Johanna Fateman

  • Allyson Vieira

    In her two concurrent gallery exhibitions, sculptor Allyson Vieira leveraged the kind of aghast grief induced by images of whale autopsies—when we’re shown the colorful array of plastic bags cut from their stomachs—with a dose of the approving wonder inspired in us by straw-into-gold recycling feats. There’s a sober classicism to her strange urns and square, tapestry-like works made from postconsumer waste, as well as an efficient, impersonal quality to their mysterious serial production. These qualities fend off the threat of discordant wackiness that often curses such found-material

  • Wangechi Mutu

    Absent from “Ndoro Na Miti,” Wangechi Mutu’s latest exhibition at Gladstone Gallery, were her signature collage elements—the magazine lips, eyes, and limbs and the cut-up animal imagery that have previously marked the fantastical, hybrid female protagonists in her work. The only paper on view was in the form of pulp. The Kenyan-born, Brooklyn-based artist mixed it with wood glue and red soil to form many of the austere and otherworldly objects in her show, whose title translates from Gikuyu as “Mud and Trees.” With her striking installation of figurative and abstract sculptures, most of

  • picks March 10, 2017

    Ken Tisa

    For “Objects/Time/Offerings,” Ken Tisa has transformed the gallery into a magical grotto, decorated with all manner of beautiful and funny things from his extensive collections. Dolls, puppets, masks, devotional objects, trinkets, and artworks from every continent mingle in dense, layered arrangements along with campy ephemera, dollar-store treasures, and the artist’s own small colorful paintings from the 1980s and 1990s. A wall-spanning grid of more than three hundred of the paintings, each just eight inches tall, is the result of a long-standing daily practice, reflecting Tisa’s sponge-like

  • interviews March 02, 2017

    Becca Albee

    In her slyly personal, obsessively researched work, Brooklyn-based artist Becca Albee uses photography, video, sculpture, and scent to evoke overlooked historical figures and cultural moments. Her current solo show, “prismataria,” curated by Jeanne Gerrity, employs a custom rotating light fixture to bathe an enigmatic suite of photographs, many depicting feminist books, in cyan, magenta, and yellow while an energizing blend of essential oils is diffused in the space. The show is on view at Et al. in San Francisco through March 11, 2017.


  • Katharina Grosse

    The acclaimed German painter Katharina Grosse is known for her boundless approach to her chosen medium, spraying with an industrial paint gun not only canvases, but also mounds of soil, uprooted trees, architecture, sculptural elements, and—for the pleasure of beach-goers last summer—an entire one-story building, inside and out. In Rockaway!, 2016, a startling neo-Earthwork, superhuman gestures in wild sunset hues transformed a decaying structure, part of the old Fort Tilden army base on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, that was condemned in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.

  • Jimmy Wright

    Though freshly painted and well lit, David Fierman’s new Lower East Side gallery is something of a hole-in-the-wall—a very tiny, these days rare, unrenovated storefront space that lends itself to intimate and focused shows. Painter Jimmy Wright’s “New York Underground,” a collection of voluptuous, ebullient, and funny works on paper from between 1974 and 1976, felt especially appropriate to the charming, bare-bones venue, as his casually explicit depictions of gay nightlife—cruising, public sex, and socializing in clubs, bathrooms, and bathhouses, speak to a bygone era of downtown

  • Sam McKinniss

    The young figurative painter Sam McKinniss selected the source images for his solo show “Egyptian Violet” at Team Gallery and translated them onto canvas—rendering them lusher and more fiery, finding menace in their dark areas, simplifying them slightly with his signature sentimental panache—all before the November presidential election. His beautiful paintings of celebrities, flowers, a swan, and a dolphin, which come in small or big but not medium sizes, were hanging in the gallery on Election Day, and on the terrible day after. His work fulfilled its obligation to hang there until

  • Johanna Fateman

    1 BEYONCÉ, LEMONADE (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia) The Queen broadcasts on her own frequency, cutting through the chatter of a thousand hot takes to assert soulful authority on personal matters as well as those of grave public concern. With Lemonade she appears betrayed but unstoppable, triumphant on a sinking cop car, ready with hooks, hashtags, and fresh choreography.

    2 M.I.A., AIM (Interscope) Now that the West can no longer deny center stage to border politics and mass displacement, M.I.A., who has trained her spotlight on the refugee experience all along, tells us this album will be

  • Mierle Laderman Ukeles

    “MAINTENANCE ART,” Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s dense and radiant Queens Museum retrospective, is not only about maintenance but about commitment: a groundbreaking practice of labor and care that the artist invented and to which she has remained devoted for decades. The blessing/crisis of motherhood precipitated her bold conceptual move. In 1969, as a young artist burdened by the demands of housekeeping and childcare, she had little time to devote to her “real” work, so she hit upon a Duchampian-feminist method of designation to transform her crucial yet unrecognized labor—and eventually that

  • picks November 11, 2016

    Conrad Ventur

    For Warhol’s aging Superstars, underground-legend status doesn’t pay the bills. Ivy Nicholson—the gorgeous, angular, eccentric Brooklyn-born fashion model and actress of the 1950s who became a Factory regular in the ’60s—has spent her golden years in poverty. Conrad Ventur’s seductive and unsettling color photographs (all works cited, 2010–14) show her still glamorous, with winged black eyeliner and a henna-red fringed hairstyle, uncannily photogenic even in difficult circumstances. His fascination with Warhol’s queer orbit is longstanding; previous projects include a collaborative series with

