Brian Droitcour

  • View of “Dignity and Self-Respect,” 2011.
    picks December 01, 2011

    Ryan Trecartin, “A Painting Show,” Josh Kline

    Sentences exploded. The sedentary warped action. Space replaced place. In “Ryan Trecartin: Any Ever” at MoMA PS1, Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch installed sculpture, video, and music to inspire continual shifts of focus, so that everything flickered between object and ambience. It was a thrilling, wholly convincing expression of the smelting of language, self, and the world in telecom’s foundry.

    I feel weird writing about painting but I love to look at it, and the best place to do that in 2011 was “A Painting Show” at Harris Lieberman. It was a constellation of conversations and influences: Elizabeth

  • Left: Ragnar Kjartansson, Bliss, 2011. (Photo: Paula Court) Right: Artist Ragnar Kjartansson with Young Kim. (Photo: Billy Farrell Agency)
    diary November 24, 2011

    McLaren and McLuhan

    BEFORE RAGNAR KJARTANSSON was named the winner of the Malcolm Award, Young Kim, longtime companion of prize namesake Malcolm McLaren, told us how it would make the winner feel: “This award will let at least one artist know that people do love him, people do care.” For those assembled at the Bowery Hotel on Monday night to celebrate the end of Performa 11, Kim shared memories of her late partner moping about e-mails that curators did not answer. She quoted him, affecting a pathetic tone: “No one loves me. No one’s gotten back.” If Kjartansson still has doubts about the universal love for him, I

  • Daniel Gordon, Nectarines in Orange and Blue, 2011, color photograph, 24 x 30”.
    picks November 18, 2011

    Daniel Gordon

    The subject of Woman with a Blue Eye (all works cited, 2011)—like all the “sitters” for Daniel Gordon’s recent portraits—is a bust built from photographs. The woman they form is scarred with seams and rifts. One of her eyes is bigger and more brightly blue. Her hair is blonde and thickly pixelated in some spots, softly unfocused and brown in others. A purplish pattern—blue particles emerging from a red field like sandpaper’s grit—interrupts the skin in a swath of color from the right temple to the left cheek. I wondered if the artist had drawn the pattern with software. “There is no digital

  • Left: David Byrne and T editor Sally Singer. Right: Artist Ben Coonley. (Photos: Osvaldo Ponton)
    diary November 01, 2011

    Costume Drama

    I NEVER REALIZED that when Halloween falls on a Monday, New York celebrates half a Hanukkah’s worth of it, but as the sun went down Friday night I saw last-minute shoppers lining up outside of Ricky’s and costumed overachievers parading on the West Side. On the occasion of its second annual benefit, the online journal Triple Canopy was dressing up as a book—copies of Invalid Format, a dead-tree anthology of texts from the first four issues, were distributed as schwag. 155 Freeman, site of the new editorial office, was still enduring city inspections and too small besides, so the event was held

  • Stephen Willats, DATA STREAM: A Portrait of New York (Delancey Street/Fifth Avenue), 2011, ink-jet prints and acrylic on freestanding wall, 8 x 42”.
    picks October 06, 2011

    Stephen Willats

    Photographed, diagrammed, and invaded, New York—a “strange attractor” of a place—is the topic of Stephen Willats’s first solo exhibition in the city. On the streets near the gallery you can find stickers with two squares connected by directional arrows, or a monitor in the window of Essex Street’s Café Grumpy where the same motif is superimposed on footage of pedestrians. It repeats inside the gallery, too. Strange Attractor Series No. 2 (all works 2011) is a big grid of the squares, with some tinted to form an angled spiral. Indigo on the outside, it travels the spectrum to end back near blue.

  • Left: Mercosul Biennial curator Jose Roca, pedagogical curator Pablo Helguera, biennial foundation vice president Beatriz Blier Johannpeter, and MoMA director Glenn Lowry. Right: Manuela Ribadeneira and artist Duke Riley. (All photos: Brian Droitcour)
    diary September 17, 2011

    Poetic Justice

    “RIO DE JANEIRO IS SECOND ONLY to São Paulo in its contemporary art effervescence,” said the guidebook that I leafed through after arriving at ArtRio last Wednesday. I’d never been to Brazil before, but I still sensed the second-city feeling at the first edition of ArtRio at Pier Maua. (SP-Arte, back in the superlatively “effervescent” megalopolis, happened for the seventh time in May.) The mild air drifting into the pavilions from the palm-lined waterfront promenade gently reinforced the stereotype that São Paulo is for work and Rio for play. Most of the art looked correspondingly frivolous.

