reviews

  • “BERLINART 1961–1987”

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    “BERLINART 1961–1987” was intended to celebrate this city as one of the great art capitals—a magnet for artists from all over Europe and the United States as well as Germany itself. Many of these foreign artists were invited by the Berlin Artists Program of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). As this exhibition is named for Berlin, one might expect it to illuminate something of the nature of the narrative spaces constructed by the city, the psychosocial dynamics involved, and their intersection with a context beyond the concerns of art history. For the most part, however, such signs

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  • Muntadas

    Exit Art

    Exhibition, 1987, was a modified version of an installation by Muntadas staged in 1985 at the Galería Fernando Vijande in Madrid. In the ten works shown here he presented nine forms of image-presentation currently used by artists, from the historical conventions of the museum to contemporary street display: The XIXth Century Frame, The Slide Projection, The Print Series, The Photo Series, The Billboard, The Triptych, The Video Installation, The Drawing Series, all 1985, and The Light Box and The Light Box Display, both 1987. In each case, there was no image as such; the display case of “prints”

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  • Izhar Patkin

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    Izhar Patkin parades the pompous fashions of our artistic decadence as if they were parodic figures, like corn-media dell’arte characters. Culture has been clad in the same sort of esthetic vestments for so long now that the fabric of Beauty is but a musty, tattered heirloom. The garments of cultural respectability have indeed worn so thin that their transparency reveals to us their luxurious wealth and feeble condition. The luxuriousness apparent in Patkin’s show, entitled “Five-Piece Suit,” remained ambiguously double-edged throughout. At issue for the viewer was whether the art was beautiful

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  • Joel Fisher

    Farideh Cadot Gallery; Diane Brown Gallery

    Joel Fisher develops his drawings and sculpture using a method similar to the one that Marcel Duchamp devised for his 3 Stoppages Etalon (3 standard stoppages, 1913–14). Duchamp dropped three threads, each of them one meter long, from a height of one meter, and glued them to strips of cloth mounted on glass in the exact configuration in which they had fallen, then cut the same shapes out of three long wooden rulers. Like Duchamp, Fisher presents the basis of his method along with the results. For each of his drawings he singles out one of the fibers in a sheet of his own handmade paper and makes

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  • George Negroponte

    John Good Gallery

    George Negroponte’s recent paintings are built on a strong, almost architectural structure. Most of these works are slightly vertical, and Negroponte typically divides them in half horizontally, then further divides the top portion with a vertical stripe about a third of the way across. The three roughly rectangular shapes that result are related to one another in their proportions, while at the same time suggesting, in their spiraling progression from the smallest to the largest, both depth and motion. This geometric compositional framework links Negroponte to the mathematical constructions of

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  • Anselm Kiefer

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    Anselm Kiefer’s art can be understood as a response to the yearning to incorporate meaningful themes without giving up the credo of art’s superior meaningfulness, which is expressed by articulating the expressive mysteries implicit in matter. The two grand, eschatological paintings of this exhibition, Osiris und Isis (Osiris and Isis, 1985–87) and Brennstäbe (Nuclear fuel rods, 1984–87), are extraordinarily ambitious in their effort to reconcile these opposites. Brennstäbe deals with the material mystery of nuclear fission, in which destruction and creation, matter and energy are one. Osiris

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  • “Juxtapositions”

    MoMA PS1

    This exhibition of recent works by English and German sculptors, assembled under the title “Juxtapositions,” symbolizes and summarizes sculpture’s current revival. The question is whether the revival “advances” sculpture or whether, as I believe, it articulates the peculiarly strained and uncertain condition of the contemporary sculptural impulse. The methods used to make these works—based on the familiarly Modernist impulses of building, of collecting or scavenging, and of shaping a new nature (the neo-organic)—are already a sign of post-Modernist weariness. Their makers have simply combined

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  • Ross Neher

    David Beitzel Gallery

    Ross Neher’s oil paintings are situated between abstraction and landscape. In the paintings, he explores this realm through a process that involves laying down a skin of color and then scraping it away, repeating the process several times until shapes and a palpable sense of light begin to emerge. Through this accumulative process, each eventually acquires a range of subtle effects, including abrupt shifts, the interplay between shape and atmosphere, and the suggestion of forms emerging from and sinking back into the paint. The way the light rises to the surface of these carefully built up

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  • Don Cooper

    Phyllis Weil

    Don Cooper has found a way to extend the pastoral mode into the late 20th century by making it responsive to our awareness of the psychological terrors present in our everyday lives. In the seven paintings and four pastels shown here, as in his earlier work, the artist addresses the alienation of man from nature, the intertwining of memory and imagination, and the interpenetration of the earthly and spiritual realms. While all of these themes are familiar ones, Cooper’s particular angle of vision is unlike anyone else’s. Rather than encapsulating our current chaos by employing expressionist

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  • Ilona Granet; Danita Geltner

    P.P.O.W

    This two-person show offered a perspective on engaged or, more precisely, activist art. The installation of each artist’s production in separate spaces within the gallery allowed free play to the works’ different qualities, but it also permitted a purview over the political use of devices of disjunction.

