reviews

  • Alice Neel

    THUS THE WHITNEY, which can usually be counted on to do the wrong thing, devoted a solo exhibition to Alice Neel whose paintings (we can be reasonably certain) would never have been accorded that honor had they been produced by a man.”

    Shall we play name that critic? Hint: His vehicle—surprise! it's a he—was the New York Times, which published this assessment in. . .1977, three years after a single-floor show of Neel's work opened at the Whitney. By contrast, Lawrence Alloway, writing in The Nation in 1974, took the Whitney to task for its belatedness: Neel, who was born outside

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  • Pipilotti Rist

    Luhring Augustine / Public Art Fund, Times Square, New York

    A WHOLE NEW INTERIOR REALM, both uncanny and funny, opened up to visitors of Pipilotti Rist's latest installations at Luhring Augustine. At first, the simulated domestic layout seemed ordinary enough: Viewers entered via a kitchen, proceeded through a living room, a bar, two other rooms, and finally on to a bathroom. Yet this was no simple house, but a fantasy site of visual and psychic projection, produced from a feminine point of view that was as intriguing as it was unexpected.

    Woman in general—and Rist's own experience in particular—has always been at the core of the artist's work.

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  • Gabriel Orozco

    The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

    ON THE OCCASION OF HIS FIRST MAJOR SURVEY EXHIBITION, at LA MOCA, Gabriel Orozco told Benjamin Buchloh in a public dialogue that, as an artist, he works “in reality.” Identifying reality as his medium—as opposed to conventional practices such as sculpture and photography, both of which Orozco also deploys—is provocative. First, from an art-historical perspective, the equation between art and reality conjures up the tradition of the readymade initiated by Marcel Duchamp and transformed by postwar artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, who in 1959 famously declared: “Painting relates to

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  • Gillian Wearing

    Gorney Bravin + Lee

    AREN'T YOU ALLOWED TO WIN THE TURNER PRIZE TWICE? Gillian Wearing should have been a shoo-in again this year (she won in 1997) on the strength of her three-channel video projection Drunk, 1997–99. Wearing's plan—to cultivate a bunch of skid-row types over a period of years, give them the run of her studio, and film the proceedings—sounds like a recipe for disaster, not only for practical and aesthetic reasons but on ethical grounds as well. Yet the artist's formal rigor makes the work a minimalist masterpiece: at once somnolent and keyed up, like its subjects—a cross between Andy

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  • Lucian Freud

    Acquavella Galleries

    LUCIAN FREUD DOESN'T BEAUTIFY FLESH, but he revels in it all the same. What in life might be distasteful becomes matter for specifically pictorial delectation. If the skin has a slightly sickly cast, that's all the better to explore the strange tints and undertones it can take on under certain conditions of light, for example in Naked Portrait with Green Chair, 1999. And if the body happens to be oppressively heavy or, more rarely, uncomfortably bony (as in the impressive Naked Portrait with Red Chair, 1999) what better occasion for lingering over its capacities as malleable sculptural form?

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  • Leon Kossoff

    Mitchell-Innes & Nash | Chelsea

    THE FIRST THING THAT STRIKES one about Leon Kossoff's paintings is the heaviness and density of the surface; the second is the peculiar insubstantiality of the depicted forms, in spite of all that paint. The figure is reduced to a luminous shape with a few dark, shifting contours. Kossoff applies his medium crudely and thickly, with expressionistic violence and abandon (or is it forced, even labored spontaneity, studied abruptness? There is a kind of weariness to the handling, almost as though Kossoff were overfamiliar with it). The trick of the paintings—it's quite obvious in the figure

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  • Ulrike Ottinger

    David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

    ULRIKE OTTINGER'S 1978 Portrait of Two Women Drinkers describes a silent encounter between strangers on opposite sides of a café window. The immaculately and fashionably dressed figure in bright yellow inside the café raises a glass of cognac to the shabby-looking woman outside, who touches the window in a gesture of eager longing. Ottinger, a prominent force in the New German Cinema, shot this picture during the making of her 1979 film Ticket of No Return, a meditation on Berlin and drinking. It is not a still from the movie: Ottinger describes her photographs as “visual notes” that help her

