reviews

  • Milton Resnick

    Robert Miller Gallery

    Milton Resnick has created something new—not his usual dense, epic, labored and belabored painterly Saragossa Sea surfaces, but mythical figures, afloat on a gentle tide of lyrically alive gestures. Sheer poetry, these figures are explicitly linked to three mythological and biblical themes surrounding the “mystery of life”: the judgment of Paris, the Sphinx, and Adam and Eve. They are intimate, quietly intense, sensitive paintings—much more delicate and restrained than Resnick’s earlier work—in which the figures share in the “psychosomatic” atmosphere of the paint, but function

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  • Michael Tetherow

    James McCoy Inc.

    As the title of Home Boy with Add-on of Yellow Rapture, 1987, suggests, Michael Tetherow’s works on paper have a certain ecstatic dimension. In this piece, a swarm of painterly gestures, largely in primary colors, climbs the surface to form a crazy web. The gestures drip nonchalantly, but they also sting. Behind them, drawn in pencil, is an eye, the “inner eye” but also, implicitly, the eye of the viewer, blinded by these dazzling gestures. It could also be the eye of nature, since Tetherow has been working outdoors for the last four years, allowing insects and animals to leave their traces in

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  • Francisca Sutil

    Nohra Haime Gallery

    Full of subtly graded, ingeniously correlated color contrasts, Francisca Sutil’s paintings capture the process of altering consciousness, crystallizing it in color. She fuses the Supremacist square and the Color Field to create an effect of inward sublimity, to represent the ungraspability of interior life. She takes modes of art-making that have not only become clichés but have lost their power amidst the ironies of post-Modernism, and suggests that they can still be used to create an effect of an authentic, unique self.

    Sutil’s paintings bear the overall title “Voices of Silence.” Harold

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  • Max Beckmann

    Gagosian Gallery (21)

    From his turn-of-the-century art-student days to his death, in 1950, Max Beckmann produced more than 80 self-portraits. How Beckmann sees himself and wants to be seen seemingly confirms the widely accepted belief that male artists are egocentric, neurotic, extravagant, obsessed by their work, and altogether difficult to live with. The man who stares out from his self-created image portrays himself as both Übermensch and persecuted refugee. Sinister, unapproachable, and hardened to the core, his defenses are locked in place, substantiating Beckmann’s use of a line from Faust in his characterization

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  • Adrian Piper

    John Weber Gallery/Paula Cooper Gallery/Grey Art Gallery

    Adrian Piper views her art as political, conceptual, activist, moral, purposeful, and necessary. She is an African-American artist-philosopher who assumes unassailable authority to confront racism and to force her audiences into enlightened submission. By exposing our culpability in the perpetuation of the cultural loop of fear, prejudice, and denial that constitutes racism, and publicly shaming us to our liberal (white) bones, Piper holds out the promise that, eventually, we will learn reflective rather than reactive behavior, will be the better for it, and presumably won’t need her policing

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  • “Fluxus: A Conceptual Country” and “Fluxattitudes”

    Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc. / New Museum of Contemporary Art

    Strongly influenced by Dada’s rebellious spirit and John Cage’s radical experimentalism, the artistic counter-movement known as Fluxus celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. George Maciunas, and a host of artists, writers, musicians, photographers, poets, performers, and filmmakers (including George Brecht, Robert Watts, and Dick Higgins) who passed through the philosophical filter of Fluxus during the ’60s and early ’70s, sought to “democratize” art by provoking the spectator to interact physically and intellectually with the work, requiring the viewer’s self-conscious participation in the

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  • Felix Stephan Huber

    John Good Gallery

    Felix Stephan Huber’s installation documented a Germany that either missed the economic miracle or turned away from it—a land of inexpensive hotels and bare unadorned rooms. Using the contemporary tools of the tourist-chronicler—film and a cheap Instamatic with a time/date stamp—Huber re-presented the 11 rooms in which he spent the night over a six-month period. Blown up to oversized proportions, these photos took on the graininess of film; the insistent digital readout on the bottom was evocative of a documentary or surveillance video. The frozen moments in these photo-bedrooms

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  • Joel Otterson

    Jay Gorney Modern Art

    Heavy-metal-video cliché numero unosearing strains of supersonic spleen emanate from a teen’s stereo system, initiating a confrontation between Mom and Pop that culminates in broken glass, shattered china, and smashed furniture. But what happens when headbangers grow up, and have a house of their own to love and defend? Will they cherish Joel Otterson’s series “Dead Rock Star Dinner Plates” or “First and Second Generation Glitter Rock Service for Three” (both 1992)? Will they buy his sculpture/furniture (made of such heavy metals as chrome, cast iron, and copper pipe) in the hope that it will

