reviews

  • Barbara Kruger

    Mary Boone Gallery | Uptown

    Not for the first time, Barbara Kruger deals in her latest work with pressure, animosity, stress. Twelve, 2004, is a video installation in which images of the individuals in a dozen successive friend and family groups sitting around tables are projected on the gallery’s four walls. The work is structured as if Kruger had set four cameras in the middle of the table, each facing one side; the result is that on each wall we see one person, close and way over life-size, who faces us while talking or listening to the people on the space’s other walls. I say talking or listening, but it would be truer

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  • Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    Someone is being followed; someone is not telling the whole truth; footsteps crunch on gravel; the view careers along a lonely pedestrian underpass or through dark trees; an urgent whisper startles in one’s ear. Shots ring out. Somewhere the narrative conventions of cinematic thrillers, detective stories, and radio serials and the frustration of such conventions by strategies of appropriation and fragmentation slap each other on the back and acknowledge that, as paradigms for storytelling, they are no longer opposites but instead old pals who, as it were, can finish one another’s sentences. We,

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  • Franz Gertsch, Patti Smith IV, 1979, acrylic on canvas, 9' 4 1/2“ x 13' 9 3/4”.

    Franz Gertsch

    Gagosian Gallery

    In 1977, after the albums Horses and Radio Ethiopia but before Easter and Wave, Patti Smith came to Cologne to perform at the adventurous Galerie Veith Turske. Franz Gertsch was a forty-seven-year-old Photorealist painter then. Like many fans before and since, from avant-gardists to punk-rock teenagers, he had fallen in love with the magnetic butch-sylph portrait of Smith by Robert Mapplethorpe on the cover of Horses, and he came to the show to shoot his own pictures. He used a flash that annoyed the diva, and she crumpled a piece of paper and threw it at him—a storied moment captured in the

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  • Left: Valentina Kulagina, Female Shock-workers Strengthen the Shock Brigades, Master Technology, and Increase the Ranks of the Proletarian Specialists, 1931, lithograph, 39 3/8 x 28 5/16“. Right: Gustav Klutsis, design for a postcard for the All-Union Olympiad (Spartakiada), Moscow, 1928, photographs, paper, and gouache on paper, 8 x 5 1/2”.

    Gustav Klutsis and Valentina Kulagina

    International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)

    Through the course of the Bolshevik 1920s and Stalinist 1930s, the pioneering Soviet photomonteurs Gustav Klutsis and Valentina Kulagina produced some of the most terrible—in the old-fashioned sense of the word—examples of visual propaganda ever executed in the service of modern state power. Eventually supported almost exclusively by the administrative organs and centralized publishing houses of a one-party state, their often overlapping, but also sometimes diverging, design practices were directly dependent on the ever-shifting exigencies of their historical context. Unlike that of many of

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  • Willie Doherty

    Alexander and Bonin

    “You think you know me. I am unknowable.” The male voice is measured, calm, and somber. “I am invisible. I disappear in a crowd.” Pausing between lines, the speaker allows a few seconds for each statement to sink in before proceeding to the next. “I share your fears. I know your desires.” As the recitation continues, we watch a projection of a lone young white man with a shaved head and severe expression; he remains motionless and silent as the camera circles him, steadily and unceasingly. “There will be no television. There will be no radio.” Interspersed with what we assume to be the subject’s

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  • “Tokyo Girls Bravo”

    Marianne Boesky Gallery

    Childhood is no longer what it was in the days of Rousseau and Wordsworth: It’s lost its innocence. Especially in Japan—at least as it emerges in “Tokyo Girls Bravo,” a gathering of work by ten mostly under-thirty artists curated by Takashi Murakami (who organized a pair of smaller exhibitions with the same title back in 1999 that included some of the same artists). Murakami, the promoter of all things “superflat,” is, of course, a past master at giving childlike imagery nasty and malicious overtones. The consummate professionalism with which he approaches his work as an image producer, however

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  • Manfred Pernice

    Anton Kern Gallery / Storefront for Art and Architecture

    In Berlin-based artist Manfred Pernice’s recent show, art disentangled itself from, and then remerged with, modular furniture: Dinged plywood benches each formed of three open cubes and positioned against a gallery wall led into more elaborate “banks” in the center of the space, some built of concrete with inset tiles, others of partially painted particleboard, scored or cut as though halfway to assembly. The show was called “Commerzbank,” after the advertisement from which Kurt Schwitters cut his famous word fragment “Merz”; meanwhile the artist calls the benches themselves “merzbanks,” punning

