reviews

  • Robert Overby

    Jessica Fredericks Gallery

    The work of Robert Overby (1935–93) admits perhaps two overriding interpretations, distinct but not incompatible. On the one hand, his cast latex reliefs of architectural environments and fixtures belong to the history of the late-’60s/early-’70s experiments in antiform, process art, post-Minimalism, what have you. From the perspective of art history—or, more precisely, an art history of “movements”—it is precisely these works that constitute the salvageable core of the artist’s output. But the show at Jessica Frederick’s gave the impression that, in addition to the “good” process-art style of

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  • “Contemporary Art in Asia: Traditions/Tensions”

    Asia Society | New York

    Despite the growing presence of Asian artists here, Americans have been slow to focus on the explosive art scenes across the Pacific. The Asia Society’s unprecedented fall show, “Contemporary Art in Asia: Traditions/Tensions,” exposed the New York art community to these sites of artistic activity and the changing and turbulent cultures, economies, and nationalisms the work indexes and reflects. Cities such as Bangkok, Bombay, and Jakarta have spawned in a decade what it took Tokyo a century to develop: a cultural modernity that is autonomous with respect to Western modernism even as it encompasses

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  • Agnes Martin

    PaceWildenstein 22

    We don’t go to an Agnes Martin exhibition expecting surprise—although good art is always surprising, a source of stimulation rather than the placidity into which memory can sometimes flatten our recollection of work so apparently self—consistent as Martin’s. Eschewing dramatic changes in her approach to painting as much as dramatic conflict within any particular work, Martin depends for her surprises on the degree to which the effects of her paintings can vary within severe limits. On these grounds this was one of her finest exhibitions in some time. The work was even more concentrated and

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  • Rudolf Stingel

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    An expression of American mass-produced plenty and the lifestyle that goes with it, wall-to-wall carpeting indirectly serves grander, Modernist ideas about the rationalization of space, and, like other grand Modernist ideas, wall-to-wall seems to interest Rudolf Stingel. But, as displayed in his current installation, his interest in human interaction with architectural contexts, as well as in the affect of pure color and its reciprocal relationships with texture and scale, proposes a playful hybrid of formal purity and visual extremes, a Modernism on drugs.

    This version of Stingel’s signature

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  • Yasumara Morimura

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    Yasumasa Morimura began exhibiting his elaborately conceived self—portraits in ’80s Japan, but it wasn’t until the early ’90s that they were shown in the West, where he was immediately perceived as an Asian Cindy Sherman. In his most recent exhibition of big color photographs, Morimura dedicated himself to embodying a host of legendary actresses—Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, and Jodi Foster, among others. Like Sherman, Morimura dresses up for the camera, disguising himself beneath a veneer of familiar stereotypes, crossing the boundary between art and mass

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  • Paula Rego

    Marlborough Gallery | New York

    The point of departure for Paula Rego’s sardonic, allegorical pastel paintings, rendered in a realist style at once blunt and exquisite, is Walt Disney’s parody of classical ballet in Fantasia. In Disney’s send-up, ungainly ostriches dressed in black unself-consciously cavort and the graceful, high art of ballet becomes a grotesquerie. In her treatment, Rego changes the animal dancers back into women, without, however, restoring the artificial standards of beauty imposed by balletic ideals. While her subjects in Dancing Ostriches from Walt Disney’s Fantasia, 1995, seem closer to bears than birds,

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  • Sharon Lockhart

    Friedrich Petzel Gallery

    For Virginia Woolf, a moment was best understood by dissecting the particular elements that made it up, so that “the truth of it, the whole of it” might be composed. Just as Woolf sought out the small details of a scene—a lamp being lit or the hoot of an owl—to convey the singularity of an instant so, too, Sharon Lockhart dwells on the minutiae of the particular settings her figures inhabit. In one of the eight color photographs presented in her second New York solo show, a waiflike girl stands on a fuzzy gray rug, staring off into the distance, completely absorbed by whatever it is that has

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  • Patricia Cronin

    Wooster Gardens

    Beyond an artist’s intention, so much goes into any artwork that’s part of the time’s texture of attitudes, understanding, and knowledge, whether specialized or everyday, that it’s amazing posterity has any way in at all. They’re pointing at the baby Christ’s penis because—Who’d be an art historian? And should art history still exist as a discipline in a few hundred years, what will it make of Patricia Cronin’s horses?

