Rhonda Lieberman


    JEFF KOONS HAS DISPLACED much from the larger world to the world of art—objects and the forms of objects, images, and genres of narrative. Among his displaced objects are basketballs and vacuum cleaners. The forms he has displaced include that of a toy rabbit, which was made of inflatable plastic when he found it. To present this form in the art world, he cast it in stainless steel. Having found other forms in kitsch statuettes of various sorts, he has had them reproduced with meticulous care, often at enormous size. Thus a small ceramic figure of a bathing woman becomes larger than life. With

  • Rhonda Lieberman

    I’M CONVINCED that Jeff Koons came out of the same petri dish as those helmet-haired guys on late-night infomercials who tell you you can fully self-actualize yourself financially and spiritually by buying their tapes. As the self-appointed prophet of banality, Koons stands in the trusty line of American self-helpers from Benjamin Franklin to Dale Carnegie to Jane Fonda who preach salvation through good salesmanship. You can live in the present and free yourself from guilt and shame through deep self-packaging. Or in Koons’ version, one may bliss out in the eternal return of pink butterflies,

  • David Diao

    When looking at the work of a live artist, one finds oneself mentally assessing the career thing in terms of potency and/or size. Is it big or medium, hot or stale? How active is their symbolic organ in the art world? Of course, we say, size isn’t important. Nevertheless, the evaluation mode kicks in, like some internally held homeostatic mechanism of curiosity slash invidia and inevitably swerves back upon oneself. In every show, the subtext of success, ambition, sour grapes, and/or idolatry lurks barely beneath the surface. I envy people who don’t always compare themselves with others, but I

  • Andreas Gursky

    Do Andreas Gursky’s photos estheticize the banal? And is this nauseating decadence or is it actually interesting? Yes, these images really capture boredom, at business, at leisure, but mostly in between. “Genoa” is a parking lot, where you get a glimpse of some ships in the background but mostly see the rear ends of autos packed with vacation gear. What he captures here, like an eternity, is that tourist feeling you get when you’re waiting for the rush that you’re “there”—but you’re stuck in some lackluster intermediary place like a parking lot or charmless café. Only the place-name remains, “

  • Tina Barney

    The people in Tina Barney’s photos look like evil twins of the people in Ralph Lauren ads. The Lauren ads sell exclusion by merchandizing WASP style as something you have to be born into, implicitly canceling out any consumer who has to buy his or her way in. What Ralph Lauren presents as scenes of plenitude Barney exposes as scenes of zombitude. While they’re not exactly sinister, they are testimony to the discreet vacuousness of the upper-middle-class WASP subject. Barney uses blandness as a weapon against itself. Oddness creeps around the edges, and pulls us in. In one sporty and cosmic image,

  • Craigie Horsfield

    Like anyone who is doing anything interesting, Craigie Horsfield uses his medium to escape the tedium of self-expression. The man has spent quite a bit of time in bleak environments, in London and in Poland. His subjects are empty lots, and friends in sparse dreary rooms staring deep through the camera. The images are black and white, large and lonely. They are matte-finished. The large formats both pull you in and repel you with a physicality not so common to this kind of contemplative photography, which usually isn’t about imposing its presence in the room. A party scene strikes you as soon

  • John Armleder

    With virtuosic artlessness, John Armleder achieves Zen summits (and/or pits) through the manipulation of household objects—removing traces of himself and leaving a generous residue of wit and poetry. His recent show evokes oxymorons like “elegant poverty,” “brilliant stupidity,” “seductive lameness”: I’m a total fan. I love the chandelier on the floor. I love the plywood thing. I love the Mamas and the Papas (at least here). The show, in short, is good. Neither decorative nor formally replete, his furniture sculptures seem oddly expectant, like they’re stuck in an existential holding zone that

  • Paul Etienne Lincoln

    The piece is called In Tribute to Madame de Pompadour and the Court of Louis XV, 1983–91. In an elaborate contraption and its supporting documents, Paul Etienne Lincoln harnesses natural forces in the form of snails, bees, and gases to demonstrate the workings of the court of Louis XV. Everything revolves around Madame de Pompadour, a charismatic vacuum maintained in the contraption by the King, who functions in the form of a royal gasbag. The machine looks like a version of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome for midget dandies. It is metaphorically and literally powered by the bodies and

  • Richard Artschwager

    Richard Artschwager has been making Formica sing for years, not only since materials with no “integrity” were deemed classy. As usual, in this recent show the enigmatic and elegantly geeky Artschwager message was uttered through a wide variety of formats: a “mirror,” a “window” (both opaque Formica), and various pictures. An amputee cellolike “instrument,” leaning against a corner for support, was a true Beckett object; it was so round and bottom heavy it looked incapable of supporting itself and impossible to move. Another work consisted of a very heavy wooden door leaning back at a dangerous

  • Anna Bialobroda

    Anna Bialobroda’s oblong slivers of images from the silver screen present us with slices of unlife that don’t add up to a whole. It was Willem de Kooning who said that “Content is a glimpse,” and his remark seems at least as relevant to Bialobroda’s project as to his own paintings. In any event, it’s always edifying to discover an artist doing something smart and fresh with (figure) painting, whether or not he or she has been declared legally unconscious.

    The top parts of Bialobroda’s paintings are truncated close-ups; the bottom portions represent the darkness where we the audience would be. In