David Frankel

  • Roxy Paine

    Distillation, 2010, the centerpiece of this show, belonged to Roxy Paine’s “Dendroid” series, begun in 1998, which New Yorkers may best remember for Maelstrom, the elaborate work with which he filled the rooftop sculpture garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009. In tune with its site above Central Park, that work was entirely arboreal, referring in all but its stainless steel substance to the forms and growth patterns of trees. Distillation, by contrast, began in James Cohan Gallery’s entrance hall with a regular cylinder, a shape clearly coded as artificial. Moreover, this cylinder

  • Mika Rottenberg

    The Rube Goldberg contraption explored in Mika Rottenberg’s video Squeeze, 2010, is simultaneously a single machine, a full-blown factory, and a global system. A literal sweatshop, this jerry-built structure is at once concrete, fantastical, and metaphorical, its ricketiness no contradiction of the grinding realities it indexes. Filmed in part in far-flung locations and in part on an elaborate homemade set, the work describes a peculiar processing plant, its layout ungraspable not just as a space with a certain footprint but as a site on the planet. For one thing, it seems to have portals on

  • David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy

    The invitingly contradictory title “Cubes and Anarchy” captures a divergence not only in the work of David Smith but in Abstract Expressionism generally, with its range from the repetitive rigor of Ad Reinhardt to the improvisational drive of Jackson Pollock

    The invitingly contradictory title “Cubes and Anarchy” captures a divergence not only in the work of David Smith but in Abstract Expressionism generally, with its range from the repetitive rigor of Ad Reinhardt to the improvisational drive of Jackson Pollock. Smith was particularly protean, making drawings, paintings, and photographs as well as the sculptures for which he is best known; having felt his way into sculpture as a student of painting, he aimed to outdo the two forms by fusing them together. Including 102 works in all of Smith’s various media and spanning his

  • Matthew Day Jackson

    Matthew Day Jackson aims high: life, death, presence, absence, the A-bomb. Like Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons, he’s a go-for-the-glory kind of artist, less interested in gray subtleties than in absolutes, extremes, and what literary critics used to call “the great tradition,” the canon-building heights of art’s capacities. Where his contemporaries, in dealing with history, might lean toward Foucauldian deconstruction or the view from below, Jackson tends to opt for big events: Hiroshima, the moon landing, the death of Philippe Pot (a pretty big event, apparently, in Renaissance France). In dealing

  • “Between Here and There”

    If there is any twentieth-century artist whose work has been so thoroughly carved up through such a wild range of readings that you would think no raw meat was left, it is Marcel Duchamp. But a few years back T. J. Demos, in his book The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp, found a theme that made the reader want to reexamine the artist’s entire corpus for signs of what Duchamp himself called a “spirit of expatriation,” a sense of nomadic homelessness that snapped him suddenly into a broader history of the twentieth century’s countless flights, migrations, and resettlements. “Between Here and There: Passages

  • Fiona Tan

    The link between Fiona Tan’s Provenance, 2008, and old-master painting is counterintuitive, for Tan is not a painter but a video artist. In this group of filmic portraits—looped video studies of barely moving figures—she also limits herself to black-and-white, so that her strongest reference is to the photographic tradition. And yet that link is quickly sensed. It’s evident partly in the gravity of Tan’s process, the unhurried slowness with which she looks at people, her camera standing still or incrementally panning or turning. It’s partly the quality of the light, here restrained and even,

  • Julian Schnabel: Art and Film

    It’s about time that someone set out to unravel the connections between Julian Schnabel’s films and his paintings.

    Julian Schnabel isn’t the only artist of his 1980s New York generation to go into moviemaking—think Robert Longo, David Salle, Cindy Sherman— but he’s certainly the one who has pushed that second career the furthest and gotten the most widely admired results, from his first feature film, Basquiat, in 1996 to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, nominated for four Oscars in 2008. It’s about time, then, that someone set out to unravel the connections between Schnabel’s films and his paintings, as curator David Moos promises to do here. Screening all of Schnabel’s movies, Moos

  • Leon Golub

    An analyst and chronicler of violence, Leon Golub was a great shifter of the content of painting, which he wrenched into a career-long consideration of the ancient endurance of the aggressive impulse and of both the artist’s and the ordinary citizen’s moral responsibility in the face of it. To meet the brutality of his subject matter, his process was strenuous—he used to joke (or was he joking?) about attacking the canvas with an ax—and the surfaces of his works were scarred and flayed to prove it. In poor health during the last five years of his life (he died in 2004), Golub basically set this

  • Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

    Janet Cardiff first became known for works that she calls walks, in which her recorded voice guides headphone-wearing visitors through a site—a park, a museum—and modulates their experience of it through scraps of description and information, fragmented stories, and 360-degree environmental sound. Part of the charge of these pieces lies in the friction between their intricately realized auditory landscapes, which seem to put us and Cardiff inside one another’s heads, and the landscape through which we walk—the same, unaltered scene we usually perceive out of no one’s body but our own. In these

  • Barbara Kruger

    Barbara Kruger’s art has been confrontational at least since her landmark works of the 1980s, in which found photographs and sharp phrases addressed viewers directly, especially those viewers who thought the word you meant them. And it seemed that many did, for Kruger became a flash point, one of the artists old-school critics had in mind when they complained about the hectoring, lecturing turn they felt that art was taking. But Kruger was always far smarter and subtler than that critique claimed, and later, when she moved into video installations—such as The Globe Shrinks, 2010, the single

  • Gino de Dominicis

    The centerpiece of this 130-work retrospective, spanning the entirety of Gino de Dominicis’s career, will be the amazing Calamita Cosmica (Cosmic Magnet), 1990.

