reviews

  • Terry Winters

    Sonnabend Gallery

    If drawing is understood as an unconsciously directed pattern of lines that eventually resolves into an evocative, peculiarly organic image, then Terry Winters is one of the masters of the medium. His drawings convey a sense of emotional conviction, even if the emotion cannot be named, and even if the nature of the organic object represented cannot be specified; this ineffability only adds to the work’s mystery.

    The overgrown terrain of works such as the ecstatically bright Potential Surface of Density, 1995, suggests a rapidly mutating mass of enigmatic feeling. For Winters, it is as if density

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  • Josef Albers

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

    Josef Albers’ photographs and his early work with glass suggest that his career might have taken another, perhaps more frutitful, turn had he not abandoned both media in favor of a somewhat didactic investigation of abstract painting. It was not only Germany that Albers left behind when he fled the Nazis and came to America. A glass master of the Bauhaus, he gave up the great potential and innovative expressivity of the medium to concentrate on painting, producing a body of work that was less than inspired and, in the end, had only a minor influence on Minimalist painting and hard-edged abstraction.

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  • Günther Förg

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    Günther Förg’s photos of Moscow are very, very beautiful. This comes as no surprise vis-à-vis Förg, but is really quite astonishing vis-à-vis Moscow. In a sort of frieze comprising 31 large black and white prints, Förg represents some of the great buildings constructed in that city during the idealist ’20s and ’30s. We’ve seen many tributes to the great utopia since the decay of the Soviet state liberated us to speak of this work with admiration, and without anxiety about its political implications, but fortunately this show moves beyond that paradigm.

    The rather illiterate press release states

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  • “Pierced Hearts and True Love”

    Drawing Center

    “Pierced Hearts and True Love: A Century of Drawings for Tattoos” is a sprawling show with over a century’s worth of work from more than 80 artists, including flash (readymade tattoo images), advertising, some portraits, some actual vintage-and modern-tattoo machines, a gorgeously produced catalog with essays by three PhDs (Mark Taylor, Margo DeMello, Alan B. Govenar) and two tattooists (Don Ed Hardy, Michael McCabe). Here, there are none of the clichés endemic to shows centered on tattooing: no photos of anyone with tattoos, no portraits of anyone getting tattoos, no lame/smug captions about

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  • Paul Pagk

    CRG Gallery

    Paul Pagk knows the truth; you can follow the lines on his canvases straight (more or less) to the heart of it. You know the truth, too, even if you try to forget every now and again. The truth is that the Institution permeates our existence so completely that it is all but invisible, so completely that we hardly notice it at all anymore. Like air, like water—there are alternatives, but none of them are very practical, at least not for now. So, wherever we look, we invariably find that the institution is already there, waiting for us, arms outstretched.

    Which is not to say that any of this is

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  • Jim Dow

    Janet Borden, Inc.

    What taxonomical photography has in common with lepidopterology, poisonfrog collecting, and train spotting is that it, too, can be a means of nurturing an idiosyncratic obsession. It combines the scientism of typological investigation with the more or less obvious charm of an eccentric interest cultivated over time.

    Jim Dow’s recent photographic series of British storefronts, “Corner Shops of Britain,” 1983–93, offers a glimpse into this kind of obsession nurtured over a decade. Forty 8-by-10 color contact prints depict the façades of family-run businesses, once keystones in the social and

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  • Jimmy De Sana

    Pat Hearn Gallery

    Jimmy De Sana delineated his love of objects and the exemplary lie of photography in an interview with Diego Cortez in 1986: “A photograph is how much you want to lie, how far you want to stretch the truth about the object. And, as photography is always based on real objects, it lends itself, by means of technique or manipulation, to explorations of what may appear to be an absence of reality, balancing on an ambiguous line between concrete and abstract space, between reality and illusion, in a way that no other medium is able to do.” De Sana’s career began as it ended—in the exploration of

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  • “The Moderns”

    Feature Inc.

