Lloyd Wise


    THANKS TO THE PERVERSE incentive structures of platform capitalism, we have witnessed the weaponization and proliferation of the rhetorical technique of decadent insincerity. On our screens, every emotive utterance drips with the air of pseudo-truth: performative outrage, virtue signaling, disingenuous smarm. Even the most heartfelt cris de coeur sound empty. One day, Notre-Dame burns. That night, an Instagram post appears in my feed: A picture of the blaze, captioned: “So sad.” So sad! Eight hundred years of history—-gone, in a white-hot flame. :(


    These are some of the thoughts brought to

  • “Günther Förg: A Fragile Beauty”

    A Cologne-scene contemporary of Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger, Günther Förg could easily be mistaken for a cynic, an artist whose blunt allusions to Barnett Newman, Piet Mondrian, and the Bauhaus were calculated simulacral feints in painting’s dismal 1980s endgame. But such a reading fails to account for the richness, depth, and, yes, even sincerity of the German artist’s oeuvre, which includes not only paintings (on weird, unorthodox grounds such as aluminum and lead), but also stark wall drawings, darkly fascinating photographs, and cerebral

  • Mirosław Bałka

    Like other artists of his generation (e.g., Roni Horn, Tom Burr), Mirosław Bałka reimagines the deadpan, impersonal, quasi-anthropomorphic geometry of Minimalism as an avatar of something more straightforwardly human, whether a prompt for poetic association, a metonym for the body, or a vessel of elegiac Beuysian allegory. “CROSSOVER/S”—the Polish-born artist’s most comprehensive exhibition in Italy to date—is billed as a retrospective, featuring roughly fifteen sculptures, installations, and videos made between the 1990s and today. The show includes early

  • Yanyan Huang

    Some seventy or so years after its heroic American heyday, Abstract Expressionism has seen a lot, having been debased, parodied, subverted, enshrined, disavowed, mocked, and reinvented a thousand times by as many artists to as many different ends. An indelible metonym for modernism, it is, as they say, overdetermined, so much so that to make a gestural mark today is to court a certain generic quality—and the nagging sense that whatever you’re doing has, regrettably, been done before.

    Which is not to say the weight of history dooms gestural abstraction to cliché; to the contrary, its legacy

  • Eberhard Havekost

    The slick, sinister paintings of Eberhard Havekost have begun to show their age, which is a wonderful thing, since they now help put the present in sharper relief. Born in Germany and based between Düsseldorf and Berlin, Havekost has shown regularly in New York and in Europe since the late 1990s. The twenty-five works in this exhibition, his first in New York since 2012, took us on a languid tour of the postindustrial world. The thematic constellation was compelling but also familiar: rusted factory ruins, muted signification; objects coming into focus, noise resolving as information; bar codes

  • Urban Zellweger

    For “Tables and Landscapes” at Shoot the Lobster, Urban Zellweger’s sprightly first New York solo show, the young Zurich-based artist presented six paintings from 2015 that mined art-historical conventions, and while at first this might sound familiar—yet another tiresome, “critical” recapitulation of painting’s heroic, bygone forms—Zellweger did something different. The paintings he displayed were positively alive, teeming with a playful surrealism that is at once inventive and unstable.

    The most striking works were the “Tables” of the show’s title, thanks largely to Zellweger’s

  • Sadamasa Motonaga

    One of the coolest pieces of ephemera in the catalogue accompanying this exhibition of Sadamasa Motonaga’s later work is the artist’s “My Abstract Manga Manifesto,” a sequence of four line drawings published in a 1963 edition of Bijutsu techō, a Japanese art journal. Consisting of wordless, biomorphic shapes, the illustrations lay out the knowingly “low” and faintly obscene mode of abstract painting that would become central to the artist’s practice until his death in 2011.

    Born in 1922, Motonaga joined the Gutai group in 1955, parting ways with the avant-garde movement a year before its dissolution


    THE MOST VISIBLE ART about technology today often comes across as a kind of Net art brut. Think of glitch art, of the nostalgic proliferations of drop shadows and gradients, of the post-Internet preoccupation with stock images, or of vaporwave. The hacking-versus-defaults debates of the early 2000s seem to have devolved into a primitivist mannerism: de-skilling as thoroughly emptied branding. Tabor Robak’s work, though, is anything but. His slick confections are the antithesis of crude: Sparkling and synthetic, color-splashed and sumptuous, they are gloriously seamless and refined—a luxe

  • Justin Adian

    Justin Adian’s show “Fort Worth” presented sixteen works that were made using a technique he has employed since 2007, and that has come to be his signature and calling card: The artist places hunks of foam on shaped wooden stretchers, stretches canvas over the foam, and applies oil enamel paint to the canvas surface. The results—puffy, shiny, asymmetrical—have a crisp, graphic appeal. They stand out from the wall with pleasing aplomb, like pop-surrealist upholstery, or comics come to life.

    They are also possessed of a zany, cartoonlike expressivity; Adian can coax quite a bit of energy

  • Tina Barney

    Money, I’ve heard, cannot buy happiness. And through the 1980s, Tina Barney’s darkly witty pictures of her insular upper-class milieu gave a diabolically cheerful endorsement of that tried-and-true claim. These now-classic half-staged, half-spontaneous shots are a visual tone poem of WASP privilege and icy repression—a hot mess of sunburned boredom, simpering awkwardness, and vacant stares. This show, the artist’s first at Paul Kasmin Gallery, included eleven works that span forty years and that range from the iconic (Mark, Amy and Tara, 1983) to the newer and lesser known.

