Courtney Fiske

  • picks May 26, 2017

    Nairy Baghramian

    Nairy Baghramian’s latest show, “Dwindle Down,” features, among other works, four jointed glass sculptures that embody the titular verb. Seamed with metal bands and liberal daubs of adhesive, their segments are anchored to the wall by brackets and bolts whose function appears vaguely orthopedic. Thus assembled, Baghramian’s “Dwindlers” (all works 2017) outline cylinders that resemble vitreous intestines and soiled ventilation ducts. Stained with successive coats of paint in mineral hues, their surfaces gesture toward a past use as conduits for an unknown silty substance. Indeed, they engage the

  • picks March 03, 2017

    Eleanore Mikus

    Eleanore Mikus made the majority of her Tablets atop her studio floor, fitting sections of plywood into an eccentric patchwork then setting the arrangement with wooden braces and glue. The pressure subtly reconfigured each piece, yielding an improvised pattern of dents and grooves. Ripping the structure from the floor and reversing it, she applied repeated coats of gesso and white oil to its surface, marshaling paint as a form of adhesive to bind disparate elements. The result evolved into a series that Mikus started in 1961 and pursued until 1968, lingering on each piece for weeks or even years.

  • picks November 18, 2016

    Joan Mitchell

    For Joan Mitchell, painting was a suspended kinesthesia, an act that both dilated and disallowed bodily control, like riding a bicycle with no hands. Displayed here in a four-decade sweep alongside pastels and watercolors, her canvases make a case for the mnemonic. Though never explicitly figurative, they suggest scenes less seen than remembered. Each collects moods manifesting as gestures: dense clots, gooey smears, and wispy sprays. Together, they vex binaries of facture and image, positing the mark as a device that joins materiality and affect.

    In 1959, Mitchell quit New York for France,

  • picks October 14, 2016

    Victor Burgin

    Victor Burgin premises his art on misalignment. His early work commutes among image, narrative, and theory, pleasuring in the friction among disjointed forms of meaning. Exemplary from this period is UK76, 1976, a suite of eleven black-and-white photographs of workaday scenes: a supermarket, a sidewalk, a factory. On display at Bridget Donahue as a pendant to two digital projections at Cristin Tierney— Mirror Lake, 2013, and Prairie, 2015—each photograph is contoured by text cobbled from structural Marxism, promotional copy, and Burgin’s own aphorisms. Pasted directly to the wall like street

  • picks September 16, 2016

    Ed Moses

    Spanning 1951 to ’99, this survey of paintings and drawings by West Coast artist Ed Moses presents a pleasurable mismatch of gestures and techniques. Working horizontally so as to be able to approach his support from all sides, Moses variously sponged, mopped, squeegeed, and rolled paint across canvas, wood, and Mylar. Here, disclosed through an aluminum-colored wash, there, veiled by an accretion of acrylic, these supports treat paint as both a stain and a sheath. Colors and textures mix—soft and matte next to mineral and slick—yielding compositions that seem at odds with themselves. Wall Layuca

  • picks June 03, 2016

    Meg Webster

    Meg Webster’s Solar Grow Room (all works cited, 2016) centers greenery—lettuces, herbs, and assorted blooms—under LED grow lights that are powered by solar panels affixed to the gallery’s exterior. Equipment and edibles join in a self-sustaining (and sustainable) system that commutes between natural and electronic forms of energy. Disposed in nondescript planters, leaves and stems swell upward toward the lights in arrangements that suggest traditional still-life paintings, where botany often traffics in complex allegories of transience and decay. Yet Webster’s take is less downbeat than pumped

  • picks May 13, 2016

    Amie Siegel

    Amie Siegel’s latest works probe the pathos of preterit things. Shot in crystalline HD, Fetish, 2016, documents the annual cleaning of Freud’s London home, preserved since the early 1980s as a museum. Bronze sibyls, ceramic sphinxes, and ivory Buddhas line bookshelves and Biedermeier cabinets like patients awaiting analysis. Two conservators, outfitted in Freud Museum fleeces (the only confirmation of context), methodically remove, dust, and return each figure to its site. Yet the true protagonists are the objects themselves, which Siegel images from their best angle, straight on and centered

