reviews

  • Willem de Kooning

    Gagosian Gallery / Mitchell-Innes & Nash

    The dominant view of de Kooning’s brushstrokes maintains that they were heroic masculine gestures, deposits of existential Self; I prefer to imagine that they were self- (not Self-) propelled. They have what a biologist would call motility. This is also true of the career as a whole, which was a kind of motor fueled by such self-recycling strategies as repainting, collaging, tracing, and opaque-projecting earlier work. But eventually, as demonstrated by two recent surveys celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the artist’s birth, all the movement ground to a painful and ambiguous halt.

    Both

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  • “Treble”

    SculptureCenter

    In 2000, sound-art pioneer Max Neuhaus responded to the tremendous resurgence of interest in his field by calling for a dissolution of the term that he himself had helped to coin. “Sound art,” Neuhaus contended, had become a sloppy catchphrase encompassing a slew of disparate practices whose only common denominator was that they bore some relationship to sound. “Sound Art,” he concluded, “has been consumed.”

    Neuhaus’s declaration provided the springboard for “Treble,” a group show at SculptureCenter organized by independent curator Regine Basha. Though sound remained the thread that tied the

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  • Rico Gatson

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    Rico Gatson’s work to date has consisted primarily of large-scale videos that explore racial stereotyping in Hollywood film. Here, however, his investigations took the form of multimedia installations that touch on similar issues but additionally confront the current media barrage of war imagery and the system of secrecy and fear that is now internationally pervasive.

    History Lessons, 2004, was projected on four walls and shown on four monitors encased in a freestanding wooden structure at the center of the gallery’s first room. The video is divided into four episodes, each with a different tempo.

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  • Cindy Sherman

    Metro Pictures

    Cindy Sherman has gone digital! It’s still her masquerading for the camera as she brings to life a series of clowns (twelve of which were included in this exhibition), who are easily among the most flamboyant characters she has ever created. But in several of these new photographs (all works 2004), Sherman employs digital technology to multiply her image within a single frame. Dressed in clown outfits, clusters of her surrogates share space for the first time. They rub shoulders, snatch furtive glimpses, taunt one another, and leer at us from the other side of the looking glass—introducing in

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  • Albert Oehlen

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    Every time Albert Oehlen comes to town to show a new body of work—which on this occasion consisted of eight very large oil-on-canvas paintings from 2003—the bellyaching begins. With all the complaints that surface in the New York press you’d think that American audiences had never heard of the historical avant-garde’s strategies of defamiliarization and antiaestheticism, which are now almost a century old. But America has traditionally been defensive about what European artists might be up to behind its back, or worse, out there in front. The prevailing attitude of our conservative times demands

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  • Rodney Graham

    303 Gallery

    In his three-act play La machine à écrire (The Typewriter, 1941), Jean Cocteau presents a female protagonist indistinguishable from the eponymous tool of her modern trade. This mysterious character’s deep-seated aggressiveness is borne out in typewritten letters signed “The Typewriter” whose alarming anonymity propels an entire community into a state of sustained anxiety. Recognizing the metaphoric implications of the perpetrator’s activities, the detective bent on cracking “the typewriter’s” case likens her use of the mechanical writing tool to that of a machine gun (unsurprising, perhaps,

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  • Christopher Knowles

    Gavin Brown's enterprise | 620 Greenwich Street

    “Christopher Knowles,” wrote John Ashbery in 1978, “at the age of nineteen, without exactly meaning to, has become a major figure of the New York avant-garde.” For viewers encountering the artist’s work for the first time in this engaging survey—the forty-five-year-old’s first solo since 1988, which features a selection of his figurative oil-marker drawings, modest object arrangements, and typed text and image works—Ashbery’s description is a helpful prologue. It drops clues to the story of an outsider who, for thirty years, has cut a distinctive path through that most “inside” of social

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  • David Krippendorff

    Massimo Audiello

    Rita Hayworth’s star turn in Charles Vidor’s movie Gilda (1946) was decisive in establishing the actress as a Hollywood sex bomb. On July 1 of the same year, the United States exploded the fourth atomic bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, a test designed to show the world that the country had a nuclear arsenal. The bomb was named Gilda and had Hayworth’s image painted on its surface. David Krippendorff takes this equation as a point of departure for paintings, drawings, and video that move adroitly through the linked terrains of social criticism and political dissent.

    The movie Gilda,

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  • Anish Kapoor

    Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

    As sculptural object, the cube has been done to death—it’s a tired emblem of modernist purity and autonomy—but there is something different about Whiteout, 2004, the large white cube in Anish Kapoor’s recent show: It seemed oddly vacuous. Like a doubting Thomas, I touched it, and lo and behold, there was nothing to touch: My arm went right through its “side,” into a void. I had been blind to it, but when my arm was in the sculpture I was able to discern that its surface was concave—an oddly lingering inward curve. Looking around the gallery, I realized that curvature, however varied, informed

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  • Michal Rovner

    Pace Wildenstein

    Michal Rovner’s “in stone” consisted of a series of cavernous, darkened rooms filled with perfectly aligned rows of internally lit vitrines, each containing a stone tablet marked with hieroglyphs. Brooding and sterile, the installation recalled an antiquities museum or archaeology department cleansed of dust and clutter. Drawn close to the glowing glass-and-steel displays, the viewer realized that what appeared to be ancient and inert was flickering, technological; what one thought was etched in stone was written in light. Black jots and squiggles were projected against the unincised surfaces

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  • Joe Andoe

    Feigen Contemporary

    “All of us had police records, some more than me. But still, before I was sixteen, I got busted for acid and was put in jail over night on two hits of it. Then I got arrested for driving under-age and had to work at the zoo. At sixteen I got a car that I totaled and went on to total three more and was charged with DWI, DUI, and reckless driving and busted for drugs three more times before I was done being a teenager.”

