Martin Herbert

  • PROJECT: JESSE DARLING

    EASILY TORN, ephemeral, evocative—the magazine page is an appropriate second home for Jesse Darling’s work. In recent years, the artist has honed a spindly, pragmatic mode of assemblage, hospitable to bent metal tubing, hoodies, medical gear, fluttering plastic bags. When combined, these unassuming materials tend to sketchily conjure bodies. In this way, Darling’s approach to representation gravitates toward deliberate weakness, manifest damage, and evocations of mutual aid, as if to anticipate and then repudiate a context of toxic masculinity and wrathful white heteronormativity. In their

  • RODNEY GRAHAM

    Rodney Graham has long repudiated endings in favor of reverie-like ingresses to the past; this midcareer sampling of his work, dating from 1993 to 2017, will be a dream, almost. In the video Halcion Sleep, 1994, while drugged in the back of a car, the artist revisits both childhood memories of somnolent travel and Warhol’s Sleep. In Rheinmetall/Victoria 8, 2003, a 1961 Italian projector screens artificial snow falling on a pristine 1930s German typewriter—defunct technologies pairing to fabricate ethereality. Since 2007, in scrupulously mocked-up, hugely appealing

  • George Condo

    “George Condo. Confrontation” nestled 129 works—paintings, drawings, and sculpture—made by the American painter over the past thirty-eight years amid the Museum Berggruen’s rich modernist holdings: Picasso, Klee, Matisse, and Giacometti, inter alia. At the entrance of all this was The Great Schizoid, 1984. The artist’s surname is blazoned across its mottled gray background, the o’s formed by twin globes: Condo containing multitudes. “Schizoid” makes sense. While himself pivotal to latter-day figurative art, Condo has long presented himself as a jigsaw of apparent influences, from

  • CARDIAC UNREST: THE ART OF HEATHER PHILLIPSON

    THE MINIMALIST ATRIUM of Frankfurt’s Schirn Kunsthalle has perhaps never looked more maximalist than it did a little more than a year ago, when Heather Phillipson’s installation EAT HERE, 2015, was on view. Suspended and strung about the glass-sided cylindrical space were clusters of popped-open red umbrellas, corpuscular crimson trash bags and hot-water bottles, tennis rackets and tennis balls, and deflated killer-whale inflatables. Dangling amidships were black-edged cartoon cutouts of spermatozoa-like splashes, jagged lightning bolts, giant eyes with spidery lashes. Down on the concourse,

  • Paweł Althamer

    In 1993, to complete his master’s degree at Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts, Paweł Althamer dodged his oral examination, instead presenting his professors with a realist sculptural self-portrait fashioned from grass, straw, and animal skin and intestines, and a video of himself stripping nude and running into the woods. Twenty-three years later, in MAMA I, 2016, we saw the Polish artist sitting naked, grizzled, and mud-caked, in nature—or, rather, we gazed upon a plaster simulacrum of Althamer, positioned cross-legged within an indoor wilderness. Clusters of real trees, albeit dead and smeared

  • Andy Hope 1930

    Satanic imagery has proved inextinguishable in the paintings of Andy Hope 1930, from the black disk with horns that dominated Silent Running, 2005—a heavy-metal twist on Malevich’s Black Circle, 1915—to his latest show, “Black Fat Fury Road.” Twelve of its sixteen canvases, numbered excerpts from the series “Who Goes There” (all works 2016), were predominantly black, oppressively lacquered, and typically brightened only by pairs of small ruby-red triangular glyphs that read, just about, as horns glowing ominously in the surrounding glossy darkness. The paintings easily tilted toward

  • “Question the Wall Itself”

    This twenty-three-artist, pointedly internationalist exhibition pivots around the notion of esprit décor, an idea posited by the curator’s designated muse, Marcel Broodthaers. The term encapsulated a politically critical engagement with interior space—yet today’s “wall,” as the show’s room-size installations and smaller sculptures, paintings, photographs, and video works affirm, is a projective surface for anything from barbed commentary on globalization’s tilted playing field to melancholic cultural nostalgia. Alongside work by the razor-witted

  • Ceal Floyer

    Two decades ago, while her YBA predecessors were garnering international attention for blaring, acerbic one-liners, Ceal Floyer emerged in Britain as a beacon of restraint, creating such quotidian epigrams as Light, 1994, a dangling, unplugged bulb lit by four surrounding slide projectors. Floyer’s minimal gestures require sustained consideration, making her practice perfectly suited for a showing such as this—a spare but rewarding survey of thirteen pieces made between 1993 and 2015. Take in the early work Door, 1995, in which a slide projector has been configured

  • Liverpool Biennial 2016

    Curated by Francesca Bertolotti-Bailey, Polly Brannan, Rosie Cooper, Joasia Krysa, Raimundas Malasšauskas, Francesco Manacorda, Sandeep Parmar, Sally Tallant, Ying Tan, and Dominic Willsdon

    Literary devices have informed much contemporary art lately, and the Liverpool Biennial is accordingly turning the page: For its ninth edition, the UK’s biggest art festival plans to unfold “a story narrated in several episodes.” You’ll traverse the lively port city to experience it. The biennial’s international roster of forty-one artists, including Mariana Castillo Deball, Jason Dodge, Lara Favaretto, Koki

  • Tatiana Trouvé

    The title of Tatiana Trouvé’s recent show “From Alexandrinenstrasse to the Unnamed Path” referred to the location of Johann König’s beautifully renovated Brutalist church, and it seemed to predict a course from the known into the unfathomed. Aptly so: A comparable process was encoded into every artwork here, building toward one compound estrangement, and the Italian-born, Paris-based artist seemed conscious of putting viewers through their cognitive paces. Like a planned workout, albeit for eye and mind, her arrangement of works for St. Agnes’s spectacular high-ceilinged nave started gently