  • picks November 20, 2015

    Jean Tinguely

    For Jean Tinguely, art was a transitive proposition, meant to clatter, clank, and clunk its way to the trash. Tracing the four-decade arc of Tinguely’s career, the kinetic objects on display insist on being both seen and heard. Cobbled from disused mechanica, they perform a machine-age scherzo of hiccups, heaves, and hums. Together, they court anachronism, figuring time as a dual matter of patina and motion. Their installation assumes an excavatory feel, like an outlay of industrial relics, mounted on plinths and outfitted with extension cords.

    When Tinguely first engaged kineticism in the

  • picks September 28, 2015

    Rosemarie Castoro

    When Rosemarie Castoro appears in art history, it’s often as a footnote to Carl Andre, her husband for six years in the 1960s. This installation in her former loft, where she lived and worked from 1964 until her death this May, challenges Castoro’s preterition in boy’s-club accounts of minimalism. Culled largely from the '60s and '70s, the selection maps her movement from large-scale, pencil-scored canvases to raw materials, sourced from the hardware store and disposed in three dimensions.

    Castoro conceived gray as an achromatic color, its austerity palliative of Pop’s syrupy, synthetic palette.

  • picks September 25, 2015

    Jack Tworkov

    For Polish-born painter Jack Tworkov, the 1960s were a cul-de-sac for the autographic gesture. AbEx had tipped from an earnest style into a mode of stylization, and the question was how to continue painting, if at all. Spanning five decades, Tworkov’s latest hang cleaves to the contours of this now familiar narrative. De Kooning’s influence looms large—the ligament-like impasto of Departure, 1951, is an obvious homage—as does Cézanne’s. Note, 1968, presents as a field of stubby, separative marks, sloped in the manner of cursive script or the latter’s “constructive stroke.” Spaced in quivering

  • picks July 10, 2015

    Larry Bell

    Larry Bell’s 6 x 6 an improvisation, 2014, pares the cube to its essential component: the right angle. Extending his series of “Standing Walls” begun in 1968, this site-responsive work consists of thirty-two glass panels, each six feet square and perpendicularly paired with another. Staggered throughout a U-shaped room, the corners thus formed are unseamed and removed of human touch. Alternately clear or coated in nickel-chrome, they present lush mineral hues. Puce and slate shade into obsidian, shifting with one’s position like the gleam of gasoline in water.

    The glass’s chromatic contingency

  • picks April 24, 2015

    Erin Shirreff

    Erin Shirreff’s art beats between objects and images. Her latest show, “Arm’s Length,” consists of four bodies of work: large-scale cyanotypes, lush pigment-print diptychs, plinth-bound arrangements of plaster geometries, and layered compositions of steel. Its structure is syntactic, defined through a vocabulary of forms that recur across materials and media. Here tapered to a line, there fixed as a photograph, Shirreff’s shapes resist self-containment, meeting in shifting constellations that fail to congeal.

    Drop (no. 14) (all works 2015) began as a catalog of curves—the stock stuff of art-school

  • picks February 27, 2015

    Lynn Hershman Leeson

    From 1974 to 1978, Lynn Hershman Leeson doubled as Roberta Breitmore. She rode the bus, signed a lease, and solicited encounters with strangers, whom she met by placing personal ads in San Francisco city newspapers. The performance was ongoing and, for the most part, unwitnessed, sporadically documented in photographs taken by private investigators under the artist’s employ. “To me, she was my own flipped effigy: my physical reverse,” Hershman Leeson has described. “Her life infected mine.”

