Critics’ Picks

Matt Sheridan Smith, Untitled (Congratulations), 2007, glass vases and irises. Installation view.

New York

Eric Anglès and Matt Sheridan Smith

Cohan and Leslie
138 Tenth Avenue
November 15–December 22

“Do you use these letter types because you like them or because that’s how the stencils come?” “But that’s what I like about them, that they come that way.” In a (however unintentionally) hilarious back-and-forth in Other Criteria, an exasperated Leo Steinberg prods Jasper Johns to concede a single instance of intentionality in his work, without success. For Johns, it would seem, there are no choices, only received forms. This performance of arch indifference came to mind at the current dual exhibition of Eric Anglès and Matt Sheridan Smith, who have taken as their stencils the conventions of exhibiting itself. For Untitled (Congratulations), 2007, Smith appropriates the perfunctory tradition of flowers for the artist by simply repeating it: Each morning, a florist delivers an identical bouquet of irises, successively filling one of thirty-eight glass vases arranged in rows at the center of the gallery. The routine generates an installation that grows (and decays) as it ticks off the days of the exhibition. Anglès offers a free multiple resembling the usual printed materials that gallery visitors compulsively pick up and inevitably later discard, with one marked difference: no marks at all. (The broadsheets are run through a press without plates, which leaves only the occasional crease or accidental smudge.) The exhibition is booby-trapped with these peculiar departures from protocol, including prices that change according to calendar date and the collaborative piece Closed on Wednesdays, 2007, a velvet rope that cordons off a rear gallery on, well, Wednesdays. Both Anglès and Smith seem willfully bemused at the expectation that artists should exhibit, and their poking at its parameters illustrates vividly the freedoms available even to those who color between the lines.