Mara Hoberman

  • 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

  • picks December 18, 2011

    “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”

    This lively show features nine artists whose work references or engages directly with various systems of correspondence, such as telegram, FedEx, and e-mail. The pieces range from illustrated and collaged envelopes to handmade postcards to an abstract interpretation of a Twitter feed. The selection, which spans the past six decades, reveals the impact of technology on written communication and also demonstrates the influence of mail art, the genre Ray Johnson is credited with fathering in the 1960s, on artists who wrestle with issues of temporality, intentionality, and authorship.

    The earliest

  • picks December 14, 2011

    Harry Callahan

    Harry Callahan began making photographs in 1938, at the age of twenty-six, teaching himself to use a camera while working as an accounting clerk for General Motors in Detroit. The one hundred–some photographs brought together in honor of the upcoming centenary of his birth (in 1912) represent six decades of informal, yet iconic, portraits of America. Despite the unavoidably nostalgic imagery of Callahan’s early streetscapes and quotidian scenes (ladies in gloves, men in hats, classic cars), his photographs are remarkably timeless. Their freshness owes to Callahan’s consistent experimentation,

  • picks October 13, 2011

    Alexandra Bircken

    Twigs, steel, rope, mortar, and leather are Alexandra Bircken’s materials of choice for her second solo show in New York. The limited earth-toned palette represents a stark departure from her recent colorful knit installations—a new direction that draws due attention to her sculptures’ organic forms and haptic qualities.

    Bircken’s interest in the activity and texture of knitting is unremitting. The most interesting piece on view is Twitter (all works 2011), the result of a collaboratiion with Thomas Brinkmann. The work began with a performance on the opening night of the show, in which Bircken

  • picks July 22, 2011

    Marc Swanson

    This small but impactful exhibition offers a seductive sampling of Marc Swanson’s work from the past four years. The well-edited selection manages to show off Swanson’s fluid range of materials and to introduce several visual and conceptual motifs, which transcend his greater body of work. Using diverse media including mirrors, wooden beams, lightbulbs, and collage, Swanson references his own personal history as well as more universal themes including fractured self-image, masculine stereotypes, and voyeurism/exhibitionism.

    Networks of overlapping and intersecting lines (one of Swanson’s most

  • picks May 04, 2011

    Eva Rothschild

    Eva Rothschild’s debut US public art commission, Empire, 2011, is a twenty-foot-tall multidirectional archway perched at the threshold of bustling Midtown Manhattan and the city’s largest green expanse. Until late summer, the structure’s ten welded steel tentacles—painted in alternating bands of red, green, and black—will straddle Doris C. Freedman Plaza (named for New York City’s first director of cultural affairs, founder of the Public Art Fund) at the southeast entrance to Central Park.

    Empire provides a graceful physical and psychological gateway between two very different, but equally iconic,

  • interviews April 27, 2011

    Jonathan Lippincott

    Jonathan Lippincott is the author of Large Scale: Fabricating Sculpture in the 1960s and 1970s, a book published by Princeton Architectural Press that chronicles the formative years of Lippincott, the first industrial-style fabrication plant to collaborate exclusively with artists. Illustrated with photographs from the Lippincott archive—many of which have never before been published—the book gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creation of some of the most iconic public artworks in the US. He will discuss the book at the School of Visual Arts on Thursday, April 28.


  • picks March 08, 2011

    Hiraki Sawa

    Hiraki Sawa’s second solo show at this gallery is a multimedia meditation on temporality and texture. Sawa introduces these motifs in “Wax,” 2010–11, a series of twenty-four drawings in the gallery’s front room. These delicate pencil renderings of intricately mottled orbs, precise sections of which have been copiously erased, represent the waning and waxing phases of the lunar cycle. A composite portrait of time and a study of form and texture, this series sets the tone for the exhibition’s title piece: a complex and dreamy video-sound installation in the next room.

