reviews

  • Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Untitled, ca. 1954, black-and-white photograph, 8 x 13 1/2”.

    Ralph Eugene Meatyard

    International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)

    The most significant force in photography during the past forty years has been the development of practices that accommodate subjectivity and interiority, recognizing that which is felt by the photographer as opposed to making any statement of fact. Although this approach now dominates contemporary photographic discourse, it has not always been so. In fact, the fundamental lexicon of the photographic subjective, not to mention the development of photographic narrative and the constructed image, emerged in the late ’50s and early ’60s from the unlikely precincts of Lexington, Kentucky, the

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  • Kim Fisher

    John Connelly Presents

    Writing in 1967, at the height of Minimalism, Clement Greenberg worried that the aesthetic field had devolved into a diffuse and unmotivated panorama of “non-art” and design, a pernicious development that the then-embattled critic understood as an unmitigated and unilateral abjuration of tradition. Commensurate with a descent of advanced art into the popular, Minimalism for Greenberg precipitated a situation in which anything could become readable as art, if not necessarily (or likely) good art. The name he gave this phenomenon was “novelty,” an ironic if elegiac reference to style, ephemeral

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  • Louise Bourgeois

    Cheim & Read

    The daily practice of making marks—rhythmically, methodically, filling the page without considering meaning beyond the act itself—is a hallmark of studio practice. For some, the inscribed habit of drawing functions as a warm-up exercise; for others, its simplicity not only formalizes the idea of beginning again each day but strikes at the heart of an artist’s concerns. In her recent exhibition of sculptures and multiple series of abstract drawings titled “The Reticent Child,” Louise Bourgeois addressed both concerns with stunning results.

    It is noteworthy that Bourgeois has hardly left her New

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  • John Baldessari

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    When, in 1971, John Baldessari made a video titled I will not make any more boring art, he wasn’t kidding. Sure, he was delivering a cheeky one-off that poked fun at Conceptual strategies even while deploying them, but he was also making a promise to himself and his audience to keep things interesting. A case in point some three decades later: the artist’s recent exhibition of new work, which bears the bona fide Baldessarian stamp of pointed humor and unwavering formal invention.

    Baldessari’s oeuvre has been continuously fueled by words and images that catch the artist’s roving eye for an extra

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  • Benjamin Edwards

    Greenberg Van Doren Gallery

    Benjamin Edwards works in the tradition of Piranesi, Etienne-Louis Boullée, and Archigram, creating two-dimensional images of fantasy architecture. But instead of prisons or space pods, Edwards’s touchstones are exurban subdivisions, the corporate landscape of big-box stores, surveillance, and— most significant—the computer.

    Two walls of eight-inch-square digital inkjet prints on canvas arranged in grids greeted viewers at the entrance to Edwards’s recent show at Greenberg Van Doren. One featured sixty examples from the 2004 series “Anti-Icon,” which reworks the logos of large companies (Target,

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  • Julianne Swartz

    Josée Bienvenu Gallery

    PVC is one of those wonder materials, a plastic widely used in the building trade (though outlawed in New York State, perhaps because of its toxicity, its vulnerability to rats, or a union issue that rewards the Steam Pipe Fitters). It has also increasingly begun to appear in sculpture. Anish Kapoor’s Marsyas installation in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in 2002 used a giant PVC membrane, but emerging artists tend to employ it raw, with the manufacturer’s markings still visible.

    One of the most celebrated recent examples of this was Somewhere Harmony, 2003–2004, Julianne Swartz’s work in the

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  • Louise Lawler

    Metro Pictures

    The last few years have seen the emergence of a new trend in critical discussions of Louise Lawler’s art. If in the past Lawler’s reputation as an uncompromising standard-bearer for institutional critique has discouraged aesthetic appreciations, it now seems acceptable, even fashionable, to dwell on the fact that her art is often easy on the eye. Any number of factors may have contributed to this shift: a glut of glossily gorgeous photo-based art; late-’90s rehabilitations of beauty (viz, Dave Hickey, Peter Schjeldahl, Arthur Danto); Douglas Crimp’s observation that the less-cerebral dimensions

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  • Martha Rosler

    Gorney Bravin + Lee

    Conceptual and performance art by women in the ’70s have finally entered the herstory books. Retrospectives of the careers of Joan Jonas, Ana Mendieta, Yoko Ono, Carolee Schneemann, and Martha Rosler have all been mounted in recent years. Mary Kelly was in the last Whitney Biennial, and in 2002 at White Columns, “Gloria: Another Look at Feminist Art of the 1970s” introduced the likes of Hannah Wilke, Dara Birnbaum, and VaLIE ExPORT to a generation of artists who were standing on their shoulders. Such canonical adjustment is invaluable, but it’s not the same as new work being made by the pioneers.

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  • Adam McEwen

    Nicole Klagsbrun

    “History is a Perpetual Virgin endlessly and repeatedly Deflowered by successive generations of Fucking Liars.” One hell of a title, so it’s doubly unfortunate that the exhibition it was appended to, British artist Adam McEwen’s New York solo debut, was neither as analytically incisive nor as bullishly confrontational as the hard-boiled moniker implied. Instead, McEwen served up a warmed-over selection of conceptual witticisms that, while slickly executed and superficially appealing, ultimately settled into a holding pattern of comfortable irony and self-satisfied gimmickry. It was the kind of

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  • Gabriel Vormstein

    Casey Kaplan

    In a startlingly literal attempt to connect his works and anchor them to their context, Gabriel Vormstein, in his recent New York debut at Casey Kaplan, went so far as to bind his delicate paintings together with wire and dot the gallery floor with rocks. With just a handful of exhibition appearances to his name, the young Berlin-based artist is sufficiently inexperienced that the gesture might have signaled a lack of confidence were it not consistent with a lyrical aesthetic informed by a web of cultural references, chief among them the material experiments of arte povera.

    In giving this show

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  • Frank Stella

    Jacobson Howard

    For some time now Frank Stella has been on a quasi-expressionist kick. His series “The Marquise of O,” 1998–2000—marvelous formally if not necessarily in terms of its response to Heinrich von Kleist’s novella—carries it to new heights. In the press release, Kleist is described as an “isolated genius,” but he wasn’t exactly isolated so much as mentally disturbed. An army officer for seven “lost” years, as he called them, and disillusioned with reason after reading Kant, he put his faith in emotion. Sadly, it was misplaced: After a miserable life, he committed suicide in 1811 at the age of 34.

    One

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  • Keith Mayerson

    Derek Eller Gallery

    Keith Mayerson’s painting cycle “Hamlet 1999,” 2001–2004, is nothing less than an attempt to synthesize received images of high art, popular entertainment, and American history into a chronicle of an alternative, potentially revolutionary masculinity. It looks, however, like the product of a guy who paints in a converted garage, watching DVDs with one eye, the news with the other, and an art-history textbook with an enlightened third.

    The plotless “narrative” of more than one hundred canvases, rendered in a palette of marigold and pea soup, has only a general order, accumulating meaning frame by

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  • Darrel Morris

    Lyons Wier Gallery

    Darrel Morris’s highly original, painstakingly worked swatches of cloth and embroidery constitute an absorbing investigation into memory and confrontation. In dreamlike scenes and funny/sad vignettes from his childhood and his short-lived career as a draftsman, the pieces on view in Morris’s New York solo debut revolve around moments of disappointment, hurt, shame, and anger. Most deal with a father’s frustration toward his son. In the rueful Good Paper, 2001, for example, the father stands gesturing angrily over his little boy, who sits on the floor drawing on a sheet of notebook paper. A speech

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