Jenifer P. Borum

  • Michèle Blondel 

    For nearly a decade, the French artist Michèle Blondel has been developing the various elements of what has become a unified, installation-oriented, sculptural project. Blondel herself blows precious Baccarat crystal into exquisite phallic and otherwise sexually suggestive forms, and strategically places them in the chapels and choirs of medieval French churches. Hers is less a button-pushing attack on the odious politics of the Church than it is a playful uncovering of the erotic and sadistic underpinnings of Catholic ritual and dogma. Featuring a representative selection of Blondel’s work from

  • Tony Fitzpatrick

    Self-taught, Chicago-based artist Tony Fitzpatrick began showing in New York’s East Village during the mid ’80s. His small, slate chalkboards, obsessively painted with quirky, cartoonish imagery fit in well there, standing out as raw and original in a sea of second-generation Kenny Scharfs. Fitzpatrick is an auteur of quintessentially American images: his is an often violent, but always astute look at the darker side of American life, rendered with tattoo-parlor frankness and unmistakably Catholic drama and pathos.

    This show offered a range of etchings on chine collé which, although selected from

  • Adolph Wölfli

    Adolph Wölfli (1864–1930), who was admitted to the Waldau hospital for the mentally ill in 1895, where he was eventually diagnosed as schizophrenic, devoted 31 years of his life to producing an array of art works in different media, including drawings, musical compositions, poetry, and prose. This show of 30 drawings represented the range of his production, from his multifaceted autobiographical opus to the drawings he made to earn money.

    In 1908 Wölfli began his “narrative work,” an encyclopedic series that by his death numbered some 45 volumes with over 25,000 pages. In the opening segment,

  • Kenneth Goldsmith

    At once exquisite and formidable, Kenneth Goldsmith’s text-on-paper compositions are a seductive hybrid of poetry, literature, music, and visual art. While Goldsmith clearly draws inspiration in equal parts from James Joyce, John Cage, and Joseph Kosuth, his work is more than simply the sum of these influences.

    Goldsmith’s penchant for epistemological systems and wrought images emerges in two portfolios of pencil drawings. The basic unit of one, Songbook: XII Soundbites (all works 1992), is the ideogram—in this case a matrix of overlapping English letters that function as a poetic unit, much like

  • Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

    Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s latest show offered a timely and articulate response to this year’s quincentennary celebration of Columbus’ “discovery” of the New World. In a sophisticated, post-Modern idiom, this series of mixed-media paintings speaks to the politics of Native American identity.

    Each relatively large painting presents a busy field of fabrics, newsprint, advertisements, and comics, covered with dripped and splattered paint, a mode that owes not a little to Robert Rauschenberg. Unifying each composition is a single iconic image in black outline, traditionally associated with Native

  • William H. Johnson

    Forming a well-thought-out retrospective that included works ranging from 1923 to 1946, these joint exhibitions, organized by the National Museum of American Art, provided the first serious consideration of the African-American painter William Henry Johnson (1901–70) in over 20 years. As art historian Richard J. Powell notes in the accompanying catalogue, Johnson’s relative obscurity is due to a number of factors: his expatriate status in the ’30s, his category-defying eclecticism, and, of course, the pervasive racism that informs the Modernist canon.

    The Studio Museum presented an in-depth look

  • Hugh Steers

    In his most recent paintings and smaller oil sketches, Hugh Steers chronicles contemporary urban life haunted by the presence of AIDS. Rendered in an increasingly sophisticated, painterly realism, which at once recalls the compositional drama of Caravaggio, the restless color of Pierre Bonnard, and the melancholy economy of Edward Hopper, Steers’ tableaux explore the complexities of living with the fear and reality of AIDS.

    A number of Steers’ smaller works reveal his penchant for the sketchy brushwork and inviting “slice of life” scenes of French Impressionism. These include the poignant Paper

  • William Steiger

    William Steiger’s sepia and black industrial landscapes—isolated water towers and abandoned factories against ominous, rain-filled skies—are marked by an eerie tension. With the eight paintings featured in this show, Steiger brings a new level of intensity to his ongoing project of distilling monumental, urban-industrial motifs into essential forms. Anything but realistic, these works, with their quirky formal economy, often lapse into abstraction.

    The five works that feature a single motif are deceptively simple—only after digesting the central image does Steiger’s formal sophistication

  • Vicki Teague-Cooper

    Vicki Teague-Cooper’s early epic paintings pit anonymous people against the overwhelming forces of nature. These existential scenes are replete with elemental images that bypass specificities of culture and gender in favor of a kind of symbolic cosmology. This continues to be true of her more recent, smaller paintings, though the figures have vanished, leaving only symbolic-looking objects set in shimmering fields of rich color. The construction of these works is unique: small, square canvases placed on chairs and on shelves that have been covered with a patina of bronze powder. By using a

  • Anthony Joseph Salvatore

    Anthony Joseph Salvatore’s lyrical abstractions recall the canvases of early American Modernists such as Arthur Dove, glowing with the inner light of stained-glass windows. These 13 medium-sized works in oil and acrylic on paper unfold like so many parts of a greater whole—in each, organic-looking blue and green fields are punctuated by quasi-figural and abstract forms of red and orange. This restless interplay of abstract shapes hints at a hidden, underlying order. Each title cites a specific passage from the Bible, which, instead of providing easy explanations, requires the viewer to

  • Tzvi Ben-Aretz

    Tzvi Ben-Aretz, an Israeli-born artist working and living in New York, became known in the late ’70s for his photo-documented performances featuring his own inert body in a variety of settings. In the tradition of Ana Mendieta and Joseph Beuys, these “live installations” were staged against the stark, urban backdrop of New York City, or in galleries, as part of sculptural ensembles with both natural and industrially fabricated components. His was a unique synthesis of body art and Minimalism—two very different modes of challenging the border between life and art culminatingin a number of “

  • George Horner

    Silly Putty is George Horner’s signature medium, and in his hands, this common material continues to yield uncommon results. He uses his own Xerox technique to transfer inked text and images onto multicolored, two-dimensional (if lumpy) Silly Putty surfaces. While previously Horner’s montages of appropriated mass-media flotsam lampooned politics and art history, he has now turned his attention to what can best be described as smut—low-level sexual humor. Each of these ten medium-size works (all from 1992) features the kind of “dirty” jokes—cartoons, puns, anecdotes—found on redneck T-shirts,