William J. Simmons

  • Jack Pierson

    Jack Pierson’s recent show, presented in collaboration with Cheim & Read, brought together ten works the artist created between 1997 and 2002. Although the artist calls these pieces “paintings,” they are, in fact, amalgams of painting, photography, and film; Pierson took photos and video stills and enlisted a billboard-production company to print the pictures on canvas using acrylic lacquer. There are grainy renderings of the surface of water, a swarm of jellyfish, brilliantly pink flowers, Courtney Love’s shiny, lipstick-besmirched mouth. Most explicitly erotic is a series of close-ups of the

  • picks March 23, 2015

    “Pretty Raw: After and Around Helen Frankenthaler”

    Curating a show to posit the idea of artists following in another’s footsteps is always a difficult feat that runs the risk of facile didacticism. Yet Katy Siegel steers clear of such a fate here, tracing a legacy of Helen Frankenthaler that is consistently surprising. Anchored by her 1962 canvas Hommage à M. L., the show divides into a variety of media and styles. Ulrike Müller’s miniature paintings–turned-jewelry, from 2011 to 2014, are wonderfully unexpected, as is Cheryl Donegan’s classic video Head, 1993; they seamlessly enter the conversation and amplify Frankenthaler’s voice rather than

  • interviews March 02, 2015

    Simone Leigh

    Simone Leigh’s solo exhibition “Crop Rotation” is on view at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville from February 6 through April 5, 2015, and a show titled “Moulting” is on view at Tilton Gallery in New York from March 3 through April 18, 2015. Here, Leigh discusses some of the sources that have inspired her recent work.

    WHILE I WAS IN COLLEGE, cicadas emerged from a seventeen-year cycle to mate. It felt biblical. It was as if it had been written somewhere that in seventeen years now would be the time. I’ll never forget the deafening sound—it was like a freight train. So many years

  • interviews February 16, 2015

    Martha Wilson

    Artist Martha Wilson and Franklin Furnace—a nonprofit she founded in 1976 dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of performance, artists’ books, and other ephemeral art forms—are being celebrated across New York this winter. Organized in collaboration with Independent Curators International, an exhibition at New York University’s Fales Library will focus on four decades of Wilson’s art, including performance, video, and photography, while the Pratt Manhattan Gallery will present thirty projects selected from Franklin Furnace’s archives. These shows, which run from February 19 to April 30,

  • Nicole Eisenman

    Despite frequent critical emphasis on their deliciously flamboyant narratives, Nicole Eisenman’s paintings derive their full impact from subtly subversive details, which become visible only when the viewer has recovered from the initial encounter with the artist’s imagery. Organized by Kelly Shindler for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, (where this midcareer survey of Eisenman’s work originated), and by Kate Kraczon for the Institute of Contemporary Art, “Dear Nemesis” accomplished its goal of showing the breadth of the artist’s incisive investigations into art history and the changing

  • picks January 28, 2015

    Corinne Vionnet

    For her latest output, Corinne Vionnet has pulled thousands of photographs of international landmarks—the Parthenon, the New York skyline, the Hollywood sign, Mount Fuji, an ocean-scape in Capri—from across the Internet, a substantial number taken by tourists. She has layered these pictures to create a single image of each given landmark, creating works that have a painterly, impressionistic feel and interrogate the relationship between tourism and mass media. Vionnet combines multiple registers of media, emphasizing the expanded life an iconic picture has today as it triggers millions of like

  • interviews November 04, 2014

    Dean Wareham and Eric Shiner

    Musicians Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips first collaborated with the Andy Warhol Museum in 2008 for 13 Most Beautiful . . . Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. Now, from November 6 to 8, 2014, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Wareham and Phillips continue this work and partnership with the Warhol Museum for the performance “Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films.” Alongside other celebrated musicians, they have created scores for fifteen as-yet unscreened Warhol films from the 1960s. Here, Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner and Wareham talk about the event.

    THIS PERFORMANCE comprises fifteen

  • picks October 31, 2014

    Guerrilla Girls

    An unfortunate issue facing feminist artists and collectives that began their practices in the 1970s and ’80s is that the historical specificity of their political interventions has been lost in a haze of totalizing readings by scholars and critics. The Guerrilla Girls, for instance, have often been simply categorized as social commentators rather than as artists examining the intersection of aesthetics, gender, and history. Now in their thirtieth year, the group continues to fight in a characteristically biting fashion for their well-deserved place in the canon while other figureheads of

  • picks October 22, 2014

    “As We Were Saying: Art and Identity in the Age of ‘Post’”

    “As We Were Saying: Art and Identity in the Age of ‘Post,’” a sprawling group exhibition curated by Claire Barliant, makes a necessary case for the continued relevance of identity politics by presenting various aesthetic strategies tackling race, sex, and class in a dizzying variety of media—activist posters from the second-wave feminist era, assemblage, sculpture, video, and writing. A central aim runs throughout the exhibition—a tentative revising of postmodern politics and dispersed, network-based views of sexuality and gender in the arts.

