Matthew Weinstein

  • slant February 08, 2018

    Man of the People

    THE TERM ARTIST’S ARTIST means an artist who is a good food source for other artists. It also suggests an unconscious and/or brave level of subjectivity that is implicit within the meaning of, but rarely lives up to, the word artist. Artist’s artists signal their value to other artists not just through their stubborn individuality, but also through their ways of producing art that seem so particular that, whether one likes their work or not, there is life before it and life after it. To refer to Michelangelo as an artist’s artist could be seen as absurd, as he is everyone’s artist, but it’s not

  • picks February 02, 2018

    Maryam Jafri

    Maryam Jafri’s “War on Wellness” states that the wellness industry has polluted more than it has detoxed. The exhibition has resonance now that pseudoscience, in the form of climate-change deniers and flat-earthers, has become authority. If “wellness” only targeted the affluent, it would be a mere perpetrator of victimless crimes, no more dangerous than a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap—but it isn’t. It’s part of a nexus of unattainable dreams and delusions that have hijacked our best instincts toward ourselves and sold them to the almighty Oz.

    Self-care, 2017 is a toilet-paper roll made from a

  • picks October 06, 2017

    Lucas Samaras

    Lucas Samaras looks at life through the kaleidoscope of his own work, like an Idealist philosopher entertaining the possibility that the world may cease to exist without his direct observation of it. Unlike other artists who transform the creating self into narcissistic phantasmagoria, Samaras comes close to an obsessive outsider sensibility that divorces his work from that of his contemporaries. Nonetheless, Samaras has always been there to remind us that aggressive subjectivity is a rebellious option.

    The artist’s current exhibition of photographs is made up of rooms hung with twelve-inch-square

  • picks June 09, 2017

    Ivana Bašić

    Ivana Bašić’s recent exhibition centers on two sculptures of humanoid creatures with beautiful gold glass placentas encasing their drooping heads: I will lull and rock my ailing light in my marble arms #1 and #2 (all works cited, 2017). They are being born out of chrome shells à la Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, 1486, as envisioned by H. R. Giger. Elsewhere, two head-size chunks of pink alabaster are rhythmically pulverized by silvery robotic hammers (A thousand years ago 10 seconds of breath were 40 grams of dust #1 and #2). Particles accumulate on the floor.

    There is no high or low in contemporary

  • picks March 10, 2017

    Ron Gorchov

    There is much evidence of classicism in reductive art practices. Rarer, however, is the presence of the more willful and subjective impulses of neoclassicism, in which classical order is not adhered to but depicted. Ron Gorchov’s signature shield-shaped paintings would not be out of place gripped by a dying marble warrior. Gorchov’s canvas, featuring a rounded edge and a concavity in the center, is not an optical illusion or a sculptural push into space—it is an image open to interpretation. The fact that these paintings encourage symbolic viewing sets them apart from much contemporaneous

  • picks November 25, 2016

    Sara Deraedt

    For her recent exhibition, Sara Deraedt photographed vacuums in store windows in various international locations. These are the sort of window displays in which the device is just placed and lit—no sales props. Therefore, besides the fact that some of the pieces depict prices in different currencies, we might not consider geography. Deraedt is like an anti-anthropologist, traveling around the world and concluding with, “I got nothing.” There is a gentle absurdity and humor to this project. In dyson animal, 2013, there is some lint near the nozzle, which suggests either the appliance’s past

  • Jim Hodges

    Jim Hodges sends letters on baby-blue stationary adorned with baby-blue-how stickers, which arrive in light-pink envelopes embellished with butterflies. Appearances to the contrary, they’re not camp but pretty, kind of touching, and a hit melancholy. To describe such missives (and much of Hodges’ work) as “feminine” is to say nothing more than that his sensibility overlaps with that social myth.

    The centerpiece of Hodges’ first one-person exhibition in New York was A Diary of Flowers, 1994, which consisted of 565 pen doodles of flowers on paper napkins pinned around the main room of the gallery

  • Free Hand

    Pleasure

    I dreamed that my hand detached itself from my body. It began to travel, feeling and affecting everything. This was a good dream.

    More Pleasure

    I lied about the dream: I had it while I was awake. I wanted to explain an ideal of pleasure, the pleasure of unlimited extension.

    Miró

    His hand clasps a fine brush and travels. It climbs into the night sky and connects the stars into new signs of the zodiac. It plunges into the ocean to pull out an expanse of blue. It enters museums to reinvent Dutch interiors, still lifes, and portraits. It roams the earth to punctuate and order the

  • Stephen Mueller

    For anyone who considers the idea of an artistic canon to be more than apolitical blasphemy, the question inevitably arises of where to plunk the adherents of Formalism, after the movement’s fall from ideological grace. There are a number of ’70s painters diligently exploring pictorial space within the well-defined limits of formalist abstraction, most notably Joan Snyder, Louise Fishman, Thomas Nozkowski, and Stephen Mueller. Work by other painters with similar artistic pedigrees, such as Elizabeth Murray and Mary Heilmann, represents a more twisted variety, whimsically playing with the

  • Cindy Sherman

    Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits exist in a referential never-never land; neither pastiche nor camp, they lack the specificity of referent so dear to both. Her early “film stills,” in which she dons various outfits, have less to do with fashion and the languages of representation that serve it, and more to do with the use of clothing as props. Creating characters out of sophisticated forms of dress-up (like the horsey gal she conjures out of jodhpurs and a polka-dot sweater in Untitled #118, 1983), Sherman “regresses” in front of the camera. Crucial to her oeuvre, these “fashion photos” constitute

