Mara Hoberman

  • Zhenya Machneva

    Zhenya Machneva uses a Finnish Varpapuu floor loom and colorful cotton, linen, and synthetic yarns to create detailed renderings of machinery she has observed and covertly photographed in derelict factories or abandoned industrial ports in and around her native Saint Petersburg—still Leningrad when she was born there in 1988. The artist’s interest in such sites is both personal and political. Having long admired factories from afar, Machneva first stepped inside one in 2012 to visit her grandfather at the now defunct Krasnaya Zarya (Red Dawn) telephone factory. She was struck by what she perceived

  • slant May 12, 2020

    Letter from Paris

    THE LOUVRE was the first to go. On March 1, the world’s most-attended art museum (averaging 15,000 visitors per day) went dark after some three hundred staff members walked out over concerns about the transmission of Covid-19. Although this initial closure lasted only three days, by March 14, the museum had announced it was shuttering again—this time indefinitely, in accordance with the government-ordered nationwide shutdown of all nonessential businesses in France.

    After more than eight weeks of lockdown, France is poised to begin loosening its strict stay-at-home orders. Starting Monday May

  • David Salle

    The eleven recent large-scale paintings in David Salle’s exhibition “Self-Ironing Pants and Other Paintings” featured dapper gentlemen and dolled-up dames. These cavorting protagonists were copied from Peter Arno cartoons originally published in the New Yorker and dating from the 1920s through the ’60s, but Salle rid the cartoons of their editorial bent, scaling up, cropping, splicing, and rotating Arno’s bold-stroked satires of American café society and adding color and consumerism to the mix. He complements Arno’s grisaille vignettes with vibrant images appropriated from midcentury advertisements:

  • Farah Atassi

    For more than a decade, Farah Atassi has painted imaginary interiors that range from mundane tiled bathrooms to exotic patterned tepees and fanciful Mondrian-inspired playrooms. United by a compressed depth of field that the artist achieves via her dizzyingly masterful subjection of geometric motifs to one-point perspective, Atassi’s paintings have also, until recently, been unpopulated. Her latest exhibition, which comprised more than a dozen paintings made between 2017 and 2019, showed Cubist-style figures and musical instruments occupying her signature shallow spaces.

    Atassi cites Picasso as

  • “Silke Otto-Knapp: In the waiting room”

    Curated by Solveig Øvstebø

    Joining the likes of Florine Stettheimer, Trisha Brown, and Yvonne Rainer, the Russian protofeminist painter, performance artist, and costume designer Natalia Goncharova is the latest female avant-gardist to have inspired Los Angeles–based artist Silke Otto-Knapp. The five new multipanel watercolors in the show, several of which feature silhouettes of female dancers, allude to Goncharova’s affiliation with the Ballets Russes. Incorporated into a multidimensional installation of temporary walls—a stage set of sorts—these large-scale paintings of intimate backstage moments

  • Louis Fratino

    Albissola Marina, on the Italian Riviera, has a near-mythic reputation in the history of ceramics. An important center of production since the fifteenth century, the Ligurian town became a hub for avant-gardists in the twentieth century, when the likes of Lucio Fontana, Asger Jorn, Wifredo Lam, and Piero Manzoni came to it and created sculptures from clay. Albissola—with its many in situ examples of radical and traditional pottery—recently provided a change of scenery for the New York–based American painter Louis Fratino, who spent a month in residency at the local ceramic center Studio Ernan

  • picks December 10, 2019

    Golnaz Payani

    In her first solo show at this gallery, Golnaz Payani deftly—in some cases, defiantly—uses embroidery techniques and tools to alternately conceal, reveal, and subvert traditional Persian motifs. Working on paper, canvas, linen, or soft mesh, the Iranian-French artist adds or subtracts threads to evoke floral and geometric patterns. For L’Ombre en lin (The Linen Shade) (all works 2019), Payani painstakingly removed vertical strands from linen canvas to create a frayed Gol-O-Morgh (flowers and birds) design at the center of the composition. Whereas this paradisal Persian motif is typically rendered

  • Sylvie Auvray

    Sylvie Auvray, who divides her time between Los Angeles and Paris, adds hints of Finish Fetish gloss to what can otherwise be described as raw and rugged, art informel–inspired paintings and sculptures, managing to channel the likes of Jean Fautrier and Kenneth Price at once. Her recent show “Les Cambuses” (The Shacks) featured lowly misshapen ceramic animals, convex graffiti-style paintings on plaster overlaid with resin, and ordinary brooms transformed into mystical scepters thanks to elaborate ceramic handles. The peculiar dichotomy of Auvray’s simultaneously crude and finessed oeuvre is

  • Bernard Frize

    Rules can set you free. This credo has defined Bernard Frize’s practice for more than forty years, leading him to design various systems, protocols, and restraints intended to rid his paintings of self-expression. To this end, Frize has, for previous bodies of work, engaged assistants in an intimate choreography whereby six hands worked together, used multiple brushes to map out all the possible moves for a knight on a chessboard, and stretched up dried “skin” harvested from a large basin filled with gallons of house paint. The results of such techniques—mostly large, colorful abstractions—were

  • picks June 28, 2019

    Annette Messager

    Soft, colorful, and haunting, Annette Messager’s latest sculptures are made from sleeping bags, puffer jackets, and quilts. Collectively titled “Sleeping Songs,” 2017–19, these mostly wall-mounted works have been folded, pinned, draped, and sewn in ways that suggest various anatomical forms—including many whose central droopy cowled openings are undeniably vaginal. In addition to playing with existing elements like hoods, sleeves, and zippers in order to reinforce her materials’ human scale and functionality, Messager incorporates one or more pairs of black acrylic hands into each sculpture.

