reviews

  • Clockwise from left: Christian Schad, Selbstbildnis (Self-portrait), 1927, oil on wood, 29 7/8 x 24 1/4“. Christian Schad, Schwestern (Sisters), ca. 1929, pen and ink on paper, 7 1/8 x 10 
3/8”. Christian Schad, Liebende Knaben (Boys in love), 1929, silverpoint on paper, 11 3/4 x 9 1/4“. Christian Schad, Der Pfiff um die Ecke (Whistling round the corner), 1927, ink and watercolor on paper, 6 1/8 x 3 7/8”.

    Clockwise from left: Christian Schad, Selbstbildnis (Self-portrait), 1927, oil on wood, 29 7/8 x 24 1/4“. Christian Schad, Schwestern (Sisters), ca. 1929, pen and ink on paper, 7 1/8 x 10
    3/8”. Christian Schad, Liebende Knaben (Boys in love), 1929, silverpoint on paper, 11 3/4 x 9 1/4“. Christian Schad, Der Pfiff um die Ecke (Whistling round the corner), 1927, ink and watercolor on paper, 6 1/8 x 3 7/8”.

    Christian Schad

    Neue Galerie New York

    Christian Schad’s self-portrait of 1927, included in curators Jill Lloyd and Michael Peppiatt’s large retrospective of the artist’s work at the Neue Galerie in New York, is a haunting image that—partly because of the picture surface’s seductive smoothness and partly due to the subject matter’s dreamlike perversity—persists in the mind’s eye long after the actual experience of viewing the painting. The artist sits in the foreground with uneasy authority. Behind him lies one of the century’s scariest female nudes, in harsh profile, dark-haired, hawk-nosed, her facial scar providing a kind of slant

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  • Clockwise from left: Diller + Scofidio, “Scanning: The Aberrant Architectures of Diller + Scofidio,” 2003. Installation view, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Photo: Michael Moran. Diller + Scofidio, Slow House (Woodblock model with X-rays), 1989, wood, glass, silk screen on glass, and steel, 4 x 16 x 20“. Diller + Scofidio, His/Hers Towels, 1993, embroidered towels, each 51 1/2 x 26 1/2”.

    Clockwise from left: Diller + Scofidio, “Scanning: The Aberrant Architectures of Diller + Scofidio,” 2003. Installation view, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Photo: Michael Moran. Diller + Scofidio, Slow House (Woodblock model with X-rays), 1989, wood, glass, silk screen on glass, and steel, 4 x 16 x 20“. Diller + Scofidio, His/Hers Towels, 1993, embroidered towels, each 51 1/2 x 26 1/2”.

    Diller + Scofidio

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    For all the recent talk of blurred boundaries between architecture and the visual arts, nobody’s made much of a splash in both fields since Michelangelo hit Saint Peter’s. The twentieth century spawned its share of architect/artists, such as Le Corbusier, Theo van Doesburg, and Tony Smith, but all were more renowned for their work on one side of the disciplinary divide than the other. Recently, artists as diverse as Vito Acconci, Pierre Huyghe, and Jorge Pardo have tried their hand at some form of architecture, while numerous architects have submitted their drawings and even sculptures to the

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  • Tony Smith

    Mitchell-Innes & Nash | Uptown

    One pleasant surprise of Tony Smith’s retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (five years ago already!) was the group of paintings known as the “Louisenberg” series, dating from 1953–55, together with a related set begun at the same time but completed earlier and left untitled. (For brevity’s sake I’ll christen this group “Robotnik,” after a popular Tetris-like computer game called Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine.) Reviewing the MoMA exhibition in these pages, I voiced my regret that Smith had not pursued this vein further, and I privately hoped that there might be more work of the kind. The

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  • Paul Sietsema

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    You might think that an artist based in Los Angeles would be concerned, at least minimally, with entertainment value. Not so with Paul Sietsema, whose 16 mm film Empire, 2002, currently on view as part of the Whitney’s Contemporary Series, is blissfully content to fly in the face of not only Hollywood’s categorical imperative but also the gesamtkunst hydraulics of Matthew Barney, the social allegories of Steve McQueen and William Kentridge, and the psychological noir of Eija-Liisa Ahtila. But if the thirty-four-year-old artist’s oblique homage to Warhol’s far longer film of the same name turns

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  • Stan Douglas

    David Zwirner | 537 West 20th Street

    Stan Douglas’s latest work, the video installation Suspiria, 2002/2003, is as visually weird and conceptually sophisticated as anything he has ever produced. Titled after Dario Argento’s classic horror film of 1977, the piece was created for Documenta 11 and made its debut there last summer. In Kassel, live surveillance footage of the empty, dungeonlike labyrinth beneath the Herkules monument (one of many follies in the area) was projected in the Fridericianum across town. Scenes from the Grimms’ fairy tales, acted out by a contemporary-looking cast in the grotesque, translucent palette of a

