Barry Schwabsky

  • 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

  • Eileen Quinlan

    The mostly color work that Eileen Quinlan showed in the “New Photography 2013” show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York this past fall is evidently abstraction yet just as clearly consists of pictures “of” something or other, though what that might be is not readily identifiable. In those photographs, Quinlan—like Cubist painters a century ago—leaves just enough pictorial space to preserve the idea of the image as depiction. By contrast, the twenty-four black-and-white prints (all but one unframed) in her one-person exhibition “Curtains” at Miguel Abreu Gallery suggest that even

  • Mark Strand

    A onetime poet laureate exhibiting his collages? That sounds like another one of those slightly embarrassing crossover exercises on the order of Bob Dylan showing his paintings or philosophers moonlighting as curators. Mark Strand, however, is no Johnny-come-lately when it comes to pictorial culture; he studied with Josef Albers at Yale, where he earned a BFA in 1959. And the pieces in this exhibition—fifteen small abstract collages made between 2011 and 2013, each titled only with the name of the city where it was made, either New York or Madrid—could never have been the work of a

  • 43 Salón (inter) Nacional de Artistas

    Is there really a need for yet another international biennial? I wouldn’t have thought so, but this exhibition, titled “SaberDesconocer” (To Know Not to Know), following no less than forty-two previous incarnations of the “national salon of Colombian artists,” has revised its designation to become the 43 Salón (inter) Nacional de Artistas—and with those gingerly parens and that distinctly lowercase i, the biennial has managed to find just the right balance, showcasing the strength of Colombian art by indicating its broader context, highlighting both connections and particularities. Along

  • “Les Aventures de la vérité”

    The once nouveau philosophe Bernard-Henri Lévy is not only the curator of “Les Aventures de la vérité: Peinture et philosophie: un récit” (The Adventures of Truth: Painting and Philosophy: A Narrative) but also one of its artists, of a sort. Although you won’t find his name on the checklist, perhaps it should be there, thanks to a series of videos for which he asked artists, not all of them represented by works in the exhibition, to read passages of philosophy. In one of the diary excerpts that constitute Lévy’s main catalogue text, he relates how Jeff Koons declined to read the extract from

  • Giorgio Morandi

    GIORGIO MORANDI was a legendary homebody, sticking close to his studio in Bologna most of the time and summering less than an hour’s drive away in the rustic village of Grizzana (renamed Grizzana Morandi some twenty years after his death in 1964). But somehow it was a surprise to learn that, even late in life when he’d become internationally renowned, exhibiting in New York and São Paulo as well as across Europe, Morandi only once set foot outside Italy’s borders, going just as far as Switzerland. I couldn’t help but reflect on what this might imply about his centrality in last year’s Documenta