reviews

  • Focus: Alighiero e Boetti and Frédéric Bruly Bouabré

    Dia Center for the Arts

    Ideas divide us. Images bring us together.

    —Francesco Clemente, Apricots and Pomegranates, 1995

    The late Alighiero e Boetti, from Turin, Italy, and Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, from the village of Zéprégühe, Ivory Coast, reveal in their art our true condition: total capture by the communication process, whether intra personal or technologically mediated. But they also intimate the inner possibilities and activities of mind. They passionately catalogue. They vehemently classify: names, alphabets, series. They chart rivers and stars. They record numerals and faces. They do this to give things meaning,

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  • Tatsuo Miyajima

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    In its descent from science to popular culture, chaos theory has not fared particularly well. Coopted by a rave generation who like their ecstasy served on a bed of fractals, chaos has, for the vast majority, been virtually reduced to this graphic leitmotif. Greeted at first with wide-eyed wonder, fractal images now grab our attention with the force of someone else’s baby pictures. While the fractal-generating crowd aggresively promote their fuzzy paisleys as if they themselves had discovered DNA, the nontechno literati make do by rehearsing half-baked theories usually focused on the incredible

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  • Isamu Noguchi

    PaceWildenstein 22

    The brilliance of Isamu Noguchi’s stone sculptures stems from his empathy with the material. As in the story of the Zen butcher, Noguchi splits his stones along their natural fractures. Beginnings, 1985, is a random placement of five stones that reflects the Japanese concept of a stone garden: the paradoxical transformation of stone into a growing, living thing—the ultimate reparative illusion and miracle. The boundary between the inorganic and the organic blurs, suggesting that no such division exists in nature, only in our minds—that in fact there is only a continuum of matter. One might say

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  • Ellsworth Kelly

    Matthew Marks Gallery

    Unexpectedly, the you-are-in-the-artist’s-inner-sanctum photograph announcing Ellsworth Kelly’s show of recent paintings proved to be a revelation. Surrounded by an aura of splatters, a smooth geometrical shape of uniform color leaped our from the wall, radiant in the bright light of the studio. I spontaneously (absurdly?) read the splatters as signs of expression and hard work, all of which had been eliminated—left on the wall as so much waste matter, a muck of chance gestures.

    Until I saw this photograph, I thought of Kelly as a machine for producing customized painting parts. I regarded his

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  • Marco Gastini

    Marco Gastini’s works reflect the kind of fascination with nontraditional materials that has become synonymous with arte povera—the Italian art of his generation. Such a statement is meaningless, however, unless the question of why those materials became signifiers for an entire generation is considered. In contrast to postwar American artists who constructed a language of freedom through an innovative use of traditional materials, many Italian artists—both those who were part of arte povera and those more indirectly influenced by it—adopted “poor” materials in order to free themselves from the

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  • Richard Artschwager

    Mary Boone Gallery | Chelsea

    I’m sorry I no longer have my Richard Artschwager multiple, but I’m glad I still have the crate it came in. It’s a beautiful piece of work; I remember how, when I first opened it, its screws seemed to levitate with almost uncanny smoothness, to glide upward at the merest touch of a screwdriver.

    Apparently Artschwager too has noticed the esthetic satisfactions of a well-made crate: that’s the guise assumed by his latest sculpture—21 untitled works from 1994. The crowded installation transformed the gallery into a sort of ultrarefined warehouse. But these were not the simple rectangular shapes of

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  • Matthew Antezzo

    Basilico Fine Arts

    Matthew Antezzo’s work is not so much conceptual as high-concept: his grisaille paintings are based on photographs of ephemeral manifestations of early-’70s art copied from back issues of Artforum and other magazines. Beneath each image, on a separate predella-style canvas, he paints the caption. Some of the works are famous, others forgotten. Where is Maggie Lowe now? (Antezzo’s Maggie Lowe, Explosion: Hostess Twinkies and Explosive, 1971, certifies her as a “bad girl” avant la lettre.) Antezzo sets himself up as this decade’s answer to Simon Linke. Whereas, in the ’80s, Linke painted contemporary

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  • Betsy Kaufman

    Patrick Gallery

    Contrapuntally active, even a bit jumpy, rather than contemplative, Betsy Kaufman’s new paintings are wonderfully adept at coaxing color into revealing its ways and means. Most of them take off from a basic grid structure, but one that is deployed differently on each occasion, with unexpected syncopations counteracting any simple regularity. The complex interrelations of brightness and hue among contiguous blocks of uninflected color in Sugar St., 1994, produce a spatial illusionism that suggests a blown-up, digitalized photograph, for instance, whereas the brushy and somewhat more translucent

