Jeffrey Kastner

  • 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

  • Elad Lassry: Sum of Limited Views

    The focus in Elad Lassry’s sneaky, beautifully nuanced photographs is not really on what is there—nor quite, somehow, on what is not—but rather on a delicately poised conceptual space, concocted by the artist, where the conditions of there and not there become uncannily difficult to tease apart.

    The focus in Elad Lassry’s sneaky, beautifully nuanced photographs is not really on what is there—nor quite, somehow, on what is not—but rather on a delicately poised conceptual space, concocted by the artist, where the conditions of there and not there become uncannily difficult to tease apart. Whether détourning found imagery with collage, shooting straight-faced still lifes in which inexplicable artifacts such as cosmetics, ceramic knickknacks, and tropical fruits are balanced on plinths in supersaturated color environments, or exploring the poetic

  • Edward Kienholz

    “Marvelously vulgar artist. Marvelously vulgar. I like that work.” This assessment of Edward Kienholz, conveyed to the artist’s close friend and longtime business partner Walter Hopps, came courtesy of Marcel Duchamp, who—as Hopps recounted in a catalogue essay for the 1996 Kienholz retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art—“leaned back, laughed and laughed, and slapped his hands on the table” as he delivered the verdict. Duchamp had recently seen Kienholz’s 1963 New York debut at Alexander Iolas’s gallery, the centerpiece of which was Roxys, 1960–61. The work—whose situational point

  • Jeffrey Kastner

    ON A RECENT DAY IN EARLY MAY, two e-mails showed up in my in-box within a few hours of each other. The information they individually contained was unremarkable—the opening of an exhibition and the gift of artworks to a museum. Taken together, however, they provide a glimpse into one intriguingly unsettled facet of today’s contemporary art world: the complex landscape shared, sometimes uneasily, by private art collectors and public art institutions.

    The first e-mail concerned an opening at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, an apple barn–turned–personal museum in Greenwich, Connecticut.

  • Tatiana Trouvé

    In a text accompanying her long-overdue US debut, at Gagosian uptown, Tatiana Trouvé remarks that “the body is simply of no use” when encountering her sculptures. Though referring to her tendency to play with scale, her comment also offered a potential theoretical frame for the entire show. Staging interventions throughout the space (graphic embellishments on the floors and walls, rogue scraps of building systems, and irruptions such as portals, blockages, and cuts punctuating the spatial logic of the rooms), Trouvé intended to disorient viewers—to put them out of their comfort zone, literally

  • Jeffrey Vallance

    Depending on your temperament, or maybe just your mood, it’s possible to have wildly divergent experiences with Jeffrey Vallance’s work. In certain lights, his thirty-year-plus project—here, in his debut at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, taking the form of a collection of “relics and reliquaries”—reads as a gently affirmatory paean to the latent poetry in castoffs and kitsch, a sincere mash-up of pop-culture doodads, dork-cool autobiography, and low-wattage ritual that eludes criticality and expands the range of aesthetic permissibility. Viewed from a slightly darker perspective, however, Vallance has

  • Markus Schinwald

    Elegant, unsettling, and thoroughly persuasive, Markus Schinwald’s New York solo debut provided an overdue introduction to the versatile Austrian-born artist’s uncanny talent for lavishly evocative modes of détournement. Schooled in both theory and fashion design, Schinwald is fascinated with the potential and limitations of bodies, as physical objects and as metaphoric subjects. Despite its slightly bewildering disciplinary heterogeneity (his projects over the last decade, seen almost exclusively in Europe, have involved painting, photography, sculpture, film, video, installation, theater,

  • Dan Flavin

    Somehow, no matter how many times I see Dan Flavin’s work, I always seem to harbor the exact same misconceived expectation, namely that I’m going to encounter things of striking perceptual luxury—light mobilized within spatial scenarios à la James Turrell or Olafur Eliasson, say, in which the physical apparatus of the lamp is simply a vehicle for producing the radiant focus of the show, a nonphysical (even metaphysical) form of illumination that envelops and swallows the viewer in its lyrical maw.