    The meaning of the “AXXI” in MAXXI is “arts of the 21st century,” yet this new museum, having asked Zaha Hadid, no less, to design its building, is opening with a show on Gino de Dominicis, born 1947, died 1998. Perverse? No doubt. But if Italy seems to have its own sense of time, de Dominicis certainly did. His work, in many media, ranges in reference from ancient Sumer to interplanetary space, and though its enigmas are heavily deliberate, they remain unsolved. The centerpiece of this 130-work retrospective, spanning the entirety of de Dominicis’s career, will

  • Willie Cole

    For many US residents, the term post-black may describe a nation in which an African American can become president; citizens of the New York art world may also remember the Studio Museum in Harlem’s “Freestyle” show of 2001, and curator Thelma Golden’s use of that phrase to name what she thought was a new attitude toward the role of “black artist.” The title of Willie Cole’s recent exhibition, “Post Black and Blue,” seemed to touch on both references, and also reminded me of Fats Waller’s great song “(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue,” written in 1929 and still startling in its take on

  • Jacob Aue Sobol

    Jacob Aue Sobol is a young Danish photographer who doesn’t seem to photograph much in Denmark: In the tradition of the Magnum photo group—he is one of its younger members—he travels, particularly favoring places where the living is hard. Sobol first became publicly known through a series on Greenland, where he spent three years in the small village of Tiniteqilaaq, largely following the local way of life. Pictures from that series, “Sabine,” 1999–2001, formed part of this exhibition. The rest of the works on view were shot between 2006 and 2008 in Tokyo, where Sobol presumably lived more

  • Helmut Federle

    At the heart of each of the five paintings Helmut Federle showed at Peter Blum is an irregular pentagon, a flat geometry brighter than the rest of the picture, if not always by much. That void is not bare canvas—it shows pigment—but it might almost have gone unpainted, since it has become itself partly by omission: It is defined by the paint around it, applied in overlapping layers of wide straight bands radiating outward over the surface in progressively darker rings. In The Danish Prince; Vilhelm Hammershøi (all works 2009) and occasionally elsewhere, faint pencil lines mark the pentagon’s

  • Walid Raad

    The fifteen years of war that began in Lebanon in the mid-1970s, when Walid Raad was growing up there, and the enduring threat of violence in that country have been a steady presence in the artist’s work, though in devious ways. Instead of bluntly claiming a place for Lebanon’s tragedies in our attention, Raad has clothed himself in fictions, signing his work “The Atlas Group” and presenting it as a body of collective scholarship, academic, indeed picayune, to a fault. In combining a loaded subject with a recondite form, Raad has escaped the “didactic” label so often applied to heart-on-sleeve

  • Robert Longo

    Robert Longo was in on the ground level of what’s now called the Pictures generation, having participated in the seminal New York exhibition organized by Douglas Crimp in 1977.

    Robert Longo was in on the ground level of what’s now called the Pictures generation, having participated in the seminal New York exhibition organized by Douglas Crimp in 1977. But though Longo has received as much market attention as his peers, he hasn’t always gotten as much respect; there’s a crowd-pleasing drama to his drawing and sculpture, which are generally grand in scale, high in contrast, and often strong with a less-than-subtle intimation of apocalypse. A Damien Hirst before his time—he relishes guns, tidal waves, and mushroom clouds the way Hirst does

  • Justine Kurland

    Behind images always lie other images, and the shadow of the visual archive falls heavily on photographs of the American West—partly because of the region’s role in the formation of America’s sense of itself, partly because Timothy O’Sullivan, Carleton Watkins, and others made not merely national but photographic history (hey! much more important) with the pioneering pictures they began to take there in the mid-nineteenth century. In the late 1970s, Mark Klett and other photographers explicitly recognized this doubleness of present and past through their work on the Rephotographic Survey Project,

  • Steve Wolfe

    Steve Wolfe’s best-known works nod to painting, in that many of them sit on the wall, and to sculpture, in that they’re three-dimensional objects, which you might think either solid or hollow except that as exacting trompe l’oeil copies of classic books they imply that sealed inside them are composite, flexible physical structures and infinite worlds of verbal content. As artworks, of course, they’re strictly do not touch, and once you understand what each one is—not a much-thumbed copy of a favorite art book or novel but its simulacrum, dog ears, grime, and all, painstakingly modeled in materials

  • James Lee Byars

    Shaman, charlatan, oddball, dandy—James Lee Byars carried off all these roles with flair, uniting them without contradiction. Like Yves Klein, whom he in many ways resembled, he brought to art a group of self-taught extracurricular ideas that set him somewhat beyond the grasp of art historians and critics (with the notable exception of Thomas McEvilley, one of the most convincing explicators of both men’s work). As with Klein, his thought lay as close to religion as to aesthetics, though if Klein was influenced by readings in Rosicrucianism, for Byars the deepest impression seems to have been

  • Tim Hawkinson

    Tim Hawkinson often depends on ingenuity and surprise, on shifting something familiar or at least imaginable into an unimaginable medium or scale. Like Tom Friedman, an artist I’ve fantasized seeing him paired with, he fosters in viewers a sense of jaw-dropped wonder, the “How did he do that?” coming way before “And why?” For this show, for example, Hawkinson made a full-scale motorbike out of feathers. He made a stool out of eggshells and a model of the atmosphere out of tape and what looked like a bicycle frame. There’s something of the science nerd in Hawkinson, and also something of the