David Rimanelli

  • picks June 14, 2018

    Borna Sammak

    Those sectional sofas from a timeless 1970s—meaning you can buy one now at Roche Bobois—that suburban feeling, with a hint of swingers (cinematically, more L.I.E. than The Ice Storm key parties, but still: from the ’70s). Or from the Middle Ages, from the Baroque. In my own memory: a seemingly vast serpentine mountain range upholstered in gray velvet, a barrier reef in the seldom-used living room of the house I grew up in. Mystery and fantasy, science fiction and the hint of as-yet-undiscovered porn: One Million Years BC meets Escape from the Planet of the Apes. So yeah, Borna Sammak’s Not Yet

  • “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”

    Sometimes the edgiest, most controversial thing is something very old indeed, and the Met’s Costume Institute deserves kudos for its nerve in mounting this exhibition. Folks have long been fascinated by, or worried about, the blur between the sacred and the merely sacerdotal. Federico Fellini’s 1972 movie Roma includes an ecclesiastical runway show, with models sporting miters and chasubles for an obviously dissipated clerical audience. Fashion is an art, if not Art—though it’s seldom accorded the dignity of a Michelangelo—and has always referenced the Renaissance

  • picks February 12, 2018

    Leelee Kimmel

    Leelee Kimmel’s paintings aren’t specifically referential, though there are references to be had: from Miró and Masson to Twombly, Basquiat, Jonathan Lasker. And there’s a strange connection to Philip Guston, too—Kimmel’s abstractions have Guston’s nervous line recrudescences; think of the textures of his forlorn shoes. Kimmel deals in a kind of electrocuted biomorphism that’s descended from Surrealism, but the life’s been polluted by the morph: incandescent amoebas, skittering deep-sea/outer-space/inner-voyage paramecia, flagella, the world of Ernst Haeckel pumped up with unreal colors. Even

  • Cecily Brown

    When I see a stellar work by Cecily Brown, I feel excited. There’s the audacity of execution—that messy control that courses through so much of the art I love, even among old masters. Brown is frank regarding her references to the great artists of the past, whether Veronese, Rubens, or Hogarth, and no less so about the modernist masters before whom she bends the knee: De Kooning comes to mind, and Gorky, even Picasso. “Rehearsal,” the artist’s first solo museum show in New York, will contain roughly sixty small canvases and a few very large drawings, several exhibited

  • Tom of Finland

    THE ARTISTS SPACE SHOW “Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play” presented more than half a century of the artist’s drawings, gouaches, paper dolls, and photocollages made from advertising imagery; together, they set up a narrative described as existing in “dialectical relationship” to a mainstream culture in which both pornography and homosexuality were illegal. And indeed, throughout his career as an advertising executive in Helsinki, Touko Laaksonen (1920–1991) contributed to the ever-expanding lexicon of images representing straight family life in postwar Europe. But after hours, he cut up and

  • picks March 06, 2015

    Alex Da Corte

    If the witch’s hovel in Pumpkinhead were a suite in a Collins Avenue boutique hotel during Art Basel Miami Beach, that might give some sense of the flavorings Alex Da Corte has injected into his ambitious and garishly stunning three-story installation “Die Hexe.” Da Corte throws into question what it means to feel fear in its multitudes: fear of mirrors, fear of old ladies, fear of death, fear of life after death, fear of mint Listerine, fear of homosexual men, fear of Miami, fear of appropriation art, or as R. W. Fassbinder so aptly put it in his film title, Fear of Fear.

    The scripted journey

  • “Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s”

    The Guggenheim and the New Museum in New York have both recently examined the art of the 1990s, and “Come as You Are” promises to be a worthwhile expansion of the discussion. Attempting an overview of art production between the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11—including some sixty works (paintings, sculptures, prints, videos, and digital art) by forty-five artists ranging from Elizabeth Peyton to Julie Mehretu, Rirkrit Tiravanija to Felix Gonzalez-Torres—the Montclair Art Museum survey will cover all the ’90s basics, such as globalization, digital culture,

  • David Rimanelli

    1 SIGMAR POLKE (MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK; CURATED BY KATHY HALBREICH WITH MARK GODFREY AND LANKA TATTERSALL) This has been rather an annus mirabilis for the Modern, which at one point this summer offered, simultaneously, extraordinary exhibitions of the work of Mike Kelley (at MoMA PS1), Gauguin, Lygia Clark, Jasper Johns, Robert Heinecken, and Sigmar Polke. On my first trip to that last, must-see-time-and-again retrospective, I went at the close of day and had only thirty minutes to look; but even before I reached the first gallery, I was thunderstruck by a single work in the museum’s

  • Laurence Rickels’s SPECTRE

    I CONFESS THAT I have always found James Bond somewhat dull, but apparently that was the idea. Ian Fleming, author of the Bond novels, conceived his hero as a boring character, a cipher, around whom interesting things happened. Indeed, he lifted the moniker James Bond from an ornithologist of the time, for its exemplary blandness. Betraying his own preferences, theorist Laurence Rickels has titled his new study of Fleming’s spy novels SPECTRE, not after Bond or Fleming but in honor of the Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion, Fleming’s fictional United

  • slant March 31, 2014

    Like, Totally

    MY INSTAGRAM IS BUMMING ME OUT. Early one morning last week, I posted a great van Dyck of Catherine Howard, Lady d’Aubigny; an hour later I foolishly posted a slutty but funny Polke, Modern Art, 1968, which will be in the Modern’s upcoming retrospective. Duh: People liked away at the Polke, and Lady d’Aubigny, while holding her own, isn’t thriving as vibrantly as I believe she ought to—she’s entitled to many likes, as many as Polke IMHO. This brings up a matter that any self-conscious Instagrammer is keenly aware of: Posting an image within close temporal proximity of another image “divides”

  • Willem de Kooning

    I feel like a fool for having asked to review Willem de Kooning—like, what could I possibly say, how could I say something new? All I can do for starters is reminisce. When I was fifteen years old I went with my mother to a de Kooning exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and I asked her to buy me the catalogue. It was the first contemporary-art catalogue I ever got; I had plenty of modern art–type books (on Picasso, Dalí, Mondrian, Ernst, etc.), but this was the first living-artist one. This was the book that set me off on contemporary art.

