reviews

  • “Leon Golub: Paintings, 1950–2000”

    Brooklyn Museum

    CRUELLY TRUNCATED IN ITS BROOKLYN HANGING after its inaugural run at the sprawling Irish Museum of Modern Art, this exhibition was hardly a retrospective—but I'll forgive it that for starting things off with a fine mess. Spat out roughly midway along the triumphant march that led from Jasper Johns's 1954–55 Flag to Barbara Kruger's 1991 version emblazoned on the exterior of the Mary Boone Gallery in New York, Golub's Napalm Flag, 1970, desecrates à la Dubuffet. If the trajectory traced from Johns to Kruger transformed the avant-garde's target from individual myth to the mass media, one

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  • Rita McBride

    Alexander and Bonin

    RITA MCBRIDE'S ART DEFLATES the bloated tenets of high-modernist city planning and design and exposes the culs-de-sac of once-nigh-sacred art and architectural presumptions. With Duchampian verve, McBride strips bare modernism's “bachelor”-hood, even, revealing its complicity with the spatial isolation, regimentation, and domestication of the body—particularly the female body. The real trick of her canny and droll work is that it undertakes these trenchant critiques and still manages to look spare, elegant, and appealing—which is to say, modernist.

    As the title of her latest show, “White Elephant

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  • “So Long Ago I Can't Remember”

    Gale Gates et al.

    MICHAEL COUNTS'S So Long Ago I Can't Remember—a divine comedy was an evening-long collage of successive performances that led the viewer ever deeper into a renovated warehouse in Brooklyn. It added up to a phantasmagoric satire of such lamentable passages of Western history as Nazi Germany and the Inquisition, as well as a glimpse of the human tendencies that underlie such episodes of destruction. Based loosely on Dante's epic poem, the performance took the audience on a lavishly set and lit walking tour of the nine circles of hell to visit lost souls—from mobsters, fascists, and the

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  • Philip Pearlstein

    Robert Miller Gallery

    AFTER ALMOST FORTY YEARS, we can presume to know Philip Pearlstein's art pretty well, and at first this selection of paintings seemed to fit snugly in the “more of the same” category. All the hallmarks of his wafer-dry style were in place—the axial, overlit limbs, the narcoleptic tristesse, the corny props. So it was easy to miss this show, which is to say, to see only an acknowledged master plugging away in his established idiom. Pearlstein himself, a taciturn gradualist, certainly wasn't going to advertise any changes.

    But they were there. To begin with, this exhibition marked the first

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  • Takashi Murakami

    Marianne Boesky Gallery

    ON THE WALL FLANKING THE ENTRANCE to Takashi Murakami's “Mushroom” exhibition was posted a long list of names and titles, like credits of a feature film. This team (mostly young artists who work as acolyte-assistants at Murakami's Hiropon Factory studio in the suburbs of Tokyo) spent months bringing the show's fourteen large-scale paintings through production, from sketch to computer animation to painstakingly old-fashioned brushwork. Gleaming and seamless, the final canvases betray no trace of individual hands. Murakami's trademark motifs-garlands of smiley-face flowers, happy mushrooms with

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  • James Rosenquist

    Gagosian Gallery (21)

    I HEREBY PLEDGE to stop repeating along with everyone else that Jeff Koons's paintings look like James Rosenquist's. As if to forcibly remind us just how different his art is from that of his ostensible followers, Rosenquist has effected an important shift in his work—not an about-face, but the kind of dramatic change that demonstrates just what's been essential all along. He had always put the techniques and imagery of mass communication in the service of painting, not vice versa; as suggestive as his accumulations of sometimes topical, sometimes nostalgic mass-cultural imagery could be,

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  • Robert Dash

    ACA Galleries

    THROUGHOUT THE '60S AND '70S, Robert Dash was a fixture on the New York gallery scene. His landscapes, like those of Fairfield Porter, managed to wed freely moving paint-as-paint with straightforward description. But his last show in the city was in 1982, and somehow one imagined that he might have stopped painting, seduced by his works and days in Madoo, his garden in Sagaponack, New York (now a public conservancy). Happily, “Florilegium,” an exhibition of eight paintings on canvas and fourteen on paper, showed that Dash has done more than just continue to paint—he's developed his work in

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  • Hiroshi Sugito

    Nicole Klagsbrun

    THE WIDE GRAY FIELDS that fill many of Hiroshi Sugito's big new paintings arc subtle and tender, and you might almost think they were contributions to the traditions of the monochrome, but narrow horizontal bands at the bottom of most of the pictures instantly transform them into sky above a low horizon of land or sea. Then, too, there are those little extras: perhaps lace drapes faintly painted in at the outer edges of the image, and a frilly filigree valance at the top, making a vast outdoor space into a cross between a proscenium and a boudoir; or else a looming central form that looks to be

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  • Shirin Neshat

    Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

    DESPITE SHIRIN NESHAT'S RECENT SUCCESSES (her 1998 film Turbulent earned top honors at the 1999 Venice Biennale; last year brought awards from the Kwangju Biennale, CalArts, and the Edinburgh International Festival), this latest show disappointed. While her earlier films pivoted on social issues like the politics of desire in a sex-segregated state, this trio of works leaned toward heavy-handed dramatizations of hackneyed “universal” themes: life, death, insanity.

    In the short black-and-white film Pulse (all works 2001), a woman wails in a gothic interior next to a large-knobbed, old-fashioned

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  • Doug Hall

    Feigen Contemporary

    MODERNISM WAS GREAT FOR SLOGANS, from Mies's “less is more” and Sullivan's “form follows function” to Rauschenberg's quip about acting in the gap between art and lie. Warhol knew it best, perhaps: Modem artists were often great copywriters. Ironically, art in the information age is less slogan-driven; about all we have is the unattributed, shopworn phrase “photography is the new painting,” which didn't really catch on until a few years ago—around the time MoMA acquired the complete set of Cindy Sherman's “Untitled Film Stills” for a cool million. But it's as loaded as any modernist motto,

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  • Peter Rostovsky

    The Project

    THE QUESTION AT THE HEART of Peter Rostovsky's recent work is one that haunts many artists: To what extent must a contemporary painter confront the medium's long-running critical dismantling? On the surface, Rostovsky makes use of a now-familiar brand of humor to, in essence, apologize for carrying on with a practice that has routinely been written off over the past few decades; the knowing wit that infuses his work conveys the requisite degree of skepticism toward the discipline. Yet such qualifiers cannot hide a serious attachment to technique, the very emphasis on craft that the parodic

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  • Graham Nickson

    Salander-O'Reilly Galleries

    GRAHAM NICKSON FOLLOWS THE SUN, from Australia to Florida to Italy, in pursuit of an untouched paradise—a space where the body is able to blissfully enjoy its own existence. The world he paints is pagan nature at its most charged, full of longing. Known for his use of intense, saturated, glowing color—color that seems to bring light to a boil—Nickson is primarily a painter of erotic landscape. In Inlet: Dark Water, 1981–97, the female bather in the center is a modern Venus. The sun plays off her body, accented by the decisive gesture of the towel with which she dries herself, a

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