Lori Cole

  • picks March 11, 2016

    Silvia Gruner

    In the photographic diptych How to Look at Mexican Art, 1995, Silvia Gruner displays a punctured molcajete, or Mexican grinding mortar, atop bright-red plastic. Her hand grips the object from above in the first image and playfully penetrates it from below in the second. Not only does she juxtapose something typically associated with indigenous Mexican culture with a strictly contemporary material, but Gruner also inserts her body into her work to challenge assumptions about her artistic heritage. Similarly, in the adjacent film Centinela (Sentinel), 2007, the artist, her head shaved due to her

  • picks January 15, 2016

    Penelope Umbrico

    Fifteen archival prints of photographs of sunlight streaming into Grand Central Station, watermarked with their sources—sites such as Art.com, Easy Art, Picasso.com—greet visitors to Penelope Umbrico’s latest exhibition, playfully drawing attention to her process of appropriation while offering the prosaic material a more profound afterlife. Adjacent is a video of all the variations of the four source photographs of Grand Central that Umbrico found online, demonstrating slight differences in contrast and graininess. Interested in the way images circulate and are valued, Umbrico previously culled

  • picks January 25, 2015

    “Cromofobia”

    An exhibition whose works share only a lack of color, “Cromofobia” asks the viewer to look closely at each object’s texture, material, and scale. Many pieces reveal affinities through their placement, as in the case of Leandro Katz’s photograph Máquina de escribir, 1979–2011, a close-up of a typewriter whose letters have been replaced with cycles of the moon, which echoes Erica Bohm’s Chapter IV/NASA, Astronaut, 2011, from her Galàctica series, a digital photo installed across from Katz’s that features an astronaut, yellowed, disconnected, and floating in space. Suspended from the ceiling between

  • picks January 15, 2015

    “Speaking of People”

    In “Speaking of People,” artists cut, collage, and repurpose Ebony and Jet—two magazines launched in the mid–twentieth century for black audiences—to draw attention to representations of race in print. In her inventive sixty-piece grid, DeLuxe, 2004–2005, Ellen Gallagher has added googly eyes, Plasticine, and paint to models’ faces in magazine ads to distort and transform the figures, as well as the promises that they advertise. Lorna Simpson further points to the fantasy of mutability inherent in such images in Riunite & Ice, 2014, a series featuring a floating female head on which she has

  • picks April 28, 2014

    Eleanor Antin

    From 1972 through 1991, Eleanor Antin invented personas of different races, genders, and professions to destabilize any single identity. Her role-playing was then documented in photographs and videos, which are displayed here alongside various props, notably large-scale flattened paper dolls, the companions with whom Antin enacted her performances. The exhibition, guest-curated by Emily Liebert, begins with perhaps the most discomforting of these personas: Eleanora Antinova, an African American ballerina who Antin claims was once a dancer in Diaghilev’s celebrated Ballet Russes, and is now lost

  • picks August 08, 2013

    “(Re)presentaciones: Fotografía Latinoamericana Contemporánea”

    Installed in La Tabacalera, a crumbling former tobacco factory, as part of the PhotoEspaña festival, this exhibition considers the effects of political change on everyday life in Latin America via the traditions of landscape, portraiture, and documentary photography. Several of the fourteen artists on view confront fluctuating political and economic policies, as in Eduardo Giménez’s series “Espacios de control” (Control Spaces), 2011. Giménez critically displays the architecture of Mexico’s new economy through images of large cafeterias filled with empty rectangular tables where workers in new

  • picks June 28, 2013

    “Abstract Generation”

    The artists in “Abstract Generation” update Minimalism’s depersonalized geometry by emphasizing the hand of the artist and playfully engaging with the technology of printmaking. In Ryan Gander’s I’ve Got the Money If You’ve Got the Time, 2011, eighteen lithographs form a block of white pages framed by thick black lines. The black frames are prints of duct tape that the artist had laboriously mounted onto the walls of his studio, revealing the imperfections of the tape while invoking the logic of the grid. Wade Guyton also riffs on the vocabulary of Minimalism by producing an ink-jet print on a

  • picks March 25, 2013

    “PAINT THINGS: Beyond the Stretcher”

    At what point can a painting become sculpture? The deCordova Sculpture Park addresses this question in “PAINT THINGS,” an exhibition that features work by eighteen artists who blur the boundaries between media by incorporating painting into expansive installations, videos, and performances. Jessica Stockholder’s [JS 492], 2009, anchors the show by imposing clashing décor on the gallery’s walls and floors. Loosely parodying a room, she includes a rug, shower curtain, table, and lamp covered in orange plastic, fake fur, copper foil, and daubs of colorful, garish paint, suggesting that paint is

  • picks January 21, 2013

    Mickalene Thomas

    Comprising five glittering, large-scale paintings, Mickalene Thomas’s latest exhibition flaunts both the presence and the absence of her African-American female subjects in boldly patterned domestic interiors. Sandra: She’s a Beauty, 2009, centralizes its sitter, the artist’s mother, whom she posed and photographed amid clashing fabrics and cushions; Thomas then cut and reassembled the photograph into a collage that served as the basis for the painting. Swarovski rhinestones affixed to the canvas accentuate the jewels on Sandra’s arms but also the skin of her neck and the shape of her makeup,

  • picks January 11, 2013

    “Contemporary Cartographies: Drawing Thought”

    By subverting the conventions of mapmaking, the seventy-five artists in “Contemporary Cartographies” imagine new ways of organizing the world. The exhibition begins with maps of Spain made by the royal geographer Tómas López between the 1770s and 1790s, underscoring the map’s foundational purpose, to demarcate territory. Joaquín Torres-García at once reveals and upends the map’s political function in América invertida (America Reversed), 1943, a drawing that reorients Latin America upward to emphasize the importance of the south. Similarly, the Surrealist Map of the World, 1929, which was

  • picks December 28, 2012

    “America in View”

    By mapping the history of landscape as both subject and site for photographers, “America in View” also tracks the establishment of photography as art. The show begins with the work of government surveyors who used photography to control and commemorate history. In George Barnard’s Nashville from the Capitol, 1864–65, the building’s pillars and ornate lights cut into the sky and overlook a hazy cityscape. Exploiting the form’s commercial potential in the 1880s, Henry Hamilton Bennett produced stereographs of the bucolic Wisconsin dells as souvenirs, which you can peer at in the gallery. Pictorialists

  • picks August 24, 2012

    “Revolution Not Televised”

    Drawing its title from Gil Scott-Heron’s 1970 song-poem, the exhibition “revolution not televised” demonstrates how the phrase takes on new meaning in postrevolutionary Cuba. The word Revolución, for instance, is repeated over a thousand pages of a book until it becomes at once monumental and illegible in Reynier Leyva Novo’s Revolución una y mil veces (Revolution a thousand and one times), 2011. Angel Delgado demonstrates that the repression of political art merely begets new practices, as his abstract “Pañuelos” (Handkerchiefs) series, 1999–2000, was made using found materials during his