Judith Russi Kirshner

  • Roni Horn

    An extensive iteration of Roni Horn’s encyclopedic project to photograph the Thames, staged at the Art Institute of Chicago, saw the artist partner her own signature fluidity with the solidity of the modernist canon. Curated by James Rondeau, this remarkable exhibition, “Some Thames,” consisted of seventy-seven framed photographs installed throughout twenty-five galleries devoted to the museum’s permanent collection of modern and contemporary art, as well as in its corridors, stairwells, lobbies, offices, and library.

    The footnotes that Horn employs in her work usually provide textual counterpoints,

  • Gary Simmons

    With the willful impermanence of their blurred chalk marks, Gary Simmons’s monumental “erasure” drawings position themselves somewhere between black and white. His bravura subtractions are perplexing expressions of the politics of difference and the paradox of memory, incorporating what he has called “markmaking as well as a literal ‘unmark’-making”: He executes drawings in white chalk on panels and walls that have been coated with slate paint or schoolroom blackboards on wheels and then smudges the images with his hands, partially wiping them out. Meaning resides in the tension between what is

  • In Between: Art from Poland, 1945-2000

    With a Polish population second only to Warsaw, Chicago is a natural host for this citywide, thirty-nine artist survey of Polish art from the postwar past to the post-Communist present, curated by Susan Snodgrass, Bohdan Gorczynski, and Anda Rottenberg. At the Chicago Cultural Center, one can expect a reconsideration of Poland’s modernist avant-garde—from the utopian abstractions of constructivist Wladyslaw Strzedski to the numerical conceptualism of Roman Opalka and the public work of Krzysztof Wodiczko. Elsewhere commissioned projects offer timely updates, by Pawel Althamer (at the Museum

  • Kerry James Marshall

    Prompted by a souvenir—a fringed, black-felt banner with portraits of Martin Luther King and John and Robert Kennedy reproduced here in a small painting—Kerry James Marshall examined the commemoration of ’60s activism in “Mementos,” a complex installation of paintings, sculptures, video, photographs, and prints. Three works actually bear the title Souvenir: nine-by-thirteen-foot unstretched canvases depicting middle-class living rooms with a kind of charged stillness. Each is watched over by a solitary African-American woman, modeled on a friend or family member of the artist, with glittering

  • Richard Rezac

    Always meticulously crafted, Richard Rezac’s small abstract sculptures just miss being a direct representation of something known from the natural or built environment; the twelve bronze and wooden pieces shown here suggested bones, twigs, and architectural fragments of architecture. For the past ten years, Rezac has depended on intuitive geometries—combinations of curves and squares, planes and volumes, plans and elevations—pitting two and sometimes more systems against each other in dense sculptures heavy with allusions. His sherberty palette of lime green and pale peach sets off another range

  • “About Place: Recent Art of the Americas”

    In 1888, the Art Institute of Chicago inaugurated “The American Exhibition,” an event designed to bring contemporary art to midwestern audiences. If this influential show (for many years a biannual event) has an institutional counterpart, it’s the Whitney Biennial, although in look and conception the 1995 versions of these two exhibitions could not have been more dissimilar.

    The title of the 76th incarnation of “The American Exhibition,” “About Place: Recent Art of the Americas,” signaled not only geographic expansion (artists from Canada and South America were included for the first time) but

  • Dan Peterman

    With a studio located in a Resource Recycling Center, Dan Peterman links material transformations to current environmental politics, pushing them to imaginative and artistic extremes. His grasp of complex economic systems is sophisticated; his materials, such as reused plastics and industrial waste-products, ordinary and plain. Carefully researched, site-specific and conceptually expansive, Peterman’s sculptural installations often look casual and familiar and escape the pieties of much ecological art possibly because they appear playful and peculiarly paradoxical.

    He renamed recycled plastics

  • Street-Level Video

    Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, founder of Street-Level Video (S-L.V.), organized what was a spectacular collaboration, a one-day, video-installation block party called Tele-Vecindario: A Street-Level Video Project, sponsored by Sculpture Chicago. With a complicated coalition, whose very name—Video Neighbors’ Network—emphasizes its delicate, perhaps temporary nature, Manglano-Ovalle brought together more than fifty teenagers who live in Chicago’s largely Latino West Town neighborhood (where the artist has lived for the past two years) to learn video techniques with which to map their community and


    THERE IS A HEARTBREAKING quality to Ketty La Rocca’s images, and it has to do with their unusually direct, sometimes raw mode of communication, their tone of supplication and call for attention and self-affirmation. It also has to do with her premature death (in 1976, at the age of 38), which biographically underscores the work’s poignancy: her career ended before her vocabulary could be appreciated. To its credit, La Rocca’s work speaks to contemporary feminist artists as more than archaeological evidence. Its power lies in the authenticity of its attempts to represent subjectivity and identity.

  • Jeanne Dunning

    Jeanne Dunning depicts partial objects that are eroticized, but of indeterminate sexual preference and identity: metaphoric equivalents for the appearance of sexuality. With a touch of glamour that injects a dash of perversion into basic fetishism, Dunning, who continues to explore the problematics of the gaze, now photographs anatomical surrogates: fruits and vegetables. In one series of sensational images, moist red globes (tomatoes) almost bulge out of their conventional oval frames to mimic male or female genitalia, and in another Cibachrome, a crimson tomato glistens in the hand of an

  • Gaylen Gerber

    Monochromatic and hermetic, Gaylen Gerber’s barely discernible images renounce the pleasures of iconography. In this exhibition, 25 identical square paintings formed a 79-foot 2-inch horizontal band, which functioned as a single wall, prohibiting entry into most of the gallery and determining the position from which to examine the lineup. The effect of the installation was not unlike that of a Minimalist sculpture, theatrical in its object-hood but lacking any pictorial presence. Viewers familiar with this artist’s work have perhaps detected faint images in his deadpan canvases, but the subject


    AS MARTIN PURYEAR’S WORK has evolved, from the ruggedly anthropological to the subtly refined, from the exotic to the erotic and psychological, the artist has adhered to only one style a broadly derived variant of Modernist abstraction. Nevertheless the work is conceptually sophisticated, addressing Western constructions of the “primitive” at the same time that it invokes virtuoso craftsmanship and the poetry of natural materials—ash, ponderosa pine, red cedar. Deftly negotiating between craft and fine art, Puryear’s art conserves distant traditions and reaffirms timeworn values; though his