reviews

  • Cy Twombly

    Gagosian Gallery

    The big surprise of Cy Twombly’s recent show at Gagosian Gallery was his newfound sense of scale. First, although the eight paintings in “Bacchus, Psilax, Mainomenos” are individual works, their perfect fit in the large, squarish gallery made them an environmental piece: If not executed precisely for the space, these horizontal tan canvases covered with swirling red loops were obviously created with it in mind. One sculpture (polychromed, oddly, in red and Granny Smith green) stood like a sentry in the corridor outside the main gallery, but once past the threshold, one was submerged in a sea of

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  • Gerhard Richter

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    Despite Robert Storr’s brilliant effort to reclaim Gerhard Richter for human emotion in the artist’s 2002 MoMA retrospective, the glassy chill of his work reasserted itself in his recent show at Marian Goodman Gallery. The exhibition fell roughly into three parts, of which the first presented a familiar mystery: How do Richter’s squeegeed abstractions, utterly strange in their fusion of Expressionism and impersonality, manage both to seduce through their color and detail and to put ravishment out of reach through what Arthur Danto has called their “protective cool”?

    Cool is subjective, of course,

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  • David Salle

    Mary Boone Gallery | Uptown

    The press release for David Salle’s recent exhibition of his new “Vortex Paintings” is conspicuous in its magniloquence, claiming that the spiral at the center of these ten large oil-on-linen works creates an “unprecedented sense of spatial depth.” It’s temping to attribute this hyperbole to Mary Boone and Jeffrey Deitch, the show’s copresenters, but the work’s overtly formal emphasis ultimately refers us back to the artist himself as its source. The cyclones depicted, the text continues, either “retreat into deep space” or “project off the surface,” and Salle is indeed at pains here to conjure

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  • Hans Haacke

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 534 West 21st Street

    Hans Haacke is never without an agenda; for almost forty years, he has been investigating, exposing, and protesting, refusing to be silent in the face of corporate crime, governmental corruption, and artworld mischief. He’s a perennial whistle-blower with a long and notable history of social activism and doesn’t blanch at the problematic designation of “political artist.” Frequently, he names names: Jesse Helms, Philip Morris, Daimler-Benz, Deutsche Bank, and Ronald Reagan have all figured in an ever-growing pantheon of culprits.

    Anyone familiar with this oeuvre might be justified in wondering

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  • Nancy Spero

    Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

    Few contemporary artists could call an exhibition “Cri du Coeur” (Cry of the Heart) and expect the phrase to be read unironically. But Nancy Spero has no compunction about agonized honesty, and her command of compositional and emotional synergies now appears quite effortless. As a caption for her new project’s central image, an acknowledgement of previously private motives, and an open letter to her audience in wartime, Spero’s outcry was wrathful, lyrical, heartbroken. Paradoxically, however, her mastery of the work of mourning made the work of art uplifting.

    Cri du Coeur, 2005, an unframed

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  • Tracey Emin

    Lehmann Maupin | New York, W 22 Street

    Tracey Emin claims not to have been reading much lately, but it’s obvious that she remains invested in the poignancy and poison of words. In 2005, she published a memoir of sorts with the self-mythologizing title Strangeland, and she has also taken to writing her own weekly column in an English newspaper, The Independent. Just days before her November opening at Lehmann Maupin, her entry from abroad bore the subtitle “When I’m miles from home I sometimes have a clear view—and God, my life’s a mess.” The refrain is a familiar one from this artist who came to prominence during the ’90s YBA explosion.

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  • Mark Dion

    Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

    If Charles Willson Peale hadn’t existed, Mark Dion would have had to invent him. Peale—a onetime clocksmith, silversmith, saddler, revolutionary, portraitist, natural historian, inventor, agricultural reformer, and museologist—was a living archetype of the Jeffersonian polymath, embodying the impulse toward conquest through knowledge, categorization, and ratiocination that Dion explores and critiques in his own work. Peale comes to us as a figure in his famous self-portrait of 1822, where he stands before his Wunderkammer (portions of which would later be sold off to P. T. Barnum), raising a

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  • Mona Hatoum

    Alexander and Bonin

    In her recent exhibition at Alexander and Bonin, Mona Hatoum continued her equivocal exploration of the domestic using forms derived from Minimalism. The results of this process, as she has previously demonstrated, may be characterized as menacing or suggestive of dislocation, exile, or alienation from the familiarities of home. This quality, as has been noted before, is entirely appropriate for an artist who was born in Beirut of displaced Palestinian parents and who has lived most of her life in London.

