Barry Schwabsky

  • 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

  • Charlie Roberts

    Charlie Roberts may be a native of Kansas who studied in Vancouver and lives in Oslo, but his work makes me think more of Leipzig than of anywhere else. Maybe that’s just to say that his art thrives not on his heritage, education, or context but on inherently unpredictable factors of imagination and energy. In any case, his bluntly stylized figuration suggests an affinity with Christoph Ruckhäberle and the artists associated with Lubok Verlag, and indeed Roberts’s work shows a similar fascination with folk art and popular graphics.

    Sharing the exhibition’s title, “Sporty Girls,” was a series of

  • Beauford Delaney

    This was the first exhibition of Beauford Delaney’s work in New York since a solo presentation at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2002, and it couldn’t have been more timely. In his lifetime (1901–1979), Delaney’s uneasy oscillation between abstract and figurative modes of painting was probably pretty hard for viewers to wrap their heads around; these days it’s almost par for the course. He was passionately championed by literary lions such as James Baldwin (for whom he was something of a father figure) and Henry Miller, but his place in the history of art still seems uncertain. Yet as time goes

  • Robert Bordo

    Born in Montreal, Robert Bordo has been a New Yorker for forty years, and his work a point of reference for painters here since his first exhibition at the Brooke Alexander Gallery in 1987. Does the title of his most recent show, “Three Point Turn,” signal a volte-face, a recantation? Thankfully not. But while Bordo hasn’t shifted into reverse, he has changed gears, as could be seen by comparing the eleven new paintings (from 2012 and 2013) exhibited on the ground floor at Alexander and Bonin with the eleven older ones upstairs (two from 1996, the rest from between 2007 and 2011). A telegraphic

  • Zach Harris

    Aesthetics, as Jacques Derrida famously observed, “presupposes a discourse on the limit between the inside and the outside of the art object, in this case a discourse on the frame.” A number of painters over the years have taken this discourse in hand, as it were: One thinks of Howard Hodgkin, Neil Jenney, or Christian Eckart, each in his own way an artist who has made efforts to unsettle the distinction between painting and frame, thereby leading us to wonder what, if anything, is intrinsic to the work. Another such painter is Zach Harris, a Californian who recently exhibited fifteen pieces in

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat

    I’ve never seen a commercial gallery show as well attended as this exhibition of nearly sixty works by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The artist was once a divisive figure, but no more: The crowds who poured in to see his work didn’t imagine they were coming to see something controversial. They were coming to see the work of a legend, a man whose life has been endowed by the press and cinema with all the tragic glamour of a James Dean or Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Cobain. But they also saw art that has turned out to have far more staying power than many would have once predicted.

    The show presented the full

  • “André Thomkins: Eternal Network”

    The Swiss painter, draftsman, and object maker André Thomkins (1930–1985) was one of the more protean artists of the postwar era. The characteristics of his art, he said, were “metamorphosis, erasing time, banality, wit, precision.” Close in spirit to his friends in the Fluxus movement, with their ironic, playful attitudes, he also possessed a genuinely Romantic feeling for nature and its infinite transformations. Yet those who smile at his witty palindromes in various languages—STRATEGY: GET ARTS, for instance—may miss the point of his

  • Joan Snyder

    An artist’s work can change a lot over the course of his or her career, but the best artists always remain themselves. I hadn’t realized just how much this is true of Joan Snyder until I saw this selection of thirty-three works, “Symphony: Early Works on Paper, Recent Paintings.” The continuity between past and present is most evident when one compares Snyder’s new paintings to her early drawings—much more so than when the comparison is made with her early paintings. That’s not to say her early paintings are irrelevant to her present concerns, but there is a difference. As the very title

  • Luc Tuymans

    Has it ever been summer in Luc Tuymans’s paintings? I doubt it. So by titling his most recent exhibition “The Summer Is Over,” was Tuymans just promising more of what we’ve learned to expect from him? Not quite. Although the saturnine sensibility and “diagnostic gaze” that his work has consistently evoked over the past two decades have hardly lightened, there is a difference. A typical strategy of his has been to paint things that at first glance appear innocuous (although his tersely tremulous, mordantly taciturn touch in and of itself may make you want to look at them suspiciously) while

