Prudence Peiffer

  • Rosalyn Drexler

    Portrait of the Artist, 1989, finds Rosalyn Drexler crouched against a black rectangular background in a suit and tie. She wears a wrestling cap and a colorful mask; a toy airplane grazes her head and one manicured hand, in a fingerless glove, covers her mouth. In her other gloved hand she holds a paintbrush the way Holly Golightly held a cigarette. Out of the brush, a cloud of pointillist color flows, surrounding the framed artist like the confetti borders in many of Georges Seurat’s compositions. She is defined by art-historical reference but not contained by it.

    At once revealing and elusive,

  • Hilary Pecis

    The capacity to recognize patterns is what sets humans apart from other animals and from machines. Our ability to convert perceived arrangements into habits and inventions drives our looking and imagining, our reading and reasoning. We are hungry to intuit serial sequences everywhere, even where there are none—a condition known as apophenia, which is linked to gambling and conspiracy theories.

    On the brighter side of our brain function, Hilary Pecis’s paintings seem to celebrate the joy of discerning and interpreting patterns in the everyday world. Nine paintings made up her excellent if

  • picks May 05, 2017

    “Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction”

    Though it feels like a side gallery, this exhibition is more than a side note of inclusion, thanks to curators Starr Figura and Sarah Meister and assistant Hillary Reder’s thoughtfully pared selection from the museum’s holdings. There are few surprises but some terrific anomalies in these five rooms, grouped roughly by theme (Gestural Abstraction, Geometric Abstraction, Reductive Abstraction, Fiber and Line, and Eccentric Abstraction). To wit: Helen Frankenthaler’s Trojan Gates, 1955, opens the show with a hardened enamel luster and feels like an entranceway to something other than her most

  • Vija Celmins

    In college, I kept a postcard of a Vija Celmins’s graphite wavescape taped to my door. In part, I missed the ocean, but it was also a reminder that the things you love should be done well, and with a care that might even border on obsession. (It’s no surprise to learn that a copy of painter Ad Reinhardt’s 1953 article “Twelve Rules for a New Academy,” with its disciplined promotion of “pure” painting and disavowal of expression, is pinned to Celmins’s studio wall.) And at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s inaugural downtown exhibition in 2015, Celmins’s stark, realist painting of a heater

  • Dragana Jurisic

    In “My Own Unknown,” photographs formed provisionary sketches of elusive subjects. Launching the second iteration of A Process Series, organized by Jessamyn Fiore at Rawson Projects, in which four women artists received two-week solo shows to “reflect on how politics influences their artistic practice,” Dragana Jurisic seemed to play with the exhibition’s abbreviated life-span through material and displays that foregrounded the ephemeral: instant Polaroids, unframed prints tacked to the wall, handwritten scrapbooks with pasted-in photos. But these notes formed a deceptively complex narrative,

  • Mark Rothko

    The story is almost too neat: Mark Rothko states that his paintings are about death, above all, and as he nears the end of his life, cut short in 1970 by his own hand, his palette grows darker and darker. Though part of his powerful narrative, this was not the only factor affecting his choice of color. For one thing, as demonstrated by the recent impressive show up at Pace—expertly lit and designed, with a border on the floor unobtrusively guarding our distance—darkness infused Rothko’s mature canvases from the 1950s on, even if just as ground to push forward his brightest compositions.

  • Joan Mitchell

    It’s difficult to ever view a Joan Mitchell painting as pure abstraction. Her famously synesthetic approach to landscape and figure gives her works—whether a small drawing or a diptych that fills a wall—a gravity. They are environments.

    This compact show touched on the long arc of Mitchell’s career, from her early, calligraphic slashes in the 1950s, when she was painting in a studio off St. Marks Place in New York and drinking with the AbEx boys, through her time in Paris in the ’60s, and, until her death in 1992, in the French countryside at an estate with an overgrown garden and a

  • “Between Land and Sea: Artists of the Coenties Slip”

    The ghosts of Herman Melville and Walt Whitman haunt Coenties Slip, an inlet near the Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan, where for a period of time in the 1950s and ’60s a community of artists, filmmakers, and writers lived—sometimes illegally, without heat or water—and worked in ramshackle warehouses (Ellsworth Kelly would drop in on Agnes Martin to eat her homemade muffins and talk art). The Menil’s compact exhibition of twenty-seven works by Chryssa, Robert Indiana, Kelly, Martin, Lenore Tawney, and Jack Youngerman will reflect the artists’ range—from

  • Karin Schneider

    When will we exhaust the black square? When will it cease to be a beacon of the radical avant-garde or a buoy of perceptual purity or a veiled wink at what came before or the face that launched a thousand quips? In Karin Schneider’s elegant and misleading show—elegant in its sparseness; misleading in that despite this sparseness it was full of material, including paintings, wall diagrams and drawings, film, sculpture, and writing extending over the two floors of Dominique Lévy, the pages of this magazine, a series of related performances, and a dense catalogue—the black square was a

  • picks November 11, 2016

    William Eggleston

    No other year in recent history has exposed so starkly the complex views of democracy in the United States, in private selfhood and social community. And so this gallery’s inaugural showing of William Eggleston, with selections from The Democratic Forest, ca. 1983–86, his epic project of thousands of photographs taken around the country (and a few overseas), could not be more timely. Last year, Steidl launched the resurgence of this work with an elegant ten-volume anthology, the largest compilation of such images to date (the original book was published in 1989, with an introduction by Eudora

