Jeffrey Kastner

  • Isaac Julien

    “It seems to us next to impossible for white men to take likenesses of black men, without most grossly exaggerating their distinctive features,” Frederick Douglass wrote in 1849. “And the reason is obvious. Artists, like all other white persons, have adopted a theory respecting the distinctive features of Negro physiognomy.” Douglass, an escaped slave turned abolitionist writer and orator, understood all too well how the racist image-repertoire of white America structured its relationship with its black citizens, and the ways in which the literal dehumanization of people of color not only impelled

  • Luke Stettner

    Rich in damaged detail, formally austere, and affecting in often unpredictable ways, Luke Stettner’s exhibition at Kate Werble Gallery demonstrated both the potential and the limitations of language as a conjurer of personal and historical memory. The show’s stuttering title, “ri ve rr hy me sw it hb lo od,” sent an oblique signal about its organizing principles: incompleteness, misprision, false starts, and missed connections. Perhaps best seen as a kind of fraught, makeshift whole rather than a series of discrete works, the project argued that obliqueness should be understood as the default

  • Jane Dickson

    In 1978, the Chicago-born painter Jane Dickson was a few years out of college and looking for a job in New York. She answered a newspaper ad for artists “willing to learn computers,” and soon found herself on the night shift, designing animations for the first digital light board in Manhattan’s Times Square. Although she disdained what she called the “commercial propaganda” being broadcast on the Spectacolor screen, Dickson did manage to make the display work in her favor. First, she talked her boss into letting her commandeer it briefly to advertise the “Times Square Show,” the legendary 1980

  • Banks Violette

    When he effectively withdrew from the art world more than half a decade ago, Banks Violette left behind a pair of entwined legacies: as the prolific creator of persuasively ominous sculptures, paintings, and installations, and as a classic cautionary tale for early success and its excesses. His glamorously dark work of the early 2000s, which gave the then-trending thread of abjection an infusion of black-metal mordancy, was icy and slickly sullen. Meanwhile, his oft-recounted personal history—he was a richly tatted high-school dropout who’d kicked a meth habit, earned a studio-art MFA at

  • “NEGATIVE SPACE”

    In a 1988 interview, Bruce Nauman expressed his sculptural interest in negative space by quoting a statement he attributed to Willem de Kooning: “When you paint a chair, you should paint the space between the rungs, not the chair itself.” Over the past hundred-odd years, artists have sought to recalibrate the balance between the traditional foundations of sculptural forms—mass and volume, the body—and the spaces they occupy and thereby produce. This sprawling exhibition argues that such reconsiderations have been fundamental to the trajectory of sculptural

  • Hannes Schmid

    The seventy-two-year-old Swiss artist Hannes Schmid—the subject of a compact, fascinating show at Mitchell Algus Gallery—is not a household name, but he can lay claim to a pair of intriguing distinctions in the postwar-image canon. First, he was among a select group of commercial photographers responsible for the pictures of handsomely weather-beaten cowboys in wide-open spaces in the iconic Marlboro Man ads, a campaign that turned a languishing brand originally pitched to women into the echt embodiment of consumerist masculinity and, not coincidentally, the best-selling cigarette in

  • Fred Wilson

    Intelligent, expansive, and elegantly trenchant, Fred Wilson’s exhibition at Pace was a clarion announcement of conceptual sophistication during the dog days of the summer gallery season. “Afro Kismet,” a sprawling collection of objects, images, paintings, and text, was shown in New York after being presented in slightly different forms at both the 2017 Istanbul Biennial (where it originated) and Pace’s London outpost earlier this year. The innovative strategies of research-based reappropriation and museological critique that Wilson employed in “Mining the Museum”—his landmark 1992 intervention

  • Peter Roehr

    A fascinating—and, at least as far as the conventional canon goes, mostly missing—link between Pop art and Minimalism, Peter Roehr’s work identified a vein of astringent poetry in the image world of an emergent global consumer culture. An exhibition at Ortuzar Projects provided a bracing overview of the five-year career of the German Conceptualist, who died of cancer in 1968, only weeks before his twenty-fourth birthday. Focused on his rigorously ordered photomontages, and featuring a revelatory suite of film montages, the show presented a practice very much in dialogue with the dominant conceptual

  • 57TH CARNEGIE INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION

    Five years after its previous iteration, America’s oldest international contemporary art survey—inaugurated in 1896 by industrialist Andrew Carnegie to acquire, as he put it, “the old masters of tomorrow”—opens its fifty-seventh edition, this time under the curatorship of the innovative Ingrid Schaffner. Organized in collaboration with a group of five international curatorial “companions,” who traveled with Schaffner, a Pittsburgh native, to far-flung locales, the show was conceived as a sprawling, multivocal research project. It features thirty-two artists and

  • “ENRICO DAVID: GRADATIONS OF SLOW RELEASE”

    Across the past two decades, the provocatively ecumenical Italian-born, London-based artist Enrico David has forged a singular practice that proceeds from drawing to a dizzying array of other media. The human body is almost always present—whether considered in works on paper, paintings, tapestries, installations, or the difficult-to-pigeonhole sculptures for which the artist is perhaps best known—but his figural forms inevitably gesture as much to the psychological as to the corporeal. This major survey will include some fifty works showcasing both David’s mastery of

