Robert Pincus-Witten

  • Louise Bourgeois

    This major survey of Bourgeois’s work, titled “The Return of the Repressed,” is being billed as the “first in-depth examination of the artist’s relationship to psychoanalysis.

    This major survey of Bourgeois’s work, titled “The Return of the Repressed,” is being billed as the “first in-depth examination of the artist’s relationship to psychoanalysis.” Yet that over-eggs the pudding, since all Bourgeois exhibitions—be they modest or ambitious—must engage psychoanalysis as the most convincing mode of formal interpretation. Indeed, the sculptor’s Freudian analysis was as transformative for her work as Jackson Pollock’s Jungian analysis was for his. At Fundación Proa, an exhibition of nearly one hundred pieces made between 1946 and

  • Craig Kauffman

    Bemused condescension is a nuanced mind-set. Yet it is familiar enough to the New York art world, as when, some forty-plus years ago, the cognoscenti encountered the team of young Light and Space artists who were then emerging in Los Angeles. It is not that ethereality, evanescence, and the dematerialization of color were necessarily foreign to the aspirations of East Coast painters in the 1960s—they weren’t (think Color Field, for example)—but that such refined digressions, as we spun them, were embodied as pigment on canvas, including even the paintings of a nascent Minimalist persuasion. For

  • Lee Bontecou

    Lee Bontecou’s story is an art-world fairy tale: sudden celebrity followed by withdrawal, even reclusion; then, rediscovery and newfound status. This show retells that narrative with sixteen works owned by the Museum of Modern Art and one loan (all but three are works on paper), while skipping a midcareer chapter and mounting the whole affair in what seems little more than a landing off the elevator. True, the museum presented a robust Bontecou survey some six years ago. That said, this account tends to validate a widespread indifference to Bontecou’s later output, a disinterest that the

  • Michael Goldberg

    The “Ninth Street Show,” held in 1951, marked the growing resistance of New York artists to their long indenture to French modernism, a servitude felt most acutely from the 1930s on. Virtually all the figures of the first and second generations of the Abstract Expressionist pantheon were present. The painting of the latter group manifested varying syntheses of and allegiances to Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Mark Rothko, to name the most pervasive influences. Among the most gifted of these younger artists—mostly ex-GIs in their twenties—was Michael Goldberg, a magnetic

  • Rafael Ferrer

    THE HAPPY FEW WHO SAW the Rafael Ferrer installations in “Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials” at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1969 or at the museum’s Sculpture Annual the following year are unlikely to forget the artist’s attraction to unconventional substances—crank grease, mounds of hay, blocks of ice, piles of leaves. These materials were gathered into “enclosures” (in Ferrer’s apt denomination) that were sundered by puzzled visitors, who memorably tracked wet foliage across the black stone floors of Marcel Breuer’s still-new museum. Ferrer’s contributions marked the

  • “Your History Is Not Our History”

    This selection of work by twenty-two artists working in New York in the 1980s, organized by painters David Salle and Richard Phillips, was filled with many fine things. No surprise there: The artists in the show are all so well known that their names might almost stand in for their art. Still, the charge of clubbiness that inevitably hung over this basically good-natured exhibition was countered by the defensive edge of its Jenny Holzer–ish title, set, to be sure, in the Suprematist sans-serif bold font preferred by Barbara Kruger. Neither of these hectoring Conceptualists was, in fact, involved

  • Annie Cohen-Solal’s Leo & His Circle: The Life of Leo Castelli

    Annie Cohen-Solal; translated by Mark Polizzotti with Annie Cohen-Solal, Leo & His Circle: The Life of Leo Castelli (New York: Knopf, 2010), 576 pages.

    IF JOHNS AND RAUSCHENBERG, Lichtenstein and Warhol, Rosenquist and Twombly, Stella and Serra (among many others) are household names, their currency is not solely the result of their art but that of the efforts made on their behalf by a diffident, courtly European—a counsel-keeping, omniscient eye at the center of a swirling storm. Hardly in the first flush of youth, Leo Castelli was fifty when he opened his New York gallery at 4 East Seventy-seventh

  • Robert Morris

    To know why Robert Morris loomed so large in the 1960s one need look no further than Untitled (Scatter Piece), 1968–69. For this room-size installation, Morris distributed his materials—steel, lead, zinc, copper, aluminum, brass, and contrasting thick felt sheets—according to an open system of size and weight change, with dozens of individual forms whose bending and folding L-shapes and bullet-nose U-turns were determined by a complex system (as Jeffrey Weiss tells us in his excellent essay accompanying this show) premised on calculations of coin tossings “plus numbers randomly selected from

  • Joel Shapiro

    A selection of nine early works by Joel Shapiro was installed in two smaller rooms of Paula Cooper’s several brut Chelsea spaces, a presentation of work so dazzlingly beatific that one wished for its permanent presence as respite from the jangling disorder engulfing us.

