Michael Wilson

  • diary March 12, 2012

    Modern Things

    BJÖRK GUÐMUNDSDÓTTIR, elfin pop savant and, with the recent release of her multimedia project Biophilia, Iceland’s leading iPad bore, may be a perky charmer, but her team is as chilly as their employer’s home. Asking this aloof trio whether photography was permitted at the singer-songwriter’s Thursday afternoon Armory Show Open Forum Panel with performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson (part of a slew of Scandinavian-focused talks at the fair), I received the decision, delivered with relish: “You know what? No.” Video was verboten too, as were interviews, recording, eating, drinking, impertinence…

  • Greg Parma Smith

    It’s not often that practitioners of academic figure painting are identified as a subculture, but when Greg Parma Smith used the term in relation to such artists in his exhibition “Life Drawings, Poseurs, and ‘thirteen oil paintings on canvas,’” the classification didn’t seem entirely off-the-wall. Juxtaposing nude studies with paintings that sample from comic strips, a handmade book of graffiti-style lettering and imagery, and a cartoonlike wall painting, Smith’s show made a case for connecting stylistically divergent representations of the body to niche interests identified with particular

  • diary February 21, 2012

    Brooklyn Bridge

    IN THE BROOKLYN NEIGHBORHOOD arguably best known to outsiders for much-profiled hipster-gourmet pizza joint Roberta’s, a post-Williamsburg art scene has latterly been on the rise. Bushwick has been an area of choice for artists for at least half a decade, with a cluster of galleries following immediately in the pioneers’ wake. Until now, these venues have been of the low-budget, artist-run stripe, but with the arrival of Luhring Augustine in a new location at the corner of Knickerbocker Avenue and Ingraham Street, a sea change might be in the offing. The Chelsea A-lister’s annex, a forbidding

  • Ian Pedigo

    An Article from Distant Memory, A Necklace of Broken Windows, Skeleton: The titles of Ian Pedigo’s new sculptures and photographs—not to mention his use of shattered glass, driftwood, and bone—lent the artist’s fourth solo appearance at this gallery an elegiac and slightly eerie mood. The artifacts and images that populated “Dawn Goes by Round the Neck” (the title is adapted from Surrealist poet Paul Éluard) have been altered via a series of offbeat formal tweaks and pairings that suggest a quietly experimental, performative approach to object making. But while the artist recasts his

  • Michelle Lopez

    Turning Minimalist form against itself is hardly a new idea—one might even consider it a genre unto itself—but it still offers room for maneuver. In “Vertical Neck,” her second solo exhibition at Simon Preston, Brooklyn-based artist Michelle Lopez presented a strong, clean suite of five new sculptures that capitalize on the movement’s enduring legacy but sidestep parody and polemic to arrive at a more subtly allusive language. Lopez isn’t afraid of explicit critical reference—in 2009’s Portrait of Artist as Special Mission Project/Akira Revisited, for example, she went after

  • Luke Stettner

    In Luke Stettner’s almost colorless New York solo debut, one work stood out: a squat column of bright plastic plates—seven small ones stacked atop nine large. It has the look of a toy, though it turns out to be anything but; Stettner has fashioned the cheery 1970s vintage dishes, sourced from his childhood home, into an urn for his father’s ashes. He ground the original funerary vessel, a traditional marble affair, into dust and displayed it here under water and oil in a straight glass vase that resembles a laboratory test tube. Both vessels sit on slender wooden—ash, get it?—pedestals,

  • diary October 28, 2011

    Höller Back

    NECKING SICKLY-SWEET themed cocktails with names like “Love Drug” and “Magic Mushroom” may offer a challenge to the senses, but Carsten Höller surely had something more unusual in mind when he titled his New Museum exhibition “Experience.” Perhaps the dressed-up hordes that packed the Bowery building’s lobby for the show’s Tuesday evening opening felt an added need to get their drink on before tackling its vaunted wonders—supposedly the equal of anything at Six Flags and sprinkled with magical relational-aesthetic fairy dust (meaning it was officially OK to have a laugh). A few began by donning

  • Cynthia Daignault

    Like a conceptual puzzle with too easy a solution, Cynthia Daignault’s project has a transparency that hews perilously close to the counterproductive. But while her art seems at first to refuse any possibility of mystery or “expression,” instead dealing explicitly with the mechanisms of visual display and institutional context, it is more than just an arid joke. Unusually for a display of oil-on-linen paintings, Daignault’s exhibition at White Columns was designed specifically for and in response to the existing features and proportions of the gallery’s main space and lobby. Yet while unequivocally

  • diary September 06, 2011

    Ferry Tale

    I’D ANTICIPATED a quiet ferry ride out from downtown Manhattan for the first Friday of this year’s Governors Island Art Fair, which continues on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout September. The reality was rather different, as a crowd several hundred strong milled noisily around South Street terminal’s bare-bones waiting room before streaming onto the boat like there was a tropical storm at its back. Evidently, the former British colonial administrative base was now a firm fixture on the tourist map. But once we arrived at our destination, the hordes seemed to melt away, and I struck

  • Zofia Rydet

    If she is now remembered at all, Polish photographer Zofia Rydet (1911–97) is probably best known for “Zapis Socjologiczny” (Sociological Record), 1978–88. This epic cycle of images—her last—consists of more than thirty thousand negatives and documents the humble realities of Polish village life, focusing in particular on ordinary people at home. The black-and-white shots, though predictably gritty, aren’t quite as dry as their censuslike title suggests; many celebrate a surprising flair for interior decoration on the part of their otherwise unassuming subjects. “The World of Feelings