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  • Carl Ostendarp

    Jay Gorney Modern Art

    With his unapologetically dumb Miracle Whip–Modernism paintings of the late ’80s, Carl Ostendarp achieved a welcome levity. Rudely digesting the delicate chromatic resonances of Color Field painting, Ostendarp spun out something resembling a mutant meringue flattened into the basic shape of a canvas. Imagine a debased Robert Ryman, smothered with ridiculous excesses of lather, and you’ve got the basic picture. Recently, however, evidence of a more sober method has surfaced: an increased emphasis on a more delicate manipulation of materials, and a stricter regulation of tonal range. In other

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  • Collier Schorr

    303 Gallery

    I guess sometimes it’s impossible to tell. Walking down the street, I would never mistake myself for a woman, though others have, and mistakes happen every time I pick up the phone to talk to someone who doesn’t know or expect me. Those who know the “me” register never mistake me for some other me, but not-myself-today vertigo is a commonplace of certain daily lives. Collier Schorr knows this vertigo. She investigates how easily all bodies are mistaken, shifting, and this shift may be their perfection—the dawn and dusk of (gender, sexuality?) what makes them desired.

    “Night and Day,” 1994, a

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  • Maureen Connor

    Alternative Museum / P.P.O.W.

    With this survey of Maureen Connor’s sculpture comes a shift in the discussion generated by artists such as Janine Antoni, Patti Martori, and Rachel Whiteread, all of whom can be said to have used Minimalist strategies and esthetics to feminist ends. In “Discreet Objects,” curated by Andrew Perchuk at the Alternative Museum, it became apparent that though Connor may have begun her career in dialogue with Minimalist sculpture, she was always more concerned with examining cultural paradigms of femininity than with formal issues.

    The show included works from the ’70s in one gallery and more recent

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  • Adolph de Meyer

    International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)

    Adolph de Meyer is largely remembered as a pictorialist photographer. He was a close friend of Gertrude Kasebier, and Alfred Stieglitz not only showed his work at the Photo-Secession Galleries in New York but also devoted two entire issues of Camera Work to his pictures. However, with the incredible ascendancy of fashion in recent times—we now have supermodels, though not superartists or superwriters—it should come as no surprise that this exhibition of de Meyer’s photography makes a convincing, intelligent argument for reevaluating the commercial work that he produced for magazines such as

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  • Daniel Rothbart

    Lee Arthur Studio

    Sculptor Daniel Rothbart is the author of a short book in which he traces the influence of Jewish metaphysics on the work of (among others) Barnett Newman, Morris Louis, Mark Rothko, and Sol LeWitt. This gives an indication of the seriousness of his concerns and the originality of his outlook. His work is untimely in the best sense, infused with nostalgia for an age (part historical, part mythical) when utilitarian objects were not just finely made but had a sacred aura.

    Rothbart’s first New York show consisted of 14 gold-patinated bronze sculptures that resembled seed pods, shells, chalices,

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  • Nancy Azara

    E.M. Donahue / A.I.R. Gallery

    Part of the first wave of artists that began to explore feminist issues in earnest, Nancy Azara creates sculptures, from wood and found objects, that simultaneously evoke a mythical, pre-Christian era in an attempt to posit a collective feminine identity. Reflecting a kind of feminism that now seems quaint, if not simplistic, Azara’s project challenges patriarchal Western paradigms through the archetypal, Jungian-based notion of the goddess.

    Two galleries featured Azara’s monumental “altars”: freestanding constructions fashioned of hand-carved wood, painted and covered with weathered gold leaf.

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  • Mary Beth Edelson

    Creative Time

    For three months, a blazing pink banner that read “COMBAT ZONE: Campaign HQ Against Domestic Violence” hung across the facade of a SoHo storefront. With its two independent entryways, one opening onto Broadway’s array of cut-rate kitchenware, shoe, and electronic warehouses and the other onto SoHo, COMBAT ZONE straddled the worlds of the art-viewing elite and the everyday pedestrian.

    Conceived and coordinated by artist Mary Beth Edelson, the multimedia installation was a reaction to what the artist considered the public apathy surrounding the Lorena Bobbitt case. Edelson felt that the media

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  • Jane Comfort

    Joyce Theater

    Jane Comfort’s dance extravaganza, S/He, 1994, shows us what the latest gender wars actually look like when danced and set to music. Every movement is a loaded example of how men and women inhabit space—do they simper or strut, cross their legs or spread them—which raises the age-old nature/nurture question to the point that you want to spend time in front of a mirror, weeding out your own politically incorrect gestures. Take the way you prop your chin on your hand, as though staring dreamily our the window without a care in the world—that’s not natural, it’s just another white woman’s pose. Or

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