David Frankel

  • Amy Cutler, Berta, 2011, gouache on paper, 13 x 10 3/4". From the series “Brood,” 2011.

    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, Night Awning, 2012, rabbit-skin glue and pigment on canvas, 67 3/4 x 55 1/8".

    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, They Finally Broke the Pot of Wisdom, 2011, copper wire, found aluminum, 15' 6" x 23'.

    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 Kienholz, The Cement Store #1 (under 5,000 Pop), 1967, engraved brass on walnut, paper in walnut frame, glass, 22 5/8 x 11 3/4".

    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, Ether, 2008–11, ink-jet print on handmade cotton paper, 5 1/4 x 7 7/8".

    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, This Nameless Spectacle, 2011, two-channel HD video projection, color, sound, 13 minutes. Installation view.

    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, The Load, 2012, wood, steel, glass, 7' 7“ x 15' 5” x 6' 2".

    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,

  • Two pages from Artforum 24, no. 7 (March 1986). Greil Marcus, “The Cowboy Philosopher.”

    David Frankel on Greil Marcus’s “The Cowboy Philosopher”

    I GREW UP IN THE BRITISH ISLES, and my ninth birthday fell a couple of weeks after the English release of “Please Please Me,” the Beatles’ second single and first big hit, in January 1963, so I make no apologies for saying: For my generation, rock music was a basic and crucial condition of life. It communicated on a level that simultaneously bypassed critical thought (I did say I was nine, I think?) and then, as we passed through our teens, was peculiarly, infinitely subject to it, or what passed for it in our developing minds. Today, listening to music I’ve known for up to and over five decades,

  •  Paul Graham, Vesey Street, 25th May 2010, 5.51.05 PM, diptych, color photographs, overall 4' 8“ x 12' 4 1/2”.

    Paul Graham

    Explaining to an interviewer why he called his recent show “The Present,” Paul Graham said the name was a reminder of photography’s “struggle to deal with time and life. Sometimes I think those are our materials. Not film, not paper, not prints: time and life.” The idea that the subject of photography—time and life—is also its material, and in a more primary way than its physical paraphernalia can be, is one that Graham has addressed in the past by photographing in series, and in his most recent work, a selection of which appeared in this exhibition (at Pace, but co-organized with

  • Arch Connelly, Culture and Landscape, 1985, acrylic, faux pearls, and chain on silk, 
42 x 42".

    Arch Connelly

    This small show of works by Arch Connelly was uplifting in the spirit sensible all through it and at the same time tremendously sad. I don’t think you had to have known Connelly, who died in 1993, to have that second response, though it might have helped to have lived in New York in the 1970s and ’80s, when the gay culture that held him and that he helped to shape went through first a dramatic, ecstatic flowering and then the brutal reduction imposed by the AIDS crisis. The show immediately summoned that history for those who lived through it, and also the shorter moment when Manhattan’s East

  • Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Two Planets: Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass and the Thai Villagers, 2008, still from a color video, 16 minutes.

    Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

    In 2008 and again in 2011, the Thai artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook took copies of famous European paintings, including examples by Édouard Manet, Jean-François Millet, and Artemisia Gentileschi, and of a couple of works by Jeff Koons out into the towns and countryside of Thailand to see what people there might make of them. I know of rare, similar projects undertaken not by artists but by scholars; after the 1980s debates over the influence of tribal art on early modernism, for example, the art historian Robert Farris Thompson brought images of Cubist works to Africa to see how they’d be understood

  • Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Addio del Passato, 2011, still from a color video, 16 minutes 52 seconds.

    Yinka Shonibare, MBE

    What stripes are to Daniel Buren or the “blp” is to Richard Artschwager, wax-printed cotton is to Yinka Shonibare, MBE—a medium, a trademark, a transformative tool. These inexpensive fabrics were initially manufactured by the Dutch in the nineteenth century for trade in the Far East, but found a readier market in Africa, to the point that today they index that continent. To Shonibare they also index the trade between Europe and its former colonies, and accordingly a complex and problematic nest of arrangements among nations and races. Throughout Shonibare’s work in many media, these fabrics