David Rimanelli

  • Thomas Ruff

    In his photographic series of portraits, houses, and stars, Thomas Ruff reprises genres that have dominated the medium since its infancy but with an irony that undermines their apparently straightforward descriptive meanings. Regardless of a plethora of details, Ruff’s photography remains mute. Whereas Paul Nadar created sensitive character studies, Ruff produces what appear to be enormously enlarged passport photos or mug-shots drained of psychological affect. Whereas Maxime Du Camp and Félix Teynard lovingly dwelled on the ruins of ancient Egypt with their melancholic resonances, Ruff

  • David Robilliard

    David Robilliard’s drawings and paintings have the casually accomplished grace of thumbnail sketches. Characterized by spontaneous, childlike linear drawing, Robilliard’s style shares affinities with Andy Warhol’s pre-Pop manner. There’s also a confluence of concerns reflected in the preponderance of pretty boys and intimate fetishes (one of Robilliard’s drawings bears the text: “A Little Boy with a Toy A Little Girl with a Curl”). Like Warhol’s work Robilliard’s is precious but seldom cloying.

    Robilliard combines his sparse imagery with tersely poetic texts, almost all of which allude to a desire

  • Mike Kelley

    Mike Kelley makes cheerfully perverse art out of the discarded refuse of unromanticized childhood, the childhood of unwanted effluvia, seepages, feces, and spit. That the stuffed animals he uses have so obviously borne the depredations of infantile play (they are dirtied, bitten, and sometimes mauled beyond recognition) suggests that once again Kelley is engaged in the caricatured transgression of idealized forms and contents. The treacly idealization of childhood frequently cloaks the most coercive ideological programs; children are typically sanctified as either beyond or before sexuality and

  • Stephen Prina

    Though historically Conceptual art protests the collusion of art and capital, at the close of a decade in which conceptual procedures have been recuperated by the market as the ultimate in severe chic, idea art often looks like the most thoroughly reified product of all. By contrast, the co-option of conventional paintings and sculptures seems an almost innocent affair. Stephen Prina’s self-consciously austere works are exemplary in the former respect: they deftly don the guises of criticality while maintaining a basically passive stance toward the apparatuses of the art industry.

    Prina rehearses

  • Cindy Sherman

    Cindy Sherman’s most recent show—a series of photographic glosses on Western art-historical subjects from the 15th through the 19th centuries—was interesting primarily as a case study in the mass reception of contemporary art. Transformed by the crowds that poured into the gallery, the vast space resembled the Impressionist wing of the Met on a busy Sunday. For three successive weeks Sherman’s show was written up in the New York Times, according it the kind of cultural legitimation usually reserved for traditional Masterpieces. The hype surrounding this show made it difficult to discern exactly

  • Moira Dryer

    Moira Dryer’s fuzzy abstract paintings look like wallpaper or bedraggled scaps of moiré or tie-dyed fabric. In spite of this seeming inconsequence, the work proceeds, albeit tenuously, from a metaphor of abstraction as consciousness—a metaphor that has persisted with intermittent strength since the advent of Abstract Expressionism. Dryer shirks the often embarrassing rhetoric of torment that characterizes much of that movement’s constitutive discourse, but she retains a vague emotivity as the subdued referential content of her art. An absence of readily discernible subject matter points towards

  • Julian Schnabel

    Julian Schnabel’s recent series of works, collectively entitled “Fox Farm Paintings,” 1989, places him within the now broad spectrum of artists engaging/exploiting ecological themes and motifs as either entertainment or enlightenment. Repeated throughout these paintings is a phrase Schnabel discovered scrawled on a ten-dollar bill: “There is no place on this planet more horrible than a fox farm during pelting season.” Despite the phrase's appeal to animal-rights enthusiasts, its tone of unmodulated asseveration makes its effect primarily histrionic. Probably there are several places on this

  • Richard Prince

    Two recent shows of painting, sculpture, and photography by Richard Prince afforded the opportunity to reflect on the fortunes of re- photography (the appropriationist strategy staked out by Prince in the late ’70s) as well as on the artist’s continuing fascination with the phantasmata of American mass culture–– what he once characterized as “social science fiction.” Prince showed only one photographic work––Untitled, 1989, the largest yet of his cowboy images, installed in Barbara Gladstone’s basement space—but this signature work provides conceptual clues to the joke paintings and, especially,

  • Imi Knoebel

    Imi Knoebel’s work is a purposive reinvestigation of geometry as a living tradition for abstraction today, unlike the melancholic and parodic simulations of, say, Peter Halley and Sherrie Levine. Their lineage is Warholian (that is, they are serious about unseriousness), whereas Knoebel’s is Beuysian (very serious indeed). Knoebel was, in fact, one of Beuys’ most illustrious students. This distinction already tips us off that “Germanness” is a large part of Knoebel’s import. As a student of Beuys, Knoebel continues his practice of “social sculpture,” but within an even more dauntingly hermetic

  • David Robbins

    Theorists of art during the Italian Renaissance, the historical crux that still preconditions the study of art in the West, consistently propounded the Horatian ideal of ut pictura poesis—“pictures like poetry”—as a model for serious painting. The theoretical and historical import of this concept lay in its capacity to legitimize images by their relation to previous significant texts. While the pictorial tradition of the Italian Renaissance has withered in the era of Modernism, the Horatian ideal persists in various covert, often repressed, ways. Formalist and minimalist theories explicitly