    De Kooning has this effect.

  • Oscar Tuazon

    Oscar Tuazon has established a position as one of the most provocative sculptors of his generation, taking the legacies of Minimalism, post-Minimalism, Land art, and Conceptualism into fresh, curious territories. Trained as an architect, Tuazon operates deftly between indoor and outdoor space, between the “specific object” and the floorboard. His work is at once complexly referential with respect to art history yet mundane in a challenging way, requiring one to confront myriad disturbances in a three-dimensional space infused with an expressionism wrought

  • Josh Smith

    My hobby: posting artworks on Instagram, sequencing the purity of the monochrome into that endless reshuffling of history that now defines contemporary life. Josh Smith’s two-part exhibition at Luhring Augustine’s galleries in Chelsea and Bushwick balanced a brushy group of monochrome canvases in Manhattan against an Edvard-Munch-goes-to-the-Bahamas grouping of palm-tree silhouettes (and a modest selection of oddball, endearing ceramics) in Brooklyn, requiring the viewer to travel physically as well as mentally. Smith has often mixed unexpected images within a single show—e.g., his 2011

  • “Punk: Chaos to Couture”

    I basically have no real relationship with punk because (a) I was too young for its initial moment of truth, and (b) it’s so not my style. I remember buying those albums from the alternative record store when I was in college. I wanted them, but I didn’t want to listen to them. But punk is so transhistorical now; is it possible to pry punk sensibility, which is essentially timeless, from punk as a music lifestyle with material and historical specificity? Now, if I say, “You’re so punk rock,” I am being derisive—it’s like saying you’re so not punk rock; you’re so bourgeois. This doubling of

  • Piotr Uklański

    Over the past decade, Piotr Uklański has amassed a vast archive of photographs of porn actors who strongly resemble famous contemporary personalities. These Pornalikes, 2002–, are readymades—taken from lowbrow “men’s magazines” such as Loaded and Hustler, and, more recently, websites and blogs. For his solo exhibition at Karma, Uklański assembled a colorful and densely hung pantheon from his vast archive of these images before the unblinking gaze of an enormous stuffed eyeball, whose trailing blood vessels and mucous membranes, crafted from hand-dyed fabrics, recall the ghost of 1970s

  • “Balthus: Cats and Girls—Paintings and Provocations”

    As always, Balthus finds himself in a strange position: His work, long regarded as retrograde from a modernist point of view, now also comes off as unredeemed post-pomo. Even so, many people—sophisticated people too, like me—really dig Balthus. The wrongness of him bubbles up as compensatory rightness; screw modernism, and screw political correctness, à la même heure. Emphasizing the French artist’s recurrent depictions of the jeune fille and the feline, “Balthus: Cats and Girls—Paintings and Provocations” includes more than thirty paintings made between

  • Nate Lowman

    The more you know about something, the harder it is to say something about it: One is encumbered by the weight of meaning, the artifice of language, the tiredness of metaphors used too often, but perhaps more than anything, simple fear. “One thinks a lot when one is afraid,” writes Denis Hollier. “And even more when one is afraid of being afraid. And even more when one is afraid of what one thinks.” What could be more luxurious than to give up, to turn away from this space where the familiar presses its face to the glass of reflection? What can be seen there? Perhaps the smeared surface of the

  • “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star”

    1993 was the worst year of my life. I barely remember it. But the sheer variety of practices represented in this walk-through time capsule—with work by Alex Bag, Art Club 2000, Matthew Barney, Kathe Burkhart, Byron Kim, Gabriel Orozco, Elizabeth Peyton, Jason Rhoades, Julia Scher, et al.—calls to mind the expansiveness and excitement of the early 1990s in New York, when aestheticism and political engagement, oblique neo-Conceptualist gestures and florid post-Pop starmongering, all shared the art world’s stage on pretty much equal footing. “NYC 1993:

  • Mark Flood

    Mark Flood’s exhibition “The Hateful Years,” curated by Alison Gingeras and surveying work from 1979 to ’89 (though including paintings from 2012), brought a materialist dialectic to lifestyle choices that refuse to distance themselves from decrepitude and degradation. The installation Punk Rock Crash Pad, 1979–86, covered the walls of the gallery’s attic in the black plastic of garbage and body bags; on the floor was a mattress, presumably occupied by a young rocker, a stand-in for the artist, who had been a member of the punk-noise band Culturecide. Flood’s piece replicates the narrative

  • David Rimanelli on Jean Baudrillard’s “What Are You Doing After the Orgy?”

    The fascination of the pictures is the fascination of being seduced by a dead object, it is the magic of disappearance, and this particular magic can be found just as easily in pornographic images as in Modern art, where the prevailing obsession has been to literally not be viewable, to defy any and all possibilities of visual seduction.

    —Jean Baudrillard, “What Are You Doing After the Orgy?”

    IT WAS ANOTHER MOMENT, now impossible to reconstruct, a mix of naïveté and cynicism, philosophy and excess, that spawned Jean Baudrillard’s appearance in these pages during the 1980s. French poststructural