Mara Hoberman

  • Joana Vasconcelos, A Noiva (The Bride), 2001–2005, OB tampons, stainless steel, cotton thread, steel cables, 19' 8“ x 9' 10”.
    picks August 13, 2013

    Joana Vasconcelos

    Using unexpectedly quotidian materials—from plastic cutlery to tampons—Joana Vasconcelos creates grandiose sculptures that critique and invigorate their environments. Following her redecoration of the Château de Versailles in 2012, the Paris-born, Lisbon-based artist’s current exhibition takes over a similarly ostentatious setting—the nineteenth-century Ajuda National Palace in Lisbon—with thirty-eight sculptures made over the past twelve years.

    Riffing on the decor and function of the palace’s Sala de Mármore—designed as a Victorian-style winter garden with alabaster walls and floors—Vasconcelos

  • View of “Pierre Ardouvin,” 2013.
    picks August 07, 2013

    Pierre Ardouvin

    In the mid-1990s, French anthropologist Marc Augé coined the term nonlieu (nonplace) to refer to nondescript settings like supermarkets and airport terminals wherein one experiences an eerie combination of déjà vu and alienation. Evoking a similarly odd mix of familiarity and foreignness, Pierre Ardouvin’s oeuvre could be described as a series of nonlieux. But whereas Augé’s nonplaces are real-world banalities, Ardouvin’s paintings, drawings, sculptures, and installations are Lewis Carroll–esque limbos that mingle reality, collective memory, and pure fantasy.

    Ardouvin opens this exhibition in

  • View of “Kiki, Seton, and Tony Smith,” 2013. Foreground: Kiki Smith, Born, 2002. Background: Kiki Smith, Dusk, 2009.
    picks July 08, 2013

    “Kiki, Seton, and Tony Smith”

    Honoring the centennial of Tony Smith’s birth in 1912, a retrospective juxtaposing his work with that of his two daughters—contemporary artists Kiki Smith and Seton Smith—has been touring Europe. After two stops in Germany (Kunsthalle Bielefeld and Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz), this family affair is now on view at Toulouse’s Les Abattoirs, a former slaughterhouse whose soaring ceilings and brick arcades provide a dramatic setting for Smith senior’s monumental sculpture.

    In addition to celebrating Smith’s mature Minimalist style—epitomized here by Cigarette, 1961, a fifteen-foot-tall polygonal

  • Julia Rometti and Victor Costales, roca | azul | jacinto | marino | errante (rock | blue | hyacinth | navy | errant), 2013, concrete tiles, dye,volcanic rocks, 12 5/8 x 78 3/4 x 118 1/8".

    Julia Rometti and Victor Costales

    Julia Rometti and Victor Costales’s exhibition “El Perspectivista” was born of a sociological and philosophical exploration of what the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro calls “Amerindian Perspectivism,” a naturalist worldview wherein animals, plants, spirits, and humans are understood to apprehend the same reality from different points of view. The resulting body of work includes black-and-white photographs, projected slide comparisons, zine-like photocopied pamphlets, volcanic rocks, and concrete tiles. Emphasizing the quasi-scientific nature of their practice, Rometti and

  • Nancy Rubins, Monochrome for Paris, 2013, stainless steel and aluminum, 40 x 50 x 40’. Photo: Erich Koyama.
    interviews May 13, 2013

    Nancy Rubins

    Just steps from the Seine, a tangled mass of aluminum rowboats, kayaks, and canoes arches across a typically busy courtyard on l’Université Paris Diderot’s campus. Echoing the steely gray Parisian skies under which it was unveiled this spring, Nancy Rubins’s largest public project in France is also her first permanent commission for the capital. While directing the crane-maneuvered installation, Rubins spoke about how Monochrome for Paris, 2013, came to be.

    ALMOST FOUR YEARS AGO, I was approached by the city of Paris through curators tasked with commissioning public sculptures to honor the city’s

  • Jockum Nordström, Jag var en dålig hund (I Was a Bad Dog), 2012. Collage, aquarelle and graphite on paper, 56 x 44".
    picks April 15, 2013

    Jockum Nördstrom

    Son of an art professor, graduate of the Konstfack (Sweden’s largest art school), and married to painter Karin Mamma Andersson, Jockum Nördstrom is no outsider artist. However, because of his naive-style drawings and collages, he’s often compared to the likes of Henry Darger and Vojislav Jakic. It is fitting, then, that his first museum survey in France is at the LaM, home to the country’s largest public collection of art brut. Spanning eighteen years, this comprehensive exhibition brings together over eighty drawings, collages, and sculptures.

