reviews

  • Thomas Struth

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    It is like saying: “I classify works of Art in this way: at some I look up and at some I look down.” This way of classifying might be interesting. We might discover all sorts of connections between looking up or down at works of Art and looking up and down at other things.

    Ludwig Wittgenstein, Lectures & Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief, 1966

    In “Audience,” Thomas Struth’s 2004 series of photographs shown recently at Marian Goodman Gallery, tourists visiting the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence are depicted looking up at Michelangelo’s David, which towers above them.

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  • Sue de Beer

    Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria

    Indeterminacy—spatial, temporal, and, above all, emotional—is the central motif of Sue de Beer’s absorbing two-channel video installation, Black Sun, 2004–2005. While it continues the exploration of adolescent desire and frustration that’s earned de Beer a reputation as a preeminent auteur of teen angst, the new work also suggests an artist who is herself maturing, moving away from the often melodramatic physical abjection of her earlier works toward a more nuanced investigation of psychological alienation.

    As in previous works, the winkingly gothic milieu of Black Sun extends into the three

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  • Damien Hirst

    Gagosian Gallery

    “If it wins, it wins through intimidation.” This was David Rimanelli’s concluding assessment of Damien Hirst’s last solo exhibition in New York, also at Gagosian Gallery, published in these pages in 2000. A meticulously designed production number, the show bore a typically verbose pseudoscientific title—“Theories, Models, Methods, Approaches, Assumptions, Results, and Findings”—and, regardless of its critical or financial success, it packed ’em in like the blockbuster it was. Hirst’s belated return to the city, the more tersely (though still excitedly) titled “The Elusive Truth!” elicited

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  • Jeff Davis

    Kerry Schuss / KS Art

    Sitting astride a giant, wailing, red-and-yellow severed head is a green-skinned naked man sporting an enormous erection. This supersize organ curves upward to support a cloud or platform on which is perched another head of the same size and color as the first. Hovering above this is a blue-skinned man who, while urinating freely, proffers a third head that spits blood into the gaping mouth of a fourth nearby. And holding this is a fifth and final head, bright green and equipped with arms that project from where its ears should be.

    In most circles the subject of this untitled drawing from 2004

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  • Matthew Ronay

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Visitors who read a review before seeing Matthew Ronay’s first solo exhibition at Andrea Rosen Gallery, or who had the temerity to ask questions of the gallery employees, were likely treated to some of the fantastical stories the artist invents to accompany his sculptures. The works in this show, titled “It’s An Uprising!” are, purportedly, three-dimensional illustrations of a mythical future landscape with an underclass populated by, among others, severed limbs that act autonomously; mentally challenged people who can divine water sources; and a man with a five-headed penis who, because his

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  • David Shrigley

    Anton Kern Gallery

    David Shrigley’s recent work feels like the result of a personality test administered by a not entirely benevolent authority. Some of his drawings seem like innocent doodles that have bubbled up from his subconscious: a set of mindless-looking circles with an ant traveling around the rim, for example. There are also more straightforward kinds of communication: lists, diagrams, conversations (either recorded or imagined), and meaningless adages. They have a slightly adversarial air—urgent, almost belligerent, and often reaching witty heights of passive aggression. A drawing titled Dear Neighbours

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  • Rachel Feinstein

    Marianne Boesky Gallery

    The announcement for Rachel Feinstein’s second solo exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery featured neither the artist’s trademark brummagem-Baroque sculptures nor her lesser-known paintings. Rather, the oversize folded mailer reproduced a photograph that, though not included in the show, clearly informed it. A very old woman, wearing a pristine fur coat and enormous, lilac-tinted, bug-eye shades beams at us. Her getup is impeccable: A crisp white cuff peeks from beneath the fur, and she sports an enormous ring with a squarish aqua gem that covers the breadth of two fingers. Dark red lipstick

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  • Eric Fischl

    Mary Boone Gallery | Uptown

    Has Eric Fischl returned to the kind of work that earned him notoriety (and the scorn of feminists) in the 1980s? The innuendo, and sometimes-explicit sexual imagery, of the six paintings that are part of his ongoing sequence of “Bedroom Scenes,” immediately suggest as much. However physically intimate, the men and women depicted therein are at emotional odds, a condition emphasized by the witty subtitles—Surviving the Fall Meant Using You for Handholds, 2004, is one example—that accompany each canvas. Robert Pincus-Witten argued that, in the paintings with which Fischl made his name, the artist

