reviews

  • “Garry Winogrand 1964”

    International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)

    How often have you taken a picture that’s not at all what you’d seen? This never happened to Garry Winogrand. Or it happened all the time. He knew that “the photograph isn’t what was photographed. It’s something else. It’s a new fact.” Winogrand never staged anything. He had a restless nature, a restless eye, and was so often on the move that he almost always managed to be in the right place at the right time. In the fall of ’63 he applied for, and received, a Guggenheim fellowship, intending to drive cross-country and take pictures along the way. He was propelled as much by a need to be in

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  • “The Heavenly Tree Grows Downward: Harry Smith/Philip Taaffe/Fred Tomaselli”

    James Cohan Gallery | Chelsea

    Harry Smith (1923–91) is today remembered mostly as an avant-garde filmmaker and musicologist. During the 1940s, he made the first frame-by-frame handpainted films in America, and his later works in cinema are widely accepted as masterpieces of alchemical collage animation, among them his film Mahagonny, 1970–80, a four-screen two-hour-and-twenty-one-minute epic based on the Brecht-Weil opera. Three of his many ethnographic collections (Smith called them “encyclopedias of design”)—the Paper Airplane Collection, the Seminole Patchwork Quilt Collection, and the String Figures Collection—are

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  • “Drawing Now”

    MoMA QNS - Museum of Modern Art

    Drawing has a genealogy, suggests MoMA guest curator Laura Hoptman: Variously appreciated and dismissed in different periods, the medium has played a changing role for artists and audiences to go along with the changing contexts of art production. For example, she asserts that Florentine connoisseurs prized the Renaissance masters’ primi pensieri, while “presentation drawings” were highly valued in the eighteenth century. Fast-forwarding a couple centuries, she tells us we’ve witnessed another significant shift in just the past few decades. When Conceptualism and Minimalism came to the fore,

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  • Toba Khedoori

    David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

    Toba Khedoori makes monumental yet exactingly detailed drawings, coating enormous sheets of paper with wax and often imbruing the surfaces with precisely rendered images of architectural forms such as doors, windows, railings, and fences. But the vast white space in the multipanel works, which are stapled to the wall and flecked with detritus lifted incidentally from the floor of the artist’s studio, is as much Khedoori’s subject as the structures. Her drawings’ composite wholes are quiet, immobile, vertiginous—balanced on a knife’s edge between loveliness and vacancy.

    Khedoori’s new work

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  • Matthew Ritchie

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Matthew Ritchie is a self-professed cosmologist, a connoisseur of information structures whose templates include action painting, superstring theory, medieval hagiographies, molecular biology, and comic books. Though his paintings and installations bear individual titles, they are best understood as multidimensional or exploded facets of a single (impossible) master image, a unified field that heeds no distinctions between seen objects and conceptually unbounded themes. Critics dutifully recite the back story to this elaborate oeuvre: The artist invented a pantheon of forty-nine elements or

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  • Alfredo Jaar

    Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

    Few contemporary artists are as attuned to the power of images as Alfredo Jaar. His particular focus: those photographic representations of politically induced instances of human suffering that saturate the media and sear our consciousness with scenes that, paradoxically, can be neither truly remembered nor forgotten. Born in Chile and, since 1982, based in New York, Jaar has been consistently global in scope. Past projects have centered on the working conditions of Brazilian gold miners, the detainment of Vietnamese boat people by the Hong Kong government, and the slaughter of the Tutsi by Hutu

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  • Paul McCarthy

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    In “Clean Thoughts,” an exhibition of new sculptures (plus one vintage work, Chair with butt plug, 1978), Paul McCarthy assembled a motley crew of characters borrowed from sugar-pop domains that stretch from Hollywood movies and Saturday morning cartoons to Christmas culture and Jeff Koons’s sculpture. Shit Face and Dick Eye (both 2002), a couple of mutilated pirate busts cast in black and red silicon rubber, stood guard at the gallery entrance. Together with their sky blue mate, Pot Head, and a drab brown Jack P. (both 2002), they are the most recent additions to McCarthy’s expanding troupe of

