Joshua Decter

  • Christopher Wool

    In the pursuit of annihilating imagery, Christopher Wool’s new paintings present a richly inarticulate pictorialism on the verge of collapsing into nonobjectivity. He lays siege to the rudiments of his own painting language to embark on a fitful construction process that not only allows for mistakes and false clues but actively exploits them. Wool offers us access to a world where things are layered to the point of implosion, where iconographic elements are built up only to virtually fall apart. These recent paintings are also his most emphatically “painterly” to date: the more Wool endeavors

  • Allan McCollum

    Allan McCollum’s latest series, “Natural Copies From the Coal Mines of Central Utah,” 1994–95, is equal parts Jurassic Park, Walter Benjamin, Marcel Duchamp, Claes Oldenburg, Sol LeWitt, and even Franz West. Offering endless recastings of dinosaur tracks that have already undergone a natural casting process, this group of new works can be read as the third installment that began with the artists’ series “Lost Objects,” 1991–, (endless recastings of dinosaur bone fossils) and “The Dog from Pompeii,” 1990–, (endless recastings of that notoriously blackened and contorted canine form ).


  • Andrea Zittel

    Andrea Zittel wants to make our lives a little bit more livable, and she’s determined enough to have established an “administrative services” business that promises to enhance our domestic experiences through a marriage of art, design, and architecture. Under the auspices of her pseudocompany “A to Z Administration,” Zittel both manufactures and tests utilitarian/art objects—or “prototypes” as she prefers to call them—within the comforts of her own home, regularly inviting friends over to sample the goods. In a sense, all of her artworks are objects of utility—or is it the other way around?

  • Chris Wilder

    Wrapping the gallery in foil as if it were a great big gift, L.A.–based artist Chris Wilder created a shiny, happy, reflective environment in which the not necessarily shiny and happy New York public could contemplate a group of peculiarly attractive paintings. The experience of Chill Out, 1995, was smoothed out by the eclectic sounds of a CD made in collaboration with fellow Los Angeleno T. Kelly Mason (which featured a compilation of excerpts from such disparate and relatively obscure sources as Spiro T. Agnew Speaks Out and Action Stereo! Adventures in Stereo Sound Effects), and one section

  • Elizabeth Peyton

    If her charmingly antiquated paintings are any indication, Elizabeth Peyton harbors a major crush on the late, great Kurt Cobain. Peyton’s neo-Romantic works resonate with the kind of libidinal melancholia—or posthumous-sub-pop-hero-worship—commonly associated with fawning teenagers enamored of their idol’s sexy, nihilistic tendencies. Here, we are discreetly reminded that, pushing tendency into reality, Cobain blew his brains out in his Seattle home last spring.

    While still alive, Kurt might have dwelled somewhat uncomfortably in the heart-shaped box of Courtney’s love, but he ended up in an a

  • Uta Barth

    In that never-never land between the sensuous purr of painting and the chilly idiom of photography, Uta Barth makes ethereal pictures (in fact photos) that delicately resist being arrested by the pictorial condition, yet somehow remain unrepentantly picturesque. Her perfectly blurred, cloyingly out-of-focus images obscure, yet politely demur from obliterating, an external referent. Her works offer only an oblique set of visual clues, identification of the essentially banal subject matter—which ranges from empty to almost empty interiors to specific domestic objects—is only momentarily suspended.

  • Carl Ostendarp

    With his unapologetically dumb Miracle Whip–Modernism paintings of the late ’80s, Carl Ostendarp achieved a welcome levity. Rudely digesting the delicate chromatic resonances of Color Field painting, Ostendarp spun out something resembling a mutant meringue flattened into the basic shape of a canvas. Imagine a debased Robert Ryman, smothered with ridiculous excesses of lather, and you’ve got the basic picture. Recently, however, evidence of a more sober method has surfaced: an increased emphasis on a more delicate manipulation of materials, and a stricter regulation of tonal range. In other

  • Tony Oursler

    In the midst of a jumble of pieces scattered in the darkly lit space, you could make out someone’s face—registering the kind of abject terror and nascent humiliation usually associated with an infant’s struggle to escape his crib—incarcerated in an oversized, capsulelike object. A tripod-based, miniature projection system faced this chirping visage (that of the artist himself), which stared back at the site of its origin: the video camera beaming the image into/onto the capsule form. Technically deft, Tony Oursler’s Instant Suckling, 1994, also coyly acknowledged the tradition of self-portraiture.

  • Stephen Prina

    As Stephen Prina’s newest project, Dom-Hotel, Zimmer 101, Köln, 1994, suggests, analyzing the institutional context of art and artmaking can be fun. Earlier works such as Exquisite Corpse: The Complete Oeuvre of Manet, 1988, and Monochrome Painting, 1988–89, addressed the way in which our insatiable appetite for constructing elaborate architectures of classification inevitably leads to a perverse privileging of the naming/coding system over the objects themselves, thereby reducing cultural artifacts to the status of pitiable signs to be exchanged like commodities.

