Critics’ Picks

View of “Blake Rayne,” 2011.

View of “Blake Rayne,” 2011.


Blake Rayne

Formalist Sidewalk Poetry Club
235 12th Street
December 1, 2011–January 12, 2012

As if there wasn’t enough art to buy at Art Basel Miami Beach, this year’s edition marked an unprecedented move into retail. While several artists teamed up with luxury brands for limited edition purses (Anselm Reyle with Dior, Liam Gillick with Pringle of Scotland), Blake Rayne’s understocked exhibition at this gallery, with its three variations on one simple yet declarative sentence, took the whole fiasco to task. The piece, UNTITLED, 2011, features this single line replicated on two canvases displayed in a vertical column, and in an enlarged version projected onto the gallery’s back wall. In a font that brings to mind California (or at least its license plates), they each read: THIS IS NEW YORK CITY.

Rayne culled the text from New York’s first international advertising campaign, which began in 2007 with the sentence superimposed on stock images of the metropolis. The hurried, handwritten font extends Rayne’s previous work with typescripts, last seen with the giant serif a sliding off the wall at a 2010 show, titled “Folder and Application,” at Miguel Abreu Gallery in New York. By marrying identity to a font, the advertising campaign seems like the corporate shadow of work like Josh Smith’s “Stage Paintings,” 2011, and Joshua Abelow’s “Call Me Abstract,” 2010, both faux-Expressionistic series made up solely of the letters in the artist’s name or phone number. As such, Rayne’s show tries to identify a dividing line between style and brand.

As Rayne’s new paintings were copied from the original advertisement, the projector here serves as an anthropomorphic representation of the artist engaged not in creation but in broadcasting. The projector itself, which remains in its Styrofoam packaging, is also trained on an empty wall. The packaging is a metonymic entrée into the exhibition as a whole. Like the aforementioned font issue, it lampoons a recent trend through reduction: in this case, the packaging versus storage meme set up by Seth Price with his Holes, 2003, and continued by Cory Arcangel’s Volume Management, 2011, both of which feature televisions still in their boxes. It also underscores the exhibition as a waypoint on the larger traffic of commodities, which could be defined as objects that require Styrofoam. Rayne updates David Joselit’s 2009 essay “Painting Beside Itself” for the holiday season; painting has now been put on layaway.