reviews

  • Joan Fontcuberta And Pere Formiguera

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    “On August 7, 1955, Professor Peter Ameisenhaufen drove alone to the north of Scotland. Three days later his car was found on the coast, near a cliff. His body was never found. . . . ” Thus, in mysterious fashion, ended the career of an obscure German zoologist who had spent his life discovering and classifying hitherto unknown species of world fauna. Did he commit suicide, or was he killed by one of the creatures he conjured into human consciousness? In any case, his disappearance is not without trace; what remains is the “Fauna” series: fragments of his archives of personal memorabilia, and

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  • Gilberto Zorio

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Gilberto Zorio's elegantly awkward “suspension” sculptures aren’t the mute, static objects they seem to be. They not only span gallery space—bridging and binding floor, wall, and ceiling—but, at seven-minute intervals, sound off, filling the space with some perturbed cross between noise and music. The pieces are usually made of copper and steel pipes feeding into vessels of water (aqua vitae?); they are occasionally animated by blasts of air generated by small compressors. At the moment of boiling, sound issues from hidden whistles and harmonicas: the sculpture is energized, indeed, it really

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  • William Wegman

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    In the early ’70s, William Wegman was one of the first artists to gain attention for work that deliberately ignored well-established critical paradigms such as unity, mastery, and ambition. Instead of upholding the standards associated with the notion of integrity, Wegman has drawn “throwaway” sketches, produced “homemade” videos, and posed and photographed a weimaraner in an assortment of goofy costumes and oddball situations. While he is best known for his photographs, it should come as no surprise that he has, in recent years, started painting with the same uninhibited jauntiness, penchant

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  • John Duff

    Blumhelman

    John Duff continues to extend his command of fiberglass into new areas of undomesticated experience. This exhibition consisted of 12 wall pieces, each of which seamlessly combines imaginative shapes, specific textures, density of matter, and precise, evocative color. Although the structures of the shapes derive partly from conceptualized units such as the double helix, the pieces are never mimetic, iconic, or expressionistic. By rejecting these heavily inscribed perceptual categories as a place in which to locate the work, Duff is able to invent sculptural objects that achieve and preserve a

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  • Eric Bainbridge

    Salvatore Ala Gallery

    In the children’s game “Telephone,” one child whispers a story into the ear of the child sitting next to him, who then whispers the story into the ear of the child next to him, and so on. The game’s payoff comes when the last child gets up and tells his version of the story aloud, much to the amusement and delight of the other kids, whose short attention-spans and infinite imaginations make for a dazzling display of kiddie revisionism. The game is also an exercise in the creation of a hyperfiction: a larger-than-life, mannered rendering of the banal.

    Eric Bainbridge’s art is like a physical

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  • Haim Steinbach

    Jay Gorney Modern Art

    Haim Steinbach’s method of production keeps people talking a blue streak: how he buys things and displays them on shelves in the gallery space, and how if you buy one of them, the price of “the goods” is added to the price of “the work.” This often leads to an entertaining discussion as to what “the work” is: object or idea. Then there are the rumors about how Steinbach doesn’t even like to touch the pieces, relegating installation of them to just about anybody other than himself. And once issues of display, purchase, payment, and installation are out of the way, the discussion usually shifts

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  • Dana Duff

    Milford Gallery

    Dana Duff’s first show in New York has been credited with virtually defining the neo-Conceptual art trend. But while Duff’s work does fit the neo-Conceptual bill—being physically variable and utilizing a self-consciously poetic stance—her concepts are actually molten; many of her “fellows” merely play with the comic possibilities of formal inbreeding. Perhaps when speaking of Duff’s show a more interesting point of comparison would be the neo-Conceptual subgenre of “brown” or “sepia” art. In this work, history, represented by the color brown, is superimposed onto sculpture and photographic