    Like Sherrie Levine, Prina

  • Mark Dion

    As Mark Dion is fond of pointing out, the world’s ecosystems are really screwed-up. Focusing on how this sad state of affairs came into being, Dion investigates the shifting conditions of species generation, survival, and extinction within an increasingly hybrid environment. Using research and classificatory methods lifted from environmental science and ecology, Dion relates these conditions to specific sites or situations. For Dion, “site-specificity,” or “context-specificity,” has as much to do with testing the physical/ideological parameters of the cultural institution as it does with making

  • Doug Aitken

    Work for the attention-span impaired in all of us, Doug Aitken’s installation provoked the sort of fleeting engagement that characterizes watching television. This should come as no surprise since Aitken supports himself by producing and directing music videos and television ads. Presenting this so-called commercial work in a gallery would be a rather welcome development in the art world, but the problem here is that Aitken is too preoccupied with the notion that what he presents in that context must resemble, behave, or feel like Art. There should be nothing particularly embarrassing about

  • Nayland Blake

    After passing through a portal in the shape of a guillotine, the viewer was immediately confronted by a provisional metal scaffold behind which hung a drawing of an architectural interior. On the other side of this strange construction stood a Neoclassical miniature stage set, complete with a number of tiny chairs—the set for Nayland Blake’s marionette production of the Marquis de Sade’s text, Philosophy in the Bedroom, 1793.

    In an age when there is perhaps a little too much psychoanalysis in the bedroom, a little philosophy might be just what the doctor ordered. And I’m not talking about Hegel’s

  • Renée Green

    How is taste made and unmade? Renee Green addressed this question in her most recent project Taste Venue, 1994, by seeking to don multiple hats—cultural anthropologist, gallerist, social historian, esthetician, booking agent, curator, and cultural critic—in order to remind us once again that Eurocentric cultural values cannot claim universal validity. Green has long been preoccupied with exploring why the fundamental ethnic, racial, and ideological hybridity of our culture is still not widely acknowledged or understood, and with addressing how distinct, and occasionally antagonistic, cultural

  • Merlin Carpenter

    Perhaps we should be grateful that Merlin Carpenter just doesn’t seem to give a shit. British-born, under 30, and a former Martin Kippenberger assistant, Carpenter makes stuff with an alternately kiss-me-I’mclever and ignore-me-I’m-just-cynical posture. His charmingly awkward, coyly provisional excursion into the realm of computer-assisted image-making raises the question, What’s the difference between the dilettante-as-artist and the artist-as-dilettante? Like certain other artists of the twenty-something generation, Carpenter assumes, rightly or wrongly, that we’re no longer interested in

  • John Currin

    John Currin’s work makes Lucian Freud’s “penetrating” portraits seem wretchedly old-fashioned, pedantic. Is Currin out to rescue the arguably lapsed genre of portraiture from an imminent fade-out? Or is the model of portraiture paraded before us like some stale cliché, inviting the kind of wholesale derision that may lead to the implosion of a historical convention? He may want it both ways. Admittedly, it has always been unclear whether Currin’s earlier pictures of girls or young women make reference to “actual” people in the world, or are fanciful composites that speak more about their author’s

  • Tony Cragg

    Complete Omnivor, 1993, one of the more disturbingly persuasive of Tony Cragg’s new sculptures, presents us with what appears to be a full set of human teeth—molars and all, scaled-up enormously and cast in plaster—displayed on a rudimentary wood-and-metal armature in anatomically correct order. The artist’s self-portrait, perhaps, or maybe a perverse reflection on the archaeology of dentistry.

    Shuttling things from the known to the unknown and back again might be an adequate characterization of the contemplative “dialectic” that Cragg’s work invariably sets in motion. It’s now rather

  • Martin Kippenberger

    The world is Martin Kippenberger’s bauble, and art finds its redemption as an agent of his extended dalliances within the Euro-American cultural theater. His medley of art workings, coupled with tactics of distribution and promotion, comprise the essential ingredients of a model—or esthetics—of social networking. The development and maintenance of a court of acolytes is as much his “art” as the paintings, sculptures, installations, drawings, and ephemera themselves. It’s all very neodecadent, but somehow Kippenberger has enough élan and conceptual gumption to woo even the most skeptical.

  • Bill Jensen

    With his relatively diminutive landscape abstractions, Bill Jensen protracts what might be described as a neo-easel tradition. His works recently found a home in a space originally designed for the pomp and circumstance proper to the ’80s redux of heroic-scale painting. This was an admittedly strange and awkward fit that even the gallery seemed to be self-conscious about. The space was subtly repainted in off-white, perhaps in order to afford a more compatible ambience, a “designer” atmosphere for intimate esthetic encounters undoubtedly meant to make the presence of Jensen’s intensely and

  • Robert Ryman

    It’s all in the name—the stubborn consistency of tact, vision, and method, the economy of means, the paradoxically anti-systematic system of repetitions, the governing law of tautology. Moving through over thirty years of Robert Ryman’s production in this show was akin to taking the same commuter train over and over again but never having the same experience twice—and never actually reaching a destination. This work thumbs its nose at the protocol of formal progression articulated in Modernist rhetoric while simultaneously beckoning the viewer to perform a thorough “formal” analysis.

    The putative

  • Lorna Simpson

    Treading the murky waters between (self)objectification and narcissism, Lorna Simpson offers something like an in absentia presence within the realm of the picture. The camera is there to be stubbornly refused, like the violative gaze of a stranger. Yet it is the artist who has set herself up as that stranger, unwilling to complete the gesture of (self)portraiture, an unwillingness reinforced by the cropped-out face and the overlays of text that seem designed to recode the body under observation. The image/text interplay seems to propose the following admonition: You cannot name me, and therefore