  • Christopher Sasser

    The recent tendency in painting to churn out Modernist memorabilia, trumped-up and hailed as a return to abstraction, constitutes little more than a negligible whimper in the medium’s history. Yet it does corral and heighten fundamental ideological problems that have haunted abstract painting for the last two decades to the point that the “new” abstraction may partly exorcize the practice of its demons. Christopher Sasser has found a path into painting that is refreshingly defiant with respect to the current codes of the field. He even manages to make light of the tired dichotomy between “

  • Terry Winters

    Terry Winters’ recent retrospective presents an alternative to most Whitney Museum mid-career retrospectives, which tend to focus on artists with more cultural/critical urgency, as opposed to painters, such as Winters, who pursue a relatively personal and neutral expression of sensibility and technical finesse. Winters’ exhibition treats the viewer to a panoply of visual delights: thick and washy surfaces; fluid, broken, and scratchy brushwork; and a palette that leans toward moody earth tones but also includes bright primaries, sometimes within the limits of a single painting.

    Winters (along

  • James Nares

    James Nares’ recent abstract paintings would never lead one to suspect that he not only has behind him a body of impressively quirky figurative paintings, but that he has also worked in media as diverse as super-8 film, photography, and music (in the ’70s he was a guitarist for the Contortions). Indeed, it is unusual for an artist of such diverse orientations to become entrenched in a practice that usually attracts die-hard lifers.

    In Nares’ recent paintings the constituent brush stroke becomes the image—the means, the end. Over a luminous, even, white field, textured or tinted only by an occasional

  • Philip Taaffe

    In a statement accompanying his recent show, Philip Taaffe wrote, want to escape into art." No matter how cloying the sentiment, Taaffe is as good as his word. His well-publicized life at his villa in Naples his self-imposed exile from the daily life of the New York art world suggests an escape in the grand tradition of artistic expatriation. Naples may not be Tangiers or Tahiti, but it isn’t New York either; it evokes at least a touch of the exotic. Taaffe’s incorporation in his work of Neopolitan architectural and decorative styles (a blend of Baroque and Arab influences) suggests not only a

  • Lucas Samaras

    From his Room #1, 1964, (in which he moved the contents of his bedroom into a gallery), to his mirrored Room #2, 1966, to his boxes, chair transformations, photographs, Polaroids, and bronzes, Lucas Samaras’ obsession with representing the self has been characterized by a trippiness that transcends the homespun nature of his production. His pin-and-yarn-encrusted boxes echo those of Joseph Cornell, just as his life (as seen through his work) mirrors that artist’s in its insularity and in the belief it seems to evince that all of the material one needs to create art (both psychic and physical)

  • Peter Hopkins

    Peter Hopkins’ recent show consists of six paintings, two photographs, two steel tables, and framed stats of typewritten formulas betraying the ingredients of the paintings. The formulas are based on Robert Smithson’s “Pulverizations” (although Smithson is not credited within the show), and Hopkins has substituted his own ingredients for the formulas’ variables. These include water from runoff pipes, varnish (blue), effluence, cherry Coca-Cola, sludge, Clorox, oil (motor/used), Ty-D-Bol, root beer, power-plant discharge, transmission fluids, and East River water.

    The paintings, called Covered

  • Jonathan Lasker

    Like most willful acts of artistic repetition, from Warholian or Minimalist serialization to Agnes Martin’s slow crawl through the grid, Jonathan Lasker’s relatively stable morphology may befuddle more restless souls. Though Lasker’s works hardly constitute heroic models of painterly innovation, his manipulations of a relatively fixed vocabulary of discrete abstract elements—his signature pudgy crayon-colored impastos and dense black calligraphic snarls—coupled with his extreme reduction of painting to simple relationships between figure and ground, somehow always prove exciting.

    Lasker’s paintings

  • Peter Schuyff

    Peter Schuyff’s work was first received in the early ’80s among a host of ironic gestures, which included Philip Taffe’s appropriation of exhausted styles in decoupage, Meyer Vaisman’s reduction of the painting to a cartoon of the surface it is wrought on, and Peter Halley’s minimal cells. What separated Schuyff from the rest of these artists was a bat’s squeak of traditionalism. His work allowed for a degree of less mediated painterly pleasure and a transition from painting to painting predicated on overtly formal issues. Schuyff had no specific bone to pick with formalism; instead, he honed

  • Mary Heilmann

    For Mary Heilmann formalism is less a prison than a resort—a space so well defined that it admits a measure of free play within its precincts. One painting, entitled Sunshine, 1991, consists of a moderately scaled sunflower-yellow rectangle whitewashed with transparent layers of mat white. That this work recalls the obfuscation of the sun by constantly shifting clouds is characteristic of Heilmann’s ability to coax a range of vivid sensations from the dryest painterly conventions (in this case the grid).

    In this show, the viewer is routed through a taxonomy of abstract types: the grid, the

  • THE HOUSE OF FICTION: ROBERT GOBER

    IN THE CREATION of his Urinal,1984, Robert Gober referred more explicitly to Marcel Duchamp’s readymades (specifically Fountain, 1917) than any other artist now creating sculpture derived from the everyday object. He also departed radically from the originating impulses of this historical model. While John Armleder, Jeff Koons, Haim Steinbach, and others carry on the spirit of Duchamp’s intellectual wisecrack (while exploring issues of commodification, the doubtfulness of discernment, and the irrelevance of the art/kitsch dichotomy, all addressed through a compliant stance toward the marketplace),