Zachary Sachs

  • View of “Sites of Knowledge,” 2017.
    picks June 30, 2017

    “Sites of Knowledge”

    The opaque construction of meaning in art has long posed itself in opposition to more direct performances of verbal language. Both practices can resemble board games, as units of visual or linguistic significance can be reduced to tokens that can be lined up and rearranged. This group exhibition, featuring works from Guy Laramée, Enrico Isamu Ōyama, Michael Rakowitz, Karen Schiff, and Sophie Tottie, among others, surveys the variety of atomic units that make up words, or art, or word art.

    A sequence of Henri Chopin’s works from the late 1970s and early 1980s, which he called “dactylopoems,” are

  • Mary Reid Kelley, Charles Baudelaire, 2013, ink-jet print, 22 x 16".
    picks April 07, 2017

    “The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin”

    For Walter Benjamin, Paris was the capital of the nineteenth century, not only a center of cultural production but a capital as metaphor—a metonymy for modernity more generally. The contrast between its chaotic street life and the orderly arcade passages that framed its shop windows became the structural concept for his last work, the unfinished Arcades Project, written between 1927 and 1940. This compilation of quotes and original writings is, in turn, the organizing principle for this show combining wall texts by Kenneth Goldsmith and works by Walead Beshty, Andrea Bowers, Nicholas Buffon,

  • View of “Klaus Wittkugel and Anton Stankowski,” 2016.
    picks February 05, 2016

    Klaus Wittkugel and Anton Stankowski

    A column protruding from the gallery’s plate-glass storefront is papered with reproductions of 1930s to 1970s posters and graphic design from East and West Germany. Inside, the varied products of Klaus Wittkugel, a central figure in Eastern European graphic design little documented in Anglophone histories of the subject, are arrayed. Though the exhibition focuses on one designer, it more generally serves as an imagining of the curious nature of the profession in the Eastern Bloc, where the state was the client and propaganda the principal product.

    A vitrine contains artifacts of East German

  • View of “New Typography,” 2014.
    picks March 18, 2014

    Harsh Patel

    Harsh Patel’s New York debut presents a knee-high platform covered edge to edge with monochrome plotter prints, in which graphics interleave bits of signs, photographs, and mysterious symbols into an obscure iconography. One panel, Blix, 2014, is a specimen sheet for an LED font that recalls Mick Haggerty’s digitized silhouettes on the cover of The Police’s 1981 record Ghost in the Machine, which has been overlaid with the shadows of gothic hardware: chains, hooks, and dagger shapes that float over the strict grid-logic of the letterforms. (Each plane suggests a different sort of torture.)

    Patel’s

  • Sean Landers, [Sic], 1993, ink on paper, 8 1/2 x 11".
    picks December 20, 2013

    “Drawing Time, Reading Time”

    “Drawing Time, Reading Time” alternates between the temporal condition of text, which is read in sequence, and that of the image, which is apprehended more or less all at once. Included in this exhibition—which is felicitously paired with “Pencil Sketches,” a parallel and archly titled show of manuscripts by Emily Dickinson and Robert Walser—are works by Carl Andre, Pavel Büchler, Guy de Cointet, Mirtha Dermisache, Sean Landers, Allen Ruppersberg, Nina Papaconstantinou, Deb Sokolow, and Molly Springfield.

    Take Ruppersberg’s and Springfield’s drawings of books, where the writing is often

  • Gabrielle Ferrer, Cones (#28), 2013, archival inkjet print mounted on plywood, 8 x 8".
    picks April 12, 2013

    Gabrielle Ferrer

    Gabrielle Ferrer’s solo debut, “Transparent Things,” combines three distinct bodies of work interleaved in snaky digressions around the upstairs gallery. Framed pages torn from an exhibition catalogue depicting Navajo weavings—from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s 1972 show “The Navajo Blanket”—are hung in grids on three of the gallery’s four walls and anchor the exhibition. The artist has applied watercolor over the black-and-white reproductions, partly following the schematic description for each weaving, and a chart listing colors along warp and weft, found in the catalogue. Positioned

