reviews

  • Terry Allen

    John Weber Gallery

    America is a sick place and Terry Allen knows it. Big Witness (living in wishes), 1988, consists of a prostrate figure lying in a cage within a cage, trying to knock himself out with some New Age self-help tapes. The installation is underlit with red, green, and blue lights, giving the otherwise sterile structure the atmosphere of an abandoned disco in some depressed Midwestern Holiday Inn. The self-help tapes being played are embedded in the giant’s body. Smarmy Muzak accompanies even smarmier discourse. Some paternalistic, New-Age asshole drones on and on about how to obliterate any resistance

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  • Dan Graham and Jeff Wall

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    Individually, Dan Graham and Jeff Wall have consistently investigated architecture for its parallels to human psychology. For them, the act of opening a door reiterates the experience of psychological interiorization; looking up into the broadening expanse of a portal suggests the physical manifestation of the unutterable infinite. Every physical detail of an abode becomes a recreation of a state of mind, and an ironic description of human emotional needs. This history informs their collaboration on The Children’s Pavilion, 1989.

    The architectural sources for this half-sized model are diverse.

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  • Giuseppe Gallo

    Sperone Westwater

    Giuseppe Gallo’s pictures and sculptures have that air of morbid fragility, of esoteric irony, that we have come to expect from artists of the School of Rome. What makes Gallo’s works exceptional is the air of isolation that permeates his scenes and objects. It is not the morbidity itself that matters—that quality is evident even when the works blaze brightly, for the artist’s quasi-ecstatic use of color has to it the phosphorescence of a decaying infinity, the burst of color of a star that has exhausted its absoluteness—but the way it qualifies whatever is located within it. Through its mannerist

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  • Andy Warhol

    Robert Miller Gallery

    Several noteworthy facts concerning the photobooth located in Playland, an arcade, positioned in the heart of Manhattan’s Times Square, itself an arcade: it costs $1.50 (quarters only) for a strip of four images; individual shots are taken at four-second intervals, during which time the sitter poses a self or what that person or someone else might believe is one. There is no contrast control. The phrase “Smile and Relax” is permanently stenciled under the camera proper. The language dictates a personage; the sitter becomes one who “smiles” and “relaxes” before a photographer who does not exist.

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  • Glenn Goldberg

    Knoedler & Company

    Glenn Goldberg's little pictures, in effect abstract miniatures, are eloquently, stylishly uncanny. By esthetic uncanniness I mean the phenomenon whereby an arrangement of formal elements comes to seem a hallucinatory representation, or a would-be realistic representation comes to seem a purely formal presentation. Such ambiguity in appearance, implying emotional ambivalence toward and even primitive projective identification with some object, occurs frequently in the history of Modern art. It is already evident in the caricatural Cubist portraits of 1911, and by 1922, with El Lissitzky's Story

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  • “The New Vision”

    The Met | Metropolitan Museum of Art

    What unites the work in this mammoth exhibition is the seemingly unshakeable faith in the optical that nearly every picture demonstrates. Not here will you find the contemporary suspicion of the image, or of the manipulative and coercive nature of the photographic exchange. Instead this work demonstrates a striking brashness, an apparent belief that the world can be understood by depicting it; further, that it can be changed by seeing it in a new way. However foolhardy such confidence in pictorial progress may seem now, looking back from an age battered by mass media, these pictures remain

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  • Young K.

    Rastovski Gallery

    Like many artists of his generation, Young K. makes work that focuses on the media, its role as a vehicle for power, and its ability to condition our perception of the world. He meets manipulation with his own countermanipulation, subverting the media’s presumed authority with acrylic paintings that look very much like enlarged newspaper photographs of monuments, landscapes, and historical events. His modus operandi, subversion through appropriation, seems all too familiar at first. We’ve seen it before—a moralistic, deconstructive strategy that has been defanged by its own appropriation into

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  • Elinore Hollinshead

    Greenberg Wilson Gallery

    Elinore Hollinshead’s paintings combine autobiographical and art-historical imagery in an investigation of memory and the passing of time. In the six paintings featured in this show, she integrates personal and collective symbols to create a complex layering of meaning, and an often cryptic interweaving of past and present. By making imagery from the past an important part of her memory-collages, she locates herself and her work on a visual time continuum. Hollinshead’s references to classical, Renaissance, and Far Eastern art help her place her own experience in temporal and cross-cultural

