Lauren O’Neill-Butler

  • Benjamin Wigfall, Things My Father Told Me, Tall Man II, 1971, intaglio and relief print on paper, 271⁄2 × 391⁄2".

    “Benjamin Wigfall & Communications Village”

    In 1973, Benjamin Wigfall (1930–2017) purchased a renovated livery stable in Ponckhockie, a primarily working-class Black neighborhood in Kingston, New York, to use as his studio. An admired printmaking professor at the State University of New York (SUNY), New Paltz—the artist was known for his innovative engraving techniques, such as “burning,” or mark-making with a red-hot tool—he often traveled to Ponckhockie to conduct oral-history interviews with its residents at the local Baptist church and knew the place well. The conversations were part of his “audiographic” practice of speaking with “

  • Silke Otto-Knapp, Untitled (Versammlung III), 2022, triptych, watercolor on canvas, overall 6' 6 3 ⁄4" × 12' 9 1⁄2". © Silke Otto-Knapp.

    Silke Otto-Knapp

    When German artist Silke Otto-Knapp (1970–2022) passed away from ovarian cancer last October, she left behind a quietly impactful oeuvre. Her serene grayscale paintings created over the past decade or so—of silhouetted figures, subdued landscapes—often put me in mind of Romantic composers, such as Frédéric Chopin. Like his music, her art feels timeless, even when it culls from the past to say something prescient about today and tomorrow. Often the message has something to do with evanescence, a quality that echoes throughout works that achieve a potent ambiguity between flatness and depth,

  • Zoe Leonard, Untitled, 2019/2022, gelatin silver print, 21 5⁄8 × 30 3⁄4".

    Zoe Leonard

    Zoe Leonard’s art has long tackled fraught political issues—immigration, gentrification, capitalism—without coming across as moralizing or heavy-handed. Instead, the artist identifies historical or contemporary problems and dismantles them through investigations that are both materially expansive and conceptually rigorous. This approach stems in part from her involvement, beginning in the late 1980s, with ACT UP, fierce pussy, and other activist collectives fighting to save the lives of people with AIDS who were, infuriatingly, deemed not sufficiently worthy by the US government to live. In her

  • Louise Bourgeois, The Runaway Girl, ca. 1938, oil, charcoal, and pencil on canvas, 24 × 15". © The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY; Photo: Christopher Burke.

    Louise Bourgeois

    I confess that before seeing this breathtaking exhibition, I was unaware that Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) made paintings, more than one hundred of them, all self-portraits. The works are teeming with gorgeous interplays of Cimmerian shadow and light; vivid cadmium reds and cobalt blues; sharp reconfigurations of Renaissance-era imaging techniques, such as illusionistic space creation (via single- and three-point perspective); and heavy underdrawing. After 1949, Bourgeois unceremoniously ceased producing these haunting “nostalgia pictures” and began working in other mediums—drawing, printmaking,

  • Film strip from Raphael Montañez Ortiz’s Cowboy and Indian, 1958, 16 mm transferred to digital video, black-and-white, sound, 2 minutes 19 seconds.

    Raphael Montañez Ortiz

    Raphael Montañez Ortiz was a key member of the Art Workers’ Coalition who, along with artists Faith Ringgold and Tom Lloyd, pushed the collective to make museums accountable for their racism, classism, and elitism. In 1969, the same year the AWC was established, Ortiz became the founding director of New York’s El Museo del Barrio. At the time, the artist was known for his Fluxus-inspired piano-destruction concerts. A consummate New Yorker, the Brooklyn-born Ortiz studied at the borough’s Pratt Institute, taught at the High School of Music and Art on Manhattan’s West Side, and received a doctorate

  • Frédéric Bruly Bouabré. « GBRÉ=GBLÉ » N° 118, 1991, colored pencil, graphite, and ballpoint pen on board, 3 7⁄8 × 5 7⁄8". From the series “Alphabet Bété,” 1990–91.

