Christopher Howard

  • John Houck, Untitled #111, 2012, archival pigment print, 60 x 40".
    picks July 26, 2012

    John Houck

    The title of John Houck’s first solo exhibition in New York, “To Understand Photography, You Must First Understand Photography,” is a tautological tease, a foil that enables the expected self-reflexive meditations on his medium but brims with an abundance of interpretive directions. To really understand photography, his work suggests, you must also consider history, literature, architecture, mathematics, and religion. Take, for example, the works in the “Echelon” series, such as #7, Axonometric and 27mm Perspective and #9, Axonometric and 27mm Perspective (all works 2012), in which Houck has

  • Bartlett, Jennifer, 5725 East Ocean Boulevard, 1977, enamel over silk-screen grid on ninety-nine baked enamel steel plates, 77 x 350".
    picks May 11, 2012

    Jennifer Bartlett

    The titles of Jennifer Bartlett’s large-scale paintings on square plates of baked enamel steel—from Rhapsody, 1975–76, to the more recent Song, 2007, and Recitative, 2009–10—undoubtedly intend to invoke music and melody. Critics have also described these and similar works in terms of speech and syntax, calling them “novelistic.” Her latest exhibition, “Addresses (1976–78),” comprising four major plate works supplemented by notes, sketches, and drawings on graph paper, shifts the focus to a subdued but ubiquitous theme in Bartlett’s work: location.

    Throughout her career, Bartlett has offered

  • Dan Flavin, eight “monuments” for V. Tatlin, 1968, ballpoint pen on paper, 8 1/2 x 11".
    picks April 02, 2012

    Dan Flavin

    “Dan Flavin: Drawing,” the first museum retrospective of his rarely seen work on paper, includes numerous sketches the artist made en plein air, indicating a predilection to escape the cold fluorescent glow of his indoor electric lightbulb installations and experience fresh air and real sunshine. Several charcoal and pastel drawings of sailboats from the mid-1980s render masts and sails with an economy of means one would expect from a founding Minimalist, their angles evoking The Diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantine Brancusi), 1963, Flavin’s breakthrough sculpture consisting of a yellow bulb

  • Heyd Fontenot, Angry Johnny, 2007, oil on canvas, 53 x 29”.
    picks December 21, 2011

    Heyd Fontenot

    Nearly everyone in Heyd Fontenot’s portraits is naked. Most are touching themselves, and no, not in that way. Rather, after shedding their clothes, the subjects of this Texan artist’s intimate paintings and drawings instinctively reach for their own bodies, posing with a hand on a hip or caressing a cheek, or with an arm draped across a thigh. Occasionally one model will embrace another’s shoulder. Self-assured and at ease, these people are, quite literally, in touch with themselves. It’s puzzling, then, to have encountered a warning sign and curtained-off galleries alerting visitors to the

  • Rico Gatson, The Group, 2011, acrylic paint on wood panel, 49 x 56".
    picks November 06, 2011

    Rico Gatson

    Emblems simplify complex matters and often slide dangerously into propaganda. Using the clean lines and precise forms of familiar signs and symbols, Rico Gatson’s art does the opposite, opening wide a world of resounding significance. As seen in this fifteen-year survey, Gatson’s achievement comes in part from his recurring subject matter—twentieth-century African-American history—but also from his keen exploitation of wide-ranging visual strategies, with sources including hardedge abstraction, Minimalist sculpture, Soviet-era posters, and Emory Douglas’s iconic designs, among others. The

  • Aïda Ruilova, Goner, 2010, still from a color film in 35 mm, 11 minutes 35 seconds.
    picks September 29, 2011

    Aïda Ruilova

    Aïda Ruilova once used low-budget consumer-grade cameras to make videos lasting not much longer than television commercials. Drawing on horror films and experimental music, those looped works produced compact spaces of convulsive disorientation. While her latest completed project, Goner, 2010, upgrades her practice with slick production values and stylized cinematic pans, this eleven-minute 35-mm film (transferred to DVD) never quite develops a coherent plot—which is troubling, considering the action that takes place in it. The film begins with an attractive young woman, played by the model and

  • Christopher Wilmarth, Days on Blue, 1974, steel and etched glass, 24 x 60 x 16”.
    picks July 30, 2011

    Christopher Wilmarth

    Christopher Wilmarth emerged during American sculpture’s most tumultuous period, but his elegant constructions in steel and etched glass diverged sharply from nearly all of his post-Minimalist contemporaries using similar industrial materials. If something like the six-foot bowed plane of sea-green glass in Long Memphis, 1973, fastened to the gallery wall with a slender steel cable, emphasized process or duration, it was to effect a transcendental moment of suspended time. After all, the artist wrote, “I’m in the transportation business.”

