Courtney Fiske

  • Beverly Buchanan, Thornton Dial, and the Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers

    Contingency, a complex relationship to the body, and an abiding respect for the homespun were the threads that wove together this neatly conceived exhibition. The artists here—all African American and natives of the American South—served as pendants to one another, advancing a shared understanding of the artwork as mediated through memory and use.

    Beverly Buchanan (1940–2015) began making her “shack” sculptures in 1986, nearly a decade after moving to Macon, Georgia, from Manhattan, where she was a critical (if critically underrecognized) figure in the city’s post-Minimal art scene.

  • 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