    Frédéric Bruly Bouabré

    Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, the first Ivorian artist to have a survey at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was born in 1923 in Zépréguhé, Côte d’Ivoire. Yet on March 11, 1948, as if by some miracle, he was reborn—Bouabré had a mystical vision on the way to his clerical job at the General Security Directorate in Dakar, Senegal. Of this experience, he wrote, “Since the sky opened to my eyes and the seven colored suns described a circle of beauty around their ‘Mother-Sun,’ I am the one that must from now on be called ‘Cheik Nadro,’ the Revealer.” Following this astonishing event, Bouabré experienced

  • Katherine Wolkoff, Snake Hole, 2021, archival pigment print, 40 x 50".
    interviews June 09, 2022

    Katherine Wolkoff

    Throughout her lifetime, Block Island resident Elizabeth Dickens (1877­–1963) amassed a collection of 172 stuffed birds—whenever one died, locals would bring her the specimen—which she used to teach the island’s children about ecology. Her life and work inform “Taken from a Cat,” a solo exhibition by the Brooklyn-based artist Katherine Wolkoff that remains on view at Benrubi Gallery in New York through June 18, 2022. The show features forty photographs displaying Dickens’s handwritten labels recording how each bird died, and five larger landscape views of the island made with a lensless camera.

  • Elaine Reichek, Oppenheim’s Gloves, 2020, hand embroidery on cotton gloves appliquéd to linen, 14 3⁄4 × 15 3⁄4".

    Elaine Reichek

    “Later on, I could perform a more sophisticated maneuver by doubling back on and reversing the injunction against AbEx, performing a critique of the critique, one that allowed me to appropriate AbEx as a practice back into my own hands and twist it into the form I wanted it to assume.” This line from Amy Sillman’s fabulous essay “Ab-Ex and Disco Balls: In Defense of Abstract Expressionism II”—published in these pages in 2011—came to mind as I viewed Elaine Reichek’s second solo show at Marinaro, “Material Girl,” where she turned her gimlet eye onto the long interlaced history connecting painting,

  • Luce Irigaray. Photo: Cathy Bernheim.
    interviews May 09, 2022

    Luce Irigaray

    Luce Irigaray is one of the most renowned and polemical philosophers of our time. The author of more than thirty books, she is well known for her critical engagements with canonical figures of psychoanalytic and philosophical traditions through her landmark feminist texts such as Speculum of the Other Woman (1974), which prompted her expulsion from the Lacanian École Freudienne de Paris (EFP) because of its searing depiction of Platonic and Freudian representations of women; This Sex Which Is Not One (1977); Elemental Passions (1982); Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche (1991); and The Forgetting

  • View of “Kate Millett,” 2022. Photo: Dan Bradica.

    Kate Millett

    Before she wrote her influential feminist book Sexual Politics (1970), before Alice Neel painted her portrait for the cover of the August 31, 1970, issue of Time magazine, and before she founded a women’s art colony outside of Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1978, Kate Millett was an artist. A thriving and active member of Manhattan’s downtown art scene during the late 1950s, Millett (1934–2017) established a studio on the Bowery and frequented the Cedar Tavern—who knows what the macho AbEx crowd there made of this burgeoning queer feminist activist sculptor? After a two-year stint teaching English

  • Faith Ringgold, United States of Attica, 1972, offset lithograph, 21 5/8 × 27 3/8". Courtesy the artist and ACA Galleries, New York. © Faith Ringgold / ARS, NY and DACS, London via ACA Galleries, New York 2022.
    interviews March 04, 2022

    Faith Ringgold

    For over six decades, the artist, activist, educator, and writer Faith Ringgold has drawn from both her own life and collective histories in the pursuit of racial justice and equity. From protesting museums with the Ad Hoc Women’s Art Committee in the 1970s to publishing and illustrating seventeen children’s books to her paintings, soft sculpture, and story quilts, her invincible spirit is fully apparent in “Faith Ringgold: American People,” the most comprehensive exhibition to date of her farsighted work. The show remains on view at the New Museum in New York through June 5, 2022.

    IN 1988, I

  • Hilma af Klint, Tree of Knowledge, No. 1, 1913–15, watercolor, gouache, graphite, and ink on paper, 17 7⁄8 × 11 5⁄8".

    Hilma af Klint

    Hilma af Klint’s numinous, farsighted output never fails to illuminate. She believed that her art would be understood only by people of the future. Perhaps that was why her 2018–19 retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York was the institution’s most attended exhibition ever. Miraculously, af Klint (1862–1944) consistently has more to give. Consider the eight delicate drawings from the Swedish artist’s 1913–15 “Tree of Knowledge” series, a recently unearthed body of work that made a rare public appearance at David Zwirner’s tony space on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. An