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  • Sarah Morris

    Kunsthall

    In his classic 1854 essay, “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts,” Thomas De Quincey argues that if you learn of a murder before or as it happens then you ought to view it ethically (i.e. you ought to try to prevent it). However, if you only learn of a murder after it has happened why not view it esthetically, since there is nothing you can do? In her first solo show, “CITIZENS,” 1992, Sarah Morris tried to minimize the difference between these two poles. The esthetics emerged in an elegant series of murals derived from news photos of fairly recent murders, some quite memorable (like

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  • Farrell Brickhouse

    Pamela Auchincloss Gallery

    Farrell Brickhouse is clearly unafraid to make a mess. In a statement about one of his paintings a few years ago, he spoke of a “need to dive into the muck to come up with my jewel of truth.” Somewhere along the line, Brickhouse’s brand of gritty yet lyrical gestural painting went out of fashion, probably because too many of its practitioners seemed to have convinced themselves that pushing paint around was enough. Brick-house clearly knows better. His impasto shows signs of both unaffected self-indulgence and genuine struggle, but usually he stops short of letting either one become an end in

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  • Fairfield Porter

    Hirschl & Adler Galleries

    This uneven, desperately cluttered exhibition of the work of Fairfield Porter was alternately thrilling and infuriating. Thrilling, because Porter’s work was assembled here for the first time in a long while, with some truly extraordinary paintings on view. But infuriating because so many inferior paintings and sketches were included that Porter seemed much less talented than he actually is.

    Though cityscapes and depictions of the working life made a brief appearance in his early work, they quickly gave way to luminous summer landscapes and scenes of gracious country living. One need look no

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  • Kenny Scharf

    Tony Shafrazi Gallery

    The introduction of a crusade for a clean environment into Kenny Scharf’s work, though not insincere, apparently did not raise his consciousness to the point that he actually was able to relinquish his own use of toxic chemicals. In his most recent show, pulled together just before he abandoned his New York studio for fresh digs in Miami, Scharf seemed anxious to prove he had moved from being carnival master of the art world to occupying an eco-activist seat in the arena of international politics.

    Indeed, one has to question whether the nearly 100 works on view added up to a sign of abundant

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  • Ava Gerber

    Fiction/Nonfiction

    It seemed that every corner of the gallery was littered with detritus, in the form of nearly 30 filthy, scrappy assemblages. Using dirt, hair, mildewed clothing, and other repulsive materials, Ava Gerber created a stale, claustrophobic environment; the space, covered with trailing wire and strings, resembled a spider’s web.

    In several pieces dirt, the archenemy of housewives, became a metaphor for the female self, depicting the underside of femininity as hideously abject. In Head in the Clouds (all works 1992) a small “cloud” of pressed dirt hung near a larger version of the same quatrefoil cloud

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  • Rikrit Tiravanija

    303 Gallery

    In two spaces separated by a long corridor, Rikrit Tiravanija executed two very different projects. In the main gallery space, the artist neatly stacked what is usually kept out of sight: paintings and artworks from the storage area, but also spare lightbulbs; kitchen appliances, including a microwave oven, minifridge, and water cooler; numerous cans of gallery-white paint; and personal items—from a box of tampons to a single enormous sneaker. Amidst this accumulation, which practically filled the room, sat the gallery owner at her desk (also displaced from the back room), doing business as

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  • Meg Webster

    Brooklyn Museum

    In Meg Webster’s most recent installation the out-of-doors invades the fragile confines of the museum. Running, 1992, is a grandiose spectacle of water blasting from a pipe with the force of a fire hose against the museum wall. After thundering against a mountain of wire mesh and wood covered in Butyl rubber, the water cascades into an open pool only to be sucked in and shot back out again.

    The materials and operating system are simple but highly evocative. A water pump and PVC pipe recycle the water around a wood, metal, and rubber obstacle course of decaying refuse much like a log jam encumbered

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  • Mark West

    Storefront for Art and Architecture

    The Storefront for Art and Architecture invites artists and architects to consider installations that use the interior as well as the exterior space, encouraging them to exhibit investigative work. This past summer, architect Mark West became an unofficial artist-in-residence in order to construct the first exhibition of the fall season. West’s installation Pressure Buildings and Blackouts, 1992, centered on the relationship between technology and the conceptualization of a work. In this instance, his productions concerned new structural and representational methods: what at first seemed like

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  • George Bellows

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    The first major retrospective of the paintings of George Bellows to be seen in thirty years, this exhibition afforded a welcome opportunity to reassess the work of a leading figure in early 20th-century American art.

    Bellows, who was born in 1882 in Columbus, Ohio, moved to New York in 1904, where he studied with the painter Robert Henri, a kind of Hans Hofmann of turn-of-the-century realism whose focus on urban subjects Bellows adopted and used to make his mark. Before he was thirty, Bellows’ career was launched with such paintings as Stag at Sharkey’s, 1909, the first of his wildly popular

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