Natalie Musteata

  • picks September 18, 2015

    Emily Mae Smith

    The star of Emily Mae Smith’s imaginative exhibition of hyperstylized paintings is the broom from Disney’s Fantasia (1940). At once an instrument of domestic labor and a tool of sorcery, the broom is a thinly disguised symbol that Smith calls upon to address sexual politics. In The Mirror, 2015, an oversize Lichtensteinesque hand mirror is surrounded by nine brooms. Each is posed seductively, parodying the clichéd and all too familiar representation of the female nude in western art (think of Ingres’s Grande Odalisque, 1814).

    Central to Smith’s thinking is scopophilia, and it is no coincidence

  • picks February 01, 2015

    Julia Dault

    Abstract painter and sculptor Julia Dault titled one of her aesthetically seductive and conceptually rigorous paintings Chasing Waterfalls, 2014, after TLC’s 1995 hit song. Featuring a repeating motif of semicircular shapes (reminiscent, says Dault, of a waterfall), made with a triangular comb to expose layers of brightly hued underpainting, this rule-based composition is but one of several exceptional works in this smart and refreshingly bold show.

    An immersive environment expunged of color, the first room consists of several black-and-white geometrically patterned canvases. The walls have been

  • picks September 26, 2014

    “The Material Image”

    With few exceptions, the artists in “The Material Image,” curated by Debra Singer, eschew straight photography, favoring instead sculptural, painterly, and collagist approaches to the medium. Process—not narrative or documentation—is foregrounded, and the results are oftentimes carefully constructed, seemingly hermetic, self-referential compositions. While some, including Amy Granat and Nick Mauss, employ nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century procedures such as the cliché verre and the photogram, others, such as Lucas Blalock and Marina Pinsky, combine analog and digital techniques to achieve

  • picks September 12, 2014

    Erica Baum

    Find. Fold. Photograph. These actions form one of the basic strategies of Erica Baum’s exquisite practice, for which she mines outmoded, moribund printed material, such as library card catalogues and yellowed dime-store paperbacks from the 1960s and ’70s, to create simple yet infinitely engrossing “found collages.” For “The Paper Nautilus,” this bibliophilic artist has brought together new works from three distinct series: “Stills,” “Viewmasters,” and “Naked Eye,” which capture the halftone, molecular blueprint of their subjects.

    Though her well-known concrete poetry constructions are not on

  • picks August 13, 2014

    “Positions”

    For the inaugural presentation of “Positions”—a newly launched exhibition model that continues the museum’s focus on radical, socially engaged art—Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Céline Condorelli, Bouchra Khalili, Koki Tanaka, and Charles van Otterdijk have been invited to display a substantial body of work investigating how we take a stance and position ourselves in the world. In dialogue with one another, these practices address the viability of political agency—that is, the capability of a person to act free of oppression or coercion—in the twenty-first century.

    Dutch artist van Otterdijk’s cryptic

  • picks June 30, 2014

    “Living with Pop. A Reproduction of Capitalist Realism”

    “Living with Pop. A Reproduction of Capitalist Realism” features barely any “original” works of art. As its title suggests, the exhibition—an investigation of the postwar West German phenomenon of Capitalist Realism—consists of reproductions, prints, and multiples of archival ephemera: invitation cards, flyers, press releases, brochures, guest books, letters, telegrams, and newspaper articles, neatly assembled in large, gray display cabinets. Even the forty-some-odd paintings included—most of which were modeled after advertisements and publicity photographs of consumer products—are not the

  • picks April 25, 2014

    “Other Primary Structures”

    What if Kynaston McShine’s landmark 1966 presentation of objects, “Primary Structures: Younger American and British Sculptors,” had been global in scope? This is the question driving Jens Hoffmann’s inaugural two-part exhibition at the Jewish Museum, which brings together artists from South America, Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe whose pared-down works share formal and conceptual affinities with those of their better-known contemporaries featured in the foundational show, such as Donald Judd and Robert Morris.

    Dialogues between past and present, Western and “other” abound throughout this

  • picks March 18, 2014

    Christoph Schlingensief

    A time-based media crackerjack, the late Christoph Schlingensief (1960–2010) seamlessly roved between the disciplines of experimental film, theater, television, radio, opera, and performance art. In the charged atmosphere of 1968, at the age of eight, Schlingensief had already directed his first work, a twenty-minute short in which a farmer waves a handcrafted flag to German composer Felix Mendelssohn’s renowned Wedding March—the film’s eerie political undertone and focus on a specifically German context would come to define his entire oeuvre. A champion of a post-Brechtian attitude, Schlingensief

  • picks March 07, 2014

    Arseniy Zhilyaev

    Moscow-based artist Arseniy Zhilyaev’s latest exhibition, an antiutopian parafictional museum of Russian history, critically investigates the messy relationship between art and politics in contemporary Russia. Divided into three rooms, each distinguished by a specific wall color and theme, the exhibition–cum–installation artwork assembles its arguments through satirical pairings. Painted red, the first section contrasts an enshrined fragment of the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor that prompted the formation of a new church in Russia with the first pastoral announcement given by the church’s Primate,