Michael Wilson

  • Martí Cormand, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, picture of a woman/Adolf Ziegler, study of Hertha, 2016, diptych, graphite on paper, each 12 × 8 1/2".

    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

  • Left: Artist Lorna Simpson with Common. (Photo: Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn) Right: Artist Lynda Benglis. (Photo: Cheim & Read)
    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

  • Bernard Frize, Euros, 2015, acrylic and resin on canvas, 31 1/2 × 31 1/2". © Bernard Frize/ADGAP, Paris & ARS, New York.

    Bernard Frize

    “It is a rather complex thing to arrange situations in which you do nothing and things happen by themselves.” French artist Bernard Frize’s consciously paradoxical statement relates of course specifically to the activity (or nonactivity) of abstract painting, his rigorous approach to which continues to yield a beauty that is at once distanced and engaged. Through processes that, when they avoid gimmickry, tend toward the artless, Frize achieves results that echo the most outwardly expressive of styles, even as they otherwise approach the condition of machine-made permutations. “Dawn comes up so

  • Haris Epaminonda, Untitled #3 a/v, 2016, framed book page, lacquered Japanese wooden bowl, lacquered wooden pedestal, metal, dimensions variable.

    Haris Epaminonda

    Offering in lieu of an expository statement a meandering anecdote about one Mr. Morimoto—an elderly Japanese painter who purportedly graced a 2015 exhibition of hers at intervals “based on a timetable according to a graph depicting a fictional mountain”—Haris Epaminonda prefers to present viewers with the kind of narrative that, like Morimoto’s, “continues in the margins.” Using pedestals, tables, architectural modifications, and other devices to frame her works’ components, Epaminonda engineers displays with an almost pathologically neat-and-tidy look, rescuing them from airlessness

  • Left: Carlos Vega, dealer Jack Shainman, artist Barkley Hendricks, and Susan Hendricks. Right: Antwaun Sargent and Jiajia Fei. (Photos: Zach Hilty/BFA.com)
    diary May 31, 2016

    Bee Season

    TO THE FATHER of a four-year-old embroiled in the scramble for public pre-K slots, the idea of traveling two hours out of the city on a moist but still promising Sunday morning to attend an exhibition opening at a school felt distinctly masochistic. Should I be packing medical forms and trip disclaimers? A lunch box filled with nutritious, peanut-free snacks? The press bus waiting outside Jack Shainman Gallery in Chelsea, into which we were shepherded by a knot of clipboard-wielding PR peeps, did little to dispel the feeling that this was to be an excursion with a nostalgically pedagogical cast.

  • Maryam Jafri, Generic Corner (Canned Beans), 2015, ink-jet print, 16 1/2 × 20 1/2". From the series “Generic Corner,” 2015.

    Maryam Jafri

    Precious few artists, even in the wake of modernism’s varying efforts to demystify and deconstruct originality, would wish to see their work labeled “generic.” Maryam Jafri is a notable exception. Of course, it is not Jafri’s project itself that bears this dour tag, but rather the curious subgenre of consumer good that she depicts and reproduces. In a flawlessly realized installation of small photographs and objects (most purchased, some reconstructed using photographs adhered to boxes), Jafri explored the phenomenon of the unbranded product, prompting a rereading of these minimally packaged

  • Lisa Holzer, Inducement (2), 2016, ink-jet print on cotton paper, polyurethane on glass, 36 × 28". From the series “Inducement,” 2016.

    Lisa Holzer

    “To be a funny mom was what I wanted above all to be when I became a mom a few years ago. And ‘Be a funny mom’ seemed to be an ideally inept title for this show, my first one in New York. Hey there!” The cheerily self-conscious tone of Lisa Holzer’s statement about her recent exhibition at this small space, squirreled away in a maze of small offices, hews courageously near to the embarrassing; one can imagine her offspring finding it all mortifying in a scant few years, and they wouldn’t be entirely in the wrong. Yet on the evidence of this tight grouping of photographs (with textual and other

  • Penelope Umbrico, (Not) Easy Canvases, from Four Photographs of Rays of Sunlight in Grand Central Station . . . , 2015, fifteen giclée prints on polyester canvas, each 16 × 20".

    Penelope Umbrico

    Like words repeated over and over until they sound like the utterances of an alien tongue, Penelope Umbrico’s images are fascinating for their exploration of the differences between multiple photographs of the “same” subject—for the fact that no two shots can ever accurately be described as identical. Her true subject is thus not that which is pictured in her appropriated snaps, but the personal-social circumstances and technological-commercial processes through which they were arrived at. Pre-Internet, hers would have been a much tougher, perhaps impossible, undertaking. Now, the very

  • Josh Tonsfeldt, Adrenaline Tattoo, 2015, UV-cured pigment print on Hydrocal, spray paint, epoxy resin, ink, 32 × 48".

    Josh Tonsfeldt

    In Josh Tonsfeldt’s recent exhibition “Adrenaline,” images had a curious, often fugitive relationship to their sources, supports, and meanings. The New York–based artist prints photographs onto a variety of fragile-seeming surfaces and employs unusual processes such as hydrography to investigate the visual, conceptual, and emotional arenas of everyday life as mediated by the ubiquitous electronic screen. “Familiarity becomes something slippery in the timespan of making a picture,” he writes, characterizing this mutable relationship as “a machine-body behavior ready to play itself out in situations

  • View of “Jason Simon,” 2015. On floor: 2LGA5, 2015. On wall, from left: Production, 2015; Nobodys Road, 2015. Photo: Chris Austin.

    Jason Simon

    In an age when the entire history of recorded music is just a click away, it’s tempting to dismiss radio as a hopelessly antiquated medium. After all, why rely on a DJ when Spotify and iTunes allow you to compile your own playlists? Yet, as is often remarked, the self-curated online/digital experience, for all its potential, can ultimately become isolating. Conventional radio at its best retains the power to establish and strengthen the bonds of community by making a virtue of broadcasters’ idiosyncratic tastes and voices. And local radio can add to that a capacity to respond to specificities

  • Left: Outsider Art Fair director Andrew Edlin and dealer Stuart Parr. Right: The LAND Gallery at the Outsider Art Fair. (All photos: Casey Kelbaugh)
    diary January 24, 2016

    Quiet Riot

    “DID ANYONE TEACH YOU or did you just...know?”

    “Oh, he just knew.”

    The subject of this admiring if ultimately rather uncomfortable exchange was artist Kenya Hanley, whose funny and engaging drawings were on display in the LAND Gallery booth at the Outsider Art Fair’s Thursday evening vernissage. Hanley, seated rifling through some papers between his two fans, didn’t seem especially taken aback by being discussed in this way, but nor did he feel the need to chime in. Was this perhaps outsider art’s elusive delimiting factor—not a lack of formal training, a sidestepping of irony and fashion, or a

  • Left: Laurie Anderson's Heart of a Dog in Times Square. Right: Laurie Anderson. (All photos: Ka-Man Tse for @TSqArts)
    diary January 05, 2016

    Dog Days of Winter

    “MAN MOLDED THE DOMESTIC DOG in his own worst image...self-righteous as a lynch mob, servile and vicious, replete with the vilest coprophagic perversions...and what other animal tries to fuck your leg? Canine claims to our affection reek of contrived and fraudulent sentimentality.” So writes a characteristically unforgiving William S. Burroughs in The Cat Inside, his late-career paean to the Internet’s favorite critter. I generally consider myself a cat person too (hi Lyle!), but when my first assignment of the new year saw me huddled in Times Square on a bitterly (if, at last, seasonably) cold