Zack Hatfield

  • interviews October 21, 2019

    Amy Sillman

    For “The Shape of Shape,” a rollicking salon-style exhibition drawn from the holdings of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and part of the newly expanded museum’s “Artist’s Choice” series, Amy Sillman has selected around seventy-five works that, regardless of medium, movement, or period, share a fascination with shape. Like MoMA’s newly rehung collection galleries, the installation, which opens today and runs through April 20, 2020, reconstrues modernism through wide-ranging, unlikely juxtapositions. And like Sillman’s own paintings, it is intelligent, risky, and giddily perturbed, brimming with

  • Andy Mattern

    In 1977, Douglas Crimp observed that “while it once seemed that pictures had the function of interpreting reality, it now seems that they have usurped it.” How understated that declaration appears today—with its hedging seemingness—in a world ruled and fueled by images. Crimp wrote the line for the catalogue essay accompanying a modest, generation-making group show he organized at Artists Space in New York, called simply “Pictures” (its title yet another understatement). Crimp’s thought was on my mind in early July, a couple days after his death, when I visited the basement of the Elizabeth

  • picks September 27, 2019

    Carrie Yamaoka

    Carrie Yamaoka makes subtle, chancy works about the dead ends of depiction. For this show, the artist, who’s long operated at the junction of photography, sculpture, and painting, digitally transferred a four-year cycle of eighteen photograms begun in 1991—the same year she cofounded the feminist collective fierce pussy with Nancy Brooks Brody, Zoe Leonard, and Joy Episalla. Pinned side by side across the gallery walls and titled Archipelagoes (2019), the twenty-three achromatic, malformed reproductions (five of which were produced this year) array an alphabet of captivity: Yamaoka impressed

  • interviews September 03, 2019

    Elias Sime

    Elias Sime is best known for creating scrupulous, large-scale abstractions out of motherboards, keyboards, and circuitry. He acquires much of his material at open-air markets in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he is based and where he cofounded ZOMA Contemporary Art Center in 2002 and Zoma Museum earlier this year with Meskerem Assegued, who has curated many of his exhibitions. (Assegued acted as interpreter for this interview.) “Tightrope,” Sime’s first major museum survey, was organized by Hamilton College’s Wellin Museum of Art in Clinton, New York, and will run through December 8, 2019. It

  • David Driskell

    As a child, David Driskell gathered berries and flowers to help make dyes for the quilts his mother made. These reminders, as they seemed then, of meager living embarrassed him. Paper was scarce, so he drew with charcoal on the family hearth and filled the margins of his minister father’s theology books with cars and houses. Born in 1931 and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Driskell soon outpaced what opportunities existed for a black student in segregated Appalachia. In 1949, he arrived at the doorstep of Howard University in Washington, DC, without an application and, as

  • books July 24, 2019

    Speak, Vivian

    VIVIAN, BY CHRISTINA HESSELHOLDT, translated by Paul Russell Garrett. Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2019. 186 pages.

    SHE SHOT FROM THE HIP—or the heart, or the gut. From a child’s vantage, most often: the better to go unspotted. For Vivian Maier, whose status as one of the twentieth century’s foremost photographers was only recognized a decade ago, the desire for privacy was bound up with the yearning for information: visual, journalistic, human. Or was it? Our knowledge of Maier is patchy. We know that she split her adolescence between France and her native Manhattan, then spent most of her life working

  • picks May 17, 2019

    Rutene Merk

    Choose your fighter: Verrocchio’s bronze David, 1473–75, an epicene precursor to Michelangelo’s opus, who stands winsomely over Goliath’s head; or Aki Ross, the valiant protagonist of Hironobu Sakaguchi’s CGI breakthrough Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within (2001). These two prove the most familiar muses in Rutene Merk’s “Sprites,” the Lithuanian painter’s first New York solo show. The parallels between Verrocchio and Sakaguchi eventually cohere: Both creators are revered for their fierce, lifelike rendering of the human figure. Yet in Aki, 2019, and David at Night, 2018, Merk coarsens this realism

  • interviews May 13, 2019

    Forensic Architecture

    The Triple-Chaser—a tear gas grenade banned in international warfare but routinely deployed by defense forces against civilians both stateside and abroad—is one of the many weapons manufactured by the Safariland Group, whose CEO, Warren B. Kanders, is the vice chair of the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Kanders’s ties to the New York institution have fueled heated protests in the run-up to this year’s Whitney Biennial, which opens May 17, 2019 (more than half of the exhibition’s artists have called for his removal from the board). Among the dissenters is Forensic Architecture, a

  • Vivian Browne

    The masculinity emanating from “Little Men,” 1966–72, a series of paintings by the artist Vivian Browne (1929–1993), is unequivocally toxic. In this exhibition at Ryan Lee Gallery, her subjects—a particularly vicious strain of businessman—stagger, shriek, and contort. They’re also white, and Browne, a supreme colorist, has availed herself of Caucasian flesh’s myriad hideous possibilities: ruddy pinks, contusive purples, jaundiced yellows, pallid grays, and a now-familiar tangerine hue. Whether these overweening barons of industry are in the throes of sexual ecstasy or death was hard to tell.