  • Tom Fairs

    If you’re looking for someone who maintained the supposedly old-fashioned ideal—a cynic would call it the myth—of the pure artist who is focused solely on the work itself, without a thought of fame, fashion, or money, you could do worse than to check out Tom Fairs. When Fairs died in 2007, he was essentially unknown. A lifelong Londoner born in 1925, he studied stained-glass design and then became a teacher of drawing and theater design. Only after his retirement in 1987, apparently, did he begin to focus on painting. His ideal was Pierre Bonnard. He never had a one-person show,

  • Roland Flexner

    Automatism meets science fiction meets the sublime landscape in the one hundred works on paper (all Untitled, 2012) that, along with a single large painting in metal leaf on canvas dating from 1984, made up Roland Flexner’s recent show. Most of the drawings were presented as groups of nine or ten, but they were best taken in either as an overwhelming mass or one by one—that is, as so many manifestations of processes insistently repeated, or as singular expressions of the ever-changing play between intention and chance. Flexner once told the critic Faye Hirsch that his project is twofold:

  • Mary Weatherford

    Mary Weatherford moved from New York back to her native Southern California in 1999. Ever since, her abstract paintings have drawn their inspiration from the landscape of her home state, focusing on motifs such as a coastal rock at Malibu or a cave at Pismo Beach, as well as on less geographically specific details such as tangles of vine or the remnants of sea life that wash up on the shore. Weatherford is not afraid to wear these inspirations on her sleeve, even at the risk of seeming naive: Over the years, she’s repeatedly affixed seashells and starfish to her fields of exuberant color. If

  • Guillaume Bresson

    I probably shouldn’t like Guillaume Bresson’s work; it’s really not my thing. And what kind of thing is that, that’s not mine? Well, it’s something like what certain Italian critics of the 1980s promoted under labels like ipermanierismo, anacronismo, or pittura colta: a way of painting that depends on using stylistic codes taken from the art of the Renaissance, Mannerism, and above all the Baroque and somehow updating them. Not that it’s absolutely impossible to make good painting today while channeling styles of past centuries—I loved John Currin’s neo-Cranach phase, and would still go

  • Simryn Gill

    My Own Private Angkor, 2007–2009, is a document that looks like a dream. Simryn Gill’s suite of ninety black-and-white photographs, which has previously been exhibited at the 2011 Istanbul Biennial, was taken near Port Dickson, Malaysia, a seaside town that in recent decades has been developed as a beach resort. Gill, who will represent Australia in next year’s Venice Biennale, made these images in a housing complex that was constructed there in the 1980s but then abandoned and never occupied. At some point, the houses were ransacked for metals to be sold as scrap; among other things, the vandals

  • Bettina Pousttchi

    First of all, it is probably worth getting one’s prepositions right. Bettina Pousttchi showed her new work at the Schirn Kunsthalle, but not so much in it; more precisely, her exhibition took place primarily on it: With her new installation, Framework, 2012, she gave the Schirn a new facade. In doing so, she was following up on a work from 2009, Echo, which was installed on the exterior of the Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin for six months. That piece was inspired by the exterior of the recently demolished Palast der Republik, which had been the seat of the East German parliament as well as a cultural

  • Richard Avedon

    This extraordinary exhibition, “Richard Avedon: Murals & Portraits,” brought together four vast group portraits made between 1969 and 1971, ranging from eight to over ten feet tall and from twenty to more than thirty feet long, in addition to a multitude of smaller portraits made between 1960 and 1976 as well as contact sheets and documentary materials. These were housed within a specially designed interior architecture by David Adjaye that functioned as a perfect machine for viewing, with walls creating sight lines that focused attention either on one of the four “murals” (Andy Warhol and

  • Moyra Davey

    Toronto-born photographer—or, to use a term more common north of the forty-fifth parallel, Photoconceptualist—Moyra Davey has been quietly at work in New York for more than twenty years, garnering a strong fan base among fellow artists, more recently coming to broader attention. Her recent show in New York, irresistibly titled “Spleen. Indolence. Torpor. Ill-humour.,” was essentially a meditation on the presence and absence of the human figure before the camera, articulated in three parts: the approximately hour-long HD video Les Goddesses, 2011 (which was also screened in April as