Justin Spring

  • Tom Butter

    In his recent show, Tom Butter presented eight works described as kinetic sculptures. But their kinesis was amusingly elusive. Only one actually seemed to earn the name: Night Train (all works 1997), a large steel wheel suspended by a perpendicular column sheathed in fiberglass, revolved just perceptibly.

    A light touch, however, set the piece into smooth, sure rotation, and it turned out that all but two pieces, Two States and Dive, could be activated by a bit of manipulation (though some had such a limited range that they seemed barely to jiggle). Observatory, for instance, consists of a rounded,

  • Javier Marin

    Javier Marin, a thirty-five-year-old sculptor from Mexico City, made his New York gallery debut with a show of fourteen unglazed figurative works that showcase the artist’s taste for eclecticism, expressing a distinctive, playful vision that synthesizes disparate ideals of beauty from a number of cultures. The sculptures—nudes and portrait busts—feature an intriguing mix of characteristics: generally high cheekbones; slanted or almond-shaped eyes; the archaic smiles found on Greek or Egyptian statuary; rounded faces; voluptuous lips; and noses that are sometimes flat, with flared nostrils, and

  • “The Hansa Gallery Revisited”

    “The Hansa Gallery Revisited” celebrated a space founded in the early ’50s as a collaborative effort: a gallery that served not only as a launchpad for artistic talent, but also as a stage for encounters among artists, writers, and critics. The Hansa Gallery was a vital, continually evolving, and sometimes rather chaotic space that showed artists as diverse as George Segal, Jane Wilson, and Lucas Samaras. This tribute limited itself to five artists—three now deceased, two who consulted on the installation of the works.

    Jan Muller’s art grew out of German Expressionism; his love of bright, vivid

  • Stephen Barker

    The twenty-two untitled photographs in “Selections from Nightswimming, NYC, 1993–4,” the first solo exhibition of Stephen Barker’s work, depict men either having or looking for sex. These dark images—selenium-toned gelatin-silver prints—have a formal beauty that stems from their velvety blackness; this, and their regular spacing around the room, made the show resemble a repetitive installation of dark Minimalist canvases, severe and imposing. So uniformly dark are these pictures that only by lingering and squinting could one eventually begin to make out the human forms captured within them. The

  • “PaJaMa”

    This recent exhibition of the “PaJaMa Photographs,” a collaborative venture of the three painters Paul Cadmus, Jared French, and Margaret (née Hoenig) French, suggests that their painterly work drew upon a wealth of knowledge gathered with Margaret French’s Leica over the course of a decade. They also suggest that contemporary ideas about art have changed in the years since the pictures were taken: these intimate and informal works, with their slightly surreal compositions, their youthful, often nude subjects, and their recurringly narcissistic, homo-erotic themes, now seem precursors to the

  • Richard Stankiewicz

    “Richard Stankiewicz: The 1950s” was the sort of curated gallery exhibit one rarely finds these days: a well-chosen survey of a brief, crucial period in an artist’s career, selected and mounted so convincingly that it actually changed one’s sense of the work’s origins, intentions, and art-historical significance. Stankiewicz’s dealer from the early ’70s until the artist’s death in 1983 presented his sculptures in an atmosphere of subdued elegance that at first seemed at odds with the works, which are compact, slyly animated assemblages of rusty urban iron-and-steel junk. Amid these elegant

  • Manuel Neri

    With the large number of Neri’s works on prominent display at the Corcoran, and a hefty full-color catalogue, the recent “Manuel Neri: Early Work, 1953–1978,” shown together with an exhibition of five of his recent marble sculptures, could have been mistaken for a major retrospective. Neri’s early work is figurative, lifesize, usually constructed out of plaster, and augmented frequently with wire, wood, canvas, or other support materials. The sculptures, sometimes partly painted, are often lifelike enough to suggest a rough and perhaps damaged George Segal plaster cast, (e.g., Seated Female

  • Ursula von Rydingsvard

    The crumbly, blackened edges of Ursula von Rydingsvard’s often monumental cedar sculptures suggest they may be composed of half-burned logs, but in fact they are hacked and chiseled wood rubbed with graphite. It is the sculptor, not fire, that has effected the transformation. Von Rydingsvard’s relation to her materials is subtle and complex, as sustained examination of any of her pieces soon reveals. Most are abstract, and all rely on the curious sculptural technique of chiseling down and reconstructing the wood. Some of the pieces reveal a conceptual engagement: at least one of the works in

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson

    This show of more than 100 works by Henri Cartier-Bresson comes as something of a revelation to those who associate the artist with images of life overseas. The photographer’s inimitable style has been applied here to territory more readily associated with American photographers from Walker Evans to Gary Winogrand, particularly in the road trip Cartier-Bresson took from New York to Los Angeles and back in 1947. The show may tell us less about America, however, than it does about Cartier-Bresson: the evolution of his light-handed style, and his consistent preoccupation with humanist themes.

    With

  • Taro Chiezo

    Using high-tech colors and materials (including transparent Day-Glo plastic and laserdisks), Taro Chiezo created an installation that resembled a space-age playroom in which the futuristic machines and materials are synthesized into deceptively adorable art. Chiezo’s brilliance lies in describing in visual terms the immediate excitement surrounding the prepackaged technologies of television, video, the computer, and the Internet, a visual analogy for the instant (and ultimately unsatisfying) gratification available through electronic media.

    The four large-scale paintings in the show featured

  • John Keane

    The painterly narratives in John Keane’s recent show, “Graham Greene and the Jungle of Human Dilemma,” evolved out of a trip he took to Mexico in January and February of 1995. While he was staying in Mexico City, Keane came across a copy of Greene’s 1938 book The Lawless Road, a searing indictment of the Mexican government’s persecution of Catholics. The resulting paintings conflate Keane’s memories of his own experiences in Mexico with tableaux suggested by Greene’s writings and photographs.

    Keane achieved notoriety with his 1991–92 series of Gulf War paintings, the most memorable of which

  • David Bates

    Although David Bates has been primarily known for his folk art-inspired paintings of life in the American Southwest, in this show he integrates painting into a three-dimensional format—largely figurative sculptures and wall reliefs, in plaster, wood, bronze, and mixed media, featuring bright, jazzy colors and textures and caricaturish renderings. Bates sets new formal and technical challenges for himself in creating an engagingly loopy, hybrid art form that suggests a meeting between Picasso’s sculpture and the brush of a folk artist. His alliance of folk art and Cubism is clever: Cubism evolved,