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  • Bill Morrison

    Maya Stendhal Gallery

    In A Voyage on the North Sea, Rosalind Krauss recalls that in the late ’60s and early ’70s artists including Richard Serra and Robert Smithson made a habit of visiting Anthology Film Archives, where they absorbed the canon of modernist film up to and including its structuralist endgames. These days, the art world seems to be in the midst of a similar, if more diffuse, engagement with the classics of experimental cinema—viz. Stan Brakhage’s inclusion in the current Whitney Biennial or the modernism-is-dead, long-live-modernism riffing of film and video artists from Jeremy Blake to Haluk Akakçe

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  • Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg

    Cohan and Leslie

    Systems of social activity and interpersonal communication and the breakdowns that plague them provided the organizing principles for the recent exhibition by the New York–based artist team of Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg. Profuse and appealingly offhanded, the show by the Canadian-born duo featured some fifty jointly produced works that ranged from a sprawl of technically brilliant pale blue and green freestanding polystyrene sculptures to cryptic wall-based arrangements of photos and text-covered drawings. With a taste for collisions between unlikely subject matter—a head-scratching

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  • Amelia von Wulffen

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    It’s been argued that thirty-eight-year-old Berlin-based artist Amelie von Wulffen is working in something like a “new German Romantic” vein, and, in her first solo show in New York, any number of her photo-and-paint collages hinted at an urge to recycle the well-known aesthetic strategies of the early nineteenth century. Swapping Sturm und Drang for more recent cultural imperatives, Untitled (Sunset/ Fax Machine/Schiele) (all works 2003) shows a Friedrich-meets-Monet seaside sunset casting its inspissated rays over an unexpected range of subjects including, as the title suggests, a fax machine

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  • Alex Bag

    Elizabeth Dee Gallery

    Alex Bag’s “Coven Services for Consumer Mesmerism, Product Sorcery, and the Necromantic Reimagination of Consumption” uses low-budget materials and DIY processes to transform the gallery into the corporate HQ of a sinister, world-dominating advertising agency/think tank/PR firm/witch cult. Coven Services’ clients include some of the key players in global capitalism today, notorious multinational corporations such as Monsanto, Bechtel, and AOL–Time Warner. The main wall—a sort of creative-visioning workshop in progress that also suggests the psychotic basement wallpaperings of TV serial killers—is

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  • Hermann Nitsch

    Mike Weiss Gallery

    There are many paths to ecstasy. Some, pace Blake, lead down the road of excess, while others go the way of asceticism. The relationship between heightened states of mind and the process of artmaking has always been close, with the construction of icons, their erasure, and the hard contemplation of color serving as perennial avenues to revelation.

    The latest evidence of a nascent trend in the art world toward gnomic, incantatory, and psychedelic ways of creating—alongside the rekindled interest in elder visionaries such as Joan Jonas and Charlemagne Palestine can be seen the generally mystical

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  • Peter Saul

    George Adams Gallery

    “Suburbia,” an exhibition of Peter Saul’s paintings and drawings from the mid- to late ’60s, offers a look at the artist not only as scathing ironist but as maverick aesthete. Shocking pink and blazing complementaries jump from the works’ surfaces, creating a sense of inextricable tangle. Figures and objects fuse in a mad, comic chaos, and crayon and colored pencil, childish and garish, seem to be the perverse mediums of choice.

    Saul doesn’t care much for suburbia (apparently Mill Valley, California, was the inspiration) or, for that matter, America. These works spring from the rise of the

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  • John Duff

    Knoedler & Company

    The works in New York–based artist John Duff’s recent exhibition “Designed with You in Mind: Various Sculptures, Variously Entailed” are constructed according to the basic principles of geometry. Inclined Form, 2001, is a plaster tetrahedron whose four triangular sides are each paired with a rectangle of steel rods, which together create a sort of cage for the inner structure (the shape of the sculpture was “entailed,” or determined, by this basic formula). Formally, the procedure could not be simpler, but the visual mystery occasioned within such transparency is captivating. As the viewer moves

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  • Sharon Core

    Bellwether

    Photography has long been the helpmate of painting. Thomas Eakins secretly painted from photographs; Richter and Warhol transformed the practice for the second half of the twentieth century. But could the tide be shifting? For her photographic series “Thiebauds,” 2003–2004, photographer (and trained pastry chef) Sharon Core painstakingly baked the components of eleven of Wayne Thiebaud’s food paintings, the majority from the early ’60s, and then proceeded to photograph the results.

    It’s interesting to note that Thiebaud reportedly painted his works from memory; by baking, decorating, and setting

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  • Lee Lozano

    P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

    Whenever one comes across Lee Lozano’s work (and the opportunities are few and far between), it’s immediately apparent that this artist is an important “missing link” within the complex overlays and undercurrents of the many art practices and attitudes that flourished in New York in the ’60s. As is evident in this valuable exhibition that brings together rarely seen paintings, drawings, and text pieces from 1961 to 1971, Lozano epitomizes the artist as hybrid: Working in the soup of Conceptual, Minimal, Pop, and feminist practices that simmered at the time, she belongs everywhere and nowhere at

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