Matthew Weinstein

  • 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),