    Paintings quite like Cronin’s portraits of ponies named Peppermint, Parfait Prince, Palatial Summer, and so forth, could well be made by a young apprentice using a paint-by-numbers

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  • “Terra Bomba”

    Exit Art

    Half peep show, half arcade, “Terra Bomba: The Land That Explodes,” the first part of an installation-and-performance program, comprised twenty-two works by young artists who performed live (simultaneously) within their constructed sites for four hours every Saturday afternoon. The queezily voyeuristic mood of the show recalled the clashes of bodies and gadgetry that were a frequent feature on the performance scene two decades back (e.g., in 1973 London’s Gallery Haus was transformed into a house of horrors by artists, including Stuart Brisley, who lay in a bathtub submerged in black muck; in

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  • Richard Serra

    Gagosian Gallery

    No two considerations have influenced—even literally determined—Richard Serra's sculptural career as much as the sheer physical exigencies of material weight and spatial measurement. In the face of the six forged—steel solids (weighing in at over 222 tons) that constitute his recent 58 x 64 x 70, 1996, viewers were unlikely to forget the former imposition; the simple facticity of the work's title would undoubtedly remind them of the latter.

    Each of the six nearly cubic blocks (as the title indicated, length, height, and width differed by only six inches) was literally identical, suggesting

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  • Jeff Nelson

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    Sculpture in the twentieth century has been perpetually threatened by those rival media that most directly make its claims to simultaneously engage aesthetic visuality and actual space outmoded: film and photography (in the realm of the image), architecture and industrial design (in the construction of space). In light of the general enthusiasm for reclaiming sculpture as the most “relevant” medium of artistic production today (in the work of any number of installation artists), it’s useful to recall the supposed atavism of the medium’s production processes, the bankruptcy of its traditional

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  • Martha Rosler

    Jay Gorney Modern Art

    In her recent exhibition, “Transitions and Digressions,” Martha Rosler embarked on a critical analysis of the links between ideology, economics, and politics. This show included color photographs of shop windows, a series of “road” photos taken with a toy panoramic camera, and a video, Chile on the Road to NAFTA, Accompanied by the National Police Band, 1997, which tracks, through a taxi’s window, the colonization of the Chilean landscape by the images of global capital.

    The “road” photographs, all taken in New York and New Jersey, belong to a series entitled “Rights of Passage,” 1994–96, taken

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  • Piotr Uklanski

    Gavin Brown's enterprise | 620 Greenwich Street

    Last November, Piotr Uklanski transformed Gavin Brown’s modest establishment into a simulated disco. With no apologies for his ’70s nostalgia trip, and with an economy of formal means, Uklanski created a backdrop just a few hustle-steps away from a set in Saturday Night Fever.

    Uklanski isn’t the only one looking to disco’s glory days. John Travolta has made a triumphant comeback; the Bee Gees were recently honored by the American Music Awards as “International Artists of the Year”; KC and the Sunshine Band’s “That’s The Way I Like It” has been transformed into a commercial jingle for Burger King;

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  • Bill Davenport

    Cristinerose

    In this recent exhibition Bill Davenport placed an assortment of small, quirky objects around the gallery—a tinfoil starfish, various readymade ephemera, needlepoints sporting motifs ranging from early Modernist to early Atari—with an extreme attention to detail. Occupying walls, floors, and custom-built shelves, the pieces enjoyed space and lighting worthy of a museum show, a treatment at odds with their cheerfully slipshod facture—wool needlepoints hanging unstretched and out-of-square, woodwork that would barely earn a “C” in shop class—and palette of bright, happy colors (especially pink,

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  • Darrel Ellis

    Art in General

    Photography had a profound impact on the art of Darrel Ellis. In this posthumous retrospective of over seventy of Ellis’ works in various media dating from 1979 to 1992, it is the manipulated photographs and their translations into paint and ink that are most compelling.

    Ellis’ relationship to photography was always ambivalent, even agonistic. He was photographed by both Robert Mapplethorpe and Peter Hujar, and his often reproduced Self-Portrait After Robert Mapplethorpe Photograph, 1989, is obviously an attempt to recover his own likeness, to take it back through his hands as he painted. Ellis

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