Brian Sholis

  • Nathan Carter

    This was a restrained exhibition. Of course, when speaking of Nathan Carter’s willfully eccentric, vibrant sculptures, restrained is a relative term. The flags, legible icons, and letterforms for which he is known, as well as the overt references he has made to maps, racetracks, soccer teams, and communications systems, have been mostly purged from his newest works. The unwieldy ham-radio-chatter titles have likewise been trimmed. In fact, having spent the past decade as a ventriloquist who made the modernist visual language of Alexander Calder, Jean Arp, and Joan Miró speak to contemporary

  • Ann Pibal

    The paintings in this exhibition, Ann Pibal’s second at the gallery, feature narrow rivulets of color zipping across and around monochrome backgrounds. They make clear that masking tape, with its chastening, restrictive qualities, is as important to the artist’s practice as are acrylic-laden brushes. Look intently, and these taped-off lines perform various feats of optical magic. They carve space out of the featureless expanse on which they rest, interact playfully with the colors they abut, and, when Pibal has painted the edges of the thin aluminum panels on which she works, appear from certain

  • picks May 22, 2010

    Thomas Struth

    In this exhibition of new large-scale color photographs, Thomas Struth discloses realms largely hidden from public view: experimental science and high-tech industry. Struth’s images do not offer a comprehensive representation of how the plants and laboratories he portrays actually function. Nor, for that matter, can we understand from viewing the photos how the industries depicted therein—pharmaceutical production, space exploration, physics research, offshore drilling—are integrated in a globalized market. But the claustrophobic images of wires, tubes, and rarefied machinery reveal something

  • Alan B. Stone

    We’re drawn to the past for countless reasons and revisit it in myriad ways, but analytic, interrogative approaches to what has come before us predominate in today’s art world. Even nostalgia itself is codified and anatomized: Witness, for example, how the phenomenon of “Ostalgie,” or nostalgia for life in the former East Germany, has been cross-examined in exhibitions and essays. In this context, “Alan B. Stone and the Senses of Place” is refreshing for the ways in which guest curator David Deitcher has woven his own biography and hometown memories into a sophisticated appreciation of his

  • picks April 22, 2010

    Eirik Johnson

    Wandering, Pac-Man-like, along Manhattan’s street grid on a sunny afternoon, it’s easy to romanticize the Pacific Northwest: air heavy with moisture, smeary gray sky, carpet of deep green foliage on every nearby hillside. Such pastoral imaginings are obviously deficient, not least because human traces so rarely intrude upon them. A recent spate of creative work, however, emphasizes more complex negotiations between people and this corner of the national landscape. There is, for example, the dreary, anonymous Portland depicted in Kelly Reichardt’s 2008 film Wendy and Lucy, or musician Phil

  • Anne Collier

    Anne Collier is an exceedingly patient artist, revisiting key themes again and again to refine the delicate balance between what she has termed her “forensic aesthetics” and her photographs’ “psychological or emotive” content. This exhibition, her first full-scale one-person show in New York, came after more than a dozen other solo presentations, including a small backroom debut at this venue in early 2008 that offers several illuminating points of comparison. A 2007 image of a self-help book inviting its readers to outline individual goals found its corollary in First Person 1–4, 2009, a

  • Roger Ballen

    No photographic, or even artistic, category quite encompasses the complicated, engrossing, and at times unsettling images in South Africa–based artist Roger Ballen’s new series “Boarding House,” 2003–2008, several dozen images from which made up this large exhibition. Though the artworks are consistently square-format black-and-white photographic prints, they represent a combination of photography, theatrical performance, drawing, and sculpture. The images were made in collaboration with the residents of a Johannesburg warehouse that, from Ballen’s description, seems like a miniature shantytown—a

  • Frida Kahlo

    At the Martin-Gropius-Bau, highlights among the 120 paintings and works on paper include Kahlo’s last completed work, never before exhibited.

    Does a museum really need an excuse to mount a Frida Kahlo exhibition? A major survey toured the United States in 2008, loosely pegged to the centennial of the Mexican icon’s birth in 1907. Now Europe is celebrating the occasion with what is purportedly the largest presentation of Kahlo’s psychologically rich work ever compiled. (A smaller, unrelated exhibition, running January 16–April 14 at Bozar in Brussels, whets the palate with snapshots and letters augmenting Kahlo’s art.) Better late than never. At the Martin-Gropius-Bau, highlights among the 120 paintings

  • “Rachel Whiteread Drawings”

    Given the monumentality of her celebrated poured-concrete and plaster sculptures, few people would think of British artist Rachel Whiteread putting pencil or brush to paper.

    Given the monumentality of her celebrated poured-concrete and plaster sculptures, few people would think of British artist Rachel Whiteread putting pencil or brush to paper. This survey brings into focus her variegated two-dimensional output with more than two hundred drawings made over twenty years (alongside ten sculptures). Not just mere studies, Whiteread’s drawings constitute a parallel practice that helps her to “dream” other pieces into being, and her use of gouache, correction fluid, acrylic, silver leaf, and collaged photographs evinces the artistic interests

  • Jason Dodge

    From Trisha Donnelly to Jonathan Monk to Simon Starling, Casey Kaplan Gallery represents a number of artists whose conceptually inflected artwork constructs or relies upon narrative scaffolding. So, too, does Jason Dodge’s slow-burn art. His sixth exhibition at this gallery was visually unprepossessing but upon reflection revealed engaging emotional and psychological complexities. Take, for example, in order of imagined altitude / an astronomer, a meteorologist, an ornithologist, a geologist, and a civil engineer, cut pockets from their trousers (all works 2009). One would be hard-pressed to

