• John McLaughlin

    Pace Wildenstein

    For far too long, John McLaughlin’s superbly austere paintings have been reduced by being contextualized within the narrow frame of Asian art history, particularly fifteenth-century Japanese brush painting. Favoring only one part of McLaughlin’s biography—his passion far all things Eastern, from his love of Asian antiquities, which for part of his professional life he dealt, to the several years he spent in Japan and his fluency in Japanese—disregards most of his work’s radical innovations by exoticizing them. While that tradition certainly played a formative role in the development of his severe

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  • Mike Kelley

    Metro Pictures

    Mike Kelley’s most ambitious recent work was The Poetics Project, his sprawling collaboration last summer with Tony Oursler. Exhibited in different form in various venues, this mixed-media extravaganza had to be broken up into separate galleries in New York to contain the Conceptual art spillage. Not good. Purportedly an “excavation” of their student years at CalArts, where they took up the spirit of do-whatever-the-fuck-you-want-and-make-art-while-you’re-at-it, The Poetics Project felt massively indulgent. For all the video and audio static that filled the galleries—not to mention more

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  • “Another Girl, Another Planet”

    Lawrence Rubin Greenberg van Doren

    Girls, girls, girls! The “it” show this spring was unquestionably “Another Girl, Another Planet,” which assembled the work of thirteen young photographers from several countries, all but one of them women, taking pictures of women and girls. Enough press accumulated around the show to generate speculation as to its meaning, not to mention a bit of a backlash. Complainers smelled a fix, masterminded by cocurator Gregory Crewdson, who taught six of the artists at Yale. This is nothing new—recall the plethora of (largely male) students of John Baldessari and Mike Kelley flooding the art world

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  • “Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s–1980s”

    Queens Museum

    “Global Conceptualism” made two claims. It suggested that Conceptualism—the visual presentation of a linguistic idea—was an international phenomenon and that its emergence was inextricable from the leftist, postcolonial politics of the ’60s and ’70s. Both arguments implied a critique of previous formulations. First, the show pointed up the Western bias of such important earlier surveys as the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris’s “L’art conceptuel, une perspective” (1989) and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Reconsidering the Object of Art, 1965–1975” (1995). Second,

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  • Peter Halley

    Grant Selwyn Fine Art

    Recently a friend of mine showed me the tiny silvery chip he’d pulled out of his brand new Ericsson cell phone. He had purchased it in New York, and although it was alleged to have global reach, for some reason it didn’t work in Europe. The delicate little object—expensive, futuristic—reminded me of something, but I couldn’t figure out what, until I opened the envelope of Peter Halley transparencies I’d picked up after viewing his recent paintings in New York. Seen in the spacious Manhattan gallery, Halley’s new works pack quite a visual punch; reduced to a few inches and carried across

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  • Karin Davie

    Marianne Boesky Gallery / Mary Boone Gallery

    Over the years Karin Davie has done several variations on stripe painting, but now (in paintings at the Marianne Boesky Gallery, works on paper at Mary Boone) she seems to be putting that well-worn modernist trope through what geologists call a metamorphism—the kind of deformation that occurs under the effect of extreme heat or pressure. The vertiginously looping bands of color in these paintings almost give the illusion of having been formed by compression. Works like Under and Gush (all 1999), which are horizontal in format and comprise horizontal loops, somehow evoke paintings of vertical

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  • Adam Ross

    Caren Golden Fine Art

    Among my adolescent souvenirs float vague recollections of science-fiction stories in which some stranded space traveler happens on a vast, beautiful city that, void of all inhabitants, somehow continues to run with perfect mechanical efficiency long after the disappearance of its builders. These fantasies, which were obviously connected to the threat of nuclear annihilation that hung over cold-war America, transformed the chilly irony of a humanity whose creations might be more powerful than itself into what I later learned to recognize as an idea of the sublime, that painfully pleasurable

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  • Fiona Rae

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    Ask not for whom the bell tolls. Clement Greenberg got it right when he took extreme value contrast as a sign of anxiety about illusionistic space in painting (criticizing, Franz Kline’s black-and-whites for being retrograde, championing the even glow of Barnett Newman). British artist Fiona Rae’s new “black” paintings update the maxim, presenting a parody of depth that is the flip side of the recently returned allover, color-saturated abstraction.

