Zack Hatfield

  • Andrew Wyeth, Snow Hill, 1989, tempera on panel, 48 × 72". © Andrew Wyeth/Artists Rights Society (ARS); Collection of the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.

    CLOSE-UP: EXQUISITE CORPSE

    A golden rule: to leave an incomplete image of oneself . . .

    —E. M. Cioran

    WHEN DO YOU STOP MOURNING a casualty of art? Some never do. Recall Dostoevsky, driven to the verge of an epileptic attack by Holbein’s supine, open-eyed Christ, or the men who, so moved by the excavated Laocoön and His Sons, began to writhe in imitation of the marble serpents and their prey. Here we have Oscar Wilde on a suicide in Balzac: “One of the greatest tragedies of my life is the death of Lucien de Rubempré. It is a grief from which I have never been able completely to rid myself. It haunts me in my moments of

  • View of “Joaquín Torres-García: Toys,” 2022. Photo: Timothy Doyon.

    Joaquín Torres-García

    Joaquín Torres-García (1874–1949) was a roving messiah simultaneously ahead of and behind the curve—a didactic, derivative pioneer who sought nothing less than to beget a common language that could transcend time and culture. He was also great with kids. Combining these qualities, the Uruguayan-born artist established a toy-making business during the interwar years, a pursuit explored earlier this year in an outstanding survey at Ortuzar Projects. Spurs to children’s imaginations on both sides of the Atlantic, his fanciful playthings were, the show argued, key to Torres-García’s quixotic program

  • View of “Arthur Simms,” 2021–22. Photo: Charles Benton.

    Arthur Simms

    Fresh Kills, a mountain of noxious garbage off the western coast of Staten Island and once the largest dump in the country, was finally shut down in March 2001; about ten years ago, the area was slowly being resurrected into a scenic wetlands park. I found my thoughts drifting to the infamous landfill when looking at Arthur Simms’s art: A resident of the borough, the sculptor transforms cast-off material, much of it trash, into unstable sites of memory and improbable splendor. He scours the junkyard of art history, too, devising from its rusted vanguards—Surrealist automatism, the ready-made,

  • Céline Sciamma, Petite maman, 2021, 4K video, color, sound, 72 minutes. Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) and Marion (Gabrielle Sanz).

    HOW I MET MY MOTHER

    THERE ARE NO MOTHERS in fairy tales, a genre of orphans whose winding paths, however enchanted, lead to domestic conventionality. Not so in Céline Sciamma’s elliptical and enigmatic Petite maman, about a girl who encounters a stranger she has known since birth and how their incredible attachment twists the asymmetries of motherhood into a new, beguiling shape. Running to a crisp seventy-two minutes, the film begins with eight-year-old Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) bidding au revoir to the elderly residents of a nursing home one by one before arriving at the room of her maternal grandmother, who recently

  • View of “Michael Dean,” 2021. From left: Unfucking Titled Poor [Verso], 2021; Unfucking Titled Free, 2021; Unfucking Titled Free, 2021.

    Michael Dean

    Turner-nominated artist Michael Dean, a soft-spoken and sweary Geordie sculptor in his mid-forties, considers himself, above all else, a writer. Typically angular, vaguely anthropomorphized forms made from everyday construction materials such as concrete, corrugated metal, and plywood, his installations develop from his impulse to transform the solitary experience of putting words on a page into something that you can walk around and touch. On the main floor of Dean’s first exhibition at Andrew Kreps, nine freestanding concrete-and-steel sculptures were arranged across the length of the gallery

  • View of “Louise Lawler,” 2021. Background: Hair (adjusted to fit), 2005/2019/2021. Foreground: Pollock and Tureen (traced and painted), Red, Yellow, Blue, 1984/2013/2014/2020.