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  • Georg Baselitz

    Zwirner & Wirth

    Fracture, distortion, murky handling of paint—these have long been the mainstays of Georg Baselitz’s art, as this exhibition of his early drawings and paintings indicated. On display were works made during the ’60s, when Baselitz was in headlong rebellion against the School of Paris, which seemed to have reached a dead end in a tachism that had become decorative, and the School of New York, which was witnessing the birth of Pop and Minimalism. At the time, making an “art of the insane” and coming into one’s own through “pandemonium,” to refer to the title of Baselitz’s 1961 manifesto, was

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  • Walton Ford

    Kasmin Gallery | 27th Street

    Walton Ford regularly offers a web of images and text exhuming whole realms of history: the history of natural science and zoology; exploration (and its attendant exploitation) and colonization; the history of images, artistic and otherwise; even the history of history. Remarkably, he accomplishes this feat in watercolor, one of the more lightweight mediums in the lexicon of modern and contemporary painting.

    This show featured eight of Ford’s medium-size and large paintings that at first seem to mimic Audubon prints and their ancestors, which hark back to scientific illustrations and plein air

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  • David Shrigley

    Anton Kern Gallery

    The phrase “I’ve had a brilliant idea” might seem like a flash of ego, especially when inked over a picture of an electrical power station rather than above the more traditional lightbulb. But taken in the context of the sixty works (all but one 2002) in David Shrigley’s first solo show in New York, this altered photo read more as acknowledgment that the artist’s ideas are neither rare nor precious but a constant source from which he churns out drawings, books, sculptures, photos, and public interventions.

    Shrigley’s drawings and texts show no signs of formal art training, though he attended the

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  • Beat Streuli

    Murray Guy

    In his photographs of people on the street, Beat Streuli has since the early ’90s straddled the line between portraying anonymity and individuality. More recently, his videos of transient urban life have expanded his repertoire, and the viewer’s patient consideration is rewarded as scenes gradually unfold with rows of people passing through the frame, imparting the sensation of long temporal flows. Streuli’s latest projects explore international city streets in four two-channel videos, which were installed on a rotating basis in projections. In The Pallasades 05-01-01, 2001, shot in Birmingham,

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  • Andrea Bowers

    Sara Meltzer Gallery

    Andrea Bowers’s art wears its influences on its sleeve. References to Minimalist dance and sculpture abound in the Los Angeles–based artist’s third New York solo exhibition: Robert Morris, Yvonne Rainer, and Simone Forti were all touchstones here, though Donald Judd seemed the true guiding spirit. Indeed, in a grid of source material Bowers framed as part of the show, a quotation by Judd looms large: “Form is a wobbly word to use because form and content is a false division derived from another false division, thought and feeling.” Following this logic, Bowers has made the investigation of “

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  • Eddo Stern

    Postmasters

    Among the more provocative essays published after September 11 was Slavoj Žižek’s “Welcome to the Desert of the Real,” which suggested that Americans would have to renegotiate their relationship with spectacular culture after Al Qaeda attacks forced the rupture of our seamless, unbearably light, endlessly entrancing mediascape. Whatever has happened along these lines in mass culture, it’s worth asking whether any such shift has taken place in New York art production, particularly in pieces most obviously inflected by today’s agitated political climate. For example, Thomas Hirschhorn’s stunning

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  • Mathieu Mercier

    Spencer Brownstone Gallery

    Mathieu Mercier’s AAA, 2002, a backlit wall-mounted sign in which the title’s three letters become smaller from left to right, looks like the scream of a cartoon character plunging off a cliff. The text’s off-kilter font is a superimposition of two opposing styles: the hard-edged geometry characteristic of Theo van Doesburg and a flowing, fanciful script developed by New York typographer Edward Benguiat in the ’70s. A strategically contrived hybrid of design philosophies, AAA is a succinct introduction to this young Parisian’s practice and an appropriate piece to kick off his first solo show in

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  • “Time Is Free”

    apexart

    Boredom used to be a sin, attendant cousin of sloth, a welcome state for the devil to seduce weak minds. We know what it did to Emma Bovary. For most people now, boredom is instead a name given to a lamentable, persistent discontent. But boredom would also seem like a luxury today, having been displaced by the new collective condition of mass anxiety. In order to avoid guilt, dread, and other unpleasant thoughts, we prefer our time to be organized, eschewing purely contemplative hours spent doing nothing in favor of constant activity. So what about that state of just being, and where does artistic

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