    A perplexing, disconcerting, very pretty thing is the body, and I have been trying to think about bodily beauty as a form of intelligence. The truism about beautiful men and women not being very smart is only interesting as comedy; if thinking through the body is to have any finesse, then those for whom the body is their constant inquiry deserve recognition for the cognitive skill of their dazzling flesh. A taut bod in bed is a kind of thinking. Skin is, muscle remembers, and there is no certainty. If you see someone like Travis in Markus Morianz’s photo, travis, 1995, start with, What’s it like

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  • Paul Myoda

    Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

    In Paul Myoda’s recent show, gawky, faux-rock sculptures snaked along the walls or dangled from the ceiling; one, with gaping maw, remained rooted to the floor. Cast in Styrofoam and gypsum resin with artificial stone aggregate, these varied creatures presented polymorphous, loosely modeled surfaces, which in the sculptural tradition typically signal a susceptibility to forces beyond individual control. But Myoda’s works could not be further from overwrought Hellenistic figures or Rodin’s fallen heroes; in fact, they look more like props for a Godzilla flick. In their incarnation as Claymations,

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  • Sam Samore

    Thomas Nordanstad Gallery

    Fashion magazines are notorious breeding grounds for fantasy, often of the erotic sort. While it’s unclear whether Sam Samore hopes to evoke this kind of eroticism in his recent series of photographs, this much seems certain: he digs female models. Though Samore’s horizontally oriented series of large black and white prints is entitled “Allegories of Beauty (Incomplete),” 1995, it is difficult to locate anything here beyond the run-of-the-mill permutations of beauty that can be found in any glossy. Perhaps this is the point: maybe Samore just wants to make art that looks and acts like fashion

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  • Kerry James Marshall

    Jack Shainman Gallery | West 20th Street

    By synthesizing Leon Golub’s monumentality—the mythic quality he finds even in the basest and most brutal reality—with Robert Colescott’s raucous, satirical/parodic image-crunching, Kerry James Marshall is still developing a style that, while perhaps less personal (or at least less obviously idiosyncratic) than either of theirs, promises a greater range and flexibility. In their efforts to retain painting’s grasp on historical subjects, Golub and Colescott sometimes seem like isolated figures—younger artists have been engaging history less convincingly in painting than in other media—but Marshall’s

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  • Sidney Goodman

    Terry Dintenfass Gallery

    There is, of course, no such thing as realism. As Donald Kuspit recently pointed out, the hyperprecision of a painter like Philip Pearlstein is actually rooted in a fascination with abstract, reified surfaces. By contrast, Sidney Goodman’s notion of the real has less to do with verisimilitude than with the intensity of dreams; his work looks back, through aspects of Surrealism, to the eccentric fin-de-siècle visions of artists such as Odilon Redon.

    Like many of the Symbolists, Goodman is more consistently effective on paper than on canvas; his paintings, though ambitious, are sometimes overly

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  • Elliott Puckette

    Kasmin Gallery | 297 Tenth Avenue

    Wood panels covered in a sparse tracery of calligraphic lines, Elliott Puckette’s works are ethereal. Her latest efforts are named for great winds, Sirocco, 1995, and Harmattan, 1995, while in another work, Hala, 1994, the thin white lines that cling to empty space echo the surface roots of the eponymous Hawaiian tree. Throughout these paintings, darkened grounds appear to have been scrubbed over gesso with a soft cloth or brush. Light soaks back through translucent veils of ink, creating an effect similar to the glint of pale stones from the bottom of a pool at night. This serenity, which can

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  • Win Knowlton

    Bill Maynes Gallery

    Since his second solo show featuring witty, Giacometti-esque floor pieces and fetishes (part of MoMA’s “Projects” series), Win Knowlton has played off the work of disparate artists—including Isamu Noguchi, David Smith, Eva Hesse, and Richard Serra—almost as if he were betting against the odds that he could keep up something distinctively “Knowlton” in his work. What can’t be shaken off turns out to be a quiet sense of humor: upending and fudging homages, Knowlton’s work seems to chuckle as much at its self-imposed game of catch-up as at the bad joke that the numbingly wide range of esthetic

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  • Hunt Slonem

    Lannon Gallery

    Characterized by a luscious handling of oils, Hunt Slonem’s recent paintings depict the exotic birds that he collects and that share his downtown studio. The paintings are at once abstract and representational: the multiple grids recall the bars of the bird cages; and the birds themselves are simultaneously recognizable forms and moments of pure color. Slonem creates rich, luminous compositions that are not only a source of visual pleasure, but also reflect his long-standing preoccupation with the natural world as a site of spiritual transcendence.

    Each element of Slonem’s work—the interlocking

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  • Martha Clarke

    Lincoln Center

    In the ’80s, Martha Clarke, who began her career as a choreographer and founder of the group Pilobolus, stepped from the dance scene into the art world. Though the highly visual quality of her work seemed to justify moving into an art/performance context, this shift turned out to be a mistake. By abandoning inventive choreography for high-gloss imagery, Clarke has nurtured one talent at the expense of another. Had she kept her dancers dancing rather than walking and posing against fantastic backdrops, works such as Vienna Lusthaus (Vienna whorehouse, 1986) or Miracolo d’Amore (The miracle of

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