  • Matt Keegan

    Titling his recent exhibition for Milton Glaser’s iconic I♥NY logo but replacing the original’s stylized heart with a stylized apple, Matt Keegan framed the show as a tribute—albeit a periodically ambivalent one—to the city. In an interview that takes the place of a press release, Keegan grills the veteran designer about, among other things, his negotiation of the myriad changes that New York has undergone in the course of Glaser’s lengthy career. The designer is philosophical, admitting that times are still tough for many, but finally sides with his hometown: “It’s hard for me to

  • diary August 03, 2011

    Upstate, Downstate

    THE TINY UPSTATE BURG of Hudson, New York, is a mere two hours from Manhattan via Amtrak, but still holds out the promise of escape from the stresses and strains of the city’s always-“on” gallery circuit. Hudson’s days as a center of vice—prior to a 1951 cleanup, its two square miles were apparently chockablock with gambling dens and brothels—are long gone, and the main drag now sprouts antique stores and stylish cafés where once there were seedy gin joints. Last weekend, however, wasn’t one for a low-key break; NADA was staging an event at the Basilica Hudson, and within five minutes of taking

  • diary July 15, 2011

    Parrish the Thought

    DEPARTING FROM AN ANONYMOUS STREET CORNER in midtown Manhattan, the Hampton Jitney (a basic bus that’s the transport of choice for those embarrassingly bereft of the true convenience that only a private helicopter can offer) doubles as a whistle-stop tour of some less tony neighborhoods as it barrels out of town. Among these is Long Island City, and since we had hit the road on a summer Saturday, my fellow escapees and I were treated to a view of the line that wraps itself around MoMA PS1 whenever the institution’s seasonal Warm Up parties are in session.

    The club kids who brought up the rear

  • Talia Chetrit

    There was nothing outwardly difficult about Talia Chetrit’s second New York solo show; eight modestly scaled, soberly framed black-and-white photographs—all but one made this year—ranged evenly around the walls of a small gallery. The prints themselves look simple, too, or at least pared-down. But in her crisp, elegant shots, Chetrit makes everything count, bringing sculptural concerns to bear on a two-dimensional form and referring to historical precedents even as she launches an inquiry into the future of the image. There’s no apparent digital manipulation here, and most compositions

  • diary May 19, 2011

    Coast to Coast

    FRAMED IN GENTLE OPPOSITION to a perceived “cultural amnesia” about the art-world significance of Los Angeles, “Greater LA” gathers work by some forty-seven of the city’s artists in the appropriately sprawling environs of a supersize SoHo loft. Organized by art advisor Eleanor Cayre, New Museum curator Benjamin Godsill, and Untitled Gallery boss Joel Mesler, the show is thus aimed less at introducing new names and more at reminding New Yorkers that many of their fave raves likely share the same West Coast stomping ground. And while an introductory wall text quoting Anthony Kiedis’s lyrics for

  • diary May 02, 2011

    Archive Fever

    “ARE YOU TECHNICOLOR?” Squeezing into my seat at a cramped table for Anthology Film Archives’s eighteenth annual Film Preservation Honors Dinner and fortieth-anniversary benefit concert at City Winery last Wednesday evening, I was unprepared for what seemed like an unusually abstract conversation starter. I felt fine, but this flamboyant-sounding descriptor might have been pushing it somewhat. As it turned out however, my tablemates—all employees of cineast video distributors the Criterion Collection—had been anticipating the arrival of a higher-up from the famed film production company. But

  • “Marco Brambilla: The Dark Lining”

    Having graduated from commercial filmmaking (he directed the 1993 sci-fi actioner Demolition Man) to video installation and photography, Marco Brambilla will make his solo museum debut with an array of eight works produced since 1999.

    Having graduated from commercial filmmaking (he directed the 1993 sci-fi actioner Demolition Man) to video installation and photography, Marco Brambilla will make his solo museum debut with an array of eight works produced since 1999. Visitors may have to forgo popcorn, but they will see the Los Angeles–based artist capitalize on his considerable technical know-how by weaving appropriated film and TV footage into some formally showy but critically astute tableaux, two of which will be projected in 3-D HD. These works address such modest topics as heaven and hell (Civilization

  • Paul Gabrielli

    For the major part of Paul Gabrielli’s sophomore solo exhibition, “Generally,” half a dozen everyday institutional features—a railing, a fire alarm, a soap dispenser, etc.—installed around the gallery’s front room at points appropriate to the functions they reference, were afflicted with awkward protrusions. Each artifact hosted a parasite that glommed onto its surface, evoking a tumor or a tick before any form of assemblage blessed with an art-historical pedigree. Here Gabrielli blended the found, the manipulated, and the constructed to loosen the hold of use value over even the most

  • diary April 11, 2011

    Sound Mind and Body

    “IF YOU’RE FROM NEW YORK, you’ll know this one.” As the image of an eye patch–sporting Kurt Russell flashed across twin screens behind the stage at West Village destination Le Poisson Rouge, the speaker struck up a portentous synth line and the audience burst into nostalgic applause. But the portly, middle-aged guy behind the keyboard wasn’t just playing to the crowd; the tense theme from 1981 cult actioner Escape from New York is one of his own compositions. Alan Howarth, performing here last Friday evening under the banner of the Unsound Festival New York, is something of an icon to fans of

  • picks April 08, 2011

    Andrew Kuo

    There’s a fascinating back and forth between the serious and the light-hearted in Andrew Kuo’s practice that can easily mislead viewers to a hastily conceived notion thereof (I’ll admit to having been one such person prior to this show, which is confrontationally titled “My List of Demands”). So while it doesn’t take long to grasp Kuo’s basic strategy—he repurposes geometric abstraction as a graphical information system by which to plot the ins and outs of his day-to-day existence and the fluctuations of his psyche—it can take a little longer to understand it as more than just a snarky gimmick.