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  • Richard Tuttle

    Sperone Westwater

    A kind of quirky retrospective, this exhibition begins with Richard Tuttle’s latest work, a series of “20 Pearls” (all 2003), moves a year backward to sixteen “Blue/ Red, Phase: Drawings,” then goes further back to the 1997 Botanic Rendering: Inverleith House (a work in 10 parts), and finally leaps forward again, concluding with four works from “Between Two Points,” 2001. To complicate matters further, tucked away in the corner of the first gallery is the sculpture Yale Piece, 1973: two wood panels kept upright and parallel by nine crisscrossed wood struts, each painted a different bright color.

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  • Cosima von Bonin

    Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

    At the rate of one exhibition every dozen years, Cosima von Bonin seems to be perpetually having her first show in New York; and yet her subtlety and sophistication are unmistakably those of a mature artist who plays by her own rules. There’s a built-in sense of unfamiliarity in her work, which is compounded further by von Bonin’s chameleon-like habits as an artist. She thrives on constant variety in media and flexes the role of the artist in such performative activities as DJ, curator, and ready collaborator. An apparent lack of continuity serves strategically as a distancing device—with the

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  • Takashi Murakami

    Marianne Boesky Gallery

    Japan’s big twenty-first-century export is cuteness, and it’s one of Takashi Murakami’s favorite modes, infusing his mushrooms, flowers, and the ubiquitous Mr. DOB. In Murakami’s latest gallery show, a panda appears in a sculpture, several paintings, and a video. This cute animal is beloved for its abject qualities: oversize head, chubby body, stubby limbs, delicate constitution, big sad eyes, and sexual problems in captivity. The great cultural critic Daniel Harris has written, “Because it aestheticizes unhappiness, helplessness and deformity, [cuteness] almost always involves an act of sadism

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  • Tara Donovan

    Ace Gallery

    Tara Donovan’s work is high in—call it a howthe . . . whathe . . . jeez factor. It has the kind of labor-intensiveness feasible in art on a miniature scale, embroidery perhaps, but it leans to the huge; and the hugeness is often constituted of extraordinarily plentiful wee parts. Haze, 2003, the pièce de résistance of Donovan’s current show, contains nearly two million drinking straws, stacked pointing outward against a wall in such a way as to create a surface of subtle swells and hollows. It is over twelve feet high and more than forty feet long. The gallery checklist names straws as the

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  • Nan Goldin

    Matthew Marks Gallery

    To enjoy sex as glamorous apotheosis and still have the comforts of a messy, cozy, family-filled life; to have the cake of a hot fuck and the daily bread of long-standing intimate cohabitation too: Well, who wouldn’t want a life like that? Fix all this homage to flesh and spirit into gorgeous Cibachrome, impressively sized and interestingly cropped, splash it across the walls—and who wouldn’t be seduced?

    As it turns out, it was impossible to remain entirely unmoved by Nan Goldin’s recent exhibition “Heartbeat,” which included forty-four lush photographs and a fifteen-minute slide show depicting

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  • Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

    Bronx Museum of the Arts

    Theresa Hak Kyung Cha died in 1982 at age thirty-one, but “The Dream of the Audience,” curated by Constance M. Lewallen and originating at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (where Cha’s own is housed), was the first major retrospective of her work. Cha’s reputation has battened in the interim on her posthumously published experimental novel Dictée (1982), a fringe classic for students of women’s studies, book arts, and poetry. For loyalists, access to the exhibition’s works on paper, performances, sound pieces, and films came as a blessing long overdue.

    The show didn’t look that

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  • Elizabeth Magill

    Artemis Greenberg van Doren

    Most landscape painting focuses on the land: its valleys, its horizons, its mountain peaks. But for Irish painter Elizabeth Magill, the sky is the main attraction. In her work, the earth is often nothing more than a hulking silhouette separated from the heavens by a carefully drawn horizon line, while vast patches of sky, marked out with birds, solidly occupy the majority of the canvas. Sometimes no land is visible at all; its existence is implied only by treetops or wires from an electric bus or tram. In almost every case, what’s above is more interesting than what lies below.

    Night is a common

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  • Donald Baechler

    Cheim & Read

    In his most recent paintings, Donald Baechler’s visual language has become increasingly abstract and iconic. Despite his reticence about relating his work directly to his life—he’s admitted only that there might be “something vaguely autobiographical” about it—its power stems in part from its capacity to seem so deeply, even naively, personal.

