Jeffrey Kastner

  • 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

  • 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