David Frankel

  • “Something Possible Everywhere: Pier 34 NYC, 1983–84”

    The story of Pier 34, on the Hudson River at Canal Street in Manhattan, traces a kind of poem of empire: Built in 1932, when New York was a busy port, it would then have been a meaningful source of employment for the working class of the city’s industrial and maritime age. That heyday was short: By the 1960s the city’s piers were sidelined, not by the globalization that today has made so many American factory workers redundant but by the streamlining efficiencies of old-fashioned capitalism, the growth of the container traffic that demanded both fewer hands on the docks and more storage space

  • Jessica Stockholder

    In a talk on the painter Elizabeth Murray in 2005, Jessica Stockholder remarked that Murray’s pictures, in doing away with flat rectangular canvases while retaining naturalistic representation and illusion, embody “a duality between aggressive challenge to convention and a conservative love of tradition.” As so often when artists discuss artists they admire, Stockholder might almost have been describing herself, responding to something in Murray that she recognized in her own practice. Or so it seems to me, looking at her work’s combination of formal sculptural concerns and found-object spectacle.

  • Arlene Shechet

    In her last New York solo show, in 2013, Arlene Shechet showed clay sculptures in a vein of abstraction that indexed the Rabelaisian—forms here swollen, there constricted, here biomorphic, there ambivalently geometric, the colors sometimes flat and sometimes violent, the surfaces now smooth, now scraped or stucco-like. These objects stood on bases as considered as themselves, in materials from raw wood to cement, in structures from short and stubby to tall and spare, and in heights that brought the tallest works up to a total of almost six feet. What, then, would be the subject of Shechet’s

  • Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

    A group of inanimate objects endowed with uncanny life, someone at work designing them, a nod to the unconscious, an object whose age introduces the principle of memory: The Marionette Maker, 2014, seems to me to be a parable of artmaking, in more ways than the obvious one that it is named after a maker of sculptural figures. We enter a darkish room holding a familiar but old-fashioned object, a nearly eleven-foot-long caravan, that endearing predecessor, somehow both clunky and flimsy, of today’s hulking RVs. This one is already strange in that it’s topped by a large pair of rotating, megaphone-type

  • Eugene Von Bruenchenhein

    The world-in-a-grain-of-sand quality of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s work comes not from the work itself—it is expansive to the point of interstellar—but from our sense of the contrast between his art and his life. Born in 1910, he lived with his wife—Evelyn, but he called her Marie—in a small house in Milwaukee; had a job making doughnuts in a bakery; retired at the age of forty-nine, with a health problem contracted through years of working with flour (a baker’s equivalent of the miner’s black lung); lived into his early seventies, on very little money; and meanwhile filled

  • “Beverly Buchanan: Ruins and Rituals”

    “The house and its yard and the road behind and across”—the poetry of Beverly Buchanan’s description of the inspiration for her best-known sculpture was beautifully borne out in the works themselves, small architectures evoking, rooted in, but sometimes wildly departing from the shacks of her native South. For much of the art audience, Buchanan, who died in 2015, is a discovery of recent years, but her career dates back to the 1970s and includes site-specific earthworks, painting, photography, drawing, and concrete-block post- Minimalist sculpture,

  • Becky Howland

    In 1982, in the backyard of the ABC No Rio artists’ space and community center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side—an area for which dilapidated would at the time have been a euphemism—Becky Howland built a sculpture called Brainwash that won neighborhood cachet. Finely described by Richard Flood in Artforum as both “endearingly jerry-built and menacingly apocalyptic,” it was up for a couple of years, and people would stop by to see it every now and then: a blunt-spoken, twenty-foot-long, three-dimensional diagram of the ravages of capital, pollution, the fossil-fuel economy, and more, all

  • William Kentridge

    William Kentridge’s More Sweetly Play the Dance, 2015, looks both unlike anything you’ve seen and something like a lot of things you’ve seen—both new and hauntingly familiar, it expertly mines both current and ancient forms of art and community as well as both novel and established devices within Kentridge’s practice, producing both wonder and recognition. Recent headlines may come to mind, but so, for me, did Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film The Seventh Seal, though I wasn’t sure why until, reading the artist’s notes in a catalogue published by Amsterdam’s Eye Film Museum, which co-commissioned

  • Carroll Dunham

    Eight or nine years ago Carroll Dunham ended a period of focusing on male figures—figures comically, formulaically masculine, wearing suits and sporting cigarette-butt heads and penis noses, their hands sometimes wielding things that could have been pipes or guns or penises again—and went to the other side, developing an imagery of naked women gamboling in gardens. The women were large and big-boned and ungraceful, their sexual signifiers were as distinct and determining as the men’s had been, and there were those who found them grotesque, but I thought their exuberant physicality was

  • Valerie Jaudon

    “Today it is almost impossible,” Valerie Jaudon told an interviewer in 2001, “for anyone to understand the intolerant conformity of the early ’70s institutional art world, its museums, galleries, and critics. Not only was the ‘mainstream’ narrow, but there were no models, art historical or otherwise, to guide one out of the modernist box.” By those lights Pattern and Decoration—or P&D, the movement through which Jaudon emerged in the period she describes—was a reactive push back against a deadening history, and as such fell into the subversive tradition of earlier avant-gardes. Yet by

  • Ron Nagle

    Ron Nagle is something of a legend—a sculptor working in clay, an alumnus of the celebrated “pot shop” of Peter Voulkos, and as such a significant figure in the development of modern art in California. He is also a rock musician who has moved in the world of Jefferson Airplane, Jack Nitzsche, Ry Cooder, and others, and if you ever wondered who created the sound effects for William Friedkin’s 1973 film The Exorcist, now you know. Strange that he’s had enough time to make art, and to make it so well.