    Concerns with duplication and bodily impurity organize Hershman Leeson’s oeuvre, which here receives a

  • picks February 06, 2015

    Louise Nevelson

    Louise Nevelson, we are told, was never one to shy from theatricality. In photographs she appears, long-limbed and frontal, all angles and kohl and cultivated style. Pace’s latest foray into Nevelson’s oeuvre reveals an artist of softer, more scumbled contours. The show collects nearly twenty untitled collages, most made between 1956 and 1965, coextensive with the more explicitly sculptural work for which she is best known. All are small in scale and mounted on wood board. Their components—doilies, newsprint, paper bags, chamfered cardboard, bits of foil—are untransformed and betray signs of

  • picks November 14, 2014

    Daniel Gordon

    Daniel Gordon locates his photographs through a triangulation of painting, collage, and cutout. His C-prints compose still-life fare in complex tableaux, which he lights in-studio and captures on large-format film. Sourced from the Internet and cut freehand from printer paper, each element is inserted in a topography that makes little effort to disguise its seams. Plants sport skeins of hot glue; vases build up from clipped geometries; and apples resemble disused origami. Paper figures as a material at once volumetric and planar, drawn into space through facets and folds or collapsed into flatness

  • picks November 14, 2014

    Kiki Kogelnik

    Two silhouettes cut from sheet vinyl, one black, one butterscotch, hang from two coat hangers that are looped through wire to the canvas’s upmost edge. Slung against an acrylic gradient (pink-rimmed azure melted in lavender), each silhouette traces the contours of a body once full but now flayed: an enervated membrane, all surface and no sex. Sterile yet strangely seductive, like moltings from a space being, they treat the body as schema or sieve, limp and radically inorganic.

    The piece, Hanging, by Kiki Kogelnik was made in 1970 as part of a series of cutouts traced from human forms and executed

  • picks November 03, 2014

    Jennifer Paige Cohen

    Jennifer Paige Cohen figures moments of corporeal hinge: the slouch of a shoulder, the crook of crossed knees. Consider Obverse (Fleece), 2014, which takes shape from troweled plaster and pilled fleece. One side disposes consecutive curves: the first, the slope of shoulder into forearm; the second, a rounded edge to an oblique triangle, seemingly organic, like an impossibly slender knee. The other side features the titular garment variously exposed and laminated by plaster, which stipples its surface in a mime of an afternoon shadow.

    Like Obverse (Fleece), each of the twelve midsize sculptures

  • picks September 26, 2014

    Gina Beavers

    On December 1, 1961, Claes Oldenburg’s Store opened on Manhattan’s East Second Street. For sale were replicas of banal objects—a plate of meat, a fur coat—made lumpy and lascivious. Each came as a burlesque of the commodity it represented, an enactment of its status as a fetish: lurid, slutty, and psychotic.

    Gina Beavers’s latest paintings (all works 2014) preserve Oldenburg’s morbid obscenity, taking up the genre of the still life in its French inflection as nature morte. Derived from images posted on social-media platforms, their subjects—a “smokey eye” tutorial, junky nail art, a smile girded

  • picks June 12, 2014

    Nancy Grossman

    There’s an unsalutary air about Nancy Grossman’s wall-bound assemblages: a sense of impaction or suppurated swell like a beetle squished then left to harden. For all their blunt materiality, her bas-reliefs, produced between 1964 and ’67, invite metaphor. Elaborated on canvas reinforced with plywood, each consists of leather artifacts—gloves, jackets, boots, harnesses, and so forth—which Grossman has deconstructed and collaged with bits of mangled wood, metal, rubber, and rope. Color is subdued, restricted to reddish browns and black acrylic, which coats the scavenged debris and canvas ground:

  • picks May 06, 2014

    Sherrie Levine

    Repetition can act to affirm, to shore up meaning and provide closure: The lecturer reiterates her point to underscore its significance. Yet repetition can also effect the opposite, seriality emptying into beige-bland banality. To repeat in this second sense is to succumb to pathology, a compulsion whereby meaning cedes to a nightmarish sameness.

    Sherrie Levine has staked her nearly four-decade-long career on a deconstruction of the avant-garde myths of origin and originality, to which repetition is the debased double. Her latest show takes aim at Aleksandr Rodchenko’s triptych of monochromes,