Robert Becker

  • picks December 31, 2020

    Alexis Rockman

    The ghosts of humankind haunt Alexis Rockman’s new marine tableaux, executed in watercolor and acrylic on paper, at Sperone Westwater. In The Rime, 2020, a seagull glides before a foundering ship. Nearby, a billowing cloud of ocher and purple—the colors of forest-fire smoke and putrefied flesh—forms the visage of Death itself. Elsewhere, the empty wooden skiff in Lifeboat HMS Terror, 2020, floats unmoored on a gelid, blue-gray ocean, encircled by murky ice floes and polar bears. “Lost Cargo,” the title of Rockman’s exhibition, suggests the befuddlement of our own doomed species, and its extinction

  • picks October 23, 2020

    Bill Cunningham

    For decades, many turned straight to the style section of the New York Times’ Sunday edition to pore over the vast arrays of tiny images the ubiquitous photographer Bill Cunningham shot at galas, at couture shows, at art galleries, and alfresco, celebrating the twin pillars of high and low society: fashion and fame. He had a knack for catching his comely subjects—whether the well-born and powerful or the chicest of the hoi polloi—unawares, mid-sentence, -gesture, -stride, and -kiss, imbuing his weekly offerings with the frenetic energy of the day.

    “New York, New York” is an ebullient show that

  • picks March 10, 2020

    April Gornik

    April Gornik’s Sunset, 2018—one among the twelve new landscape paintings in her current exhibition at Miles McEnery Gallery—appears as though it might be plugged into an electrical socket. Along the horizon, halfway between a malevolent sky and an inky sea, a stripe of brilliant incandescence worthy of Vermeer lights up storm clouds, choppy waters, and, one would imagine, the entire gallery if it were darkened. Symbolism, Romanticism, Luminism, and feminism have all been cited in regard to Gornik’s work. Indeed, her reimagined versions of natural phenomena are as rich a field for interpretation

  • picks October 17, 2019

    Klea McKenna

    On the exterior wall of the building where Klea McKenna's exhibition hangs, a mural speaks of the long relationship between women and the manufacture of textiles both sacred and secular. McKenna montaged dozens of iconic photos of textile production: Images of Egyptian women embroidering, for instance, are juxtaposed with the tragic Lewis Hine photos of child factory laborers. Like a medieval tapestry, the composite picture serves as both illustration and metaphor, outlining a history of the tradition while alluding to the deeper connotations of the relationship.

    Out of this fascination came