Zack Hatfield

  • Troy Brauntuch, Chanel, 2020, newspaper advertisement clipped from a 2016 copy of the New York Times, 16 × 12 3⁄4".

    Troy Brauntuch

    Dreadful visions can yield beautiful afterimages, as confirmed by the art of Troy Brauntuch. For more than four decades, the artist has produced spectral, infrathin pictures qua pictures: works that are unremittingly oblique but unswerving in their associations with human cruelty. His career launched in 1977 with the epochal five-person “Pictures” exhibition at Artists Space in New York, where he showed silk-screened and lithographic reproductions of drawings by the Führer—renderings of a tank, an opera set—sans context. Such wiles typified the “Pictures” cohort, who picked apart the delusive

  • Cao Fei, Nova, 2019, video, color, sound, 109 minutes.
    interviews March 15, 2020

    Cao Fei

    For millions of lives, the novel coronavirus currently rocking the globe has induced a secession from “real” to virtual space, where ubiquitous “social distancing” mandates are simultaneously heeded and safely transgressed. Who better to speak to this moment—gravid with apocalyptic and utopian frisson—than Cao Fei? The Beijing-based artist has devoted her practice to addressing social upheavals and breakneck urbanization through virtual, augmented, and mixed realities that chart new capacities for alienation and love. Here, she discusses “Blueprints,” a multimedia exhibition at Serpentine

  • Suzy Lake, Choreogrpahed Puppet #4, 1976/2007, C-print, 41 5⁄8 × 44 1⁄2".

    Suzy Lake

    One of the first things Suzy Lake did after moving to Montreal in 1968 from her native Detroit—a city whose fiery upheavals had recently jolted her into political consciousness—was enroll in mime school at the Théâtre de Quat’Sous. Miming proved a formative education for Lake, who learned to manage both the dramas of various personae and, one supposes, the constraints of muteness inherent in a photographic subject. Crucially, the course also tutored her in the eradicative powers of whiteface, adopted throughout her practice as a “point of nothing.” From there, she embarked on her conceptually

  • View of “Robert Mallary,” 2019. Foreground: title unknown, 1962. Background from left: title unknown, 1962; Descent, 1955.

    Robert Mallary

    Renown arrived swiftly to Robert Mallary, then bolted. The Museum of Modern Art in New York featured him in 1961’s “The Art of Assemblage,” then went on to show his junk works in two more group exhibitions that decade. In 1962, the New York World’s Fair commissioned The Cliffhangers, 1963–64, one of his breakthrough tuxedo sculptures: doomy, vaudevillian tableaux featuring suits gleaned from trash heaps, then infused with toxic polyester resin and, before stiffening, torqued into precariously baroque sideshows. Yet by the late ’60s he had pivoted—in part due to the resin’s deleterious health

  • Kyung-Me, Papillon de Nuit II (Butterfly of Night II), 2019, ink, charcoal, and graphite on Arches paper, 24 x 36".
    picks December 06, 2019

    Kyung-Me and Harry Gould Harvey IV

    Quoth Milton’s Satan: “The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” Kyung-Me certainly does the latter. In her sequential suite of exquisitely proportioned black-and-white drawings, Papillon de Nuit I–VII (Butterfly of Night I–VII) (all works 2019), she transforms the chambers of a covetable modernist home—acquisitions include a five-panel byōbu, a shiny baby grand, infinity mirrors flanked by panes of stained glass à la the Prairie School, and a Rothko—into an unsettling, Escherian memory palace, a spatial and narrative jigsaw whose outlier minutiae

  • Sarah Rapson, Classical Landscape, 2011, mixed media, 8 × 11 3⁄4".

    Sarah Rapson

    Tell me what you want, what you really really want

    I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want.

    Sarah Rapson deadpanned a variation of this call-and-response for sixteen minutes in an early audio work, stretching the refrain from this famous Spice Girls anthem on female solidarity into an exasperated mantra. At the entrance to Rapson’s survey at Essex Street, the piece could be heard through a set of headphones while on the wall opposite hung Untitled, a photogravure featuring the title page from a later edition of H. W. Janson’s History of Art (1962), that virtually womanless

  • Lois Dodd, Front Door Cushing, 1982, oil on linen, 60 × 36".

    Lois Dodd

    She finds great company in aloneness. A strip of light beneath a closed door; colors flapping from a clothesline; gray raindrops squiggling down a city window; a snowy, headlit hill; a lunar eclipse. For more than seventy years, Lois Dodd has lent a generous presence to mostly unpeopled views in or near her homes in New York, New Jersey, and midcoastal Maine. Associated with a set of postwar painters including Gretna Campbell, Alex Katz, and Neil Welliver—artists who, amid AbEx and Pop hegemony, courted gentle contrarianism by reengaging landscape painting via airily abstract modes of perception—she

  • View of “Artist’s Choice: Amy Sillman—The Shape of Shape,” 2019–20, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
    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, Average Subject/Medium Distance 7264 (Contrast), 2019, ink-jet print, 25 3⁄4 × 17 3⁄4".

    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

  • Carrie Yamaoka, Archipelagoes (2019) panel 15A, archival pigment print, 20 x 16".
    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

  • Elias Sime, Tightrope: Silent 1, 2019, reclaimed electronic components on panel, 6' 1/2“ x 10' 6”.
    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, Memories of a Distant Past, 1975, egg tempura, gouache, and collage on paper, 21 1⁄2 × 16".

    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