Michael Wilson

  • diary May 15, 2018

    Bad Madeleines

    IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (primary school to this Brit), when candy was currency, anyone who showed up with some new or unusual confection ruled the roost—at least until the prize was shared, stickily, among a thousand instant mates or wolfed down defensively by its owner. So it was particularly impressive when a classmate arrived one Monday morning with three never-before-seen treats. The brands were familiar, but the bars themselves were prototypes—experimental trial runs for yet-to-be-released products. To our sugar-addled minds, this was gold. The source of the bounty? A parental visit to a food

  • picks April 27, 2018

    Anne Collier

    Jerry: “What is this salty discharge?”

    Elaine: “Oh my god, you’re crying.”

    Jerry: “This is horrible. I care!

    Jerry Seinfeld’s puzzlement at his own tears in this snippet from his “show about nothing” offers a reminder that crying is still too often dismissed as a feminine weakness, a marker of emotional release that men are supposed to find embarrassing. In the midcentury romance comics that Anne Collier excerpts in her new photographic series, “Crying (Comic)” and “Tears (Comic)” (both 2018), we understand with very little context that the “salty discharge” depicted comes from the eye of a

  • diary April 13, 2018

    The Mori the Merrier

    I’M NOT JAPANESE, but I am from a country—England—where drinking tea is a daily given (“I’ll put the kettle on” follows “Hello” like night follows day). And having grown up in a household where teabags were considered infra dig (it was leaf Earl Grey or nothing), I possess a great deal of sympathy for the idea of turning a simple infusion into a ceremony. So while the closest I usually get to a ritualized procedure may be warming the pot, it makes complete sense to me that something possessed of such restorative power should be treated with veneration. It was with some satisfaction then that I

  • Adriana Lara

    CARBON; FIRE; GAS; NOISE; SILENCE; PLASTIC; DIET COKE; DEBRIS; PRODUCT; ALLUMINUM [sic]; INFORMATION; COPY; MARKETING; TRASH; VOICES; BURPS; RECORDINGS; RADIO; CC; FORM-EXFORM; THEORIES; POST-PUNK-POST-PRODUCT; STRATEGIC UNPREDICTABILITY; BORDER-MEXICO-U.S. In the lead-up to her third solo exhibition at Greenspon, Mexico City-based Adriana Lara supplied this dizzying end-times vocab list to half a dozen writers as fuel for a series of original conspiracy theories, making the (suitably paranoid) results available in the gallery as simple printed handouts. As well as providing rich inspiration,

  • Cheyney Thompson

    In the unforgiving hands of Cheyney Thompson, painting is subject to a deconstruction so thoroughgoing and severe that it might better be termed a disembowelment. Having broken the medium down into its constituent parts, Thompson doesn’t so much reassemble it as transport it into other realms entirely, to fields governed by systems and routines more often associated with such divergent realms as mathematics, economics, and manual labor. “Somewhere Some Pictures Sometimes,” the deliberately nebulous title of the artist’s seventh solo exhibition at this gallery, was consistent with the teasingly

  • Tim Youd

    In Stanley Kubrick’s much-deconstructed ur-horror film The Shining (1980), conclusive evidence of protagonist Jack Torrance’s psychopathy appears tucked into the wayward winter caretaker’s typewriter. Upon finding it, his long-suffering wife, Wendy, begins to page through a stack of similar typewritten pages nearby. To her despair, she finds the sheaf of papers previously assumed to contain Torrance’s novel in progress to contain endless repetitions of the same self-mocking maxim: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The phrase is typed in a variety of decorative configurations, as if

  • Ceal Floyer

    Ceal Floyer shares with a handful of her contemporaries, such as Martin Creed and Gavin Turk—all three emerged in London during the early 1990s heyday of the YBAs—a wry post-Conceptualist mode that edges consciously ever closer to non-art, to simply merging with the fabric of everyday life. But while Creed has inherited the interest of the original Conceptualist tendency toward systems and ritual, and Turk the movement’s preoccupation with questions of authorship, Floyer leans in a more programmatically minimal direction. In her fourth appearance at this gallery, the artist continued

  • Evan Holloway

    Still indelibly associated with Los Angeles, sculptor Evan Holloway broke through in the late 1990s by combining high-modernist form with subcultural and mundane imagery, manifesting a nimble strand of post-Pop that revealed the clear influence of his former teacher Charles Ray. But while Holloway’s artistic lineage is readily apparent, a certain lightness of touch continues to set him apart from his predecessors and extend his influence beyond the West Coast. Holloway is that rare artist who can address the state of the natural world without preaching, and the condition of the built environment

  • Vik Muniz

    It’s no great challenge to name recent exhibitions in New York that have drawn their power from expert illusionism. One featuring Vija Celmins’s obsessive conjurings of the night sky and ocean surface, for example, coincided with another presenting Matt Johnson’s painted carved-wood simulacra of packaging materials and studio detritus. Our appetite for near-exact copies of extant objects and images—from the sublime to the banal—appears as powerful as ever. Vik Muniz is an artist for whom precise representation has long been important as both strategy and theme, specifically as a way

  • diary April 05, 2017

    Play Ball

    ANNE PASTERNAK’S FIRST COUPLE OF YEARS as director of the Brooklyn Museum have been interesting ones, though not always in the sense she might have preferred. A few short months into her tenure, the firebrand former head of Creative Time caught heat from protesters for renting out the space to the Sixth Annual Brooklyn Real Estate Summit. It was a decision they saw—with some justification—as incompatible with the institution’s commitment to local audiences in a quickly gentrifying neighborhood. Following intense negotiation, another event, the Brooklyn Community Forum on Anti-Gentrification and