  • Stuart Davis

    If awards were given for best wall text at an exhibition, this year’s winner would be the placard inscribed for Fin, 1962–64, from “Stuart Davis: In Full Swing” at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. (The show, curated by Barbara Haskell and Harry Cooper, was co-organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, where it opens on November 20). As one read along, things swiftly took an unexpected turn: We learned that on June 23, 1964, Davis watched a foreign film that concluded with “Fin,” the French equivalent to “The End,” and decided to add the word to the painting he’d

  • Diane Arbus

    In one of those hard-to-believe-now anecdotes, Diane Arbus had trouble selling an editioned portfolio of her photographs in 1971; Richard Avedon bought two of the four she managed to sell for $1,000 each. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s elegant exhibition of Arbus’s early, mostly unseen work, “In the Beginning,” curated by Jeff L. Rosenheim at the Met Breuer, includes the contents of one of Avedon’s boxes in a side room: a well-trafficked coda to the show’s new discoveries. This is Arbus at the (all-too-soon) end (she would die just a few months later at forty-eight), and demonstrates the

  • “Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight”

    Born in Cuba just a few years after the emergence of abstraction, Carmen Herrera has built a more than seven-decade career that is a testament to patient discipline: She sold her first painting at the age of eighty-nine, and the last time a New York institution hosted her works was in 1998, at El Museo del Barrio. If the lore of Herrera’s sudden prominence threatens to outshine the work itself, the Whitney will bring us back to the heart of her sustained exploration of color and form, focusing on the postwar years between 1948 and 1978, during which she honed her prismatic,

  • picks July 15, 2016

    “It’s Not Your Nature”

    Summer shows can feel like that other seasonal occurrence, the stoop or yard sale. “It’s Not Your Nature” is a hodgepodge of art under a vague sign. But when you’re dealing with Lee Krasner, Harry Bertoia, and Norman Lewis—and when your view is Fairfield Porter’s, across the barrier islands in Maine—it’s compelling stuff to sift through. It’s also a rare chance outside of a museum to see so many modern American masters up close and personal.

    The show’s title is a confusing pun, as the pieces seem very much in the nature of the twenty-two artists on display and incorporate an expansive conception—whether

  • Luigi Ghirri

    Luigi Ghirri’s photographs of Italy feel like they’ve been developed by the sun. Beautiful women peel off stone walls; the Coca-Cola tomato red that seems to embody an era shows up in signs on a beach and in a shopwindow; a deeply tan man lies on the sand next to a pair of loafers the same color; a bleached-out olive tree grows amid crumbling walls. The sun adds a languid filter; these scenes linger in what Ghirri called photography’s “slowness of vision”—not because they are static (even his still lifes feel transient, part of a road trip), but because they are themselves in the process

  • Marcia Hafif

    American abstract women painters were out in full force in New York this spring, from the bold engagement with Minimalism by the young artist Nathlie Provosty in a knockout show at Nathalie Karg Gallery to the impressive five-decade mini-survey of Lee Krasner at Robert Miller Gallery. Patient amid this bounty is a painter’s painter, Marcia Hafif, in an exhibition dedicated to a group of works she made during an eight-year sabbatical in Rome in the 1960s, where she lived off a monthly stipend of $150 from her recent divorce and created a distinctive brand of “Pop Minimal” abstraction. Her art

  • Taryn Simon

    Taryn Simon’s work deals in disorientation. Culled from intense research, her perfectly ordered photographs walk the data line between bureaucracy and conspiracy. Though intellectual, her work isn’t insular. It engages with other images and esoterica; it suggests that archives are all we have to figure out what the hell is happening on this spinning planet, while acknowledging that photography has at times been complicit in its worst injustices. Whether in “The Innocents,” 2002, her incredible first series for which she photographed wrongfully convicted men at the sites of their alleged crimes,

  • “The Keeper”

    What would Walter Benjamin do with our Storage Wars and Spark Joy moment? “Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories,” he famously wrote. The things we choose to hold on to signal intimate and emotional links to history in an ever more virtual (and uprooted) world. At the heart of “The Keeper” is the power and preservation of such objects and images. The curators will transform the New Museum into a multimedia high-low Wunderkammer of the global

  • Shara Hughes

    Art, drugs, dreams: The trifecta for seeing new things without going anywhere came together in Shara Hughes’s terrific show “Trips I’ve Never Been On.” Juggling various meanings of trip, the eight roughly five-foot-tall psychedelic landscapes on view (one was even called Mushroom Hunt) were crammed with color and textured vibrations, brought into high relief by various mixes and handlings of oil, acrylic, spray, enamel, caulk, and Flashe vinyl paint on canvas. I found it nearly impossible to fully describe any one painting: Objects became space and sensation mid-scene.

    Along with Mushroom Hunt,


    I am in dirt continually. The closer I am to myself the dirtier I become. My studio is covered with graphite. I am Diogenes sitting in a pile of dust. My ocean is made of graphite in front of which I tumble, chase, flop over.

    ROSEMARIE CASTORO wasn’t precious about her work. As a dancer, painter, sculptor, and writer, she reveled in art’s material activation on the staging ground of the city street, the journal page, or her SoHo studio, where she lived for more than fifty years. Nor was she afraid to get her hands dirty. She was a member of the Art Workers’ Coalition and among the handful of