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  • Christian Marclay

    Tom Cugliani Gallery

    Nearly anyone can play “Name That Tune.” Some people need to hear a few notes more than others do, but essentially we can all recognize well-known pop music melodies with but a few notes pecked out on the piano or distilled in some cheesy Muzak rendition. Christian Marclay, a noted experimental musician of New York‘s downtown art-performance circles who has become considerably more active as a visual artist in the past couple of years, knows well how that particular dynamic between memory and the senses works. Marclay‘s music over the years, in both solo and collaborative efforts, has involved

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  • Kiki Smith

    Fawbush Gallery

    Kiki Smith’s art finds the public within the private; it strips us down to our primal biological ingredients. In the mammoth ductlite iron Digestive System, 1988, the fragile terra cotta Ribs, 1987, or the delicately rendered Uterus Drawings, 1988, we escape the vulnerable, empty feeling of nakedness with the tacit understanding that there is yet something hidden, some deeper emotion or significance that cannot be exposed because it is deeper than our bare flesh and bones. These pieces are enigmatic precisely because their meanings, and even their raison d’être, are hermetically buried within

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  • Ericka Beckman

    Bess Cutler Gallery

    Through a series of color photographs and corresponding light- and sound-cues, Ericka Beckman transformed a room in this gallery into an uncommon environment that demonstrated the connection between technological processes and human learning. Each of the five large C-prints features one of the “Nanotech” players, hybrid creations of light and motion (captured by prolonged camera exposures), which resemble proposed robot designs from the ’50s. Beckman, a filmmaker, is acutely aware of photographic possibilities, and she explores them with imagination and wit. Beckman stresses the significance of

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  • Kevin Larmon

    Nature Morte

    Kevin Larmon’s recent paintings demonstrate a more pronounced luminosity than did his earlier works. Larmon has removed the dark blanket of black tones that once served as a backdrop for his hovering, iconic fruit bowls. He has held on to the fruit bowls themselves, and uses them as strange signifiers of typical still lifes, complete with connotations of painting’s history. The highly stylized arrangement of a saucer dish balancing what looks like a pear and an apple has become a signature element of Larmon’s art. This fruit bowl floats almost arbitrarily on densely layered grounds covered with

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  • Richard Prince

    Barbara Gladstone Gallery

    When Richard Prince exhibited a series of captioned cartoons from The New Yorker magazine several seasons ago, the gallery context rendered the class-bound codes on which they were predicated distracting enough to disarm them as jokes. We laughed not at the jokes themselves, but at the patrician mores that motivate and delimit them. Recently, Prince has turned to bawdier material: here he exhibited a series of common jokes silk-screened onto monochromatic canvases, along with several “gangs”—his own term for the photographic grouping he has favored for the past several seasons. Perhaps because

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  • Michael Corris

    American Fine Arts

    Michael Corris’ typographic compositions have shown up regularly in group shows over the past several seasons. Operating as witty mnemonics, his arrangements often took on polemical resonance in relation to the seamless field of new objects against which they were presented. Like the acerbic friend you can’t take anywhere but do, despite your better judgment, these works couldn’t keep their mouths shut. Corris’ graphically elegant manipulations of appropriated and original texts persistently veered in the direction of complexity, tactlessly drawing attention to the historical evasions that

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  • Gary Bachman

    Wolff Gallery

    In his recent installation Gary Bachman amassed a monumental array of 1,000 drawings, all culled from dictionary illustrations. He copied each illustration by hand, using ink on paper in an 8-by-10-inch format, then hung these “plates” on panels in groups of 25. The entire series is alphabetized from beginning to end by the name of the subject. Although the work of a single illustrator comprises its source material, Bachman’s project differs from other, more typical appropriation gestures in that the source itself is decidedly generic, with the question of authorship largely a matter of

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  • Jim Isermann

    Josh Baer Gallery

    Los Angeles–based artist Jim Isermann works according to the dictates of his own taste. Neither issue nor idea-oriented, he comes close to being an artist of pure sensibility. His objets d’art and furniture have a look informed by the biomorphic abstraction of the ’50s and the Op art of the ’60s, and by those movements’ ability to inject futuristic optimism into the American home. Isermann’s installations are not self-conscious exercises in recontextualization (design carrying the ideological baggage of art), but efforts toward remembrance and preservation. Isermann is a nostalgic Candide,