  • “January Show”

    Back in 2008, on what now seems like the cusp of a fleeting golden age, the gossip blog How’s My Dealing? boasted a section devoted to the casualties of for-profit cut-and-thrust. DeathWatch collated advance reports of the closing of various enterprises, and reading it now induces twinges of nostalgia for such outfits as Bellwether, Roebling Hall, and Rivington Arms, as well as for much-missed individuals such as the late, great Daniel Reich. As the depth of feeling attached to the list demonstrates, the role played by commercial galleries is far more than purely financial; their influence over

  • Matt Johnson

    Matt Johnson operates in broadly the same arena as his onetime tutor Charles Ray, producing highly polished work that makes the everyday strange. For his second solo exhibition at this gallery, the New York–born, Los Angeles–based artist presented an array of painted carved-wood sculptures distinguished by a truly extraordinary degree of physical verisimilitude. Reaching rather strenuously for higher meaning, the press release describes without apparent self-consciousness the ways in which “these simple moments of dispossession become the generators of their own poiesis,” but somehow glosses

  • Jonathan Meese

    Inspired by the singular if unfashionable vision of Franz Erhard Walther, under whom he studied at Hamburg’s Hochschule für Bildende Künste in the late 1990s, Jonathan Meese has developed a self-consciously grandiose vision of “total art” that continues to shape his output and its reception. This exhibition, “DR. TRANS-FORM-ERZ,” gathered seventy-odd drawings made by the German artist over the past twenty years or so, but only scratched the surface of his expansive and deliberately contrarian practice. A scattershot installation of works on paper in the gallery’s ground-level space was paired

  • Denzil Forrester

    I have an enduring memory of an early-1990s set by legendary dub reggae DJ Jah Shaka at the North London club the Rocket that garnered the performer all the more respect for his stubborn reliance on a single turntable: no hyperactive cutting and scratching here. Shaka’s simple, unhurried approach signaled absolute confidence in a perfect selection of tracks, the effect of which was immediate and immersive. The aural space that dub establishes through the use of echo, reverb, and other effects—Claude Debussy’s oft-quoted line about music residing in the space between the notes is nowhere

  • Hugh Scott-Douglas

    When British artist Rebecca Moss boarded the container ship Hanjin Geneva last summer to begin a “traveling” residency arranged by Access Gallery in Vancouver, she expected to arrive in Shanghai twenty-three days later. But after the craft’s operator, the Seoul-based Hanjin Shipping Company, went bust a mere week into the voyage, Moss ended up in Tokyo instead, the Geneva having been denied access to its intended port amid worries that docking fees would go unpaid. The artist made it onto dry land just a couple of days later than planned, but the crew members of numerous other Hanjin ships

  • Jaya Howey

    Like many (I’d wager most) “professional” artists, Jaya Howey is also a teacher. But while the tendency among his contemporaries is to compartmentalize their paired roles out of an unstated concern that the prosaic realities of the latter will tarnish the mystic aura of the former, Howey used this exhibition to dissolve the barrier between them. Although the past ten years have seen the emergence of art-as-pedagogy as a fully fledged subgenre—think, to pick one historically aware example, of the Bruce High Quality Foundation’s riffs on Beuys’s chalkboards—it hasn’t consistently focused

  • Nancy Shaver

    Though not billed as a group exhibition, “Dress the Form” contained multitudes, featuring contributions from nearly thirty individual artists alongside numerous collaborative and found efforts. In an exuberantly busy installation inspired in part by the catholic formalism of Henry, her antique shop in Hudson, New York, coordinating artist Nancy Shaver endeavored to further collapse the differences between professional and amateur, conceptual and formal, and—especially—functional and decorative. Shaver intended that the show’s objects be considered for their immediately apparent qualities

  • John Akomfrah

    In 1982, Ghana-born, London-based artist John Akomfrah cofounded the Black Audio Film Collective with fellow students at Portsmouth Polytechnic, aiming to kick-start a specifically black culture of politically and theoretically attuned moving-image work in the UK. The group’s landmark 1986 film Handsworth Songs, which Akomfrah directed, employs a characteristic mix of broadcast news footage, still photography, and audio montage to deconstruct the riots that had taken place in Birmingham, UK, and London the previous year. BAFC disbanded in 1998, but Akomfrah has continued to collaborate with

  • Martí Cormand

    In 2010, workers beginning the construction of a new subway station in front of Berlin’s city hall made a series of unexpected discoveries. First, they came across the remains of the city’s original hall, dating back to 1290. Then they found something more recent but equally extraordinary: eleven early-twentieth-century sculptures missing since World War II. All the works, by artists including Otto Freundlich, Naum Slutzky, and Marg Moll, were on the Nazis’ “un-German” blacklist; several had also been included in “Entartete Kunst” (Degenerate Art), the notorious 1937 touring exhibition commissioned

  • diary September 09, 2016

    Begin Again

    SHIFTING FROM THE START of a new school year in the morning to the season’s first round of Chelsea gallery openings in the evening was never going to be an entirely smooth transition, but there was at least a measure of common feeling among those who, on a Thursday evening, flooded the dozen blocks of former taxi garages that so many of us in the biz call home. There was a wholly expected though sometimes still jarring mix of excitement and resignation among the crowds wandering from one space to the next that made for a telling barometer of status and mindset, as the prospect of a new raft of