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  • Paul Rosin

    Edward Thorp Gallery

    The least interesting aspect of these very interesting photographs is the much-commented-upon intimation of sexual deviancy that runs through them. More intriguing is the cloak of uncanniness Rosin throws over his figures, especially his way of making them seem like puppets dangling from strange psychic strings, about to be jerked into action by some odd inner necessity. There are, in fact, several real puppets here, as in Ringmaster, 1989, an image of a toy made sinister by Rosin’s tenebristic treatment of it (in part realized through the application of oil paint to the photograph). In Pact (

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  • Julian Schnabel

    Pace | 32 East 57th Street

    Julian Schnabel’s recent series of works, collectively entitled “Fox Farm Paintings,” 1989, places him within the now broad spectrum of artists engaging/exploiting ecological themes and motifs as either entertainment or enlightenment. Repeated throughout these paintings is a phrase Schnabel discovered scrawled on a ten-dollar bill: “There is no place on this planet more horrible than a fox farm during pelting season.” Despite the phrase's appeal to animal-rights enthusiasts, its tone of unmodulated asseveration makes its effect primarily histrionic. Probably there are several places on this

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  • David Diao

    Postmasters

    David Diao’s extended bout with abstraction constitutes one of the longer, stranger sagas in the annals of recent painting. In the 25 years since Diao arrived on the scene, his career has registered most of the decisive pressures that have shaped the medium in the crisis following American painting’s midcentury triumph. Diao followed an inaugural decade of reductive experiments that reflected the dominant Minimalist temper of the late ’60s with an extended hiatus. During this time he internalized all the proclamations that stated painting had run its historical course. Effectively sitting out

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  • Isa Genzken

    Jack Shainman Gallery | West 20th Street

    Isa Genzken’s architectonic sculptures waver between emerging forms and decomposing rubble. Cast concrete is the artist’s primary medium. However, the medium’s association with strength and durability is countered by Genzken’s crude handling of the sculptures’ surfaces. In almost every work one sees the gravel aggregate inside the cement exposed at eroding corners and chipped edges. Similarly, the internal wire armature often emerges from the mottled surface to suggest a crumbling structure.

    Kirche (Church, 1989) is typical of Genzken’s sculpture. A primary concrete structure in the form of a

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  • Peter Greenaway

    Nicole Klagsbrun

    An ornithologist, recently taken ill, is given or discovers among his possessions a number of maps, which seem to indicate the path for a journey through or toward a place called H. The place may represent heaven or hell, neither or both. Such is the scenario of Peter Greenaway’s 1978 film A Walk Through H: The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist, for which the artist prepared the drawings in this show. The maps, drawn or painted on such diverse surfaces as a laundry bag, a disposable medical glove, and a musical score, are not cartographic in the strict sense. Dense layering of existing and

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  • Ron Rhodes

    The Clocktower Gallery

    Ron Rhodes began constructing spare miniature architectural interiors some years before he was diagnosed as having AIDS. Rhodes’ awareness that he was dying prompted him to use this same format to explore the theme of the stations of the cross. Meticulously realized architectural forms—domestic , industrial, religious, or public—make up the core of his early work. Gabriel, 1982, is an apartment kitchen or living room complete with a table on which lie the dishes and utensils of an abandoned meal; House of the Deer, Segment VI, 1984, is an elongated industrial space reminiscent of a ship’s boiler

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  • Martha Fleming and Lyne Lapointe

    New Museum

    Martha Fleming and Lyne Lapointe have collaborated for more than six years. Their first projects involved the political and esthetic reclamation of abandoned, decaying buildings in communities in Montreal. The buildings were revived through thematic explorations and installations of sculpture, painting, performance, and theater. In their two-room installation here, they inserted a restless, idiosyncratic collection of natural objects and personal treasures into the comparatively pristine contours of a museum. Fleming and Lapointe’s projects in Montreal required a gritty tenacity, a vision of

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  • Neil Denari

    Storefront for Art and Architecture

    The stormy relationship between human beings and the machine has produced an enduring intellectual conversation that has sometimes degenerated into a deafening dialectic. Neil Denari brings a moderate and optimistic outlook to this subject. His work represents no angry stand-off between the human/natural world and the machine/constructed world, nor is he swept away by all of the grand, giddy possibilities of technological invention. He looks for how these reported adversaries can share objectives in common, how they extend each other Architecture, as much as any art form, embraces this dialectic,