  • Emma McMillan

    Emma McMillan’s first show in Paris comprised six moody nocturnes completed during the Bronx, New York–based painter’s recent three-month residency in the City of Light. Rendered almost entirely in shades of blue, the artist’s murky imagery slowly revealed itself to include interiors, cityscapes, and a portrait. Semiabstract compositions ultimately turned out to depict windowed rooms, a staircase, a skyscraper, a bridge, and a face.

    The title of the show, “Bleu de Prusse” (Prussian Blue), singled out just one of the many azure hues in McMillan’s palette. Fittingly, this vibrant synthetic pigment,

  • David LaChapelle

    A flight of stairs pointedly separated two dramatically different visions in David LaChapelle’s recent exhibition “Letter to the World.” On the gallery’s ground floor, verdant landscapes and colorful nymphs (all drawn from the artist’s experimental roots and noncommercial work) evoked a paradise lost, while a much darker scene unfolded in the basement (composed of more noncommercial work, in addition to LaChapelle’s better-known, iconic portraits of David Bowie, Miley Cyrus, and Lil’ Kim, among others). Among the twenty-nine pieces in the enchanted ground-floor hanging, seven were from the 1980s,

  • Alain Bublex

    The unexpected inspiration for Alain Bublex’s recent homage to American landscape painting is First Blood (1982), the original John Rambo movie, a film cowritten by, and famously starring, Sylvester Stallone. For the French artist—whose interest in Americana previously inspired works such as the Ryder Project, 1999, a caravan of moving trucks that crossed the United States, and “Buy Steel,” 2006–, a series of photographs documenting depressed industrial landscapes in the Ohio Valley—the movie’s provincial setting of Hope, Washington (though the film was actually shot in Canada), recalled the

  • Ouattara Watts

    Ouattara Watts left the Ivory Coast in 1977 to study painting at Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts before settling in New York in 1988. He has since shown regularly in Europe and the US, but until two recent concurrent exhibitions in Abidjan—“Before Looking at this Work, Listen to It,” at Galerie Cécile Fakhoury, and “Get Ready,” a survey of works dating from 2009 to 2018 at the Rotonde des Arts Contemporains—Watts had never had a solo show in his native country. Galerie Fakhoury showcased the artist’s latest work, presenting fourteen paintings from 2018—expressionistic compositions rife with references

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat

    This exhibition, curated by Dieter Buchhart in collaboration with the Brant Foundation, gathers an impressive 120 of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings, sculptures, and drawings, the majority of which have never before been exhibited in Europe. The inclusion of so many unfamiliar works (more than a few masterpieces among them) gives the retrospective a rare freshness and underscores the contemporary resonance of Basquiat’s oeuvre. Thirty years after the artist’s death, his heroic portraits of African American musicians and athletes, countered by disturbing evocations of racism, poverty, and police

  • Amélie Bertrand

    “Naked Light,” Amélie Bertrand’s recent exhibition of oil paintings and digital prints, depicted Miami Deco-style architectures in ersatz tropical settings. Works in both mediums featured colorful compositions of stone fountains and porticos, palm trees, ferns, and fruit bowls lit by pink and yellow florescent bulbs. Given the blunt artificiality of these particular scenes, it’s no surprise that Bertrand conceives them on a computer using Photoshop and images sourced from the internet. What was unexpected, however, is how well her paintings—even more than the digital prints—evoke the

  • picks October 16, 2018

    Isabelle Cornaro

    At first glance, the works in Isabelle Cornaro’s current exhibition could be mistaken for Minimalist paintings and sculptures. Pairing large wooden rectangles redolent of Robert Morris’s cubes and beams with paintings whose rusty tones evoke Richard Serra’s signature slabs of oxidized steel, Cornaro flirts with notions of objectivity and monumentality. Ultimately, however, the artist is less concerned with these Minimalist tropes than with subverting conventional modes of display and studio practice.  

    Of the five gray or mauve spray-painted plinths here, one is left bare while the rest are

  • Caroline Achaintre

    “Duo Infernal_,_”the first solo show in France for the French-born, London-based artist Caroline Achaintre, included woolen wall hangings, glazed ceramic sculptures, and psychedelic watercolors set against pink-accented walls. Borrowed from a 1982 song by the German punk band Extrabreit and Marianne Rosenberg, the exhibition’s title served as a reminder of the essential role that duality plays in Achaintre’s oeuvre. The artist’s consistently contradictory works appear at once functional and decorative, earthly and otherworldly, abstract and figurative. Like a Rubin’s vase illustration where the

  • Elsa Sahal

    Though the title “Elsa Sahal des origins à nos jours” (Elsa Sahal from the Origins to Today) suggests a historical survey, the fifteen large-scale ceramic sculptures on view in Sahal’s recent exhibition were all made this year. Featuring an installation of primordial-looking sculptures arranged on a dark, sand-dusted platform, the show evoked origins of a different sort. In addition to providing a telluric mise-en-scène, the curvaceous room——filling stage represented the artist’s latest experiment with how to display sculpture. Having previously skewered headless humanoid forms on

  • picks May 21, 2018

    Daniel Turner

    Working with salvaged materials, Daniel Turner has transformed psychiatric-hospital sinks, restaurant-kitchen appliances, and other old machinery and fixtures into sleek geometric cast-metal sculptures. Belying their minimalist aesthetic, Turner’s soulful reincarnations are rife with historical, political, and personal connotations. The suite of works presented here was made using I-beams removed from the exhibition venue during a recent renovation project. Turner’s sculptures are accompanied by a selection of archival materials that trace the evolution of the site, which was originally built