Rachel Churner

  • Melanie Baker

    The smoldering, menacing drawings in Melanie Baker’s “The Optimates,” her first New York solo show in roughly a decade, depicted strategically cropped images of male politicians. The three monumental works on view (the tallest was eight feet high, and the longest was ten feet wide) were rendered with fierce and at times frenzied strokes of charcoal, graphite, and pastel. In Mouthpiece, 2018, Baker leaves the bloviating face of her subject (presumably Donald Trump) out of the frame, focusing instead on the grip of his hands on a lectern emblazoned with a partially obliterated POTUS seal. In Pomp

  • NEVER TOO LATE

    LAST FALL, at the New School in New York, poet Eileen Myles presented an essay they’d written on the acquisition of their archives by Yale University’s Beinecke Library. Having sold 108 linear feet of personal notebooks, drafts, computer files, and trinkets—what the archivists dryly called “mixed materials”—and aware that all would soon be available to the grubby hands of the public, Myles noted, “It was a little like being buried alive.”1 They also described an unexpected self-censorship that arose after they had relegated so much of their past to acid-free boxes. As Myles explained in a

  • Hannah Wilke

    Hannah Wilke (1940–1993) had her first exhibition with Ronald Feldman Gallery in 1972. Feldman—who retired from running his eponymous space last October—represented her for almost fifty years. The depth and familiarity he and his colleagues bring to her work is palpable, as the thirteenth solo exhibition of her art here, “Force of Nature,” demonstrated. With its revealing mix of greatest hits and deep cuts, the show was a tribute not only to Wilke’s singular blend of female pleasure and feminist critique, but also to her defenders, who, particularly since her death, have resisted pigeonholing

  • “An-My Lê: On Contested Terrain”

    Curated by Dan Leers

    For twenty-five years, photographer An-My Lê has used her large-format Deardorff field camera to document landscapes that bear the wounds of wars past and wars imagined. “On Contested Terrain,” the first comprehensive survey of the photographer’s work on North American soil, gathers more than one hundred images from her charged series of military exercises and battle reenactments, such as “29 Palms,” 2003–2004, and “Small Wars,” 1999–2002, as well as evocative ruminations on her homeland, “Viêt Nam,” 1994–98. Organized by curator Dan Leers and accompanied by a catalogue

  • Kristine Woods

    Weaving tends to be a stationary affair. Looms are cumbersome, and the process of threading the weft over and under the warp is tedious. However, the woven sculptures in Kristine Woods’s exuberant show at Geary, “Sparkling or Still,” offered up movement and contingency. Strings dangled, edges frayed, and threads of varying thicknesses were bound together in a tumble of colors that often appeared ready to unravel. Textiles bulged and sagged. Though the works ranged from modest lanate reliefs to a massive installation of felt, they all seemed to have been produced on the move and in haste.

    The

  • Letícia Ramos

    During Letícia Ramos’s first solo exhibition in the US this past summer, smoke from tens of thousands of fires in the Amazon rain forest darkened the city of São Paulo, where the artist lives. Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, criticized the Brazilian government’s seeming apathy regarding the devastation; in turn, Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, railed against Macron’s outrage, calling his remarks the product of a colonialist mind-set. The ecological disaster and the evocation of European exploitation provided a fitting (if unfortunate) backdrop to “Resiliency and Reverberation,”

  • Polly Apfelbaum and Betsy Kaufman

    Polly Apfelbaum and Betsy Kaufman’s splendid joint exhibition, “Through Thick & Thin,” foregrounded an almost comical number of oppositions between the artists’ works. Apfelbaum’s eight ceramic disks were glossy, loud, and, yes, thick, while Kaufman’s ten square paintings on paper were light, flat, and precise. Apfelbaum doesn’t just layer clay; she heaps up glob after pigmented glob. Kaufman, by contrast, uses the barest washes of acrylic, her paint so thin that the controlled swipes of her brush often expose the white paper beneath. Even the titles offered a lesson in difference that reveled

  • HANS HAACKE

    Curated by Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari

    Hans Haacke’s 1986–87 New Museum exhibition, along with the exceptional catalogue that accompanied it, set the terms for our understanding of the artist’s searing critiques of corporate sponsorship, provenance, and the tangled networks of art, business, and politics. Now the pioneering Conceptualist returns to the institution with a long-overdue American retrospective. The show’s curators have gathered together more than thirty of his works, from the early wind-and-water sculptures—among them the famous Condensation Cube, 1963–67, as well

  • Squeak Carnwath

    I walked into Squeak Carnwath’s exhibition just after hearing Carolee Schneemann had died. Raw from the loss of an artist who refused to smooth out her contradictions in the service of easy consumption, I was particularly receptive to the stimulating and unapologetic mixture of fatalism, anger, and humor that characterizes Carnwath’s work, much as it does Schneemann’s. Certainly, I had underestimated the Oakland, California–based artist’s ferocity.