    Like Darger’s scrolls, Nördstrom’s works on paper

  • Merlin James, House in Marshes, 2011, mixed media on MDF, 23 5/8 x 31 1/8".

    Merlin James

    Spanning more than fifteen years, the twenty-one works collected in Merlin James’s exhibition “Painting” epitomize his signature blend of dizzyingly diverse subjects, styles, and techniques. From a faux-naive still life with bird rendered in thick earth tones, Male Bird (Pecking), 2008–11, to a minimalist study in turquoise just barely suggesting architecture (Building, 2008); from Untitled, 2009, a gritty close-up of a sex act, to Burn and Grotto, ca. 2000–2009, an abstract diptych that has been burned, punctured, and collaged, James—an art critic as well as a painter—is consistent

  • View of “Julio Le Parc,” 2013.
    picks March 14, 2013

    Julio Le Parc

    For the past half century, Julio Le Parc has created disorienting and elating sensorial experiences by manipulating light and reflection with kinetic constructions. The entry to the artist’s largest-ever survey in France is via a dense forest of suspended full-length mirrors. Navigating through Passage-cellule agrandie du labyrinth de 1963 (Cell-Passage Enlargement of the 1963 Maze), 1963–2013, the viewer is besieged by his own undulating, infinitely reflected image—and thereby initiated into a dual role as spectator and active participant.

    Never straying far from a basic recipe of mirrors,

  • Amélie Bertrand, Untitled, 2012, oil on canvas, 27 1/2 x 23 5/8".

    Amélie Bertrand

    Featuring a limited palette of matte oil paints, whose saturated hues channel something of the bright, flat light of David Hockney’s Los Angeles poolscapes, Amélie Bertrand’s surrealist environments are as enticing as they are disconcerting. An odd assortment of cartoonish motifs including blank tombstones, redbrick walls, velvety sandpits, white lattice fencing, Astro turf mounds, and crenellated ramparts characterize an unpopulated terrain that is distinctly artificial, yet appealingly familiar. But alluring though they may be, these pictures are not portals. Bertrand keeps the viewer at

  • Július Koller, Time-Space Defining Psycho-Physical Activity of Material - Tennis (Antihappening), 1968, black-and-white photo, 7 1/2 x 7".
    picks February 14, 2013

    “Une brève histoire des lignes”

    Writing in 1926, Wassily Kandinsky defined “line” as a force that “hurls itself upon the point which is digging its way into the surface, tears it out and pushes it about the surface in one direction or another.” This energetic description, along with illustrations from the didactic illustrated book in which it first appeared, Punkt und Linie zu Fläche (Point and Line to Plane), ushers us into the Centre Pompidou Metz’s sweeping investigation of the form and function of line in modern and contemporary art.

    Culled from the Pompidou’s permanent collection, the Metz survey boasts an impressive roster

  • Elsa Sahal, Acrobate, 2012, ceramic, synthetic hair, 63 x 25 1/2 x 26".

    Elsa Sahal

    Over the past decade, French ceramicist Elsa Sahal has conceived a universe where ostensible contradictions—abstraction versus figuration, male versus female, adorable versus abject—are reconciled into a variety of unsettling biomorphic forms. In her most recent exhibition, Sahal expanded her repertoire of tubular phalluses and thick-lipped orifices dribbled with syrupy glazes, creating two new breeds of large-scale androgynous figures. Explicitly corporeal, if not always blatantly figural, the sculptures are perhaps best described as bodies of clay—insistently of and about their

  • Mathieu Mercier, Pantone 71, 3M-15M, 2012, impression on Baryté paper, 61 x 43".
    picks December 21, 2012

    “Seuls quelques fragments de nous toucheront quelques fragments d’autrui”

    Befitting the author of the show’s title—a poem by Marilyn Monroe (who knew?!)—this survey of contemporary collage is stylish and star-studded. And like Monroe, who struggled to be taken seriously in spite of her sex appeal, this exhibition’s intelligent curatorial conceit is nearly outshone by its own dazzling design.

    Aspects of the installation, which commingles work by thirty-six artists made across a wide range of media over the past two decades, are downright deco. John Armleder’s red jellyfish mural (Semaeostomeae VII, 2005) suggests patterned wallpaper opposite Walead Beshty’s gleaming “