, one of those whom Moore called “literalists of the imagination.”

    The “absolutely abstract” inhabiting the space of

  • Uche Okeke

    Born in 1933, Uche Okeke is one of the leading figures in Nigerian art. He remains little known in the United States, despite a 2006 exhibition at the Newark Museum. That show was called “Another Modernity,” and while I understand the thinking behind the title—a plea for an expansion of the conventional understanding of modernism, a reminder to stop forgetting to look beyond the familiar terrain of Europe and North America—there’s something misleading about it, too. At least so it seemed to me after visiting this eye-opening survey of Okeke’s works on paper from 1958 through 1993. It’s

  • David Weiss

    Before there was Fischli & Weiss, there were Peter Fischli and David Weiss. Fischli was still only in his twenties when they began collaborating in 1979, so presumably his solo oeuvre was as yet rather small. Weiss, on the other hand, was already thirty-three. And, as it turns out, he had already been quite prolific, if only on paper, despite the fact that, as Stephan Kunz writes in the catalogue for “David Weiss: Works, 1968–1979”—which was previously shown at the Bündner Kunstmuseum in Chur, Switzerland, where Kunz is the director—his “entry into the world of art did not follow a

  • interviews February 04, 2015

    Alice Channer

    Bodies, absent but for the imprints they’ve left on sensitive materials—above all, clothing—have been a recurrent concern for the London-based sculptor Alice Channer, but lately the imprints have begun to take on architectural scale. For her first museum show in the United States, at the Aspen Art Museum from February 13 to May 31, 2015, she presents a single large outdoor piece, R o c k f a l l, which will then travel to New York this summer for a group show organized by the Public Art Fund. A smaller, indoor version of R o c k f a l l will be shown at Pied-à-terre, San Francisco, February 15

  • Ha Chonghyun

    This selection of nine paintings made between 1977 and 2009 was the first North American exhibition of the work of Ha Chonghyun, a Korean painter born in 1935. As such, it could hardly claim to offer an overview of the artist’s career, but it made a convincing case that he is an artist of the first rank, whose Western peers would include the likes of Giorgio Griffa and Robert Ryman: artists who have put the ways and means of painting to the test but never coolly, always with ardor. Like many Korean abstractionists, Ha expresses the steadfastness of his intention—his ongoing project rising

  • Michelle Grabner

    “The great artist of tomorrow will go underground,” Marcel Duchamp predicted. And how much farther underground can the artist go than adopting the guise of a midwestern suburban housewife? As Thierry de Duve recently pointed out in these pages, the fundamental upshot of Duchamp’s work is not that anything can be an art object but that anyone can be an artist. But are we willing to accept that? Nearly a century after Fountain, Michelle Grabner has proved that the answer is no—some of us are not willing to accept that anyone can be an artist, especially if the person is or appears to be

  • Heather Guertin

    With “Development,” her second solo show (following in quick succession from her first, held this past January in Brooklyn), Heather Guertin confronted viewers with ten largish paintings packed into a fairly small space. The paintings are each quite specific in palette and touch, yet, united in format, they work together like a gang. In the gallery’s entryway, a lonely monitor, discreetly placed to the side, presented a story by the artist, an excerpt from a book in progress called Not Yet Titled, Cambodia (all works 2014), also published as a preface to the show’s catalogue. “In Cambodia we

  • Charles Gaines

    As became evident in “Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974–1989,” a dense yet elegantly presented exhibition curated by Naima J. Keith, the artist’s early works employ rules to systematically manipulate forms in such a way that the underlying systems cannot be inferred from their appearance. Suggesting the influence of both John Cage and Sol LeWitt, the series “Regression,” 1973–74, for example, features permutations of a roughly triangular abstract form that have been marked out in numbered squares on gridded paper; mathematically derived from an unidentified “specific formula,” the shape morphs from

  • “Supports/Surfaces”

    “Is Supports/Surfaces a group or a movement?” asks Rachel Stella in the catalogue to this exhibition. “The boundaries remain indefinite,” responds Bernard Ceysson, whose French gallery copublished the volume with Canada, but the core was a “theoretical debate, which took place among a number of artists over a period of time in various manifestations.” The artists were French—mostly from le Midi rather than Paris—and the time was the late 1960s through the ’70s; the manifestations included not only exhibitions but also publications, including the journal Peinture: Cahiers Théoriques,

  • Dan Colen

    The basics of the Dan Colen story are well known. He emerged as part of a latter-day Rat Pack of hard-partying, skateboarding, incomprehensibly successful New York bad boys (and one girl) who seemed more interested in following the dissolute lifestyle of a Keith Moon or a Darby Crash than in joining the professionalized ranks of earnest MFAs on their long march through the institutions. But the 2009 death by overdose of the scene’s central figure, Dash Snow, appears to have marked a turning point; today, in any case, Colen lives quietly in upstate New York. As for me, I might not have been

