Michael Wilson

  • picks February 24, 2011

    Geoffrey Farmer

    In his suggestively titled US debut, “Bacon’s Not the Only Thing That Is Cured by Hanging from a String,” Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer plays the damaged and delicate against the faux architectural, employing a collage logic that, while stylish, happily never settles into a comfortable groove. Known for a mercurial refusal of fixity and completion—many of his works are designed to change over the course of their public lives—Farmer produces objects and installations that rope found images and forms into a dance of shifting reference and formal tension. In this exhibition, the Vancouver-based

  • Rebecca Morris

    “Abstraction never left, motherfuckers.” Los Angeles painter Rebecca Morris adopts a confrontational tone in her 2006 text Manifesto (For Abstractionists and Friends of the Non-Objective), but viewers less intimately invested in the rise and fall and rise of her chosen mode may wonder at the necessity of such combative sloganeering. It may be true that when Morris graduated from art school back in the mid-1990s, other practices were in the spotlight, but is there still a need to bolster work of this kind with a pose of such clubbish toughness? Perhaps I’m taking her apparent indignation the

  • diary January 01, 2011

    Palm Reading

    THE SHORT DRIVE from the Norton Museum of Art to the opulent Breakers hotel takes the visitor past some notable landmarks, including the picturesque Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. Built in 1925 in Spanish Gothic style, the building was also the venue for Donald Trump’s characteristically extravagant January 2005 wedding to Melania Knauss. As we made our way down South County Road, Graham Russell, the Norton’s associate director of development, recalled flocks of souvenir hunters descending the moment the ceremony was over, stripping the place of flowers in a matter of minutes. And as a

  • Daniel Bauer

    The subject matter of Daniel Bauer’s “Νεφελοκοκκυγία” (Cloudcuckooland)—the inevitable erosion of utopian modernism’s high ideals by the vagaries of everyday life—is overfamiliar to the point of nostalgia. Wasn’t this the theme du jour a decade ago? Or has it achieved a kind of evergreen status, become a standard tune to break into when all else fails? Bauer’s exhibition—his second at this gallery—was altogether too polite to make even this question feel urgent. But subject matter, after all, isn’t everything, and the nine photographs and single video featured are sufficiently

  • Chris Caccamise

    GEOMETRIC ABSTRACTION WILL SAVE AMERICA, reads the eponymous text of one of Chris Caccamise’s 2010 constructions, fourteen of which were on display in the artist’s fifth New York solo exhibition. A bold claim indeed. But while Uncle Sam’s travails may have led some to trumpet yet again the death of irony, such reports are, as ever, greatly exaggerated. Neither an abstract revival nor Caccamise’s works themselves—in spite of their abundant charm—seems likely to make much impression on the country at large. Caccamise’s show has the visual appeal of a well-designed toy and the verbal

  • Laurent Grasso

    With their 1991 novel The Difference Engine, which imagines the social repercussions on Victorian Britain had Charles Babbage successfully invented the mechanical computer in the 1820s, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling created the definitive novel of the now-popular sci-fi subgenre known as steam-punk. Driven by nostalgia for a vision of a future that never came to pass, and by an attendant obsession with obscure and obsolete technology, steampunk has since become a widespread trope in literature, music, and popular culture at large. Laurent Grasso’s work—though not a pure representation of

  • Eric Fertman

    Suggesting a joint venture between Philip Guston and R. Crumb (or, to choose a name less feted in the art world, MAD magazine’s Don Martin), Eric Fertman’s clubfooted sculptures combine craft with comedy in a style that, while aesthetically endearing, so far lacks the bite of his influences. Wielding slender brass and steel rods, Fertman joins together smoothly rounded bulbs of stained wood into anthropomorphic abstractions that, in his second show at Susan Inglett Gallery, filled a compact room to bursting. On display were also a number of other works—some sculptural, others graphic—that in

  • Daniel von Sturmer

    On the smooth, gridded surface of a black plastic cutting mat, a tiny drama unfolds. A slender prod, coated in some kind of putty and manipulated by an unseen hand, shoves a little gray ball into the center of the frame. This accomplished, the tool moves offscreen, only to return with a slightly larger ball coated in bright orange fuzz. With no small amount of effort, and after several unsuccessful attempts, it eventually contrives to stack one sphere atop the other. And for a final trick, it places the now conjoined forms atop a diminutive octagonal column. Three further endeavors follow a

  • Elias Hansen

    Do you want in?; I used to come here all the time; I could talk to you all night. The titles of Elias Hansen’s sculptures, most of which combine colored glass vessels with a variety of battered found objects in arrangements that evoke an abandoned home laboratory, suggest lines from an intimate dialogue that is at once highly personal and entirely generic. “This is the last place I could hide,” Hansen’s recent New York solo debut, saw the Tacoma, Washington–based artist attempt to fuse a rough-and-ready aesthetic with a refined technical skill (he makes all the glassware himself) in the service

  • Laurent Millet

    The title of Laurent Millet’s fourth solo exhibition at this gallery, “The Last Days of Immanuel Kant,” may have led some viewers to anticipate a po-faced Conceptual deconstruction of the Critique of Judgment, but the French artist’s photographs are surprisingly light and playful affairs, requiring little if any knowledge of eighteenth-century epistemology. In fact, the show’s moniker is borrowed from a novella by Thomas De Quincey that traces the tail end of the eminent philosopher’s life through the gradual waning of his once-acute senses. Millet’s shots of his own sculptural tableaux mirror

