Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

  • Baya, Femme et enfant en bleu (Woman and Child in Blue), 1947, gouache on board, 23 x 18".
    picks March 02, 2018

    “Baya: Woman of Algiers”

    Some two dozen women are currently haunting the lower floor of the Grey Art Gallery. They aren’t exactly ghosts or malevolent spirits. Neither are they just figures in the normal painterly sense, although they are painted, gorgeously, in twenty-two gouache-on-board works, wearing outrageously patterned dresses below complicated hair. They are the women of Baya, the Algerian artist of Berber and Arab heritage who was orphaned at five, adopted by a wealthy French patroness, and dropped into the heart of the Parisian avant-garde in the aftermath of World War II. She wanted to be known by her first

  • DISTANT SHORES

    ON A CRISP MORNING this past summer, before the streets had wilted under the humidity and grime, I picked my way through the strange corporate wilderness and crowds of office workers of midtown Manhattan to find the studio of Ahmed Morsi. An Egyptian painter of both rumor and renown, Morsi has lived in a modern townhouse on East Forty-Eighth Street since 1974. He is totally out of place yet firmly present in this most improbable of neighborhoods, making paintings that act as portals to other worlds, bringing multitudes back to these shores in the form of ghostly traces.

    Morsi, who turns eighty-eight

  • Gordon Parks, Untitled, Harlem, New York, 1952, gelatin silver print, 20 x 16". © Gordon Parks/The Gordon Parks Foundation and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

    Gordon Parks

    In an untitled photograph from 1978, the model Iman casually rests her elbows on two tall stacks of ancient African artifacts. In another, from 1966, a young Muhammad Ali leans against a stairwell bannister in London, gazing intently toward the upper right-hand corner of the frame. In another still, from 1960, we see Duke Ellington through the television monitors of a recording studio. In 1957, the photographer Gordon Parks made a vivid color portrait of the painter Helen Frankenthaler, vamping for the camera on a drop cloth in her studio. In 1952, he shot the hand of Alexander Calder, reaching

  • Huguette Caland, Eux, ca. 1975, oil on linen, 39 1/2 x 39 1/2".
    picks February 23, 2018

    Huguette Caland

    A pair of oils on linen serves as the linchpin for this small but powerful exhibition of Huguette Caland’s drawings, paintings, caftans, and smocks. Both pictures show mischievous faces emerging from mounds of flesh. In Sunrise, 1973, a small male head peeks out from behind a face (or a breast) resembling a stylized mountain. In Eux, ca. 1975, an expanse of peach skin morphs into four women’s faces seen in full profile. This show in its entirety is just the four walls around one room. These are the only two paintings. But they work like an architecturally dramatic set of double doors, opening

  • Susan Meiselas, Mitzi, Tunbridge, VT, 1974, silver gelatin print, 9 x 9".  From the series “Carnival Strippers,” 1972–75.
    picks February 16, 2018

    Susan Meiselas

    Susan Meiselas took her first photography class when she was in her early twenties, studying at Harvard and living in a Cambridge boardinghouse on Irving Street. Her final project from the course, “44 Irving Street,” 1971, matched portraits of her neighbors with texts that described how they saw themselves in her pictures. The wild card in the series is Meiselas’s own self-portrait, double-exposed, a ghostly trace over a sturdy wooden chair. This is the first image you’ll see if you visit Meiselas’s blockbuster retrospective, up until May 20 at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. And it’s the last image

  • Thornton Dial, Ground Zero: Decorating the Eye, 2002, clothing, enamel, spray paint, Splash Zone compound, canvas, wood, 76 1/2 x 108 x 4".
    picks February 02, 2018

    Thornton Dial

    In the art of the late Southern painter Thornton Dial, the notion of “relief” leads in several directions. Along one path, it was the word used in his lifetime (he died in 2016 at the age of eighty-seven) to describe his wild assemblages on canvas and wood, which were so heavily piled with found objects, oils, paints, enamels, and other compounds that they reach out several inches from the wall. In another sense—for an artist who was dealing with some of the more abject horrors of the world and described his approach to history in terms of tilling the soil—“relief” also suggests a kind of

  • Farah Al Qasimi, Nose Greeting, 2016, ink-jet print, 35 x 26 1/2".

