Jo Applin

  • Cookie Mueller & Vittorio Scarpati

    “Putti’s Pudding” names a group of forty-five felt-tip drawings culled from the pages of the Italian artist and cartoonist Vittorio Scarpati’s notebooks. They were made in 1989, while Scarpati was hospitalized, dying of pneumonia as a complication of AIDS. A repeated motif is the bedbound artist, his lungs rigged up to so many pipes and machines that they bubble with water “like tropical fish aquariums,” in the words of his wife, Cookie Mueller, who would also die of AIDS-related causes just two months after her husband. The drawings were first published that same year, with an extended preface

  • Sergej Jensen

    Sergej Jensen made his recent series of paintings from reclaimed cotton money bags culled from banks across the United States and Europe. Each bag was split and stitched, one to another, into a series of taut, wonky rectangular grids. The finished patchwork of sacks forms both subject and ground of the work. Jensen described his earlier process as “painting without paint,” but in these works paint looms large, poured and pressed into the untreated cotton sacks to make abstract monochromes and odd figurative scenes derived from old-master paintings. As if floating over their fabric ground, their

  • Michael Krebber

    “What a painting cannot do.” So ends the short poem with which Michael Krebber opened his recent exhibition of abstract paintings and drawings. Krebber is often referred to approvingly as an artist’s artist, and his background as an assistant to Martin Kippenberger and the various conceptual and material conversations his work stages with the recent history of German art are frequently offered up as critical pieces of information for those keen to understand his oeuvre. Since the 1980s his work has developed to encompass a range of diverse practices and media, from Conceptualism to painting,

  • Imi Knoebel

    Imi Knoebel has been worrying away at the problem of abstraction for decades. His 1968 painting Schwarzes Kreuz (Black Cross) paid witty, wonky homage to Malevich’s Black Square of 1915, still a touchstone for the German artist, who, surprisingly, has only just recently had his first London solo exhibition. As if to remind Londoners of what they’ve missed, the show included new additions to his “Kite” series of 1971: white-painted quadrilateral works hung near the top of a small, high-ceilinged gallery, jagged floating shards that, depending on the light and the viewer’s position, became almost

  • Jo Baer

    In 1983, Jo Baer announced she was no longer an abstract painter. Instead, she said, she was committed to working in a mode she dubbed “radical figuration.” However, as “In the Land of the Giants,” the series of paintings she has been making since 2009, demonstrates, you can’t ever really think abstraction without figuration or vice versa. Even as she dedicated the 1960s to patiently exploring and exploiting the parameters of the abstract canvas, her vision from the outset expanded beyond its limits.

    By 1962, Baer had stripped back painting to its bare bones. She painted neatly executed ribbons

  • Art & Language

    The English Conceptual artists Art & Language have been art-world irritants since 1968, fiercely witty agents provocateurs determined to debunk modernist assumptions about authenticity, authorship, and language through publications, drawings, paintings, and performances. Although many people have participated in Art & Language at one time or another, today the group is mainly a collaboration between Michael Baldwin and Mel Ramsden. This show included the group’s familiar mix of mediums, from large-scale abstract paintings to sculptural installations and performance, to present a provocative and

  • Mary Reid Kelley

    Mary Reid Kelley’s nearly nine-minute black-and-white video Swinburne’s Pasiphae, 2014, and its accompanying handmade props and drawings constitute the second installment in the artist’s ongoing trilogy based on the life of the Minotaur, that infamous half-man, half-bull of Greek mythology. As she has with each of her increasingly complex and distinctive video works to date incorporating animation with live action, Reid Kelley again weaves a multilayered narrative full of blink-and-you-miss-it literary and artistic allusions and clever wordplay. The video is highly stylized yet utterly captivating.

  • Judith Bernstein

    Over the course of a month long residency, Judith Bernstein produced in situ an exhilarating body of work she then exhibited under the title “Rising.” Two large-scale paintings and five drawings were shot through with the artist’s customary wit and full-on attitude: funny, provocative, and embarrassing in equal measure. Dominating the proceedings were the two enormous paintings, which contain a dizzying mix of futuristic imagery in which giant vulvas loom large and magnificent, surrounded by a floating sea of penises and graffiti-like symbols. One, Birth of the Universe #33 (all works 2014),

  • Al Taylor

    Around the mid-1980s, Al Taylor began to extend his drawing and painting practice into three dimensions, turning chipped wooden broomstick handles and other found carpentry scraps into linear, wall-mounted (and later, freestanding) constructions. Taylor—who died in 1999 at the age of 51—carefully assembled the broomsticks into small clusters and structures that protrude out and away from the wall, like lines drawn in space, although one example in this recent show, Untitled (Pick Up) #2, 1990, sits on a series of upright aluminum rods as though floating above the floor. Taylor’s

  • Dennis Oppenheim

    During Dennis Oppenheim’s forty-plus years of artmaking, his idiosyncratic output was variously, if a little awkwardly, squashed into the categories of Land, Body, and Conceptual art, each of which he playfully mined and subverted. For the tightly curated show “Thought Collision Factories,” Lisa Le Feuvre, head of sculpture studies at the Henry Moore Institute, focused on the pyrotechnic pieces Oppenheim made between 1972 and 1986, emphasizing his playful, noisy, and outlandish machine structures and firework projects. At the center of the exhibition were two large contraptions from 1982,

