reviews

  • Kristen Jones and Andrew Ginzel

    Art Galaxy

    Before this collaboration with Andrew Ginzel, Kristin Jones’ individual work has always made reference to natural phenomena; ambiguous celestial landscapes, icy spaces, tempests, and desert mirages have been recurrent motifs. In this installation the complexity of the phenomena became more concrete than in earlier pieces. If, on the one hand, the contribution of Ginzel’s technical abilities was fundamental to the project’s practical realization, it is also true that Jones’ interest in cartographic representation played a key role in the visualization of this particular “small world.” The

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  • Eric Bogosian, Drinking in America

    P.S. 122

    Right now there’s a proliferation of solo caricaturists—performers who create an entire portrait gallery of characters—but Eric Bogosian is the only one who works “cold”; he uses no props, no costumes and doesn’t mix media. Dressed typically in a white shirt and black jeans, Bogosian works with his flexible, highly developed voice and with nuanced body movement to invent his personas. What’s more, Bogosian presents several characters in each show under a single thematic umbrella. It’s a difficult format—and one that has worked in a hit-or-miss way in his earlier shows. But in Drinking in America

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  • Kurt Schwitters

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    You should cry if you missed the Kurt Schwitters show at the Museum of Modern Art. Curated by John Elderfield, who called it “the most comprehensive [Schwitters] exhibition yet assembled,” the show included more than 100 of his magnificent collages and about 50 large-scale assemblages, as well as numerous drawings, sculptures, prints, photographs of the Merzbau environments, and a fascinating recording of Schwitters reading his echolalic poetry. The show will travel to the Tate Gallery in London and the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, West Germany, Schwitters’ home city.

    The exhibition was exquisite

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  • Fujii Cuichi

    Carpenter + Hochman Gallery

    The rough, peeling wood of the two Fujii Chuichi sculptures in this show was positively entrancing. The thick wood—Japanese cedar and cypress—is maternal (or perhaps matriarchal); the bend undermines its phallic potential, its original uprightness. This is very Japanese sculpture, grounded in the Japanese talent for shaping growing nature to an esthetic end—making it available for pure contemplation as well as “humanizing” it into a good, if intriguing, neighbor. In Chuichi’s case, the bit of nature is no longer living; though the wood is not finished, the tree has been felled. The bend is

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  • David Salle

    Mary Boone Gallery | Chelsea

    David Salle doesn’t know which he prefers, art or real life. It is a problem inseparable from that of representation: does one prefer the “artful” representation of the real object, or the object itself? Is an object represented because it represents a certain emotional state, a certain attitude? Passion inflates its object to find itself. According to Freud, passion attaches itself to whatever object affords satisfaction, almost by chance. Salle’s pictures are about the difficulties of such attachments—the frustrations, as well as satisfactions, to which they give rise. His is an esthetic of

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  • Robert Kushner

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    Robert Kushner’s pictures perch, like splendid tropical parrots, on the borderline between the decorative and the spectacular. They transcend the succor of brilliant, empty appearance each image tempts us with, parroting neither the false intimacy of the one nor the false scale of the other. Instead, they use both to reconstruct the truth of the exotic and erotic: the need for escape. T. W. Adorno has written that “the experience of reality is such that it provides all kinds of legitimate grounds for wanting to escape.” Art has often served as an avenue—a broad boulevard—of escape from the

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  • The International Shadow Project

    On the fortieth anniversary of the bomb, as Americans and the media paused to examine, once again, the morality of Hiroshima and the arms race, the International Shadow Project, 1985—perhaps the largest antinuclear art event ever staged—tried to focus this concern by invoking the symbolic landscape of Hiroshima at ground zero. At the epicenter of the atomic blast, peoplewere vaporized leaving only a shadow image etched into the pavement. Inspired by photographs of these Hiroshima victims, landscape artist Alan Gussow developed the idea of stenciling human silhouettes on the streets of New York

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  • Bernard Tschumi

    Max Protetch

    Design competitions are often a horror for participants, with the obvious exception of the winner. They are the crapshoot of the architectural profession. Not unlike the busloads of seniorcitizens who travel down the New Jersey Turnpike for a day of obscure hope and inevitable disappointment at the Atlantic City casinos, the competition participants must face the certainty of overwhelmingly bad odds. It seems unlikely that either gambling or design competitions will wither away; the faint promise of the long-shot chance appeals to some visceral requirement for random events in regulated lives.

