reviews

  • Elizabeth Newman

    Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

    Elizabeth Newman’s first New York show includes a number of sculptures—household objects, such as furniture, clothing, and utensils, that have been transformed into synesthetic fetishes by the addition of materials like wax, feathers, and talcum powder—that were part of the artist’s installation at the 1991 Spoleto Festival U.S.A., in Charleston, South Carolina. There they worked effectively to reanimate the history of an 18th-century home, and, although a gallery setting inevitably pales by comparison, Newman’s alchemy remains as potent as ever, transforming a normally sterile place into hallowed

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  • Martin Kippenberger

    Metro Pictures

    It is ironic that Martin Kippenberger once claimed that his work had no style, for his “style” has not only influenced a generation of younger German artists, but it has informed recent artistic tendencies more generally. Fueled by the blasphemies of early Dada, the politicized Pop of Capital Realism, and the bad-boy antics of “neo-Expressionism,” Kippenberger’s predatory instincts have marauded Modernist traditions and post-Modern mannerisms alike. Who can forget his early kamikaze missions, such as the 1987 exhibition “Peter,” displaying the wreckage of search-and-destroy operations that

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  • Robert Rauschenberg

    Knoedler & Company

    With his “Night Shades” series, Robert Rauschenberg emerges as the Goya of American art. Indeed, the series makes clear once and for all the Rauschenberg is a great introspective artist, using American materials for his own dark visionary purpose. In a sense, the “Night Shades” are the ripe fruit of a vision of violent doom germinating in his early, equally apocalyptic series of works based on Dante's Inferno. In that stunning group of works, a touchstone for his oeuvre, he compacted American-type images into an excruciatingly concentrated hallucinatory density. Each work is like a cornucopia

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  • Jorge Castillo/Francisco Leiro

    Marlborough | Chelsea

    The absurdity of fantasy is the only answer to the absurdity of appropriation. Where the latter suggests the bankruptcy of creativity, masked by irony, the former suggests the irrepressibility of the irrational. This does not guarantee creative originality, however, for, as the art of the insane suggests, the irrational can become as stereotypical as the ironical. What is important about the painting of Jorge Castillo and the sculpture of Francisco Leiro is that both suggest that there is still artistic hope in fantasy—perhaps more creative possibilities—than in appropriation. As with all artists

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  • Terry Winters

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Terry Winters’ recent retrospective presents an alternative to most Whitney Museum mid-career retrospectives, which tend to focus on artists with more cultural/critical urgency, as opposed to painters, such as Winters, who pursue a relatively personal and neutral expression of sensibility and technical finesse. Winters’ exhibition treats the viewer to a panoply of visual delights: thick and washy surfaces; fluid, broken, and scratchy brushwork; and a palette that leans toward moody earth tones but also includes bright primaries, sometimes within the limits of a single painting.

    Winters (along

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  • Robert Mangold

    Pace | 32 East 57th Street

    The ten large paintings in this show represent numbers VIII through XVIII of Robert Mangold’s “Attic Series,” a sequence begun in 1990 and named, in the course of its development, after classical pottery Mangold admired during a visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. It is easy to understand the root of this attraction: recognition. As Klaus Kertess rightly asserts in his catalogue essay, “luminous dryness, incisive clarity of both internal and external contours, regimented directness of drawing, abstract coloration—all are characteristics shared by Attic pottery and Mangold’s painting.”

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  • Mel Kendrick

    John Weber Gallery

    Mel Kendrick, now in his early forties, came of age in the thrall of artists such as Robert Mangold and Sol LeWitt, whom he had occasion to meet while working as a studio assistant for Dorothea Rockburne. He is a sculptor, in other words, who hammered out his sensibilities against some of the more daunting post-Minimal precursors. To be forced, at a tender and rebellious age, to recognize among artists then entering middle age the ability to produce Apollonian structures of the utmost finesse, can be an inhibiting experience. Indeed, for Kendrick, the great Picasso exhibition at New York’s Museum

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  • Sean Landers

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    In his current exhibition, Sean Landers dispenses with the idle abstractions that percolate in much art devoted to the artist’s life and psychology—identity, ego, self, etc.—and gets down to brass tacks. Chucking “Chris Hamson,” the fictionalized alter ego he introduced in a previous show, Landers now apparently feels he can speak for himself in an installation that indulges the nether extremes of confessional art. He owns up to lolling about in bed all day, jerking off, being broke, working shitty jobs, hustling the art world, and feeling sorry for himself. The intimacy implied by the artist’s

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  • Jane Dickson

    Brooke Alexander

    Jane Dickson’s strongly graphic figurative paintings bear witness to a distinctly urban visual anxiety. Ranging from images of street conflagrations viewed from above, featuring car headlights and policemen casting long shadows, to rough black and white portraits of street people, not to mention more finished compositions of figures isolated in windows, these scenes, even at their friendliest, put you on your guard and make your stomach clench.