    Among the earliest

  • Dana Schutz

    Mercifully free of easy irony, gimmicks, and suspended-in-scare-quotes gags, Dana Schutz’s virtuoso painting melds and morphs the oddball corners of modernism—Neue Sachlichkeit, Hairy Who—to produce its own mutant strain. Her work is jubilant body horror, depicting the human figure in all manner of distressed, disheveled, and unhinged states: screaming, laughing, shaving, smoking, caught up in a crowd, hideously dismembered, or arrayed on a dissection slab. Her tableaux are bright, miasmal, anxious—freakish pictures of what yuppified Brooklyn might look

  • Heimo Zobernig

    Today, it’s hard not to feel a little bad for high-modernist abstraction. Everyone gives it such a tough time. And since the 1980s, Heimo Zobernig has been one of its most cheerful antagonists, giving due respect to the monochrome and the grid but then gleefully polluting the geometric purity of these structures with utilitarian or ostensibly base media—drawing, architecture, design, and, most notably, theater. Sited in Peter Zumthor’s 1997 Zen-Brutalist Kunsthaus Bregenz, this exhibition—featuring a selection of work made between 1980 and the present and

  • Win McCarthy

    A signal addition amid the recent vogue for neo-Surrealist sculpture, Win McCarthy’s recent show at Off Vendome came across as a kind of queasy, provisional self-portraiture. The relief Hard Enough (all works 2015) introduced the exhibition’s basic formal and material vocabulary: Roughly five feet across and one foot high, it is a shallow Plasticine dish that has been filled with clear resin, oriented vertically, and then bolted to the wall. Transparent acetate strips on its surface display ink-jet-printed designs—the picture of a face, scrawled lettering, and circles containing the words

  • Günther Förg

    The work of German artist Günther Förg, who died in 2013, has been shown infrequently in New York in recent years. So the simultaneous presentations of his art earlier this year—at Greene Naftali and Skarstedt—constituted a noteworthy event, one that followed major institutional revisitings of his contemporaries Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger.

    The exhibition at Greene Naftali was divided into two parts. In the gallery’s ground-floor space, visitors encountered ten large monochrome canvases from 1991, each painted a modish shade—olive, lime, and a kind of pale burnt umber, for example. If

  • “Call and Response”

    To survey painting in 2015 is to take on a seemingly impossible task. How to sort through its stylistic shifts, its post-medium-specific mutability, its disorienting variousness? How to define painting’s boundaries? What could one possibly say? One well-trod approach is to make no claims at all: Throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. And that, broadly speaking, was the route followed by “Call and Response,” a show at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise that presented some fifty artworks made in the past few years in a cacophonous mishmash of a salon-style hang. Instead of cohering around

  • “The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World”

    THE PAST IS NEVER DEAD—it’s only a click away. And the artists in “The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World” immerse themselves in a networked, GIFed-up history that’s as promiscuously accessible as it is screen-deep. Contemporary culture, claims the show’s curator, Laura Hoptman, is defined by the compulsion to synthesize disparate historical tropes. Ergo, for artists today, movements such as AbEx, Minimalism, Constructivism, Fauvism, and De Stijl are no longer landmark steps along modernism’s teleological progression, but tools in a toolbar or colors in a palette. The

  • Mike Nelson

    Though perhaps not beautiful in the classic SoCal sense of surfably blue waters and dazzling sunsets, nor, for that matter, in the East Coast manner of the beach-plum and sand-dune William Merritt Chase picturesque, the shoreline running from Oregon to Canada—that of the Pacific Northwest—is nevertheless marked by an arrestingly despondent strangeness. It is a place of gloom and doom and endless drizzle, of creeping moss, decay, and rot. It is home to primordially large crabs and ironlike mist, and to survivalist ecotopias and motorcycle gangs. Littered with hunks of bone-white driftwood

  • Jean-Luc Moulène

    After visiting Jean-Luc Moulène’s “Torture Concrete” at Miguel Abreu Gallery this past fall, one would have been forgiven for scratching one’s head. The artist’s diverse, astringent work, which has ranged from monochrome paintings and landscape photographs to enigmatic sculptures comes wrapped in an aura of obdurate difficulty—the implacable air of the deadly and complex. Split between the gallery’s two spaces, this show displayed thirty-seven pieces in various media, many (though not all) belonging to “Opus,” 1995–, a series that was the subject of a major survey at Dia:Beacon in 2011.


  • Gabriel Orozco

    Coming to Gabriel Orozco’s work a generation late, I find it difficult to imagine the impact it had when it was first presented to New Yorkers in the form of the legendary installation Yogurt Caps at Marian Goodman Gallery in 1994. The aggressive simplicity of that ultra-unassuming piece—it consisted of only four clear Dannon lids, one tacked to each of the walls of an otherwise empty room—was seen as deeply audacious, if not an affront. It was also, by most accounts, amazing, at once capturing and crystallizing a wide and diverse range of sensibilities then floating in the air in a

  • Tomma Abts

    At once volatile and precise, Tomma Abts’s work keeps shifting beneath your feet. Echoing a wide range of precursors—from high Constructivism (Alexander Archipenko and Henryk Stażewski), to geometric abstraction’s flashier midcentury incarnations (Richard Anuszkiewicz, Victor Vasarely), to the eager swallowing-up of both by the “rad,” spray-paint-besmirched graphic design of the 1980s—the London-based artist’s neat, sharp, labor-intensive paintings unite a shallow if convincing illusory depth with a neurotic meticulousness to erect optical labyrinths that both tantalize and deceive.