reviews

  • Justin Lowe, On the Beach, 2005, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Justin Lowe, On the Beach, 2005, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    “Greater New York 2005”

    P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

    Once upon a time in the West, circa 1992, Paul Schimmel organized an ambitious group show, “Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition did more than trace the lineages of post-’60s LA art as a wellspring for a new generation of artists who would soon establish the city as a mecca for all in pursuit of the hot, hip, and fresh. “Helter Skelter,” in its juxtapositions of artists (and writers) of different generations, like Raymond Pettibon, Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Dennis Cooper, Chris Burden, Charles Bukowski, Charles Ray, Jim Shaw, and Liz Larner,

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  • Larry Clark

    International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)

    Certain plaintiffs in the Michael Jackson trial look like kids in Larry Clark pictures, particularly his 1996 set of photos Sketches for Tulsa Movie Coming Soon—like the Jordie Chandler twin that curator Brian Wallis eyes as one of Clark’s “most compelling”: “a shirtless young man pulling back his long hair in a feminized pose for the camera.” Wallis fails to account for why the pose is “feminized” or for how some Tulsa kid might have learned to do it. Is any display of any body necessarily feminized? What makes a boy posed like that so compelling? Is it just youth’s juice, or is it a peek at

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  • Martin Kippenberger

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    No subject was too insignificant or absurd for Martin Kippenberger: a trip to the dentist, an old sock, or, of course, his own drunken antics. The sum total of the German painter’s inventive approach to subject matter, his boundless sense of humor, and his wacky self-deprecation form a composite self-portrait that functions as the default mode of his work. Martin as bad boy, Martin in his hotel room, Martin with those big underpants, just like the ones old man Picasso used to wear, pulled up over his paunch. The behavior was always so goofy and the hilarity so pronounced that, when they were

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  • Emily Jacir

    Alexander and Bonin

    Emily Jacir is a bilingual American citizen, born in Bethlehem and living between New York and Ramallah. Her work arises from her position as a young, cosmopolitan cultural worker who is active not only on behalf of Palestinian statehood but also within an international network of friends and colleagues. Jacir quotes the voices of these individuals in her text-based works and uses images of their daily lives in her photographs. Her recent show at Alexander and Bonin included forty-five hand-painted reproductions of e-mail messages she has received since 2000. She also presented drawings,

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  • Sarah Morris

    Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

    The artist-patron relationship has yielded plenty of great art over the centuries, from Michelangelo’s over-the-top Moses on the tomb of Pope Julius II to Velázquez’s dutiful Las Meninas and Goya’s sneering The Family of Charles IV. Given that Sarah Morris’s patrons are the modern Medici of Hollywood, one might have hoped for a similarly trenchant portrait of twenty-first-century elites from her film Los Angeles, 2004—or at least a compelling view of the city after which her fifth work in the medium is named. Instead, she offers viewers a morass of cliché; a montage of tourist-board images

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  • Richard Wright

    Gagosian Gallery (21)

    The wall drawings of British artist Richard Wright have an austere grandeur, even when he bypasses a traditional strength of the mural form—its command of large architectural expanses—in favor of corners and crannies. Most memorably in this show, Wright filled the somewhat cramped, visually unapproachable ceiling recess around a skylight with diverging and converging blue and black lines, here forming dense dark nests, there open, white eye shapes. The black iron crosses configured in one corner lost their sinister connotations through repetition into pattern. The show’s centerpiece was a column

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  • Mary Heilmann

    303 Gallery

    Bertolt Brecht was no fan of abstraction. Worthless as a radical political tool, non-figurative art was, in the Marxist playwright’s eyes, little more than aesthetic scaffolding supporting upper-class pleasures. An abstract composition might as well be a blank screen for psychological projection, eliciting unearned emotional responses. “You paint . . . an indeterminate red; and some cry at the sight of this indeterminate red because they think of a rose, and others because they think of a child lacerated by bombs and streaming with blood,” Brecht wrote in his Notebooks (1935–39). And yet, while

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  • Jason Middlebrook

    Sara Meltzer Gallery

    Known for his half-solemn, half-whimsical approach to the human-wrought decline of the natural world, Jason Middlebrook is less an environmentalist than a critic of hubris. His site-specific installation at New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art in 2001–2003, which consisted of miniaturized layers of rock, soil, and plants, and his recent show at Margo Leavin Gallery in Los Angeles, which featured paintings of a postapocalyptic animal uprising, attested to the artist’s misgivings about the advances of human society at the expense of nature. In his latest exhibition, “The Provider,” Middlebrook

