Gregory Williams

  • Céleste Boursier-Mougenot

    Though it’s been years now since Chelsea became the new SoHo, the area still seems to exist at the edge of the action. There are more places to eat and drink, but thankfully it hasn’t yet acquired the outdoor-mall atmosphere of its cousin to the south. Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s recent sound-and-video installation invited the viewer to become intimately familiar with one of the neighborhood’s unremarkable comers. The modesty of the short stretch of West Twenty-first Street near Tenth Avenue was well matched by the artist’s straightforward presentation, which, despite the relatively sophisticated

  • picks December 20, 2001

    Albert Oehlen

    Albert Oehlen Reshuffles

    In recent years, Albert Oehlen has relied on the computer and a reductive black-and-white palette to produce paintings that lack much of the tension between parody and sincerity characteristic of his work from the late ’80s and early ’90s. His current show demonstrates a return to a more adolescent type of humor, typical of his mid-’80s collaborations with Martin Kippenberger. In these collagelike paintings, he combines digital manipulation with painterly gesture in vibrant arrangements of clashing colors and incongruent shapes. Some of the more interesting new works, including 24-7-Punk, 2001,

  • picks December 19, 2001

    Michael Smith and Joshua White

    Michael Smith and Joshua White

    Combining the seemingly irreconcilable languages of corporate entrepreneurship and new-age spiritualism, Michael Smith and Joshua White’s latest collaborative work seems more of-the-moment than anything they’ve previously done. QuinQuag Arts and Wellness Center, a “legendary Catskills Mountain retreat” according to the artists’ mock press release, has been around for half a century and is now the center of a joint venture between “Dot.UnCommon” and the “Wellness Solutions Group,” headed by CEO “Mike Smith.” As in past installations, Smith the artist plays the talking head in his role as Mike

  • picks December 19, 2001

    Gabriel Orozco

    Orozco's Correspondences

    After taking in the first room of Gabriel Orozco's new exhibition, “Fear Not,” one might feel an impulse to sneeze. Just above head level hang rows of fishing line over which soft, gray blankets of lint are draped. Called Lintels, they are delicate forms made of compressed dust, hair, and thread collected from a year’s worth of laundry washed by the artist and his friends. As in past shows, Orozco demonstrates a profound appreciation for the subtleties to be discovered in everyday materials. A strong emphasis on tactility is given clear expression in the large number of works on paper that

  • picks December 07, 2001

    Matthew Buckingham

    Matthew Buckingham's Physiognomies

    The eighteenth-century pseudoscience of physiognomy, developed by Johann Caspar Lavater, provides the overriding theme for Matthew Buckingham’s new film installation and book, collectively titled Subcutaneous. Buckingham traces the relationship between Lavater and various Enlightenment thinkers—including the young Goethe and the German physicist and satirist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg—who responded, often with derision, to the theory that a person’s facial characteristics form a map to the personality. As in previous projects, Buckingham’s research is wide-ranging but seemingly unsystematic.

  • Amy O'Neill

    Installation art is in a precarious state. It has been criticized in recent years of cultivating a kind of blasé site-specificity that caters to the demands of large-scale exhibition organizers needing to fill space and provide a temporary spectacle—for being what Peter Schjeldahl calls “festival art.” At the same time, it’s been around long enough to be open to parody at the hands of a younger generation. Specifically ripe for analysis is the strain of installation that deals with historical reenactment in that deals with historical reenactment in the manner of Ilya Kabakov. Amy O’Neill’s

  • picks November 02, 2001

    Robert Smithson

    • Robert Smithson at James Cohan Gallery

    Because he took on such varied roles (artist, writer, amateur geologist, cartographer, etc.), it’s difficult to get a grip on Robert Smithson’s practice as a whole. This show nicely reveals one key aspect of his multifaceted examination of geography and the urge to codify the natural environment. For viewers unfamiliar with his manipulation of maps, several such works offer an illuminating perspective on his concepts of the non-site and displacement. Smithson used a cut-and-paste method to destabilize the intended accuracy of maps, drawing attention to the arbitrary nature of our attempts to

  • Kathleen Gilje

    Kathleen Gilje's line of inquiry is anything but unfamiliar. The unmasking of the male gaze has been a mainstay of critical theory and contemporary art since before Cindy Sherman staged her first photograph. But Gilje's complex, often surprising project questions the terms of the feminist reading previously advanced by her colleagues: A degree of considered complicity with the object of her critique is undeniable.

    Gilje, a New York-based artist, trained as a restorer of fine art and has worked with master paintings from private and museum collections. Her recent show included portraits of women

  • picks October 22, 2001

    Dike Blair

    • Dike Blair's Assemblages Recall the Baroque

    Dike Blair’s latest show hardly possesses the bombast of seventeenth -century cathedral extravaganzas by artists like Bernini, but it does share something with the Baroque era’s seamless melding of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Blair places great importance on achieving the right balance between the separate elements of his installation pieces. These components retain their medium-specificity, yet when encountered from the proper angle they can be comprehended as assemblages that form singular images. The resulting “pictures” in this show derive from Blair’s carefully arranged compositions,

  • picks October 13, 2001

    Gerhard Richter

    • New Work by Gerhard Richter

    After the disappointing paintings Gerhard Richter exhibited in this summer’s Venice Biennale, his current show at Marian Goodman comes as a relief. On view here is work from the last five years that demonstrates that Richter is still at the top of his game. Abstraction predominates as it has in recent years, but throughout the rooms he shakes things up with paintings containing elements of figuration. The subtlety of his approach becomes evident as one moves from picture to picture, examining the deep layering and shifting facture of his surfaces. In addition to an entire room full of gray