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  • Ján Mančuška

    Andrew Kreps Gallery

    The sculptural installation in Czech artist Ján Mančuška’s sophomore show at Andrew Kreps Gallery proposes that there are not only two sides to every story—there are three. Or, depending on how one counts, thirteen. True Story, 2005, consists of three sentences, their small words cut from aluminum and suspended at eye level on a thin steel cable anchored to the gallery walls. The “story” in question is banal enough: A man named Kenny waits in a car for a woman who might be his girlfriend; on the way to meet him she crosses paths with a black man who is running from the subway to catch a bus;

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  • Seamus Harahan

    Spencer Brownstone Gallery

    Seamus Harahan’s large-scale, three-channel video projection Holylands, 2004, documents the street life of an urban community that looks as if it’s populated almost entirely by men and boys. By day, they hang out in groups or meander down the block drinking liquor out of bottles concealed in plastic bags; by night they commit petty crimes, such as vandalism, and possibly engage in more nefarious activities, furtively gathering around idling vans in a way that screams, “Drug deal in progress!” They roughhouse, amuse themselves with what’s at hand (which isn’t much—cardboard cartons, water escaping

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  • Rob Fischer

    Cohan and Leslie

    Despite the widespread reverence among younger artists for Robert Smithson’s art and writing, it’s rare to encounter someone who wears his mantle as snugly as Rob Fischer. The notion of entropy (technically a measure of the disorder that exists in a system), a Smithson buzzword, is used frequently in descriptions of Fischer’s project. But in this show the artist hewed even closer to another Smithsonian concept, that of excavation.

    Visitors to Cohan and Leslie were greeted by Altar (all works 2004–2005), a twenty-four-foot rusted fabricated dumpster turned on its end to create a threshold or

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  • Jutta Koether

    Thomas Erben Gallery

    Jutta Koether is an artist who paints, but she is not exclusively a “painter.” She is also a performance artist, musician, writer, and art and music critic. And while painting sometimes plays a supporting role in her performance art, in her music for example, it isn’t part of the mix at all. Yet her interests always overlap, establishing common ground. One such area is the aesthetics of punk, through which Koether channels German “bad painting,” East Village garishness, and flashy ’80s commodity art in a range of styles that are historically savvy yet burst with youthful energy. Critique is not

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  • Stanley Whitney

    Esso Gallery

    Someone’s always ready to lay down the law for abstract painting—to let it know what it’s not allowed to do. Most recently, I’ve noticed art historian Eric de Chassey refusing it the one possibility that used to be considered its very essence: Abstraction is alive and well, he claims, but what’s now taboo is “restricting oneself to purportedly ‘pure painting’ or ‘painting-as-painting.’” Yet what’s “restricting” for many artists may be perfect freedom for others. Such would seem to be the case with Stanley Whitney and his exuberantly unadulterated abstraction.

    I’ve always admired Whitney’s paintings

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  • Larry Zox

    Stephen Haller Gallery

    If you’re interested in modernism’s effluence, you might take a look at the work of Wade Guyton, Carrie Moyer, Sam Durant, Jorge Pardo, or Milena Dragicevic. Taken as a group, these artists address both modernism’s formal emphases and that quintessentially modern idea that vanguard art should go hand-in-hand with vanguard politics. Consider, for example, Barnett Newman, in 1962: “Harold Rosenberg challenged me to explain what one of my paintings could possibly mean to the world. My answer was that if he and others could read it properly, it would mean the end of all state capitalism and

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  • Jérôme Bel

    Dance Theater Workshop

    “No to spectacle no to virtuosity . . . no to seduction of spectator”—Jérôme Bel takes as a given the commandments of radical dance in America laid down by Yvonne Rainer in her notes for the 1965 Parts of Some Sextets. He is part of a tide of French choreography built on such refutation and which has been assessing and reassessing the meaning of these dictates over the past decade—a period that has seen spectacle, virtuosity, and seduction reinforced as aesthetic norms.

    At the Dance Theater Workshop, Bel responded in the only way he could to such superficial gloss; he had us sit in the dark for

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