reviews

  • “Art at the Anchorage"

    Public Art Fund | Brooklyn Bridge Park

    For the second summer, Creative Time, Inc., invited selected artists and architects to design installations for the gloomy, magnificent vaults of the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage. This year, the seven projects had dual objectives: they had to be interventions in a dramatic architectural space as well as sets and theatrical props for performances of The Memory Theatre of Giuuo Camillo, 1986, a play by Matthew Maguire and the Creation Production Company. However, this review will concentrate on the installations as independent structures and ideas.

    In the Anchorage’s main vault two wood beams thrust

    Read more
  • Anish Kapoor

    Gladstone 64

    Anish Kapoor has given a new slant to irrationality, made it look like it has just been discovered—not an easy thing to do these days, when it has become a cliché. He creates autonomous objects, sometimes in groupings, that resonate with uncanniness, even though we can easily read them spatially, from their often schematically clear shapes to their blatant uniform color. It’s this hysterically sublime color that is the first source of uneasiness, especially the Yves Klein blue of infinity, and, in one untitled work of 1986, the iridescent, infernal red that has almost become Kapoor’s trademark.

    Read more
  • Thomas Schindler

    Sharpe Gallery

    Thomas Schindler paints apocalyptic allegories, reviving old religious scenarios to new effect. What makes his works especially trenchant is their sociopolitical allusion. They are in part about the communist god that failed, as suggested by the bits of Russian newspaper in the “Kreuzigung” (Crucifixion) paintings and in Abendmahl (Last supper), all 1986. The piece nailed to the head of the ruined cross in the latter most clearly makes the point; here it becomes the vacant face of the god above the body of the armor impaled beneath it. Schindler makes explicit the scarecrow character of the

    Read more
  • Robert Mason

    CDS Gallery

    Robert Mason expects the power of the gesture to overcome (to disguise?) his sentimental staging of the figure, but it doesn’t quite do so, because it’s equally sentimental, if in a different way Mason usually gives us an introspective, almost brooding female nude surrounded—at times almost engulfed—by the demonstrative, “male” gestures, which look sometimes waxed down, at other times like bravura smears of greasy kid stuff.

    I don’t mean to be irreverent, but I do want to communicate a sense of the excess of these gestures. I love abandonment to excess, but not when it’s meaningless, peculiarly

    Read more
  • Martin Ramirez

    Phyllis Kind Gallery

    The Mexican “outsider” artist Martin Ramirez (1885–1960) was found homeless in Los Angeles’ Pershing Square in 1930. He was committed to a state mental hospital, where he was diagnosed as incurably psychotic; reportedly silent for the rest of his life, Ramirez attempted to communicate by making cryptic pictures, often on odd hits of paper glued together, using Crayolas and colored pencils. These “outsider” images have come to be regarded as major art, celebrated for their mastery of space and Jungian depth. One could understand this exhibition of Ramirez’s drawings as either an implicit recognition

    Read more
  • John Chamberlain

    Brooke Alexander

    Among contemporary sculptors John Chamberlain is an American master, whose best work is made by crushing and bending junkyard automobile parts. While he has pretty much stuck to the course outlined by his earliest pieces from the ’50s, he has also found ways to remain an inventive and forceful presence.

    Rather than rejecting the legacy of Abstract Expressionism, Chamberlain transformed its possibilities into a sculptural mode. In almost every discussion of his work, critics have pointed to the relationship between his sculptures and Willem de Kooning’s paintings. In the work of each man a ragged,

    Read more
  • Jamie Reid

    Josh Baer Gallery

    "(please wash your hands before) Leaving the 20th Century,” the cryptic title of Jamie Reid’s 20-year retrospective, was the sort of too-clever but undeniably funny and provocative sloganeering one has come to expect from this subversive appropriator of imagery. Reid is, after all, the father of punk graphics. His magazine The Suburban Press, published in London in the early ’70s, and his later collaborations with Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols, helped to define the look and politics of the punk movements in England and America. Perhaps now, with punk safely ensconced as mainstream kitsch,

    Read more
  • Nancy Haynes

    John Gibson Gallery

    Knowing nothing of Nancy Haynes’ background except that she’s not a neophyte, it’s impossible to say whether her untitled minimalist panels are appropriated or not. At the same time, however, it’s equally impossible not to place her work in the context of the most recent nostalgia for such painting, and that gives the work an amusing lift. Aside from their beauty, it’s possible these pieces have wit as well, an impression that is somehow reinforced by their small scale. On the subject of their beauty, certain of the paintings’ elements detach themselves from specific paintings and remain intact

    Read more
  • David Salle

    Leo Castelli Gallery

    Even more completely than before, this group of paintings by David Salle is about the body, or about body parts, to be accurate, thus raising the ante of sexual fixation. Accordingly, one of the ancestors Salle latches onto here is Jean Louis Géricault, one of whose specialities was dismembered limbs, decapitated heads, and tableaux of execution. His Heads of Executed Men, ca. 1820, appears in Salle’s Loft Barn Process, 1985. But true to his bloodless pictorial lust, Salle turns severed heads into talking heads. He presents heads, usually male, cut off from bodies, and balanced by female bodies,

    Read more
  • “Damaged Goods: Desire and the Economy of the Object”

    New Museum

    Over the past few years artists and theorists alike have addressed our complex relationship with the commodity at this particular moment in late-capitalist society. At issue is less the allure of the commodity than its altered structure, and the social adjustments entailed by that structure. The global penetration of advertising, television, and the general telecommunications industry has displaced the object as a discrete and usable artifact, replacing it with systems of shimmering signs coded to manipulated effects that are far abstracted from substantial “objectives” What we consume is the

