Jeffrey Kastner

  • Fred Sandback

    An elegantly daunting obstacle course for oafs and claustrophobes alike, this spare, cerebral selection of works drawn from more than four decades of the late Fred Sandback’s career served to burnish the artist’s already substantial reputation as a master of subtle spatial drama. It will, of course, be no mystery to anyone who’s encountered Sandback’s work why klutzes would do well to steer clear: His delicate strands of colored yarn—magically anchored to various points on the floor, ceiling, or wall and cutting across the intervening air like fuzzy laser beams crisscrossing a high-security

  • OPENINGS: ZHAO RENHUI

    IN AUTUMN 2009, I got an e-mail from a young artist named Zhao Renhui. He wanted to share some images he had made on a recent trip he’d taken with an organization called the Institute of Critical Zoologists (ICZ). Zhao had joined the group, he wrote, on a journey to the tiny, uninhabited island of Pulau Pejantan in the South China Sea, a few hundred kilometers off the coast of the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan. Pulau Pejantan, Zhao explained, had only recently been surveyed for the first time, and its unique ecosystem—a central semitropical forest ringed with towering white sand

  • Eija-Liisa Ahtila

    At one point near the beginning of Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s beautifully measured, characteristically serious-minded video The Annunciation, 2010, a narrating voice-over wonders aloud: “Can something already familiar fulfill the criteria for a miracle? Can one be shaken with surprise by something one knows through and through?” Such questions—spoken over images of a wintry landscape populated by trees and birds and, for one hallucinatory moment, by a strangely familiar bearded gentleman in a red-and-white suit—obviously gesture toward the specific Marian mystery to which the centerpiece of

  • David Altmejd

    With its rusticated glamour and strangely artificial natural setting, the enclave known hyperbolically as “backcountry” Connecticut—home to collector Peter Brant’s elegant, capacious apple barn–turned–quasi-public kunsthalle—proves a surprisingly sympathetic setting for the riotous dazzle and decay of David Altmejd’s work. Set between an impossibly green polo pitch and a quiet stretch of road whose posh tranquility is disturbed only by the occasional lawn-service truck, the 9,800-square-foot space has been transformed by the artist into a series of ecosystems showcasing the various

  • “Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974”

    Though sometimes superficially portrayed as a collective flight from the mediating structures of cosmopolitan culture, the Land art movement was from its beginnings a wildly heterogeneous range of practices that often craftily exploited the very systems they appeared to critique or eschew.

    Though sometimes superficially portrayed as a collective flight from the mediating structures of cosmopolitan culture, the Land art movement was from its beginnings a wildly heterogeneous range of practices that often craftily exploited the very systems they appeared to critique or eschew. The story of the social, historical, and technological contingency of Land art is the subject of this large-scale thematic exhibition, organized by MoCA senior curator Kaiser and UCLA’s Kwon, a leading historian of site-specific art. Focusing on projects made during the

  • Matthew Barney

    Reviewing Norman Mailer’s ill-fated “Egyptian novel” Ancient Evenings in the New York Times back in 1983, critic Benjamin DeMott judged the mytho-historical epic a product of “a powerful imagination . . . working with stunning intensity,” but one fatally compromised by the “preoccupations and obsessions of a late 20th-century mind.” Mailer’s book provides the broad conceptual framework (as well as the title) for Matthew Barney’s newest project cycle, a gargantuan multipart “site-specific opera” created with the artist’s regular collaborator, the composer Jonathan Bepler. The most recent act—a

  • Leandro Erlich

    A friend groused to me after completing the new season’s rounds that Leandro Erlich’s most recent show was simply another in what has been a career-long series of technically adroit one-liners. I suppose that’s fair enough. But it’s also true that they have frequently been charming, memorable one-liners, with surprisingly lingering effects. Rain, 1999, for example, Erlich’s contribution to the 2000 Whitney Biennial, was in practical terms an elementary bit of stage-set F/X (a “thunderstorm” glimpsed through the windows of a domestic space) relocated to a museum setting, but it had a distinctive

  • Matthew Ronay

    Whether framed as a strictly secular technical achievement or as the apotheosis of a kind of mystico-spiritual transference, the question of how one goes about successfully imbuing objects with meaning and power persists as a central challenge of artmaking. Matthew Ronay’s recent show at Andrea Rosen was quite explicitly aligned with the latter of these two conceptions, putting its bet down firmly on the side of creative magic. Dubbed “Between the Worlds,” it consisted of roughly thirty-eight individual works, nearly all of which were enlisted in the service of a single immersive, walk-in

  • “Taryn Simon: Photographs and Texts”

    With the tenacious sleuthing sensibility of an investigative reporter and a keen eye for the resonantly offbeat, Taryn Simon has spent the past decade turning her lens toward the forbidden and the forgotten, producing documentary photographs paired with concise factual texts.