  • FRANK BOWLING

    Curated by Elena Crippa and Laura Castagnini

    “What am I supposed to be expressing anyway?” wondered Frank Bowling, the Guyana-born British painter, in a 1974 letter to Clement Greenberg, who replied: “I can’t answer any of yr questions about art.” But Bowling already knew that. For six decades, he has endeavored not to answer the question, but to find new ways of asking it, pouring, dripping, and collaging to convey his vivacious, edgeless imagination. Consider the epochal “Map Paintings,” 1967–71, whose lambent, tropical color fields bear the phantom contours of the Southern Hemisphere and the

  • picks April 12, 2019

    Sara Ludy

    A pamphlet for “Unearth,” Sara Ludy’s second solo exhibition here, wields the lingua vacua of corporate innovation, inadvertently upping the show’s uncanniness. “We said, let’s experiment, be intuitive, be bold, embracing the unknown,” the artist is quoted as saying. Things click into place when you learn that the exhibition’s showcase material, a metal-glass hybrid dubbed Waken Glass, was developed by Upterior, a startup that partnered with bitforms gallery and Ludy for the show. Waken Glass’s patent, like our own extinction, is pending.

    With this medium and a couple of others, Ludy has devised

  • interviews April 10, 2019

    Zalika Azim

    In Zalika Azim’s recent work, layering is less an act of concealment than one of exposure. Her first solo exhibition, “In case you should forget to sweep before sunset,” features images that are physically placed atop one another or are superimposed to unlock manifold associations. Broader themes of dispersion, kinship, and survival are interleaved with intimate family histories. Below, the artist discusses images in the home and the limits and leverages of storytelling through photography. The show is on view at Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York through April 13, 2019.

    I READ SPECULATIVE

  • diary March 15, 2019

    Into the Echo

    THE SHEIKH WAS RUNNING LATE. It was 10 AM—the official opening time of the fourteenth Sharjah Biennial. Although a nice, durable red carpet had been rolled out in front of the Sharjah Art Foundation’s Al Mureijah Square, and a crew of cameramen in dishdashas was on standby, the planefuls of artists, curators, press, gallerists, and junketeers who had descended upon the Emirate last Thursday were told they might as well wander the grounds and see some art. We would be alerted when Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi finally arrived (his daughter and the biennial’s director, Sheikha Hoor Al

  • picks March 01, 2019

    Hilary Berseth

    With paper and pencil, Hilary Berseth has drawn in exacting detail life’s less charismatic roadside attractions—rocks, sticks, bones—and fashioned sculptures mistakable for what they depict. Inspired by the scenery of Pennsylvania’s Tohickon Creek, they possess a rugged whimsicality, like a dust-bowl pop-up book. On plinths or suspended by string, the artworks appear parched and brittle, unable to withstand a human sneeze. Behold how the heaped, lichened stones of Cleaved Slates Stacked, 2017–18, attached with tiny notch joints, elude gravity. Peer inside the stippled cave of Model 5, 2012, a

  • OPENINGS: JULIEN NGUYEN

    SOME DECLARE the end of the world; others make new worlds. Julien Nguyen does a bit of both. Shuffling allusions from the Renaissance, anime, and the artist’s own life, his paintings reliably broach the familiar tropes of the powerful. You may remember Executive Function and Executive Solutions, both 2017, his contributions to that year’s riling Whitney Biennial: Subdivided into panels and tondi, they boasted satanic nymphs, skeletons, and nudes while evoking artists like Sandro Botticelli and Giorgio de Chirico—all portrayed as the front page of the New York Times. Here was the paper of record,

  • “Anna Atkins Refracted: Contemporary Works”

    Anna Atkins, the Victorian botanist widely considered the first female photographer, created thousands of cyanotypes depicting white negatives of flora, often seaweed, suspended in atmospheres of Prussian blue. She made the pictures in the service of science, each one a spectral ode to the bounty of life and to what was then an innovative photographic technique. Like those of so many women of the time, Atkins’s breakthroughs fell into obscurity; she was “rediscovered” in the 1980s. The New York Public Library’s exhibition “Anna Atkins Refracted: Contemporary Works”—curated by Joshua Chuang and

  • performance December 05, 2018

    Off the Record

    ADVICE: IF YOU DECIDE TO ADAPT Joan Didion’s writing for the theater, downplay its literary origin. Her sentences inhere most naturally on the page, where they can be underlined, annotated, queried, immediately reread. Didion’s own theatrical presentation of The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), her meditation on mourning for her husband, the novelist and screenwriter John Gregory Dunne, whittled mazy streams of consciousness into a stark monologue performed by Vanessa Redgrave. The actor’s gravitas was compelling but at odds with the literary persona Didion has over decades so carefully honed

  • Jeff Whetstone

    If Jeff Whetstone’s recent photographs of the American South call to mind other kinds of light writing, it may be because the region’s literature, like Whetstone, reveals light to be history’s medium. William Faulkner observed that Mississippi rays seem to arrive “not from just today but from back in the old classic times.” Even California native Joan Didion mused that the air of New Orleans “never reflects light but sucks it in until random objects glow with a morbid luminescence.” Whetstone’s pictures channel the anomalousness of time and radiance in the South, how the land remains at a

  • picks November 09, 2018

    Denise Scott Brown

    Vegas was her idea. In 1968, architects Denise Scott Brown and her husband, the late Robert Venturi, chaperoned thirteen Yale students—nine of them studying architecture—to the city for a field trip. Four years later came Learning from Las Vegas—their landmark, somewhat trollish retort to the fusty grade of International Style then ascendant. That treatise’s so-called populist championing of vernacular modes and classical allusions remains relevant and divisive, though Scott Brown’s immense legacy still often serves as a footnote to Venturi’s. This small exhibition of research photographs—and

  • interviews November 05, 2018

    Jeffrey Gibson

    For nearly two decades, Jeffrey Gibson has sought to complicate ideas of identity and heritage through multiform work rooted in modernist abstraction, indigenous traditions, and queerness. His art is currently on display in a retrospective at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson; a survey at the Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York; the inaugural exhibition at the Maria & Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery at Georgetown University in Washington, DC; and a solo show of new paintings at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. in New York City, which is on view through November 27, 2018.