    Farah Al Qasimi

    A year ago in February, a white US military veteran in his fifties walked into a bar in the Midwestern town of Olathe, Kansas. The man scanned the crowd and spotted two brown-skinned men sitting together. He left and returned with a gun. He shouted, “Get out of my country!” and then shot them both. He killed one and wounded the other; a bystander who tried to intervene was also injured. The gunman then turned, ran out of the bar, and drove to another one eighty miles away. He was arrested after he told the bartender there that he had just shot two men he thought were Iranian. His victims were

  • View of “LaToya Ruby Frazier,” 2018.
    picks January 26, 2018

    LaToya Ruby Frazier

    LaToya Ruby Frazier’s first show here is expansive, tenderhearted, and so cleverly slotted across three large floors of ascending exhibition space that you might actually laugh out loud when you arrive at the uppermost landing and realize the paces you’ve been put through to get there.

    On the ground floor, the looking is tough and requires real work. Frazier’s “Flint Is Family,” 2016–17, made up of twenty-four photographs, follows three generations of women—mother Renée, daughter Shea, and granddaughter Zion—as they course through the horrors of the Michigan water crisis, in which a toxic

  • View of “Elizabeth Catlett: Wake Up in Glory,” 2017–18.
    picks January 05, 2018

    Elizabeth Catlett

    The Senegalese poet Léopold Sédar Senghor once said that “everyone must be mixed in their own way.” That idea, according to the philosopher Souleymane Bachir Diagne, in his book African Art as Philosophy (2011), was central to Senghor’s belief that African art was the expression of an aesthetic, a philosophy, an entire cosmology, and that it would only have meaning if it were open to the world and had access to freedom. The art of Elizabeth Catlett seems to take up that line of thinking and push it further, producing it anew.

    For this show, titled “Wake Up in Glory,” twelve of Catlett’s sculptures

  • Cecily Brown, Madrepora (Shipwreck), 2016, oil on linen, 8' 1“ x 12' 7 1/8”.

    Cecily Brown

    In her marvelous writing on the art of Joan Mitchell in Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (2007), Maggie Nelson wrestles with several of the reasons why Mitchell’s paintings have proven so difficult to place in the established art-historical accounts of postwar American painting. Mitchell pushed her work too far into the wild realms of nature and human consciousness to fit the rigid formalist theories of Clement Greenberg. She labored too long on every canvas to count as the kind of action painter held up by Harold Rosenberg. She was unapologetically committed to the depths

  • Francis Alÿs, Knots (detail), 2005, rope, three pencil-on-paper drawings, dimensions variable.

    “Francis Alÿs: Knot’n Dust”

    Francis Alÿs came to Beirut for the first time nine years ago, in December 2008, for a workshop organized by the upstart arts organization 98Weeks. At the time, he and the curator Cuauhtémoc Medina proposed walking the city as an artistic practice in and of itself. The Lebanese capital has changed dramatically since then, and Alÿs’s engagement with conflicts in the wider region—including major projects in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan—has grown substantially. The artist’s first solo exhibition at an institution in the Middle East ups the metaphorical

  • Mounira Al Solh, untitled, 2015, mixed media on paper, 11 3/4 × 8 1/2". From the series “I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous,” 2012–.

    “Mounira Al Solh: I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous”

    Mounira Al Solh has established herself as one of the most exciting young Lebanese artists in a generation set to follow in the outsize footsteps of predecessors such as Rabih Mroué, Walid Raad, and Akram Zaatari. She did so through outrageous expressions of disaffection in videos such as Rawane’s Song and As If I Don’t Fit There, both 2006, which are about having nothing to say regarding Lebanon’s civil war and artists who quit, respectively. It was all an utterly charming ruse, of course, masking the artist’s deep and serious engagement with the