reviews

  • Frank Stella

    New Museum

    FRANK STELLA IS TOO MUCH. His art and career have always been outsize in every sense, from the less-than-zero “Black Paintings” of 1959–60 to the giant, Day-Glo late-’60s “Protractor” series and wild relief paintings of the ’70s and ’80s. Each time he realizes a personal breakthrough in his work, he expects to pull the world along with him, to effect a paradigm shift in modernism. Such audacity has bagged him no less than two full-scale MOMA retrospectives, but the work has met with diminishing returns and increasing skepticism. By his third retrospective, the take-no-prisoners rubric under

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  • “The Worlds Of Nam June Paik”

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

    TO HOW MANY OF US is it given to attend the birth of a medium and to witness its institutionalization as—what else?—an “art form”? In the early ’60s, anyone who held in his or her hands a brown, flexible, two-inch-wide piece of videotape on which information was electronically coded had to have a sense of the miraculous. Play it back: There was the moving image shot a moment before—flat, factual, fibrillating, lightstruck. By the late ’60s, the portapak camera had put the means of production (then a vaguely Marxist phrase) in the hands of media artists working across the broad band from the

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  • Valie Export

    Trois Gallery

    IN 1967, WHEN Waltraud Höllinger changed her name to Valie Export and began producing public performance pieces as a fellow traveler of the Viennese Actionists, notoriety came quickly. In Aktionhose: Genitalpanik, 1969, she cut out the crotch of her jeans and walked the aisles of a Munich art-film house that featured sexually explicit films, challenging the voyeurs to look at a body that returned the gaze. She was already known for her action a year earlier, Tapp- und Tastkino (Tap and touch cinema), staged in the busy streets of Vienna’s shopping district. Wearing a large box over her torso,

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  • Jack Tworkov

    Mitchell-Innes & Nash | Uptown

    OF ALL THE AMERICAN ARTISTS who caught the mid-century disease known as Willem de Kooning, none had it earlier, longer, or less profoundly than Jack Tworkov. At least that is one way to diagnose the recent exhibition of Tworkov’s drawings and a few paintings.

    The show amounted to a grab bag of works mostly from the artist’s estate and made no claim to be more than that. Despite the fact that 2000 marks the hundredth anniversary of Tworkov’s birth, this was no retrospective. Yet it had the virtue of focusing on the most interesting part of his career, from roughly 1953 to 1965, after he renounced

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  • Richard Tuttle

    Sperone Westwater

    In this culture of big spectacle and loud noise, it’s inevitable that understatement and beautifully modest production will come to be valued, if only by certain cults. Richard Tuttle certainly qualifies as a high priest in this regard. He makes art that’s small but not cute, simple but not smug, minimal but not Minimalist, casual but not sloppy, formal but not rigid. A lot of pitfalls to skirt for one career, much less one series of work.

    In “Two With Any To,” Tuttle shows twenty square plywood panels with pieces of two-by-two attached, on which he has painted simple abstractions in acrylic.

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  • Antoni Tàpies

    Pace | 32 East 57th Street

    Antoni Tàpies’s oeuvre has always been divided against itself, and now, in this old-age work—the artist is almost eighty—the split is more evident than ever. On the one hand, there are works like Llit vermell (Red bed), 1998, relatively youthful, vibrant “wall” pieces, as they might be called, after Tàpies’s Leonardo-esque celebration of the “riches that can be found in the image of the wall and all its possible derivations,” especially “forms suggesting natural rhythms and the spontaneous movement of matter,” as he wrote in 1974. On the other hand, there are objects that reek of death and look

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  • Louise Lawler

    Metro Pictures

    With Something About Time and Space But I’m Not Sure What It Is, 1998, Conceptual photographer Louise Lawler deftly resolves the dilemma that confronts every artist at midcareer: how to build on past successes without simply repeating them. This oddly titled installation, the centerpiece of her latest solo show, both rhymes perfectly with her earlier work and takes off in a new direction.

