reviews

  • the Prinzhorn Collection

    The Drawing Center

    It was 1920 when Hans Prinzhorn wrote to asylums in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland informing them that he intended to assemble “drawings, paintings and sculptures by the mentally ill, which are not merely copies or memories of better days, but rather expressions of their own experience of illness.” This last line summarizes how he plotted the reception of the collection that would ultimately bear his name. Under the rubric Bildnerei (image-making) rather than Kunst, the collected works were to be assigned, not to diagnoses, but to “creative urges” that were evinced by the visual output of

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  • Giuseppe Penone

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    The idea that art’s illusions of life can confuse with the real thing has ancient roots: in the Pygmalion myth; in the story of Zeuxis’s painted grapes (mistakenly pecked at by birds); even in painting’s very beginnings, when to depict a hunted beast may have been something like actually catching one. Giuseppe Penone’s most striking sculpture revives the dream that the image is alive and even pushes it a little, mixing forms in bronze, say, with living trees. Deepening our psychic investment, a trace of the figure appears in many of his works, so that, while they lean on or even incorporate

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  • Jenny Gage

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    A dark-haired figure leans against a car, her long mane streaming sideways in the breeze, the word “Racing” stamped on her baby blue tank top over her heart. Another girl—or perhaps the same one—stands before a window, pulling back the floral drapes with one hand; a strobe-like flash of sunshine obscures her face. Moodily lit and suggestively cropped, the large-format color photographs in Jenny Gage’s second solo exhibition in New York offered a smooth mix of vérité and voyeurism, a theater of received ideas about the fragility and unattainability of girls from the wrong side of some

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  • Vanessa Beecroft

    Deitch Projects

    The creepily lifelike sculptures of photorealists like Duane Hanson or John De Andrea permit prurient curiosity: You’re allowed to stare, to note bodily imperfections (and perfections) in a way that would seem impermissible in the presence of live subjects. Vanessa Beecroft’s performances, on the other hand, invite us to gawk at living, breathing men and women, human statues of a sort, who stand still and submit to viewers’ stares without returning them. At the Guggenheim in 1998, Beecroft set up rows of fashion models dad in not much more than impressively high heels, and while such an event

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  • Ellen Berkenblit

    Anton Kern Gallery

    Drawings seem to pour out of Ellen Berkenblit like daydreams. That sense of flow comes not just from her prolific, almost diaristic production of small works on paper (as well as paintings, which, are of course more elaborate) but also from the quality of her line, which is all fluidity. Berkenblit’s draftsmanship can be a shade too winsome, but its charm is redeemed by her curious lack of design on the viewer: She seems interested in beguiling mainly herself.

    A lithe, otherworldly young woman features in almost all the drawings and paintings here, “woman” being the only designation she receives

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  • Udomsak Krisanamis

    Gavin Brown's enterprise | 620 Greenwich Street

    Udomsak Krisanamis lives, paints, and golfs in upstate New York. He is originally from Thailand—which is what the cellophane rice noodles that snake up and down the surfaces of his collage paintings refer to, right? Well, the answer to such a question is always “yes and no.” Think of Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Thai curry dinners and the sly ways his personal life informs his art. Krisanamis’s Thai roots are less evident in his work than is his traditional approach to the craft of painting (and, I guess, his passion for golf). His art is right in line with the most venerated of modernist traditions,

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  • Thomas Locher

    Tanja Grunert Gallery

    Conventions of communication have long been the subject of Thomas Locher’s art. His methodology is rooted in interrogation and analysis, and his impulse is to deconstruct language, treating it as concrete, pliable material. The patterns that emerge in his work demonstrate the processes by which abstract ideas—logic, order, rational proportion, progression—take on visible form. In the past, he has silk-screened or carved words on the kinds of objects that we physically inhabit—cabinets, tables and chairs, beds, architectural environments. It is axiomatic that in art no object is neutral; when we

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  • Richard Misrach

    Curt Marcus Gallery

    Since 1983, Richard Misrach’s ongoing photographic explorations of the American desert have been organized into bodies of work he calls cantos. Misrach feels that his images, like Ezra Pound’s poems, are “free-associative,” and that, like an anthology of poetry, his collected work adds up to a greater whole. The artist recently exhibited large-format color photographs selected from three new series: “Desert Canto XV: Skies,” 1992–; “Desert Canto XXI: Heavenly Bodies [sic],” 1995–; and “Desert Canto XXII: Night Clouds,” 1994–. These radiant and technically accomplished images bridge the gap

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  • Marcel Dzama

    David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

    Marcel Dzama’s drawings are like frozen moments from dreams and nightmares. The twenty-six-year-old Canadian continues to add to his voluminous output of simple ink-and-watercolor drawings of various human and animal characters. In Dzama’s shows, the sheets of creamy Manila paper, most of which he tacks to the wall unframed, are often so numerous (191 were included here, and they can number as many as 500 in a single exhibition) that it can be difficult to focus on any one of them for long. All are equally fantastical, absurd, and deadpan. In the eleven-by-fourteen drawings recently on view,

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  • Weimin Huang

    Lance Fung Gallery

    Weimin Huang’s paintings are at once subdued and stunning: subtly luminous vertical lines, of various lengths and widths but all more or less narrow and self-contained, suspended in a grisaille field. The lines sometimes extend to but never quite reach the edges of the canvas, and broad bands of gray space bracket them, creating an effect of balance despite the asymmetry of each group of verticals. The illusion that the lines are floating seems to intensify the longer one looks. This doubtless has something to do with the fact that each line is composed of minute, intricately linked gestural

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  • Jonah Freeman

    Andrew Kreps Gallery

    Jonah Freeman examines American living spaces as though he were an anthropologist noting surprising details of an alien tribe’s dwellings. For his recent exhibition, Freeman created works inspired by the fact and idea of gated communities, those dreary locations pervaded by class-conscious hermeticism and the ecology of fear. In video, installation, and photographs, he explored issues surroundmg the poetics of place—the kind of dystopic place where comfort is infused with a sense of isolation.

    Bring the Outside In (all works 2000) consisted of two looped videos projected onto the walls in

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  • Mark Manders

    The Drawing Center / Greene Naftali

    Dutch artist Mark Manders’s recent installation at the Drawing Center’s Drawing Room was one of the most unassuming and compelling exhibitions of contemporary art in recent memory. Simple graphite drawings were tacked to the walls; strips of masking tape, some with bits of text, were interspersed throughout; and a thick pile of drawings, wrapped neatly with string so that all but the topmost were unavailable for viewing, lay on the floor. The drawings, like the installation itself, had an expressive, direct, childlike quality that complemented the artist’s mythic and metaphysical preoccupations

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  • Slater Bradley

    Team / P. S. 1

    The centerpiece of Slater Bradley’s second solo show in New York was a trio of short videos simultaneously projected on three walls of Team’s front room. The Laurel Tree (Beach), 2000, features actress Chloë Sevigny standing on an empty stretch of sand solemnly intoning a passage from Thomas Mann’s Tonio Kröger. The text—a lofty meditation on the sanctity of art and the sins of dilettantism—recounts a professional writer’s profound embarrassment during a lieutenant’s impromptu poetry recital at a dinner party. In Female Gargoyle, 2000, Mann’s army officer—the average man who rises

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