reviews

  • Ray Yoshida

    Phyllis Kind Gallery

    Ray Yoshida’s unusual painting style has long made him an important representative of Chicago Imagism. His richly inventive fantasy landscapes are heavily worked over, which gives them their mannered, idiosyncratic, and obsessive quality. In Yoshida’s art, great effort is expended in a desire to describe the indescribable, an urge to contain the elusive. His images are indistinct in narrative and act as studied episodes from some unseen larger text, or as variations on themes so permuted and extrapolated as to be no longer recognizable.

    The themes depicted in this exhibition vary a bit, but two

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  • Elizabeth Diller And Ricardo Scofidio

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Museums generally present architecture in a predictable, acquiescent fashion. Drawings, photographs, and models are the usual fare. The relationship of the host institution to the visiting architecture installation seldom excites real chemistry or dialogue: the two remain independent and critically unengaged. For their installation here, entitled para-site, 1989, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio restructured this relationship aggressively, intelligently, and cogently. The artists, as both members of and dissident presences in the cultural establishment, played with the treachery of language

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  • Peter Fischli And David Weiss

    Sonnabend Gallery

    The current crop of Peter Fischli and David Weiss’ canned photographs and objects is, as usual, unfailingly witty. Whether or not that also makes them wise is another question. Everything exhibited here—glossy images of glamorous airplanes and plaster stewardesses and cars—relates to travel. These days the art world depends for its momentum on the jetliner: tension, drama, and sense of purpose are heightened as objects move from this international exhibition to that one, building up steam for some incalculable, cosmically relevant, grand climax of an exhibition. The “whoopie!” if not “eureka!”

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  • Richard Serra

    Leo Castelli Gallery / Pace Gallery

    Richard Serra’s three new sculptures are no longer merely Minimalist, site-specific objects, articulating the artist’s familiar concern with space, weight, and measure. Nor are his eight new drawings merely a stylization of the sculptures’ expressivity, a literalization of their wall-like quality underscored by the absolute starkness that can come only from the contrast of black and white. Rather, what counts now is their message—the supposed socio-political import—and if we can’t read it, we are told it by an accompanying Serra poster, which states, with imperious declarativeness, such simplicities

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  • Sherrie Levine

    Mary Boone Gallery | Uptown

    For her recent foray into sculpture, Sherrie Levine takes Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, 1915–23, as her model. Ostensibly fulfilling Duchamp’s original intention, Levine has the bachelors cast three-dimensionally in frosted glass. The resultant objects, reminiscent of Art Decoor industrial lighting fixtures, are then displayed in tony cherry-wood vitrines. The gallery lights are dimmed and the frosted glass bachelors, spotlit from above, give off a dull luminescence, the barest of scintillations. The entire installation suggests a jewelry store after closing,

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  • Kathe Burkhart

    Feature Inc.

    Like Sherrie Levine, Kathe Burkhart makes art that belongs to the discourse of the copy, as mediated by a disaffected feminist perspective. Unlike Levine, she uses sources that are not particularly august. The “Liz Taylor Series,” an ongoing project since 1983, presents images of the archetypal star, culled from film and publicity stills. Burkhart gravitates to those scenes depicting Liz in either wigged-out ecstasy or gut-wrenching humiliation. Using an opaque projector, the artist traces the lineaments of the original pictures on an often grand scale, then fills them in with lurid acrylic

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  • Jeff Wall

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    Mimicking the archaic mannerisms of traditional genre painting, Jeff Wall turns his camera on the nameless dispossessed. The large scale back-lit transparencies that result evade both the solipsistic dreariness that has come to characterize much recent “photography about photography,” and the formulaic drudgeries that frequently neutralize politically oriented efforts. If, as Wall remarked in a recent interview, he has managed to evade “the dream-world of art, to show something of the dirt and ugliness of the way we have to live,” he has done so less by documentary exposition than by a tautly