    Since the early ’80s, Lawler has focused her camera on well-known works of modern and contemporary art. But unlike the photographers employed by auction houses and museums to document their holdings, Lawler

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  • Cecily Brown

    Gagosian Gallery

    I sense a backlash building after Cecily Brown’s numerous recent appearances in the popular press as an avatar of a sort of painting that is stylistically familiar yet modishly edgy in subject. What’s unfortunate is that she’s been taken up in this manner just as her paintings have been getting more difficult. The eye-catching pornographic imagery on view in her 1998 show at Deitch Projects has receded. In four of the eight works here I don’t see it at all—it’s either banished or buried so deeply that it might as well not be there. So the paintings lack the hook they used to have, but most of

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  • K.K. Kozik

    Roebling Hall

    To say that K.K. Kozik is primarily an imagemaker rather than a painter does not mean her images could exist just as easily in some other medium. In their fusion of the fantastic and banal into a quirky but immediately recognizable Americana, Kozik’s paintings might share certain affinities with, say, Gregory Crewdson’s photographs, but her work is bound up with the idea of the handmade surface, though in the paradoxically recessive form of a kind of all-American plainness. There could be something irritatingly commonplace about how these strange and often resonant images were painted; instead,

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  • Donald Lipski

    Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

    Donald Lipski has steadfastly bucked the waves of Conceptualism that have refueled sculpture during the last two decades. Apart from grouping his idiosyncratic renderings according to the most general object- or process-related axes, the latter-day surrealist has rejected metaphorical reference in his work as a rule—content rather to recast the quotidian, finding the sublime in the transformation and permutation itself, not in an altered object’s meaning. Yet over the last ten years Lipski’s work has gradually begun to explore themes, synthesizing in the process the poetic and unfamiliar

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  • Jeanne Dunning

    Kinz, Tillou + Feigen

    Jeanne Dunning’s photographic career has involved an extended investigation of corporeality. Since 1987 her work has tended to cluster into two groups: those images in which the familiar is made foreign by the addition of what Rosalind Krauss has called a supplement, and those in which the amorphous is made intimate through conspicuous photographic procedures. The works in the first group apply the objective, sharp-focus model of straight photography to things like an isolated mass of impossibly lustrous, cascading hair and a woman with a nipple on her tongue. The second group of images usually

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  • Keith Edmier/Richard Phillips

    Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

    Both Keith Edmier and Richard Phillips are interested in popular memory of the ’60s and early ’70s and in exacting formal procedures that tweak realism toward something outlandish. Centering on Edmier’s sculptures, with a suite of drawings by Phillips in a decisive supporting role, this small show accepted nostalgia as its premise. Against this substrate, elegy morphed to cartoonish necrophilia, and the ultimate subject was a strangely conventional self-portraiture.

    Edmier’s sculptures (both 1998) are discrete works, but as installed they functioned as a diptych. Both are highly detailed, life-size

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  • Daniela Rossell

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    Daniela Rossell’s repugnant yet alluring photographs of nouveaux riches theatrically posed in the tacky opulence of their homes expose a lack that gnaws at the heart of wealth. In “All the best names are taken,” her first solo show in New York, the young Mexican artist combined large color prints (all untitled, all 1999) from two series. The “Ricas y famosas” images feature Mexico City’s super-rich looking seductive, uncomfortable, or simply bored amid their garish chandeliers, Jacuzzis, “glorious” views, and bad art. Most of these subjects are light-skinned women, members of the country’s elite

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  • Lezley Saar

    David Beitzel Gallery

    The nightmarishly fascinating thing about race is that it’s at once real and unreal, social fact and anthropological nonentity. In the US, of course, the issue of race is everywhere, and yet the art world generally fails to reflect that fact. So it is perhaps natural that Lezley Saar, an artist of both African American and white ancestry, should feel compelled to take on questions of race and history in her mixed-media paintings. Certainly no one would accuse Saar of tiptoeing. Her show is entitled “Africans, Tragic Mulattos, Anomalies, and Rap,” and compared with the sort of subtlety found in

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  • Meredith Monk

    Meredith Monk’s performances have always been richly metaphorical collages of live and projected imagery, moving bodies, and powerful voices. Magic Frequencies, 1999, is a far more painterly work of visual theater. With its layers of transparent and opaque scrims between which the performers gracefully move, this latest production shows Monk in newly elegant form.

    Her fresh approach is the product of two years spent on entirely different projects in previously uncharted territories. As part of “Art Performs Life,” a 1998 show at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Monk presented her three-decade-long

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