Lois E. Nesbitt

  • Janine Antoni

    Compulsive eating, and the whole alarming catalogue of self-destructive habits now grouped under the rubric of “eating disorders,” are, like any oral fixation, about substitution—about filling in for what lacks. And, like all compulsive behaviors, they mask anger or rage that might otherwise overwhelm the individual. Artmaking, too, is about substitution, physical surrogates, and creating one’s own world in lieu of an existing one perceived to be inadequate or unbearable. Artmaking also often involves compulsive activity, whether or not such behavior is ultimately productive, is open to question.

  • John Fekner

    Just as the graffiti artists of the ’80s were lured into the galleries from their outdoor urban sites, John Fekner hit the streets. Traveling around at night and often sleeping in his car, Fekner imprinted troubled areas of New York City with large stenciled words (seen here in slide projections), attacking the destruction of the environment and the adverse social conditions that surround us. The sites spoke for themselves: garbage dumps, decrepit buildings, junkyard pileups of used cars or TVs. Onto these Fekner applied straightforward messages: “LOST HOPE” on a bombed-out housing project;

  • Ana Mendieta

    This show, which documents the first seven years of Ana Mendieta’s career, supplements spotty appearances of her work in group shows during the last few years and participates in a general revisioning of her career. Not only was her reputation thwarted during her lifetime, by her position as a Cuban born female artist in a white, male dominated art world, but her work has subsequently been upstaged by the victim status imposed on her as a result of her premature and much-publicized death in 1985. Starting with works made just after Mendieta graduated from the art program at the University of

  • Fernando Melani

    Italian artist Fernando Melani was somewhat of a Modernist anachronism. In 1945, at the age of 38, he embarked on an ambitious program to link abstract art with experimental physics. He pursued the project until his death in 1985, and his efforts yielded thousands of artworks and a substantial body of theoretical writing.

    Melani carried out his “research” in his house in Pistoia, converting his living quarters into an artistic laboratory, eliminating all typical domestic props, and taking his meals at a local restaurant. Melani’s output was prodigious and, over the course of forty years, the

  • Empty Pedestals Project

    Some years ago, artist Marc Blane began documenting “predesignated art sites” in New York City, sites formerly occupied by heroic sculptures and ceremonial fountains commissioned during the turn-of-the-century City Beautiful Movement. Due to the vagaries of time and the wages of vandalism, these sites now stand empty. For this exhibition, Blane invited young artists and architects to design new works for several such spots, with the idea that their projects might replace the former Eurocentric, Beaux-Arts monuments with imagery capable of speaking to each area’s current, predominantly non-European

  • “Interrogating Identity”

    Opening up artistic and scholarly canons, raising consciousness about the existence of others, celebrating multiculturalism (as opposed to the homogenizing “melting pot”)—such are the hallmarks of currently politically correct writing, grant giving, art-making, and other activities involving the processing of culture. “Interrogating Identity,” which focused on the work of “Black” artists (used here, in the British sense, to apply to non-Caucasians of various ethnic backgrounds), pandered to this trend while shedding little new light on the complex of related issues.

    The work exhibited consisted

  • Malcolm Morley

    Violence seems to course through Malcolm Morley’s bronze miniatures of tanks, guns, and soldiers, as well as through paintings in which explosive color, congested compositions, and radical shifts in scale veer toward chaos. The seemingly gestural paintings, executed by projecting a grid onto a watercolor sketch and painstakingly transferring the image onto canvas, depict tropical islands where things have run amok. In Gloria, 1990, highly decorated World War I fighter planes careen above a beach where oblivious vacationers frolic in the waves, in a wacky, hallucinatory vision that points to the

  • Donald Moffett

    As an AIDS activist, Donald Moffett has created or collaborated on numerous graphic campaigns designed to wake up ordinary citizens and unresponsive public figures to this devastating crisis. In the works displayed here, some of which refer indirectly to AIDS and all of which endorse uninhibited homosexual behavior, Moffett continues to exploit the strategy employed by many artists in the ’80s (and subsequently appropriated by the AIDS activists) of combining found images with provocative, often subversive texts, here infused with the artist’s characteristic bad-boy humor.

    At Wessel O’Connor,

  • Mark Tansey

    Mark Tansey translates the language of art history—particularly terms with scientific and military origins such as “avant-garde,” “revolution,” “discoverer,” and “pioneer”—into literal scenarios that mock the discipline’s self-importance. His Action Painting II, 1984, which depicts a party of plein-air painters outfitted with easels and folding chairs sketching an atomic bomb exploding across the desert, sets the studio-bound heroics of the Abstract Expressionists against the devastating potential of contemporary technology. Elsewhere Tansey presents the postwar migration of artistic energy from

  • Sean Landers

    The ’80s fascination with success has lately given way to explorations of failure in the work of artists such as Nancy Barton, just as high-gloss cool has been replaced by rude, crude, and messy manners in art by the likes of Mike Kelley. Sean Landers, who previously exhibited sculpted heads floating in resin cylinders, has recently been presenting the ruminations of imaginary alter ego Chris Hamson in the form of letters scrawled in ballpoint on legal paper. Hamson is the artist-as-failure, confused, full of self-doubt, and given to explosions of rage at his pitiful position on the bottom of

  • Gordon Matta-Clark

    In 1974 Gordon Matta-Clark took a saw to a house in Englewood, New Jersey. By the time he was done, the house, which belonged to dealer friends Holly and Horace Solomon, had been neatly split down the center, with one half bevelled to incline slightly from the vertical, and the four corner eaves extracted.

    Splitting: Four Corners, 1974, as represented here by the artist’s photographs and photo-collages as well as by the corners themselves (which look surprisingly unimposing—their walls are thinner than one would expect, and their internal hodgepodge of two-by-fours and wiring rather crude), was

  • Nancy Dwyer

    Nancy Dwyer has always treated words as physical objects, realizing them in sculptural form or strewing clunky three-dimensional characters across the blank backgrounds of monumental canvases. Borrowing texts from television and advertising, she attempts to reinvest these hollow slogans with meaning. Words are positioned in ways that invite multiple mix-’n’-match readings. In Matter, 1990, the words “you,” “me,” “leave,” and “be,” printed on spheres resembling atoms in a scientific diagram, form several significant permutations: “You leave me,” “You leave me be,” “Leave me,” “Be me,” etc.