    All eight of the large canvases contrast a flat black ground with brightly colored Richter-like scrapings and brushings, as well as two-tone rectangles,

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  • Sean Landers

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Sean Landers makes art about the changeable fortunes of the artist’s life and oh! the Agony and the Irony. He can’t decide whether everyone hates him because he’s so avant-garde, à la van Gogh, or because he’s so popular, like Norman Rockwell. But Landers is more passé than réfusé at this point in his career, and his shtick hasn’t kept up. His sour meditations on success don’t grab like his earlier smirking but naked monologues on failure.

    In these oil paintings (you’re meant to smell the authenticity) Landers sets cartoony hydra-headed dogs (Multi-Headed Mister, 1999) and breast-faced buds (The

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  • Sean Scully

    Galerie Lelong/Danese

    Sean Scully’s concurrent shows proved that abstraction is not dead. The work on view was neither reprise nor parody but the carrying forward of those abstract staples of modernism—geometry and gesture—to new aesthetic heights. At Galerie Lelong, the artist presented two contrasting series (all works 1998), the four large canvases that make up his “Walls of Light,” along with 40 examples of his unusual “Floating Paintings,” which project from the wall perpendicularly rather than resting flat against it. At Danese, Scully exhibited five medium-size paintings displaying formal similarities to the

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  • Klaus Hartmann

    Nicole Klagsbrun

    Near the entrance to Klaus Hartmann’s first solo New York exhibition was a large digital print of a somewhat desolate barnlike structure out of which grew a narrow, three-story square tower topped by a small observation deck. With its surreal appendage, oversize doors, and stucco-covered brick facade, the building appears to be some bizarre yet strangely familiar modern architectural hybrid. (In fact, the edifice is an old firehouse in East Germany.) This blend of the alienating with the nostalgic was a perfect introduction to Hartmann’s show, which brought together a peculiar range of aesthetics

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  • Joe Scanlan

    Joe Scanlan’s exhibit “Invention” dealt with the act of consumption—not only getting and spending but their secret partners, compulsion and decay. The artist has long been interested in design and fabrication, but here he went beyond such production-end concerns to the crux of the issue: what “making” does to “wanting.” Scanlan has an admirable command of how material substance shapes immaterial sense, how matter molds essence. His “Invention” put things like flowers, snowflakes, tears—even our own faces in the mirror—up for sale in a beautifully crafted boutique of the faux ephemeral.


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  • Joyce Kozloff

    DC Moore Gallery

    A map is a practical tool, but it is also a picture, and an inescapably romantic one. For it always intimates both travel to places one might visit and imaginings about places one has never been, all evoked through visual contours and through names in every language of the globe, living as well as forgotten. Make the map antique and the fantasy intensifies: On the one hand, all the hard information is out-of-date and useless; on the other, the map becomes an image not just of a landscape but of a way of seeing, a trace of a former, now inaccessible understanding of the world’s shape.


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  • Adam Cvijanovic

    Richard Anderson Fine Arts

    Adam Cvijanovic’s Monument Valley, 1999, is a full-gallery installation, a floor-to-ceiling, seventy-six-and-a-half-foot-long landscape painting spanning four walls, ostensibly portraying the desert terrain where Arizona meets Utah, a region familiar to anyone who has ever watched a Hollywood Western. This handpainted rendition of an exterior region meant to be experienced as interior art recalls the popular cycloramas of the nineteenth century, which afforded spectators three-hundred-and-sixty-degree painted vistas of a given landscape. But unlike a typical panorama, there is no seamless

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  • Mary Kelly


    Mary Kelly’s Mea Culpa, 1999, gave the initial impression of being one long, thin gray banner extending entirely around the perimeter of the vast front gallery. In fact, like a film strip that breaks down into shorter segments, the work comprises four separate panels, one for each wall of the exhibition space. Each part is further divided into four sections and displays, against a white matte background, sixteen to twenty swags of light gray material. Uniformly shaped but tonally variegated, the draped material seems soft and ephemeral, like clouds seen through the window of an airplane. The

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  • Patty Chang

    Jack Tilton Gallery

    Since graduating from the University of California at San Diego in 1994, Patty Chang has been a regular on New York’s performance circuit, plying her distinctive brand of ’60s-style body art meets ’90s riot-grrrl feminism in such venues as P.S. 122 and the Clit Club and garnering particular praise for Alter Ergo, first seen in Exit Art’s 1997 showcase of emerging performance artists, “Terra Bomba.”

    Chang revived Alter Ergo in this debut solo show, which, along with videotapes and large-scale color photographs, included a series of live performances held in the gallery’s back room. Recalling Chris

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