Martha Schwendener

  • picks June 26, 2003

    “No Platform Just a Trampoline”

    There’s no checklist for “No Platform” because, as Marcus Ritter puts it, the show is “kind of punk.” And it’s okay with him if this lack of checklist breeds misinformation, because “that would be kind of punk too.” The works themselves allude to a mélange of musico-philosophical styles. There are pure heavy-metal references, like Satoru Chayavichitsilp’s assemblage of little skulls and Anthrax logos, and teen-pop ones, like Alex McQuilkin’s photo of herself ripping her heart out in a girly adolescent bedroom (Goth overtones there). There’s the disco-raunch of Sterling Hubbard’s porn shots;

  • picks June 26, 2003

    Do-Ho Suh

    Is identity portable? If you’ve left the country of your birth, are you the same person you've always been, or a hyphenated hybrid of new identities? For immigrants, these questions are far from academic, and Do-Ho Suh, who emigrated from Korea in his late twenties, takes them to their logical conclusions. His notion of “transportable space” plays itself out in installations of translucent nylon, which he uses to re-create objects and rooms—in this case, his entire New York apartment. Walking through the installation, you get a sense of both being and nothingness: Every nook and cranny—down to

  • picks June 04, 2003

    Rob Pruitt and Jonathan Horowitz

    Rob Pruitt has returned to making art a deux. In his latest show, Pruitt, along with his partner Jonathan Horowitz, has transformed a real estate transaction into a cross-county art event. “Surreal Estate” revolves around the sale of the pair’s country house, Peacock Hill, in the Catskills town of Fleischmanns, NY. The show consists of an installation at Gavin Brown and a series of events, all open to the public, at Peacock Hill. Riffing on upstate kitsch and downtown art world insiderism, “Surreal Estate"’s gallery installation takes the form of a quasi-haunted house, with black walls and goth

  • Elizabeth Magill

    Most landscape painting focuses on the land: its valleys, its horizons, its mountain peaks. But for Irish painter Elizabeth Magill, the sky is the main attraction. In her work, the earth is often nothing more than a hulking silhouette separated from the heavens by a carefully drawn horizon line, while vast patches of sky, marked out with birds, solidly occupy the majority of the canvas. Sometimes no land is visible at all; its existence is implied only by treetops or wires from an electric bus or tram. In almost every case, what’s above is more interesting than what lies below.

    Night is a common

  • Mark Dion

    Mark Dion, like Broodthaers or Beuys, is an artist with an idiosyncratic formal lexicon. But instead of mussels or felt, Dion’s materials are taxidermied members of the “R-select species,” varieties of trees living and dead, and the systems and accoutrements of natural science.

    Two shows running concurrently, at American Fine Arts in New York and at the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut, offered in-depth looks at Dion’s work from the mid-’80s to the present. At the gallery, the collaborative aspect of Dion’s work was stressed, while the show at the Aldrich was a retrospective. Both

  • picks May 16, 2003

    Corey McCorkle

    Visitors to Maccarone have gotten used to shows that burrow into every nook and cranny of the gallery, like Christoph Büchel’s infamous “house in a house” installation of 2001. Now that the gallery’s downstairs neighbor, the serendipitously named Kunst Electronics, has vacated the premises, artists have three floors at their disposal. Corey McCorkle’s multistory installation was inspired by Findhorn, a utopian gardening community in Northern Scotland founded in the 1960s. On the ground floor, space is divided by plywood walls papered with ink-jet photos of the community’s gardens and fields. On

  • picks April 24, 2003

    “Still or Sparkling?”

    “Still or Sparkling’s” invitation card features a photograph of a Degas sculpture, one of the bronze ballerinas whose linen skirt, satin hair ribbons, and toe shoes served notice that “real” objects were entering the “pure” realm of nineteenth-century sculpture. The mixing of different materials, sources, and modes of representation—and the resulting perceptual/cognitive dissonance—is both a hallmark of early modernism and the raison d’être for this show. Lucky DeBellevue’s pipe-cleaner sculpture RE: Veronika Voss, 2003 (referencing the eponymous Fassbinder film), and Kim Fisher’s faceted “gem”

  • picks April 10, 2003

    Robert Whitman

    Chalk it up to late capitalism or the Bush regime, but Robert Whitman’s multimedia sculptures, which date from the early and mid-1960s and incorporate film projections, look as if they could have been made yesterday. Take Window, 1963, a Hitchcockian clip of a woman moving around an overgrown yard, or Shower and Bathroom Sink, both 1964, which combine Pop moving pictures with mirrors and water. Garbage Bag (the 2003 reconstruction of 1964’s Shopping Bag) is a plain brown grocery sack topped by a video projection of a hand unloading an endless stream of supermarket goods. What makes these works

  • picks April 08, 2003


    Following on the heels of Leonardo da Vinci at the Met—one of the most successful drawings shows in recent memory—this group show at Metro Pictures serves as a contemporary rejoinder or, perhaps, antidote. While the show uptown was a blockbuster and a circus, complete with magnifying glasses, wall-card thank-you notes to Queen Elizabeth, and lines (not only outside, but in front of each work), here we have big drawings on un-yellowed paper in the roomy concrete acreage of white-box Chelsea. This is not to say that “Drawings” is without its ironies. That Metro Pictures was founded in the wake of

  • picks March 21, 2003

    “A Civilian Occupation: The Politics of Israeli Architecture”

    In the newsprint pamphlet that accompanies “A Civilian Occupation,” Israeli arcitects Rafi Segal and Eyal Weizman declare, “Throughout the last century, a different kind of warfare has been radically transforming the landscapes of Israel and Palestine. In it, the mundane elements of planning and architecture have been conscripted as tactical tools in the Israeli state strategy, seeking national and geopolitical objectives in the organization of space.”

