Claire Lehmann

  • picks September 15, 2017

    Bernadette Mayer

    In July 1971, the prolific poet and occasional Conceptual artist Bernadette Mayer set out to shoot a thirty-six-frame roll of film each day of that month and to document her undertakings in an exhaustive written account. The resulting work, Memory, 1971–72, is composed of 1,100 photographic prints, arranged in a grid, and an amplified narration voiced by Mayer that she adapted from her writings—a six-hour, breath-stretching Steinian chronicle, later published as an unillustrated 1975 book of the same name. (Mayer remains best known in the art world as the coeditor, with Vito Acconci, of the

  • the collected essays of Luigi Ghirri

    The Complete Essays 1973–1991, by Luigi Ghirri; edited by Michael Mack and Izabella Scott; translated by Ben Bazalgette and Marguerite Shore. London: MACK, 2016. 239 pages.

    IS IT PARADOXICAL for a photographer to resent modernity? Perhaps, and yet the late Italian marvel Luigi Ghirri (1943–1992) sometimes did, or so he implied. In a newspaper column from 1989, he recounts one of his frequent driving excursions in Emilia-Romagna, a region thick with the then rapidly industrializing rural vistas that populate many of his images. He ruminates on the high-tension wires threading the roads between

  • picks December 02, 2016

    Matthew Porter

    In the years after New Hollywood cinematographers popularized lens flare as an acceptable filmic glitch, a certain strain of color photography—as seen on moody LP covers and ad pages for muscle cars or cigarettes—seemed to dwell almost exclusively in the magic hour, that pre-twilight moment when the sun emanates diffraction spikes and gentle melancholy. Roughly the same period marked the apex of utopian design’s perfusion in popular culture, as geodesic domes materialized everywhere from Expo 67 in Montreal to Colorado’s legendary Drop City commune.

    Matthew Porter mines and merges these aesthetic

  • picks May 20, 2016

    N. Dash

    Certain artworks can’t help but hint at the affect of the bodily actions that shaped them. Many of the iconic process-based sculptures of the 1960s—those shredded webs, tangled filaments, and crisscrossed threads of “Eccentric Abstraction,” for example—suggest a touch of psychic or manual frenzy. Such knotted fibers make an appearance in N. Dash’s current solo exhibition, but only in a twice-removed, two-dimensional form, in paintings silk-screened with images of cloth scraps that the artist rubs to the point of disintegration between her fingers, a daily practice that has occupied her since

  • picks March 11, 2016

    Luigi Ghirri

    Crisscrossing Italy in the 1970s and ’80s, the photographer Luigi Ghirri did for his homeland what notable New Color artists were doing for the US during those same decades—namely, capturing the country’s social, cultural, and actual landscapes in vivid hues. Ghirri died in 1992, but the work in this exhibition, despite its occasionally dated subjects and slightly color-shifted prints, feels current, and not just because much of contemporary photography revels in nostalgia. Long before today’s de rigueur interest in de- and rematerialized images and mania for rephotographed printed matter, Ghirri

  • picks September 18, 2015

    Sarah Sze

    Sarah Sze’s sculptures usually involve a lengthy list of ready-made objects, seemingly purchased from every shop in the neighborhood: the pharmacy, the hardware store, the bodega. A number of works in this show, however, are unified not by the incorporation of commodities, but of torn photographs depicting celestial visions. These ink-jet scraps provide literal atmospherics: billowing, Turner-esque clouds; fiery sunsets that radiate an it's-all-coming-to-an-end melancholy; and views of Earth as seen from space, wreathed in darkness. The cobalt hues in the planetary images are echoed throughout

  • picks September 11, 2015

    Katherine Bernhardt

    Katherine Bernhardt first gained notice for her drippy portraits of supermodels, which, like the paintings of some of her contemporaries in figuration—Sophie von Hellermann and Chantal Joffe, say—ply aggressively unfussy paint. Bernhardt has lately been forgoing cover girls for eye candy of a different sort: brightly colored patterns and funky groupings of foodstuffs and commodities, with Doritos, toilet-paper rolls, cigarettes, and tube socks making repeated appearances. In this exhibition, that Kmart cartful of items gets mixed up with fluorescent-hued flora and fauna of the Caribbean,

  • picks June 19, 2015

    Tom of Finland

    The subtitle of the Tom of Finland exhibition currently at Artists Space, “The Pleasure of Play,” points to a key aspect of the artist’s work: its fundamental cheerfulness. Tom, who admired the work of Paul Cadmus and Norman Rockwell alike, gave his homoerotic drawings of well-muscled men in uniform (and in various states of undress) a subtly wholesome bent. He once vowed, “My men were going to be proud and happy men.” His young bucks’ cocks are mammoth, but often their good-natured grins are bigger. The highly repressive decades during which Tom’s work developed could not stem his innate

  • picks June 05, 2015

    Jacqueline Humphries

    Jasper Johns punctured AbEx’s ballooning supremacy in the late 1950s with the most unassuming of means: His painterly renderings of letters, numbers, targets, and flags were a sly reminder of the abstraction inherent in our everyday symbolic systems. After devoting her career to picking up where the New York School left off, Jacqueline Humphries has introduced representation of a Johnsian sort in her new work: The eleven paintings in her current exhibition are veiled with emoticons, letters, and eight-bit glyphs. The glyphs are actually enlarged and rasterized pencil rubbings of canvas that,

  • picks May 08, 2015

    Fred W. McDarrah

    Allen Ginsberg once compared Fred W. McDarrah, the inaugural staff photographer at the Village Voice, to Weegee, a fellow photojournalist whose nocturnal flash revealed a multitude of subversions. McDarrah, however, was preoccupied not with crime but with the convulsions of culture—in literature, art, music, and politics—and his lens was primarily trained on happenings south of Fourteenth Street, from Beat readings to Club meetings. In 1961, he published The Artist’s World, a book in the tradition of the quasi-anthropological photographic essay, complete with explanations of the curious habits

  • picks April 10, 2015

    Jamie Isenstein

    Jamie Isenstein titled her latest exhibition “Para Drama,” after a phrase used to describe infighting among paranormal investigators. The term equally applies to the attendant theatricality of Isenstein’s sculptures that incorporate her own body (past examples include a live hand extending from a wall to form a candelabra, à la Cocteau; actual arms and legs fleshing out a wingback chair). For this show, Isenstein has expanded her idiosyncratic surrealism to include a sculpture in which the body remains invisible and instigates movement. In Mechanical Bed (all works 2015), a quilted coverlet

  • picks January 06, 2015

    Spiros Hadjidjanos

    In a review of Karl Blossfeldt’s 1928 photography book Urformen der Kunst, Walter Benjamin marvels at the artist’s use of then-novel photographic technologies, through which “a geyser of new image-worlds hisses up . . . where we would least have thought them possible.” That unlikely site was the minute surface of plant life, whose hidden structures expanded under Blossfeldt’s magnifying camera lens. Nearly a century later, Spiros Hadjidjanos harnessed recent technologies of our own time to transform a selection of Blossfeldt’s photos into four wall-mounted works as part of Hadjidjanos’s second