reviews

  • Superstudio, The Continuous Monument: New New York, 1969, lithograph, 27 1/2 x 39 3/8".

    Superstudio

    Various Venues

    “Superstudio: Life Without Objects” offered a timely lesson in architecture as a form of nonviolent yet nonetheless destructive guerrilla warfare. Initiated by the Design Museum, London, and distributed among three venues in New York, the exhibition brought together work from more than a decade of intense polemical experimentation by the Florence-based Superstudio group, founded in 1966 by Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia and later joined by Roberto Magris, Gian Piero Frassinelli, Alessandro Poli, and Alessandro Magris. The show included drawings, sketches, sculpturelike Histograms,

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  • Lucas Samaras

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    “Unrepentant Ego: The Self-Portraits of Lucas Samaras” wasted no time and exercised suitably little restraint in announcing its larger-than-life subject/object, emblazoning the entrance to the exhibition with a colossal photograph of the artist’s face. Of course, Samaras’s career-long project of relentless self-scrutiny has always had theatrical power to spare. Over the last five decades, the Greek-born New Yorker has deployed performative nerve, killer technique, and sheer obsessive force of will to produce what is among the most vivid personal documentary programs in the history of artmaking.

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  • Collier Schorr

    303 Gallery

    In this show, Collier Schorr turned up the volume on her perennial favorite subject—teenage boys—and drew us once again into privileged proximity with a company of high school pugilists whose inner circle she happens to have penetrated. Her fascination with young athletes is reflected in the proportions of her big, new color photographs (measuring up to four by three feet) and the heightened drama she pumps into her pictures. By means of pronounced chiaroscuro she transforms the ordinariness of an empty gym into a moody film noir set—its stark, stripped-down stage and after-hours atmosphere

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  • Julie Roberts

    Sean Kelly Gallery

    By the time you got to the four views of domestic architecture in Julie Roberts’s recent exhibition “Home,” you’d already met Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and the victims of Jack the Ripper, plus a group of artists, poets, and figures from history and literature, all seen dead. Holmes and Watson came first, as if to promise that the show’s mood would be set by the detective tale’s calming pleasure in fatality, gentle mental challenge, and, in the case of Conan Doyle, its agreeable loll in Victoriana. Past this opener, though, you fell into actual horrors: a painting and eight graphite drawings,

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  • Rita Ackermann

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Rita Ackermann is a painter who tends to put that talent in the service of a wider, more adventurous milieu-making activity, connecting with music, fashion, and other urban scenes in order to carry sensations from one place over into another, sometimes making us rediscover what painting is along the way. One example is The Deer Slayer, the shadow-puppet theater she produced in 1997. With live narration by Kim Gordon and music by members of the No Neck Blues Band, the show—combining painting and performance, improvised sound plus changing backdrops and the illuminated figures that moved across

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  • Jack Smith

    The pleasure and the interest of this small exhibition of drawings, photographs, and ephemera from the collection of artist Edwin Ruda and Maria Antoinette, Smith’s former friend and superstar, result from its focus. These letters, sketches of costume designs, cut-and-paste flyers for midnight performances, etc., document a friendship and collaboration coinciding with the hyperactive years (1969–71) of the Plaster Foundation, Smith’s live-in, self-run theater on Greene Street. Antoinette, a Mescalero Apache who acted in Brassieres of Atlantis and other Smith shows during that time, embodies the

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  • Tony Cragg

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    There’s a kind of scientific air to Tony Cragg’s recent sculptures, as if he’d been studying the effects of movement on mass in a wind tunnel. Mass in forceful movement, movement embodied by mass: Declinations, 2003, makes the strategies clear, all the more so because it seems centripetal and centrifugal at once. Concentrated toward some hypothetical core while relentlessly expanding beyond itself, the piece seamlessly integrates fluidity and solidity, thinness and thickness, instability and stability with a kind of dramatic flair. Indeed, the work, like many in this exhibition, could be an

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  • Glenn Ligon

    D'Amelio Terras

    Since the days when Max Ernst’s La Femme 100 têtes spoke in psychoanalytic tongues, artists have actively pursued the implications of identification, projection, transference, and desire, unveiling in the process just how unstable and contingent any cohesive notion of the “self” really is. The unruly unconscious supplied a language—if cacophonous—with which to question conventions of subjectivity while proposing a plethora of “difference.” From the early ’70s on, then, psychoanalysis’s most adamant advocates came from the margins, using methods culled from the couch to engage the politics of

