reviews

  • Left to right: John Currin, The Invalids, 1997, oil on canvas, 48 x 36". John Currin, Homemade Pasta, 1999, oil on canvas, 50 x 42”.

    Left to right: John Currin, The Invalids, 1997, oil on canvas, 48 x 36". John Currin, Homemade Pasta, 1999, oil on canvas, 50 x 42”.

    John Currin

    New Museum

    What is “normal” love? Mom and dad’s? Teen sweethearts? God? Your identification with certain characters from the soaps? From Art History 101? Is it the way you feel about your favorite underwear? This earlyish midcareer retrospective of paintings by John Currin provides ample material for the elaboration of these questions; authorities ranging from Saint Paul to Penthouse Letters provide some answers.

    The exhibition opens with the middle-aged-woman paintings that first earned Currin a particular notoriety in the early ’90s. No discussion of these works should omit Kim Levin’s admonishment

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  • Max Beckmann

    MoMA QNS - Museum of Modern Art

    “Curious that in every city I hear the lions roaring,” Max Beckmann noted in his diary in 1947, a few days after reaching New York from Amsterdam, where he had spent the war years in exile from his native Germany. Whatever the remark means, it reminds us that Beckmann loved the circus and identified with the big cats. In his 1940 painting In the Circus Wagon, two soulful tigers cower in a cage while a stern Beckmann, centered in the blaze of a lamp, reads the paper and hunkers over his own prey, an odalisque in pink resembling his wife. He dares the tigers to interrupt him, but he wouldn’t be

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  • Larry Clark

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    When I walked into “punk Picasso,” Larry Clark’s first New York gallery exhibition in several years, I thought I had entered a Conceptual-art installation. Here were many juxtapositions of photos and texts, photos and photos, texts and texts, texts and heroin wrappers (the latter artfully arrayed à la Richard Tuttle), as well as related objects, e.g., Untitled (Severed head of ‘Vincent’ from Teenage Caveman), 2001. This surfeit of information—kind of like Hans Haacke’s, or Hanne Darboven’s, or Gerhard Richter’s, but not quite—transmitted an overriding impression that here was lots of important

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  • Olafur Eliasson

    Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

    A viewer rushing to Olafur Eliasson’s latest exhibition expecting a quiet epiphany or a spontaneous unveiling of the mechanisms of perception—an “Aha!” moment, as the artist says—would have been disappointed, at least initially. Eliasson had turned the gallery’s main space into a cluttered workshop in which cobbled-together shelves and ad hoc vitrines lined the walls and spilled into the center—not a stark, subtle “intervention” by any means. Titled Modelroom, 2003, the work was true to its name, functioning primarily as an invitation into the artist’s preparatory processes, which, we learned,

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  • Lisa Yuskavage

    Marianne Boesky Gallery

    Lisa Yuskavage’s luscious new paintings introduce Lupe and Lola, Babie, Smiley, Curlie G., and their girlfriends—the newest additions to an ever-expanding gang at the absolute center of attention. Like their predecessors, these big girls with (usually) voluptuous bodies and Cabbage Patch faces embody contradictions concerning age, innocence, and desirability. Part child, part woman, but fully neither, they reside at an indefinite number of slippery points in between. All seem to live a girl’s idealized life of leisure. They preen, groom, lounge, caress each other, and frequently pose—at the

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  • Dennis Balk

    American Fine Arts

    No two Dennis Balk exhibitions are ever alike. Over the course of two decades of work in New York, he has diagrammed quasi-historical vignettes on sets of cloth dinner napkins; written plays for the theater, some of which were linked to sculptural props displaced to a gallery; displayed raw vegetables on folding tables; and constructed machines that measure unseen forces (which were contingent on the viewer’s physical participation). He has written a novella concerning, among other things, secret knowledge in ancient Egypt, and he currently writes on topics of interest in nanotechnology and

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  • Joel Shapiro

    PaceWildenstein 22

    There may be no work of art without a “balancing center,” as Rudolf Arnheim has written, but the elegance of Joel Shapiro’s new sculptures lies in their lack thereof. These constructivist balancing acts indeed convey a lack of balance—and the precariousness of all balance. In a number of works, rectangular fragments of varying lengths, densities, and textures shoot off in all directions, dispersing randomly in space with the thrust of Futurist vectors. Each piece seems like an intricate engineering feat, at once free-spirited and carefully planned. One might even say that these works are about