  • Mariko Mori

    The indelible avatars for which Mariko Mori gained fame in the early years of her shape-shifting practice—cyborg teenybopper, anime ingenue, extraterrestrial geisha, digital mermaid, 3-D empress—were, despite the outsize way they figure into most accountings of her career, actually a fairly short-lived aspect of her conceptual program. Mori’s celebrated masquerades gave way after only a half decade or so, following which she withdrew as a subject of her own work and redirected her pursuit of extravagant otherworldly hybridities into seamlessly finished structures and sculptures. The

  • Alex Da Corte

    Over the past dozen years, Alex Da Corte has developed a highly distinctive practice, one focused primarily on fashioning (and/or refashioning) overripe bits of commodity culture and then putting conceptual pressure on them until whatever uncanniness they contain starts leaking out. Da Corte is both a maker of boldly strange objects and a designer of the psychically disorienting immersive settings in which he presents them. He’s also crazily prolific: In the past half decade, he’s mounted some twenty solo shows featuring sculpture, video, and installations for which he created the lighting and

  • YINKA SHONIBARE MBE

    IN A 2005 INTERVIEW, British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE reflected on the questions around the fluid nature of identity—racial, national, cultural—that dominate his practice. “What I do is create a kind of mongrel,” he said. “In reality most people’s cultures have evolved out of this mongrelization, but people don’t acknowledge that.” The word may initially seem an inapt one for Shonibare’s sumptuous, baroquely elegant sculptures, videos, and installations, but it does conjure the fraught conditions of postcolonial identity, increasingly defined by discourses of globalization,

  • Survival Research Laboratories

    It was a brutally frigid Saturday afternoon in early January, but a few hundred people were nevertheless gathered on a blocked-off stretch of West Twenty-Fifth Street in New York’s Chelsea. They were huddled against the cold in front of Marlborough Contemporary’s story-high garage door like a class at recess ringing a pair of schoolyard combatants, their focus on a gaggle of jerry-rigged machines that had been let loose to brawl between the dirty curbside snowbanks. The contraptions—including a tall wheeled carriage with a swinging articulated arm that terminated in a grasping claw and a

  • Gerard Byrne

    Gerard Byrne’s brilliantly imagined and rendered film In Our Time proceeds from a concept that is, in its basic shape, so simple and straightforward that it almost eludes description. Set in a commercial radio station, the film—originally commissioned for Skulptur Projekte Münster in Germany in 2017—focuses on a DJ with a graying goatee and a magnificently fugly cardigan performing his duties in a cozily cluttered control room: introducing pop songs, cuing commercials, reading news and traffic reports. Meanwhile, on the other side of a soundproof window, a few men and women fiddle with

  • Omer Fast

    In the autumn of 2016, Omer Fast had a solo exhibition in his adopted hometown of Berlin. Mounted by the Martin-Gropius-Bau, the show included a number of the elegantly perplexing, serious-minded video and film works the artist has made across his fifteen-year practice, including his newest, August, 2016, an impressionistic elegy for the early-twentieth-century German portrait photographer August Sander. In something of a departure for Fast, the show also featured a series of spatial interventions, with three of the show’s seven works set in installation environments meant to simulate transitional

  • “Artaud 1936”

    “I came to Mexico to look for a new idea of man,” wrote Antonin Artaud in the summer of 1936, a few months into his year-and-a-half-long sojourn in the Americas. Financially strapped and strung out, the poète maudit had arrived from Paris on a grant; while in the country, he wrote prolifically, gave lectures, and lived for a time in the mountains with the Tarahumara, witnessing their rituals and experimenting with peyote. As was the case for so much of his short life, Artaud’s time in Mexico was framed by his search for ecstatic authenticity and revolutionary potentiality.

  • Bernadette Mayer

    A self-described “emotional science project,” Bernadette Mayer’s Memory—1,100-odd photographs made by shooting a thirty-six-exposure roll of 35-mm color slide film on each of the thirty-one days of July 1971, accompanied by six-plus hours of diaristic narration that the artist later revised into a book—is one of those conceptual pieces from the 1960s and ’70s that have been better known as anecdote than as physical fact. The work was first shown in its entirety in February 1972 at Holly Solomon’s 98 Greene Street space and has been re-created in various partial arrangements over the

  • Tom Sachs

    Predictably winking but at times also unexpectedly personal and even wistful, Tom Sachs’s recent solo show was figured as a kind of material autobiography: a trip down an artistic memory lane paved with a thousand different things, each subsumed within the systematizing logic of his famously relentless, tongue-in-cheek didacticism. The exhibition showcased the ways his artistic persona can both charm and chafe—it was maniacally overstuffed with objects and language, rich in obsessive-compulsive tics, and marked by a cultivated mash-up of gravitas and juvenilia, of amiable self-deprecation

  • Michel Houellebecq

    THE MAP AND THE TERRITORY, Michel Houellebecq’s Prix Goncourt–winning 2010 novel, takes its epigraph from the fifteenth-century nobleman and poet Charles d’Orléans: “The world is weary of me, / And I am weary of it.” The sentiment will be instantly familiar to anyone acquainted with the celebrated, controversial French author’s work, which teems with an apparently inexhaustible array of sad sacks and misanthropes—the damaged, the soul-sick, the emotionally stunted. Among other things, The Map and the Territory is the story of an artist and a satire of a particular kind of cosmopolitan