Chloe Wyma

  • George Tooker, Guitar, 1957, egg tempera on panel, 18 × 24".

    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

  • View of “Charlotte Posenenske,” 2019.

    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

  • Foreground: Maria Martins’s The Impossible, III, 1946. Background: Wifredo Lam’s The Jungle (La Jungla), 1943 (left), and Maya Deren’s A Study in Choreography for Camera, 1945 (right). All photos: Chloe Wyma.
    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, The Harp, 1939, bronze, 10 3⁄4 × 9 1⁄2 × 4". Souvenir replica.

    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

  • View of 2019 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. From left: Eric N. Mack, Proposition: for wet Gee’s Bend Quilts to replace the American flag—Permanently, 2019; Jennifer Packer, Untitled, 2019; Jennifer Packer, An Exercise in Tendernesses, 2017; Jennifer Packer, Untitled, 2019; Jennifer Packer, A Lesson in Longing, 2019. Photo: Ron Amstutz.

    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, Virtual Still Life #12 Modernistic Planter with Half a Desert Painting, 1995, oil on canvas, mixed media, 38 1⁄2 × 26 × 12".

    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

  • View of “Davina Semo and Deborah Remington,” 2019.
    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, Das perfekte Ebenbild und seine unaufthaltsame Mechanik  (The Perfect Image and Its Unrelenting Mechanics), 1977, C-print, 35 3⁄8 × 23 5⁄8".

    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, Jeux de femmes (Women’s Games), 2018, graphite, colored pencil, and airbrush on paper, 41 1⁄2 × 63".

    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, Divinité chtonienne guettant le sommeil d’un jeune homme (Chthonian Deity Watching over the Sleep of a Young Man), 1946, oil on canvas, 11 × 16 1⁄4".

    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, Untitled (Illuminated Exterior with Morphing Dancers), ca. 1946, graphite on paper, 13 1⁄4 × 10 1⁄2".

    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