    O, 2009, is an immersive

  • picks December 16, 2010

    “EINFLUSS: 8 from Düsseldorf”

    “Introducing the Next Wave from Germany” is an ambitious, but deserved, subtitle for the eight-artist show Todd Hosfelt has assembled out of Düsseldorf’s ever-fertile Kunstakademie. The exhibition (consisting only of paintings save for two installations by Luka Fineisen) juxtaposes a range of styles, subjects, and perspectives. Ultimately, it is the artists’ shared technical talent and palpable appreciation for painting’s storied history that unify them as a “wave.” Their skill and conceptual sophistication with regard to painting owe, in no small part, to the tutelage of masters including

  • picks October 07, 2010

    Roman Signer

    Fans of Roman Signer’s “experiments” will not be disappointed by his new antics in “Four Rooms, One Artist,” his latest exhibition, wherein inanimate objects are subjected to unpredictable natural forces. Presented as a three-channel video projection, Shirt, 2010; Two Umbrellas, Iceland, 2009; and Office Chair, 2010, are set in a forest, a meadow, and a stream, respectively. The results—a ghostlike collared shirt fluttering through tall trees; a pair of conjoined umbrellas dancing in gale-force winds; and a swivel chair spinning haplessly in a gentle current—are droll and poignant portraits of

  • picks February 18, 2010

    “The Graphic Unconscious”

    This ambitious five-venue exhibition brings together thirty-five artists who incorporate prints or printmaking into a wide array of styles and practices. The highlight of the exhibition (itself part of Philadelphia’s citywide festival “Philagrafika 2010”) is at Morris and Fisher Brooks Galleries at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and features Christiane Baumgartner, Mark Bradford, Orit Hofshi, Pepón Osorio, Kiki Smith, Qiu Zhijie, and the artist collective Tromarama. The show encourages a broadened definition of printmaking, one that takes into account digital reproduction technology

  • picks December 05, 2009

    Gego and Chiharu Shiota

    This exhibition is thoughtfully conceived as a discourse between two women from different generations who hail from diverse backgrounds and artistic perspectives and who never met. The artists, Gego (Gertrude Goldschmidt, 1912–1994) and Chiharu Shiota, are ostensibly brought together because of affinities in their work, notably their use of three-dimensional linear elements (wire and string, respectively) to create latticed sculptural formations. However, it is the distinctions in the juxtaposition, rather than the broad similarities, that make for the true dynamism of the pairing.

    Titled “Drawn

  • picks September 24, 2009

    Nicolai Howalt

    Nicolai Howalt’s 2009 photographic series “Car Crash Studies” is shockingly vivid and startlingly poetic. His images of cars wrecked in severe accidents, many presumably fatal, examine the horror of high-speed collision from a variety of perspectives. Close-ups of dented and scratched sheet metal are initially disorienting—the photographs’ large formats and tight crops make it impossible to identify which part of the car is on display. Jagged scratches, shiny reflections, and crude crumples rhythmically punctuate saturated metallic hues in these unnervingly aestheticized abstractions.

    Other works

  • picks September 11, 2009

    Dan Shaw-Town

    “Drawings” is a deceptive, if challenging, title for Dan Shaw-Town’s first solo exhibition in New York. The five untitled works on view (all 2009) feature pieces of paper copiously coated with a lustrous layer of graphite and incorporating additional media such as spray paint, enamel, and found objects. Only one piece is hung flush against the wall; the rest are displayed as sculpture—shimmering dark gray folded sheets resting either directly on the floor or on unorthodox wall mounts such as clothes hangers or a simple cardboard shelf.

    Shaw-Town’s graphite burnishing technique transforms plain

  • picks August 20, 2009

    Annick Ligtermoet

    Questions about authenticity undoubtedly come to mind when considering contemporary photography. In the case of Dutch photographer Annick Ligtermoet’s New York solo debut, “De Verontrustende Wereld” (The Uncanny World), such speculation is complicated not only by the vintage aura of her black-and-white and muted color photographs but also by their presentation alongside aged private objects.

    The installation suggests a dissected scrapbook or keepsake box transposed onto gallery walls. Nostalgic items such as a diary, hairpins, and a vanity mirror are displayed in several wall-mounted vitrines