Nicholas Chittenden Morgan

  • picks May 09, 2019

    Joe Brainard

    Those needing a dose of gaiety—both the festive and the faggy kinds—should make their way to “100 Works,” a survey of paintings, drawings, and collages by the late Joe Brainard (1942–1994). Most are no bigger than a notebook page, and the dense hang is perfectly in keeping with the artist’s aesthetic of accumulation. He was, after all, the author of I Remember (1975), an expansive inventory of memories ranging from sad to sexy, beautiful to banal.

    Take Untitled (12 Madonnas), 1966, a collage that is an unholy combination of church, drag, and thrift store. It’s decked out with hypnotic overlays

  • picks April 18, 2019

    Patrice Aphrodite Helmar

    The title of Patrice Aphrodite Helmar’s exhibition here, “Feeling Good About Me,” comes from a small volume of Christian propaganda for youngsters, first printed in 1970. (Two copies of it are included in the show as a sculptural element.) Helmar’s take on what it means to “feel good” about oneself is different from the guide’s. Her work retains the optimism of the book’s title but jettisons its cynical supposition that poor and working-class folks can flourish so long as they avoid certain vices, such as drugs, booze, premarital sex, and, unsurprisingly, homosexuality. In Helmar’s starkly

  • picks March 06, 2019

    H. C. Westermann

    H. C. Westermann is beloved for a type of sculpture that’s a potent mix of Dada and old, weird Americana. But this modest yet gripping exhibition also reveals that he was a marvelous draftsman with a sharp, satirical wit. Along one wall is a group of drawings, inspired by a road trip the artist took with his wife, that skewers 1960s fantasies of the Wild West. In Right Straight On, n.d., an old man seems the sole inhabitant of an overbuilt, abandoned desert city; is he a sage brimming with wisdom, or is he just lonely and exhausted, wondering how to go on? The palm tree in Buildings on a Red

  • picks January 15, 2019

    Cara Benedetto

    News outlets frequently cover school shootings with a macabre enthusiasm—we are assaulted with body counts, gruesome testimonies from eyewitnesses, and conjecture by the stupidest passersby. The event cuts you to the bone, until another horror quickly displaces it. Cara Benedetto’s current show pushes against mass media’s spectacle. A master printmaker, she employs the unwieldy technique of stone lithography, which requires care, patience, and a great deal of time. The stone she used for three of the five large prints on display here cracked while she was making them and is now set in the middle

  • picks December 17, 2018

    Ann Pibal

    Ann Pibal’s paintings have all the geometric intensity of Piet Mondrian’s, and yet they feel more interwoven with life than the Dutch modernist’s creations. Like Mondrian, she sets certain rules to guide her patterns. See RBWCMX, 2017, for instance—one of the three acrylic-on-aluminum panel works in her exhibition here. Its chevrons, made up of colorful and seemingly uniform lines, are actually variegated, ever so slightly. Pibal is always willing to lay waste to her systems when necessary. Her electric, razor-sharp lines are too vivacious to illustrate anything except the experience of

  • picks November 09, 2018

    Minoru Yoshida

    In 1970, Minoru Yoshida—already a rising star of the Gutai group—moved to the United States from Kyoto. He originally planned for a quick return but stayed in New York for almost a decade. In three video documentations of performances from 1976, on display here, Yoshida dons his “synthesizer jacket,” a sculptural garment that looks a little like a Plexiglas corset lined with circuits. Responding to the artist’s body and movements, the jacket emitted a variety of electronic drones—sounds that one could characterize as techno-bagpipe.

    In the video Absolute Landscape No. 3 (Psychic Revolution),

  • picks June 22, 2018

    Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin

    At the beginning of Madame de Void: A Melodrama, 2018, the titular lady laments that her notion of identity as a constructed and performative event has become utterly passé. The video, a collaboration between Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin, is the centerpiece of their exhibition here. Bernstein stars as Ms. de Void, a villainess who harvests dogs for the creation of luxurious fur coats, à la Cruella de Vil. Blot, a pup played by Rubin, is this year’s pick of the litter. As time passes, Blot magically picks up critical theory, displaying a remarkable ability to understand such thinkers as Jacques

  • picks March 16, 2018

    Carlos Reyes

    The bathhouse’s conflation of recreation and sex is closer to the raw spirit of 1960s gay liberation than to the slew of tedious apps and websites for hooking up today. The West Side Club in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood bills itself as the city’s “premier social relaxation club for gay and bisexual men.” For his installation here, West Side Club, 2018, Carlos Reyes reclaimed cedar planks from the club’s old sauna, converting the timeworn wood into elegantly austere sculptures. The inscriptions on the vintage planks aren’t completely dirty; only one picture of a dick is immediately visible.

  • picks February 09, 2018

    Anna K.E.

    Anna K.E. is a former dancer, and her installation here suggests a kind of choreography, inviting the viewer to slip through and around, weave in and out. Many of her pipelike steel sculptures feature lightbulbs much like the orbs that illuminate New York City subway entrances. One descends from the ceiling, while others jut out at angles, creating an intricate web of architectural armatures for the viewer to navigate.

    Appended to these structures are small speakers, each emitting a distinct sound, from crying babies to adults speaking various languages. You feel as though you’ve stepped into a

  • picks November 17, 2017

    Andrew Cannon

    When a beaver makes its lodge, it’s an instinctual operation. The final structure is awkward, jutting, but has a peculiar beauty all its own. In the bottom left corner of Andrew Cannon’s Beaver, Real Estate, John Astor (all works 2017)—one of the wall-mounted, relief-like works in the current show, his first solo in New York—we see a profile of the titular creature (the beaver, not Astor), likely working on its house. Cannon’s gripping pieces take the beaver’s process as a model through which to think about artmaking: an unwieldy accretion of gestures and synaptic firings that are totally animal

  • picks October 06, 2017

    “Near & Dear”

    In this group exhibition curated by painter Carrie Moyer, the artist puts her multigenerational community on display, an assortment of makers who share a love of formal kinkiness and ingenuity. Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt presents delicate, ancient-looking works, several of which were created in the 1960s and 1970s: One is a small foil-and-rhinestone ode to a gay physique mag hero (Untitled, ca. 1970s). The artist’s florid materials have taken on a subtle patina with age, yet they manage to retain their camp vitality. In 2016P-17 (Wave), 2016, Anoka Faruqee applies layers of acrylic paint onto her

  • picks August 25, 2017

    Charlotte Greene and Lionel Maunz

    Imagine Alice falling through the rabbit hole into a cyberpunk dystopia, and you might have something like Charlotte Greene and Lionel Maunz’s current exhibition, “Lamerica.” It is housed in a subterranean, bunker-like gallery space, a fitting arena for posing questions about living in an age when humanity’s destructive traces can be felt everywhere. Gathering materials that include fake leaves and real butterfly wings, Greene’s diminutive works call to mind Bruce Conner’s assemblages yet feel largely their own, evoking a fascinating range of ecologies. The oddly appealing Cyborg (all works