  • Paul Verhoeven’s Elle

    IN PAUL VERHOEVEN’S twisted Christmastime thriller Elle, Isabelle Huppert is the cold and cruel Michèle Leblanc, an impeccably dressed executive of a video-game design company in Paris. She’s also a mother who acidly bankrolls the false starts of her loser millennial son and his hot pregnant girlfriend, and she’s the daughter of a famous mass killer rotting in prison. She’s single—divorced—sleeping with her best friend’s (and business partner’s) husband while playing elaborate head games with her ex and nursing a dangerous crush. In one amazing scene, Michèle jerks off while peering

  • Carol Rama

    Tongues, serpents, penises, orifices, and eyes populate the wonderful and terrifying world of Carol Rama’s art. Lewd and menacing, they’re there even when they’re not—one senses them lurking just outside the frame, smothered by strips of tire rubber, or abstracted into scabby, flaccid shapes. Rama (1918–2015) was born in Turin and worked there her entire life, producing paintings, drawings, and assemblages with protofeminist, antifascist vigor in an untrained, sophisticated style that defies easy categorization. Her frank sexual content, Surrealism-inflected figuration, and evocative

  • picks September 30, 2016

    Diamond Stingily

    Five unhinged doors, standing upright in space, look more like shields than portals. Each one is titled Entryways (all works 2016). A baseball bat leans on every one of the uniquely worn, deadbolt-adorned rectangles stationed around the dim gallery, evoking the violence and vigilance of everyday life. While these unfriendly readymade and pre-owned doors are the most immediately commanding element of Diamond Stingily’s show, a looping video is the centerpiece. Facing the entrance, on the far wall, is a large projection of vintage black-and-white footage—taken from folklorist Bess Lomax Hawes’s

  • picks September 23, 2016

    Richard Hawkins

    The free downloadable PDF is the contemporary form most suited to the manic conspiracy theorist. Appropriately, a number of them make up the offsite key to “Norogachi: Ceramics After Artaud,” Richard Hawkins’s show of impressively hideous works—glazed tablets that incorporate disturbing, scatological vignettes of a hellish metaphysical realm. The artworks—a speculative merging of Antonin Artaud’s paranoid lexicon of psychic attack with the symbolic imagery of the Tarahumara, an indigenous people of northwestern Mexico—are based on Artaud’s 1936 trip to Norogachi, a remote village in the Sierra

  • picks September 16, 2016

    Charles LeDray

    Charles LeDray’s miniatures are as enchanting and magnetic as panoramic Easter eggs or the Stettheimer dollhouse, but without the whimsy or windows to peer into. Though, actually, there is an austere glass case displaying treasure among the mysterious objects in this spare, dimly lit installation of his work. Chic little vases or urns—made on a doll-size potter’s wheel, one imagines—fill the glass shelves of the vertical vitrine. There are fourteen hundred black porcelain vessels in Throwing Shadows, 2008–16, each one unique. LeDray meticulously fabricates his work without assistants, and the

  • picks September 02, 2016

    Roz Chast

    Since 1978, genius cartoonist Roz Chast has graced the pages of the New Yorker more than twelve hundred times, delivering spot-on vignettes of normal, neurotic people interacting—or keeping their anxious, philosophical thoughts to themselves—in cluttered apartments and wallpapered middle-class living rooms, on busy Manhattan streets, and, sometimes, on the roads of the larger tristate area. Brooklyn-born Chast’s outer-borough antiaesthetic is founded on her famous understated drawing style. Her lines evoke the cat hair likely embedded in the upholstery of the worn sofas she frequently depicts,

  • Bunny Rogers

    What could easily have been too much—a confusion of references or a crowding of ideas—instead formed an economical and coherent network of symbols in “Columbine Cafeteria,” Bunny Rogers’s debut exhibition at Greenspon Gallery. Enchanted mops, Halloween apples, institutional furniture, rubber garbage cans, ballet slippers, a storybook key, and stained-glass panels were among the curious, mournful, and ominous objects on view in this poetic, almost austere, installation. They were part of a highly stylized, fantasy re-creation of the suburban Colorado high-school cafeteria where students

  • picks August 26, 2016

    Jimmy DeSana

    Photographer Jimmy DeSana made a career of defamiliarizing the domestic. He troubled suburban interiors with nude models in precarious poses, recasting everyday objects as BDSM props in his spare, elegant tableaux. He also used outlandish color—saturated effects often achieved with gel-covered tungsten lights—to make normal things lurid, clubby, better. “Remainders” is a modestly sized show of small-scale works, images that have not been exhibited for more than two decades, in which the figure is mostly absent and objects are uncannily abstracted. In Spools, 1985–86, the titular threadbare posts

  • picks August 19, 2016

    Kristin Smallwood

    The floor of Kristin Smallwood’s busy multimedia exhibition “IUD” is papered with clippings from straight porn magazines and women ripped from fashion glossies. She sneaks some photographs of herself into the messy X-rated collage, too. These images are decidedly glum—mug shots, not beaver shots. Smallwood merges the genres, sort of, in a video that loops on a small wall-mounted monitor. The Perfect Woman (all works 2016) shows the artist in close-up lip-synching, deadpan, to Whitney Houston’s soaring 1992 ballad “I Will Always Love You,” her face transformed by the ingenious superimposition

  • picks August 05, 2016

    Brandi Twilley

    Two glowing television sets play different channels, illuminating the fluorescent green faces of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles printed on a bedspread. Rain buckets wait on messy floors beneath water-damaged acoustic ceiling tiles; clothes burst from dresser drawers; and mass-produced art—a scene of fiery fall foliage, a ship in rough seas—hangs on the walls. These are some of the poignant, portentous details captured by Brandi Twilley’s beautiful, moody oil paintings in “The Living Room.” With each medium-size horizontal canvas, she offers a different view of the same titular space, where one (