Robert Becker

  • Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #58, 1980, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10". From the series “Untitled Film Stills,” 1977–80.
    picks May 20, 2022

    Cindy Sherman

    More than forty years ago, Cindy Sherman debuted “Cindy Sherman,” the polymorphous persona that, since then, has been the artist’s primary subject: a reflection not only of herself, but also of mass culture’s often strange and troubling depictions of women as a whole. The seventy photographs from Sherman’s 1977–80 “Untitled Film Stills” series are part of an exhibition at Hauser & Wirth that examines some of her earliest forays into self-portraiture. Of course, as familiar as these works—and the cinematic tropes they mine—have become, they never fail to unsettle. Take Untitled Film Still #7,

  • Kathy Ruttenberg, The Moment After (detail), 2008, stoneware, bronze, 110 x 90 x 49".
    picks April 13, 2022

    Kathy Ruttenberg

    The fecund imagination of sculptor Kathy Ruttenberg is a world unto itself, populated with forest creatures and fairytale figures that hint at Jungian archetypes, the divine feminine, and even early film animation. In her work, ceramic flowers have faces, a stamen becomes a penis—or a vine an umbilical cord—while women’s bodies merge inextricably with woods and ponds, animals, and the soil itself as they nurse fox cubs. In The Wind Blew and Changed Everything, 2021, a woman leaning pensively against a tree is surrounded by a menacing spider, mice, an owl, and a snake. Above her, held aloft by

  • Alexis Rockman, The Rime, 2020, watercolor and acrylic on paper, 18 x 24".
    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

  • Bill Cunningham, Untitled, New York City, 1979–81,gelatin silver print, 10 x 8".
    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

  • April Gornik, Light Wheel, 2019, oil on linen, 80 1/2 x 62".
    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

  • Klea McKenna, Underground (1), 2019, copper, sepia, and selenium toned photogram and relief on gelatin silver fiber paper, 24 x 20".
    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