David Frankel

  • Kathy Butterly

    As an artist whose medium is clay, Kathy Butterly works between two histories: the tradition of pots—of objects that may well be refined but as vessels must also be useful—and the tradition of art, of useless objects that are nevertheless valuable to us because of the meanings embedded in them by the complexities of their appearance. This basic binary seems to have led Butterly to other ones. As a student, she majored in painting, but she was pushed into ceramics, she has said, by an encounter with the California sculptor Viola Frey: “She took twenty-five pounds of clay, whomped it

  • Moira Dryer

    When a cherished artist dies young—and Moira Dryer died at the age of thirty-four, in 1992, after a five-year struggle with cancer—it is unsurprising if the writing on her verges on hagiography. Everyone who met Dryer seems to have admired both her painting and the artist herself, and if there was anyone who didn’t, he apparently kept his opinions to himself. This recent exhibition, then—the first New York show of Dryer’s art in nearly twenty years—seemed to me something to be approached both eagerly and a little warily. The sadness of her early death could not but add its

  • Dotty Attie

    Dotty Attie first began to exhibit in the early 1970s, a period often remembered as hostile to painting as a medium of significant art. Indeed, although she began her career as a painter, from 1970 onward Attie worked not in painting but in drawing, and when she started to paint again, around 1985, she leaned on the strategies of Minimal and Conceptual art, the schools that had displaced painting in the art world’s attention. Attie worked and continues to work serially, mostly on canvases of the same size, a small six inches square, and she shows her groups of pictures in grids or rows. In doing

  • Helmut Federle

    Once again working in series, as he did for his last show at this gallery, in 2009–10, the Swiss artist Helmut Federle has produced a still more refined and concentrated group of paintings than he did then. As in those earlier works, whose overlapping planes admit a pentagonal shape toward the center of each picture, Federle is working with a single geometric form, this time a circle. But he has eliminated almost all color, and in fact has largely eliminated paint: The medium of most of the new works is no more than vegetable oil applied to unprimed canvas. To the extent that there is color, it

  • Dan Walsh

    “My joke early on about how to describe myself was ‘Philip Guston paints an Agnes Martin,’” Dan Walsh told an interviewer recently, and he is an artist who knows both his art history and himself. The early works he was describing are more spare and less colorful than those he makes now, but his analogy from the interview holds: The paintings, drawings, and books in this show all have an underlying severity—some intimation of Martin-like system and rigor and more broadly of an understanding of the ambitions of modernist abstraction—but Walsh’s subtly humorous designs and color schemes

  • Tim Hawkinson

    Looking at Tim Hawkinson’s work over the years, I’ve sometimes thought of François Truffaut’s famous book of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, published first in 1967, then with an additive revision in 1984. Truffaut begins by asserting that “Hitchcock is universally acknowledged to be the world’s foremost technician; even his detractors willingly concede him this title.” Yet while making this concession, Truffaut complains, American audiences feel the title is empty, since the films have “no substance,” and for Truffaut substance is inseparable from technique—given all that technique,

  • Philip Taaffe

    I’ve liked Philip Taaffe’s work since I first saw it, in the early to mid-1980s, but I’ve also been puzzled by its reception—by its considerable success and reputation. That puzzle was pointed up for me this summer, when this show of thirteen works mostly from 2013, all but one mixed media on canvas or linen, ran a few blocks away from a simultaneous exhibition by the Pattern and Decoration (P&D) artist Robert Zakanitch, which I wrote on here last month. P&D emerged in the 1970s, won a good deal of attention, then largely fell from critical grace; just a few years later, Taaffe’s early

  • CLOSE-UP: SWAMP THING

    THE WORLD OF WILLIE DOHERTY’S Secretion, 2012, is entropic and still, a place where little moves. Set up visually as a sequence of views of woods, waters, and a deserted house, the video might perhaps have come off as pastoral if shot in breezy sunshine but speaks instead of stagnation and decay. Shooting on windless days of gray light, Doherty finds fungi, lichens, and damp leaf litter in the dank forest, and growths, molds, and creeping mildews in the crumbling house. The only thing in motion is running water, but running water spreading spores of algae, or screened by a milky film. Combining

  • Robert Zakanitch

    A founding member of the P&D (Pattern and Decoration) movement of the 1970s, Robert Zakanitch made a series called “Hanging Gardens,” 2011–, for this exhibition, producing ten paintings in gouache on paper in the same large size, eight by five feet, as well as a handful of smaller pieces. In each work, a curtain of flowers—wisteria, honeysuckle, apricot—runs from top to bottom of the paper. At the top there is always some kind of architectural structure—a frieze, a scroll, an ironwork grid—that hides the flowers a little, sometimes blotting them out, sometimes just making

  • “Max Kozloff: Critic and Photographer”

    Max Kozloff should be well known to longtime Artforum readers, as he has written for the magazine on and off since 1964 and most recently just last September. In the mid-1970s, when he spent some years as Artforum’s executive editor, he began to focus his writing on photography, and at around the same time he became a photographer himself. Now the Art Institute of Chicago is presenting a show of around eighty of his pictures. Also on hand will be a selection of Kozloff’s essays and a group of works by photographers about whom he has written, providing an unusual