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  • Amy Sillman

    Brent Sikkema

    Amy Sillman’s reputation has grown with each new show. Though she simmered in obscurity for (by her reckoning) at least ten years, this was also time to experiment and explore, to adopt and hone a range of techniques. That decade keeps paying off: Her latest exhibition, “I am curious (yellow),” featured apparently tossed-together works of real substance and panache. She’s prolific, too: “I am curious” included six large-scale paintings, a wall full of gouaches, and Letters from Texas, 2003, a chain of sixteen panels forming a loose narrative along two walls.

    Sillman’s flavors are her colors:

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  • Fred Tomaselli

    James Cohan | Tribeca

    Fred Tomaselli’s intensely detailed and disquieting mixed-media collages could be considered a redress of the brightly colored, paisley-strewn, and generally utopic art of the ’60s and ’70s. In Us and Them, 2003, Adam and Eve reach for the bough of a bird-laden tree; the archetypal couple has been meticulously assembled out of anatomy illustrations and body parts cut from photos, which have then been laid against a dark background and covered with a thick layer of clear acrylic. The cluster of penises on Adam and the many breasts and buttocks on Eve betray the influence of Indian devotional art,

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  • Blake Rayne

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    “August Evening Walk Out,” an exhibition of new paintings by Blake Rayne, was the final installment in his thematic series “Three of Four Seasons” (following “Autumn Drive,” 1997, and “The Winter Line,” 2000). Skipping spring and diving straight into summer’s extreme tangerines, grapes, and lemon-limes, Rayne’s flavor-enhanced, atmospheric surfaces tempt us with boredom (the beachy kind), emptiness (or the infinite), and the terrors and joys of intoxication. The “August,” “Evening,” and “Fridays” of the paintings’ titles aren’t temporalities you can bank on or calculate, they are events—more

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  • Ann Lislegaard

    Murray Guy

    In a passage from The Poetics of Space (1958) in which he discusses the solitude and passivity to be experienced in the corner of a room, Gaston Bachelard urges poets to “designate the space of our immobility by making it the space of our being.” Ann Lislegaard’s Corner Piece—The Space Between Us, 2000–2003—two freestanding, white-painted facades meeting at a right angle a short distance from the gallery walls—seemed to respond directly to Bachelard. Though the piece offered little information on a visual level, the space-shaping presence of recorded voices, emanating from speakers installed at

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  • Ruth Root

    Andrew Kreps Gallery

    Read the critics on Ruth Root, and the names dropped are Philip Guston, Ellsworth Kelly, Piet Mondrian, and Richard Tuttle. The Guston references derive from the waggish strategy by which Root made her earlier color-block abstractions self-conscious: Little pairs of eyes peeped through what one had assumed to be a flat, nonillusionistic span of paint, and lit cigarettes protruded from the seams where colors touched. It was a gimmick, albeit a clever one, and in her recent show Root wisely rested it. Without the sexy, anthropomorphic gestures toward satiety, wariness, and contemplation, her

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  • JODI

    Eyebeam

    An innocent visit to www.jodi.org brings immediate, alarming results: A hoard of mini browser windows, each completely black except for the standard white menu bar, manically proliferate on your desktop; they’ll persist until you close your Internet browser completely. In a sense, artists Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans (collaborating as JODI since 1994) are the Dadaists of Internet art: Like those early members of the avant-garde, their work employs strategies of rupture and subversion to create an estrangement effect, jarring viewers for a moment out of their everyday lives online. Though I

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  • “Yard”

    Socrates Sculpture Park

    Robert Smithson was one of the first artists to think about suburbia in geological terms. His insight that the structure of the suburban landscape is inherently crystalline—the result of mineral processes unfolding at the limits of human perception—remains a relevant counterpoint to the sociohistorical narrative that’s much more often used to understand the sprawl that surrounds our cities. Defining suburbia as a synthesis of the urban and the pastoral—as a kind of intermediary condition dependent on antecedent forms of manmade landscape—leads artists into familiar postmodern terrain, where they

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