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  • William Forsythe, Behind The China Dogs

    New York State Theater at Lincoln Center

    “It is a fashion, a fury,” reported Mme de Sévigné in 1696 of the French court’s ecstatic response to the introduction, from Italy, of a new vegetable: green peas. “Impatience to eat them, the pleasure of having eaten them, the joy of eating them again, are the three questions which have occupied our princes for the last four days.” For many New York dance fans, William Forsythe was last spring’s dish of petit pois. The New York City Ballet gave us a generous first serving with the premiere of Forsythe’s Behind the china dogs, 1988, as part of the American Music Festival. Seconds and thirds were

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  • Fiona Templeton, You: The City

    Everyday urban life considered as an art form has been a Modernist trope since Baudelaire first defined its tenets. Paris Spleen, the poet’s collection of odes to the romance of urban spectacle, crystallizes around a meditation on the city street, to Baudelaire the primary setting for the playing out of modern life’s rituals. Over 100 years later, performance artist Fiona Templeton and company sent theatergoers streetwalking down avenues that would have been paradise to the proto slummer Baudelaire: the seedy area of midtown Manhattan just west of Times Square. But YOU: The City cruised for

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  • Peter Grass

    Barbara Braathen Gallery

    Peter Grass first exhibited his schematic drawings of space figures set upon black-painted canvas in the early ‘80s. THe work looked indistinguishable from much of the rather nondescript, cartoonlike caricature being produced at the time. Now, with more of the East Village art returned to the rubble from which it sprang, Grass’ persistent development of an idiosyncratic vocabulary and mode of expression has rescued his paintings from the junk heap.

    Today, Grass' futuristic pictograms of figures and planets seem like anachronistic prophesies from a once-thriving civilization. His repainted tree

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  • Liz Phillips

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    The museum’s Film and Video Gallery was transformed for over a month into an environment that raised a host of questions about the relationship between space, movement, and sound. The walls of the gallery were painted a subdued gray and the space was turned into a reinterpretation of a Japanese rock garden. Instead of using the traditional sand or small pebbles, Liz Phillips covered the floor with uncombed wool. Near the center of the room was a structure; its scrim walls, skewed to form a parallelogram in plan, housed the electronic controls for the installation. A raised wooden walkway led to

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  • “Architectural Art: Affirming the Design Relationships”

    MAD - Museum of Arts and Design

    Despite the claims of its title, this exhibition affirmed nothing but its own naive pomposity, its narrow vision, and its stale premise. The conceptual organization was so vague that it took enormous concentration to see the work—some of which is quite good—amid the curatorial haze. Despite the downpour of information and interpretive materials accompanying this exhibition, all of the effort and activity produced only a drizzle of sense.

    One of the explanations provided for staging this exhibition now was that there are finally sufficient examples of architectural art and of collaborations between

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  • Leonora Carrington

    Brewster Gallery

    In this show of recent paintings, works on paper, and sculptures, all executed since her move to New York in 1986, Leonora Carrington, one of the lesser-known figures of the European Surrealist movement, offered some of her most compelling expressions to date. In all these pieces, Carrington demonstrates a peerless mastery of what might be called visual poetics: the unfolding drama of form that is to be found only in art of the highest level. She reveals an unfettered creativity that is constantly engaged in a passionate search for larger truths.

    Carrington’s method is an evocative one. In the

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  • Lynne Cohen

    P.P.O.W

    Lynne Cohen does not show her photographs, she makes displays of them. Her recent show, which included work from the past 15 years, offered many such displays. Images of rooms, laboratories, classrooms, showrooms, practice ranges, exhibition halls, and offices—in which people and merchandise are tested and observed—are framed in faux-stone linoleum, the title of each photograph presented beneath the image and within the frame. Each scene is discovered and shot as is, before being repackaged by Cohen, lending significance to the show’s title, “Occupied Territories.” The image is then displayed

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