  • Thomas McEvilley

    DAVID FRANKEL

    THOMAS MCEVILLEY’S most widely remembered appearances in Artforum, to which he contributed often between 1981 and 1997, must be his essay “Doctor Lawyer Indian Chief” of November 1984 and his ensuing exchange of letters with William Rubin and Kirk Varnedoe, curators of the “Primitivism” show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, that had been the essay’s subject. Anyone not around at the time, almost thirty years ago now, may find it hard to imagine how intense was the argument around those texts, and how wide the fallout, and how both outrageous and courageous they seemed in the

  • Marisa Merz

    Marisa Merz’s name is better known than her work is, at least in the United States. A founding figure of Arte Povera and its only woman artist, she began to exhibit in Italy in the late 1960s, but her first solo show in New York—or anywhere in this country, for that matter—didn’t come until 1994 and was followed by a bare handful of repeats. Her last show in this city, in 2010, contained all of two pieces, and the one before that was back in 2006, so many in New York will have had little direct exposure to her. This may be in part her own doing: She has a reputation as an artist whose

  • Tacita Dean

    Though best known as a filmmaker, Tacita Dean works in a variety of media, including chalk drawings executed on blackboards at large scale. Last year, after a ten-year pause in making such drawings, Dean decided to produce a suite of them as her contribution to the Documenta 13 exhibition in Kassel, where they were installed not in the show’s main exhibition halls but in an off-site space, a onetime bank building appropriated by the Documenta team for the occasion. These were the works Dean brought to New York for her recent show: six drawings of the mountains of the Hindu Kush, the storied

  • Amy Cutler

    A few years back at this gallery, Amy Cutler showed a piece called Alterations, 2007, which departed obviously from the approach for which she was known in that it was an installation, a room-size sculpture. Cutler had made her name with fine-boned works on paper, many of them modest in size, in an illustrational style that for me recalled the best children’s books in its blend of representational carefulness and sometimes knife-sharp fantasy; now she spread out expansively to construct an elaborate spatial enigma, blending Americana with myth. But Alterations followed the earlier work in the

  • Tal R

    The Copenhagen-based artist Tal R is a catholic sort, having made sculpture, installations, clothing, and more as well as paintings, and having ventured into theater, music, dance, and other fields. His art has appeared in both solo and group shows in New York, but a good deal less often than in Europe, where he has exhibited quite widely. This show, his first one-man outing in New York since 2006, contained a focused group of works made in an unusual medium that he handles particularly well, a mixture of pigment and rabbit-skin glue. Since the glue dries quickly, the artist must work quickly

  • El Anatsui

    By now the story of El Anatsui is famous: In 1995, a Ghanaian artist in his fifties who lives in Nigeria, in an off-the-beaten-track town called Nsukka, has his first one-man show with a London gallery. Over the next fifteen-plus years, he shows extensively, in galleries, museums, and international exhibitions—New York, Osaka, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Mumbai, Moscow—including a triumphant appearance in the 2007 Venice Biennale. His work comes to hang in public collections running from the British Museum in London to New York’s Museum of Modern Art. It’s something of a fairy tale, and, as

  • Edward and Nancy Kienholz

    Dense fusions of memory and imagination, Edward Kienholz’s constructions and installations of the late 1950s and ’60s introduced a pungent scent of Americana to the art of the time. In the funky surrealism that they found in commonplace objects, the works shared something with the contemporaneous Combines of Robert Rauschenberg, but showed less of the high-art awareness that Rauschenberg had absorbed from Abstract Expressionism and Black Mountain, and were more deeply embedded in the vernacular American scene that Kienholz knew. The artist as Kienholz reconstructed the role was a close observer

  • Fazal Sheikh

    The photographer Fazal Sheikh’s concern with international issues of human rights has led him not only to many pictures of people living under conditions of displacement and duress but to a meditation on how this kind of image may most ethically be conceived. Through much of the 1990s, for example, Sheikh worked in African refugee camps, the products of conflicts in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and other countries. Whereas another photographer might have documented the difficulties of the camps’ conditions or hunted for visible traces of traumas accumulated on the way there, Sheikh most

  • Jesper Just

    Even before we digest the action in Jesper Just’s video installation This Nameless Spectacle, 2011, the work strikes us as visual experience: Its setup is literally encompassing in that it is projected on two long facing walls between which its viewers must stand. Other film and video artists have explored this device, for example Shirin Neshat, who, however, used smaller projections and set them apart on the short rather than the long walls of a long room, making it impossible to see both at the same time—the viewer had to turn from one to the other. Just works instead on the room’s long

  • Martin Puryear

    Like most of Martin Puryear’s sculpture in this typically virtuosic exhibition of recent work, the piece that met the visitor entering the show, The Rest, 2009–10, has many precedents in his art. Wheels and a long harness pole make this bronze representational—it is a covered wagon, though of a smaller, stubbier kind than the settlers’ Conestoga—but were it stripped of those accessories and turned to stand on its only flat side (the doorway where the rider would sit, open in a wagon but here filled in), it would instantly recall a good number of classic Puryear abstractions: humped,