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  • Art on the Beach

    Chambers and West Streets

    In the final installation of Creative Time’s “Art on the Beach,” there was a significant sense of timely conclusion; the situation was not unlike that of a professional athlete or musician who, in deciding when to retire, must balance personal goals—perhaps unfulfilled—with the desire to go out on top, with dignity. “Art on the Beach” was a pioneering idea which gave many visual and performing artists the opportunity to work collaboratively in situ. It was a laboratory for invention and cooperation for artists who embraced the risks of unusual constraints, guidelines, and often problematic

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  • William Crozier

    Xavier Fourcade, Inc.

    William Crozier’s sculptures are topical for one reason—their explicit depiction of sexuality. Clothed in nothing but the grand manner of Rodin, these nudes reach for a consequent respectability. There’s nothing cheap or sensational about their academic style; it signals “nobility” However, this conservatism could itself serve as reinforcement for those inclined to view the work as sexist.

    Dealing with sex in such a straightforward way makes some of the pieces quite affecting, especially the less theatrical ones. When understated, Crozier’s figures approach the moving un-self-consciousness of

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  • Fairfield Porter

    Hirschl & Adler Modern

    Fairfield Porter floats in memory as a painter of summer, of dappled fields, of porches—a suburban painter, really. In fact, there’s a kind of mall esthetic about his work; with a different reputation one could see the paintings hanging in breakfast nooks throughout the nation. It’s more than possible to see Porter as a contented painter, eulogizing privacy and peace. Yet maybe paralysis and sterility—as in tract housing, although that was never his subject—run under the tranquil surface.

    These are qualities that may come with the territory. They are part, perhaps, of a whole school

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  • Bruce Wall

    B-Side Gallery

    Bruce Wall’s “Metro Freako” series, 1985, is yet another installment of that East Village crossover style which mixes cartoonish energy with surrealist ideas. After only a couple of years, it’s a mode that’s pretty exhausted due to facile overuse—and it was never that profound a concept to begin with. But Wall’s painting is a particularly lively example which stands out against the glut of countless East Village versions of pop craziness.

    Though “Metro Freako” is a series of some dozen paintings, there’s no progression or narrative, only variations on a single motif: freakish characters frozen

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  • “Images of Excellence: Photographs from the George Eastman House Collection”

    IBM Gallery of Science and Art

    For several years now the George Eastman House has suffered through a debilitating period of financial upheaval. At one point in this unhappy time, the board of the Rochester, NY museum, which is housed in the former mansion of Kodak magnate George Eastman, threatened to sell off its incomparable collections of photographs and films; later it was ready to ship the museum’s holdings to the Smithsonian Institution. In response to local pressure, Kodak, long the museum’s financial mainstay, recently agreed to provide money for the maintenance of a projected new building. But the museum’s future

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  • Robert Andrew Parker

    Terry Dintenfass Gallery

    At a time when the narrative impulse in contemporary art tends toward the bombastic and leaden statement, the work of Robert Andrew Parker is sensitive. A storyteller of the first rank, this veteran American artist breathes fresh life and new significance into the old cliché about a picture being worth a thousand words. As this selection of recent monoprints revealed, Parker has an uncanny ability to choose and, more importantly, to depict convincingly the right moment—the very one that sums up a situation, captures an event, or specifies a mood. And he does all this not literally, but in

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  • Paul Wong

    Condeso/Lawler Gallery

    For some time artists have been encouraged to do whatever they wanted to do, to develop their own formal vocabulary, to pick their own thematic concerns. In both the critical arena and the market place, the current individualistic approach to style and content is praised. Still, the art world is surprisingly quick to judge technique, materials, and media. This results mainly from the lingering influence of the traditional academic concept of the fine arts, which sets up barriers between painting and sculpture, painting and drawing, art and craft, and art and design. Though these have been pierced

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  • Chihung Yang

    Ruth Siegel Gallery

    Chihung Yang left Taiwan in the early ’80s for the same reason countless °then before him left wherever it was they lived and moved here: New York has been the predominant center of art since at least the end of World War II. However, not only was Yang’s journey longer than most, but it didn’t begin until he was in his early thirties. I point this out because, although Yang is 37, this was the first solo exhibition of his paintings in New York. At a time when the media are waiting breathlessly to hop on the next baby-boom genius, he appears to be too old to be just starting out. Such are today’s

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  • Tosca’s Kiss, directed by Daniel Schmid

    Film Forum

    Casa Verdi was founded in Milan by Giuseppe Verdi as a home for retired opera luminaries. He referred to it as his finest work, and, indeed, for the past 83 years it has provided benevolent shelter for those who have enlivened Italy’s concert halls. In the film Tosca’s Kiss, 1984 (recently distributed in the US), Daniel Schmid focuses his camera on the goings-on at Casa Verdi, capturing the stubborn culminations of lives left slow-dancing to the choreography of memory. The past reigns here, issuing its hegemony through old photographs, recordings, steamer trunks, and walls papered with

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