• Ronald Bladen

    P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

    RONALD BLADEN IS TODAY A SOMEWHAT OBSCURE figure. This was not always so. His Three Elements, 1965, identical rhomboids perched at a 65-degree angle, was a standout in the Jewish Museum’s landmark “Primary Structures” in 1966, vying for attention with Donald Judd’s static cubes and Robert Morris’s L-Beams (it was Bladen’s work in fact that dominated the coverage in the New York Times and Life). Another sculpture, the extraordinary X, 1967, headlined the Corcoran Gallery’s 1968 “Scale as Content” exhibition. For a few brief years, Bladen was a player in the fiercely competitive Minimal arena.

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  • Robert Ryman

    Pace Wildenstein

    It’s clearly been a productive year for Robert Ryman; his recent show featured as many as thirty-five paintings, all but a few from 1998. It’s true that the paintings are small, mostly under two feet square (and none more than three), but they are no less exacting for that. Quite the opposite, even. At the same time, there is more composition in these paintings than one typically associates with Ryman. Most often a large area of more or less loose, more or less tight, but evenly weighted brushstrokes is surrounded or interrupted by passages of unpainted canvas (linen, cotton, fiberboard), so

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  • Malcolm Morley

    Sperone Westwater

    Like a rock icon who neglected to die young or burn out, Malcolm Morley has to put up with critics interested in nothing but his “early stuff,” whether it’s his ’60s-era superrealist hits or his expressionist work from the ’70s. His exhibition of recent paintings reveals the artist glancing over his shoulder as well, but in unanticipated ways.

    Good digestion is the key to successful borrowing, and in these paintings, Morley mixes the peculiarly British genre of maritime painting with quotations from artistsas far-ranging as Malevich, Rousseau, and Picasso, washing it all down with imagery from

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  • Lewis Hine

    Brooklyn Museum

    Artists in this culture have always had a rocky relationship with work. Their own often goes unrecognized as such, and they tend to idealize or ignore the kind of work other people do. So for pictures of labor, we rely largely on photographers who may or may not consider themselves artists; among them, Lewis Hine stands out. Curator Barbara Head Millstein has assembled an important exhibition of photographs from the last decade of his career (the vast majority are dated circa 1930s). We all know Hine’s powerful critique of child labor; these images picture adults with much greater ambivalence.

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  • Walter Niedermayr

    Robert Miller Gallery

    Walter Niedermayr’s photographs of the Dolomite Mountains in Italy have been widely shown throughout Europe, but it wasn’t until this year that the Italian artist had his first solo exhibition in the US. It consisted of images recently shot at ski resorts in the French and Italian Alps—a region subjected to a chain of deadly avalanches just a couple of weeks after the show opened. The disasters were called a freak of nature, but having seen this show, it was tempting to view them more as a cosmic warning.

    Niedermayr’s work registers the costs of modern tourism, reining in irony and absurdity in

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  • Jean-Marc Bustamante

    Matthew Marks Gallery

    Scheduling Jean-Marc Bustamante’s exhibition to open at almost the precise moment the MOMA Pollock retrospective was closing was good timing. Bustamante, a Frenchman born in 1952, is just old enough to have felt the oppressive weight of postwar, particularly American, abstract painting in Europe, the legacy of which is an apparent subtext of his new “Panorama” series (all works 1999). At first, the title of the show, “A Wall with a View,” seemed ironic. The presentation resembled a conventional exhibition of abstract paintings, in marked contrast to the engagement with the gallery architecture

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  • Dennis Adams

    Kent Gallery

    Over the past two decades, Dennis Adams has produced site-specific work, often in highly visible locations such as bus stops, that focuses on the phenomenon of collective amnesia in the late twentieth century. From the “transformations” of Patricia Hearst to the trial of Klaus Barbie, from the demagoguery of Joseph McCarthy to the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Adams has singled out controversial figures and events from our not-too-distant past that, if buried underneath layers of silence, still carry an explosive charge.

    For his 1998 video installation, Outtake (first shown in Bremen,

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  • Karen Kilimnik

    303 Gallery

    Karen Kilimnik came to painting via the scatter installations she made ten years ago. Though these occasionally included paintings, they were never more prominent than the ornaments with which they were festooned. Before you knew it, scatter art was dead, and Kilimnik became known as a painter, discussed in the same breath as Elizabeth Peyton, Rita Ackermann, John Currin, and Sean Landers under the rubric of “slacker art”—which turned out to more aptly name a moment than a movement. Peyton et al. survived the misnomer; their work matured, and they’re all—Kilimnik included—well on their way

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  • Melissa Gwyn

    Richard L. Feigen & Co

    Melissa Gwyn’s paintings look like enlarged slides of microscopic organisms whose apparent bloblike simplicity is belied, under closer scrutiny, by their teeming busyness. With titles invoking the body and its peculiar materiality and images suggesting growth, disease, and regeneration, Gwyn reveals the thin membrane separating the beautiful from the abject.

    Gwyn began most of the six works that comprised her recent exhibition by pouring oil paint on horizontal wood panels. The paint formed puddles, which she manipulated by pushing the paint and tipping the panel. After the paintings began to

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  • Manuel Neri

    Charles Cowles Gallery

    Manuel Neri has been making painted sculptures of the standing female figure for some time, and in his recent show, these figures were more majestic and monumental than ever. Whether executed in bronze, marble, or plaster, they seem to exist in an abstract space of their own, an effect highlighted by the walls out of which several of them emerge. Sometimes Neri paints figures directly on the wall which, as either canvas or backdrop for his sculpted goddesses, becomes an attenuated version of the shell that protected Aphrodite after her birth from the sea. The watery realm itself is evoked in

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  • Miranda Lichtenstein

    Steffany Martz

    When I was eight I would sometimes slip on the Batman suit my mother had made me, steal out into the suburban night, and spy on friends through the windows of their houses. The feeling this gave me was complex: potent detachment from that dull, well-lit life, as well as a longing to be back inside, eating ice cream in the glow of the TV. Looking at Miranda Lichtenstein’s “Danbury Road,” a series of large-scale night photographs of mostly upscale suburban Connecticut dwellings, reminded me of those Bat forays. Lichtenstein’s isolate dream houses elicit an adult version of that same conflicted

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  • Fred Otnes

    Reece Galleries

    Fred Otnes’s intricate collage-paintings typically comprise fragments of reproductions of old-master portraits, plans describing ancient temples or Renaissance palaces, handwritten letters and anatomical illustrations, and pages of old books in Latin, Middle German, or English. In this, his fifth New York show (all works 1998), it is clear that the artist seems to share with Joseph Cornell a fascination for metaphysical symbols, including geometrical figures and diagrams, letters of the alphabet, spheres, circles, wheels, and measuring devices. These items are usually arranged in the shape of

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  • Luther Price

    Thread Waxing Space

    In 1989, over two decades after Kenneth Anger published his own death notice in The Village Voice, Boston sculptor and filmmaker Luther Price staged the suicide-by-candy-overdose of his artistic persona Tom Rhoads, paving the way for a similar creative rebirth. Reflecting many such shifts in a multifaceted career (whose resemblance to Anger’s extends beyond a tendency toward extravagant gestures to an inspired use of mass culture references), Price’s recent show, “Imitation of Life,” contained photographs, objects, videos, and a number of the Super-8 films he began crafting in the mid-’80s after

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