reviews

  • Lucy McKenzie

    Metro Pictures

    The press release for Scottish artist Lucy McKenzie’s New York solo debut curiously asserted that one of the five series of works on paper in the show consisted of “studies of Tintin from life.” Created in 1929 by Belgian artist Hergé, Tintin—preposterously cowlicked journo-adventurer who moved, Zelig-like, through most of the mid-twentieth century’s geopolitical hotspots—is, of course, a cartoon. But there he was in McKenzie’s show, fleshed out with eerie naturalism in a group of colored-pencil portraits that depict him posing rakishly in plus fours and trench coat. In fact, McKenzie’s subject

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  • Sol LeWitt

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Madison Square Park/PaceWildenstein

    Sol LeWitt’s practice might be perpetually fecund, but this summer still saw him achieve such an unprecedented level of visibility in New York City that one paper was prompted to unceremoniously declare it “The Summer of Sol.” LeWitts were encamped across the city, from the safe haven of PaceWildenstein to the tourist-packed roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the leafy refuge of Madison Square Park. This ubiquity continued unabated through mid-October with Paula Cooper Gallery’s presentation of the artist’s gouache series “Horizontal Lines, Black on Color” (2005). Yet summer’s glut alone

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  • John McCracken

    Zwirner & Wirth

    It’s a truism that the simplest problems are the toughest to crack, and a question posed some forty years ago by the artist John McCracken is no exception: “If a piece is blue, what color is the space around it?” Scrawled into the pages of a notebook, the riddle has a slightly Wittgensteinian flavor. (It was the author of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus [1921] who wrote, “This space I can imagine as empty, but I cannot imagine the thing without the space.”) Yet McCracken has spent decades pondering relationships between things and the spaces they inhabit, less as a purely cerebral exercise and

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  • “Remote Viewing: Invented Worlds in Recent Painting and Drawing”

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Artists are an opinionated bunch, so one often wonders what those included in group exhibitions think of the context in which their work has been placed. Sometimes I imagine they feel lucky; on other occasions dismayed. “Remote Viewing” triggered the latter suspicion. For while the venue was distinguished and each artist was afforded adequate space, the show’s close focus on certain traits in contemporary painting made some of the artists look more like trendy copyists than unique practitioners. Curator Elisabeth Sussman strove to identify several symptoms in recent practice: abstraction with

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  • Hanne Darboven

    Tanja Grunert Gallery

    If you’ve seen an installation by German artist Hanne Darboven, her signature style will likely have stayed with you: wall-to-wall grids of page-size panels, marked by wave-like rows of what appears to be crossed-out cursive script. This gnomic stand-in for legible text is punctuated by series of numbers or passages of German prose, black-and-white photographs, or stamped labels reminiscent of the return address and postmark on envelopes. The panels are often framed identically, and a bureaucratic palette of black and red ink on white, buff, or green paper maintains throughout. The result is

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  • Monique Prieto

    Cheim & Read

    WALKING BOTH FORWARDS AND BACKWARDS. This phrase, which appears in one of eight new canvases exhibited recently by Los Angeles–based painter Monique Prieto at Cheim & Read, neatly encapsulates the artist’s current project. A long-time inhabitant of the interzone between allusion and depiction, Prieto has lately begun using words in an attempt to further her experimental dialogue between past, present, and future modes of address. In making the work for which she has become known over the past ten years, Prieto has often used a computer as a preparatory tool to generate idiosyncratic compositions

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  • Corin Sworn

    ZieherSmith

    Children’s playgrounds have long been characterized by a combination of artificial materials, intense colors, and oversize geometric forms, making them natural subjects for an artist interested in the flows of influence among Minimalist sculpture, civic architecture, and social anthropology. Canadian Corin Sworn, who made her New York debut at ZieherSmith recently, begins with just such a preoccupation but narrows her focus still further. Sworn concentrates on structures built in the late 1960s, when an intensified curiosity about the lasting significance of early human development coincided

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  • Jeff Scher

    Maya Stendhal Gallery

    The saxophone riff audible on entering the gallery seemed at first an appropriate accompaniment to Jeff Scher’s second solo exhibition at Maya Stendhal Gallery. With its bouncy, singsong tone, the sound track to the video Trixie, 2005, suited the colorful exuberance of the nine large watercolors, two acrylic drawings, three rotoscope animation videos, and nearly six hundred small mixed-media works on view. But the music evokes none of the formal complexity of Scher’s practice, one located in the ever-popular territory between the handcrafted and the mechanical, and exemplified here in the