    Simone Leigh’s Blue Black, 2014, distills these

  • picks September 26, 2014

    Peter Fend

    In “Rebels Are Reasonable,” Fend brings a spirit of understated subversion to three interrelated projects—a deadpan video documenting the ebb and flow of the sea, sets of panels, and a series of redrawings of flags from around the world. In an effort to unseat traditional orientations of countries in the global South to those in the North, Fend exposes the flag as nothing more than an empty symbol often bearing the legacy of imperialist violence.

    Flags, 2014, consists of ten aluminum panels over which abstractions of national flags have been printed. Fend illustrates ten distinct regions, including

  • picks September 19, 2014

    David Benjamin Sherry

    This salon-style hanging of David Benjamin Sherry’s work is made up of a profusion of paradoxes—campy landscapes manipulated in the darkroom, punk-inspired portraiture, and an enormous sculpture of a Kelvin thermometer—that require an investment in slowness, a willingness to consider how potent social commentary can emerge from the meandering crevices of a mountain. It is as if Jimmy DeSana and David Lynch met on the road and decided to mine the gung-ho American idealism of Edward Weston and Frederick Sommer for its previously unconsidered potential.

    Sherry’s insertion of queer themes into the

  • picks September 12, 2014

    Allan McCollum

    Allan McCollum’s “The Shapes Project,” which began in 2005, was designed to create a unique sculpture for every person in the world, with an objective of producing over thirty-one billion different shapes. His latest iteration presents an explosion of color and dissimilarity that evoke ethnographic associations, emphasizing the impossibility of containing the profusion of difference that exists in American society.

    McCollum presents pairings of multicolored shapes: Each has been attached to its own discrete wood panel and stacked with the others on the gallery wall. The result are several large

  • picks September 03, 2014

    James Casebere

    The urge to see the artist’s tools is as old as art itself; it reflects a fundamental though perhaps antiquated yearning to catch a glimpse of the magic of creation, the process by which an artist turns everyday materials into a masterpiece. In James Casebere’s exhibition “Scales and Dimensions,” we are afforded that opportunity by the inclusion of Casebere’s rarely shown scale models that serve as the basis for his photography. But rather than excitement, there is an overwhelming feeling of disappointment. Gone is the disturbing patina of the photographs, whose magnificent and haunting glamour

  • picks August 24, 2014

    Jasper Johns

    “Jasper Johns: Picture Puzzles” presents a focused look at the artist’s output from between 1960 and 2010, pointing to a sense of inwardness not generally associated with his practice. It is immediately clear that something more complex is occurring in this group of prints. Johns harkens back to the ethos of “A Name for All,” a poem by his frequent inspiration Hart Crane: “Moonmoth and grasshopper that flee our page / and still wing on untarnished of the name / we pinion to your bodies to assuage / our envy of your freedom.” The lithograph Pinion, 1963–66, exhibits a similar urge to come up for

  • picks July 23, 2014

    Barbara Kruger

    With her characteristic font splashed across Modern Art Oxford, Barbara Kruger asks “IS THAT ALL THERE IS?” in her latest exhibition, which consists of a new installation, two video projects, and highlights of her early photocollages. This quandary is as pertinent to the level of critical discourse surrounding her career as it is to the fiber of that individual work. Despite her complicated output, Kruger’s practice often becomes buried under truisms of the Pictures generation—the male gaze, consumer culture, and appropriation. This exhibition of Kruger’s work adroitly proves that her output

  • picks July 16, 2014

    Travis Jeppesen

    Combining modernism’s obsession with ritual and a bitingly humorous, but nevertheless intensely critical, cast of art-historical characters, Travis Jeppesen’s “16 Sculptures” exhibits a freshness that is largely absent in hyper-conceptual contemporary installation shows.

    Each of the sixteen works on display consists of a chair, a vinyl record, headphones to listen to an mp3 recording, and blackout glasses, which together turn the gallery into a Blues Brothers convention. Artists as diverse as James Turrell, Isa Genzken, and Auguste Rodin have had their works transformed by Jeppesen into incantatory