    This show included mostly work from the last year or so, with drawings relating to it or from

  • “James Casebere: Fugitive”

    The status of the photograph as an artwork, and the status of the artwork as a photograph, are today widely recognized issues—but when James Casebere began making stage-set-like maquettes as the subjects for photographs in the mid-1970s, he was producing a new kind of fusion and a new kind of fiction. And if the related work of his contemporary Cindy Sherman opened onto yet another arena of aesthetics, in her case performance, Casebere’s pulled in architecture. Enwezor’s retrospective will include fifty works from all periods of the artist’s career, notebooks and

  • Stanley Whitney

    In a career going back to the early 1970s, Stanley Whitney is having a moment, with simultaneous uptown and downtown shows that drew excited responses in the press. This for abstract paintings that are structurally easy to describe as blocks of color set in stacks and rows, a grid format that Whitney has lately brought to a pitch of refinement but that has been present or foreshadowed in his work for a long time. You might think, What’s the fuss? There are many precedents for this kind of painting, and indeed it’s essentially familiar—which, though, doesn’t mean its position is comfortable.

  • Beverly Buchanan

    Beverly Buchanan’s tabletop cabins and shacks evoke rural life, and a passing glance at these seemingly cobbled-together structures might typecast them as some interesting kind of folk art. But Buchanan studied in New York with the Abstract Expressionist Norman Lewis and was close to Romare Bearden, and she arrived at these sculptures after a period, begun in the 1970s, of working with blocks of cast concrete, which she piled and leaned in ways relating to post-Minimalism and Land art. Eventually, though, as she wrote in an artist’s statement, her “vision and interest shifted to the reality of

  • Lucy Mackenzie

    Not only does Lucy Mackenzie’s work fall into an age-old genre, the still life, but it is old-style in being resolutely and exactingly realistic, sometimes to the point of trompe l’oeil. These paintings and drawings are small—most of those in this show had dimensions roughly in the three-to-seven-inch range, with the unusual largest scraping up to a bit over ten—and the paintings were made not on canvas but on board, giving them a subtle solidity. Small, subtly solid, and treated with clear and precise color by an extremely careful hand: These are jewel-like little objects, instantly

  • Anton van Dalen

    A local artist and proud of it, Anton van Dalen has lived in the East Village since 1972, and his years there have generated his subject matter. This show largely focused on the neighborhood, and included not only recent and a few older paintings but also a one-evening enactment of Avenue A Cut-Out Theatre, a performance he first aired in 1995 and has developed steadily in the years since. In the past, Van Dalen has enjoyed flights of fancy—scenes of interplanetary travel, and spatial fantasies recalling M. C. Escher, and the like—and this show too had its Magrittean moments of rabbits

  • Robert Kushner

    Robert Kushner’s last exhibition at this gallery, in the winter of 2012–13, was austere by his standards, leaning heavily on a grisaille palette said to have been inspired by the spare black-and-white paintings of Willem de Kooning, so powerfully grouped in the retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York the previous year. Between finishing those works and conceiving the recent show, Kushner visited a painter friend, respected and senior, who told him, “You’ve been doing the same thing too long. . . . Go more Baroque.” (He tells the story in a talk posted on the gallery’s website.)

  • Albert York

    When Calvin Tomkins profiled Albert York for the New Yorker in 1995, the artist had shown regularly since 1963 and had acquired a quite glamorous collector base. But he was a private man and his work is private, too, even while instantly entrancing (one of its many paradoxes), and he was also a painter of apparently calm figurative scenes, landscapes, and floral still lifes mostly around a foot or so tall and wide—this in the period of Pop, Minimalism, and Conceptual art. Despite York’s relative success, then, he was obscure—hence Tomkins’s neat and again paradoxical description of

  • Steve Gianakos

    The cartoonlike paintings that Steve Gianakos has been making since the early 1970s have long been perverse, and this particular group seems to me no more or less so than earlier ones. But it ranks with the best of his work in its formal intelligence, and in the friction that quality creates with its decidedly sordid content. Like those Hitchcock films so artfully constructed that you find yourself rooting for the criminal, the paintings are utterly involving, but the viewer who enjoys them may end up feeling queasy about himself. The issues Gianakos is raising, though, are never far from the

  • Greer Lankton

    Greer Lankton created a world that she wanted to live in. The often life-size dolls that peopled this exhibition, which was high on many people’s favorites lists for 2014, have a psychic charge that speaks of needs and ambitions not only aesthetic but immediate and personal, as if in making these sculptures she’d been making beings to give herself company and support. Should the thought arise that this turns them into something other than art—therapy, perhaps—I would quickly dismiss it: The feeling of entering a previously unimagined dimension that its maker has realized and worked