    Like many artists working in what might broadly be called a social-realist mode, Dickson seems to celebrate her homespun technique. Her sketches of street

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  • William Eggleston

    Laurence Miller Gallery

    Judging from the selection of photographs in “First Color, 1967–1973,” you would think that William Eggleston had been sent out to document the results of some sort of nuclear fallout that obliterated everyone south of the Mason-Dixon line. With the exception of one picture of a boy pushing some grocery carts, there is no sign of human life in any of these small, Ektacolor prints. Instead, there are decrepit roadside cafés, automobile junkyards, rusty or even bullet-riddled signs. Untitled, 1972, shows a defunct yellow car, impaled like a sucker on a stick, rising into the sky above a parking

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  • Megan Williams

    John Post Lee Gallery

    In the Talmud, the righteous, by variously combining the letters that comprise the ineffable names of God, attempt to find the divine Word that creates a living being. The Cabalists, it is said, succeeded in finding this mystical word and thus created a man. Golem, which literally means “shapeless mass,” is the name given to this man. Megan Williams has revived this Jewish legend in one of a group of pastel-and-watercolor pieces that tend to look like apocalyptic versions of Mighty Mouse cartoons (she worked for many years in effects animation). One image, entitled Golems, 1992, in which three

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  • “Dysfunction in the Family Album”

    Diane Brown Gallery

    Smile. Say “Cheese.” Look at the birdie. Grin and bear it. The photo opportunity family-style, replete with pseudo-voguish posturing, and misrepresentation of reality for the purpose of creating pleasant future memories, is the starting point for “Dysfunction in the Family Album,” a group show organized by painter David Humphrey. Beginning with the family photo, the eight artists included here take off in a multiplicity of directions reflecting both the transforming qualities of photographic processes and the power and influence of the family on the development of the individual. Artists such

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  • Sal Scarpitta

    Annina Nosei Gallery, Leo Castelli

    Sal Scarpitta’s art, which is simultaneously idiosyncratic and in touch with major European and American art movements, such as Futurism, arte povera, and Minimalism, has yet to be fully recognized in America. His deepest roots are in Futurism and in the quintessentially Modern impulse to represent speed that motivated that movement. And yet, like two other major postwar Italian artists—Piero Manzoni (it is not clear who influenced whom, or if they arrived at their “wrapped” or bandaged work independently) and Alberto Burri, who was a decided influence—Scarpitta is also a product of an art

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  • Flèchemuller

    Jamison/Thomas Gallery

    Flèchemuller, who enjoyed success in his native France during the ’70s and became known in New York by the mid ’80s for his quirky, childlike primitivism, has moved from painting images of objects to painting on objects themselves. Throughout his exploration of apparently “straight” painting, Flèchemuller thematic restlessness and emphasis on surface tactility were harbingers of a dissatisfaction with the limits of genre. This show marks an exciting new direction for the artist: the extension of his familiar painterly brushwork and scrawled hieroglyphs onto found objects and scrap assemblages.

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  • J. S. G. Boggs

    Vrej Baghoomian Gallery

    Post-Modern celebrations aside, money remains the art world’s premiere scandal and original sin. Money puts the “world” in the “art world” and makes it circulate in time with the real world. But references to this fact in artworks, when not overly obvious, tend merely to stimulate palates with a soupçon of toxicity.

    J. S. G. Boggs’ deep fascination not only with the artisanal beauty of currency, but with the very foundations of value, sidesteps the dilemma. In what he calls “transactions,” Boggs “spends” his painstakingly rendered, exact-size drawings of paper currency, offering them in exchange

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  • John Fekner

    Exit Art

    Just as the graffiti artists of the ’80s were lured into the galleries from their outdoor urban sites, John Fekner hit the streets. Traveling around at night and often sleeping in his car, Fekner imprinted troubled areas of New York City with large stenciled words (seen here in slide projections), attacking the destruction of the environment and the adverse social conditions that surround us. The sites spoke for themselves: garbage dumps, decrepit buildings, junkyard pileups of used cars or TVs. Onto these Fekner applied straightforward messages: “LOST HOPE” on a bombed-out housing project; “

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  • Nancy Azara

    A.I.R. Gallery

    The old question of whether the artist is the one who chooses the subject or the subject the artist is raised anew in Nancy Azara’s show. For Azara, the “eternal feminine” has long been a preoccupation, and, in her work, this most elusive figure has found a gifted contemporary interpreter. Eschewing literary representation, she renders this subject abstractly, employing rich physical properties and imagistic associations to suggest her various aspects and guises.

    This group of carved, painted, and gold-leafed reliefs brings to mind sacred objects used to celebrate the “goddess” in both Western

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  • James Keyden Cathcart, Frank Fantauzzi, Terrence Van Elslander

    Storefront For Art & Architecture

    Which of the many ordeals and indignities suffered by the homeless is the most corrosive to the human spirit? Pleading for money or a meal, changing clothes on the sidewalk under an old blanket, finding a place to sleep on a bitter winter night, or stalking a quiet corner in which to relieve themselves? As one of the few art outposts in New York dedicated to esthetic assaults on urban problems, Storefront for Art & Architecture aims for results.

    In a recent collaborative effort entitled “Unprojected Habit,” 1992, architects James Keyden Cathcart, Frank Fantauzzi, and Terrence Van Elslander claimed

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  • Molissa Fenley

    The Joyce

    Viewers of dance are usually part of a collective experience. Together they watch as social relationships evolve on stage, and they relate predominantly to individual dancers, as points in the fine spatial filigree that is the choreographer’s design. In Molissa Fenley’s three powerful solos—Inner Enchantments, 1991, Threshold, 1992, and Place, 1992—however, viewers must concentrate on each separate movement; the experience is as much a test of short-term memory and the mind’s ability to retain a series of afterimages as it is about responding, one-on-one, to the visceral and emotional presence

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