  • Left: Artist Richard Prince. Right: Guild Hall executive director Ruth Appelhof with Alec Baldwin and Martha Stewart. (All photos: Patrick McMullan)
    diary August 19, 2011

    Prince among Men

    Brian Droitcour at Guild Hall: “Richard Prince’s ‘Canal Zone’ got a death sentence for not being “transformative.”

    RICHARD PRINCE’S “CANAL ZONE” got a death sentence for not being “transformative.” Patrick Cariou, the photographer who sued the appropriation artist for copyright infringement, wants the works destroyed. While they continue to languish in a Long Island City warehouse, Prince is presenting a new series, “Covering Pollock,” at the island’s other end. The show opened last Friday in the lobby gallery of Guild Hall, on the occasion of the East Hampton cultural center’s annual benefit. Prince connected Jackson Pollock and friends with punks and marauders—Sid Vicious, Ian Curtis, a bare-breasted Kate

  • Kate Steciw, Exercises in Spatial Mnemonics, 2011, color photographs, 4 x 70”.
    picks August 18, 2011

    Kate Steciw

    People like to call digital images immaterial, a figurative description evoking specters who can appear in space of their own accord. But data can’t be beheld without the twofold vessel of a file format and a device that can read it. A better metaphor might be liquid. Water is the central figure in Kate Steciw’s The Swimmer, 2011. A pool’s blue ripples warp a woman’s body, and the image is distended across six floor mats. They form an asymmetrical crest that stretches across one wall and onto the floor, where it gathers dirt from viewers’ shoes. Steciw ordered the rugs from an ordinary online

  • Deb Sokolow, Possible Meeting Room Set-up for New World Order, 2011, graphite and acrylic on paper, 11 x 8 1/2”.
    picks August 08, 2011

    Deb Sokolow

    Deb Sokolow’s Notes on Denver International Airport and the New World Order, 2011, has the makings of a paperback thriller you’d buy at an airport: a shadowy cabal of powerful men, a blue-collar crackpot who claimed to know their secret and died strangely, and an anonymous journalist who comes out of nowhere to supply the protagonist with a file of classified memos. The protagonist is Sokolow. But in her telling––written alongside diagrams, blueprints, photographs, and news clippings that are printed or taped on sheets of cheap copy paper––she becomes “you.” The use of the second-person pronoun

  • Left: Artist Tom Sanford and Malborough Gallery director Eric Gleason. Right: Actor Rick Dacey (middle). (Photos: Brian Droitcour)
    diary August 01, 2011

    William, It Was Really Nothing

    I WAS REALLY EXCITED by the chance to publicly trash William Powhida until his assistant told me to go for it. “Great idea,” the mild young man said at the opening of “POWHIDA” at Marlborough Gallery last Wednesday night. “It will help create dialogue.” Buzzkill. In my head I’d been composing the kind of invective that shuts dialogue down. Powhida was, I thought, a mediocre draftsman singularly obsessed with his own career, offering nothing but rarefied op-ed cartoons about the markets and personalities that stand in its way. (He sold a drawing of Miami Beach as a shantytown at the Pulse Art

  • Left: Artist Cory Arcangel. (Photo: Slater Bradley) Right: Performer in Xavier Cha's Body Drama. (Photo: Lauren Devine/Opening Ceremony)
    diary July 08, 2011

    Out of the Frying Pan

    THERE WAS A CAMERA pointed right at her. She moaned as she writhed in vain to escape its lens. What a relief not to be on paparazzi duty. It was Xavier Cha’s Body Drama at the Whitney Museum last Wednesday. As the performer—who wore a sideways tripod as shoulder harness—stumbled circles around the crowded first-floor gallery, spectators scattered to make room. At least, most of them did. Ryan Trecartin was there, and his entourage of cast members and friends would occasionally poke into the camera’s field and preen. “That’s just what they do,” a friend said.

    Later they joined Cha for her party

  • View of “Play Time,” 2011.
    picks June 17, 2011

    Cao Fei

    Your fingers can shred in Play Time (all works 2011), a sculpture by Cao Fei that shares its title with her fourth solo exhibition at Lombard Fried. Wooden models of monumental architecture—an obelisk, a classical pediment, ziggurats of varying shape—compose a cityscape. But they are obstacles next to the loops and ramps inviting viewers to push miniature skateboards around the sculpture. The video East Wind documents the journey of a truck wearing the face of Thomas the Tank Engine as it travels from a construction site, a zone of imminent future, to a junkyard, the burial grounds of the recent