reviews

  • Sol LeWitt

    PaceWildenstein 22

    “The straight line tells the truth,” Piet Mondrian wrote. Does that mean the curved line tells a lie? Sol LeWitt’s recent wall drawings, grand loops applied directly on the gallery’s walls, were meant to be transient—the works were painted over before the next show. But while they were there, they stunned the eye. Both works—Wall Drawing #879/Loopy Doopy (black and white), 1998, and Wall Drawing #880/Loopy Doopy (orange and green), 1998—are ironic reprises of Op art, the simple geometry of which has an affinity with LeWitt’s own earlier neo-Suprematist squares. His works are also

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  • Helmut Federle

    Peter Blum Gallery

    Exhibited alone in the main gallery space, as though it were the last remaining icon in a church that had been stripped of its sectarian identity, Helmut Federle’s monumental Panthera Nigra (Black Panther), 1997, represents the summa of the painter’s decade-long effort to renew his idea of the spiritual in art. “The sociological aspect of art does not interest me. It is very overestimated,” Federle wrote, in a diary entry of September 22,1987. “What counts is an art-immanent quality, which I would like to see as formal-philosophical religious. Of course this definition is inexact and inadequate.

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  • Chantal Akerman

    Sean Kelly Gallery

    Since the early ’70s, filmmaker Chantal Akerman has experimented with a blurring of cinematic hierarchies and an undulant, hypnotic approach to plot. The most recent exhibition (her first in a commercial gallery) combined video quotations from four films, including her celebrated portrait of an uncannily self-contained housewife/prostitute, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), and the subdued, atmospheric epic of contemporary Eastern Europe, D’Est (1993). A novella-length text titled A Family in Brussels, 1998, read by Akerman, functioned as an ambient voice-over. The

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  • Jane Kaplowitz/Dave Muller

    Curt Marcus Gallery

    An intercoastal conversation, Jane Kaplowitz’s and Dave Muller’s recent shows brought together one New York and one Los Angeles artist, both working in installation of a similar kind: painting directly on the wall, supplemented by works on paper. Furthermore, the New Yorker was looking at Hollywood (even if Martin Scorsese’s 1976 Taxi Driver, source of most of Kaplowitz’s images, is a New York movie in extremis) while the Los Angeleno often cited people and events in New York. This transcontinental back-and-forth must have seemed promising, particularly given the reputation of both artists for

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  • Cecily Brown

    Deitch Projects

    We’ve sometimes heard a de Kooning (or, for that matter, a Rubens) described as an orgy of paint. What Cecily Brown has done in “High Society,” her second exhibition, is to literalize this cliché. The works on view are not so much figurative paintings—depictions though they are, in fact, of orgies—as they are abstract expressionist ones. Her impulsive and energetic brushwork, full of figurative reminiscences as it often was in the hands of first-generation Abstract Expressionists who received traditional beaux-arts training, has been turned away from its nonobjective aim and back toward

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  • Ellen Carey

    Ricco / Maresca Gallery

    Abstraction in photography can be such an insipid affair. It happens when the photographer conceives of abstraction as an already existing thing—a subject that can be represented like a battle or a nude. Much rarer is the case, as in Ellen Carey’s new work, when abstraction represents a real disruption of the assumed link between photographic image and referent—in which an aporia is introduced that leads one to question just how what I am seeing relates to what it is I’m looking at.

    In these photographs, I know very well what I am seeing: unframed, irregularly cut sheets of photographic

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  • Rick Klauber

    Brenda Taylor Gallery

    Typical of the eight oil paintings in Rick Klauber’s exhibit “The Continuation,” Six Foot High, 1998, is built up of thousands of colored drips. One nears its speckles to experience their oddly chalky luster, only to step back so as not to lose sense of the overall painting. It’s difficult to decide whether these button-size drops were scattered randomly, or if their positions have been determined with care and purpose. Their relatively consistent round shape makes the work’s abstract surface feel more meditative than visceral, yet the dynamism of their apportioning seems as if it could only be

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  • Lisa Yuskavage

    Marianne Boesky Gallery

    If in the ’80s, standing in front of one of the Untitled Film Stills, you wondered what Cindy Sherman really looked like, today you might be pondering Lisa Yuskavage’s cup size. In a 1996 interview with Chuck Close, she teasingly described her cheesecake images of naked ladies: “The impulse toward self-portraiture runs through like work from the beginning all the way to the end.” Like many artists who are women, Yuskavage has been playing both the one looked at and the one doing the looking; now, like many women who aren’t artists, Yuskavage has distanced herself from critiques of the male gaze,

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  • “Conceptual Photography from the 60's and 70's”

    David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

    Although Conceptual art was largely an attack on the primacy of the visual, it often took photographic form. What this excellent, if uneven, exhibition of forty-eight works by seventeen artists suggested is that the field of Photoconceptualism included diverse rather than uniform strategies. Many of the pictures, though seemingly ad hoc, function as secondary documents of more transitory, often site-specific or performance work. Gordon Matta-Clark’s Splitting, 1974, and Etant D’Art pour locataire (Conical Intersect), 1975, for instance—both of which feature buildings “cut” by the artist

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  • Paul Henry Ramirez

    Caren Golden Fine Art

    Paul Henry Ramirez’s sexed-up, candy-colored confections are like a fantasy dreamed up by Willy Wonka and Joan Miró, carbonated with ’60s Pop. All loopy frivolity balanced with precision-tuned sensuality, the works in his most recent show, entitled “Real Pretty Simple Innocent Paintings,” are dominated by geometric blocks and bands of color, serving variously as stabilizers or launching pads for a giddy array of smaller elements. In each piece (all untitled, 1998), blobs, dots, and dots-within-dots in hot hues (magenta, orange, acid green, lemon yellow) and cool pastels (pale pink, baby blue)

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  • Garry Gross

    American Fine Arts

    Fashion photographer Garry Gross had the idea, back in the freewheeling ’70s, of doing an arty piece about “the woman within the child,” to capture the “flirtatiousness” and “coquettishness” he observed in little girls. He hired an exceptionally lovely Ford model, age ten, and, after obtaining a release from her mother, photographed the tyke nude in a bathtub, decked out in makeup and jewelry and adopting a variety of slinky poses. For all their supposed playfulness, the photographs had the trappings of a standard soft-core porn shoot—billowing steam, spritzing shower head, telephone by

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  • Richard Kalina

    Lennon, Weinberg, Inc.

    It’s hard to get past pleasure with Richard Kalina’s latest exhibition, the fifty-two-year-old artist’s first in nearly three years. His most recent paintings, made up of layers of material, possess a vibrant and wacky kind of beauty, like Miró or Matisse by way of Jefferson Airplane. Starting with an unprimed linen base, Kalina uses black-and-white copies of the early nineteenth-century botanical prints of Pierre-Joseph Redouté as an underlayer for the paintings. But he also uses the Redouté prints in cutouts that float on top, of the painting, adding depth and symbolism. These cutouts are in

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  • Ken Weaver

    6th @ Prince

    In “Knotts’ Landing,” Ken Weaver’s first one-person show, the artist’s suite of ten paintings staged a confrontation between two icons of popular culture: Don Knotts, the buffoonish, ectoplasmic sidekick of the television series The Andy Griffith Show, and UFOs. Part of what prevented this pairing from being merely smirky nod to The X-Files was an allegorical element (one that was revealed in the press release): to Weaver, the abducting UFO represents art-world spaces like the gallery and the museum, while Knotts is a stand-in for the artist-as-abductee. This iconology lends the images a comic

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