    Ilona Granet was represented by two recent series of works and four earlier pieces. In one of the series, consisting of five pieces patterned on traffic signs, she has adopted an urban semiotic, using the reduced style, basic coloring and lettering, and even the materials (enamel on metal) of

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  • Krzysztof Wodiczko

    Hal Bromm Gallery

    The dialectical forces of stasis and change, continuity and abrupt transformation have formed all cities throughout history, but in the contemporary city the proportion of stability to change has become inverted. The solid, fixed imagery of the physical city has yielded in the late 20th century to conditions that are more mercurial—neither solid nor fluid. Krzysztof Wodiczko, through his aggressive yet ephemeral interventions, seeks to clarify and disrupt architecture’s role in the evolution of the urban environment. Since the late ’70s Wodiczko has been pursuing this goal by staging theatrical

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  • “Art on the Beach”

    Hunters Point, Queens

    After years on the great, sandy landfill site on the Hudson River just north of Battery Park City, in Manhattan, Creative Time has moved “Art on the Beach” to a new landfill site in Queens, on the East River in Long Island City, thus joining P.S. 1, Socrates Sculpture Park, and other art organizations that have made their homes in the borough of Queens. Tucked behind a defunct Daily News printing facility, this left-over, neglected parcel rises to a small knoll covered with scrubby bushes and tall grasses. Although the new location provides a view of the Manhattan skyline (a vigorously promoted

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  • Zaha Hadid

    Max Protetch

    There are many architects who draw deftly and beautifully, seducing us with promises of what could be, but there are few who draw as passionately or as exuberantly as Zaha Hadid. Her drawings are like gusts of wind—some quite fresh and all of them full of turbulence and possibility. Hadid uses architectural drawing not as building instructions but as an experimental forum and theoretical instrument. With this exhibition she confirms and enriches a tradition of conjecture seen in the work of Rem Koolhaus, John Hejduk, and others who have expanded the options for 20th-century architecture through

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  • Kim Ingraham; Rea Tajiri

    Film/Video Arts

    Sentiment and refinement—one a process and a state of mind that is vulnerable to stereotype and primed for perpetual manipulation; the other a closure that locks the heady sweetness of good taste into the stratospheres of high-toned acquisition. Considerations of these two notions motor the video work of Kim Ingraham and Rea Tajiri, with Ingraham splashing around the soppy marshes of sentiment, while Tajiri acridly eyes the encapsulations of esthetics, genre, and commodity.

    Overflowing with bulky depictions of sticky romantic “scenes” and chilling parodies of society’s dispensations for its

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  • Rex Lau

    Ruth Siegel

    Rex Lau makes paintings that are what the early 20th-century avant-garde called pure plastic equivalents of the real world. His approach strongly recalls the early Modernist tradition of “abstracting nature,” with particular overtones of Cézanne and the Italian Futurist Giacomo Balla. The best of the recent paintings that were on view here are works that not only show their connectedness to art-historical sources but also reaffirm the value of personal expression.

    Untitled Landscape, 1986, is a small, almost square relief painting of a scene of trees in a forest. The trees are represented by a

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  • Elizabeth Dworkin

    Victoria Munroe Gallery

    Working on the edge between abstraction and figuration, Elizabeth Dworkin has found her way to a powerful style of expression. The blunt strength of her compositions has a mysterious gravity to it. In her vision, meaning arises in declaratively poetic fashion from surprising juxtapositions of elements of form and color, and qualities like light and texture in surfaces filled with dynamic, scaffoldlike arrangements of planes and slashing brushstrokes. At the foundation of these juxtapositions lies what might be called the graphic integrity of her structures. She has devoted herself equally to

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  • David Van Tieghem, Bump in the Night (Part 2)

    Alice Tully Hall

    John Cage’s gently terroristic ideas so ravaged the conventional wisdom about music that experimental composers/performers are still busily rebuilding the “new music” genre years later. David Van Tieghem, in the latest version of his constantly retitled and revamped music-performance piece, adopted a neo-Cageian approach—a knowingly innocent attitude combined with whimsical choices in sound-making—to a distinctively ’80s theater of comedy. As indicated by the title of the series in which it appeared, the “Serious Fun Festival,” Van Tieghem’s concert was couched in terms of smart entertainment.

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