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  • Lewis Baltz

    Castelli Graphics

    Lewis Baltz’s photographs belong to what might be called the elegiac sublime tradition in American photography. Like Robert Adams, Baltz depicts both the transcendent beauty of the landscape of the American West and the depredations that it has suffered from the encroachments of industrial society. In the work here, Baltz shows the wasteland of San Francisco’s Candlestick Point, a barren area where chaotic tangles of rubbish and the rusting shells of derelict cars pile up in the shadows of the local sports stadium. In many of these pictures, junk contends with the remnants of nature—a stand of

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  • Duane Michals

    Sidney Janis Gallery

    Duane Michals’ high-brow images and scribbly, semidiaristic texts have secured him a peculiar spot in the annals of American photography. With its blatant sentimentality, soft-focus homoeroticism, and tendency to inflate confessional material with metaphors lifted from Greek and American mythology, Michals’ work has never fit neatly into his medium’s general history. His reputation is highest among devotees and collectors of gay male photography, where his idiosyncracies are considered central to a sexually confident romanticism that extends back to early cult figures such as Willem von Gloeden

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  • Zap #12

    Psychedlic Solution

    It has been more than 20 years now since Zap Comix first reared its ugly monster head out of the psychedelic miasma and sociopolitical upheaval of the ’60s to change forever the way we think about comic books. In both form and content, it goes beyond the obvious appeal of transgression/regression fantasies. Zap is that rare kind of artistic and literary masterwork that jumps out and smacks you right in the face, knocks you to the floor, and wrestles with your bilious heart of darkness till you’re screaming uncle, wretching in utter disgust, or begging for more. Reveling in hysterical silliness

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  • Syvia Kolbowski

    Postmasters

    That writing necessarily distorts the memory of the event it chronicles may be the principal irony of Sylvia Kolbowski’s recent installation, entitled Review, 1989. This time the culprit takes center stage. Raised to the status of this year’s exhibit, the various letters, manuscripts, student papers, and published reviews about Kolbowski’s previous show, Enlarged from the Catalog: USA, 1988, create a hall of mirrors in which the image of the original exhibit becomes remote. This collection is likely to elicit additional commentary—which, in turn, might inspire more art.

    Taken together, the

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  • IRWIN

    Bess Cutler Gallery

    IRWIN is a five-member collaborative of artists from northern Yugoslavia that produces complex works as part of a highly polemical cultural program. It was first introduced to New York audiences last year in a show including over 100 works, hung salon-style, which borrow imagery from sources as disparate as Nazi propaganda, religious icons, and 20th-century art from Suprematism to Social Realism. IRWIN also disseminated manifestolike statements explaining its participation in Neue Slovenische Kunst (New Slovenian Art), a 60-member collaborative, including a rock band and theater group, devoted

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  • Judy Ledgerwood

    Scott Hanson Gallery

    Judy Ledgerwood’s large sky- and landscapes fall into the now-popular mode of mediated nature painting, which draws on 19th-century romantic landscapes as experienced through art-history books, magazines, and other sources of reproduced images. Ledgerwood is one of a number of young Chicago artists who have jumped on the bandwagon of self-proclaimed artifice. On the surface, her paintings yield few clues regarding their subversive intent and might easily be taken for mere “pretty pictures”—which they are. But Ledgerwood intends her technique itself to convey a political message: diffused brushwork

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  • Jeffrey Jenkins

    Stux Gallery

    Jeffrey Jenkins’ works, which employ materials such as sod, fur, and dried grass for their grounds, resemble specimens in natural history museums. In Screen (all works, 1989), for instance, wire grids laid over the natural materials recall both scientific diagrams and maps. But Jenkins’ compositions do not describe any scientific finding. Rather, the dusty, decrepit aura of the work conveys a nostalgia for obsolete systems, an attraction to the charm of old-fashioned faith.

