Mason Klein

  • Oliver Herring

    The shimmer of Oliver Herring’s signature knitted-Mylar sculptures made over the past decade reflects the influence of Ethyl Eichelberger, the performance artist and transvestite whose career (abruptly ended by his AIDS-related suicide in 1991) inspired Herring to rethink his approach to materials. In a recent interview he observed, “[What] went to the heart of what Ethyl Eichelberger had done . . . [was] making meaningful situations happen through very, very mundane means.”

    For the last ten years Herring has been coming up with new ways to do just that. In Raft, 1994, for instance, in which

  • Peter Liversidge

    In his first one-person show in New York, British artist Peter Liversidge reproduces internationally known signifiers like the logos of Lufthansa and BMW with a childlike clumsiness that strips all slickness from the corporate icons. He makes no bones about his limited skill as a draftsman: In a 1999 catalogue for a show at A22 Gallery in London, the artist complained, “I really am trying. . . but I just can't paint these products the way the manufacturers would like too see them.”

    Yet perfection is scarcely the objective. Unlike, say, Warhol's uncanny realistic appropriations, which glorified

  • Mark Bradford

    Mark Bradford, an artist who works as a hairstylist in South-Central Los Angeles, displays a deceptively austere sensibility in the modular veils of subtly graded hues that ripple over the surfaces of his latest paintings. But the purity of the abstract modernist references radiating from these restive, cellular grids quickly assumes a funky liveliness far removed from the transcendental silence and order of, say, the work of Agnes Martin, to which they are often compared. A close look reveals that Bradford’s shimmering, variegated forms are composed of overlapping squares of cellophane and

  • Jim Shaw

    HAPPILY FOR HORROR VACUISTS, Jim Shaw's recycling of cultural detritus continues unabated. For six years his increasingly less nocturnal “Dream Project” has functioned as a reservoir of flotsam and jetsam drawn from surrealist installation, comic books, photorealist painting, commercial illustration, and everything in between, as filtered through his unconscious mind. He's not offering an archaeology of trash culture; viewers are meant not to classify but merely to ponder the existence of these images—the tweaked cliché, the stylized art object, the dispossessed icon, the reconstituted

  • Leon Golub / Nancy Spero

    FOR OVER FOUR DECADES, Leon Golub and Nancy Spero have been exploring the social and political hotbed of gender. Masculinist and feminist, respectively, they address issues of power and the violent and subjugating impulses that underlie and propagate sociocultural archetypes. Golub and Spero increasingly show together, and, not surprisingly, their complement is often fascinating. These vintage warriors of social conscience and gender have been married for nearly fifty years and have established a kind of oppositional harmony, as their recent show's title, “The Fighting Is a Dance, Too,” suggests.

  • Hamish Fulton

    Emerson wrote, “The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.” Indeed, after thirty years of trekking, Hamish Fulton has not tired of either his signature ritual of walking or the horizons that this practice yields. Nor has the perambulating Conceptualist strayed from his artistic roots, continuing to annotate his activity through text and photograph, as firmly as ever testing the limits of both to convey, as he puts it, “the experience of the walk.”

    Fulton’s most recent show, “Walking is the Constant, the Art Medium is the Variable,”

  • Donald Lipski

    Donald Lipski has steadfastly bucked the waves of Conceptualism that have refueled sculpture during the last two decades. Apart from grouping his idiosyncratic renderings according to the most general object- or process-related axes, the latter-day surrealist has rejected metaphorical reference in his work as a rule—content rather to recast the quotidian, finding the sublime in the transformation and permutation itself, not in an altered object’s meaning. Yet over the last ten years Lipski’s work has gradually begun to explore themes, synthesizing in the process the poetic and unfamiliar

  • Radcliffe Bailey

    There is a polyphonic aspect to Radcliffe Bailey’s work that results at least in part from the role of music in his life. I felt this effect immediately on encountering his latest series of painted wood panels (each almost seven feet square), whose design and excess of information endow the visual with the spatial and environmental qualities of music. “What I do may not even be called art,” Bailey once remarked. “It may be called music.” The sheer exuberance of his patternswebbed tendrils of paint overlying patchworks of rectilinear shapes only furthers such an analogy. A certain structure

  • Alvin Booth

    Swathed in latex or bound and laced in modish leather garments designed by the photographer himself, the gilt figures that populate Alvin Booth’s photographs are distinctly contemporary. Flexing in various positions, these glistening bodies coated with metallic oils and gold powder clearly reflect present-day obsessions with the body, style, and fashion. As if to underscore this fact, many of these untitled eroticized images are mounted on the wall in a gridded format that expands on the variegated and voyeuristic aspects of the fashion photographer’s contact sheet. But such commonplace fixations

  • Norman Lewis

    Although Norman Lewis (1909–79) was a first-generation Abstract Expressionist, his contribution to the New York School has largely been forgotten. His recent rediscovery, however, has begun to rectify this state of affairs and to reveal how the African-American artist forged a unique path within a normatively white movement. This modest show of sixteen works on paper from 1945 to 1975, entitled “Intuitive Markings,” could only hint at Lewis’s stylistic range, but it nevertheless confirmed that his artistic preoccupations reflected an abiding need to represent the African-American experience as