  • picks September 29, 2010

    Santiago Sierra

    Santiago Sierra has staked out a territory of brutal logic in which the myriad and persistent injustices of global capitalism are distilled into the rawest of images and acts. His 2008 film Los Penetrados (The Penetrated), shown here with two groups of stills, is perhaps the most striking example yet of the artist’s uncompromising politicized extension of “classic” Conceptualism’s ritualized, deadpan schematic. In the forty-five-minute video, various combinations of men and women, black and white, are positioned on ten blankets laid out in a large, mirrored room. We then watch as they engage in

  • diary September 17, 2010

    East Side Story

    “RESTLESS, THEY FINALLY pull out to honeycomb the streets for an hour of endless tight right turns: falafel joint, jazz joint, gyro joint, corner. Schoolyard, creperie, realtor, corner. Tenement, tenement, tenement museum, corner.” To the lists of premises with which Richard Price opens his Lower East Side–set novel Lush Life, itself the subject of a recent group of exhibitions in the very neighborhood it describes, the author might perhaps have added “gallery.” Now, a scant two years after the book appeared, what may then have read like an afterthought now feels essential. After an overstuffed

  • Noam Rappaport

    In the paintings of Noam Rappaport, the canvas assumes a character of its own, becoming an ingredient with weight equal to that of any other. In his first solo exhibition at White Columns, the artist gave stretcher bars—usually hidden completely—a similar identity, and did the same for a list of other structural bits and pieces, from nails and screws to wiring. The New York–based artist seems to aim for a kind of material transparency, through a practice that also constantly directs our attention to the modest and the everyday.

    Rappaport’s constructions, then, have a rawness that reveals a

  • Tod Wizon

    Rarely has a series been titled more aptly than Tod Wizon’s “Little Darknesses,” 1996. The acrylic panel paintings that make up this suite of fourteen nocturnes are a uniform eleven by eight inches and lean on a somber palette of dense blues, punctuated by waves of gray and shafts of radiant yellow. Essentially abstract but strongly suggestive of oceanic vistas and drama on a cosmic scale, they were here secreted in the gallery’s basement, as if they had been stewing there for years in their own doomy, romantic juice. Arranged in a numbered sequence loosely suggestive of narrative flow, these

  • diary August 25, 2010

    Back and Fourth


    LONDON’S FOURTH PLINTH public art project is beginning to feel like something of an institution, which is perhaps appropriate given its proximity to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Designed by Sir Charles Barry in 1841 as the support for a conventional equestrian statue, the pedestal on which the series is literally and figuratively based was left unadorned for some 150 years after the money ran out (some things never change). Then, in 1998, the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce commissioned British artists Mark Wallinger, Bill Woodrow, and Rachel

  • diary July 28, 2010

    Interpretation of Dreams

    New York

    “IF YOU BUILD IT, they will come.” It’s a misquotation, of course, the correct line being “If you build it, he will come,” but the Bruce High Quality Foundation clearly had more than a solitary spectral ballplayer in mind when they borrowed the title of Phil Alden Robinson’s movie Field of Dreams. Joining forces with producer Andres Levin and operating under the Celebrate Brooklyn! banner, the wry collective took over Prospect Park’s bandshell on a recent Saturday for an afternoon of performance, installation, and music. Pursuing its stated aim of “fostering an alternative to everything,” the

  • diary July 20, 2010

    Park Life

    Callicoon, New York

    IT’S NOT VERY OFTEN that a bleeding-edge gallery from Bushwick is forced to compete for attention with an oblivious herd of alpacas, but such was the unusual situation in which Guillermo Creus’s start-up Fortress to Solitude found itself on a Saturday afternoon. Occupying a homemade pop-up booth in Callicoon Creek Park for NADA’s County Affair, Creus and crew made the best of an unusual setting, sipping iced lemonade as excited children and adults skipped past their neat display of paintings en route to the gawky animals’ enclosure nearby. But the collective members were scarcely the only city

  • diary July 13, 2010

    Taste Buds

    New York


    “And that’s a fake penis . . .”

    The withering judgments, delivered with unshakable authority (and a dose of affection) by two men seated behind me at the Swiss Institute’s makeshift multiplex, were directed at Mike Kuchar’s Splatter Movie. A highlight of the film program at the nonprofit’s Saturday night Battle of Bad Taste party, the lurid short moves with alarming rapidity from close-up blow-job action to unsolicited amputation by chainsaw, the latter moment eliciting howls of laughter from an enthusiastic house. Over-the-top is the California director’s m.o., so it

  • diary June 23, 2010

    As You Wish

    New York

    I WISH LIFE WAS EASY; I WISH FOR INNER PEACE; I WISH FOR A HOLIDAY ON THE BEACH. The last of these pleas—all samplings from Rivane Neuenschwander’s participatory installation Eu desejo o seu desejo (I Wish Your Wish)—seemed not only the most achievable ambition but also the most timely, as guests arriving late to the Brazilian artist’s Tuesday night opening at the New Museum looked distinctly soggy after a summer storm. The mottos were printed on ribbons arranged around the walls of the lobby, and viewers were invited to take and wear one in exchange for suggestions of their own. If scoping

  • picks June 22, 2010

    Tucker Nichols

    “I made a lot of the work from the perspective of someone who had heard a lot about New York, maybe from his uncle or from a pamphlet from the World’s Fair, but had never been.” Tucker Nichols’s remark to curator Dakin Hart suggests that the perspective afforded by time spent on a bucolic California residency may have been the defining influence on his new show’s juxtaposition of homespun craft and big-city buzz. The linear networks that appear in many of the paintings and drawings here seem to reference the metropolitan street grid by way of fields and hedgerows, while in his sculpture, the