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  • Hung Liu

    Nahan Contemporary

    Hung Liu’s exhibition here consisted of paintings, drawings, and mixed-media assemblages. What was evident in all of them was the artist’s attempt to transform memory and rage (for Liu, they go hand in hand) into a visual statement that is neither naive nor sentimental. Rather than revealing overtly personal memories, which could make her appear to be a helpless and isolated victim, Liu depicts the various historical and social forces which have implicated her for being both Chinese and a woman, and explores how these forces affected her life in China (where she was born in 1948) and in America

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  • Jean Feinberg

    Victoria Munroe Gallery

    Whereas meaning in art was once pronounced, codified, and doted upon by both artists and theoreticians alike, it is now increasingly marginalized. In the vacuum where meaning was once believed to have resided, all sorts of other possibilities have rushed in—the end of history, anti utopian critiques, and the objectification of meaninglessness are three of the theoretical agendas that are currently espoused most. The tide of fashion has turned, and abstract painters have gone from being revered figures to being highly suspect practitioners. If the possibility of meaning no longer exists, the

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  • Antoni Tàpies

    Marta Cervera Gallery

    This focused and cogent selection of Antoni Tàpies’ small sculptures from 1969 to 1973 obviates the artist’s idealizing tendencies, notably the alchemical conceits which plague much arte povera. Fashioned from cast-off scraps such as wood, cloth, and paper, these modest works confront the viewer with an unblinking materiality which points up the artifice inherent in all artworks. In so doing, they are remarkably concise, yet eloquent. Each sculpture consists of a gesture so simple that, in most cases, its title alone can go a long way toward describing the piece itself. Cornet de Papier (Paper

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  • Barbara Kassel

    Maxwell Davidson Gallery

    In this group of recent work drawing on images from Africa and the Middle East, Barbara Kassel revealed her talent for bringing together reality and fantasy into representations fairly brimming with symbolic meaning. She also demonstrated her knack for using the element of appearance as a vehicle of poetic expression. Kassel is a realist who seems to delight in the challenge of making each of her paintings like a complex mirror held up to life—a mirror capable of displaying the usually hidden relationships between the physical and spiritual worlds. Her tightly rendered forms have an intensity

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  • Dina Ghen

    Ledisflam

    Since the early ’80s, Dina Ghen has been producing abstract sculpture rich in metaphorical possibilities. She has developed methods for carving and casting materials such as urethane, epoxy, and resins that enable her to extract from them an amazingly diverse range of formal properties, as well as vast expressive potential. In this exhibition, Ghen showed herself capable of producing serious, elevated sculpture using nontraditional materials, particularly industrial plastics. Her work demonstrates not only the intrinsic beauty of these synthetic substances, but the capacity they have to transcend

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  • Alexis Rockman

    Jay Gorney Mondern Art

    Insects have always played a prominent part in the imagination of horror, perhaps because these creatures are the most resistant to being humanized, to taking on characteristics which would make them seem friendly. Their habits are irreducibly disquieting; their life world is necessarily cruel. In our recognition of that, nature becomes a nightmare. Nothing has to be invented. A simple shift in scope and scale will do—we need only to look down to the life below our feet. Alexis Rockman’s recent oil paintings offer compelling glimpses into that world; the grass crawls with insects, blind worms

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  • Momix

    Joyce Theater

    Since the ’60s, anti-illusionism in its many forms has ruled contemporary dance, theatrical illusionism often being equated with cultural as well as philosophical deception. Of course it’s entirely logical that out of the current welter of kinesthetic truth-tellers would arise yet another restatement of illusion in movement. Moses Pendleton, a founder of the determinedly sleight-of-foot Pilobolus troupe, takes magic over the top in the choreography for his own company, Momix (company members are also credited as creators of individual pieces). Each of the 14 dances on Momix’s recent program (13

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  • Urban Griots

    MK

    “Griots,” we were told at the beginning of the evening, are members of a West African caste who bear responsibility for preserving the history of their people. Any vehicle for conveying this history—storytelling, song, dance—is acceptable, as long as it’s entertaining. Anyone who gets through the doors at MK expects to be entertained, and this expectation became Urban Griots’ license to perform. At the same time, through its four short performance pieces, the group showed that history-making is a complicated endeavor riddled with contradiction—a fact that’s constantly threatened by the hegemonic

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