  • Zilia Sánchez

    It’s hard to know whether to be gratified or dismayed by the number of extraordinary women artists who continue to be drawn out of the shadows of art history in their old age—gratified, of course, because they’re finally getting the recognition they’ve long deserved, but dismayed that it’s still taking so long. The latest such “case” is that of Zilia Sánchez, born in Cuba in 1926 but a longtime resident of San Juan, Puerto Rico. A prominent figure on the island—as a teacher as well as an artist—she has rarely exhibited elsewhere. This exhibition, “Heróicas Eróticas en Nueva York

  • Eva Rothschild

    She’d already been profusely exhibited in British galleries and institutions for at least five years by then, but my initial encounter with Eva Rothschild’s sculpture was via “Early One Morning: British Art Now.” That 2002 Whitechapel Gallery exhibition proposed a link between some of the rising sculptors of that moment—along with Rothschild, they included Shahin Afrassiabi, Claire Barclay, Jim Lambie, and Gary Webb—and the artists associated with the new British sculpture of the 1960s: Anthony Caro (from whose wonderful 1962 piece the Whitechapel borrowed the title), Phillip King,

  • Dona Nelson

    In an interview twenty years ago, Dona Nelson praised the messiness of late Picasso, describing it as evidence of a “total confidence” that allowed him to do whatever without self-questioning, without looking back. And then she went on to point out that “[Sigmar] Polke has that kind of confidence.” Even before I’d read that old interview, the affinity between Nelson and Polke, one very American and the other sehr deutsch, was nonetheless patent. Granted, Nelson lacks Polke’s reach, but both artists tend to throw all caution to the wind in a way that can sometimes induce something close to pure

  • Arnold Mesches

    Arnold Mesches had his first solo show in 1947, and according to the Life on Mars Gallery website, he has by now had 124 of them, which perhaps gives a new meaning to this one’s title, “Eternal Return.” The exhibition included selections from three series of paintings, “Coming Attractions,” 2003–2007; “SHOCK AND AWE,” 2011; and “Eternal Return,” 2013–14. As a title, “Coming Attractions” recalls the fact that Mesches, who spent most of his career in Los Angeles before moving to New York in 1984, worked in the film industry in the 1940s and ’50s. The first work in the series (not in this show)

  • Pat Steir

    Since 1989, Pat Steir has been working in more or less the same manner—splashing her paint and turpentine on the top of her canvases and letting it find its own way back home to earth. “I . . . use nature to paint a picture of itself by pouring the paint,” she has said, the echo of Jackson Pollock’s “I am nature” in the vicinity of the act of pouring undoubtedly no accident. I never much cared for the results, though. Either the colors seemed too blatant, or the space too shallow, or whatever—until now, twenty-five years later, when suddenly artistic process and the phenomenology of

  • Sue Williams

    Although the title of Sue Williams’s most recent show, “WTC, WWIII, Couch Size,” suggested a two-to-one ratio of global horror to interior decoration, what came to the fore was pure painting of such boisterous energy that it holds the blandness of bourgeois home furnishing at bay even as it sublimates sociopolitical anxiety. It does so by dint of the sheer nerve with which that anxiety is apotropaically invoked—not so much whistling past the graveyard as striking up a whole brass band against death. In a way, this is not terribly different from what Williams was doing in the work with which

  • William King

    Sixty years after William King’s first New York gallery show, his art looks as fresh as ever. The twenty-seven sculptures and six drawings that were on view in this survey ranged in date from 1946 to 2010, and showed a surprising consistency of attitude given the variety of materials (wood, various fabrics, ceramic, vinyl), sizes, and art-historical referents employed, not to mention the various artistic trends and movements King has seen come and go, from Abstract Expressionism through postmodernism to whatever we call what we think is going on at the moment. As for those trends and movements,

  • Thomas Demand

    The title of Thomas Demand’s recent exhibition “Dailies” evokes the cinema—dailies (also known as rushes) being the raw footage of each day’s shooting prepared for viewing the following day by the director and crew. But while Demand has made films in the past (for which he may well have used dailies as part of his working process), this was a show of still photographs. As would be expected by anyone familiar with the work of this photographer, who trained as a sculptor, everything in his new images appears to have been fabricated in the studio from basic materials such as cardboard; as

  • Martin Creed

    What becomes of a Conceptual artist when he runs out of ideas? He becomes, with luck, an artist—without adjectives. Martin Creed has had some pretty great ideas in his day, enough to show that he knows implicitly what some artists never quite get around to learning: that a great art idea is one whose execution makes possible something that you’d never have imagined from its formulation. Case in point: his Work No. 202: Half the air in a given space, 1998, whose Robert Barry–esque ineffability (compare that artist’s designation as works, in 1969, of quantities of inert gases released into