• Alfred Jensen, The Great Pyramid, 1980, oil on canvas, 7' 6" x 30'.

    Alfred Jensen, The Great Pyramid, 1980, oil on canvas, 7' 6" x 30'.

    Alfred Jensen

    Dia Center for the Arts

    Location, location, location: That was my mantra as I stumbled out of Dia’s galleries and down those breakneck steps. No, I wasn’t thinking about Chelsea real estate but about the Alfred Jensen problem. Where do we put him? Where does he put us?

    But first, where did he come from? The biographical accounts are sketchy and do not always agree. Born in Guatemala in 1903, Jensen lost his mother at age seven and was sent to poor relatives in Denmark. At fourteen he went to sea. Two years later he jumped ship in San Francisco and set off on foot to his father’s home in Guatemala—shades of Brancusi’s

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  • “Into the Light: The Projected Image in American Art 1964–1977”

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    After the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, some psychologists discovered that young children watching the endlessly repeated footage of the second collision on TV believed that each replay of the crash represented a new event. The fact that adults in the United States would never fall into this gruesome misperception is not only an index of greater maturity but also an indication of how inured we are to the pulse of repetition that characterizes television—a medium in which events of the past are compulsively renewed in the present. Literary theorist Fredric Jameson has

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  • Janet Cardiff

    MoMA PS1

    Works of visual art that rely on sound, site-specific projects that induce an overwhelming sense of physical dislocation, Janet Cardiff’s audio walks chart a terrain that can only be described as interstitial. Visitors to her midcareer survey who pick up a portable CD player and go on the walk created specially for the exhibition are immediately alerted to this fact. The piece begins at a window that affords a breathtaking vista of the Manhattan skyline. “The city looks like a movie set today,” the artist murmurs into your ear, “and the people walking around are like extras.” The blurred line

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  • Roy Lichtenstein

    Mitchell-Innes & Nash | Chelsea

    The hard thing about Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings of brushstrokes isn’t getting the joke (they. are often extremely funny) but thinking of them as paintings.

    The forty-eight drawings, sculptures, and paintings in this show of work from the late ’50s to the mid-’90s weren’t lined up chronologically, but I went to the early canvases first-partly out of curiosity, as they are seldom shown. Lichtenstein had at one time wanted these abstractions to be destroyed, presumably to emphasize his post-’61 Pop production. But the 1959 paintings, made during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism, point as much

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  • James Siena

    Gorney Bravin + Lee

    James Siena’s small enamel paintings on aluminum are always absorbing, his drawings on paper no less so. Like Op art, they tend to confuse the eye as it tries to untangle their intricate webs of line and color. Some are quite regular and geometric: In Three Combs (boustrophedonic), 2001, black, blue, and ocher lines work their way in straight interlocking lengths over a white field, forming a meshlike maze whose logic is nevertheless fully decipherable. Red Corner Painting, 2000, is a little kinkier—groups of rectangles within rectangles in red on cream, here closing in on an uneven crosslike

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  • Roni Horn

    Dia Center for the Arts

    When an artist settles into the niche of her obsessions, the line can become very fine between the rote re-presentation of a signature discovery and the passionate revision of a central but enigmatic urge. Twenty-some years into her career, Roni Horn's field of interest is well-defined, notwithstanding the fact that her subjects—indeterminacy, doubleness, and motion—are inherently difficult to pin down. Her current show, the first of a two-part installation spanning eight months, is based entirely on strategies she has deployed before; in a way, there was nothing new to see. So why

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  • Keith Sonnier

    Location One

    Keith Sonnier gained recognition in the early ’70s for work that engaged the “new” medium of light. Along with Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, and James Turrell, Sonnier experimented with neon and argon to create sculpture and installations that treated light and space as tactile materials rather than merely optical devices. The most ambitious of these works is the kilometer-long Lichtweg (Light path), 1992, a strip of colored neon that runs parallel to the moving sidewalk connecting the terminals at Munich’s Franz-Joseph-Strauss Airport.

    The installations in the recent exhibition “O2 = O3: Fractured

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  • Ian Wallace

    P.H.A.G., Inc.

    Well-known in Vancouver as a founder of photoconceptualism, Ian Wallace has had a profound influence on such artists as Jeff Wall and Ken Lum, yet he does not share their high profile internationally: This was his first New York show since 1992. Of course, being a master of understatement—making images of nonevents into an art of Mallarméan allusiveness—has never been the recommended route to celebrity.

