Johanna Fateman

  • 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 (

  • picks July 15, 2016

    Alice Tippit

    Alice Tippit’s boldly graphic, hard-edge paintings are refined and puzzle-like. In these sketchbook-scale works, she offsets a cool, formal harmony with a wry and cryptic language of symbols, arabesques, and geometry. Irregular vases, decontextualized fruit, elongated hands, and weird animals populate her spare compositions, evoking vintage textile design and antique sign painting as well as art history. In Iris (all works 2016), a Victorian crescent moon hangs facing down—like a happy, Cyclopean eyelid—in a velvety-black sky. A canary-yellow banana under it makes a big clownish smile. Flat is

  • picks July 08, 2016

    “I Am Silver”

    The lovely and occasionally creepy figurative paintings by six intriguing artists take shade beneath the curatorial parasol of a Sylvia Plath poem. “I Am Silver,” the show’s title, is borrowed from the first line of “Mirror,” in which the poet assumes the titular object’s dispassionate voice. With sly, mounting despair, she/it narrates the waning of a woman’s desirability. Beauty and its cruel, ridiculous genderedness might be the metasubject here. In Plath’s tradition, the works on view mourn, satirize, cheapen, or resent beauty, or make it horrifying, without utterly eradicating it.

    Chelsea

  • picks July 01, 2016

    Xaviera Simmons

    Don’t take the stairs to Xaviera Simmons’s show in the second-floor galleries, as it starts in the elevator. A video titled Islands (all works cited, 2016) plays on a monitor mounted above the doors. One looks up in order to look down at the ocean, a single shot of choppy water. The short loop is a fitting introduction to this transporting multimedia exhibition in which seductive images of water and sun-soaked terrain, their locations never identified, become symbols for an abstract site. Simmons’s “island” is metaphorical and mediated, much as “the body” is, a parallel emphasized by the pronounced

  • picks June 24, 2016

    Nan Goldin

    In a second-floor gallery leading to a dark room where Nan Goldin’s epic slideshow The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1976–96, plays in a dedicated installation, vintage flyers from the artist’s archive highlight its start as an improvised and evolving performance staged in the long-gone clubs and alternative venues of New York’s downtown scene. This canonical masterpiece, shown here in its original 35-mm slide format, comprises nearly seven hundred images: fearlessly intimate snapshot-like documents of Goldin’s chosen family and a devastated demimonde at the height of AIDS. The photos—ordered in

  • picks June 17, 2016

    Larry Walker

    Larry Walker is Kara Walker’s father, and it’s hard to resist reading this career-spanning show of his drawings and mixed-media paintings, curated by his famous daughter, through her work. You look for—and find—ways in which his practice, described by her in the press release as “the background hum of my life from infancy,” may have shaped her sensibility. Larry Walker’s use of silhouette, for example, is striking in its own right, but it’s particularly notable in light of Kara Walker’s brutal and exquisite cut-paper murals of plantation life in the antebellum South. Both artists share a tendency