    Wilmarth’s third solo exhibition at Betty Cuningham in

  • View of “The Making of Americans,” 2011.
    picks June 01, 2011

    “The Making of Americans”

    Presented as a concise history of modern art’s development through the mid-twentieth century, “The Making of Americans” offers all the elements of a serious, scholarly exhibition: tasteful but crowded hangings, vintage catalogues under glass, televisions playing documentary footage, even a period room loosely reconstructing Gertrude and Leo Stein’s Parisian salon. Indeed, the Berlin-based Museum of American Art, which organized the show with the James Gallery and the Salon de Fleurus in New York, frames its mission as an ethnographic investigation into the legacy of the Museum of Modern Art

  • Ross Racine, Heavenly Heights, 2008, ink-jet print, 26 1/2 x 34 1/2”.
    picks May 16, 2011

    Ross Racine

    Critiques of the suburbs rarely stray from charges that they are, at best, safe and predictable and, at worst, isolated and conformist. From the ticky-tacky houses spoofed in Weeds to the psychological unrest in Donnie Darko and American Beauty, mocking and pessimistic approaches to carefully ordered communities too often amount to retreads of old clichés, however true they may be. The twelve works in Ross Racine’s latest exhibition, “North of Piney Acres,” depicting vast bird’s-eye views of invented lots-and-blocks subdivisions, offer a refreshingly playful yet irrefutably critical perspective.

  • Left: Mural by Italian street artist Blu being painted over by LA MoCA workers in December 2010. This image was featured in an East of Borneo article by Thomas Lawson titled “Institutional Whitewash.” (Photo: Casey Caplowe). Right: A 1974 picture by Allan McCollum of Vija Celmins and her dog. McCollum posted several portraits from the ’70s on East of Borneo’s Facebook page.
    interviews May 07, 2011

    Thomas Lawson

    Thomas Lawson is founder and editor in chief of East of Borneo, a website that launched in fall 2010. With editor Stacey Allan, he envisioned a hybrid journal that combines commissioned essays and interviews with artists, alongside primary material such as photographs, video, sound, and ephemera uploaded by readers. Based at CalArts, East of Borneo focuses on presenting the untold stories of contemporary and historical art from Southern California.

    I LIKE THE PRESENTNESS OF MAGAZINES, the way they allow for disparate voices, speaking in the here and now. There’s always a reason that we find

  • Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Can (Chicken with Rice), 1966, solid aluminum and silk-screen inks, 4 x 2 5/8 x 2 5/8”.
    picks March 02, 2011

    Andy Warhol

    Andy Warhol’s entire oeuvre could arguably be reduced to a single iconic image: the soup can. It is surprising, then, to learn that since the artist’s legendary 1962 exhibition of thirty-two Campbell’s Soup Can paintings at Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, no museum or gallery has focused exclusively on the subject. While a 1970–71 traveling retrospective devoted a section to the cans, only this exhibition—a small, tight collection at Armand Bartos titled “Warhol Soup” and encompassing prints, paintings, multiples, and ephemera—demonstrates how the Pope of Pop developed a singular idea into an

  • William Powhida and Jade Townsend, Art Basel Miami Beach Hooverville, 2010, digital print, 32 x 48”.
    picks February 23, 2011

    “I Like the Art World and the Art World Likes Me”

    “Art about art” has spawned a subgenre, “art about the art world.” With an overwhelming focus on New York, this exhibition, curated by Eric Doeringer, an artist who sells his work (devotional-size paintings in the styles of superstars like Elizabeth Peyton and Julian Opie) on Chelsea streets, corrals twenty-one contributors disenchanted, in varying degrees, with the art-world establishment—meaning mostly high-powered museums and galleries but also the general production of art history. Ward Shelley’s painting Matrilineage Ver. 1, 2007, a time line that arranges previously overlooked women artists,