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  • Tim Hawkinson

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    While poles apart visually, Tim Hawkinson’s current appearance at the Whitney bears comparison to Christo and Jean-Claude’s recent Central Park Gates, a few final remnants of which I walked through en route to the museum. Both projects convey a certain joie de vivre and lay claim to popular appeal but stand to some extent beyond the pale of contemporary critical discourse. However, free as he is from the brouhaha in which the older artists wrap themselves—and the way it veils their work’s conceptual shortcomings—Hawkinson finds himself in a relatively vulnerable position. Yes, he is the subject

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  • Zoe Beloff

    Bellwether

    Zoe Beloff’s video installation The Ideoplastic Materializations of Eva C., 2004, in which the artist recreates a series of ten séances held in early twentieth-century Algeria and Paris, includes a four-channel projection in luminous black-and-white. This multiscreen, stereoscopic work requires the viewer to don 3-D glasses—a fitting accessory with which to search for mysterious presences that may or may not make themselves apparent. Seen this way, outlines shimmer unsteadily, and characters sometimes seem about to walk right through the furniture.

    In most scenes of the video, Eva is presented

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  • Chris Gentile

    Jeff Bailey Gallery

    Operating in a conceptual space populated by artists like James Casebere and Thomas Demand, Chris Gentile’s recent work is a hybrid of sculpture and photography that asks interesting questions about the nature of both. Like these better-known contemporaries, Gentile’s sculptural practice is in this case a disembodied one, manifested only in the context of photos—a move calculated to probe the indexical gaps between things and their depictions. In contrast to the form’s more architecturally oriented pioneers, however, Gentile doesn’t pursue totalizing verisimilitude for his meticulously crafted

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  • Eleanor Antin

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    “That summer, in the first year of the reign of Titus, there appeared a small band of players who met with some success until they disappeared without trace, leaving behind one of their number.” Such are the words of Pliny the Younger that Eleanor Antin reproduced on the wall at the entrance to her latest show, “Roman Allegories.” In twelve large, exquisitely staged, and sumptuously shot tableaux, a motley cast of performers—characters include Columbine, the Lover, the Trickster, an ex-gladiator Strong Man, the Poet, and a little girl—moves through dilapidated tennis courts and nouveau-riche

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  • Beatrice Caracciolo

    Charles Cowles Gallery

    There were three kinds of works in Beatrice Caracciolo’s recent exhibition: exquisitely animated abstract expressionist drawings; others that look more like landscapes (and which introduce art-historically familiar material in the form of allusions to Chinese landscape and Japanese calligraphy), and unexpectedly bold suspended or freestanding sculptures comprised of zinc sheets mounted on wooden substructures.

    The excited lines of the drawings—small and intimate compared to the immense planar sculptures—and the textures of the sculptures—gray mottled with luminous streaks—both signal Caracciolo’s

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  • Guyton\Walker

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    Dear Ketel One Drinker: Here is the recipe for our signature art show. Take one part Wade Guyton and one part Kelley Walker, add nothing, and get a “third artist” with two last names and twice the power of either one. Guyton\Walker is like a corporate merger between two solo artists, whose qualities and ambitions are neither sacrificed nor confused but rather pooled and integrated to produce one super-double-artist. Guyton\Walker’s Chelsea debut, “The Failever of Judgement Part III,” was a sort of hypothetical pavilion, a convincing proposal for an installation just like this one designed and

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  • Unica Zürn

    Ubu Gallery

    Unica Zürn (1916–1970) is probably best known as Hans Bellmer’s longtime lover and sometime photographic subject, though, as Fassbinder succinctly indicated in the dedication of his 1978 film Despair—“To Antonin Artaud, Vincent van Gogh, Unica Zürn”—her contributions to cultural history go well beyond her role as flesh-and-blood poupée. She was a writer and artist who, like Artaud and van Gogh, operated in the zone in which visionary sensibility fades into mental illness—an easy place to romanticize but a difficult one in which to live.

    The last decade of Zürn’s life was defined by her

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  • Mark Lewis

    Triple Candie

    London-based artist Mark Lewis distills complex ruminations—on film as a medium; on the social and economic character of specific places; on the relationship between observer and observed—into deceptively simple films that marry Hollywood’s high-end production values to Andy Warhol’s dazed gaze. These reflexive works—unedited, often silent, and never more than ten minutes long—usually pair an isolated cinematic or technical convention with some sort of outwardly unexceptional activity. In the three 35 mm films (transferred to DVD) in this, Lewis’s first solo exhibition in New York, the artist

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