Nico Israel

  • Richard Serra

    Richard Serra is definitely on a roll—of warped, two-inch-thick weatherproof steel. In his recent New York exhibition, the reigning king of the monumental offered elaborations on his “Torqued Ellipses,” the massive gyrelike shapes, alternately melancholy, soothing, and triumphal, that graced the Dia Center for the Arts in Chelsea in 1997. The new work attracted enormous crowds, who patiently waited to enter the disorienting passages of the two giant spirals as though in line at a theme park. Hard to believe that the sculptor of Tilted Arc would prove so wildly popular. But Serra, by

  • Tom Friedman, Untitled, 1991–94, acrylic, press type, and ink on paper, 17 x 23 1/2".

    Tom Friedman

    I couldn’t find precious amid the blizzard of words that composed the floor sculpture Everything, 1992–95, a piece of paper on which Tom Friedman has supposedly scrawled every word in the dictionary. But that’s the adjective—with its connotations of adorability and slightly excessive fussiness—that sprang to mind as I took in the works at his first museum survey exhibition, organized by Ron Platt of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Friedman belongs to a generation of American artists drawn to the phenomenology of Minimalism who infuse their work with

  • Jörg Sasse

    Jörg Sasse has refined the role of artist as technician. He scans photographs of architectural forms and prosaic landscapes taken by himself and others—friends and strangers—into his computer and manipulates them by reducing and enlarging scale, shifting focus, and playing with tones and hues. In the process, the found photograph is drained of all sentimental, souvenir, in some cases even deictic value, and the final product, a glossy print bluntly titled with a random four-digit number followed by the year of completion, yields only a trace of its ancestor. Yet some formerly muted or

  • Destroy All Monsters, Mall Culture, 2000, acrylic on canvas, 8' x 11' 6".

    the Whitney Biennial

    “So you got the list?” asks Lawrence Rinder, chief curator of the Whitney Museum’s 2002 Biennial, as we settle into his office. I tell him it was faxed to me that morning. “Let me see if you got the right list,” he says, perusing it carefully. “The list” is, of course, the closely guarded roster of contemporary artists included in the mammoth exhibition, whose works will occupy three floors of the museum and spill out into nearby Central Park. “That looks kosher,” he says. “All right then.”

    Given the high stakes of mounting the much anticipated and always controversial Biennial, Rinder, the

  • Kara Walker

    “Dear Cruel and malevolent Master.” read one of the index cards punctuating Kara Walker's recent installation. “What irks me, you know this, is that I am and forever shall be a slave to that which brought (said: 'brung') me here.” In an apparent afterthought, the “brought” and the “said” had been hastily crossed out with a red pen, the logic of the phrase rerouted through an act of self-editing. Both the note and its partial effacement are emblematic of Walker's ongoing project: She records, in her distinctly incendiary way, the trauma attendant on “surviving” the master-slave dialectic and the

  • Chris Ofili, Open, 1993, oil, acrylic, polyester resin, and elephant dung on canvas, 72 x 48".

    “Public Offerings”

    Like other hard c and r wordsculture, curator, critic—career, to my ears, has an ugly ring to it. This seems especially the case when the word is conjoined with such adjectives as artistic or academic, which ideally would resist career’s implication of relentless, purposive momentum. There is solace to be had in the knowledge that, in its verb form at least, career is synonymous with its etymological cousin, careen—“to hurtle with an unsteady motion, to sway from side to side, to lurch.” Careering can be perilous, not least of all to careerists.

    “Public Offerings,” an exhibition of “breakthrough

  • Rita McBride

    RITA MCBRIDE'S ART DEFLATES the bloated tenets of high-modernist city planning and design and exposes the culs-de-sac of once-nigh-sacred art and architectural presumptions. With Duchampian verve, McBride strips bare modernism's “bachelor”-hood, even, revealing its complicity with the spatial isolation, regimentation, and domestication of the body—particularly the female body. The real trick of her canny and droll work is that it undertakes these trenchant critiques and still manages to look spare, elegant, and appealing—which is to say, modernist.

    As the title of her latest show, “White Elephant

  • Refuse Salon

    “THE PURE PRODUCTS OF AMERICA,” according to William Carlos Williams, “go crazy.” The impure ones, he might have added, get thrown away. What happens to American products after they are “consumed” is a question of pressing concern not only for trash haulers, city planners, and environmentalists; it is (or ought to be) for artists and art viewers as well.

    This is the premise of “Fresh Kills: The Art of Waste,” an eighteen-artist exhibition opening this month. Its focus is the delightfully named “Fresh Kills” landfill in the New York City borough of Staten Island, which, until its closing in March,

  • Martin Kersels

    THOSE CRASHING, RHYTHMIC thuds you heard on entering Martin Kersels's latest show were the sounds of a little world being turned upside down. Literally. This world was the nascently putrescent, nascently pubescent milieu of a middle-class American miss—a room full of stuffed animals, boy-band posters, pink things of all sorts—methodically spinning around and around on a circular track like a giant automatic dryer, letting gravity slam its ersatz, picket-fenced-in contents down to earth, again and again, until they were ground to smithereens. Welcome to Tumble Room, 2001.

    Kersels is a

  • Henry Darger, Sacred Heart, date unknown, watercolor on paper, 19 x 49“. Henry Darger, Battle of Marcocino, date unknown, watercolor on paper, 19 x 49”. From “Disasters of War.”

    “Almost Warm and Fuzzy” and “Disasters of War”

    Child’s play or warfare? Among the recent offerings at MoMA’s Long Island City affiliate for contemporary art was a pair of exhibitions that queried familiar models for understanding where art comes from, what it can represent, and where it might be headed. Despite their very different subjects—childhood and war—the shows shared features emblematic of recent trends in curatorial practice. Avoid historicism, the new supposedly unconventional wisdom goes, eschew difficulty, and steer clear of critical theory; promote jarring visual oppositions, encourage outreach to a wider audience, and tear down

  • Jan Dibbets

    Overheard at the opening for Jan Dibbets’s recent exhibition of late-’60s and ’70s work: “Old? Yes, they’re old. Maybe old enough for people to actually see them.” That the speaker was Dibbets himself doesn’t make the remark any less perceptive. This museum-quality miniretrospective succeeded not just in resituating Dibbets’s photography within so-called Dutch Conceptualism but also in helping us reconsider the broader Conceptualist break from art’s reliance on the object. What the exhibition demonstrated is that Dibbets’s compositions, for all their austerity and almost exaggerated rigor, are

  • Aziz + Cucher

    FOR ALMOST A DECADE, Anthony Aziz and Sammy Cucher have explored the materiality and frangibility of the human (or humanoid) body. In their most recent photographic installations, the duo denaturalizes and reconfirm res human skin—complete with freckles, spots, pores, and hair follicles—to form deep, dark architectural spaces, twisted sculptural shapes like pieces of odd furniture, and mutant scientific specimens to be analyzed. These hybrid agglutinations are alternately clinical and fantastic, inviting and disgusting.

    “Interiors,” 1998-2000, the most effective series in Aziz + Cucher's