  • Luigi Ghirri, Chartres, 1977, vintage c-print 
5 x 7 3/4".
    picks April 12, 2013

    Luigi Ghirri

    Luigi Ghirri was fascinated by the implications of the photograph’s two-dimensionality—its capacity for narrowness and opacity. None of the twenty-five vintage photographs shown here (all part of Ghirri’s self-published Kodachrome, 1978) contain much that could be called reportage, or even a “decisive moment.” Flatness is the focus. In Ile Rousse, 1976, a coastline dotted with sailboats is bisected by a wooden column streaked with shadows captive from another color space. This formal arrangement causes perspective to seem ambiguous, creating two foreign senses of a place—mundane and faintly

  • William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, Untitled (scrapbook A), 1964–70, mixed media, 12 1/4 x 7 3/4".
    picks March 26, 2013

    “Paperwork: A Brief History of Artists’ Scrapbooks”

    Art historian Alex Kitnick muses that scrapbooks, like sketchbooks, act as “research and development” for artists: Their pages show a variety of approaches to dealing with a framing device and each demonstrate a range of modes and energies. These thoughts are part of his essay in Paperwork, the catalogue accompanying this exhibition—cocurated by Kitnick and Andrew Roth—which features a breadth of journals and scrapbooks made by an impressive collection of artists, including Brigid Berlin, Richard Prince, and Monika Baer among twenty-some others. Here, twelve tidy vitrines house an

  • Dieter Roth, Gartenskulptur (Garden Sculpture), 1968–, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks September 04, 2012

    “Architektonika 2”

    In the long warehouselike Rieckhallen extension at the Hamburger Bahnhof, curator Gabriele Knapstein’s current group show explores how architecture both structures and delimits urban life. A series of bright, high-ceilinged rooms showcase spatial experiments (such as Sol LeWitt’s Modular Cube, 1970) flanked by photographs and architectural drawings. Dan Graham’s “Homes for America” series, 1972, like LeWitt’s cube, interrogates regularity and, in a different way, whiteness. More fervent dissections of homes are undertaken by Gordon Matta-Clark, and, a little surprisingly, they hit a common chord

  • Justin Manor, John Rothenberg, and Eric Gunther, Set Top Box, 2010, still from a two-channel video installation.
    picks August 09, 2012

    “Graphic Design—Now in Production”

    A low-ceilinged space in a former warehouse is an odd place to witness the assembled forces of contemporary graphic design; it’s nonetheless the site of “Now In Production,” a survey on Governor’s Island organized by the Cooper-Hewitt and the Walker Art Center. Inside, ingenious commercial campaigns arrange themselves behind works by a scrappier avant-garde. But since such vanguardists often train their sights on the modes and mind-set of the advertisers, the show has the air of a cease-fire. In a hallway visitors are invited to vote (with poker chip–like counters) on whether they prefer the

  • View of “Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language,” 2012.
    picks June 17, 2012

    “Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language”

    “Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language” first dances through a largely historical prelude with a short course on playful Conceptual art—“Aesthetic Linguistics 101,” featuring Marcel Duchamp’s “Disks” from 1926 that, like many of the works beside them, suggest a spin into circular illegibility. Experimental Jetset applies the linguistic concept of a snowclone to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1972 “War Is Over” poster, exploding the grammatical kink (If You Want It) with gibberish taken from F. T. Marinetti’s onomatopoeic glamorizing of a bombing in ZANG TUMB TUMB (If You Want It), 2003. The provocative

  • View of “Canceled: Alternative Manifestations and Productive Failures,” 2012.
    picks June 04, 2012

    “Canceled: Alternative Manifestations and Productive Failures”

    Richard Prince v. Patrick Cariou, a fair-use case currently in appeals, threatens to set a dangerous precedent for the legality of appropriation. The initial ruling against Prince in 2011 included—in a surprisingly draconian injunction—an order that the works be destroyed or never displayed publicly. Cases like this can make an artwork seem considerably less interesting than the machinery of art and institutions that revolve around it. Greg Allen’s YES RASTA, 2011, a deadpan bound volume that reproduces depositions in the case, is one of the sixteen quasi-documentary, quasi-performative works