    In the larger of the two cloistral spaces were seven small works (in certain instances veritable miniatures, measurable in scant inches), each Untitled and dating to the mid-1970s, situated widely apart from one another and mostly set down directly on the floor. Shapiro’s severe little houses are simply seven planes reduced to

  • Annette Lemieux

    Annette Lemieux’s equivocal place among those contemporary artists drawn to reminiscence—let’s call them “nostalgics”—is far from commensurate with her prominence in what might be termed Feminist Conceptualism. This obliquity owes something to the fact that she works “off scene,” in Boston (despite her continuing New York presence in galleries of note), and also to her attraction to cryptic, elusive themes. Lemieux’s political sarcasm is masked by sweetness and reductivist abstraction, and her infinite links of insinuation are a deterrent to facile acceptance, unwanted to begin with. Her references

  • Gerhard Richter

    Gerhard Richter’s indebtedness to a range of photographic practices has been the taproot of his intensely admired achievements. The incipient force of this approach first emerged in the painter’s adaptations of Andy Warhol in the early 1960s (modifications he worked out concurrently with Sigmar Polke). As Richter’s work developed, its representational and abstract polarities became ever more marked—distinctly separate but equal options. After all, the aesthetic equivalence between abstraction and representation is hardly an abstruse notion; postmodern sensibility cherishes stylistic discontinuity

  • Jean-Paul Riopelle

    An eight-volume catalogue raisonné currently being published in Canada asserts the country’s claim to this patriarchal figure of modern French painting, who was born in Montreal in 1923. Hometown boy makes good. Yet it was all Jean-Paul Riopelle could do to escape the city and its time-hardened resentments: francophone, Roman Catholic Quebec versus anglophone, Church of England, maple leaf America. Riopelle found refuge from Quebecois revanchism in the alternate AbEx universe of postwar Paris, where he soon became a highly regarded artist, right up there with Pierre Soulages, Georges Mathieu,

  • Josiah McElheny

    Think of contemporary glassmakers and the first name to come to mind might be Dale Chihuly and his Murano-like anemones (so to speak). Josiah McElheny, hardly a popular purveyor of pseudo-Venetian glass, is firmly on the far side of the old Craft versus Art divide. He could produce such gimcracks with one arm tied behind his back—on the condition that the historicizing programs he favors call for such glass forms in the first place.

    Spurred by the recondite history of glass (not to say art history or political theory), McElheny, on the occasion of this exhibition, has invented (or reinvented) a

  • Troy Brauntuch

    Coming on the heels of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recent “Pictures Generation, 1974–1984,” Friedrich Petzel’s retrospective—for that is what it was—dramatically underscored (often with intense poignancy) the thirty-year remove between Troy Brauntuch’s hesitant emergence among the original five artists in Douglas Crimp’s seminal 1977 “Pictures” show and his more recently attained master status. Indeed, this exhibition made clear that Brauntuch’s hand, if not his oblique sense of what constitutes a proper subject, has over the years grown suppler, suaver, and more capacious.

    A broad array of

  • John Currin

    An intriguing survey of seventy-seven works on paper, borrowed from some fifty lenders, was handsomely installed at the Andrea Rosen Gallery, home of the artist’s early career. These drawings— let’s call them that for expediency’s sake (there were numerous watercolors and gouaches as well)—largely date from 1992 to 2002. During that ten-year run, John Currin emerged as a leading proponent of an insouciant, comedic, randy, figurative realism then being explored by a set of young provocateurs that also included Lisa Yuskavage and Ron Mueck.

    By 2002, Currin had all but renounced drawing as a manual

  • Susan Rothenberg

    Absorbed by the small wonders of Texan domestic life as well as by the state’s vast landscape, Susan Rothenberg now makes paintings that appear eccentrically Impressionist.

    The earliest of the twenty-five canvases in this exhibition (organized with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico) date from the mid-1970s, when a group of works on horse themes catapulted Susan Rothenberg to the forefront of the New Image painters. Long settled in Galisteo, Texas, Rothenberg has for some time employed a much smaller, stitch-like stroke, a mode resistant to the “frozen motion” (as the artist describes it) of the equine ideogram on which her considerable reputation rests. Absorbed by the small wonders of Texan domestic life as well as by

  • Sigmar Polke

    These thirty-odd recent paintings continue to chart the problematic fusion of Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol that makes Sigmar Polke the artist of greatest pertinence to the current generation of painters, be they European or American.

    His new works—painted either directly onto a corrugated layer of hardened translucent gel or onto the fabric beneath these striated surfaces—are, despite their tag name “Lens Paintings,” scarcely lenticular at all. The ridging does not appreciably blur the patterns or occlude the visible images or the paint strokes. To insist on a lenslike tightening of focus seems,

  • Mimmo Rotella

    To announce its new representation of the estate of Mimmo Rotella (1918–2006), Knoedler & Company mounted a survey focusing on the artist’s paintings of the 1950s and ’60s, a period of intense international avant-garde cross-pollination. Like many Italian painters who came of age at that time, Rotella began as a postwar abstractionist whose work was still marked by a certain late Futurist vigor. Adjuring the Neorealist strand of Italian art that also emerged following the war and inspired by his growing cognizance of contemporary American developments, Rotella sloughed off this
 dutiful mode

  • Andrew Lord

    The arts/crafts divide is a vexed passage; painting and sculpture versus the potter’s wheel and the loom. Of recent decades the rancor that once marked these age-old oppositions has abated. Certainly, much contemporary art embraces crafts’ methods—think of the feminist coding of weaving so central to Eva Hesse’s sculpture. Conversely, while craftspeople may now be regarded as artists, convincing examples are rare. Peter Voulkos, who led the West Coast ceramics renaissance, comes to mind, and now, with this ambitious show, Andrew Lord enters the lists.

    Lord is a master ceramist of intense personality.

  • “Cast in Bronze"

    This great exhibition—it is absurd to mince adjectives—is a monumental event. Apart from the breathtaking loans, there is a daunting catalogue containing 144 entries on works by canonic figures (Goujon, Pilon, Falconet, Girardon, Coysevox, Pigalle, Houdon) in addition to lesser lights as one moves from French Mannerism past Louis XIV, XV, and XVI to the rationalist French sculptors of the eighteenth century. The occasion was largely orchestrated by savants at the Louvre, the Metropolitan, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where the show arrives this month.

    The catalogue for Knoedler