Lois Nesbitt

  • Curtis Mitchell

    Much recent art that poses as a critique of commodity culture instead reinforces our collective fetishization of the object world. By fabricating slick, seductive, high-gloss objects, artists with ostensibly subversive intentions play into consumerist demands so adeptly as to collapse opposition into identification. At the other extreme are found-object artists who salvage old, often decrepit items. Such work falls into an adjacent trap, appealing to those drawn to the “nostalgia” of objects with a history.

    Between these two in strategy, but with an end-product entirely off the scale, are the

  • General Idea

    Art about AIDS often focuses on the suffering of individuals caught within the health-care system, and between inadequate government programs, reiterating a by now well-known list of grievances: lack of research funds and of affordable treatment, and artificially elevated drug prices. Rather than thundering polemics or emotional manipulation, the Canadian.collaborative trio known as General Idea attempts an alternative strategy that leaves the door open to multiple interpretations. This deliberate ambiguity has caused some problems for the group. While many viewers praised their transformation

  • Jeffrey Wisniewski

    Maybe the art world is hopelessly jaded, maybe entrenched recession malaise has sent us in search of diversions of any sort, maybe the cyclical revival of interest in ’70s-style radical art has opened long-closed doors. Whatever the reason, it’s been a season of stunts and provocations. Jeffrey Wisniewski’s recent dismantling of an entire suburban house in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.. which he then had fed through a portable stump recycler—reducing the entire edifice to wood chips—and transported to a gallery for exhibition, offers the novelty of an outrageous act strategically reinforced as a

  • Julia Scher

    During the ’80s, many artists expressed paranoia about the ways in which our actions, thoughts, desires, and ultimately fates are monitored, manipulated, and determined by forces beyond our individual control—notably the media, advertising, corporate interests, the government, and the military-industrial complex. One of the most cogent and inspired artistic embodiments of this fear has been Julia Scher’s knowledgeable manipulations of one manifestation of such forces, the security systems now used everywhere from convenience stores to high-tech laboratories to limited-access government institutions.

  • Amy Hauft

    Over the past few years Amy Hauft has used architectural systems, maps, and time lines to examine humanity’s attempts to order and name a world we poorly understand. While in one piece Hauft investigated Southern California water politics, and in another she installed a carpet of sod in a Brooklyn gallery, her concern is not so much ecological as epistemological or even psychological. She asks what our ways of mapping say not only about what we know but about what we want to know. You Are Here, 1990, grappled with the inconceivably short time span of humankind’s stay on earth in relation to

  • Rudolf Stingel

    Rudolf Stingel takes potshots at Minimalism, using the strategies of its historical sidekick, Conceptualism, to point out its pretenses. Creating works that are conspicuously unmarketable and unesthetic, if not just plain ugly, Stingel comments humorously on a movement that produced some of the smuggest, most boring work in the history of art.

    Among Stingel’s past offerings is a booklet with a crossing-guard orange cover that provides instructions on how to make a Minimalist painting. Mimicking the grayed-out photographs of how-to manuals with their enumerated items (electric mixer, compressed

  • Bill Reiss

    Bill Reis’ paintings are variations using a limited number of elements. They have the deliberate character of formal studies. Reis combines groups of rectilinear canvases with carved wooden elements that often serve as partial borders or frames. The typically monochromatic surfaces are painted deep shades of purple, black, turquoise, green, and rust, with the hues mutating into one another. Reis concentrates as much on texture as on color, from the dry-brush layerings of paint to the waxy, scratched surfaces. His techniques at times result in striking transformations of media; in Facade (all

  • Chuck Close

    Chuck Close continues to develop techniques for transforming photographic images into paintings, exploiting highly sophisticated formal strategies to create works of considerable visual and emotional intensity. In less skilled hands, his methods could result in tedium, in works of analytic detachment. But Close seems to use these rigorous ordering systems to control a violent energy that nonetheless seethes from his works.

    The enormous portraits at Pace Gallery were created by the mapping of photographic images onto canvas by means of grids that were then filled in with layers of color. Up close,

  • John Boskovich

    In most of his works, John Boskovich groups disparate images in various media—photographs, silkscreens, found paintings, and prints—and sets them against large, solid-color backgrounds. He often places literary quotations, drawn from modern poetry, beneath or beside these images. Portrait of the Artist and his Mother, 1988, features an image of a bell, a photograph of a seated matron, a found painting of cherubs and lilies, a photograph of the artist superimposed on an aerial view of the moon, and a picture of a gloved hand wielding a pair of scissors, all underscored by a line from Rainer Maria

  • Paris Without End

    Paris without End: On French Art since World War I by Jed Perl, Berkeley, Calif: North Point Press, 1988, 160 pp., 50 black and white illustrations.

    IN THIS STRONG COLLECTION of essays, Jed Perl calls attention to the work of first- and second-generation Modernists done in the wake of the revolutionary years before and during World War I. Historians have tended to look askance at some of the art that followed the war—at Henri Matisse’s Nice paintings, say, only recently resurrected in critical terms with a large show organized last year by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The work