    Since the early ’80s Wallace has juxtaposed two apparently incompatible artistic paradigms: pure abstraction in the form of monochrome painting and the referential richness of documentary

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  • Knut Åsdam

    Tanja Grunert Gallery

    Knut Åsdam deals with boundaries. both physical and metaphoric. By problematizing such apparently clear-cut categories as subject/object, internal/external, and private/public, Åsdam shows how slippery binary oppositions can be. The results are often uncanny. His 1995 video Untitled: Pissing, for instance, a tightly cropped crotch shot of a man wetting his pants, tracks a transgression of social and psychic boundaries and invokes an individual in neurotic crisis. Over the past six years Åsdam has broadened his horizons to tackle similar issues on a more collective scale. Training his camera on

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  • Céleste Boursier-Mougenot

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    Though it’s been years now since Chelsea became the new SoHo, the area still seems to exist at the edge of the action. There are more places to eat and drink, but thankfully it hasn’t yet acquired the outdoor-mall atmosphere of its cousin to the south. Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s recent sound-and-video installation invited the viewer to become intimately familiar with one of the neighborhood’s unremarkable comers. The modesty of the short stretch of West Twenty-first Street near Tenth Avenue was well matched by the artist’s straightforward presentation, which, despite the relatively sophisticated

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  • Dike Blair

    Feature Inc.

    Dike Blair has always been a careful observer of scenes. His paintings of hotel lobbies, full ashtrays, car interiors, and glistening glasses of champagne amount to a compendium of luxury-class still life. His installations tend to capture less rarefied atmospheres: In one early-’90s project, he transformed a gallery space into a corporate waiting room, focusing on the familiar bland decor (mauve carpeting, metal chairs, Muzak) that is meant to elicit a sense of comfort. The artist is also a writer and has been associated with the Paris-based fashion/culture magazine Purple since its inception.

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  • Willem de Kooning

    Matthew Marks Gallery

    Like an unsigned will, Willem de Kooning’s 1980s paintings ended his career with a kind of divisive largesse. For some viewers, the aged de Kooning is a kind of Yeatsian hero, sailing off into his own Byzantium. To detractors, he’s a pitiable mannequin, performing wobbly pantomimes of his familiar painterly gestures. We still don’t know the exact nature or trajectory of de Kooning’s illness. We do know, however according to Gary Garrels, curator of the traveling survey “Willem de Kooning: The Late Paintings, the 1980s,” that there was a turning point of sorts in 1987, at which time the artist’s

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  • Mark Bradford

    Lombard-Fried Projects

    Mark Bradford, an artist who works as a hairstylist in South-Central Los Angeles, displays a deceptively austere sensibility in the modular veils of subtly graded hues that ripple over the surfaces of his latest paintings. But the purity of the abstract modernist references radiating from these restive, cellular grids quickly assumes a funky liveliness far removed from the transcendental silence and order of, say, the work of Agnes Martin, to which they are often compared. A close look reveals that Bradford’s shimmering, variegated forms are composed of overlapping squares of cellophane and

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  • Jess von der Ahe

    Jay Grimm Gallery

    Perhaps it’s a mark of my own postfeminism (or just squeamishness) that I assumed the blood in von der Ahe’s work was drawn from her arm. Taking the politics out of menstrual blood is certainly one of the artist’s accomplishments: Rather than provocation and shock (à la Tracey Emin’s used tampons) or a sort of disingenuous detachment (as with Warhol’s abstractions created with urine), von der Ahe goes for seduction and enchantment, affirming beauty while divorcing it from any ’70s-era feminist context. Her choice of menstrual blood over other types seems more related to limiting herself to a

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  • Otto Freundlich

    It’s hard to find stranger, more uncanny sculptures in early avant-garde art than Otto Freundlich’s. That may be why he is omitted from such major compendiums of modem art as those by H. Harvard Amason and Sam Hunter, and even from the purportedly comprehensive German Art in the 20th Century: Painting and Sculpture, 1905–1985, published by London’s Royal Academy in 1985. Yet it was Freundlich’s 1912 sculpture The New Man that graced the cover of the guide to the notorious “Degenerate ‘Art’” exhibition in 1937. What an honor!

    The New Man, destroyed by the Nazis (Freundlich himself died in a Polish

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