Michelle Grabner

  • View of “Sheila Hicks,” 2011. Foreground: May I Have This Dance? (detail), 2002–2003. Back-ground: La Mémoire, 1972/2010.

    Sheila Hicks

    Vanishing Yellow (1964/2004) is very small, at least in comparison to the many works Sheila Hicks has made whose scale verges on the architectural. Yet, at barely 9 x 8 inches, this simple cotton-thread composition exemplifies the genius of the seventy-seven-year-old fiber artist, whose first major career retrospective opened at the ICA Philadelphia this past spring. Employing a basic slit-weave construction, Hicks has anointed the lower-left quadrant of this coarse-threaded off-white woven “painting” with yellow horizontal bands. The resultant object is as intimate as a manuscript illumination

  • Josh Kolbo

    “Pictures have a knack for supplanting the concrete, sliding as though self-lubricating around the globe, like poltergeists, they haunt the world they represent like vague recollections, inhabiting concrete forms briefly until slipping off to another host, a billboard here, a magazine page there, creating momentary associations, and chance resonances,” artist Walead Beshty recently wrote. Frustrated by this tendency in photography, Beshty turned to Adorno to explore the ways in which images might be able to “reclaim moments of heaviness,” challenging photographers to engage the concrete. This

  • John Henderson, Flowers, 2010, framed color photograph, 15 x 13".

    John Henderson

    “The Frugal Genius,” John Henderson’s first solo exhibition, offered four small paintings (the longest of which was twenty by sixteen inches), three cast-aluminum reliefs made to resemble paintings, one screen, and one framed photograph. The installation ringed the walls of Golden Gallery’s intimate storefront space with works that encompassed the range of painting’s many and often puzzling endgame strategies. From sweeping arabesque lines to tight fields of blocky impasto, a mash-up of gestures was represented, as Henderson self-consciously restaged various canonical modes of painterly expression

  • Christopher Wool, Untitled, 2010, enamel on linen, 96 x 78".

    Christopher Wool

    “There is always form there, whether it’s a form that can be repeated—and I’ve been trying for some time now to back away from that. I like to find something new each time, [taking up] the sum total of my experience.” This keen and succinct articulation on process, desire, and invention, delivered in a radio interview from 1996, might have issued from the mouth of Christopher Wool. Instead it is an observation on compositional method by the underground jazz musician Joe McPhee, a longtime influence on the painter. And leave it to the idiosyncratic Chicago gallery Corbett vs. Dempsey to host

  • Warrington Colescott

    Warrington Colescott is a master caricaturist. Together with that of his brother, Robert (who died last year), Warrington’s daily practice of probing, prodding, and reappropriating culture, history, and politics has produced a nearly boundless trove of comical social critique. Evincing a shared love for barbs and jokes, the work of both artists demonstrates a palpable confidence, a maximizing of the bitingly satiric narration that drives their inventive compositions. But while Robert had a natural facility with paint, employing bold color and erratic brushwork, Warrington found his place in the

  • Tony Tasset

    Contesting the progress-and-mastery saga of twentieth-century modernism, Chicago-based artist Tony Tasset spent much of the 1980s and ’90s meticulously crafting insolent, critical objects, and the nine works represented in this ten-year survey (1986–96) unambiguously assert his past affinity for blunt deconstructionist strategies. During that period, the artist through his ironic use of reductive geometry aimed to subvert the unitary, masculine authority of the then more recently canonized tropes of Minimalism—his objectless pedestals, empty shipping pallets, unmarked surfaces, and vacant vitrines

  • Jennifer Bolande

    Talent, David Robbins’s 1986 photographic work assembling eighteen black-and-white headshots of precocious peers then orbiting the neo-Conceptual East Village gallery Nature Morte and the fledgling Metro Pictures, includes a portrait of artist Jennifer Bolande. Smiling out from a field of now-illustrious figures such as Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Ashley Bickerton, and Jeff Koons is the young hopeful, finally getting her art-historical due at Milwaukee’s Institute of Visual Arts, with a full-blown survey aptly titled “Landmarks.” Known for simple poetic gestures and innovative photo objects,

  • Carrie Gundersdorf, Aurora Borealis, 2009, found images on paper, 20 1/2 x 31".
    picks July 21, 2010

    “New Icon”

    As a gratifying collection of new work by a vast range of Chicago-based artists, this exhibition aims to create “a contemporary sense of semiotic flexibility as a whole while allowing for individual experiences,” according to the catalogue essay by curator Britton Bertran, former director of the city’s Gallery 40,000. While he continues to demonstrate that he has a talent for identifying exceptional art, his current show’s tenuous thesis is too vague, although pardonably so. Despite the exhibition’s wobbly thematic—best summarized in Bertran’s essay with the crack, “Show me your icon and I’ll

  • Scott Wolniak

    Setting foot inside the apartment kitchen–cum–art gallery 65GRAND always gives one pause. Yet Scott Wolniak’s recent show, dispersed across the walls among domestic fixtures, felt peculiarly fitting within this unorthodox space (now in its sixth year of operation). His five paintings—all of them battered, modestly sized, and mono- chrome—tug at the ontological condition of the medium, albeit in an ungainly hand. All but one are humorously pierced with found projectiles that conspicuously violate the picture plane. But Wolniak’s conceit is not driven by some profound desire to examine the

  • James Welling

    “I picked up this wonderful word, ‘ventriloquism,’ and when I discovered photography, I realized that it was the perfect ventriloquist’s medium,” James Welling said in a 2003 interview with critic Jan Tumlir. “I could throw my voice into different sorts of pictures: I could speak in many different formal languages.” After thirty years, however, even a practice predicated on difference can yield tautologies. Not so for Welling; he has remained diligently attentive to the structural variations possible within his medium, moving with admirable fluidity from one innovative investigation to the next.

  • Andy Warhol, Yarn, 1983, acrylic and silk-screen ink on linen, 40 x 40".
    picks December 11, 2009

    Andy Warhol

    Sotheby’s November 11 auction saw Andy Warhol’s 1962 work 200 One Dollar Bills fetch $43.7 million, just shy of a quarter million for each dollar-bill image squeegeed onto the canvas. The sale’s outcome may be an affirming nod to the artist’s uncanny celebration of capital even early in his career. However, the colossal works in “The Last Decade” impeccably underscore Warhol’s preoccupation with free enterprise and the business of art right to the very end. Warhol was not only prolific in his last decade, he was shrewd, negotiating abstract imagery, collaboration, and a return to painting by

  • Doug Ischar

    Only the outdated logo on a can of Cherry Coke and a few large boom boxes indicate that Doug Ischar’s photographs date from the mid-1980s. The striped kneesocks, polo shirts, and large aviator sunglasses clothing a dense population of sun-kissed gay males lying on the limestone and concrete blocks lining an urban lake could suggest a contemporary scene. But the photographs—exhibited here for the first time—were taken during the summer of 1985, with a 35-mm camera fitted with a short-range lens. Touching upon the long tradition of documentary photography, they chronicle Chicago’s now-defunct