    Carnwath builds her paintings on grounds of milky white, cream, beige, and light gray, layering alkyd oil colors so that the surface becomes a dense

  • Erica Baum

    Via close-ups of found language on partially erased chalkboards, View-Master discs, and newspaper clippings, Erica Baum has established herself as an insightful and nimble poet-photographer. Lists in particular yield an unexpected beauty under her gaze. Take Untitled [Suburban Homes], 1997, a picture of an old-fashioned library card catalogue that cleverly isolates a pair of consecutive tabs marked suburban homes and SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES; or How Long, 2011, which features bits of dialogue along the diagonal fold of a dog-eared page. Even when Baum spotlights an image rather than a text (her

  • Martha Rosler

    Martha Rosler doesn’t suffer fools. Pointedly and with blunt humor, the artist has delivered biting critiques of the misogyny, racism, and exploitative economics that characterize American capitalism and its hypocrisies. Yet the sheer volume of works in “Irrespective,” the Jewish Museum’s potent survey covering roughly fifty years of Rosler’s artmaking, resists any attempt to pigeonhole her art as purely “about” feminism or gentrification. The museum’s cramped first-floor galleries—in which photographs, videos, installations, and sculptures had been wrangled into unruly sections—work to reinforce

  • Hedda Sterne

    In Nina Leen’s iconic photograph The Irascibles, painter Hedda Sterne stands on a table behind a group of fourteen abstract painters, all men, who confront the camera with somber expressions. In her coat and hat, with a shiny purse dangling from folded arms, she towers over Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, and the rest. When it was published in the January 1951 issue of Life magazine, the picture bestowed upon the enigmatic Sterne a mythic status. She was posed at a slight remove from the group, her role unclear: Was she a fellow artist or a muse? Despite her extraordinary life

  • ANNETTE MICHELSON

    WHAT COMES WITH VERY OLD AGE, Annette Michelson often told me, is a necessary pragmatism—and being pragmatic, she’d add with a wry smile, was never something that interested her. For almost thirty years, Annette had intended to publish a collection of her writings on film, but there always seemed to be a more compelling project vying for her attention. Sometimes it was her own: She was researching Ivan Pavlov and Mechanics of the Brain, the 1926 documentary Vsevolod Pudovkin made on the physiologist’s experiments, for a new essay until just a few months before her death. Sometimes she was

  • Juliana Cerqueira Leite

    During the inaugural Antarctic Biennale in 2017, held aboard research vessels surrounded by icy desolation, the artist Juliana Cerqueira Leite met the architect Barbara Imhof while working on shee (Self-Deploying Habitat for Extreme Environments), inflatable housing for inhospitable terrain. Funded in part by the European Union’s Seventh-Framework Programme, the shee comes fully equipped with a kitchen, sleeping quarters, and working areas to provide one week of shelter. The artist obtained plans for a shee and built a cardboard-and-wood three-quarter scale replica in the back room of Arsenal

  • Gravity and Grace

    FOR MAREN HASSINGER, uncertainty is both the origin and the destination of artmaking. “I don’t know where I come from and I don’t know where I’m going,” she wrote for the exhibition catalogue accompanying “Maren Hassinger . . . Dreaming,” her 2015 retrospective at Atlanta’s Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. But while some artists burrow into mystery’s solitudes, Hassinger is inspired by solidarity. “This is the life I share with everyone. We are equal in this predicament. We are all passing through. From this untenable place, I make things.”

    Her modesty echoes the restraint of her elegantly

  • Judith Eisler

    Judith Eisler paints from film stills. This fact is often the first thing you hear about the artist, as if the conceit, which she has productively mined for more than two decades now, is sufficient to explain the formal qualities and conceptual underpinnings of her work. Snapping pictures while pausing movies on her DVD (or, in another age, VHS) player, Eisler freezes moments meant to be fleeting—capturing headlights in the fog, for example, or exhaled cigarette smoke, a backward glance—and renders them in oil. Blurry and slightly distorted, the resulting paintings are explications of

  • Diana Moore

    Diana Moore’s eleven-foot-tall Head of Justice, 1991, commands a plaza in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building & Courthouse in Newark, New Jersey. And the artist’s stainless-steel statue of Figure of Justice, 1998, at nine and a half feet tall, towers over the foyer of another courthouse in Concord, New Hampshire. Working as a figurative sculptor since the late 1960s, Moore gained prominence with these and other 1990s commissions by the US General Services Administration—they are touchstones of her practice. Intended to stand as universal figures, the monuments nonetheless

  • Maren Hassinger

    Maren Hassinger’s stunning exhibition “As One” covered more than forty years of the artist’s elegant and unassuming productions, and left me wanting more. (Thankfully, the Studio Museum in Harlem is presenting her sculptures in Marcus Garvey Park through 2019, and a large-scale exhibition organized by Los Angeles’s Art + Practice and the Baltimore Museum of Art opened at the latter this past summer). The eight works on view were spun from everyday materials, such as pink plastic bags (inflated with the breath of the artist and gallery staff) and strips of muslin dyed with tea and coffee to

  • “CECILY BROWN: WHERE, WHEN, HOW OFTEN AND WITH WHOM”

    After an exhilarating show at the Drawing Center in 2016 that highlighted the immediacy and erudition of her works on paper, Cecily Brown doubled down on gestural painting, debuting several massive pieces—one of them thirty-three feet long—at Paula Cooper Gallery the following year. This fall, audiences in Denmark will get to see thirty of Brown’s paintings, many of them large-scale, exhibited alongside an extensive selection of her drawings and monotypes, most from the past twenty years. Curated by the Louisiana’s Anders Kold, “Where, When, How Often and with Whom” emphasizes

  • Zoe Leonard

    THE TITLE of Zoe Leonard’s exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, “Survey,” immediately positions both her practice and this presentation as elusive and defiant. Even the word itself freely slips between noun and verb. Organized by Bennett Simpson with Rebecca Matalon of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and debuting at the Whitney under the guidance of Elisabeth Sherman, the show is billed as the “first large-scale overview of the artist’s work in an American museum.” In both its austerity and its refusal of chronological order, the installation suggests that this is not