Critics’ Picks

View of “Kristof Wickman,” 2011.

New York

Kristof Wickman

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
September 16–November 27

Kristof Wickman’s debut solo show fills the second-floor mezzanine of the Brooklyn Museum with decidedly nonbombastic work. Wickman celebrates the everyday object made strange––he casts and recasts until an uncanny, often humorous, ghost emerges. The exhibition’s entrance is flanked to the right by a plaster pumpkin fused with Wickman’s face, eyes closed, nose to the ground, atop an understated plinth (Untitled, 2010). To the left there is a silicone version of Wickman’s slender arms, clasped together, squeezing a purple Pilates ball (Self-Portrait, 2010). The sense of piety and self-improvement evoked by these works is cut short by a cheeky replica of a butt (Untitled, 2011). Emerging from similarly colored “rock,” with multicolored “sprinkles” for body hair, this delicate behind moons a pubescent bust from the museum’s permanent collection (Ted Wagner, ca. 1925, by Emile Robert Zettler).

Cleverly placed atop a pair of trestle tables re-created in solid wood, the butt, bust, and other objects by a variety of artists attempt the comical task of relating to one another––across time, aesthetic, and intended audience. Damned Women, ca. 1885, a bronze sculpture by Rodin condemning a Sapphic moment of passion, is placed next to Wickman’s Untitled, 2011, a slumped ceramic mass, formless except for the emergence of a golden dog nose. A Zuni Pueblo chair, ca. 1850, rests its legs atop Wickman’s two painted casts of squished jelly doughnuts (both Untitled, 2010). The funniest, lewdest piece, however, has no direct historical counterpart. At the far corner of the tables, incongruously placed next to an ancient Egyptian vessel with spout, a polished, ceramic, life-size hand presents two fingers coated in gold––perhaps, one might imagine, freshly removed from a golden other. Attached to the fingers, taking in the golden residue, is . . . a nose.

The show is a fitting debut for the museum’s yearlong “Raw/Cooked” exhibition series, which extracts local, underrepresented talent and creates much-needed fresh dialogue with its own collection. Curator Eugenie Tsai may well be onto a winning formula: Wickman’s carefully unpolished and untitled works are the best kind of half-baked.