Carlo McCormick

  • Taro Suzuki

    Through the use of figure/ground illusions in his new work, Taro Suzuki questions the “truth” of human perceptions. The fantastic character of Suzuki’s earlier art, especially the organic surrealism of his lava lamps, has been largely preserved in his latest efforts, but in a tone remarkably more austere and direct. It is as if, by creating streamlined versions of his science-fiction fantasy objects, with a more precise rendering of effects and an almost laboratorylike reduction of all extraneous elements, he has been able to convince us that these new, purer models are absolutely scientific.

  • Fred Riskin

    The myths of a day are invisibly woven from the subliminal threads of that which lies beyond understanding. Fred Riskin’s recent installation of Conceptual art, Sub Rosa: A Psychic Journey, 1987, created just such a modem fable of unseen powers, vague and superhuman. It is a decidedly narrative sort of tale, an engrossing international spy story of intrigue, danger, and extrasensory perception. Captivating as a thriller should be, it works as an atmospherically dense web of photographs, text, and sound. The sense of mystery that pervades the installation arises out of the sinister shadows of

  • Milo Reice

    Art as a means of communication can be traced back in time to its roots as a narrative form. The paintings of Milo Reice have always possessed something of the simple charms of storytelling, for which art as illustration has persevered throughout the ages. The narrative structure of Reice’s work, in its straightforward description and symbol-laden imagery, most closely resembles that of the fable. The moral tone and esthetic design of the fable have become so embedded in our cultural text that Reice has little difficulty in signaling these to the viewer as deliberate strategies in his own work.

  • Glenn Branca

    The recent efforts of certain artists to reexplore dichotomies of emotional affect through the conventions of abstract geometric art, such as the often cited paintings of Peter Halley and Philip Taaffe, have a much overlooked conceptual precedent in the post-Minimal experimental noise rock of New York’s “no wave” music scene. The musician Glenn Branca, in his first solo exhibition of drawings, “Classical Space: Forms of Infinite Regress Within a Finite Field,” provided a connection between his music and “neo-geo” (the unfortunate label for the current proliferation of new abstraction). It was

  • Joel Otterson

    Joel Otterson’s recent exhibition for the Museum of Modern Art’s “Projects” series worked its false charm with particular effectiveness as an insinuation of the museum’s hidden cultural agenda. Otterson’s sculpture has fabricated its authority from the alluring formalist patterns of predictability in the tall shadow of Modernism since at least 1982, with his first post-art school appearance in the then newly opened Gallery Nature Morte. His recent work, even more devilish in its impersonation of classic Modernist totemism, simultaneously harasses and pays homage to the canon of received avant-garde

  • Luca Pizzorno

    Luca Pizzomo’s art since he moved from Milan to New York’s Lower East Side some years back has been primitivist, in the Modernist plastic sense, and primitive, in the psychological sense of the term in cultural anthropology. Such a framework of the primitive and the primitivist is hardly an appealing one today, as it has been so abused with misconceptions and overexposure, from the appropriations of neo-Expressionist posturing to the mundane level of kitsch such co-opting has taken since the ’50s.

    Pizzorno’s gift is to use the tribal cliche in a way that shows he is aware of its colonializing

  • Mike Kelley, Plato's Cave, Rothko's Chapel, Lincoln's Profile

    The Los Angeles-based artist Mike Kelley made one of his periodic New York forays with a triple-threat show, a multiformat statement presented as a gallery exhibition (at Metro Pictures), a book (published by New City Editions and Artists Space, 1986), and a performance (at Artists Space), all with the same three-part title: Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile. The simultaneous multiplicity of media seemed to sharpen Kelley’s thought-skewers; his polytropic ideas throbbed with a compelling urgency, given form in all three media by means that were more confidently economical and more

  • PUTTY AS A PICTURE

    ONCE IN A WHILE, “something in the air” can catalyze peculiar, quirky artwork that hits at the heart of its time, taking a symbolic role in which it seems to represent the archetypal interests of its day. (Meret Oppenheim’s Fur-Covered Cup, Saucer, and Spoon was such a work for 1936.) In the ’80s, when a “hunger for images”1 has created a kind of vomitorium of art, rather than iconic, “permanent”-seeming pictures, in a process of accelerated declaration and consumption with no pause for digestion, it makes sense that the materials of a body of work that has this sense of catching its time would

  • Austé

    Austé’s recent series of paintings is as cunningly outrageous as any of her wickedly flamboyant work to date. In this, her third solo show in New York, Austé surely enthralled those who are already fans and further alienated those less enamored of her special sort of rococo kitsch. A bit like Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company or the films of Jack Smith and John Waters, she will probably always mark something of a break in subjective taste. One could easily follow the “it’s-so-bad-it’s-good” school of thinking and categorize Austé’s phantasmagoria as camp. Yet her fevered pitch

  • Dan Witz

    The content in traditional academic figure painting is fundamentally determined by the narrative or symbolic references depicted in the work. The reading of such work has so consistently operated within the conformities of traditional iconography, recognizable literary or mythological situations, or common narrative form that the paintings of Dan Witz are puzzling in their seemingly significant insignificance—that is, they possess the unmistakable aura of meaning while their simplicity proclaims a void of innuendo and association. The power of these works comes not from the elusiveness of

