Martha Schwendener

  • Rob Fischer

    Despite the widespread reverence among younger artists for Robert Smithson’s art and writing, it’s rare to encounter someone who wears his mantle as snugly as Rob Fischer. The notion of entropy (technically a measure of the disorder that exists in a system), a Smithson buzzword, is used frequently in descriptions of Fischer’s project. But in this show the artist hewed even closer to another Smithsonian concept, that of excavation.

    Visitors to Cohan and Leslie were greeted by Altar (all works 2004–2005), a twenty-four-foot rusted fabricated dumpster turned on its end to create a threshold or

  • picks May 17, 2005

    Neo Rauch

    Jamaica Kincaid once said of her native Antigua that it is a place where the past feels like the present and the present often feels like the past. You get the same sense looking at the work of Neo Rauch, whose latest painterly conflations embrace the history of Germany on an even more epic scale than his earlier ones. Using his signature Pop-cum-Social Realist-cum-Surrealist style, he compresses figures representing Old and New Germany, East and West, into spatially irrational compositions. The Romantic brooding of Goethe and Friedrich collides with Communist ennui; the heroic worker is replaced

  • picks May 16, 2005

    Miranda Lichtenstein

    Miranda Lichtenstein's new photographs portray young, educated, contemporary Westerners' quest for enlightenment and healing outside traditional avenues (like organized religion). Each photo represents a potential path: meditation, shamanism, sensory-deprivation, yoga/pilates, and so on. Interestingly, the pictures are so stylistically various that it's as if a different photographer had taken each one. In the same way earlier generations ushered in large-scale color prints and unprecedented intimacy, Lichtenstein, along with peers like Roe Ethridge, is bent on breaking the current model and

  • picks May 16, 2005

    Aïda Ruilova

    The newest twist on the old “what is art?” chestnut appears to be: What constitutes an installation as opposed to an exhibition of discrete objects? Aïda Ruilova’s latest show raises the question with five monitors showing thirteen- to nineteen-second snippets of people saying “uh oh” or “um” or “alright,” cut and looped and displayed intermittently on separate monitors, so that the action seems to jump rhythmically around the room. The references to avant-garde editing styles—Steve Reich’s early tape works like It’s Gonna Rain, 1965, or the jump cuts of Godard—and music are overt. More interesting,

  • picks May 04, 2005

    Matthew Buckingham and Joachim Koester

    As in Matthew Buckingham’s most recent film, which centers on the Hudson River and its “discovery” by European explorers, his collaboration with Joachim Koester, Sandra of the Tuliphouse or How to Live in a Free State, 2001, moves laterally rather than chronologically through history. The subject here is the anarchistic “free city” of Christiania in Copenhagen, colonized in 1971 by squatters who broke into an abandoned seventeenth-century military base. Framed by the perspective of the fictional character Sandra, the city-within-a-city becomes a springboard for meditations on a variety of

  • picks May 04, 2005

    Kelly Kaczynski

    A series of discrete sculptures made of Home Depot-type materials come together to create an installation that mimics Marcel Duchamp’s final opus, Étant donnés (1946–66). Bunched-up plastic simulates the clouds in the background of Duchamp’s tableau; sculpted mounds of cardboard, roofing, wood laminate, and fabric evoke the barren landscape (while also recalling traditional Chinese painting); and a little fragment of fake brick mounted on a wooden structure at the south end of the gallery offers a peephole through which to view the whole installation. Only the nude is missing—or present in

  • picks May 04, 2005

    Ian Cooper

    The curator of Ian Cooper’s first solo exhibition is Sue de Beer, of angsty-teen-punk-installation fame, and the similarities between the two are obvious. Both are obsessed with the dark side of adolescence and with how the transition from youth to adulthood is acted out in a variety of aesthetic statements, from bedroom décor to black fingernail polish to taste in music. Cooper’s vision is more diffuse and abstract than de Beer’s, however—and even more death-obsessed. The sprawling Wake, 2002–2004, includes photographs of Heather O’Rourke, the young actress who starred in the Poltergeist films

  • Sarah Morris

    The artist-patron relationship has yielded plenty of great art over the centuries, from Michelangelo’s over-the-top Moses on the tomb of Pope Julius II to Velázquez’s dutiful Las Meninas and Goya’s sneering The Family of Charles IV. Given that Sarah Morris’s patrons are the modern Medici of Hollywood, one might have hoped for a similarly trenchant portrait of twenty-first-century elites from her film Los Angeles, 2004—or at least a compelling view of the city after which her fifth work in the medium is named. Instead, she offers viewers a morass of cliché; a montage of tourist-board images

  • picks April 19, 2005

    Anthony Goicolea

    PhotoShop wizard Anthony Goicolea appears to have drunk the KoolAid and joined the masses of young artists making some version of Fairy Tale Art. Several works in this media-spanning show even resemble the folksy-craftsy drawings of Amy Cutler. Goicolea, who made a name for himself with his large photographs featuring digitally cloned portraits of himself, works well within this métier. Swimming pools and schoolboy outfits have given way to a more chaotic Lord of the Flies sensibility: The drawings and photos feature ramshackle tree houses, boys in matching red sweatshirts, ritual nocturnal

  • picks April 19, 2005

    Mungo Thomson

    The primary work in this show is New York, New York, New York, New York, 2004, a video installation, projected on four walls, of mundane city street scenes. However, a more compelling work is down the hall in Connelly’s tiny former gallery (now an annex). The Swordsman, 2004, is a simple, one channel video of Bob Anderson, retired Hollywood “sword master,” throwing a sword to a person off screen. Anderson, who threw sharp objects to actors in such movies as Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Pirates of the Caribbean, becomes the star, for once (in the movies, he was always off-screen). But his

