• Cindy Sherman

    Metro Pictures

    “Oh no!” New Yorker critic Peter Schjeldahl confesses to blurting audibly at Cindy Sherman’s recent show, and although he is a devoted fan of hers, it’s easy to see why. Even for an artist who regularly makes her audience think twice, these images are horrid, an exorbitant omnigatherum of violence, sex, and generally messed-up physicality. On top of that, and weirdly enough simultaneously, you might also think they were stale, recycling not just a strategy used by a number of artists of Sherman’s generation—the staging and photographing of scenarios based on dolls—but earlier works of her own,

    Read more
  • “The Un-Private House”

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Few architectural phenomena are as paradoxical as the question of the private house. At once a vehicle for change and a vessel for conservatism, the private house taps into an extraordinary inertia: No matter how radically transformed our place of work and play, we still, at the end of the day, apparently want to go home to a house that has changed little from that of our parents, and is at least as old. In the making of the private house, that peculiar relationship between architect and client, and the curious mutual education that occurs, is at its most quintessentially acute, precarious,

    Read more
  • Céleste Boursier-Mougenot

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 534 West 21st Street

    Little by little, the simple rigor of Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s installation became clear: Distributed evenly throughout the gallery were five inflatable children’s pools, of an intense, almost Mediterranean blue. Each pool, filled with the same small quantity of water, was outfitted with an electric pump that created a mild current. And, finally, in every pool, there appeared a diffuse, floating mass of crockery—an identical number of assorted bowls, Chinese teacups, and stemware.

    And with this the chaos began. Or perhaps I should say cacophony. For as the gentle current shuttled the bowls

    Read more
  • Collier Schorr

    303 Gallery

    My college roommate was from New York, and for the first semester at our midwestern school she was overcome by the exotic charms of the few lumbering, corn-fed lads in attendance. Being rather more homegrown myself, I thought them at best dim, at worst a little scary. Collier Schorr sees them both ways.

    In her latest show, boys will be boys, for once; this is a rare nonautobiographical exhibition for Schorr, a case where her subjects aren’t her stunt doubles. Instead, there is an anthropological cast to the wrestlers and soldiers and assorted teens photographed here, grimacing as Schorr probes

    Read more
  • Shirazeh Houshiary

    Lehmann Maupin | New York

    On entering Shirazeh Houshiary’s show, one saw what appeared to be a group of monochromes—some black, some white, and all square—installed in contrasting groups of large and small works. As one drew nearer to several of the paintings, however, one began to discern the presence of Arabic texts (actually Sufist chants), meticulously transcribed onto the canvas in graphite or pigment, where they proliferate like coral. These inscriptions are clearly legible when examined up close (the fact that they are incomprehensible to most Western readers only adds to their exoticism), and evoke Muslim

    Read more
  • James Angus

    Gavin Brown's enterprise | 620 Greenwich Street

    Given the thorough interrogation of sculpture already achieved by post-Minimalism and Conceptual art, choosing to dismantle this particular artistic category might seem a bit like beating a long-dead horse. While James Angus’s second one-man show indeed restages the medium’s unraveling, it does so however from a new direction—by intersecting sculpture with a related (although ultimately distinct) form of object production, the architectural model.

    Two pieces in the show, Neuschwansteins, 1998, and Falkensteins, 1999—miniature wooden replicas of castles designed for Prince Ludwig II of Bavaria—are

    Read more
  • Zhang Peili

    Jack Tilton Gallery

    For a Chinese-born artist who still lives in his hometown of Hangzhou, Zhang Peili has been represented in a remarkable number of international exhibitions. In just over two years, his work has been seen in several high-profile Asian-themed group shows—including “Cities on the Move” and “Inside Out: New Chinese Art”—as well as at the Basel art fair and the most recent Sydney and Venice biennials. He also bears the distinction of being the first Chinese artist to have an installation piece collected by MoMA (where he had a project show last summer). Yet while other “avant-garde” Chinese artists

