Patricia C. Phillips

  • Hani Rashid, Liseanne Couture

    The estheticization of architecture is an uneasy condition because it neither resides comfortably, nor functions agitationally within the art world. At the same time, it has lost its purpose with respect to the Modernist project; it rarely even begins to engage the ambitious social and political objectives characteristic of early Modernist practice. Architectural production is really in a fin-de-siècle condition—tentative with respect to both closure and new possibilities, alternately neurotic and hopeful. But the energetic work of Liseanne Couture and Hani Rashid provides a reason for

  • Kristin Jones/Andrew Ginzel

    Though the pursuit of visual delight is not intrinsically perilous, it becomes a problem when ideas are overshadowed rather than illuminated by sensational effects. In this exhibition of three new projects by Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel, the meditative qualities of the work and the cosmological questions they pose are sometimes jeopardized by their lush materiality and fastidious detailing.

    At the east end of the gallery an immense aluminum saucer of pure, white talc was alternately raked and smoothed by a pair of opposing blades that together formed a rotating diameter. The predictable

  • Michael Singer

    Things that are visible but just beyond reach inevitably become more desirable and mysterious. Michael Singer’s recent installation depended on a dynamic between inside and outside in which actual access to the interior of the work was forbidden, though small apertures framed various views of the space it enclosed.

    Raised on a low platform, and constructed of heavy wood planks, Ritual Series 1990, 1988–1990, initially suggested a forbidding fortress. Further exploration, however, disclosed open doorways in three sides and a narrow horizontal slot in the front of the sculpture that permitted

  • Kathleen McCarthy

    In two separate installations, Kathleen McCarthy used the form of the human hand to demonstrate both the dexterity and the limitations of anatomy, as well as the persistence and inadequacy of conventional symbols. In both situations, the familiar form triggered a range of funny impressions and disturbing speculations.

    On four walls of the main gallery, McCarthy wrapped a series of 26 larger-than-life-sized wooden hands colored with red phosphorous around the room. Each hand formed a letter in sign language, and they were arranged in alphabetical order. Entitled Muted Exhortations (both works

  • Tom Finkelpearl/Bolek Greczynski

    The city’s musty subterranean subway is something that all New Yorkers love to despise. The system’s imperiled condition, frequent breakdowns, and episodes of crime threaten a vast urban area’s vitality, diversity, and fragile moments of civic connection. There is no experience comparable in concentrated anticipation to the everyday passage from the subway up dingy, urine-saturated stairs to the light and air of the city street above.

    With the support of the New York State Council on the Arts through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Tom Finkelpearl and Bolek Greczynski developed a subway

  • Buckminster Fuller

    Buckminster Fuller is a nearly mythic figure who inspires and disappoints in equal measure. Was he a visionary or a bit of a quack, a genius or a dilettante? This exhibition, subtitled Harmonizing Nature, Humanity, and Technology, provided a rare occasion to consider Fuller’s prolific inventions and proposals, his influence on design, and his investigations of natural systems and organisms. Though Fuller has been described as a philosopher, architect, engineer, mathematician, and naturalist, it is an irony of his long, active life that no one field has been particularly anxious to claim him.

  • Martha Fleming and Lyne Lapointe

    A repository of vague memories and unrelated activities, the still majestic Battery Maritime Building not only provides offices for several New York City agencies, housing for stray cats, and a berth for the Governor’s Island Ferry, it serves as the site for Martha Fleming and Lyne LaPointe’s month-long installation entitled The Wilds and the Deep.

    The anxious process of describing and categorizing the past is the central theme of the installation; in response to the active but deteriorated building and the nautical and social history of the harbor location, the artists explore the complex and

  • Martin Puryear

    Martin Puryear’s serene but disquieting installation was the inaugural exhibition of the museum’s ongoing “Connections” series, in which artists are invited to design an installation based on a historical image or object that has inspired their work. Puryear chose a 17th-century painting from the museum’s collection of a tethered falcon, by an unidentified Indian artist, and several hand-colored prints by John James Audubon, who traveled throughout North America in the 19th century to document the continent’s bird life. In the slender space leading into the gallery of Puryear’s work, the small,

  • Alice Aycock

    Alice Aycock’s retrospective, “Complex Visions,” which marks the 30th anniversary of Storm King, both continued and challenged the outdoor sculpture park’s prevailing conditions. Aycock’s level of accomplishment was equal to Storm King’s pageant of art, but it was her display of restless intelligence, unreined curiosity, and rebellious departure that made the exhibition remarkable.

    Aycock’s delight in mismatched ideas from philosophical, scientific, and cultural sources complicates and enriches her work, and this exhibition confirmed an ever-widening, discursive outlook. Low Building with Dirt

  • Tod Williams and Billie Tsien

    As an alternative to the predictable selection of drawings and models, architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien chose to treat their exhibition as a temporary event, presenting a second version of an installation that first appeared at Walker Art Center as part of the series “Architecture Tomorrow.”

    Williams and Tsien designed the Whitney Downtown’s underground exhibition space several years ago, and a spectacular stairway and smart reception desk evidence their passion for materials and sensitivity to detail, as well as a wisdom about the rational and sensual codeterminants of spatial experience.

  • Brodsky & Utkin

    Soviet architects Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin escape the often suffocating constraints of conventional practice by concentrating on speculative drawings and the fabrication of artifacts. Their fantastic visions first became familiar to the international architectural community through their proposals for the annual Central Glass Competitions in Tokyo. Obsessive, psychological drawings and bizarre structures provided a vivid contrast to the surprisingly sober speculations of other “paper architects” responding to similar frustrations with the limitations of building.

    Brodsky and Utkin pack

  • “The New Sculpture 1965–75”

    Though one may come to this show expecting the sculpture to have acquired a patina of established reserve, instead it looks fresh and provocative. The breakthrough this work constituted in the aftermath of Minimalism remains as appreciable today as when it first appeared. ted the various passages between initial iconoclasm and individual development. Given the sparse arrangements usually encountered in contemporary art exhibitions, this slightly crowded installation evoked the artistic ferment characteristic of the period. Viewed together, the works of these ten artists captured the energy of