  • Sherrie Levine

    For her recent foray into sculpture, Sherrie Levine takes Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, 1915–23, as her model. Ostensibly fulfilling Duchamp’s original intention, Levine has the bachelors cast three-dimensionally in frosted glass. The resultant objects, reminiscent of Art Decoor industrial lighting fixtures, are then displayed in tony cherry-wood vitrines. The gallery lights are dimmed and the frosted glass bachelors, spotlit from above, give off a dull luminescence, the barest of scintillations. The entire installation suggests a jewelry store after closing,

  • Kathe Burkhart

    Like Sherrie Levine, Kathe Burkhart makes art that belongs to the discourse of the copy, as mediated by a disaffected feminist perspective. Unlike Levine, she uses sources that are not particularly august. The “Liz Taylor Series,” an ongoing project since 1983, presents images of the archetypal star, culled from film and publicity stills. Burkhart gravitates to those scenes depicting Liz in either wigged-out ecstasy or gut-wrenching humiliation. Using an opaque projector, the artist traces the lineaments of the original pictures on an often grand scale, then fills them in with lurid acrylic


    A scene in soft focus: Luncheon served on the lawn in late green spring. Barbara

    serves but more importantly presides over what will be deliberately and subtly transformed

    into an event. Sulkiness is not permitted. Bad puns are also excluded because

    they are tautological and because they allude to something other than the central purpose

    which can only be sensed if you pay attention. Luncheon becomes a

    pretext for focusing attention in a certain way. . . . At the luncheon itself, the care of

    attention focused on each object and its use far outweighs the

    importance of the objects as objects.

  • Karen Sylvester

    Karen Sylvester’s new paintings (all Untitled, 1989) are made by combining photoemulsions with oil on canvas. The images themselves are gathered from a vast photo archive at the New York Public Library, then collaged together and painted in acidic, poisonous colors. All of these images have a generically dated, media-derived look: one might be a still from an unknown Hitchcock film, another a page out of a forgotten 19th century fashion catalogue. Taking her raw material from the now inexhaustible but seemingly irrelevant image bank of modern culture, Sylvester perverts the images, violently

  • Jessica Diamond

    For the last few years, Jessica Diamond has made a number of ink-on-rice-paper drawings, many of them consisting largely of texts derived from or inspired by the dank morass of the mass media—commercials and sitcoms, vapid jingles and feel-good homilies. In this, her first solo show, Diamond continues to stretch the formal and thematic concerns of her earlier work, both by painting large-scale messages on the gallery wall and by literally remaking the slight, delicate, seemingly ephemeral rice paper drawings as discrete, diminutive objects she calls “commemorative gold pieces.” These creditcard-sized

  • Cindy Sherman

    Cindy Sherman’s latest photographs (all Untitled, 1988 and 1989), like her previous ones,will probably be called “shocking,” as if shock were itself a brave or startling artistic gesture. Once again, people will say that she’s upped the ante on nauseating imagery, gone over the top with the grotesque, and explored psychic terrain from which many viewers would rather avert their eyes. All of this may be provisionally true, but it misses the critical point that Sherman uses shock more as a ruse or decoy than as a mere representational effect. What’s really surprising about this new series is that

  • Richard Artschwager

    In light of the recent infatuation with simulationist theories of art production and in the wake of his Whitney retrospective, Richard Artschwager’s work has moved from the margins of disparate artistic practices (Surrealism, Photorealism, Minimalism, and Pop) to the center of the esthetic and critical consciousness of the ’80s. It manifests a striking homogeneity of materials and ideas; tellingly, the recent objects do not look radically different from those of the early ’60s, so that Artschwager subverts the arcs and sways of artistic development and evacuates the notion of style. Still working

  • “Pre-Pop Post-Appropriation”

    Any discussion of a group show curated by Tricia Collins and Richard Milazzo must be concerned primarily with the ideas they espouse and only secondarily with the various, often disparate artists they include. Collins and Milazzo’s catalogue essay for “Pre-Pop Post-Appropriation,” while predictably turgid in its prose, is nonetheless fairly straightforward in its drift: briefly, that the period between the close of Abstract Expressionism and the advent of Pop constituted a “breathless swing-moment of potential in History,” and that its discursive formations of “desire, the Body, the Human element,

  • Barbara Kruger


    #page 162#

    Barbara Kruger has always insisted on the presence of the body in her work, not merely as a representational element but as

    a critical wedge in the edifice of power. Refusing the putatively transcendental subjects and objects of traditional art

    and their often hidebound histories, she cuts directly to the ravages of sexual politics and patriarchal authority.

    Nameless linguistic shifters - the persistent “you's” and “we's” of her most characteristic work - nonetheless point

    directly to arenas of historical and material conflict. The accusatory we is feminine; the accused you, masculine.


  • Dennis Oppenheim


    #page 162#

    Dennis Oppenheim's work of the last 20 years has been played out through the nexus of Conceptualism, Earthworks, and Body

    art, as if willfully evading any demarcation of territory. His career since the late '60s has been a series of about-faces,

    disavowals, repetitions, and abrupt forays into unknown regions. As Stuart Morgan observed almost a decade ago, “His art

    does not exhaust themes, explore materials or engage in formal experimen- tation for its own sake ... there is change in

    his career, but no `development'; at any moment he may double back to something he abandoned ten years