Chloe Wyma

  • Adrian Morris

    Three paintings of mullioned windows, precisely rendered but curiously off-kilter, hung in a row at Essex Street as part of the late British artist Adrian Morris’s first solo exhibition in the United States. Behind the imaginary glass there was nothing to see but a dim gray haze. The modernist grid and the Symbolist window (the former, per Rosalind Krauss’s influential reading, a traumatic displacement of the latter) were here collapsed, their metaphysics stunted by the opaque, abortive view. In Window Ledge II and Window Sill II, both ca. 1997, fenestration was party to a ruthless abstraction

  • “Other Points of View”

    “The anti-institutional, anti-formal, anti-aesthetic nihilism of the Surrealists,” Clement Greenberg wrote in 1944, “. . . has in the end proved a blessing to the restless rich, the expatriates, and aesthete-flaneurs in general who were repelled by the ascetism of modern art. Surrealist subversiveness justifies their way of life, sanctioning the peace of conscience and the sense of chic with which they reject arduous disciplines.” The implicit target of his words was View, an avant-garde magazine founded in 1940 by the Mississippi-born poet and flaneur Charles Henri Ford, the “last protégé” of

  • DIVINE REALITY

    AGNES PELTON was fifty years old when she left New York for the village of Cathedral City, six miles southeast of Palm Springs in the California desert. By 1932, a conspiracy of sun, sand, and settler-colonial ideology had made the state a mecca for visionaries and seekers, attracted by landscapes seemingly unspoiled by human intervention, temporalities seemingly unburdened by the past. In Pelton’s 1941 painting Future, obscure shadows part to reveal two stone towers. Suggestive of those that marked the town’s entrance, they float just above the horizon and flank a distant lavender hill. Overhead,

  • “The Pencil Is a Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists”

    Growing consciousness of mass incarceration in the United States—the product of a bipartisan consensus that has seen the prison population, disproportionately represented by black, brown, and poor people, explode by 700 percent in the past fifty years—has motivated a surge of recent exhibitions devoted to art made by those serving time. While of a piece with this development, “The Pencil Is a Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists,” the Drawing Center’s first show under the direction of Laura Hoptman, is also unique in the way it uses the condition of imprisonment (broadly defined here to encompass

  • Tyree Guyton

    “Love, Sam,” Tyree Guyton’s solo exhibition at Martos Gallery, was titled in honor of the artist’s grandfather Sam Mackey. A housepainter by trade, he gave his grandson his first paintbrush when he was nine years old. Guyton, who is now sixty-four, would go on to study art at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies in 1980; six years later, he began painting candy-colored polka dots on the facade of Mackey’s house on Heidelberg Street in McDougall-Hunt, a predominantly black, working-class enclave on Detroit’s east side. This benignly eccentric act marked the beginning of the Heidelberg Project,

  • Tamara de Lempicka

    “Lempicka was a liar, a snob and a fraud from the off,” began the British art critic Waldemar Januszczak in his poison-pen Sunday Times review of her exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Arts in 2004. Rarely has an artist inspired such moral condemnation and righteous disdain as Tamara de Lempicka, the rappel à l’ordre society painter who objectified, perhaps more than any other artist, the cold, metallic libido of Art Deco. Despite, or perhaps because of, her enduring popularity (she is the subject of several biographies, a stage play, and a forthcoming Broadway musical), major museum

  • George Tooker

    “Watching George Tooker paint is excruciating,” art historian Thomas H. Garver once remarked. “Stroke, stroke, stroke, it goes on and on, yet to an observer almost nothing seems to be happening.” Over months and months, his effulgent surfaces would accumulate thousands of delicate wisps in egg tempera—the medium favored by the painters of late-medieval Italy—to illuminate delphic modern genre scenes and allegories glowing with beatitude and despair. Tooker (1920–2011) learned his ascetic and “plodding” (per the artist) method in the mid-1940s, from his friends the painters Paul Cadmus (Tooker’s

  • Charlotte Posenenske

    Commanding one of the yawning depots of Dia:Beacon—a Nabisco box-printing factory turned postindustrial culture palace—the hollow sheet-metal and cardboard polyhedrons of Charlotte Posenenske’s Vierkantrohre Serie D (Square Tubes Series D) and Vierkantrohre Serie DW (Square Tubes Series DW) appeared to be fossils of use value. Designed in 1967 as the German artist was beginning to receive international recognition alongside proponents of American Minimalism, these groupings of unwieldy modular units were made to be manipulated and recombined by collaborating viewer participants. Produced in

  • slant October 21, 2019

    Loose Canon

    IN JUNE, NEW YORK’S MUSEUM OF MODERN ART WENT DARK to put the finishing touches on its contentious five-year expansion, which promised to put $450 million and 47,000 square feet of Diller Scofidio + Renfro architecture toward fostering a “deeper experience of art” across boundaries of media, geography, and identity. Today, MoMA emerges from its chrysalis a bigger, brighter, and supposedly more progressive institution. Gone—we are told—is the stiff, developmentalist progression from ism to ism, the residual investment in medium specificity, the instinctive parochialism, the cult of white male

  • Augusta Savage

    In the company of Jacob Lawrence’s streamlined Cubism, Romare Bearden’s faceted and collaged surfaces, and William Ellisworth Artis’s sleek, softly Egyptianized terra-cotta figures, the physiognomically expressive and convincing portrait busts of Augusta Savage (1892–1962) gave her the bearing of an éminence grise in “Renaissance Woman”—the first survey in thirty years devoted to the pathbreaking sculptor, educator, and arts advocate. Curator Jeffreen M. Hayes placed examples of Savage’s limited surviving production alongside works by these and many other artists who benefited from her guidance

