Ralph Rugoff

  • Mark Tansey

    Mark Tansey’s paintings conjure a dream world—that of someone who’s fallen asleep during a lecture on the history of Modern art. Haunted by the likes of Marcel Duchamp and Jacques Derrida, his work teems with disorienting encounters, seamlessly mixing references to old master compositions and Popular Mechanics. Nested within this dream world are the dreams of various 20th-century avant-gardes, which are alternately parodied and saluted in what amounts to a case study in transcendent ambivalence.

    That Tansey seems stuck was evident both in his modest traveling retrospective, curated by Judi Freeman,

  • Damien Hirst

    Damien Hirst keeps turning out variations on his grisly menagerie, extrapolating on the idea of death-as-sculpture with a parade of preserved sharks, lambs, cows, and their various body parts. Some of this work is spectacularly morbid: imagine Haim Steinbach and Jeffrey Dahmer collaborating on site-specific pieces for a municipal zoo. But Hirst is ultimately concerned less with instilling horror than with probing what remains of our capacity to be shocked. Tracing a circuit of denial and sham, his work performs a metaphysical autopsy on the corpse of visceral experience.

    Compared to most of his