  • Klaus Hartmann

    Near the entrance to Klaus Hartmann’s first solo New York exhibition was a large digital print of a somewhat desolate barnlike structure out of which grew a narrow, three-story square tower topped by a small observation deck. With its surreal appendage, oversize doors, and stucco-covered brick facade, the building appears to be some bizarre yet strangely familiar modern architectural hybrid. (In fact, the edifice is an old firehouse in East Germany.) This blend of the alienating with the nostalgic was a perfect introduction to Hartmann’s show, which brought together a peculiar range of aesthetics

  • Patrick Faigenbaum

    In recent years, Patrick Faigenbaum’s photographs have begun to undergo subtle if perceptible changes. Their severity has softened, as the imposing architectural settings of his dour portraits of the Italian aristocracy have yielded to the real world and its inhabitants, to the outdoors and to light. In this exhibition of recent photographs, taken mostly in St. Raphaël, a seaside town in the south of France, and in Bremen, Germany, over the last two years, Faigenbaum continues his work as a portraitist, but focuses instead on less formal subjects.

    If the artist has eschewed the world of an

  • Roxy Paine

    During my visit to Roxy Paine’s recent exhibition, I encountered a pair of visitors who, after looking at simulated dry rot framed on a wall and hyperreal tabletop tracts of grass, fungi, and poppies, were unsure whether the same artist was also responsible for the elaborate contraption in the rear gallery that was slowly secreting a stream of melted thermoplastic onto a conveyor belt, creating bloblike sculptural shapes the artist later numbered and signed. I assured them it was. But, they insisted, the replications of nature were so realistic and crafted; the white, irregularly shaped mounds,

  • Carl Andre

    Edmund Husserl, in the Origin of Geometry, suggested that Euclid developed his Elements from such practical activities as building, and this didactic function of construction as a way of illustrating geometric principles has played a central role in Carl Andre’s work throughout his career. The sculptor’s recent show comprised five pieces (all 1998) configured according to a common compositional operation: The structure of each work was determined exclusively by the combination of identical units.

    Such alignments of uniform objects arranged on the floor in repetitive patterns were classic

  • Joan Snyder

    The catalogue for Joan Snyder’s recent exhibition of paintings takes the form of a facsimile sketchbook, underscoring the artist’s spontaneous working method and intimate, diaristic style. The book’s title, Paintings and Sketches, indicates a certain equality between preliminary thoughts and finished work that reflects the emotional weight the artist places on every stage of her work, as well as the value of catharsis in her process. There’s certainly no separating the life from the art here: “My work,” Snyder writes on one drawing, “has been absolutely faithful to me.” And yet, she adds elsewhere,

  • David Smith

    In commenting on his 1950 sculpture The Letter, composed of four stacked rows of indecipherable welded-steel ideographs, David Smith explained that the work derived from a section in Finnegans Wake in which a hen scratches up a letter. Asked whether he thought of drawing in terms of writing, Smith replied that, after reading Joyce, he no longer differentiated between the two. That Smith forged a pictorial—and verbal—vocabulary for sculpture is one of his well-known achievements. This hybridization underlies much of the artist’s oeuvre: Smith conflated the otherwise distinct categories of sculpture

  • Lasar Segall

    In 1920, the Expressionist poet and critic Theodor Däubler contrasted the Egyptians, children of the sun, to the Israelites, whose migrations and adaptations he likened to the constantly changing appearance of the moon. Däubler cited this Jewish “racial character” as central to the work of Lasar Segall, as curator Stephanie D’Alessandro notes in the catalogue that accompanied the show. “Still More Distant Journeys: The Artistic Emigrations of Lasar Segall,” the painter's first major retrospective in this country, reevaluated his oeuvre within the various cultural contexts that informed it. Segall

  • Eric Fischl

    Few artists in recent years have evolved as productive a repertoire of subjects based on the human figure as Eric Fischl’s. In his first solo exhibition of sculpture, Fischl unapologetically celebrated the historical tradition of the figure. Aggressively eschewing what he regards as the impersonal, cynical voice of much contemporary art, the artist used figuration to raise issues—such as the importance of archetypes and the value of ritual and the ceremonial—that evoke the aesthetic and philosophical concerns and convictions of a distant past. His grouping of life-size bronzes conjured all the

  • Tony Smith/Christopher Willmarth

    Over the past decade, a handful of historians and critics have reexamined Minimalism, investigating the technological, political, and cultural factors that lay behind its hard-edged geometries. They have reevaluated individual careers as well as the nature of a “movement” based solely on visual and stylistic similarities.

    Tony Smith and Christopher Wilmarth were friends and colleagues; Wilmarth worked briefly as Smith’s studio assistant, and he is sometimes referred to as the more well-known artist’s protégé. Yet the works they produced are quite different. Smith has frequently been categorized

  • Yves Klein

    Yves Klein’s legendary Leap into the Void—a 1960 photomontage of the artist jumping off the ledge of a Paris building—has colored our perception of him no less than has his signature International Klein Blue. For Klein the void below that ledge opened onto what he called the “indéfinissable,” an ineffable, mythic state that transcended any fixed notion of time and space. The concept, however, did not exclude the constraints of the world: the artist’s act, defiant and dramatic as it was, resulted in an actual, albeit minor injury—a sprained ankle. Thus Klein’s leap invoked the notion of an