Jeffrey Kastner

  • “Laurie Simmons: How We See”

    Laurie Simmons’s sustained investigation into both physical and psychological artifice—from the figurines and miniaturized architectural environments pictured in her early photos to her later deployment of anatomically accurate “love dolls” as actors in oddly poignant domestic dramas around her own home—has a certain conceptual and spatial trajectory to it, and her decision in recent years to begin working with human subjects represents a logical, intriguing turn in her provocative practice. Characteristically looking to trouble questions of identity and

  • Andy Coolquitt

    An extended investigation into the character and qualities of things-in-the-world, Andy Coolquitt’s practice situates objects in compelling, provocative reciprocity with the viewer. Coolquitt is at base a committed devotee of stuff—what its most acute modern theorizer, Martin Heidegger, referred to as Zeug, a slippery word that sometimes ends up being rendered as “equipment”—and the Austin-based artist’s unusual skills as a bricoleur stem from his willingness to follow various materials where they lead, even as he continually imagines some other form of presence into which they might

  • Monika Sosnowska

    Just as all fundamentally utopian propositions, whether social, political, or aesthetic, are necessarily bound to fall short of their goals, so do their remnants almost axiomatically become fodder for artistic critique and repurposing. The legacy of echt-modernist architecture and planning, for example—a creed of formal sobriety in the service of rationalized material (and social) technologies that was uniquely influential on the condition of the twentieth-century urban fabric—has long provided raw material for any number of theoretical and artifactual recapitulations. The recent

  • Tom Friedman

    Tom Friedman tells a story about hitting a creative dry patch back in grad school: Feeling stuck and out of ideas, he decided to completely empty his studio, wall off the windows, and paint the room totally white, from floor to ceiling. This evacuation complete, he began bringing objects and materials into the space, one at a time, to focus on a kind of Cagean project of close, sustained attention to the material conditions of individual artifacts and substances.

    Across his twenty-five-year career, Friedman has steadily filled up the epiphanic physical and theoretical space he cleared out for

  • Kara Walker

    Astringent and overwhelming, like the weird burned-sweet tang that harshed the air inside the decommissioned Domino Sugar Factory warehouse where it hulked, A Subtlety, 2014, Kara Walker’s first large-scale public project, was the uneasy blockbuster of the New York art world’s midsummer. The artist’s crouching, house-size mammy, made from forty gleaming tons of bleach-white sugar molded onto foam blocks, stoically presided over a clutch of baby-faced blackamoors in a vast space literally coated with the auburn residue of a century’s worth of processing the sweet stuff. And she drew huge crowds

  • Markus Schinwald

    Constraint, alteration, impediment: The figures that populate the work of Markus Schinwald are subjected to a range of psychophysical distortions, to strange bendings and bindings through which the Vienna-based artist summons a world weirdly ductile in both form and affect. Schinwald works with painting (uncannily détourned nineteenth-century portraits, seamlessly overlaid with rendered prosthetics), sculpture (contortions of elegantly flailing cabrioles), video, choreography, costume and set design, and architectural intervention. His project for the

  • Peter Buggenhout

    A remarkably convincing figuring of disorder—of irredeemable, contagious psychomaterial disarray—the solo New York debut of Belgian sculptor Peter Buggenhout coaxed improbably affecting nuance from viscerally brutish form. Functioning both as discrete objects and as elements of a larger installation scenario, the pair of dark heaps set in the ground-floor gallery of Gladstone’s Twenty-First Street space—The Blind Leading the Blind #66 hulking in the middle of the room, The Blind Leading the Blind #67, both 2014, appearing to simultaneously spill forth from and muscle up to a nearby

  • Doug Wheeler

    Fortunately, my early-morning reservation to see Doug Wheeler’s recent installation at David Zwirner—a welcome return for the exacting, reticent artist just two years after his solo debut at the gallery in 2012, and only his second-ever one-man show in New York during the five decades of his career—was scheduled at the height of one of the more aggressive of the blizzards that socked the city in a seemingly ceaseless parade this year. Fortunate, first and foremost, because I managed to snag an appointment at all: A strict limit placed on the number of viewers allowed at any one time

  • Saul Fletcher

    At a time and in a place where insanely gigantic seems to be the default scale, Saul Fletcher’s quietly stirring show of some two dozen small photographs at Anton Kern acted as a sneakily bracing disruption of the status quo. The most tangible upshot of Chelsea’s current architectural hypertrophy—nothing more, really, than a blunt spatialization of the distended market that gives rise to it—is that even the most self-confident work often seems to strain under the obligation to live up to the sheer cubic feet devoted to it, lending a vague sheen of flop sweat to even good ideas and

  • Matthew Day Jackson

    There’s so much to admire in Matthew Day Jackson’s practice—virtuoso technique in the service of a wide-ranging imagination, richly appealing and evocative production across a range of media, and a meticulous attention to formal minutiae that’s all the more impressive given the increasing physical size of his works. Indeed, attempts to assess Jackson’s deeper conceptual and ideological tendencies often seem to dissolve into airy generalizations when faced with the imposing, persuasive things he produces.