    In a group of new paintings, solitary black silhouettes of trees or vases of flowers stand out against a mottled silvery gray background. In Any Human Heart, 2003, a pair of underwear is visible through the paint, in a gesture emblematic of Baechler’s

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  • Emily Jacir

    Debs & Co.

    For “Where We Come From,” her first solo exhibition in New York, Palestinian- American artist Emily Jacir posed a question to other Palestinians living around the world: “If I could do something for you, anywhere in Palestine, what would it be?” With her American passport and the freedom of movement it ostensibly conferred, she carried out the wishes of twenty-seven compatriots unable to return to or move freely about their home country. The records of these acts, mostly colorful photographs and a few videos, convey a quietly affecting glimpse of the devastation and intimidation that has come

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  • Annika Ström

    Casey Kaplan

    I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY. This wry anti-statement, with its overtones of Cagean Zen, is brushed in shades of dilute blue acrylic on an oversize sheet of white paper by Swedish artist and musician Annika Ström, forming the disingenuous introduction to a modest but far from weightless exhibition, “Everything in this show could be used against me.” Centered on a new video, 16 minutes (all works 2003), the show further demonstrates Ström’s talent for making something out of nothing. Aligning the dreamy, introverted nature of individual studio practice with the glimpsed views and half-remembered

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  • Michael Krebber

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    Ten years after his last New York solo show, Michael Krebber returned with an installation called Flaggs (Against Nature), 2003, that might have been a bit perplexing for an audience unfamiliar with his work. Krebber has been well known in Germany since the mid-’80s as an erstwhile assistant to Martin Kippenberger; he might even be considered the latter’s alter ego. If Kippenberger was the brash, satirical commentator on art-world politics, the description goes, then Krebber was the quiet but influential Conceptualist behind the scenes. But as Merlin Carpenter, another former Kippenberger studio

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  • Glenn Kaino

    The Project

    For his first solo show in New York, Los Angeles–based artist Glenn Kaino commandeered the gallery with two new sculptures, pointed in their social critique yet open-ended enough to allow multiple interpretations. Upstairs there was In Revolution (all works 2003), a heavy metal triangular base with an armored motor at its apex, supporting an eight-foot propeller-like arm. This angled arm spun at forty revolutions per minute, filling the room with the sound of its turning. Mounted at one end of the revolving arm was a three-foot-square curved architectural model of suburban real estate: a

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  • Stephen Dean

    Henry Urbach Architecture

    Stephen Dean’s Pulse, 2001, was one of the few high points of the 2002 Whitney Biennial, and with his newest video, he again delves into the cultural use of color. Volta, 2002–2003, begins with a smattering of staccato horns and a close-up of a rippling swath of fabric, which is then pulled away to reveal hundreds of Brazilian soccer fans in a gesture that recalls a curtain rising on a performance.

    Running nearly nine minutes, Volta occasionally homes in on details or wades among the fans. But mainly Dean works to present a sense of enthusiastic chaos and of how larger-scale forms and patterns

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  • Jean-François Moriceau + Petra Mrzyk

    Marcus Ritter

    The art world is having a love affair with drawing. In the span of a year, we’ve had MoMA’s “Drawing Now,” the UCLA Hammer’s “International Paper,” and the traveling exhibition comprising Marcel Dzama, Neil Farber, and the rest of the Royal Art Lodge gang. And now, with a collective spirit and Surrealist-inspired wit similar to Dzama et al. comes Jean-François Moriceau and Petra Mrzyk’s multidrawing project “Only for Your Eyes.” From the marvelous combined imaginations of these young French artists sprang 120 ink-on-paper works and three drawings done directly on the wall (all works untitled,

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  • “Reconfiguring Space: Blueprints for Art in General”

    Art in General

    In a conversation with Allan Kaprow published in Arts Yearbook’s “Museum World” (1967), Robert Smithson speculated about the possibility of a museum composed of different kinds of emptiness. How to create flexible, supportive open space remains the fundamental challenge for architects and designers who hope to build museums or galleries, as the recent exhibition “Reconfiguring Space: Blueprints for Art in General” made evident. Five finalists—kOnyk, Acconci Studio, Freecell, Leslie Gill Architect, and Natalie Jeremijenko/Laura Kurgan Design—were selected from an open competition to redesign the

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  • Sarah Michelson

    The Kitchen/P.S. 122

    Choreographer Sarah Michelson transforms performance spaces in the most extraordinary ways. For Part I of Shadowmann at the Kitchen, she spun the large black-box theater around so that the traditional arrangement of audience and performance was reversed. Bleachers were set up onstage, and the tall entrance doors provided the back wall. At the beginning of the performance, lights went up instead of down, the doors to the Kitchen swung open instead of shut, and all the way, across the street, two spotlit dancers in bright yellow tunics walked in unison down three steps of the building opposite

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