  • Jana Euler

    The leadoff painting in Jana Euler’s exhibition “‘Female Jesus Crying in Public’ in einer neuen Ausstellung” (in a New Exhibition) was an overture in the operatic sense, containing all of the show’s themes in miniature: Frankfurt (all works 2015) describes the glittering skyline of the German banking capital, which is home to many collectors as well as art institutions including the Städelschule, where Euler studied, and its affiliated Portikus gallery, where, when this show went up, she was simultaneously exhibiting. The image, though, has been inverted—the city’s rising phallic skyscrapers

  • Rose Wylie

    Rose Wylie’s exhibition “Dressed to Kill” opened a fortnight after Halloween and featured among its ten characteristically outsize, often multipanel paintings several whose iconography revolved around seasonal treats—chocolate gravestones, chocolate ghosts, etc. The rooms smelled strongly of fresh oil paint; most of the works were brand-new. One was led to assume, viewing and whiffing them, that Wylie—now eighty-one, though her idiosyncratic, sophisticated yet naive-looking work has only really found favor this last decade—had waited until the last possible moment before deciding

  • “Suspended Animation”

    Animated film has come a long way since J. Stuart Blackton’s pioneering Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906), with its crude sequences of goofy chalkboard drawings. An evolving palette of digital animation technologies—motion capture, ever more detailed 3-D visualization—shapes not only mainstream culture but, increasingly, the work of artists (and the oft-unsung technicians to whom they outsource their production). “Suspended Animation” brings together Ed Atkins, Antoine Catala, Ian Cheng, Josh Kline, Helen Marten, and Agnieszka Polska, an international hexad

  • Friedrich Kunath

    In Friedrich Kunath’s painting It’s Friedrich (all works cited, 2015), the handwritten title phrase emerges from an old-fashioned, corkscrew-cord telephone held out by an anthropomorphic cartoon tree. The latter—a black-lined overlay, like David Salle for tots—sits on a landscape that runs Romanticism through an Athena-poster filter: above, an empurpled sky full of clouds that themselves resemble craggy mountains; below, aquamarine river water hammering rocks, upon which the tree—smiling—stands. By this point, several suavely vulgarized landscapes into the German-born, Los

  • Laura Owens

    The five freestanding canvases that make up Laura Owens’s Untitled, 2015, were arranged in a diagonally angled row, like a scaled-down painterly cousin of Richard Serra’s Promenade, 2008, or a scaled-up line of ready-to-fall dominoes. This setup encourages viewers to walk around and among them, inspecting their lively versos. Still, there is only one technically correct viewpoint. Look down the sequence from its head, fine-tune your position by shuffling your feet, and the visible overlapping fragments of text printed on the frontages—texts whose point size grows as the paintings recede,

  • Andrea Büttner

    Weakness is Andrea Büttner’s strength. For a decade, the Stuttgart-born artist has coaxed often-minor media—inexpert video, casual photography, glass painting, wallpaper, even low-slung planters of live moss—into speaking of humility, poverty, shame, and (the refusal of) judgment. Whether woodcut-printing the text piece I want to let the work fall down, 2005; inviting cloistered Carmelite nuns to film their homespun creative activity (Little Works, 2007); illustrating a 2014 edition of Kant’s Critique of Judgment with sublunary, seemingly chance-determined images

  • ANGLE OF REPOSE: THE ART OF ANDREA BÜTTNER

    “I WANT TO LET THE WORK FALL DOWN.” These words sing out from (and provide the title for) a black-and-white woodcut that Andrea Büttner printed in 2005—and as it was written, so it would be done. Biblical overtones, we’ll see, are pertinent to the Frankfurt- and London-based artist’s oeuvre, which over the past decade has splintered into various media, including screen prints, wallpaper, photography, books, furniture, textiles, paintings on glass, instruction-based works, ephemeral installations involving live moss and wet clay, and videos she variously shot herself, collated from archives,

  • Jos De Gruyter and Harald Thys

    In Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys’s unnerving, darkly comic videos, characters sit mutely, assault one another, or comment glumly on unsatisfactory vacation experiences. These low-watt individuals could have produced the artists’ intentionally pedestrian drawings, depictions of sex scenes, urban views, vehicles, dinosaurs, etc., which feel similarly blank. The Belgian pair’s first US exhibition presents a new video, a work composed for organ (to be performed in a local cathedral), and steel sculptures elaborating on their earlier White Elements, 2012–, masklike white

  • “Daniel García Andújar: Operating System”

    A central figure in Spanish Net art, Daniel García Andújar deploys proposals for imaginary technologies to critique what Gilles Deleuze famously termed “societies of control” and the smoke screens that sustain them. In particular, he takes up the bogus techno-evangelism that suggests information not only wants to be free but will free us, too. Founded in 1994, Technologies to the People, Andújar’s irony-laced pseudo-company, has mooted speculative products—represented by websites, flyers, and posters—that would turn digital have-nots into haves. The iSAM™

  • “Pierre Bismuth: Der Kurator, der Anwalt und der Psychoanalytiker

    For a quarter century, Pierre Bismuth has inventively corrupted Conceptualism’s systems thinking with chance, worldliness, and wit—see Things I remember I’ve done, but don’t remember why I did them, 1998, the collection of drawings, objects, films, and photographs he exhibited after he had finally forgotten the rationale behind them, or his series of scribbly abstractions derived from the movement of actresses’ hands throughout a movie, “Following the right hand of,” 2009–. It’s not entirely surprising, then, to find the droll and mercurial French artist tickling