    Of course, this is for the most part misremembered bunk: Flavin was no mystic and his work—as this

  • Tino Sehgal

    A show with no catalogue, no documentation, and no objects—for Tino Sehgal, it’s simply business, or the lack thereof, as usual.

    A show with no catalogue, no documentation, and no objects—for Tino Sehgal, it’s simply business, or the lack thereof, as usual. With an unconventional background in dance and economics, and a conviction that the world is already too full of things, Sehgal reimagines the museum as a choreographed agora, a stage for interpersonal scenarios that lay bare the animating mechanisms of exchange between viewer and artwork. In quintessential Sehgalian fashion, his infiltration of the Guggenheim is preceded by a conspicuous lack of specifics, other than that he will be creating

  • Paul Chan

    The orgy was already in full swing when I arrived at “Sade for Sade’s sake,” a predictably serious-minded if surprisingly dry survey of recent work by Paul Chan inspired by the eighteenth-century libertine author and philosopher. Elements of Chan’s project—a sprawling exploration, grounded in the Marquis de Sade’s work and routed through contemporary sociopolitics, of sexuality, violence, and liberty; of the relation of the body to language and the individual to the law—have been shown at the Venice Biennale and Chicago’s Renaissance Society. But this show, Chan’s second solo at Greene Naftali,

  • Juergen Teller

    Although Juergen Teller’s recent show at Lehmann Maupin (his fifth solo there) was billed as a project “blurring the distinction between his commercial and non-commercial work,” for the photographer it’s essentially a distinction without a difference. His practice moves with lucrative ease between the two worlds—in the pages of Vogue or W one day and on the walls of the Fondation Cartier or Tate Modern the next. Teller has made a tidy career selling precious things without appearing to be selling them (is it any wonder he’s found a home in the contemporary art world?) and does it so nimbly that

  • Laurel Nakadate

    For viewers who have struggled to untangle the wicked snarl of contradictions that animate Laurel Nakadate’s provocative and polarizing oeuvre, the artist’s recent show—her debut at Tonkonow and her first solo exhibition in New York since 2006—suggested one possible solution. A number of the works in “Fever Dreams at the Crystal Motel” are meant, according to their titles, to be thought of as “exorcisms.” Incongruous ecclesiastical overtones aside, this notion of a battle with tormenting spirits, taking place along a continuum from the ecstatic to the psychotic, does provide a useful way to

  • Bruce Nauman at the 53rd Venice Biennale

    “BRUCE NAUMAN: TOPOLOGICAL GARDENS,” the title of the exhibition organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the United States pavilion at this year’s Fifty-third Venice Biennale, may at first seem incongruous. Why use a mathematical term in connection with an artist famous for focusing on language and the body? Yet topology—a field of math that, as the museum puts it, “examines the continuity of space amid changing conditions”—does turn out to be slyly apropos. Already invoked by critics to describe post-Minimalism’s torqued and twisted forms, here it suggests a way of understanding not

  • “Dreamtime”

    Nineteen international artists were invited to execute site-specific projects conceived for the Mas d’Azil cave complex in the Ariège region of the French Midi-Pyrénées and to exhibit work recently made while in residence at the nearby Caza d’Oro.

    Channeling the prehistoric, contemporary art goes subterranean with this unique partnership between an archaeological park, a residency program, and an exhibition space. Nineteen international artists (including David Altmejd, Miquel Barceló, Mark Dion, and Xavier Veilhan) were invited to execute site-specific projects conceived for the Mas d’Azil cave complex in the Ariège region of the French Midi-Pyrénées and to exhibit work recently made while in residence at the nearby Caza d’Oro. The exhibition will be split between the park and the Toulouse exhibition space Les Abattoirs—the latter (on