    New York painter Joe Andoe’s confessional short story “Out on the Perimeter” (2004), reproduced as an introductory wall text, set the stage for a collection of suitably rough-hewn

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  • Erick Swenson

    James Cohan Gallery | Chelsea

    At least since his 1998 show at Dallas’s Angstrom Gallery, Erick Swenson has pursued a level of presentation and craftsmanship so exacting that it might attract phone calls equally from museum curators and from Hollywood special-effects technicians. Titled “Obviously a Movie,” the Angstrom show consisted of sculpted creatures, including a creepy half-horse, half-sheep called Edgar, 1997, that stood upright and two green-faced ape-men set in action poses among snow-covered rocks, all dusted with artificial snow. Making no secret of their artifice and sources, Swenson’s hybrid forms appear almost

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  • Gedi Sibony

    CANADA

    For his recent show at Canada, New York–based artist Gedi Sibony appeared to have raided the supply closets, mail rooms, and cubicles of America, cobbling the unassuming materials he found there into rough-hewn, kooky, weirdly elegant sculptures that owed something to arte povera, something to Richard Tuttle, and something, perhaps, to the laconic, screw-you formalism of Georg Herold. The impression of a kind of back-office bricolage was conveyed primarily by an abundance of commercial carpet, which climbed toward the ceiling in a patchwork tapestry (The Framework Planned [all works 2004]) and

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  • Gareth James

    American Fine Arts

    Origami may seem a funny way to “articulate the persistence of the logic of capitalist property relations in the visual,” but Gareth James’s working concept here is topology, and what better way to visualize nonlinear space-times than via the fold? James folds paper in order to depict a world that operates through the managed undermining of fixed identities and once-stable borders. The topological fold—for James, a sort of upgraded analytical cubism—is also a means of deconstructing a received picture of the world in order to elaborate approaches equal to the conditions under which the artist

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  • AA Bronson

    John Connelly Presents

    For twenty-five years, AA Bronson lived and made art as part of General Idea. The Canadian trio mimicked and mutated mass-cultural forms from beauty pageants to boutiques to glossy magazines, always returning with vertiginous glee and cutting irony to the intricacies of creating an identity in a media-saturated society. Bronson’s work since the 1994 AIDS-related deaths of Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, his two partners in GI, has become more personal and less sportive: The most powerful image in the 2002 Whitney Biennial was his deathbed portrait of Partz, and in an interview published this year

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  • Felix Gmelin

    Maccarone | 630 Greenwich Street

    Whether artistic or political, revolution aims at a tabula rasa. Think of Malevich’s quest for painting’s ground zero or the First French Republic’s decree of “year 1.” Paradoxically, though, the leap into post-revolutionary time tends to proceed from a backward glance, from Jacques-Louis David’s nod to ancient Rome in The Oath of the Horatii, 1784, to May 1968’s evocation of October 1917. But as our faith in historical progress—which sustained the idea of a revolutionary break along with its utopian aspirations—appears increasingly on the wane, so, it seems, is our ability to use elements of

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  • Howardena Pindell

    Sragow Gallery

    Howardena Pindell tells a story about how, traveling through northern Kentucky and southern Ohio in the ’40s, she and her family were offered root beer mugs that had large red circles drawn on the bottom. When she asked her father what the circles meant, he told her that they denoted those mugs that African-Americans were allowed to drink from. Obviously affected by this experience, Pindell later recalled how, even though she was “weak” in math and started using numbers in her work only after an Ohio gallerist wondered how many “points or circles” appeared therein, she employed statistics in

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  • Sister Gertrude Morgan

    American Folk Art Museum

    This retrospective, which featured the paintings, sculpture, writings, and music of New Orleans–based self-taught visionary artist Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900–1980), reflected a recent shift within the hybrid field of folk/outsider art from market-driven sensationalism toward critical self-awareness and increased curatorial accountability. Morgan, an evangelical African American from Alabama who believed herself to have been called by God to preach the Gospel through a range of expressive practices, is the kind of artist often misrepresented by the discourse of outsider art that is the legacy

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  • “Establishing Shot”

    Artists Space Exhibitions

    In filmic terms, “establishing shot” refers to the opening sequence of a scene, the images that spatially orient the audience and anchor subsequent events. Often a wide shot, or literally a long shot, it sets the location, characters, and mood of what follows, thus becoming a crucial—if often stymied (intentionally or otherwise)—point of narrative reference. At once an incipient lexicon of possibilities and a limit set within which such possibilities might arise, the singular, presumably intelligible establishing shot is really only legible within the resultant narrative sequence. Thus it often

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  • “The Art of Science”

    International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)

    In light of recent art-historical obsessions with technology, information theory, vision, and modes of attention—not to mention our acute cultural preoccupation with all things scientific—it is perhaps unsurprising that the ICP has devoted a number of shows to such topical themes. Eugenics, genetics, and the discovery of DNA all figured prominently in past installments of its five-show series “Imaging the Future: The Intersection of Science, Technology, and Photography,” curated by Carol Squiers. Even so, this final show managed to astonish in a way that its predecessors did not. Tucked away in

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