Faye Hirsch

  • Janice Krasnow

    The neutral “look” of first-generation text-based Conceptual art may today seem as stylized, even stylish, as a Chanel dress. In her first one-person show, Janice Krasnow presented a revival of the classic Conceptualist sign, black text on white ground, in modest paintings that brought home the fact that neutrality and morphology are contradictory terms. In place of the Conceptualist’s decidedly serious and philosophical bent, however, Krasnow opted for a tone both offbeat and poetic. Her concise descriptions of subjects that nevertheless fail to take form in the viewer’s imagination address

  • Dominique Figarella

    French artist Dominique Figarella makes relief paintings out of cast-off materials that are either innately light in hue or painted that way—salmon or pale blue or lime green. One painting consists of strands of pink and green gum that have been chewed then stretched around a support. Another sandwiches tennis balls or pieces of roughly shaped foam between a painted wood support and a sheet of clear Plexiglas, with paint oozing out between object and surface. In a third, Figarella wraps wide flesh-colored bandages around the support, squeezing a dark, bloodlike paint into occasional stains

  • Portia Munson

    It was on the one-year anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing that I returned to Portia Munson’s recent installation—a re-creation of a child’s bedroom that colonized every inch of the gallery’s exhibition space. That day it resonated eerily with the barrage of television images showing the aftermath of the terrorist act that destroyed a day-care center: parents and grandparents stood in bedrooms that seemed caught in a time warp, furniture and stuffed animals arranged as if their occupants would return at any moment. Munson’s installation echoed these chilling rooms: around a child’s bed were

  • Alice Neel

    Alice Neel embarked on motherhood with singularly negative feelings about it. “I had my first baby in Cuba, without anything to alleviate the pain. It was frightful! Eight hours of intense agony!” That baby died of diphtheria in 1927. Her second, Isabetta, was born in 1928, the year Neel painted her expressionistic Well Baby Clinic, in which grotesque mothers tend horrid babies: “I wondered how that woman could be so happy, with that little bit of hamburger she’s fixing the diaper for.” By 1930, Isabetta had been taken away to Cuba; Neel remained in New York to have a nervous breakdown. “I should

  • Victoria Civera

    Victoria Civera first exhibited Gallinero (Chicken coop, 1994–95), the main piece in her recent New York solo show, last spring in Dan Cameron’s survey of contemporary art from the Americas Cocido y crudo (The raw and the cooked) at the Reina Sofia. Though the change in the work’s title from “Sketch (Para el Soñador de Islas)” [Sketch (from the dreamer of islands)] to the more concrete “Gallinero” was accompanied by some minor adjustments to the work itself, on the whole the piece retained its makeshift appearance and the oneiric quality suggested by its original name. This “coop”—a two-tiered

  • Paul Myoda

    In Paul Myoda’s recent show, gawky, faux-rock sculptures snaked along the walls or dangled from the ceiling; one, with gaping maw, remained rooted to the floor. Cast in Styrofoam and gypsum resin with artificial stone aggregate, these varied creatures presented polymorphous, loosely modeled surfaces, which in the sculptural tradition typically signal a susceptibility to forces beyond individual control. But Myoda’s works could not be further from overwrought Hellenistic figures or Rodin’s fallen heroes; in fact, they look more like props for a Godzilla flick. In their incarnation as Claymations,

  • Melissa Smedley

    Though Melissa Smedley’s sculptures are clearly the descendants of furry teacups and spidery hat racks, unlike their Dada and Surrealist ancestors, they are neither extravagant nor irreverent. A pragmatist of sorts, Smedley reformulates cast-off objects and clothes, appliances and electronics, for real, albeit quixotic, purposes. Her “recombinant objects,” as she calls them, suggest tools and props, though it is difficult (if pleasurable) to imagine what their uses might be without some sort of demonstration. Hanging from the ceiling in her most recent installation Water Table (all works

  • Zoe Leonard

    It was in her studio—a sixth-floor walk-up on Essex Street in the Lower East Side—rather than in her SoHo gallery that Zoe Leonard mounted her recent exhibition of photographs and objects. Her choice of setting was apt, not because the imagery in her photographs is drawn from the streets outside her window, though it sometimes is, but because her work, like the neighborhood she lives in, comprises inconsequential things—cheap commodities, graffiti, the detritus of everyday life. In Leonard’s photographs easily overlooked objects and sites become oddly expressive, precisely because they form the

  • Matvey Levenstein

    Like Gerhard Richter, Matvey Levenstein makes paintings from photographs, engaging the formal languages of both media and exploiting the link between the photographic and the documentary. The subjects of his works, like those of Christian Boltanski’s, are those whose lives were altered or destroyed by circumstance. In his most recent show, Levenstein, himself a Russian Jewish émigré, reconstitutes the day-to-day existence of Eastern European Jewry through found images—of prewar beauty queens, his own family, and the uninhabited, professional-class apartments, clean and neatly furnished, where

  • Maureen Gallace

    To trace the lineaments of American landscape painting is to open up a thousand vistas, many imaginary or fantastic, some microscopic, and others immeasurable. Maureen Gallace stakes our a humble stretch, an acre or so, with a horizon bounded by low trees, maybe some water in the foreground, and a couple of houses hunkered down in the middle. It’s a deceptively simple formula. Such reductions have been stock in trade for other landscape painters, such as Albert York, who reveal the paradoxical in the simple. Gallace erases from her landscapes all descriptive detail beyond the play of light on

  • Kiki Smith

    Despite the fashionable critical discourse about the body that has surrounded her work in the past few years, in many ways Kiki Smith remains an old-fashioned sculptor whose work invites comparison to that of Medardo Rosso and Rodin—if not to more strictly academic 19th-century sculptors. One need only recall Paul Thek’s rather gruesome corporeal fantasies to recognize that Smith’s dissolutions of the body are relatively tame, her sculptures essentially conservative.

    Even when larger-than-life, her figures, with their mottled, handworked surfaces and tenuous poses, are always human in scale. In