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  • Meyer Vaisman

    Gavin Brown's enterprise | 620 Greenwich Street

    READING THE ART CRITICISM that accompanied Meyer Vaisman's late-'80s rise from East Village scenester to neo-geo celebrity, you can't help but notice how certain adjectives keep cropping up: cynical, calculated, and above all, slick. I'd happily wager that not one of these words occurs to viewers of Barbara Fischer/Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, 2000. Pathetic, maybe, or perhaps even grotesque—but definitely not slick.

    The star of Barbara Fischer/Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy is Barbara Fischer herself, or rather a life-size fiberglass cast of her naked body. Fischer, who happens to

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  • Lucky Debellevue

    Feature Inc.

    LUCKY DEBELLEVUE IS KNOWN FOR HIS MYSTERIOUS, startlingly prismatic pipe-cleaner sculptures. Unapologetically pretty, they have the allure of a signature material, and one can easily imagine DeBellevue staying the course, making installations, even building a kind of pipe-cleaner Merzbau. But to his credit, he explores other, less immediately charming strategies in four of the seven works recently on view, experimenting with other sorts of cheap store-bought materials like plastic, foam, and tape.

    While the Mardi Gras junk aesthetic of his work persists (DeBellevue comes from Louisiana), these

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  • Leon Golub / Nancy Spero

    Roth Horowitz

    FOR OVER FOUR DECADES, Leon Golub and Nancy Spero have been exploring the social and political hotbed of gender. Masculinist and feminist, respectively, they address issues of power and the violent and subjugating impulses that underlie and propagate sociocultural archetypes. Golub and Spero increasingly show together, and, not surprisingly, their complement is often fascinating. These vintage warriors of social conscience and gender have been married for nearly fifty years and have established a kind of oppositional harmony, as their recent show's title, “The Fighting Is a Dance, Too,” suggests.

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  • Ignacio Iturria

    Marlborough | Midtown

    IGNACIO ITURRIA'S CHARACTERS ARE NOT SO MUCH PAINTED as built out of paint; smeared browns, umber, and drab typically run up against blush and pastel flesh forms in sometimes inches-thick globs. It's as if murky roils of brackish cloud, grime, and earth had congealed in varied textures to form the artist's animals, leaky faucets, airplane-dotted skies, moldering furniture, and figures. These paintings can be enjoyed on many levels: A graceful sophistication underlies their vastly playful surfaces. The near-abstraction of his blotchy characters combined with a quirky symbolism invite a spiritual

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  • D-L Alvarez

    Derek Eller Gallery

    D-L ALVAREZ THINKS LIKE A WRITER. Each piece segues into the next like chapters in an evocative but fragmentary novel, weaving non-narrative stories that buzz with human presence but in which no human appears. Alvarez's personal vocabulary refers to the natural world and its uneasy infiltration of the urban environment. But the trees, spiderwebs, and parks of “Sculpture Garden,” his second solo exhibition in New York, had as much, or as little, to do with nature as a fairy tale has with fairies. Cool, almost simple on the surface, the innocent images and objects in the show seemed to have absorbed

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  • James Nachtwey

    International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)

    THE FIRST IMAGE ENCOUNTERED in this midcareer retrospective—a color photograph taken in San Miguel Province, El Salvador, in 1984—goes straight to the aesthetic and ethical core of James Nachtwey's documentary work. In the foreground, a middle-aged man bends forward on his knees to cradle a wounded girl, perhaps seven or eight years old, in his arms. The blood on her legs and abdomen has stained the man's shirt. Behind and above them is a group of five soldiers in green fatigues. One lifts a fallen comrade onto the shoulders of another, thrusting the wounded man's clenched fist skyward

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