Mara Hoberman

  • 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

  • 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

    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

  • 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

    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

  • 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 “

  • picks December 03, 2012

    Michael DeLucia

    Michael DeLucia’s latest wall-mounted and freestanding sculptures, collectively titled “Projections,” combine DIY aesthetics (planks of plywood fastened with visible screws) with a high-tech—and, to a certain extent, hands-off—process. Employing a computer-controlled wood router, DeLucia engraves intricate patterns of gouges, which, when painted, create illusions of depth and dimension on the plywood’s raw surface. The results suggest CAD outputs made from construction-site scraps. A hybrid of minimalist sculpture and new media, DeLucia’s work does not fit neatly in either genre.

    Though his

  • slant December 02, 2012

    Mara Hoberman

    AMID GENERAL TIGHTENING of purse strings in Europe, 2012 was a big year for Paris museums. The Palais de Tokyo unveiled a $26 million renovation that tripled its size in April, the Louvre opened a new Islamic wing (its largest expansion since I. M. Pei’s glass pyramids) in September, and “Hopper fever” made the Grand Palais’s retrospective (the American painter’s first in France) a true blockbuster this fall. However, the Musée de l’Art Moderne still has on view the best show of the year. Honoring MAM’s seventieth anniversary, “L’Art en guerre” (Art at War) delivers on its ambitious objective

  • picks November 07, 2012

    Eija-Liisa Ahtila

    A portrait of a tree is a fairly straightforward concept. Realizing this image photographically, Finnish video artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila discovered, is easier said than done. While filming The Annunciation, 2010—wherein an all-female cast rehearses and enacts that biblical scene—Ahtila wanted to include a shot of a single tall tree. This vision, however, proved problematic. At close range her camera would capture only a section of the tree, from afar she would wind up with a landscape, and a wide-angle lens would cause distortion. Her solution, Horizontal, 2011—a lateral presentation of six

  • interviews October 27, 2012

    Loris Gréaud

    The Snorks: A Concert for Creatures is a new twenty-eight-minute film by French artist Loris Gréaud, starring David Lynch and Charlotte Rampling. The film is currently playing on several screens in Paris and will be shown as part of an international concert tour with Anti-Pop Consortium (who created the film’s subaquatic sound track) this fall and winter. Here Gréaud discusses how he came to make a movie about deep sea creatures’ glowing reaction to an underwater hip-hop concert.

    MAKING A HIP-HOP CONCERT FOR SEA CREATURES was an incredible challenge—not least of all I had to explain to my parents

  • picks October 14, 2012

    Charlotte Moth

    Charlotte Moth’s photographs and films emphasize the complex relationship between these media and their subject matters. For Moth—who often shoots her own sculptures, assemblages, and staged events and habitually conducts extensive research before setting her camera in a particular location—content and methodology are as much the medium as a digital or analog capture.

    The titles of the two films on view underscore Moth’s elastic understanding of what constitutes a “final” artwork. The subject of In Unexpected Places, in Unexpected Lights and Colours (a Sculpture Made to be Filmed) (all works

  • picks September 27, 2012

    Pas Encore

    The writing’s on the wall (and hanging from the ceiling, and encased in brick): A conceptual and material exploration of language, the group exhibition “Pas Encore” (Not Yet) addresses the muscle and frailty of the written word.

    Text appears vulnerable and choked in two works by Jorge Méndez Blake. The ragged right edge of his wall painting—whose shape is based on a page of text from T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”—alludes to verse, but the words themselves are concealed. Resembling a horizontal bar graph, the lines of text are rendered as solid blocks. In Monument à T. S. Eliot, 2012, a paperback

  • picks September 17, 2012

    Sophie Ristelhueber

    Sophie Ristelhueber imbues her photographs—typically unpeopled war-torn landscapes and cityscapes—with a sense of humanity that belies her troubling subject matter. Whether dramatic aerial views of Kuwait in the aftermath of the Gulf War (“Fait,” 1992) or close-ups of improvised road blockades in the West Bank (“WB” 2004–2005), Ristelhueber’s images focus on physical evidence in order to emphasize the social ramifications of conflict and disorder.