    Read more
  • Anton Van Dalen

    Edward Thorp Gallery

    Since he moved to the East Village in 1967, the Dutch-born artist Anton Van Dalen has followed a singular course. As shown by this exhibition, which amounted to a survey of his New York period, it may not be an exaggeration to say that the trends seem to have caught up to him at last, rather than the other way around. I have in mind the ’80s predilection for and proliferation of images of urban blight and violence, characteristic of what has been called the school of “anxious” figuration. For their suggestion of the harsh, even brutal realities of life on the street, Van Dalen’s Woman and Dog,

    Read more
  • Henry Moore

    Kent Fine Art

    Ranging from a few inches in height to larger than life-size, the bronze sculptures that cover the last forty years in the career of the late Henry Moore are striking evidence of the artist’s ability to transcend the physicality of scale. Take, for example, Reclining Figure No. 2, 1953, which measures 16 by 36 1/4 by 14 3/8 inches, or Large Torso: Arch, 1962–63, 78 1/2 by 60 by 42 1/2 inches. In the final analysis, each of these sculptures is immeasurable, assuming the illimitable magnitude of an archetype. Contained in these forms are the kernels of grand, even noble ideas about art and life

    Read more
  • Stanford Brent

    Ingber Gallery

    In his first solo show, Stanford Brent revealed himself to be a painter very much at home in the arena that exists between abstraction and representation, an arena filled with tantalizing promises as well as dangerous pitfalls. The promises it proffers are of the inestimable sort, the sort that contain (for those talented enough to realize it) the gift of true expression, while the pitfalls that await artist and viewer alike are usually of the prosaic kind, such as the dangers of sliding into trite, ho-hum expressionism. Some measure of Brent’s admirable ability to deliver on the promises while

    Read more
  • “Lost and Found Traditions: Native American Art 1965–1985”

    American Museum of Natural History

    When an exhibition presents the work of cultural minorities, we may discover more about our own attitudes than theirs. Such is the case with “Lost and Found Traditions,” organized by the American Federation of Arts. The curator (Ralph T. Coe) spent a decade traveling the country, seeking out and collecting “contemporary traditional” artifacts to demonstrate that, far from having vanished, Indian cultures have been undergoing a renaissance, revitalizing local customary skills and, in some cases, reinventing them where they seemingly had been forgotten. Museums play an ironic role in this process;

    Read more
  • “Art & Advertising: Commercial Photography by Artists”

    International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)

    The theme of this exhibition, which juxtaposed examples of work done by photographers on commercial assignment with “art” work by those same photographers, can be seen as either banal or profound. It’s no revelation that photographer-artists moonlight, out of necessity or choice. Nor is it only commercially unsuccessful artists who apply their skills to projects outside what is usually considered the art world.

    What gives a special twist to the question of art versus commerce in connection with the photographers here is that several of them—including Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe, Frank

    Read more
  • Jerry N. Uelsmann

    Witkin Gallery

    Not so long ago, when the Modernist injunction against interfering with the unity of space provided by camera and lens still dominated critical debate in photography, Jerry N. Uelsmann’s technique of overprinting fragments of half a dozen or more negatives was enough to earn him a reputation as a formal innovator. Now, though, when the boundaries between photography and other media have been first blurred and then erased, Uelsmann’s darkroom manipulations have come to seem simply one more set of picturemaking tools. The issue has become what Uelsmann uses those tools for—and the answer is, at

    Read more
  • Poppo and GoGo Boys, Requiem

    Cuando

    Butoh, the Japanese experimental dance genre, is tirelessly physical, full of exaggerated images, and uses unlikely juxtapositions of gesture and music for shock effects. It would seem to be entirely at home in the context of Lower East Side performance art. For the last seven years, Poppo Shiraishi has been refining a singularly East Village version of the style in various club performances, notably with a series of events at the 8BC cabaret. Requiem was something else again, a full-length Butoh work, a summa of Poppo’s Far East-East Village transactions so far.

    With its portentous title and

    Read more
  • Ethyl Eichelberger

    The Performing Garage

    “Drag act” doesn’t begin to describe the transformations that Ethyl Eichelberger performs on the nominal subjects of his solo shows: Elizabeth I, Carlotta of Mexico, Clytemnestra, Catherine the Great, Nefertiti, Jocasta. Along with some other notorious historical personages—Lucrezia Borgia, King Leer [sic], Rip Van Winkle—and one homemade character, Minnie the Maid, they comprise a performance portrait gallery of singular purpose: they are outrageous vehicles for outlandish satire. These grand dames are presented as demonic divas, as a multi-character collective unconscious of borderline

    Read more
  • Guy Peellaert

    Greene Naftali Garage

    Life isn’t just lonely at the top in Guy Peellaert’s paintings of Las Vegas superstars—it’s the ultimate downer. In this series of 48 paintings by the Belgian artist, the comics, mobsters, sports stars, singers, politicians, and merely famous who play the “big rooms” of the Strip’s entertainment showplaces are all portrayed alone (even when in a crowd), their performers’ extrovertedness on hold, their energy low, their narcissistic gaze turned in on nothingness. Melancholy Monarch, 1984, the title of a portrait of Nat King Cole, could stand as a generic title for this one-note series of memento

    Read more
  • Hugh Ferriss

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    This stunning exhibition was the first to analyze Hugh Ferriss’ role in the development of Modern urban architecture and its perception as a catalyst for social reform. Perhaps the most well-known and significant architectural delineator of this century Ferriss (1889–1962) attempted in his drawings to express the conceptual truth about a building, not to provide an accurate record of its structure. His great technical innovation was the use of a chiaroscuro technique in architectural delineation. Whereas most delineators in the early 20th century continued to use ink and line to render a structure

    Read more