  • 2019 Whitney Biennial

    THE 2019 WHITNEY BIENNIAL will go down as one of the most consequential in the event’s history—though for reasons that, frankly, make reviewing the art, some of which nearly came off the gallery walls two months before the show’s close, a thorny undertaking. The Biennial is always a critical flash point, and indeed this year’s edition seemed curated to anticipate and respond to the conflict over representation that scarred its predecessor. But even before the 2019 exhibition began, anxious meta-discussion over art’s audiences, its subjects, its spokespeople, and its paymasters had overdetermined

  • Roger Brown

    “The mainstream art world hierarchy—a system of dealers, writers, artists, critics, and pundits—presumes to define what art is for the rest of us,” Roger Brown (1941–1997) wrote in 1990. “. . . Whatever category one chooses—folk, naïve, outsider, or so-called regionalist—it is very evident that real artists exist and continue to be nurtured outside the mainstream hierarchy. In fact I would venture to say that the only real artists are nurtured there . . . on the outside.” Known as one of the leading Chicago Imagists, Brown could hardly be called an “outsider artist.” He was, however, a voracious

  • picks August 29, 2019

    Deborah Remington and Davina Semo

    The steely, gradient-filled lacunae of Deborah Remington’s Saratoga, 1972, and Sussex, 1976, evoke busted TV screens and foggy windshields, beyond which noirish vistas might extend. The artist, who died in 2010 at the age of seventy-nine, was the sole woman among the half-dozen painters and poets who cofounded San Francisco’s Six Gallery, the beatnik haunt where Allen Ginsberg first read Howl in 1955. Five of her paintings, made between 1964 and 2003, hang alongside recent sculptures and wall works by Davina Semo at Parts & Labor, a new project space devoted to shows pairing works by one mid-career

  • MINOR VARIATIONS

    ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in the left-leaning tabloid PM, Ad Reinhardt’s 1946 cartoon How to Look at Modern Art in America is a mordant and enlightening diagram of aesthetic positions and politics in the immediate postwar period. Rooted in the French Post-Impressionists and supported by a sturdy trunk inscribed with the names Braque, Matisse, and Picasso, the avant-garde tradition is represented as an enormous tree branching into discrete movements and tendencies. Foliated with leaves bearing names like Albers, Davis, Motherwell, Pollock, and Rothko, the left-hand, upright sprigs represent the

  • Ulrike Ottinger

    Taken on the set of filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger’s swashbuckling s/m fantasy Madame X: An Absolute Ruler (1977), the photograph Das perfekte Ebenbild und seine unaufthaltsame Mechanik (The Perfect Image and Its Unrelenting Mechanics) captures a saucy tableau on board the corsair Orlando. A female pirate—sporting fetishy, elbow-length gloves; a black bralette; and an irrepressibly blonde, Boris Vallejo–worthy mane—wields a stake over actress Tabea Blumenschein, cast as the flesh-and-blood, leather-clad figurehead bedecking the ship’s bow. Moments later, the pirate will ecstatically plunge her blade

  • Corentin Grossmann

    The graphite drawing The main gate, 2017, welcomed visitors to Corentin Grossmann’s first US exhibition with an architectural fabulation of elephantine columns, ball-shaped ornaments, and massive vaults enclosing depthless shadows. As the title suggested, we were looking at a threshold between two places. Behind the titular structure, the tops of palm trees were silhouetted against the sky, placing us in the tropics. In front was the nebulous gray void of our immediate foreground. The hazy gray scale, flat tonality and grainy surface texture of the drawing unsettled the exoticism of the scenery

  • Leonor Fini

    “Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990” is the first American retrospective devoted to the Argentinean-Italian painter and illustrator Leonor Fini (1907–1996). Across two floors and sixty years, precious Italianate portraits of friends and lovers morph into macabre fantasies of witches’ sabbaths and half-flayed bodies, crystallizing at last into kinky, acrid-pastel paintings of women and girls locked into flattened, compressed spaces and ambiguous erotic relations. Pornographic illustrations for works by Jean Genet and the Marquis de Sade, costume designs for operas and ballets, and extravagant photo

  • Gray Foy

    Gray Foy (1922–2012) didn’t require the aid of a magnifying glass to produce his intricate drawings—exquisite, Surrealist-inflected pieces made between 1941 and 1975—but they were handily on offer during the artist’s first major survey at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art. In a charming throwback to old-fashioned modes of sustained attention, delectation, and connoisseurship, visitors were encouraged to pore over his scrupulously rendered botanical and biomorphic images, many on view for the first time in fifty years. Yet even as they seemed to dwell in some etiolated genteel past, these

  • Dorothea Rockburne

    THE MORE ONE LOOKS at the deviously serene, austere works of Dorothea Rockburne, the more baroque and optically destabilizing they become. Locus, 1972, features six unframed sheets of white paper, marked by sharp orthogonal creases, which here hang across two of the gallery’s white walls. At various points, their monochromatic yet multiplanar surfaces appear to project into relief and recede into depth, throwing into doubt whether the eye is perceiving actual volumes in space or a restrained trompe l’oeil illusion. Made of folded paper run through a printing press, the Locus suite numbers among

  • Simone Leigh

    A ceramic female head crowned by a hollow receptacle met the viewer as she entered Simone Leigh’s exhibition. This hybrid object, 102 (Face Jug Series) (all works cited, 2018), conflates portraiture with functional pottery, playing on essentialist notions of the female body as a reproductive vessel and symbolic container. Themes of anthropomorphism and embodiment were amplified in Cupboard VIII, the largest of this exhibition’s three sculptures. More than ten feet tall, bare-breasted, and arrayed in a capacious, multitiered raffia skirt, the figure quotes the architecture of Mammy’s Cupboard,