  • picks September 26, 2001

    John Pilson

    • John Pilson's Life at the Office

    Having first encountered John Pilson’s work well before New York’s skyline was permanently altered, I recall being immediately struck by the tension it generated between order and chaos. He began with highly familiar images of the clinical atmosphere of office buildings, then proceeded to quickly render these dreary spaces completely unrecognizable, investing them with mystery by performing random, spontaneous actions. In the wake of the attacks of September 11, the impact of this contrast is only more powerful. Our sudden, shocked comprehension of the vulnerability of capitalism’s architectural

  • picks September 19, 2001

    Hiroshi Sugimoto

    • Sugimoto's Photographs of Waxworks Mix High and Low

    A motley collection of figures alternately glorious and sinister currently occupies the long, low-lit halls of the Guggenheim SoHo. On view: Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs of likenesses of Rembrandt, Napoleon, Elizabeth I, Mondrian, and Fidel Castro—to name only the most recognizable, individuals from the eclectic mix of national leaders, cultural icons, and famous trailblazers found in Madame Tussaud’s London Waxworks. The heavy fiction inherent in these effigies (who really knows what Shakespeare looked like?) is made apparent as Sugimoto pushes his subjects to the front of the picture plane,

  • Peter Rostovsky

    THE QUESTION AT THE HEART of Peter Rostovsky's recent work is one that haunts many artists: To what extent must a contemporary painter confront the medium's long-running critical dismantling? On the surface, Rostovsky makes use of a now-familiar brand of humor to, in essence, apologize for carrying on with a practice that has routinely been written off over the past few decades; the knowing wit that infuses his work conveys the requisite degree of skepticism toward the discipline. Yet such qualifiers cannot hide a serious attachment to technique, the very emphasis on craft that the parodic

  • Nils Norman

    For the past decade Nils Norman has been devising a series of imaginative proposals for improving urban living conditions through community-based initiatives. He is no starry-eyed utopian, however: Norman is all too aware of how blind devotion to social progress under modernism has often been misguided and destructive. The foibles of dogma provide abundant material for an artist keen on uncovering hypocrisy. Norman has struck a careful balance between parodying visionary zeal and maintaining faith in alternative solutions to contemporary civic malaise.

    Typical of his approach was the recent show

  • picks August 10, 2001

    John Bock

    A “Lecture” by John Bock at Anton Kern

    John Bock is the kind of performance artist who can make an audience collectively cringe. Like a scary birthday clown, he walks into the crowd and collars innocent observers, forcing them to wear awkward props and recite absurd lines. In the process, vague narratives are formed that seem scripted but never entirely coalesce into a specific story. If there is a method to Bock’s madness, which seems likely, it’s highly open-ended and nonlinear. His July 12 performance inaugurated Anton Kern’s new Chelsea gallery. The exhibition, titled “When I’m Looking into Goat-Cheese Baiser,” consists of the

  • picks July 29, 2001

    “Crossing the Line”

    • Site-specificity Comes to Queens

    Everyone knows it’s a chore to get Manhattanites to cross the East River, but the wide sampling of variations on the theme of site-specificity on view in “Crossing the Line” is well worth the trip. Close to fifty artists have created works dealing with the history of the borough of Queens and the two World’s Fairs that took place in Flushing Meadows Park. Constructed as the New York City Building for the 1939 fair, the Queens Museum of Art is dominated by an enormous panorama—commissioned by Robert Moses for the 1964 spectacle—that reproduces to scale all five city boroughs. The show itself is

  • picks June 28, 2001

    William Kentridge

    William Kentridge's Stark Palimpsests at the New Museum

    If you’ve seen William Kentridge’s animated films and have found yourself fascinated by his raw, jerky style, this traveling retrospective affords a glimpse into the process behind their creation that may be especially satisfying. Unlike the multitude of panels used in more seamless cartoons, Kentridge produces a relatively small number of drawings for each film, recording his progress as he heavily alters and reworks their surfaces. On view here are over sixty of these large works, hung near their respective animations. Also on view are eleven films, as well as other installations and documentation.

  • picks June 21, 2001

    Rebecca Quaytman

    Rebecca Quaytman's “Sentence of Paintings”

    Covering two adjoining walls of the gallery, Rebecca Quaytman has assembled what she calls a “sentence of paintings” for her installation The Sun. Forty single canvases, each measuring 20 by 32.36 inches to reflect a classical golden section, are arranged in a group. A loosely composed narrative based on the history of a fatal 1939 automobile accident that involved several members of Quaytman’s family is embedded within the silk-screened and hand-worked surfaces, offering multiple possibilities for drawing connections and discerning affinities. This structure, which allows meanings to be derived

  • picks June 03, 2001

    Nils Norman

    Nils Norman's Dismal Garden and other new works

    Nils Norman’s characteristic mixture of critical irony and utopian aspiration is in full force in Dismal Garden, a new collaboration with one Werner von Delmont consisting of fifty-three colorful, computer-drawn, ink-jet prints that present a tale about some bizarre characters (a few of whom resemble real-life individuals) who occupy a thinly disguised version of the international art world. This hilarious satire is accompanied by a group of photos of user-unfriendly urban street furniture, including “bum-free railing” and “anti-climb devices.” The caustic tone of these works is tempered by the

  • Rainer Ganahl

    FOR THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, Rainer Ganahl has been lurking in the corridors of higher learning, monitoring the often unglamorous sites where knowledge is acquired and transmitted. He's produced long-term projects on the instruction of foreign languages and documented academic conferences and lectures by photographing speakers at the podium. His most recent efforts shed more light on the social spaces in which intellectual discourse is formulated, reworked, and introduced into everyday life.

    In 1998, Ganahl formed the first in a series of reading groups focused on the writings of Karl Marx, the