David Frankel

  • Richard Wright

    The wall drawings of British artist Richard Wright have an austere grandeur, even when he bypasses a traditional strength of the mural form—its command of large architectural expanses—in favor of corners and crannies. Most memorably in this show, Wright filled the somewhat cramped, visually unapproachable ceiling recess around a skylight with diverging and converging blue and black lines, here forming dense dark nests, there open, white eye shapes. The black iron crosses configured in one corner lost their sinister connotations through repetition into pattern. The show’s centerpiece was a column

  • Keith Edmier

    From Farrah Fawcett to molten lava, sub-Freudian jokes about the progress of Keith Edmier’s fascinations come too easily to be funny. Still, the fact remains that his best-known work, from 2000–2002, is a marble nude of the actress and ’70s poster girl, and that the centerpiece of his recent show developed out of a three-year try at casting in molten rock. He actually went to Hawaii to study the stuff in its natural state, then figured out a process to produce and work it in a foundry. You wonder about the technology, not to mention the expense, involved in this artistic first, for a first I

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat

    According to Marc Mayer, leader of this show's four-person curatorial team, Basquiat was “the last great modernist painter.” A Basquiat retrospective (of some ninety works) with a real art-historical ax to grind is something we need to see.

    According to Marc Mayer, leader of this show's four-person curatorial team, Basquiat was “the last great modernist painter.” How so? Because, “if we think of him as a painter of the School of Paris, he was essentially a figurative and even narrative painter—but there's an extraordinary, breathless, endless reservoir of references in his work, as if he wanted his paintings to represent all of human history.” If this sounds a little like saying that a camel is a giraffe, but has humps—be patient. A Basquiat retrospective

  • Ellen Gallagher

    Ellen Gallagher’s art has always involved insinuating content into modernist formats once cherished for emptying content out—for transcending the world’s mess. An apparently abstract line, for example, may in her hands break up into a row of tiny lips or eyes, their shapes close to racist caricature. Gallagher’s earlier work relied on the tension between the deliberately problematic comedy of these miniaturized and therefore surreptitious infiltrators and the overall elegance of her objects, often luxurious in scale and surface. A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, as Julie Andrews

  • Lucas Samaras

    Just a year back, the Whitney Museum ran a big show—over 350 works—on self-portraiture in the work of Lucas Samaras. That show, partly funded by the J.F. Costopoulos Foundation—its mission “the preservation and promotion of culture and civilization in Greece [and] abroad”—necessarily presented Samaras as an American artist, since American art is the Whitney’s mandate. Now the foundation is mounting its own retrospective, of around four hundred works in an array of media, in the artist’s native Greece. (He came to the US as a boy.) Even without the Whitney’s self-portrait

  • Richard Deacon

    There’s a kind of sculpture that makes some people feel like wusses—an art of resistant materials, mighty force, dangerous tools—but there’s always an audience for it, because it makes other people feel like titans. Of course that’s not the only reason; tough sculpture can have all sorts of formal appeal. But surely a part of its attraction is an excitement about, or an identification with, the brute ability to make such work. There are other kinds of sculpture, naturally, and the post-Minimalists in particular were serious about alternatives, for example in the tactile methods and images of

  • TV, or Not TV: Alex Bag

    What is the point of like making work for people that are so smart that they don’t even watch TV?

    —Alex Bag, Fall ‘95

    ALEX BAG IS THE QUEEN OF POUT: Forehead forward, brows raised, chin in, lips pursed, she can deliver a look you’d get out of the way of. In a brief sequence from her video Untitled (Project for the Andy Warhol Museum), 1996, she fights with a soon-to-be ex-boyfriend: “You are a selfish, arrogant pig Zach Tyler!” she cries. “Well, it takes one to know one,” he answers, and here it comes—the pout—the assessing, leveling gaze—but instead of the devastating riposte we might expect

  • Not Vital

    A minimalist fabulist you might call him: In most of the sculpture here, the Swiss artist Not Vital combines Euclidean geometries with children’s-book contents. Camel, 2004, comprises sixteen sealed silver spheres, each nine inches in diameter, and each, we are told, containing a part of a camel. The animal’s body was laid out to dry in the sun, and shrank; so these sixteen globes hold the whole thing. 50 Snowballs, 2001, is fifty more spheres, this time in clear Murano glass with a frosted-glass core—crystal cases for apparently arctic objects. And the most fairy-tale piece of all, Bremer

  • Gerhard Richter: Printed!