    The centerpiece of the show was Mobile Home, 2005, in which a series of clotheslines strung

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  • Vernon Fisher

    Charles Cowles Gallery

    It may look funny but in fact it’s far from it. Vernon Fisher’s oblique 2002–2003 homage to David’s Death of Marat, 1793, is an ingenious take on art’s tragic postmodern condition: a fragment of wood bearing a dismal Romantic skyscape, bracketed by black wall-mounted parentheses (and thus “under suspension,” as Edmund Husserl might say, but not “under erasure,” à la Derrida), and accompanied by a kitschy cutout illustration of a toppled paint can and spilled black paint that nods to the death of painting. An American Tragedy, 2005, which incorporates a still of Shelley Winters about to fall from

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  • Josephine Meckseper

    Elizabeth Dee Gallery

    Writing about Robert Morris’s Mirrored Cubes, 1965, Rosalind Krauss observes that the viewer is “trapped in the cross fire of the mutual reflections set up by the surfaces of the four facing blocks . . . It is, perhaps, in this work more than any other that seriality is defined as the opposite of progress.” Morris’s boxes were originally placed in an otherwise empty gallery, with nothing to distract us from our own physical presence at the center of their infinite reflections. In Josephine Meckseper’s second solo exhibition in New York, two mirrored cubes placed in the center of the gallery

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  • Lamar Peterson

    Fredericks & Freiser

    In Lamar Peterson’s painting Michael Jackson in Winter (all works 2005), the self-anointed King of Pop is portrayed in a wintry landscape with paper snowflakes fluttering around his bewildered face. The world’s most visible outsider, Jackson has tried without success to find any group that will have him as a member (his relationship with the Nation of Islam is the latest to have come to an acrimonious end), and now fumbles along in his own lonely, freakish way. All of which makes him a fitting subject for Peterson, whose paintings are populated by lost-looking figures, usually black, who almost

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  • Carl Suddath

    Van Harrison Gallery

    The outward modesty of Carl Suddath’s enterprise might suggest a reluctance to experiment quite as dangerous, for a young artist, as its overreaching antithesis. Most of the works in Suddath’s recent New York solo debut are untitled, and their materials, size, color, and manner of installation uniformly unassuming. But it is in Suddath’s restraint that his work’s measured strength resides. Using nothing more exotic than wood and plastic, lacquer and ink, he has begun to develop a practice that can shift without lurching, insist without demanding, and endear itself without screaming to be liked.

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  • Gelitin

    Leo Koenig Inc. | 541 West 23rd

    At 10 PM on Wednesday, November 16, 2005, Leo Koenig confined four members of the Viennese art collective Gelitin (Ali Janka, Florian Reither, Tobias Urban, and Wolfgang Gantner), American artist Naomi Fisher, and psychiatrist Gabriel Loebell inside a large, double-insulated plywood box constructed in his Chelsea gallery. Tantamounter 24/7 was outfitted with a kitchen, shower, toilet, and beds fabricated by the artists, as well as three truckloads of art supplies: fabric, stuffed animals, modeling clay, paint, a sewing machine, and magazines (including lots of pornography). Cut off from all

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  • Rainer Ganahl

    Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University

    Rainer Ganahl’s “Seminars/Lectures” is an ongoing series of photographs, begun in 1995, which depicts an august roster of intellectuals—rock stars of academia from Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, and Cornel West to Jacques Derrida, Pierre Bourdieu, and Jacques Rancière—delivering their ideas to audiences across the country. A sampling of images from “S/L” (the title invokes Roland Barthes’s S/Z [1970]) were included in a recent retrospective at Columbia University’s Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery (a very appropriate venue). Also on view were recent photos focusing on the often jarring juxtapositions

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