• Mark Tansey

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

    Mark Tansey’s paintings conjure a dream world—that of someone who’s fallen asleep during a lecture on the history of Modern art. Haunted by the likes of Marcel Duchamp and Jacques Derrida, his work teems with disorienting encounters, seamlessly mixing references to old master compositions and Popular Mechanics. Nested within this dream world are the dreams of various 20th-century avant-gardes, which are alternately parodied and saluted in what amounts to a case study in transcendent ambivalence.

    That Tansey seems stuck was evident both in his modest traveling retrospective, curated by Judi Freeman,

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  • Renée Petropoulos

    Rosamund Felsen Gallery

    Renée Petropoulos revives the large-scale circular format of the tondo, so prevalent in the Renaissance, covering it with richly evocative shapes and symbols and adapting it to accommodate her fin-de-20th-century theoretical concerns. Most strikingly, she hollows out her large tondos (almost 50 inches in diameter), in such a way that their painterly surfaces—encrusted with webs of floral and animal forms, ribbons, heraldic motifs, and, in some cases, vague remnants of text—become chunky frames circumscribing central voids. Where the Madonna and Child should be lies the vacuous gallery wall, and

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  • “Action/Performance And The Photograph”

    Jan Turner and Turner

    From the late ’50s to the present, performance-oriented body art has radically displayed and enacted the artist in/as the work itself. This excellent exhibition, organized by Craig Krull, explored the photographic documents that memorialize these performative acts. The hundred or so images ranged from the modest (Vito Acconci’s tiny vintage prints of himself rubbing his body against a sooty wall), to the pretentious (Hermann Nitsch’s gory color photographs of naked men covered with animal blood and hoisted up on crucifixes), to the understated sublime (Carolee Schneemann’s elegant grid of uncanny,

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