Jeanne Silverthorne

  • “Primer (for Raymond Williams)”

    Group Material’s “Primer (for Raymond Williams)” is collaborative, its intent political, its participants diverse in age, gender, and class, its setting noncommercial. This impeccable correctness could no doubt be annoying to those who implicitly worry about political art developing a hegemony, challenging pure art, however defined, to a duel from which only one will emerge alive.

    Be that as it may, it might be more useful to abandon the debate over whether collaborations like this one are propaganda rather than art and to see them in a protean relationship with other efforts analogous to that

  • “The Pressure To Paint”

    This is a show not about art but about power: the power of money, the power of hype, and the power of exclusion. According to curator Diego Cortez, the first two are justified by an undisguised (if ludicrous) process of inversion: middleman becomes producer (the “new” dealers’ marketing techniques are, he writes, part of a “strategy of the soul,” and his “admiration and respect” for them “is at least equal to that of the artists and their work”); and high-powered commercial gallery becomes radical alternative space (“Yes, Marlborough for my purposes is an alternative space”). In other words,

  • Troy Brauntuch

    The paradox at the center of Troy Brauntuch’s pictures is this: on the one hand, the very muteness of the images provokes the viewer into trying to make them talk; on the other, attempts to get the work to confess its secrets are made to seem bruising, exertions of undue force—in effect, fascist. To begin with, although the technique is “realistic,” details are so indistinct that representations verge on or pass into the inscrutable. As with the enlargements in Blow Up, looking so hard generates doubts about what is seen; as in recalled dreams, the more intense our pursuit of a scene, the farther

  • Italo Scanga

    Brauntuch defers closure as if loath to confront the shame of a disingenuous looking. The irresolution of Italo Scanga’s new series of drawings is more like the ceaseless agitation of a stream of consciousness in which chunks of private, religious, and art histories tumble around with motes of the quotidian. Nevertheless the work of both expresses a will to confound. Because Brauntuch’s references are so specialized there’s a better than average chance that his audience won’t be familiar with his source photograph or drawing. Because Scanga’s iconography is so generalized an excessive number of

  • Matt Mullican

    You might say that Matt Mullican intends to demonstrate the difference between mystic and mystique, and in so doing to produce a literal declension of history’s passage through various Weltanschauungs. First we have primitively rendered drawings that look like woodcuts, particularly Wassily Kandinsky woodcuts, even though they are paint on paper. They are depictions of a cosmology: a flattened-out hemisphere with a triple-faced fate/god astride the top curve, a skeleton bridging hellish flames at the bottom, and symbols of the world in the middle. There’s a place for everything and everything

  • Kim MacConnel

    “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” is a likely initial take on Kim MacConnel’s new fabric hangings., At first glance, he seems to be coasting. At second glance, darker thoughts about rank opportunism furrow the brow: what new elements there are here—bombs, missiles, planes—seem to have him jumping rather belatedly on the protest bandwagon. Suspicions, unfortunately, are like warts—uninvited and ugly, but hard to get rid of.

    A third, more thorough look should put moralists at ease, at least on the score of exploitation. If there’s anyone MacConnel is pirating, it’s himself, and there’s a

  • Jean Michel Basquiat

    Surprisingly, though Jean Michel Basquiat comes, infamously by now, from a graffiti tradition (nom de spray: Samo), his colliding opposites are much less anarchistic than MacConnel’s. Whereas MacConnel’s ironic stance allows him to endorse nothing publicly, Basquiat’s reversals are not those of his own irony but of the unintended situational irony of a system he would like, one surmises, to see work, if only it could. His tone, as compared to the Flaubertian one of MacConnel’s slice of commercial low life, bears the accent of disillusionment: if MacConnel presents the way it is, Basquiat tends

  • Barry Gerson

    Arteries can harden and get clogged. Not Barry Gerson’s Arteries, though—meaning in this installation of film and sculpture is so fluid as to make the work virtually hemophilic: at the least poke it leaks out all over the place. That “arterial” may denote “a channel with many branches,” according to Webster, seems appropriate. When puzzling out the implications of the work, the viewer is faced with so many choices of indeterminate outcome that it’s possible to lose all sense of direction and end up going in circles, like the blood in the body human, which stars in this spectacle. Could that be

  • Michelle Stuart

    For all of those who shuddered every time Ramar stepped out of the clearing around his house and into the jungle, Michelle Stuart’s Correspondences is reassuring armchair exploration—of the Yucatan rather than Africa, however. Palms and bamboos are contained in burlap bags and silver-painted baskets; the potentially hackle-raising chatter of monkeys, insects, and parrots is defused by the soothing voice of a narrator and the lull of flutey, Mayan music. The lights are low, and, while sitting on the chairs provided, you face a wall of what appear to be terra-cotta tiles inset with two images: on

  • Vernon Fisher

    “Snow” is the key word in Vernon Fisher’s new triptychs of texts and images. Snow, the natural phenomenon, appears as the manifest content of two of the narratives. In one an unfortunate child, never prepared for “sharing time” in school, finally demonstrates snow by crumbling Kleenex; in another snowflakes fall, as big as “trashcan lids” and as “transparent” as “jellyfish.” Snow, the technological phenomenon—interference on your TV set—forms the latent content of all the pieces: Fisher’s use of texts superimposed on photo-derived images, each obscuring the other, invokes bad reception on the

  • Barbara Schwartz

    Perhaps it’s the shift from her past references to the body to her present references to the spirit that makes me nostalgic for Barbara Schwartz’s earlier reliefs. Maybe she wouldn’t even know what I’m talking about. What shift? If the titles are to be taken as in any way indicative, these new works have for Schwartz the same kinds of connotations as the old.

    Maybe so, but the sources of those titles have always been somewhat obscure. Unlike the source for the work itself: as Jeff Perrone once noted, the pieces from the middle ’70s are “humanized,” specifically, sexualized. They feature clefts,

  • Richard Pousette-Dart

    Mystic or not, Richard Pousette-Dart makes some of the most sensuous paintings to be seen these days. And this at a time when there must be more paint per inch of exhibited canvas than ever before in history. Tom Wolfe once joked about getting out rulers to determine who was the flattest minimalist of all. Now that the situation is reversed, we’re going to need yardsticks. Pousette-Dart uses a lot of paint, too. At times the pebbles of pigment (yes, this is pointillist technique) grow so dense you find yourself checking the floor to see if any have been knocked off yet. He doesn’t, however, fall