    In the two series that make up the current exhibition—“Beirut,” 1982–2012, and “Sans titre,” 2011—Ristelhueber uses contrasting methods to

  • picks June 25, 2012

    Amy Sillman

    The centerpiece of Amy Sillman’s first solo exhibition in France is a six-minute digital animation comprising 2,000 drawings, which Sillman made on an iPad, accompanied by a voice-over of the artist reading a 2009 poem by Lisa Robertson. Draft of a voice-over for split screen video loop (all works 2012) reprises Sillman’s signature mix of abstract and representational imagery as well as her luscious candy-colored palette—proving that her skill and style as a painter are well adapted to the new technology of digital finger painting. Marrying two of her preferred subjects—language and sexuality—Sillman’s

  • picks June 04, 2012

    Davide Balula

    By piling several tons of dirt onto the gallery floor and covering the mound with a custom-built deck—upon which visitors are invited to climb and walk—Davide Balula has created a large-scale vivarium in Le Marais—a district whose name translates as “the marsh,” which is exactly what this now chic and gallery-laden Parisian neighborhood was, prior to the twelfth century. Grasses and other weeds have already sprung up through the slatted wood flooring and around its edges, hinting at the fecundity of this historically reminiscent ecosystem. Yet there is more than plant matter germinating here.

  • picks May 29, 2012

    R. Crumb

    As the father of comix, R. Crumb is a near-mythical figure in American counterculture. The illustrated escapades of Mr. Natural, Fritz the Cat, Big Baby, and other memorable characters are droll sociopolitical commentaries that flout American puritanism. From underground comics championing the hippie movement (free love! LSD! women’s lib!), to a solicited yet never published New Yorker cover featuring a hand-holding lesbian couple in front of a squirming marriage license clerk (Marriage License, 2009), Crumb’s style and cultural references are distinctly American. It is not surprising, however,

  • interviews May 11, 2012

    Charles Long

    For Pet Sounds at Madison Square Park, California-based artist Charles Long has installed an interactive installation consisting of colored pipe railings. The project was organized by Madison Square Park Conservancy and will be on view until September 9, 2012.

    I WANTED TO CREATE SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE WOULD LOVE. An artist can use the invitation to make public work as an opportunity to critique mass consumerism, but that kind of critical relationship does not appeal to me. What led me to the idea for Pet Sounds was in fact my connection to pop culture. The title of my project is also the title of

  • interviews March 06, 2012

    Josephine Meckseper

    For the Manhattan Oil Project, the German-born, New York–based artist Josephine Meckseper has installed two twenty-five-foot-tall sculptures inspired by mid-twentieth-century oil pump jacks in The Last Lot, a project space in Times Square organized by Art Production Fund. The project is on view from March 5­ to May 6, 2012.

    THIS IS technically my first large-scale public sculpture. In the 1990s I produced a conceptual magazine, FAT, which was kind of like public art because it was distributed at local newsstands. Similar to the magazine, the oil pumps are art disguised as something real. Both

  • picks February 02, 2012

    Sarah Sze

    Occupying adjacent galleries on the Asia Society’s second floor, eight new installations by Sarah Sze, all from 2011, meet with a selection of her works on paper from the past fifteen years. The juxtaposition of Sze’s installations with her prints, drawings, paper cuttings, and collages flaunts the artist’s fluidity working in both two and three dimensions and highlights the consistency of her peculiar aesthetic despite significant shifts in scale and means of production. In the installations and on paper, Sze’s spiraling vertical landscapes swarm with imagery (representational and invented)

  • picks January 09, 2012

    David Brooks

    There’s a housing crisis in New York City. On a touristy theater district block behind a chain-link fence, an assembly of asphalt-shingled rooftops pokes up from the ground. No windows, doors, or signs of inhabitants are visible at street level, but the distinctive peaks summon up the negative associations of suburban sprawl. At first glance, the odd perspective—confronting roofs head-on instead of from below—is pleasantly disorienting, offering Midtown pedestrians a Jack and the Beanstalk moment.

    David Brooks’s Desert Rooftops, 2011, is the first installation to grace the Last Lot, an otherwise