• “American Realities”

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Imagine a meagerly endowed center for curatorial studies, with a collection of ten works of art. Let them, for simplicity, be paintings, since we can easily think of these arrayed in a row. The center’s aspiring curators are to construct exhibitions using all ten works. How many such exhibitions can be formed? The daunting number of combinations is 3,628,800. Mounting one exhibition per day, it would take nearly a millennium to exhaust the combinatorial possibilities. If a single painting were added to that collection, the number of combinations would rise to nearly forty million.

    We might object

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  • Marcel Broodthaers

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    In 1964 the Belgian poet Marcel Broodthaers abruptly declared himself a visual artist, qualifying his career change with the celebrated provocation he issued on the occasion of his first one-person show: “I, too, wondered if I couldn't sell something and succeed in life. For quite a while I had been good for nothing. I am forty years old . . . The idea of inventing something insincere finally crossed my mind and I set to work at once.” In the scant twelve years before his death in 1976, Broodthaers’ “insincerity”—a precisely calibrated series of responses to the culture industry and its assimilation

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  • Alison Saar and Lezley Saar

    Phyllis Kind Gallery / David Beitzel Gallery

    It is by complete coincidence, I’m told, that Alison and Lezley Saar exhibited simultaneously in SoHo galleries a block apart this season. Their work turns out to have connections that might well have been noticed without their being sisters, most obviously a concern with the iconography and rituals of African-American religion and spirituality. Both latch onto old but still-vital traditions with roots in Africa to grapple with the modern world.

    This strategy is particularly clear in Alison Saar’s address of the culture of beauty. Her sculptures and drawings of female heads and figures all show

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  • Milton Resnick

    Robert Miller Gallery

    At first glance, the ten paintings in Milton Resnick’s recent exhibition might look dark, clotted, and vague. It was only in moving around and among them that they began to reveal their strenuous, suggestive, and delicate aspects. Each painting is titled Monument, and all but one feature tombstone-shaped objects hovering on the painted surface. (In the exception, a horizontal rectangle floats above a cloudier vertical one, suggesting a clumsy block-letter i.) These upright oblong forms are rounded at the top and are outlined in various ways, by huge globs of black paint or by more colorful

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  • Roger Selden

    Marisa Del Re Gallery

    Roger Selden’s exhibition was organized according to the sizes of the works. A series of nine vibrant smaller pictures (approximately 15 x 19 inches each) lining a wall near the entrance to the gallery introduced, in a lighthearted manner, the visual themes explored more seriously in the larger works. Each depicts an arrangement of variously sized triangles, rhomboids, circles, rectangles, and diamonds. These shapes, in turn, might be marked with others—stripes, dots, or small squares—that elaborate the works’ elementary patterns while evoking familiar objects such as hats, pitchers, and houses.

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  • Gillian Wearing

    Jay Gorney Modern Art

    “I’M DESPERATE,” proclaims a small, handwritten poster held up by a young man in a business suit. A woman with her face covered by bandages makes her way down a crowded London street, attracting the startled reactions of passersby. Two long-haired dudes play furious air guitar to a thrash-metal song. In these previous photographs and video works, Gillian Wearing has explored the flexible contours of “self”-expression and the ambivalent predicament of witnessing and recording it. In this, her first US solo show, she turned her quasi-documentary gaze upon young adolescents, who confess to her some

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  • Jacqueline Humphries

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    The “truncated gestures” of Jacqueline Humphries’ dot paintings of the early ‘90s, and even more the gravitational free fall of her more recent drip paintings, acknowledged the pleasures of foundering, the beauty of collapse. But now, with the big, strenuous, determined horizontal brushstrokes that characterize her new work, Humphries has discovered a poetics of resistance to this failure, an almost Victorian lyricism of effortful self-restraint. These paintings convey a massiveness and density greater even than what their considerable scale (6 or 7 1/2 feet square) would grant in itself, and

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  • Margaret Curtis


    Margaret Curtis may be one of the most energetic young painters around. Although she first came to many viewers’ notice in the 1994 “Bad Girls” show at the New Museum, her stock-in-trade has less to do with willful transgression than with sheer uncontainability. So it comes as no surprise that her works on paper are far from the casually rendered notational style that has become the lingua franca for so many artists today.