    An entertaining sideshow of the startlingly popular Gerhard Richter retrospective at MoMA two years ago was the spectacle of the artist deftly switching horses, from cerebral sweetheart of the October circle to Great Painter of the later twentieth century. How interesting, then, to get this show of two hundred of his prints, photo editions, and artist’s books, a group of works by nature embedded in multiplicity and mechanical reproduction—principles fundamental to Richter as October darling.

    An entertaining sideshow of the startlingly popular Gerhard Richter retrospective at MoMA two years ago was the spectacle of the artist deftly switching horses, from cerebral sweetheart of the October circle to Great Painter of the later twentieth century. How interesting, then, to get this show of two hundred of his prints, photo editions, and artist’s books, a group of works by nature embedded in multiplicity and mechanical reproduction—principles fundamental to Richter as October darling. Not that he isn’t, well, a great painter, but his prints should provide insight

  • Robert Crumb

    Still cartooning when he chooses, Robert Crumb also draws reflexively—he is an artist, after all. Sampling the drawings more than the comics, this show examines Crumb’s forty-year career through roughly 250 works.

    Robert Crumb turned sixty last year, finally getting up around the age of his magus/opportunist Mr. Natural. Crumb’s acuteness to ’60s counterculture made his name, but, deprived of his primal scene, he hasn’t exactly settled into placid old age: Still cartooning when he chooses, he also draws reflexively—he is an artist, after all. Sampling the drawings more than the comics, this show examines Crumb’s forty-year career through roughly 250 works. The exhibition’s appearance in Cologne may disappoint Americans but should not surprise them, given Germany’s longstanding

  • Barbara Kruger

    Not for the first time, Barbara Kruger deals in her latest work with pressure, animosity, stress. Twelve, 2004, is a video installation in which images of the individuals in a dozen successive friend and family groups sitting around tables are projected on the gallery’s four walls. The work is structured as if Kruger had set four cameras in the middle of the table, each facing one side; the result is that on each wall we see one person, close and way over life-size, who faces us while talking or listening to the people on the space’s other walls. I say talking or listening, but it would be truer

  • Peter Moore

    The photographer Peter Moore was the visual historian of a thickly busy period in New York art that began in the early ’60s, when he grew fascinated by the blossoming of what his archive calls “Fluxus, happenings, performance art, experimental music, and dance.” With his wife, Barbara Moore, he was a part of this community as well as its observer and documentarian. Performance is ephemeral: “If I don’t record these,” Moore said of the works he photographed, “they’ll be lost.” So he did, shooting several hundred thousand pictures that treat this art with an artistry of their own and collectively

  • Julie Roberts

    By the time you got to the four views of domestic architecture in Julie Roberts’s recent exhibition “Home,” you’d already met Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and the victims of Jack the Ripper, plus a group of artists, poets, and figures from history and literature, all seen dead. Holmes and Watson came first, as if to promise that the show’s mood would be set by the detective tale’s calming pleasure in fatality, gentle mental challenge, and, in the case of Conan Doyle, its agreeable loll in Victoriana. Past this opener, though, you fell into actual horrors: a painting and eight graphite drawings,

  • A Minimal Future? Art as Object

    These 150 works by forty artists constitute the first large-scale reexamination of Minimalism at an American museum.

    “On the cover of Arts in March 1967,” says MoCA senior curator Ann Goldstein, “there was this question: ‘A Minimal Future?’ Minimalism was in the process of being canonized and assessed, and the writers were asking whether it was just another ism or more of a structural change in artmaking. I’m interested in posing that question again.” And it’s about time: These 150 works by forty artists constitute the first large-scale reexamination of Minimalism at an American museum. Goldstein’s sweep runs from 1958 to 1968; surprise inclusions like Claes Oldenburg appear alongside

  • Giuseppe Penone

    Well known in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, Giuseppe Penone has never been altogether accepted in the US: Perhaps his sense of nature is too classical for us, too aromatically Mediterranean.