  • Papo Colo

    This two-gallery exhibition of works by Papo Colo was an ambitious and illuminating retrospective of an artistic career just as ambitious and illuminating. The richness and eclecticism of the work proved that Colds art is interesting enough to merit this double show, which gave an overview of his entire personal and artistic history. Evident in the body of Colds work is an involved and epic “life as art” contrived upon the artist’s invention of himself in the complex and contradictory terms of society. As is often the case when an artist’s persona becomes a mythic creation—and the most captivating

  • Robert Williams

    The recent exhibition of “Messages from a Drunken Broom,” a new series of paintings by Robert Williams, was the first one-person show in New York for this leading force of esthetic terrorism over the past two decades, and it was shamefully overdue. How these works of antiestablishment vulgarity were received was as revealing as it was predictable, with opinion split according to the fundamental values of opposing social groups. Williams is relevant for both his status as a guru of the countercultural underground and as a maverick disregarded by the prevailing power elite. His career as one of

  • John Ahearn with Rigoberto Torres

    John Ahearn and his assistant/collaborator Rigoberto Torres are remarkable contemporary additions to a historical genre of humanistic naturalism. Ahearn presents the vulgar masses to the cultured elite to enlighten their biased contempt and entertain their voyeurism. The strategy operating in this sort of work is essentially motivated as “political art” that avoids explicit commentary in favor of implicit reality expressed by the human condition. Ahearn and Torres have for years operated a sculpture workshop in the South Bronx, and from there they erode the stereotypes of those they depict.

  • Rammellzee

    The hysterical intensity of New York’s manic pace produces in its fission/fusion of diverse cultures and social positions a mutant by-product of rational insanity that periodically manifests itself as some new cult hero. Rammellzee is just that sort of genius/madman. In his recent one-person shows he demonstrated the same ability to provoke and amuse us as he has in the past. The novelty of his apocalyptic sci-fi war fantasy may have ebbed since he first entered our mundane consciousness a few years back (and graffiti of any sort is much less revered now than during its heyday, when media hoopla

  • FRACTS OF LIFE

    Epic theoreticians of the new multidimensional perspective, Mitchell Feigenbaum and Benoit Mandelbrot are represented with Zeno of Elea in the foreground of Mark Tansey’s grand allegorical painting Achilles and the Tortoise, 1986. Indeed, all of Tansey’s paintings move along tangents of awesome eclecticness, consistently upping the ante of pictorial possibilities, and playing games with established patterns of painterly practice (the picture’s internal behavior) and of depiction (the painting’s external behavior toward its subjects). What in Achilles and the Tortoise is implied by the explicit

  • Saint-Clair Cemin

    Saint-Clair Cemin’s sculpture has an unsettling way of not quite meeting one’s expectation, and the odd assortment of work he exhibited seemed to reside firmly in the gray regions of subjectivity. While the past century’s artistic invention managed to expand the boundaries of art to the doorstep of infinity, the lofty perspective of the avant-garde vision is itself riddled with blind spots. Cemin’s sculpture does not try to transcend the history of its medium, but works toward marking the structural holes in the established models of creation and esthetic analysis. What is significant in these

  • Ted Rosenthal

    Ted Rosenthal received some notoriety a few years back with his traffic-halting, bomb-squad-baiting prank of welding fake time bombs (fire extinguisher canisters with clocks) to street signs around lower Manhattan. As far as anyone knows, he has not pulled any stunts like that since, but as his latest sculptures of cut, welded, and painted steel show, he has hardly lost his strange sense of humor. In his recent work Rosenthal gives his wildest fantasies free rein. From small wall sculptures to elaborate freestanding behemoths, his work demonstrates a slickness of design and execution in contrast

  • John Cage

    It takes a show of such integrity and grace as this modest exhibition to reinstill one’s faith in the possibilities of greater articulation and expansion an artist may find in another discipline. John Cage here displayed the fruits of two conceptually related but procedurally different series. “Mesostics re: Merce Cunningham,” 1971, consisted primarily of some of Cage’s compositions of word/form-interplay poetry from his book M: Writings ’67–’72, nicely framed and posing as word art. The more visually stimulating language/ sculpture/silkscreen hybrid “Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel”

  • General Idea

    For well over a decade now, General Idea, the collaborative identity of three Canadian artists—A. A. Bronson, Felix Partz, and Jorge Saia—has systematically and sarcastically invented a persuasive epic of self-referential iconic rhetoric. But the group’s satirical mimicking of the language and structure of the institutions of the culture has itself become a standard of taste. The mock grandeur of General Idea’s hoax scheme is so exact in its generic formalism that it provides its own kitsch idols to false deities as it goes about its iconoclastic ridicule of the system. The art world has come

  • TODT

    The four anonymous collaborators who comprise TODT create hauntingly familiar yet unusual objects and installations in a range of media and styles. Here, they unleashed more of their personal nightmares in assemblages and dioramas that overtook the innocuous debris of civilization with the contagious paranoia of contemporary society. For all that this art is fueled by a claustrophobic private hell, the overall vision is sociologically and politically universal. TODT is ultimately effective in its communication of fear because its madness is common to society on the whole—the madness of a species