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  • John Klima

    Postmasters

    Peppered with all-too-easily countered adjectives like “seamless” and “high resolution,” the press release for John Klima’s second solo exhibition here does him no favors. The artist’s own mention of The Matrix is similarly ill advised, throwing the gap between the movie’s faultless, hallucinatory virtual universe and the more conspicuous workings of Klima’s installations Train and Terrain (both 2003) into unflatteringly sharp contrast. And while Klima acknowledges that the computer technology that informs his practice is in its infancy, it’s still difficult to ignore the numerous technical

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  • Nick Mauss and Shelby Hughes/Christian Holstad

    Daniel Reich Gallery

    Daniel Reich made his reputation as a bright young thing with an idiosyncratic series of shows in his Chelsea apartment, and with this debut exhibition at his new gallery location, he kept their exuberantly cluttered sensibility alive in this more conventional space.

    The first show was an inspired juxtaposition of work by Christian Holstad and recent Cooper Union graduates Nick Mauss and Shelby Hughes. Mauss and Hughes’s project “Magnetic Living” is a loose-knit cluster of found, gently manipulated, and patiently handcrafted objects and part-objects that hints at New Age mysticism, backwoods

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  • Joyce Kozloff

    DC Moore Gallery

    Joyce Kozloff’s “Boys’ Art” is a series of twenty-four collaged drawings based on maps, diagrams, and illustrations of mostly obscure historic battles. In these works diminutive figures in Napoleonic, Meso-American, Arabian, Mongolian, and superhero regalia preen, strut, sneak, march, and clash in colorful, lushly detailed landscapes that recall one of Kozloff’s acknowledged influences, Henry Darger. Much of the allure of these drawings stems from the pursed-lipped schoolboy earnestness with which they seem to have been executed, while the complexity of each work—the minute formations preparing

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  • John Wesley

    Fredericks & Freiser

    John Wesley has always been hard to pin down. Linda Norden, curator of a recent exhibition of his work at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum, has described him as a “not-quite-pop, faux-primitive Californian” as well as the “Henri Rousseau of his generation.” In these pages in October 2000, Dave Hickey opined that his “penchant for erotic narrative . . . defines Wesley as more an eighteenth-century fabulist.” We can at least agree that the artist started to mine popular culture for imagery in the early ’60s and used it to sexier and more eccentric ends than his fellow painters Warhol, Rosenquist, and

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  • Nancy Friedemann

    Cheryl Pelavin Fine Art

    Like Elaine Reichek, Rosemarie Trockel, Ingrid Calame, and Polly Apfelbaum (and others as different from one another), Nancy Friedemann borrows from domestic craft, reinterpreting curtains, table runners, and other lace accents as fine-art objects, some on a monumental scale. Tracing segments of lace or crocheted textiles in ink onto a semitransparent Mylar sheet, she creates works that are more translations than re-creations. With the shift from thread to ink, a traditionally conservative activity, prescribed and sanctioned for girls and women and eventually lost to machines, morphs into a

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  • Tim Etchells

    P.S. 122

    While not exactly a school or a genre per se, the lecture-performance has a history all its own that is just beginning to be examined for its own merits. Recent practitioners in the art context range from Andrea Fraser to Walid Raad; earlier iterations include Robert Morris’s 21.3.1964, in which the artist lip-synched to a projection of Erwin Panofsky delivering his lectures on Studies in Iconology; Bernar Venet’s invitations (1967–71) to experts to present lectures in a range of subjects to accompany his own painted scientific diagrams; and Joseph Beuys’s famously engaging lecture-actions.

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  • Roy Dowell

    Margo Leavin Gallery

    Imagine a gaggle of Expressionists, Cubists, Constructivists, Dadaists, Futurists, and early abstractionists coming of age after Pop amid the Pattern and Decoration movement and the rise of appropriation, and you might get a sense of Roy Dowell’s twenty-five modestly scaled, untitled, numbered works. These burlap-and-acrylic works on canvas and collages on illustration board (all works 2003) have much to do with early modernism yet seem to find their place in what could be called a post-postmodern moment.

    Perhaps it’s too easy to describe work by one artist in terms of imagined combinations of

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