David Frankel

  • Maira Kalman, It was a unique eggbeater, 2004, gouache on paper, 11 1/8 x 7 7/8".

    Maira Kalman

    Despite its bone-deep elegance, Strunk and White’s Elements of Style (1919/1959), familiar to many of America’s editors and authors but demonstrably not to enough of either, seems an unpromising text for visual illustration, being, as it is, a brief guide to words and how to combine them. (That is, how to write.) Short of a series of rebuses, what could its images be? You would need a Maira Kalman to imagine and draw them, which in fact Kalman did, producing a celebrated edition of the book in 2005. This show offered a chance to see the original gouaches, along with a new set from this year, “

  • Henrique Oliveira, Devir, 2017, plywood, tree branches, bark. Installation view.

    Henrique Oliveira

    Now in his mid-forties, the Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira has a long exhibition history in both Latin America and Europe, not to mention scattered shows in the United States, but his installation Devir (Becoming), 2017, at Van de Weghe Fine Art was his first appearance in New York. As such, it may not have been completely representative: He is capable of very large-scale installations—Transarquitetônica (Transarchitectural), a maze of wood and brick tunnels at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, in 2014, filled a space around 240 feet deep, while another

  • Willie Doherty, No Return, 2017, video projection, color, sound, 15 minutes.

    Willie Doherty

    Once home to twenty thousand people, the town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, now houses around two thousand, having lost 90 percent of its population through the withering of the steel industry. That means empty houses and streets—the visual substance of Willie Doherty’s No Return, which he made for a show of work by Northern Irish artists at the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, very near Braddock, in the spring and summer of 2017. Alongside its succession of images, this fifteen-minute video has an aural component: Doherty combines his pictures of the town with a voice-over narrative, an

  • Eric Fischl, A Visit To / A Visit From / The Island, 1983, diptych, oil on canvas, overall 7 × 14'. From “Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s.”

    “Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s”

    After seeing and in some cases reviewing a number of shows of the New York art of the 1980s over the past few years, from Arch Connelly back in 2012 to a show about Manhattan’s Pier 34 in 2016, through Alvin Baltrop, Greer Lankton, and others along the way, I’d gotten into my head a memory of that time as funky, inventive, and in some way modest, a period of doing a lot with a little and of making art that was often intimate and ultimately personal. “Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s” might have been designed to rebut that idea: The literally big thing here was scale, from Kenny Scharf’s

  • film April 21, 2017

    Stealing the Scene

    WHEN LAURIE SIMMONS’S new film My Art was screened at the Whitney Museum last fall, the artist and now movie director accompanied it with a talk in which she remarked on how few films had gotten the business of being an artist right. Indeed, so many films which have gotten it wrong come to mind—we probably all have our own cheesy favorites—that the prospect of a movie on artmaking by a feminist artist of Simmons’s standing, and one that she not only directed but wrote and stars in, seems likely to draw murmurs of “At last.” Certainly when the film finds a distributor—it plays at the Tribeca Film

  • James Coleman, Working Arrangement—horoscopus, 2004–, eight-channel video installation, color and black-and-white, sound, 54 minutes. Photo: Cathy Carver.

    James Coleman

    This multipartite show by the Irish artist James Coleman included two fairly new works (Untitled, 2011–15, and Still Life, 2013–16); a mini-retrospective of five works from 1970, the year of Coleman’s first exhibition; a loner work bridging the turn of this century (D 11, 1998–2002); and a work begun in 2004 and still in process (Working Arrangement—horoscopus). The show, then, was a kind of primer, running from early to present in Coleman’s career. And while all of these works were projected images, his signature medium, they involved quite different forms and methods, from 16-mm film (

  • Elizabeth Murray, For “Flesh Table”, 1986, colored pencil on paper, 7 3/4 × 4 3/4". © The Murray-Holman Family Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    Elizabeth Murray

    Remembered deeply fondly by those who knew her for her intelligence and warmth, the late Elizabeth Murray, who died in 2007, was also a heroine for many artists, both as a painter who came up in the 1960s and ’70s, when painting seemed increasingly in crisis, and as a woman in a man’s or boy’s world. Growing out of this embattled place, Murray’s work was as brave as it was funny, as determined as it was adventurous and odd. Her presence in today’s art world—hell, today’s world—is greatly missed.

    The drawings in this welcome exhibition dated from the 1980s to the early 2000s and ranged

  • William Christenberry, Palmist Building (Summer), Havana Junction, Alabama, 1980, ink-jet print, 26 5/8 × 34 1/8". © William Christenberry.

    William Christenberry

    Years ago I was talking to a woman from Virginia about Ireland, where I grew up, and she said, “I love Ireland. It reminds me of home.” Ireland not being known for its tobacco nor Virginia for its stout, that surprised me, until she said, “They’re both tragic.” Indeed, both Ireland and the South have deeply embedded histories of defeat, of eclipse by a nearby elsewhere, and in both places, as William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” I often think of that conversation when I look at William Christenberry’s photographs of Alabama, but I’m also reminded of the Band

  • Andreas Sterzing, David and Mike at the Pier, 1983, C-print, 13 × 19". From “Something Possible Everywhere: Pier 34 NYC, 1983–84.”

    “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

  • View of “Jessica Stockholder,” 2016. Photo: Adam Reich.

    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.

  • View of “Arlene Shechet,” 2016–17. Background: Arlene Shechet, Bug Plate, 2013. Foreground: Model attributed to George Fritsche, Mounted Meissen Group, ca. 1729. Photo: Michael Bodycomb.

    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, The Marionette Maker, 2014, caravan, marionettes, robotics, lighting, audio (14 minutes), mixed media, 15' 4“ × 18' 6” × 10' 10".

    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