    Louise Lawler

    Everything must go. At Metro Pictures, which is ending its historic run this year after four decades, Louise Lawler held a two-for-one blowout sale: an exhibition titled “One Show on Top of the Other.” Such a tagline—a fairly literal description of what was on display—reminds us of the artist’s career-long embrace of the gimmick, a category newly theorized by Sianne Ngai as a phenomenon that, through its simultaneous under- and overperformance (its effort-saving tricks and inherent bid for attention), indexes our anxieties about the relation of labor, time, and value under capitalism. Recall

  • Mary Ann Carroll, Untitled (Wetland Scene), no date, oil on canvas board, 16 x 20".
    picks July 27, 2021

    “Highwaymen”

    Beginning in the 1950s, a group of young Black men, faced with the prospect of toiling in Florida’s citrus groves, instead learned to paint the windswept palms, motley waters, and singular radiance of the Sunshine State. Unable to show in the South’s segregated galleries, these artists, soon joined by one woman, peddled their work door-to-door or from their cars on the then-new interstate roads, themselves shaped by systemic racism. Today more than two hundred thousand landscapes are credited to this informal school of self-taught painters, who forged a tradition of American regionalism that,

  • Lee Godie, Untitled, date unknown, hand-colored gelatin silver print, ink, 4 1⁄2 × 3 5⁄8". From “PHOTO | BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie.”

    “PHOTO | BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie”

    For better or worse, the “raw” creativity expounded by Jean Dubuffet as being unscathed by culture has at this point been thoroughly acculturated to mainstream museums, markets, and magazines. Now the American Folk Art Museum has alerted us to a new, lens-based subspecies. Spanning a century and drawn primarily from the international holdings of French filmmaker Bruno Decharme, this show—organized with Decharme by the museum’s senior curator, Valérie Rousseau—divides more than four hundred objects into overlapping sections roughly focused on gender fluidity, sexuality, appropriation, and occultism,

  • Sanou Oumar, 8/23/20, 2020, pen on paper board, 40 x 32".
    picks April 07, 2021

    Sanou Oumar

    Enlivening the malnourished optic nerve, Sanou Oumar’s eleven laborious pen-and-paperboard works mingle tantric designs, hard-edge abstraction, and vibrant adornment in items of selfless concentration. Improvising in the manner of a doodle, the Burkina Faso–born artist often traces nearby objects—his ID card, clothing tags, a floss pick—to find his shapes, encrypting the ordinary into percepts of cosmic equipoise often reminiscent of Buddhist sand mandalas or gothic cathedral windows. See 8/23/20 (all works cited, 2020) in which a circular screen, patterned with scrolling orange tendrils,

  • Luigi Ghirri, Modena, 1979, C-print, 10 1/4 × 15".

    Luigi Ghirri

    Among the millions of lives changed upon seeing astronaut William Anders’s 1968 Earthrise image was that of a young Italian land surveyor. “It was a picture of the world, and it contained all the pictures in the world at the same time,” Luigi Ghirri (1943–1992) later recalled of the photograph, taken on Christmas Eve from Apollo 8. Ghirri began his career as a photographer and photography critic shortly after this moment, alongside (though apart from) a cohort of Americans in the 1970s—William Eggleston, Richard Misrach, and Stephen Shore among them—who squired the unseemly, commercially tainted

  • Larisa Shepitko, The Ascent, 1977, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 111 minutes. Sotnikov (Boris Plotnikov).
    film January 25, 2021

    Passion Play

    LARISA SHEPITKO began work on The Ascent (1977) when she was recovering from a severe spinal injury and pregnant, seized by an afflatus of fear. “I was facing death for the first time,” the Ukrainian director told an interviewer in June 1979. “Like anyone in such a situation, I was looking for my own formula of immortality.” In doing so, she reached for one of the most immortal tales ever told, transposing the Passion of Jesus to the freezing hinterland of Nazi-occupied Belorussia. A Dostoevskian psychodrama of sacrifice and betrayal, The Ascent is her most visually accomplished film, her

  • Frank Jones, Untitled (Whiskey Drunken Devil House CFA 692), 1964, colored pencil on paper, 8 1/2 × 11".

    Frank Jones

    Frank Jones was born in 1900 in Clarksville, Texas, with a flap of fetal membrane over his left eye—an omen that, according to a superstition descended from African folklore, allowed him to see into the spirit world. It was only three years earlier that W. E. B. Du Bois had invoked this supernatural “second sight” when introducing his famous concept of double consciousness—a condition of irreconcilable identities experienced by Black Americans in a white supremacist society. Jones bore the brunt of this oppression: The progeny of enslaved cotton pickers and likely an undiagnosed schizophrenic,