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  • Keith Farquhar

    NYEHAUS

    Relatively unknown in the United States, Edinburgh-based artist Keith Farquhar has been exhibiting cool, humorous, at times obliquely political drawings, paintings, and sculptures in Europe for nearly a decade. Deadpan figures made of clothing have lately become a signature form—blue jeans for legs, hooded shell jackets or sweatshirts for the upper body. Pinned against walls or other supports, the characters are draped and creased to give them slight but distinct expressions; but such “individuation” only makes them appear more generic, whether they’re alone or arrayed into ritualistic room-size

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  • Adam Cvijanovic

    Bellwether

    During a lull that followed a brace of solo exhibitions in the early 1990s at Richard Anderson’s now-defunct New York gallery, Adam Cvijanovic found work painting decorative murals in extravagant Long Island dining rooms, retreating to his studio in the evenings and on the weekends. He had already often worked on a large scale, once exhibiting a mural-size painting of Lower East Side tenements, so bridging the conceptual gap between his day job and his night calling was largely a matter of finding a way to use trompe l’oeil effects in a truly artistic context. Enter, in 1999, Tyvek, the semiporous

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  • Geert Goiris

    Feuer/Messler

    Almost all of the images in Belgian photographer Geert Goiris’s first solo exhibition in New York are extraordinary in some respect, but it is not immediately clear what else connects them. Some, such as his shot of an albino wallaby with delicately crossed paws and eyes narrowed as if against something painful, are gently otherworldly; others, such as the study of an explosion suspended in a cool, green glen, are more patently strange. Elsewhere there is unusual architecture and a deep-frozen sink with a pillar of ice rising beneath the faucet, an image more reminiscent of the surreal narratives

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  • John Beech

    Peter Blum Gallery

    On the evidence of his recent exhibition at Peter Blum, I suspect John Beech is trying to one-up Marcel Duchamp, Donald Judd, and just about every abstract painter who’s ever lived. He cleverly constructs what can look like (and what very occasionally incorporate) found objects (mostly Dumpster containers, but also car bumpers and roller-skate wheels) but ultimately constitute examples of his “concrete art.” Fabricating, coloring, and positioning them with great care in relation to the surrounding space, and juxtaposing them artfully with one another, he suggests that one can always tease an

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  • Mary Ellen Carroll

    Cinema Village/Storefront for Art and Architecture

    Billowing American flag

    Bus deposits people

    Birds squawk and chirp, jets fly overhead

    The urban haiku above was pulled from my notes on Mary Ellen Carroll’s Federal and is a fairly complete summary of its action. Shot in real time on July 28, 2003, this two-part video (the halves were shot, and are screened, concurrently) is a twenty-four-hour record of the northern and southern facades of the federal building in Los Angeles, and was shown exactly two years later at Cinema Village in conjunction with an exhibition of twenty-four photographs of the northern facade at Storefront for Art and

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  • “Down the Garden Path: The Artist's Garden After Modernism”

    Queens Museum

    Curator Valerie Smith seemed to have chosen works for “Down the Garden Path: The Artist’s Garden After Modernism” not simply to illustrate a theme, but to enrich it. Fleshing out a well-installed selection of actual works, photographic documentation, and plans for unrealized projects with five new artists’ gardens commissioned for Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Smith’s exhibition proposed the garden as a model for human influence on the environment, while positioning it as a lens through which to view the diversification of artistic strategies since the 1960s.

    Works offering ecology as the foundation

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  • View of “Russia!,” Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2005.

    “Russia!”

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

    Remember the 1966 movie The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming? Well, guess what? The Russians are back, only this time they are showering the West with money rather than ideology. Or is it so simple as that? Russian intellectuals were in a rush to naively proclaim the end of ideology during perestroika, when they witnessed top Soviet apparatchiks turning the Communist regime into their own enemy. While staging this revolution from the inside, Mikhail Gorbachev romanced Ronald Reagan and opened up the cultural arena to Western institutions and the art market, thereby replacing the

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