    Read more
  • Norman Lewis

    Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

    Although Norman Lewis (1909–79) was a first-generation Abstract Expressionist, his contribution to the New York School has largely been forgotten. His recent rediscovery, however, has begun to rectify this state of affairs and to reveal how the African-American artist forged a unique path within a normatively white movement. This modest show of sixteen works on paper from 1945 to 1975, entitled “Intuitive Markings,” could only hint at Lewis’s stylistic range, but it nevertheless confirmed that his artistic preoccupations reflected an abiding need to represent the African-American experience as

    Read more
  • “Different Roads”

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    The exclusive association of MoMA’s history with the European-centered high modernism of Picasso and Mondrian is in need of serious revision. Alfred Barr, the museum’s first director, conceived of breaking the institution into separate departments out of a desire to put the so-called minor arts of photography, film, and industrial design on an equal footing with painting and sculpture. While Barr did not agree with Duchamp’s dismissive statement that “the only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges,” he did complain in 1940 of “the tendency of the public to identify art

    Read more
  • Jeannette Christensen/ Catherine Howe/ Robin Kahn

    Bill Maynes Gallery

    The three artists in this thoughtfully selected show differ not only in their choice of medium but, more important, in their stylistic and affective stances. What unites them is that, in reflecting on questions about their relation as women to art and its history, they’re more involved in exploring the emotional charge around those issues than in pronouncing judgments on existing images.

    Jeannette Christensen, from Oslo, shows “The Passing of Time,” 1995–98, a series of Polaroids whose compositions are based on the paintings of Vermeer, but with a male in modern garb substituted for the Dutch

    Read more
  • Susan Wanklyn

    Cheryl Pelavin Fine Art

    Susan Wanklyn presents nine smallish paintings, all just a bit taller than square (and three watercolor monotypes), most of them immediately describable as loosely brushed plaids. But that designation is misleading for its superficial obviousness. Wanklyn is certainly no daughter of ’70s Pattern and Decoration, the movement whose simultaneously weak but forward-looking compromise between modernism and an incipient postmodernism was predicated on the suitability of repetitive patterning to formalist flatness as well as kitsch decoration. That movement relied on the truism that, no matter what

    Read more
  • Michael Smith and Joshua White

    New Museum

    A site-specific work by Michael Smith and Joshua White, Open House, 1999, is one of the most corrosively funny installations I’ve ever seen. It’s Hans Haacke meets Jerry Seinfeld. This isn’t as unexpected as it might sound: Smith has actually worked as a stand-up comic, though he’s best known for his acerbic videos, performances, and installation art. White, on the other hand, along with being the creator of Fillmore East’s Joshua Light Show, works as a director for television and has in fact written for Seinfeld.

    With a press release that resembles a homemade flyer (the kind with the phone number

    Read more
  • Maria Martinez-Cañas

    Julie Saul Gallery

    Maria Martinez-Cañas often derives the layered, complex imagery of her photographs from old maps, customs documents, and other items relating to her Cuban heritage. However, in “Traces of Nature,” her most recent show, the inspiration came not from her memories of Cuba but from her own backyard: On view were photograms—shadowlike images produced by placing objects between light-sensitive paper and a light source—made with plants, leaves, and other organic forms taken from the Miami-based artist’s garden. Used since World War II in the creation of maps, the photogram has also been a favorite mode

    Read more
  • Jean-Luc Godard

    Swiss Institute

    Protean filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard’s career as an avant-garde innovator has lasted more than forty years. Any video store or art-house series worth its salt will offer classics of the French New Wave such as Breathless (1960) or Alphaville (1965). But Godard repudiated many of these earlier achievements, adding rigorous Marxist politics to his pathbreaking aesthetic of simultaneity, verbal complexity, and discontinuous narrative. Restlessly experimenting with stylistic means toward theoretical ends, he explored the possibilities of marrying television’s mass distribution and video’s accessible

    Read more