  • picks December 14, 2009

    Carey Young

    As this small show demonstrates, Carey Young has considered deeply the realm of corporate-structured business and the legalization of Western culture. In the nearly fifteen-minute video Uncertain Contract, 2008, an actor in business attire roams an empty white set while dramatizing legalese such as parties, tender, and notice—at one point furiously punching an imagined victim while repeating the word “damages.” Body Techniques (after Parallel Stress, Dennis Oppenheim, 1970), 2007, is a photograph of Young, in a business suit, resting facedown in a hollow of sand on the outskirts of an anonymous

  • Robert Kinmont

    For those who arrived in the art world during the past three decades, Robert Kinmont was known, if at all, through the photograph of him performing a cliff’s-edge handstand reproduced in Lucy Lippard’s 1973 book Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972. That picture is part of Kinmont’s 8 Natural Handstands, 1969, which also finds him upended in desert grasslands and in a shallow river. The work is emblematic of the small but potent body of sculptures, photographs, and performances Kinmont created in the late 1960s and early ’70s, many of which were also on view in

  • interviews November 10, 2009

    Luc Sante

    Luc Sante is a writer and critic. The author of Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York (1991), Kill All Your Darlings: Pieces 1990–2005 (2007), and several other books, he is also visiting professor of writing and photography at Bard College. His latest effort, Folk Photography: The American Real-Photo Postcard, 1905–1930, is out now from Yeti Books.

    MY COLLECTION OF REAL-PHOTO POSTCARDS is the result of a chance encounter on New York’s Astor Place, circa 1980, with a street peddler who had fished some forty cards out of the trash, ones that probably belonged to a man who had been at Vera

  • Violet Hopkins

    A large watercolor and pencil depiction of a golden disc, covered with runic designs and floating against a depthless black background, greeted visitors upon their entrance to Violet Hopkins’s second solo exhibition at this gallery. The lines and symbols imprinted on the orb seem evidence of an animating intelligence, but their meaning is nearly impossible to intuit. The image depicts the instructions on the cover of the Golden Record, created in 1977 and sent on the Voyager space missions to communicate information about life on earth to any alien life forms that may encounter it. Around the

  • picks September 25, 2009

    Peter Hujar

    Some of the pictures in this exhibition were published a decade ago in Doubletake magazine; most have never been exhibited. They were made from 1956 to 1958, while Peter Hujar was in his early twenties, and most depict children at play in homes for the developmentally disabled in Southbury, Connecticut, and Florence, Italy. Neither sentimental nor aggressive, these small black-and-white images possess the empathy and compositional rigor we associate with Hujar’s unruffled portrait work of the 1970s and ’80s. Indeed, some, like Boy Rubbing His Eye, Southbury, 1957, and Girl Sucking Her Thumb,

  • picks September 23, 2009

    Troy Brauntuch

    This exhibition presents a three-decade sampling of Troy Brauntuch’s art, including a preponderance of small sketches, notes, and other source materials for his larger paintings and drawings. A narrow color palette and the artist’s casual blending of news photographs with personal snapshots certainly effaces distinctions between “public” and “private” imagery. But for all the talk of Brauntuch and his “Pictures generation” cohorts disinterestedly unthreading our media cocoon, it’s hard not to notice a powerful current of feeling swirling beneath these placid surfaces. It pulls in both directions.

  • Florian Slotawa

    Since 1996, German artist Florian Slotawa has created “Besitzarbeiten” (Property Works), a series of sculptural installations comprising various functional objects removed from his Berlin apartment and meticulously arranged in a gallery setting. The newest, Besitzarbeit XII, 2009, is the sole artwork in this exhibition, Slotawa’s first solo outing in New York. Created at a rate of about one per year, the “Besitzarbeiten” can be seen as a baseline, or control group, for his artistic practice, in which the primary gestures—designation, reorganization, juxtaposition, contextualization—are immaterial

  • film July 12, 2009

    Step Children

    IN THE SPRING OF 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced that the United States would send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. It was an act of hubris: When he spoke, the country’s astronauts had logged only twenty minutes in outer space. Billions of dollars and a little more than eight years later, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong hopped off a lunar module nicknamed Eagle and pronounced the occasion “one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” Live television images beamed back to Earth’s surface transfixed the nation, momentarily stitching together a public torn apart by

  • interviews June 29, 2009

    Michael Sorkin

    Michael Sorkin is a New York–based architect, urban planner, educator, and the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including Variations on a Theme Park (1991), Exquisite Corpse (1994), and After the World Trade Center (2002). His latest book, which examines the history and changing face of New York through the lens of his morning commute, is Twenty Minutes in Manhattan.

    THE IDEA FOR THE BOOK CAME ABOUT FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. Walks are contemplative times and spaces, and going over the same territory day after day gave me the opportunity to see things over the relatively longue durée:

  • film June 01, 2009

    Collecting Class

    “EVERY CULTURE NEEDS ITS VOGELS,” says Lawrence Weiner near the end of the documentary Herb & Dorothy (2008). “They’re friend collectors, not collector collectors,” clarifies another artist. Not long after they purchased a small, untitled sculpture by John Chamberlain in 1962, the pint-size duo recognized that what they were buying was better than what they themselves were making as “wannabe artists.” So they lived frugally on her librarian’s salary, bought art with his earnings at the post office, and spent all their time in artists’ studios, galleries, and museums.

    The Vogels aren’t chatty