Grant Johnson

  • picks July 24, 2014

    “Comic Future”

    “Comic Future,” curated by Ballroom Marfa’s Fairfax Dorn, assembles drawings by Sigmar Polke and Walead Beshty, sculptures by Liz Craft, a video by Paul McCarthy, and paintings by Lari Pittman, among other works, to plumb the formal and conceptual plasticity of comics and cartoons within contemporary art. The works on view tease out the cartoon body, a ready-made form implicated as a sign of globalized capital and identity, and as such a tool for spirited social critique. In this context, it's not surprising that Walt Disney’s various characters abound along with superheroes and other robust

  • picks April 16, 2014

    “Take It or Leave It”

    Assembling works by thirty-six artists from the late 1970s to the present, “Take It or Leave It” underscores the dynamic and often blurry intersection of appropriation and institutional critique. Tempting questions arise: Does appropriation’s critique always reflect upon its exhibiting institution? In want of a discursive frame, must institutional critique always employ some form of appropriation?

    “Take It or Leave It” aggregates works likely necessary for its task by artists including Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, Haim Steinbach, and Fred Wilson. It transcends the expected by presenting both

  • picks March 11, 2014

    Lisa Sanditz

    In her latest exhibition, “Surplus,” Lisa Sanditz equates gestural landscape paintings with a series of quirky ceramic cacti. This particular dialogue highlights the materials of both practices, emphasizing hierarchies between art and craft. Sanditz’s paintings command a vocabulary of styles and surface treatments that could easily lead to disaster in less trained hands. The Salad Kings, 2013, places a precisely rendered home within a squeegeed void that recalls Gerhard Richter. Meanwhile, Rotting Halloween, 2013, and Farms Houses/Edge, 2014, work between the baseness of Georg Baselitz and the

  • picks November 23, 2013

    Paulo Bruscky

    O que é arte? Para que serve? (What is art? What is it for?), is printed on a sign slung around the neck of Brazilian artist Paulo Bruscky, who is imaged in a 1978 series of photographs that introduce this somber retrospective. Comprised of surrealist objects, films, and documentation of interventions and happenings that cast the Fluxus artist as a globalizing presence, “Art Is Our Last Hope” presents an expansive archive framed by the repressive regime that presided over Brazil until 1985. In a climate of extraordinary censorship, Bruscky may have been brave just to ask, let alone answer his