  • picks April 19, 2005

    Philippe Parreno

    The transition from daylight to a darkened gallery space is a comic ritual all its own: the disorientation and fumbling in the dark, bumping into strangers, etc. People enter like stunned acolytes, until their eyes adjust and they become part of the community in the darkness. Philippe Parreno has capitalized on this process by installing a bookcase, painted white to blend in with the walls, across the doorway leading to the gallery’s main space. After turning the bookcase and entering, viewers find that the gallery seems darker than usual and that the small, flickering video is dwarfed by the

  • picks April 07, 2005

    Amir Zaki

    Amir Zaki’s photographs of Los Angeles domestic architecture could easily be mistaken for documents of an earthwork or performative intervention, circa 1975. But, though they mimic the kind of documentary photography through which most of us have come to know the works of artists like Robert Smithson, Walter De Maria, and Gordon Matta-Clark, Zaki’s photos actually center on one of the most fetishized forms in the modernist lexicon: the Richard Neutra house—specifically, those that were “disowned” by the firm after being refitted in the ‘60s and ‘70s to weather earthquakes, mudslides, and other

  • picks April 07, 2005

    Wayne Gonzales

    Seurat’s pointillisme is updated in these paintings of resorts, condos, and restaurants. Though Gonzales is generally known for citing specific, historically freighted events, figures, and locations, here he references the anonymous but recognizable landscape of real estate developers and the governments that love them. “Corpocracy,” the term David Mitchell coined in his novel Cloud Atlas to describe a futuristic world ruled by big business, resounds in these paintings. Uniform circular dots of color create faux pixilated images; step close and pictorial logic disintegrates, with figure and

  • Bruce Conner

    One doesn’t have much occasion to refer to Dick Hebdige’s Subculture: The Meaning of Style these days, but Bruce Conner’s recent show “Punk Photographs” rendered that cultural-studies classic a touchstone once more. And the fact that Subculture was published in 1979 and Conner’s photographs from the Mabuhay Gardens, a Filipino nightclub in the North Beach area of San Francisco, were taken in 1978, is only one reason for its renewed relevance.

    Conner’s photos take in the entire culture of the club, from the bands who performed there (most notably Devo, DOA, and Negative Trend) and fans and scenesters

  • picks March 17, 2005

    Jules de Balincourt

    Slacker survivalism might be one way to describe the sensibility of artist (and current “Greater New York 2005” participant) Jules de Balincourt. Even the titles of his paintings—from Poor Planning, 2005, to Head for the Hills, 2004, or Another Natural Disaster, 2005, to Beginning to See the Light, 2005—send a strong message that something is sorely amiss in the world. U.S. World Studies III, 2005, tracks donations of corporations like Walmart, Home Depot, and Target to the G.O.P. on a map of the United States, while The Watchtower, 2005, goes inside an unnamed command center, and The People

  • Dana Schutz

    The meteoric rise of Dana Schutz, a twenty-eight-year-old painter fresh from the MFA program at Columbia University, serves for many as a reiteration of the way in which the art world mirrors the entertainment industry, with its privileging of youth over experience and its perpetual quest for fresh talent. More interesting, perhaps, is the way in which Schutz’s work has polarized viewers, separating those who applaud her vigorous neo-neo-expressionist canvases from those who are more skeptical, like a visitor overheard leaving the gallery muttering, “This is the new genius?”

    The issues Schutz

  • picks February 24, 2005

    Sarah Anne Johnson

    Further proof that our northern neighbors hold the keys to saving the planet appears in Sarah Johnson’s photographs of young people planting trees, a rite of passage in Manitoba. Actually, the tree planting itself is less evident in these photos than the drama of social bonding in the dirt and mud of the quasi-wilderness. Johnson extends the idea with photos of little carved wooden lumberjacks and couples kissing interspersed among the casual, Ryan McGinley-in-the-woods-style images of sexy, rugged youth. There is no single entry point into the show. Rather, the photos—arranged unframed on

  • picks February 24, 2005

    Rudolf Stingel

    Stingel’s new show is a perverse homage both to painting and to his New York dealer, Paula Cooper. The floor throughout the gallery is covered with particleboard painted white, reminiscent of his recent project in Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall in which wall-to-wall carpet married tropes of painterly horizontality dating back to Pollock with Pop’s deadpan appropriation of mass-produced objects. Hanging on the rear wall of the gallery, like an altarpiece in the white-cube cathedral of contemporary art, is a black-and-white photorealist painting of a young Paula wearing a coy, come-hither

  • picks February 06, 2005

    Peter Hujar

    Peter Hujar’s New York was a nocturnal one, as evidenced by “Night,” his series of black and white photographs taken between 1974 and 1985. (The artist died of AIDS in 1987.) The series serves as a counterpoint to his better-known portraits of downtown denizens, which appeared in Portraits of Life and Death, 1976, the only book of his work published during his lifetime. The “Night” photos also serve as a time capsule of the city, scabby and deserted during the bankruptcy years—a place that took considerably more gumption to live in than the bloated post-Giuliani metropolis of today. Many of the

  • picks February 06, 2005

    “We Disagree”

    The title of this small, eclectic show of international artists sounds vaguely political—an answer, perhaps, to the mandates laid down by the recently inaugurated Republican regime. The dissent is more aesthetic than political, however, and the hegemony they’re resisting—if there is one—might be the art world at large. Robert Kusmirowski’s Untitled, 2003, a handmade copy of a 1926 Polish certificate of apprenticeship (for tiling), for instance, turns professional licensing (fake Yale M.F.A. diploma, anyone?) into an absurdist exercise, as does Monika Sosnowska’s tabletop model for an exhibition