    With the tenacious sleuthing sensibility of an investigative reporter and a keen eye for the resonantly offbeat, Taryn Simon has spent the past decade turning her lens toward the forbidden and the forgotten, producing documentary photographs paired with concise factual texts. This midcareer survey will focus on four of the artist’s most ambitious projects, including her 2007 series “An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar,” which led viewers behind the scenes at normally inaccessible sites—nuclear-waste-storage facilities, cryonic units, CIA headquarters—and “

  • Prospect.2 New Orleans

    Though widely praised as a curatorial success, Prospect.1 New Orleans—the sprawling, eighty-artist biennial conceived by Dan Cameron in 2008 for a city still struggling in the long shadow of Hurricane Katrina—ended up an administrative nightmare, leaving its organizers deep in debt and its future uncertain. After a (literal) half measure in 2010 (the cheekily named Prospect.1.5), Cameron’s exhibition makes a return this autumn, in a full if more manageable incarnation, with nearly thirty international artists. Accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, the

  • Diana Shpungin

    It is perhaps axiomatic that many of the qualities of grief that make it an enticing subject for artistic exploration—the intensity of feeling it provokes, its inextricable ties with memory, the way its specifics are totally intimate yet its contours immediately understandable to all—are precisely those that make it such a problematic one to work with. Harnessing that intensity without squelching it; teasing out the memories in a way that makes them translatable; unpacking the details without feeling a need to wrestle every last one of them into some kind of larger symbol: These are

  • Laurie Simmons

    Perhaps, to paraphrase the old Freudian misquote, it’s possible for a doll to sometimes just be a doll—but certainly not in Laurie Simmons’s work. The photographer and filmmaker has built a thirty-year practice by drafting a town’s worth of figurines, mannequins, and puppets into formal and symbolic roles, typically deploying these human surrogates in miniaturized, dollhouselike scenarios designed variously to dramatize the claustrophobia of the domestic, unearth the uncanny in the interpersonal, and tease out the myriad varieties of desire and disenchantment she detects hovering around

  • Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler

    Like much of their quietly elegant, keenly intelligent video work, the two ambitious projects by the artist team of Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler recently on view at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery made significant demands on, and richly rewarded, viewers’ attention. Clocking in at fifty-four and twenty-four minutes, respectively, the works—Grand Paris Texas, 2009, and the new two-screen video installation Méliès, 2011—represent the first two installments in a planned trilogy exploring the physical conditions and social character of the cinematic experience, here with particular respect

  • Glenn Ligon: AMERICA

    Rightly associated with the identity-politics moment of the late 1980s, Glenn Ligon has never been wholly defined by it.

    Rightly associated with the identity-politics moment of the late 1980s, Glenn Ligon has never been wholly defined by it. Though he started with a few givens—being a gay African-American man coming of age at a time when notions of both blackness and queerness were in generative flux—Ligon used a restless intellect and a skill for evocative understatement to probe not just the particular but also the universal. This midcareer retrospective is slated to feature more than one hundred works (including paintings, prints, photographs, drawings, sculptures, and

  • Laurel Nakadate

    Dangerously smart, dangerously bold (and frequently just plain dangerous), Laurel Nakadate has built an indelible body of work around her provocative investigations of psychosexual identity and female power.

    Dangerously smart, dangerously bold (and frequently just plain dangerous), Laurel Nakadate has built an indelible body of work around her provocative investigations of psychosexual identity and female power. This PS1 survey, Nakadate’s first large-scale museum show, will feature over twenty projects from the past decade of her still-young career, showcasing a formal range that has recently expanded from photography and short-form video to include feature-length film—her 2008 Stay the Same Never Change was a critical hit at Sundance, and her new project The Wolf

  • Erwin Wurm

    I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Erwin Wurm’s work, though it feels slightly odd saying so given that his recent exhibition at Lehmann Maupin was the first time I’d ever actually seen any significant amount of it in person. Of course, a good part of the artist’s wide-ranging, amiable practice lends itself very neatly to reproduction, from the transient “One-Minute Sculptures,” 1988–97, that brought his work to the attention of a wider public beginning in the late 1980s to his more recent photographic “instructions” for being idle or politically incorrect. And so despite the substantial

  • Jeffrey Kastner

    1 Lee Lozano (Moderna Museet, Stockholm; curated by Iris Müller-Westermann) A revelatory (occasionally painfully so) survey of the late artist’s willfully nasty, persistently brutish, tragically short—and utterly galvanizing—career. Though the show’s rigid circulation pattern struck some as overdetermined, the work was sufficiently fascinating and ferocious to confound any attempt to corral it. Lozano’s decade or so of mature work produced an oeuvre at once deeply personal and usefully generalizable to the concerns of her 1960s milieu, moving from cartoonish Pop grotesqueries through

  • Rob Pruitt

    If The Book of the Courtier, the etiquette guide penned by the sixteenth-century Italian diplomat Baldassare Castiglione, is known at all today, it’s probably for its coinage of sprezzatura, a word it uses to describe a very particular, and very practiced, mode of nonchalance. One classic translation renders the term an approach that “shall conceal design and show that what is done and said is done without effort and almost without thought.” According to Castiglione, then, “true art” will be that “which does not appear to be art” at all.

    All the ripest paradoxes of the courtier’s Renaissance koan

  • Nathaniel Robinson

    Taking its cue (and deriving its name) from l’heure bleue, that fleeting moment of atmospheric ambivalence at dawn and dusk when daylight has not yet begun (or has just finished) drawing a world of legibility and clear distinction, Nathaniel Robinson’s New York solo debut, “Civil Twilight,” operated within a territory of formal, conceptual, and material indeterminacy. The suite of restrained sculptural scenarios—most consisting of some object or set of objects cast from pigmented polyurethane resin, occasionally augmented with found materials—was engaging if clearly transitional, finding the

  • “The Curse of Bigness”

    Based on its title, “The Curse of Bigness”—an intriguing if inconclusive group show currently at the Queens Museum of Art—would seem to want to align itself with both politics and pedagogy: The phrase was coined in 1914 by Louis Brandeis, the social crusader and later supreme court justice, to instruct about the perils of the era’s overweening concentration of financial and industrial power in the hands of the few. Coming as it does out of a fairly particular historical context—glossed in an introductory note written by the show’s curator, Larissa Harris, and fleshed out at (great) length in a