Michael Wilson

  • picks June 27, 2002

    “Remarks on Color”

    “Remarks on Color”

    This elegantly staged exhibition takes its title from Gary Hill’s 1994 video, which is in turn named for Wittgenstein’s classic investigative text. As Hill’s young daughter reads the philosopher’s words out loud, struggling valiantly with their elliptical complexities, we are reminded that color may be both a subject of serious study and joyously beyond reason, at once hermetic and seductive. Joseph Kosuth plays on the conceptual end of the subject in his neon text No Number #16 (On Color/Red), 1989, which reads “IF I EXPECT TO SEE RED, THEN I PREPARE MYSELF FOR RED.” Callum Innes and Dan Flavin

  • picks May 24, 2002

    Maurizio Cattelan

    Maurizio Cattelan

    Today, to function as a kind of neorealist working in a geographically and culturally specific context but thriving in a global art world takes some luck—but, more importantly, it takes an understanding of what is geographically topical. Maurizio Cattelan possesses both. Where his installation of Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite, La Nona Ora (The ninth hour), 2000, seemed quaintly Old World (or Italian) a couple of years ago, it seems presciently American in today’s climate, with the Catholic church embroiled in a major sex scandal. Cattelan’s latest piece, Frank & Jamie, 2002, a

  • picks May 09, 2002

    Roe Ethridge

    Roe Ethridge

    Roe Ethridge compares the structure of his new series of photographs, “The Bow‚” 2002, to that of a monthly magazine with a list of regular sections, a unifying theme, and a lead story. It certainly seems like a decent working model for a show, suggesting both a consciously and clearly designed arrangement and a casual mode of looking. The cover, of course, is graced by the artist himself, pictured with a very real yet perfectly black eye suffered while rock-climbing at Montauk Point. The rest is a hodgepodge of pigeons in flight, bucolic country landscapes, and an oceangoing cargo ship subjected

  • picks May 08, 2002

    Julião Sarmento

    Julião Sarmento

    A book lies open across a young woman’s bare legs; two snails wrap themselves around each other in a glistening mass; a car idles outside an anonymous house: The images that make up Julião Sarmento’s slide installation Flashback, 1999, appear at first to be a free-floating selection of snapshots and cutouts. On closer scrutiny, however, it becomes evident that they possess a subtle yet deliberate erotic charge, which slowly reveals itself as the sequence unfolds to the accompaniment of a languorous pop sound track by Arto Lindsay. Along the way, we glimpse a small universe of sensation in which

  • picks May 07, 2002

    Gabriel Kuri

    Gabriel Kuri

    The most outwardly modest of Gabriel Kuri’s recent works also proves to be the most affecting. In this exhibition, an artificial bush peeks through an opening in a high-tech silver foil emergency blanket, while plastic bunting overflows from a battered, splattered wheelbarrow and a sheet of yellowing newsprint is held to the wall by a multicolored constellation of pins (all works Untitled, 2002). Incongruous juxtapositions of commonplace objects, these improvised sculptural sketches elude strict conceptual logic, aligning themselves instead with a poetic lineage running from arte povera through

  • picks May 07, 2002

    Thomas Struth

    Thomas Struth

    The disinterested stance and steady gaze of Bernd and Hiller Becher, Thomas Struth’s mentors at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, remains as indelibly apparent in his work as in that of former fellow students Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff. Five interior views of Berlin’s Pergamon museum form the latest additions to Struth’s ongoing museums project, begun in 1989. Built to house a reconstructed altar dating from the second century BC, this institution’s monolithic juxtapositions of the very old and the very new are made all the more striking by the deadpan veracity of Struth's images. Unlike many

  • picks March 08, 2002

    Karen Kilimnik

    Karen Kilimnik

    Sometimes it feels as if the world has gone Kilimnik. A collection of snapshots of a snowy Central Park ringed by horse-drawn carriages captures just such a moment, making for a perfect introduction to the artist’s seventh solo outing at 303 Gallery. While visitors to the Armory Show were treated to her willfully unreliable guide to contemporary New York in the catalogue, here Kilimnik reaches into the city’s past for inspiration. Five sugary mock-Impressionist cityscapes are credited to a fin-de-siècle alter ego but remain distinguishable from the real deal by their slippery surfaces. The rest