    The earlier drawings in her recent exhibition, from 1992 to 1994, had not yet attained the boisterousness of those since 1995. Technically, the latter are rendered with such

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  • Komar and Melamid

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    Masters of the telling displacement, Komar and Melamid recontextualize Soviet experience in other cultures, particularly in that of their adopted country, the United States. Their works often express the “unthinkable”: that despite their differences in economic conditions and their diametrically opposed state ideologies, the Soviet Union and the United States shared far more than they were willing to admit.

    In their exhibition “American Dreams,” Komar and Melamid examined the cult of personality around George Washington—whom the artists, progeny of Lenin and Stalin, refer to as “Stepfather George.”

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  • Raoul Hague

    Lennon, Weinberg, Inc.

    Raoul Hague, who died in 1993 at the grand age of ninety-three, was a major figure accorded only minor recognition. He deserves better: his sculptures, made of huge tree trunks, have the controlled (perhaps contrived) mixture of implosion and explosion of the best Abstract Expressionist work. What Franz Kline did in paint, Hague did in three dimensions: create a dramatic sense of immeasurable scale and primordial power in singular forms. His sculptures have the mythological grandeur of Reuben Nakian’s; they are like titanic torsos—stumps of giants, trapped and tortured in an underworld, yet

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  • Keith Milow

    Nohra Haime Gallery

    What’s in a name?, Keith Milow asks in a series of intensely painted abstractions. Incorporating the names of living and dead artists—brand-name artists, mostly—his paintings address not only art and language but memory; borrowing art-historical fame, they probe the nature of immortality and destiny.

    An assortment of notable artists has entered a starry seventh heaven in Etre, 1997. Their names—“De Kooning,” “Bonnard,” “Gilbert & George,” for example—are interspersed in a cosmic circle of Morse Code-like dashes, yet are themselves no more than lines of quixotically varying length. The suggestion

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  • Yukinori Yanagi

    Peter Blum Gallery

    Although officially abandoned in 1963, Alcatraz is still arguably the most famous prison in the United States. The island stronghold has become a cultural trope, a sign of hard-rock isolation and miraculous escape. For the Japanese artist Yukinori Yanagi, the site provided an at-times-unlikely platform for his personal investigations of nationality and migration—investigations conducted for the most part using the lowly ant as a medium.

    This exhibition presented three works originally installed on Alcatraz as part of Yanagi’s 1996 residency there, sponsored by Capp Street Project in San Francisco.

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  • Dana Hoey

    Friedrich Petzel Gallery

    Two young women stand at the water’s edge. The one in the foreground is still, out of shape, her shoulders hunched, her pallor accentuated by an unflattering black bathing suit. The tanned, muscular girl in the sleek red bikini, farther from the camera, has apparently just struck her. Though the title of Dana Hoey’s Bikini Brawl, 1995, may sound like a scene out of Baywatch gone berserk, the photographs in the artist’s solo debut put women’s interactions with one another on display in highly staged tableaux to address the construction of gender identity. In these sixteen 40 x 30-inch prints,

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  • Devon Dikeou


    Art about the art world is practically a genre unto itself, and a fairly limited one. We’ve seen paintings of art gallery advertisements, drawings of museum floor plans, bar graphs tabulating the output of famous Abstract Expressionists, and in Houston several years ago, a room full of large canvases with artists’ resumes silkscreened onto them, by a conceptualist named Mark Flood. Devon Dikeou’s recent installation, a series of signboards recording every group show she has participated in since 1991, resembled Flood’s, but had a formal obsessiveness that threatened to lift it out of this cozy

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  • Merce Cunningham

    Brooklyn Academy of Music

    Performance pioneer Oskar Schlemmer had a theory about what he called the stereometry of space, or “felt volume.” Using the concept to describe what it was like for a dancer to move through space, he held that the very slightest movements cause a chain reaction of shifting particles (or performers) throughout a given volume; an understanding of stereometry on the part of dancers should result in more strongly defined body shapes and visual pictures. Schlemmer’s trope might explain how Merce Cunningham’s dancers manage to animate the entire space of the stage. With his breathtaking Scenario,

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