Margaret Ewing

  • Esther Kläs, Random Beauty, 2021, wood, fabric, glue, bronze, 40 × 53 × 25".

    Esther Kläs

    Sublimely spare, the six sculptures and three drawings in Esther Kläs’s exhibition here transformed the gallery into a zone of tranquility, imbued with a simplicity and quietude that were a soothing balm for the relentless onslaught of information and experience that defines life in New York City. The airy, sensitively balanced configuration of elements highlighted the artist’s obsessions with space and surface while making evident her clear delight in materials. The installation of the objects—created from various metals, wood, concrete, and paper—seemed site-specific, the quality giving the

  • Brenda Goodman, Self-Portrait 1, 1974, oil and mixed media on canvas, 60 × 48".

    Brenda Goodman

    In Brenda Goodman’s painting Self-Portrait 4A, 1994, a cream-colored tank of a figure with spindly arms stares out blankly at the viewer as it stuffs mysterious colorful objects into its monstrous mouth. A little scary and immensely captivating, the image set the stage for this compact eight-work retrospective that offered us a glimpse into Goodman’s prolific five-decade career. The artist’s nude, semi-Surrealistic self-portraits reveal the longtime engagement she’s had with her own body, one provoked by the psychological impact of her battles with fluctuating weight and self-perception. Loosely

  • Beauford Delaney, James Baldwin, 1967, oil on canvas, 39 1⁄4 × 31 3⁄4".

    Beauford Delaney

    With their intimate scale and close cropping, the nineteen late-career portraits at the center of this small Beauford Delaney survey seemed to conjure up the individuals who surrounded the artist in his adopted home of Paris. Simply composed, paintings such as Untitled (Portrait of a Young Man), ca. 1963, in which a brown-skinned model is set within a background of brilliant-yellow impasto, indicate that portraiture was Delaney’s mode for luscious experimentation with rich color and thickly applied paint. The man’s unguarded expression, an essential feature of the most captivating of these works,

  • Janaina Tschäpe, Blue Moon, 2021, casein, oil stick, and oil pastel on canvas, 9' 8" × 12' 11".

    Janaina Tschäpe

    Symphonic constellations of velvety color swirled over and through the six paintings in Janaina Tschäpe’s solo exhibition here. Immediately commanding attention, they constituted the artist’s response to the drama of nature as experienced during the pandemic lockdowns, first in the countryside near São Paulo, and then in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Whereas the theme of the elements has run through much of her art, these works, alongside seven accompanying drawings, departed from earlier allusions to the lushness and beauty of the outdoors in favor of a focus on its power, in particular

  • Hans Haacke in Frankfurt, 1976

    IN ADVANCE of federal elections, the interior ministers of the West German states, in cooperation with Chancellor Willy Brandt, who was fighting to be reelected, issued a Radikalenerlass (Decree Against Radicals) in January 1972 as part of an anticommunist agenda to root out security risks. With the country in political crisis, the law made civil-service applicants the targets of domestic intelligence investigation by the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) and was the latest official move to counter fears inflamed by increasingly violent

  • View of “Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt: Tender Love Among the Junk,” 2012–13.
    picks February 28, 2013

    Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt

    In 1968, drag queen Ethel Dull started leading tours of a sparkling fairyland crafted in an apartment-cum-studio on the Lower East Side of New York. Inspired by power collector Ethel Scull, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt’s alter ego gave entrée to a private world brilliantly fashioned from dime store materials—glitter, plastic wrap, tinsel, and foil—a world where being gay and Catholic need not be in conflict. This survey exhibition, Lanigan-Schmidt’s largest to date, offers collages and installations in a sanctuary-like display dominated by vivid color and fanciful ornamentation. Remade in 2012, The

  • Eli Weinberg, Crowd Near the Drill Hall on the Opening Day of the Treason Trial, 1956, gelatin silver print, dimensions variable.
    picks November 05, 2012

    “Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life”

    Some twenty years after apartheid’s unraveling, Okwui Enwezor’s latest curatorial offering proposes a reassessment of the photography of apartheid and explores its key role in the resistance movement. Highlighting the work of South African photographers, the show presents not only familiar scenes of violent oppression (though these remain among the most affecting) but also examines less acute images of the struggle, including early nonviolent street protests as well as the pervasion of race-based separation and inequality in every aspect of South African society.

    With almost five hundred photographs,

  • Alec Soth, 2008_08zl0215, 2008, color photograph, dimensions variable.
    picks March 07, 2012

    Alec Soth

    Alec Soth’s first show at Sean Kelly following his departure last year from Gagosian presents about half of the fifty photographs that make up “Broken Manual,” 2006–10, a series that originated in Soth’s preoccupation with the idea of escape. It is, as he puts it, “about the desire to run away and the knowledge that you can’t.” The “Manual” of the series’ title, a volume supposedly penned by Soth’s alter ego and available as a limited edition catalogue, is a homemade-looking primer on how to disappear and includes instructions ranging from disguise techniques (long hair is preferred) to how to

  • Phil Collins, This Unfortunate Thing Between Us, 2011, still from a live TV broadcast, 60 minutes.

    Phil Collins

    What if the humdrum schlock of home-shopping programs were replaced with offers to participate in actual experiences? What if, for the “special introductory offer” price of 9.99, you could buy a role in a fantasy sequence on live television? Leaving the isolated comfort of your living room, you would travel to Berlin (transportation and accommodation included) to star in one of three scenes: Stasi-style interrogation, queer Victorian-era porno play, or lying in your own hospital deathbed surrounded by family members, whom you tell once and for all how much you really hate them. So went the

  • Larissa Fassler, Place de la Concorde I, 2011, pen on paper, 54 1/2 x 75 1/2".

    Larissa Fassler

    Produced in the wake of Nicolas Sarkozy’s scandalous move in July 2010 to “clean up” France by closing down Roma camps and orchestrating large-scale deportations, Larissa Fassler’s recent exhibition explored inequities in Parisian life by asking how and how freely individuals may navigate public spaces, and investigating the politics of failed urban planning. Sarkozy’s policy was evidence, even before the mass killings in Norway this summer, that Europe is again burdened with xenophobia-tinged questions of national identity. With drawings and sculptures, Fassler foregrounded perspectives on the

  • Dor Guez, Samira, Lod Ghetto, a Year After 1948 (detail), 2010, 23 5/8 x 29 1/2". From the series “Scanograms #1,” 2010.

    Dor Guez

    Coming days after the Israeli cabinet’s vote to require non-Jews seeking citizenship to affirm Israel as a Jewish state, Dor Guez’s artist’s talk on the occasion of his first major European exhibition proved critical to understanding the significance of his work. Even as the Jerusalem-born artist declared his video- and photography-based project to be more historical than political, the audience’s impassioned engagement with questions of identity politics that evening confirmed that a part of this work’s power lies in its capacity to stir conversation and debate. In tracing a narrative of the

  • El Anatsui, Ozone Layer and Yam Mounds, 2010, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks August 26, 2010

    “Who Knows Tomorrow”

    In the competition for a place in public memory, Berlin’s colonial history has lost out to the cold war and the Holocaust. While the city is seasoned in displaying certain shards of its fraught twentieth century, this exhibition of contemporary African art exposes the continual absence of visual traces of Berlin’s colonial ties. Extending across four branches of Berlin’s sweeping museum network, “Who Knows Tomorrow” foregrounds commercial paths between Europe and Africa, with works inspired by the very products of these exchanges.

    Yinka Shonibare’s Scramble for Africa, 2003, reenacts the 1884–85