  • picks February 26, 2002

    Simon Starling

    Simon Starling

    British artist Simon Starling takes the legacy of modernism as his raw material, appropriating and reworking objects of established significance in such a way that their functionality is altered and the complexity of their origins and references exposed. Inverted Retrograde Theme, USA (House for a Songbird), 2002, is a topsy-turvy homage to modular systems developed by two Austrian émigrés: architect Simon Schmiderer and composer Arnold Schönberg. Built in Puerto Rico in the 1960s, Schmiderer’s concrete houses were technologically innovative, but their open-plan design left them vulnerable during

  • picks February 25, 2002

    Saint Clair Cemin

    Saint Clair Cemin at Cheim & Read

    Employing a near-schizophrenic range of media, techniques, styles, and scales, Saint Clair Cemin takes the birth of his daughter as the starting point for a new series of sculptures. Collectively titled “The Mind,” these are in fact very far from an overly intellectual conceptualization of the event in question. Rather than illustrating the processes of growth and learning, Cemin seeks to embody them in the idiosyncratic shapes and hand-crafted surfaces of his work. Though Cemin writes about his own art with a wearisome earnestness (his statement is brief but demands considerable patience),

  • picks February 25, 2002

    Stephen Vitiello

    New Work by Stephen Vitiello

    New York sound artist Stephen Vitiello may have a hi-fi geek’s love of equipment (this is the only exhibition I know of in which a Moogerfooger ring modulator plays a critical role), but fortunately he’s not too precious about it. In fact, several of the works here are based around acts of violence committed against stereo components and vinyl albums, not to mention the eardrums of the audience. As if in inverted homage to Robert Morris’s Box with the Sound of its Own Making, 1962, Vitiello takes an ax, a canon, and a bow and arrow to his speakers and treats us to the recorded sounds of their

  • picks February 21, 2002

    Munro Galloway

    Munro Galloway

    The heavy, sweet aroma of innocence is perhaps not the first thing one expects to come wafting down the hall from the open entrance of a gallery, but Munro Galloway's current exhibition, “The Floating World,” is a truly mystical experience with all the trimmings. The fragrance in question emanates from three portly, laughing Buddhas, each one surrounded with fresh lotus petals. Cast in resin and inflated with an admixture of assorted cure-alls, including Tylenol, ecstasy, ginseng, and vitamin C, Everything Goes Up in Smoke, 2001, encapsulates the chemical nausea of the culture clash between East

  • picks January 16, 2002

    Guy Richards Smit

    Guy Richards Smit at Team

    “I’m shaking hands like a pro yo / both at group shows and solos / and my jaw is a wreck / from talking, smiling, and cheap blow.” Guy Richards Smit’s Passerby, 2001–2002, named for Gavin Brown’s bar, is a tough-cute promo for a pop song about the collapse of the New York art market. Thoroughly immersed in the milieu they parody, Smit’s videos transmit a classically adolescent fusion of ironic cool with the near-hysterical desire for acceptance. Zoë Come Home, 2001, assigns each of his group’s five members their own individual screen, uniting them in their alienation from both self and scene.

  • picks January 16, 2002

    Clara Williams

    Clara Williams's Panoramic Sculpture

    Clara Williams finds an effective second use for a few of those surplus Christmas trees recently discarded in “Something Like This,” her first solo show in New York. In a gallery heaped with Styrofoam snow and furtively occupied by small stuffed animals, Williams conjures a pared-down winter panorama. Modeled after Edouard Castres’s sweeping 1881 panorama L'Arrivée de l'armée de General Bourbaki, her transformation of a nondescript interior is equal parts natural history museum and tableau vivant. Wandering past the cliffs and ridges, peering into the glassy eyes of raccoons, weasels, and small