    Well known in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, Giuseppe Penone has never been altogether accepted in the US: Perhaps his sense of nature is too classical for us, too aromatically Mediterranean. (In fact, the Pompidou might think about putting Ovid’s Metamorphoses on the Acoustiguide.) We prefer American contemporaries like Robert Smithson who deal with nature as a brute and impure force. Penone’s sculpture can sometimes appear kitschy, but this arte povera artist can also make exquisitely lyrical studies of humankind’s intricate embedment in the natural world. The

  • Wassily Kandinsky

    In 1936, when MOMA director Alfred Barr famously charted the evolution of abstract art, he drew a Picassoid bull in which a bulging “Cubism” shaped the head and “(abstract) Expressionism” squeezed into the tail, followed in tiny letters by “1911 Munich.” The reference was to the founding of the Blaue Reiter by, among others, Wassily Kandinsky, the painter, in 1910, of modernism’s first full abstraction.

    In 1936, when MoMA director Alfred Barr famously charted the evolution of abstract art, he drew a Picassoid bull in which a bulging “Cubism” shaped the head and “(abstract) Expressionism” squeezed into the tail, followed in tiny letters by “1911 Munich.” The reference was to the founding of the Blaue Reiter by, among others, Wassily Kandinsky, the painter, in 1910, of modernism’s first full abstraction. American historians were notoriously swayed by Barr’s model, but how striking that nearly a century later this show should bill itself as “Europe’s first large exhibition

  • Steve Wolfe

    Apropos of nothing, I wonder who wrote the book of love. Really! I do! Could it be Steve Wolfe? Certainly his books are lovingly made, which is promising—yet something in them is mute and withholding. Ain’t that always the way.

    Wolfe makes copies of books—not as writing (like Borges’s Pierre Menard, who composes his own Don Quixote) but as thing. Wolfe’s artworks duplicate familiar editions of favorite literature, but they are dormant objects. While they may well be hollow, I imagine them as solid: Their materials are stuffs like wood, particle-board, and galvanized steel, and despite the oil

  • “Eye to Eye”

    “I didn’t care much about the print quality,” Cindy Sherman wrote recently of her famous first series, the “Untitled Film Stills” of 1977–80. “The photographs were supposed to look like they cost fifty cents. . . . One reason I was interested in photography was to get away from the preciousness of the art object.” No photographer seems farther from this initial ethos of Sherman’s than the late Robert Mapplethorpe, whose images are impeccably, expensively printed, classically structured, and as comfortable in glossy magazines as in art galleries. And even Sherman’s later work, which has developed

  • Jeff Perrone

    Stripe paintings are something like guineas and crowns, coins once of genuine value now interesting mainly to specialists and students of the literature. To mint them today is to risk bankruptcy. Given the historical impact of stripe works like Stella’s of the late ’50s and ’60s, that may seem harsh; but the genre’s stock was devalued by the low historical standing of some of its manifestations in Op art and elsewhere, and by formalists’ difficulty in distinguishing stripes from decoration—a class they thought it crucial to escape. Yet Jeff Perrone’s works return this old cash to currency.

    The

  • Isaac Julien

    Beginning in the Caribbean, in tropical color and light, Isaac Julien’s Paradise Omeros, 2002, soon moves to London, where it turns concrete gray. Kicking off from Derek Walcott’s book-length poem Omeros, itself inspired by Homer, Julien’s film might take as its slogan the name of Walcott’s stand-in for the Greek blind singer: Seven Seas, which are widespread over the world and nowhere at rest.

    Julien is a Londoner whose family comes from Saint Lucia, Walcott’s home. Embedded in Paradise Omeros is a history of migration and dislocation—the stuff of postcolonial studies, here immersed in a proudly