    It should come as no surprise, then, that the Israel Association of United Architects, who originally commissioned the project, yanked their

  • picks February 18, 2003

    “Exploring Landscape: Eight Views from Britain”

    It’s not often that your concept of landscape painting is stretched simultaneously in eight different directions. None of the painters included in “Exploring Landscape: Eight Views from Britain” have shown in New York before, but the similarity ends there. Where Michael Ashcroft turns Ansel Adams–sublime views of mountains into politically charged topographies, Dan Perfect reworks the Miró dreamscape with manga stylings and Day-Glo dribbles. Dexter Dalwood creates “history” paintings involving places like Chappaquiddick (although his rendering evokes the postindustrial landscape more than Martha’s

  • Robert Ryman

    In the catalogue accompanying Robert Ryman’s show of recent paintings is a photograph of the artist’s studio: pristine, with paints, brushes, palette knives, solvents, and tools resting on two small carts and a stool, his signature white paintings hanging salon style on walls that are also painted white. Finished paintings wrapped in plastic stand propped in the corners. White paint, ready for use, waits on carts. Oh, and the floor is white, too.

    On the next page, an essay by art historian Yve-Alain Bois opens with a quotation by Barnett Newman describing art of the first half of the twentieth

  • Rainer Ganahl

    One could describe Rainer Ganahl’s work as a mutant strain of endurance-oriented performance art. Whereas most such work, created in the late ’60s and ’70s, centered around the body—getting shot or cut, squeezing into a confined space, living in extreme conditions for a prescribed period of time—Ganahl’s contemporary version is based on testing the intellect. Over the past decade, Ganahl has taught himself a variety of languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Chinese—he’s now embarking on Arabic) and created projects like Reading Karl Marx, 2001, in which he led groups in various

  • picks January 27, 2003

    William Henry Fox Talbot

    If photography seems a vastly complicated medium today, perhaps there's some comfort in the fact that it was just as difficult for its inventors to pin down. The first American museum survey of “gentleman scholar” William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877) demonstrates how the English inventor of the negative-positive process (as opposed to Daguerre’s direct-positive process) oscillated between art and science, aesthetics and documentation, the magical and the empirical. In this show, botanical specimens and entries from his Early Album of Photogenic Drawing Specimens (compiled in the 1830s and '40s)

  • Walton Ford

    Walton Ford regularly offers a web of images and text exhuming whole realms of history: the history of natural science and zoology; exploration (and its attendant exploitation) and colonization; the history of images, artistic and otherwise; even the history of history. Remarkably, he accomplishes this feat in watercolor, one of the more lightweight mediums in the lexicon of modern and contemporary painting.

    This show featured eight of Ford’s medium-size and large paintings that at first seem to mimic Audubon prints and their ancestors, which hark back to scientific illustrations and plein air

  • Rowena Dring

    The painting craze of the past five years or so has found many young artists juxtaposing modes of representation previously considered incompatible. Using high-end enamel or acrylic paints to erase the expressive mark of the painter, artists like Ingrid Calame, Inka Essenhigh, Monique Prieto, and Jay Davis merge abstraction and representation, using Pop art—specifically, its technique of mining the media for photographic imagery—as a template for banishing the restrictions that used to keep the two segregated.

    At first glance—and almost always when reproduced in photographs—British

  • picks November 14, 2002

    Thomas Hirschhorn

    To see Barbara Gladstone’s white cube transformed into a labyrinth of cardboard and packing tape is to witness a rare event indeed. After stumbling over tape “rocks” and outcroppings, up and down fabricated inclines and into various chambers, even the most frequent Gladstone visitor will be surprised to arrive at the front desk, the only nook left relatively untouched. How the transformed gallery—entitled “Cavemanman”—relates to Hirschhorn’s ongoing social and political engagement, and how it functions as an artwork, is a complicated issue. Pages of text adorn the walls (theory reduced to

  • Ed Ruscha

    Several gallery shows during the past year have testified to the late foundering of many of the original Pop artists, but Ed Ruscha's most recent appearance in New York proved a significant exception.The artist's show included work that was smart and pertinent, a vintage distilled over forty years. Rather than recycle the ideas or motifs of '60s Pop art, Ruscha has pressed forward, experimenting with methods for making Pop a cognitive or perceptual game.

    Ten large canvases hanging in the main gallery adhered to a generally consistent model: The image of a mountain was doubled, like a Rorschach

  • picks October 29, 2002

    Gary Simmons

    Visibility, erasure, and absence are at the surface and the core of Gary Simmons’s work. Sometimes Simmons takes things literally, drawing in chalk on chalkboard or canvas covered with slate paint, then smearing the image by hand. Often he's more oblique, as in the video Desert Blizzard, 1996–97, in which “snowflakes” traced by an airplane dissolve into the blue sky. In this context we might think of Robert Rauschenberg’s oedipally focused Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953—arguably the most famous twentieth-century artwork revolving around absence or erasure, and emblematic of the history of a

  • Roe Ethridge

    The first sign of trouble (or complexity) in Roe Ethridge's exhibition “The Bow” comes from its very title. Read the word bow and you assume a meaning (and pronunciation), despite the fact that Ethridge provides no conclusive visual or textual information to support any particular reading, and despite the fact that bow is a wildly versatile word: a verb, a noun, a gesture, part of a musical instrument, an archer's weapon, the front of a ship, a knot formed by two or more loops. Photographs are the same way, of course. We see and assume. For decades, artists have explored the visual-cognitive