    The works adopt the formal strategies of minimalism, but their suggestive titles (Burrow, Bound) and symbolically charged

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  • The Tinklers

    Sharpe Gallery

    The Tinklers’ performances, books, and paintings are the product of a collaboration between two artists who explore the role that human folly, in particular the concept of manifest destiny, has played in the formation of American and world history. Their subjects have ranged from the discovery of the Americas to the development of the Coop City housing project in the Bronx. The paintings in this exhibition address the destruction of the earth’s environment. Works such as Rainforest Triptych, 1989, Uranium, 1989, and Oil, 1989, highlight environmental issues that have been in the press recently

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  • Yishai Jusidman

    Elizabeth Mcdonald Gallery

    Yishai Jusidman presents a series of wooden globes and elipses, each about 20 inches in diameter, perched on brass poles at various heights near eye level. Each is overlaid with a wax-and-pigment encaustic and shows a landscape or, in a few cases, something like a schematic starscape. One seems to be unfinished, so that the patchwork of wood beneath is exposed; on another the colors are so pale, the landscape so flat, and the horizon so low that the effect is nearly abstract. A third has what appears to be gold leaf on top, which lends to the scene below a bright, almost revelatory glow. In

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  • Stephanie Kirschen-Cole

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    In this exhibition of recent mixed-media collages, Stephanie Kirschen-Cole showed herself to be an artist who delights in the sheer physicality of the materials she employs. Using various kinds of paper, canvas, silk, dye, and pigment, she shows a distinct talent for creating objects with an exuberant air and evocative presence about them. However physically appealing the treatment of their surfaces might be, these works appeal equally to the mind’s eye.

    Polaska/da Vinci, 1989, is one of a group of collages featuring stamps or fragments of envelopes. Here, the stamp issued by the Polish government

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  • Ethel Schwabacher

    Gallery Schlesinger Limited

    Ethel Schwabacher, who died in 1984 and whose career has enjoyed increased recognition in recent years, was one of the visual poets of the Abstract Expressionist movement. A contemporary of Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, and Barnett Newman, she was a painter with a bold and thrilling sense of color. As shown in the group of paintings from the ’50s that were featured in this show, Schwabacher was someone who knew how to seize upon the special power color has to suggest feeling. She did so by using color as an element to activate the surfaces of her oil canvases. Paintings such as Woman: Red

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  • Trisha Brown

    World Financial Center

    This outdoor concert of works by Trisha Brown was a mini-retrospective, a double bill featuring one of the choreographer’s earliest works followed by one of her most recent. Raft Piece, 1973, demonstrates two elements typical of most early Brown dances: a structure in which movement accumulates over time, and a quirky physical setting—here, the four dancers performed flat on their backs on four floating rafts. The governing concept is a perceptual conundrum aimed at creating phenomenological doubt: how to see a rigorous structural ordering subjected to the whimsical factor of chance, as represented

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  • Imperceptible Mutabilities In The Third Kingdom

    Baca Downtown

    Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks calls Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom “an African-American experience in the shadow of the photographic image.” In four scenes connected by a dreamlike logic rather than a developing narrative, characters struggle to find themselves in that shadow—the representations and definitions made by white folks. A white male scientist in the first scene, called “Snails,” studies three black women (Mona, Jonah, and Verona) through a camera planted in a cockroach. The roach sits in the living room; at two feet long, it’s too big to kill. They refer to it as their

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  • Penny Arcade, Deborah Margolin

    The Knitting Factory

    Penny Arcade and Deborah Margolin are two artists who, despite important differences, share similar approaches to performance. Margolin began hers by asking the audience for feedback about the way she was dressed. Arcade, who followed Margolin, began by getting her appearance ready while she addressed the audience. When Margolin left the stage and sat in the audience, Arcade, coming on stage from the audience, sardonically complimented her. They carried on a sassy exchange about differences in their work, their appearances, and their backgrounds. Part of the audience’s enjoyment came from the

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  • Donald Lipski

    Danforth Museum of Art

    Donald Lipski takes industrial salvage material and creates unique neo-dada sculpture. He finds artifacts in junk stores, dumpsters, and military supply rooms, employing a surreal logic in his clever mating of them. This exhibition, consisting of two distinctly separate installations of recent work, showed Lipski to be adept at tempering the coolness of minimalist form with poetic irony and a sense of humor. Steel wool and industrial waste tubing were the featured materials here. In one group of works, industrial components—a rubber high-pressure hose, aluminum fan blade, saw, or inner tube—define

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