    “Something Ancient, Something New, Something Stolen, Something Blue,” the materially

  • Tracey Emin

    Anyone interested in a quick synopsis of the strangely conflicted position occupied by Tracey Emin these days need look no further than the artist’s biography on the website of London’s Royal Academy of Arts. Now nearly a quarter century down the line from her late-Thatcherite efflorescence, theYBA turned CBE was named a Royal Academician in 2007 and is today a professor at that august institution. Yet unlike those of her colleagues, her bio—which she presumably provided, or at least approved—opens not with a nod to her artistic achievements but with this revelatory, classically

  • “Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take”

    With a poet’s eye and a devotional attitude toward technical refinement, Jim Hodges remains a signal figure from the generation of American artists that emerged from the political tumult and tragedy of the mid-1980s. Like those of contemporaries Robert Gober and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Hodges’s vocabulary—familiar materials reconsidered and reinvented as richly strange mementos—is governed by a wistful syntax that emphasizes fragility and evanescence. His first comprehensive US survey, co-organized by the DMA and Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center,

  • Richard Serra

    Richard Serra has a story he likes to tell—as he did recently to a group gathered for a preview of this magisterial, museum-quality survey of his works made between 1966 to 1971 mounted at David Zwirner’s imposingly soign. new digs on West Twentieth Street—about a formative moment in his life as an artist when, traveling around Europe while on a Fulbright, he encountered Las Meninas for the first time. His experience at the Prado was a revelation, he said, because he felt Vel.zquez had somehow managed to make him feel “implicated in the space of the painting,” something the fledgling

  • Ragnar Kjartansson

    As it has threaded itself into the fabric of contemporary practice and discourse over the past decade and a half, the notion of “relational aesthetics” has come, fairly or not, to be almost exclusively associated with efforts to reimagine the sociospatial contexts of spectatorship, often taking the form of situations staged to conduce interactions that become literally constitutive of the works themselves—the gallery repurposed as dining table, as laboratory, as factory, as seminar room, as town hall. In truth, this is probably due as much to the way Nicolas Bourriaud’s original conception

  • “The Art of Scent: 1889–2012”

    Baudelaire, whose soul soared “on perfume as other men’s souls soar on music,” devoted a notable portion of his literary genius to the question of how one might translate olfactory experience into language. His 1857 poem “Correspondences,” for example, routes a consideration of the relationships between the physical and the spiritual through a synesthetic inventory of scent and sensation: “So perfumes, colors, sounds may correspond. / Odors there are, fresh as a baby’s skin, / Mellow as oboes, green as meadow grass, / —Others corrupted, rich, triumphant, full, / Having dimensions infinitely

  • Peter Coffin

    In a conversation between Peter Coffin and Maurizio Cattelan published in 2007, Coffin warned against the “tendency to clutter things up, to try and make sure people know something is art, when all that’s necessary is to present it, to leave it alone. I think the hardest thing to do,” he continued, “is to present an idea in the most straightforward way.” Coffin’s recent show at Venus over Manhattan showed the broadly curious Conceptualist practicing what he preaches, but also demonstrated that leaving things too much alone can risk leaving the viewer behind.

    The pointedly uncluttered installation

  • Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe

    It’s safe to say that no one will ever accuse Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe of lacking ambition. Over the past six years, the artist team has created (and, in a few cases, re-created) one madly elaborate environment after another, physically and psychologically immersive spatial confections that have proliferated in museums, galleries, and other venues (a Miami condo, a Schindler residence in Los Angeles) at a rate that belies the installations’ material richness and technical virtuosity. For all the work’s heterogeneity—room after room is crammed with everyday objects both found and made,

  • Sarah Oppenheimer

    A thoroughly serious and accomplished maker, and unmaker, of both space and structure, Sarah Oppenheimer intervenes in architectural environments in ways that not only destabilize and reorganize the physical facts of those given sites, but also start to provoke realignments of viewers’ own native sensoriums. Encounters with Oppenheimer’s disorienting structural build-outs or trademark cuts, slots, or oculi—here, in her first solo New York show in over five years, represented by a pair of slyly intricate incisions that managed to simultaneously unite, separate, and alter conditions in the

  • Tom Sachs

    Though Tom Sachs’s preposterously hypertrophic installation “Space Program: Mars” proposed to viewers a kind of voyage, it turned out to provide a very different sort of trip than the one advertised. Organized by Creative Time, the prolific artist’s ersatz expedition to outer space—which colonized a heroically large proportion of the Park Avenue Armory’s floor plan—never really got off the ground. But the actual journey on offer, one into the mind and working habits of its author, was a fascinating adventure nonetheless.

    The show was, in essence, an extravagant, life-size (and then

  • Tom Burr

    Reading through recent interviews with Tom Burr—whose second show at Bortolami, “Deep Wood Drive,” provided another persuasive demonstration of the artist’s elegaic, conceptually assured sculptures and scenarios—several recurring lines of questioning begin to emerge. Most of them are predictable enough: How does Burr locate his practice within the legacy of Minimalism? What draws him to the personae of the kinds of cultural figures—among them Truman Capote, Frank O’Hara, and Jim Morrison—that so often figure in his work? In what ways do queer politics inform his choices of