Scott Rothkopf

  • Mask, 1958.

    Ellsworth Kelly

    Following the artist’s massive 1996 Guggenheim retrospective, Ellsworth Kelly’s oeuvre has been sliced and diced into ever-finer morsels, from his early drawings to his relief paintings and Spectrums. Now comes an exhibition organized by curator Toby Kamps around Red Blue Green, 1963, a major canvas in the museum’s collection. The show and its catalogue, with essays by Kamps, Roberta Bernstein, Sarah Rich, and Dave Hickey, focus on a group of fourteen large-scale paintings as well as source materials from 1958 to 1965, a period when Kelly further blurred the line between figure and ground and

  • Carroll Dunham, First Invisible Killer, 2000.

    Carroll Dunham

    Carroll Dunham’s canvases of the past several years make a neat mess of the still-fruitful territory between abstraction and figuration. Blobs of paint morphed into puffy creatures, and more recently into phallic-nosed alpha males impotently shooting at one another. This fall we’re caught in the cross fire at a two-decade survey of Dunham’s work, organized by New Museum director Lisa Phillips and senior curator Dan Cameron (the latter joins novelist A.M. Homes, critics Sanford Schwartz and Klaus Kertess, and artist Matthew Richie in the accompanying catalogue). The exhibition

  • Vase of Flowers, 1927.

    Jean Fautrier

    Jean Fautrier’s art has always been a matter of taste, and his often seemed pretty bad, down to the snakeskin shoes he famously wore to the opening of his war-inspired “Hostage” series. Some critics argue that the later paintings’ flirtation with kitsch is deliberate. Now we have a chance to judge for ourselves with this long-overdue first US retrospective. Organized by Haggerty Museum director Curtis L. Carter and Karen Butler of Columbia University, the exhibition surveys Fautrier’s forty-year career and is accompanied by a catalogue with contributions

  • Gene Swenson on Fire Island, ca. 1966. Photo: Peter Hujar.

    BANNED AND DETERMINED: GENE SWENSON

    GENE SWENSON PACES ALONE ON FIFTY-THIRD Street carrying a blue question mark perched on a pole. He’s picketing the Museum of Modern Art and the guards have orders not to let him in, although he curated an exhibition at the institution little more than a year earlier. In a short time—from the fall of 1966 to the spring of 1968—Swenson went from being one of New York’s most influential critics to a bitter and paranoid outcast, prophesying the fall of Rome. “The art world is sitting on a time bomb of social revolution,” he wrote in April 1968, and within a year it would explode in a torrent of

  • Essai Hétéroclite: les gilets, travail in situ, 1981.

    Daniel Buren

    Despite Daniel Buren’s status as one of France’s most revered living artists (and the nation’s penchant for honoring its own), he has surprisingly escaped retrospective treatment from Beaubourg thus far. Now Buren joins the ranks of Jean Nouvel, Raymond Hains, and other homegrown heroes celebrated in a series of exhibitions launched after the Centre Georges Pompidou’s recent renovation. Of course, because the artist has worked only in response to particular sites since 1967, a full-on Buren “retrospective” poses a bit of a curatorial conundrum.

  • Perceived Obstacle XV, 1991.

    Richard Tuttle

    Conceived as a site-specific installation, Tuttle’s intervention at Porto draws on the idiosyncratic architecture of the Casa de Serralves, a pink International Style–meets–Art Deco mansion. Organized by critic Susan Harris, the exhibition mixes older work with recent sculptures that respond specifically to the richly appointed interiors of the setting. Two and a half hours up the road, at the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea in Santiago de Compostela, is a complementary retrospective of the artist’s books as well as new large-scale sculptures. With work expanding to

  • Agnes Martin, Untitled No. 2, 1995.

    Agnes Martin: The Nineties and Beyond

    During the ’90s, Agnes Martin fell into the role of a celebrated—if slightly improbable—grande dame of American painting.

    During the ’90s, Agnes Martin fell into the role of a celebrated—if slightly improbable—grande dame of American painting. Throughout the decade she showed up amid artists a quarter her age, whether at the Whitney Biennial or the Carnegie International, all the while racking up a host of lifetime achievement awards. Now the Menil Collection is throwing her a ninetieth birthday party complete with thirty-five canvases spanning the last twelve years. Over that time, Martin slightly shrank her standard format and loosened her hand, laying down what only such a famously restrained painter could call

  • Woman,  1953.

    Willem de Kooning: Tracing the Figure

    Fifty years ago Willem de Kooning shocked the art world with his “Woman” paintings—not simply because the figures were so violently abstract but because his abstraction had so much figuration in it.

    Fifty years ago Willem de Kooning shocked the art world with his “Woman” paintings—not simply because the figures were so violently abstract but because his abstraction had so much figuration in it. Curators Paul Schimmel and Connie Butler have assembled nearly all the pastels from the artist’s landmark 1953 show, along with seventy other works on paper that chart de Kooning’s grappling with the figure from 1938 through 1955. In light of recent bombshells by Currin, Yuskavage, et al., it appears the time is ripe for yet another look at the postwar

  • Hit or Myth

    BY THE TIME I BEGAN STUDYING ART HISTORY IN THE MID-’90s, DOUGLAS CRIMP’S 1977 GROUP show “Pictures” had achieved the quasi-mythic status of those exhibitions we latecomers can imagine we’ve seen, even if we haven't. Like the Jewish Museum’s “Primary Structures,” Michael Fried’s “Three American Painters,” or even Damien Hirst’s “Freeze,” "Pictures” seems less an object of history than of folklore in the minds of those too young to have seen it firsthand. With that show, we are told, a canny critic inaugurated the enticingly slick and brainy strain of '80s art, and we might envision a gallery

  • Sol LeWitt, “Variations of Incomplete Open Cubes,” 1974, painted aluminum.

    “Sol LeWitt: Incomplete Open Cubes”

    THE WADSWORTH ATHENEUM'S RECENT Sol LeWitt exhibition included just one of the artist’s projects—and everything else in the museum. Curator Nicholas Baume scattered LeWitt’s 1974 “Variations of Incomplete Open Cubes” throughout the Wadsworth’s venerable galleries and then invited viewers to wander the building, discovering the stark white objects in conversation with their surroundings. It turns out they had a lot to say.

    In contrast to the breadth of LeWitt’s exhaustive traveling retrospective, the Wadsworth’s focused approach afforded viewers a chance to consider the unfolding of a single major