  • Sarah Lucas

    Not many shows manage to make you laugh, snort, wince, giggle, and blush in the space of a few minutes, nor do they convince and compel both wittily and emphatically. But Sarah Lucas’s exhibition “SITUATION Absolute Beach Man Rubble”—a crammed, busy, and riotous affair from start to finish—managed all this and more. The nascent anger of Lucas’s work, which picks away at the social, political, and economic fabric of lives lived in the dirty underbelly of Thatcher’s Britain, was in stark and startling evidence throughout. Lucas’s familiar references to postwar and contemporary British

  • Liz Deschenes

    In the first room of American photographer Liz Deschenes’s exhibition “Bracket (London),” a series of deep viridian photograms hung unframed in a neat row: Bracket 1, Bracket 2, Bracket 3, and Bracket 4 (all works 2013). The surfaces of these four large parallelograms, designed to reflect the light and shadows cast by the gallery’s skylights and windows, changed according to the fluctuations of the natural daylight that streamed in. The gallery’s second room contained two more photograms, silver-toned and tarnished-looking, which offered a stark contrast to the iridescence of the previous space.

  • Pauline Boty

    When British Pop artist Pauline Boty died in 1966 at the age of twenty-eight, she left behind a considerable oeuvre. Yet this remarkable production was nearly lost to art history; much of it was rediscovered only in the 1990s, languishing at her family’s farm. Already as a student at the Royal College of Art in early-’60s London, Boty was a well-known face. A kind of poster girl for the swinging art scene, she was memorably captured twisting away at a party alongside Peter Blake, Derek Boshier, and David Hockney in Ken Russell’s famous 1962 BBC film Pop Goes the Easel. Like her peers, Boty was

  • Geraldo de Barros

    Brazilian artist Geraldo de Barros’s first UK show, “What Remains,” is a beautiful and tightly focused exhibition curated by Isobel Whitelegg of Nottingham Contemporary and Karen McQuaid of the Photographers’ Gallery. One of Brazil’s pioneering avant-gardists, de Barros rose to prominence in the 1950s. He interrogated and tested various models of abstraction and figuration across a very diverse body of work, beginning his career as a painter before moving into photography in the late ’40s. The exhibition focuses on two discrete but interrelated series of photographs, the “Fotoformas” of 1949–51

  • Artist Placement Group

    The Artist Placement Group (APG) was founded in London in 1966 by John Latham and Barbara Steveni. Until it was dissolved in the late-1980s, APG brokered some twenty placements of artists within various industrial companies and government departments, resulting in works such as Ian Breakwell’s innovative yet controversial films about Rampton and Broadmoor psychiatric hospitals in the late ’70s. Other participants included Barry Flanagan, Andrew Dipper, David Toop, and David Hall. In 1971, Hall made a series of ten TV Interruptions for Scottish Television, which appeared during ordinary commercial

  • Keith Coventry

    With “Deontological Pictures,” his ongoing series of monochrome framed canvases begun in 2011, Keith Coventry queries the continued viability both of abstraction and of painting as such. At first glance, this show comprised a series of imposing pictures that recall the brooding painterly fields of Mark Rothko’s late work; upon closer inspection, they were revealed to be made not from paint and linen canvas, from the resolutely ordinary detritus of everyday life. The ten works on view in Peer’s two rooms are actually rectangular, framed sheets of brown jute sacking, each roughly two yards high

  • Lindsay Seers

    A rusting, corrugated iron chapel in North London hosted Lindsay Seers’s captivating installation Nowhere Less Now, the latest site-specific project to be commissioned by Artangel. Seers transformed the interior of this nineteenth-century church, known as the “tin tabernacle” and occupied for the past fifty years by a troop of Sea Cadets, recladding it with riveted faux-metal sheets to resemble a ship. Seers extended this resemblance by placing an overturned iron ship’s hull inside the nave. Viewers were led into this darkened space, handed a set of headphones, and seated on a gun deck facing

  • picks August 07, 2012

    Bruce Lacey

    A gloriously ramshackle affair, “The Bruce Lacey Experience,” curated by David Alan Mellor and Jeremy Deller, celebrates one of Britain’s most eccentric artists. The show is organized around an explosion of objects, ephemera, and films from Lacey’s five-decade-long career as an outspoken provocateur, bricoleur, performer, sculptor, and key figure on the London countercultural art scene of the 1960s. Amid the muddle of automatons, costumes, paintings, and footage of Professor Lacey and his music-hall sidekicks the Alberts emerges an artist who is, by turns, visionary, angry, and very funny.

    The

  • Hanne Darboven

    German Conceptual artist Hanne Darboven offers an intriguing combination of cool Minimalism and curio-shop chic. Beginning in the mid-1960s, her “daily writing” took the form of journals, letters, and jotted numbers, dates, and doodles that she arranged into a series of grids and store-bought day planners, organized via basic systems of calculation: 9 x 11 = 99 is the title of one major work on view here, from 1972. The walls of three rooms at the Camden Arts Centre were covered with framed sheets of paper containing the handwritten dates, numerical systems, and serial inscriptions typical of