Joshua Decter

  • 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

  • Project Unité, Firminy

    Le Corbusier’s Unité d’ Habitation, a monumental block of low-income apartments awkwardly wedged into the hills surrounding the small city of Firminy in central France, may once have functioned as a beacon of hope; now it bears witness to a return of the repressed capitalism in crisis haunting the house of high Modernism. Completed in 1967 as part of a larger complex including a youth center, a stadium, and a church, the building was intended as a visionary response to the economic disenfranchisement caused by rapid industrialization. Continuing recession, however, has sharply reduced the local

  • Haim Steinbach

    Haim Steinbach seems set on hiding it away. Closeting things in boxes, dressers, and drawers marks a virtual return of repression for an artist who gained notoriety with his cultivated display of consumer items. For Steinbach, these indiscreet objects of desire seemed to constitute a unique esthetic field that could be reconceptualized, revisualized, and resystematized as a kind of post-Formalism. Arranged into capitalist still lifes, these objects—Nike sneakers, detergent containers, and lava lamps—had never looked more alluring or “unique” in their ordinariness.

    In his latest show, yanking open

  • Chris Burden

    A volcanic mass of rocky landscape at once wrapped with and penetrated by model trains and tracks of various sizes, Medusa’s Head, 1989–92, hung from the ceiling like a twisted child’s vision of terrestrial apocalypse. The gaping wounds on the object’s contorted surface doubled as tunnels for the immobile toy trains-atrophied, self-circulating travel refusing to proceed around a globe of materialized entropy. A grand, if not somehow threatening, deliberate inanity that also characterizes Chris Burden’s Whitney Biennial installation, Fist of Light, 1992–93, predominates here. In the latter we

  • Franz West

    The Dadaists wanted to throw it in the face of bourgeois culture; Piero Manzoni canned it as a consumable, signaling a perversely clean form of capitalist repression; and Joseph Beuys ironically monumentalized it. Enacting a Nietzschean flight into corporeal affirmation/negation, Hermann Nitsch’s and Otto Mühl’s Wiener Aktionismus group’s quasi-Dionysian performances often involved smearing the body with what appear to be its own secretions.

    This complex history of the scatological in art is reflected in the work of Austrian artist, Franz West, specifically in his investment in the art object as