  • picks January 16, 2002

    Jonathan Monk

    Jonathan Monk at Casey Kaplan

    “1. The artist may construct the piece. 2. The piece may be fabricated. 3. The piece may not be built. (Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.)” Lawrence Weiner’s classic credo from 1968 is perhaps familiar to the point of invisibility, but its inclusion here is more unexpected. Each letter of the text is perched atop the head of a figure in an anonymous group photograph, introducing Jonathan Monk’s preoccupation with combining the names and strategies of Conceptual art with an endearing

  • picks January 10, 2002

    Kristin Oppenheim

    Kristin Oppenheim's Black Sabbath Karaoke

    It does the heart good, especially at this time of year, to walk into a gallery and see half a dozen small children in silver dresses whirling around the room to the overamped rumble of Kristin Oppenheim’s Black Sabbath. Even if it’s not exactly the band we know and love but rather a haunting, high-energy tribute, this death disco described as a “theatrical light-sound installation,” consisting of no more additional input than strobe lighting, the artist’s karaoke vocals, and an assortment of ominous special effects offers scant satisfaction to those (surely a precious few?) not enamored of

  • picks December 17, 2001

    Knut Åsdam

    Åsdam Explores the Psychopolitics of the City

    Informed by the notion of “psychastenia,” a dynamics of subjectivity and space derived from french critic Roger Callois's eccentric theories about insect camouflage, New York-based Norwegian Knut Åsdam presents a meandering exploration of the political and psychological space of the city. Contained and concealed by two black tent-like structures are a trio of installations in which Åsdam marshals slides, video, and sound to evoke a complex pattern of influence haunted by the ghosts of Paris ’68. The themes and aesthetic of Notes Towards a Dissipation of Desire, 2001, Cluster Praxis, 2000, and

  • picks December 07, 2001

    “Widely Unknown”

    A Work in Chaos at Deitch Projects

    “Widely Unkown” is exactly the kind of show that looks best in Jeffrey Deitch’s rough-cut Grand Street barn. Chaotic, flawed, very much a work in progress, it oozes the same strain of infectious energy as last year’s “Street Market” exhibition. The dozen artists included here work with a wide variety of themes and approaches; perhaps the most intriguing are those of buZ Blurr and Bill Daniel. Blurr, a “rail/mail artist,” has spent the past three decades marking railroad boxcars with an enigmatic combination of image and text. Daniel’s atmospheric film installation The Girl on the Train in the

  • picks December 07, 2001

    Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg

    A Sideways Glance at Recent Art

    Brooklyn-based duo Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg have been collaborating since 1987, but their practice retains a lively and endearing eclecticism. On view in this show are three new works, the most striking of which is 40.744829, -074.006484 (all works 2001). Taking its title from the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of the gallery, this sprawling installation comprises a thousand handmade pillows. Modeled into a rough crater and extending into every nook and cranny of the main space, it forms a witty, domestic take on Earthworks and scatter sculpture. Show and Tell (Naked and

  • picks October 31, 2001

    Jeremy Blake

    • The Gelatinous Fantastic

    The narrative that Jeremy Blake employs to introduce his new DVD projections is necessarily convoluted. At the entrance to the gallery, a suite of drawings tells the story of fictional mod architect “Slick” Rhoades who, banished from his native England for demolishing a castle in order to construct a home for “stylish vampires,” arrives in California to realize a vision of the future. This tale helps Blake’s still-experimental methodology, preventing his flowing animations—gelatinous, digitally-animated textures and shapes—from becoming too indulgently wayward or ornamental. Aiming for a hypnotic,

  • picks October 22, 2001

    Miroslaw Balka

    • Miroslaw Balka at Gladstone

    In the wake of September 11, Miroslaw Balka’s new work takes on added significance. The artist’s preoccupations with history and death find formal expression here in a suite of austere and elegant installations. Adhering to a spare and muted palette, Balka employs a variety of materials—water, salt, soap—that possess a symbolic resonance rooted in his Catholic upbringing in Poland. Their quiet solemnity demands that we approach them, if not with reverence, then at least in a patient and reflective mood. The use of two sounds—footsteps echoing through a gas chamber in the concentration camp at