reviews

  • Joseph Marioni

    Peter Blum Gallery

    At Peter Blum’s new gallery in Chelsea, Joseph Marioni recently showed six paintings made earlier this year in his newly renovated studio, a former meeting hall in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. This studio has, for the first time, given Marioni the space to take his art up to what may well prove to be its maximum size—and the results are dramatic. The artist paints on stretched canvases hanging on a wall, using a long-handled roller. There is a limit to his (two-handed) reach with such an implement, and in several of the paintings on view here, that limit seems to have been attained.

    What is immediately

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  • Douglas Gordon

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    In 1993, twenty-six-year-old Douglas Gordon had the bright idea of assembling a quartet of components: an ordinary, commercially recorded VHS tape; a double-sided translucent screen; time; and a collective cultural memory of noir pleasure/terror. The result was 24 Hour Psycho, still his most famous work. Given pride of place in a midcareer retrospective at MoMA, the daylong video—which plays Hitchcock’s film in extreme slow motion—establishes a suite of themes pursued with precise, if not obsessive, regularity in the other twelve works on show. In a sense, if you’ve seen (a part of) Gordon’s

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  • James Lee Byars

    Mary Boone Gallery/Perry Rubenstein Gallery/Michael Werner Gallery

    If James Lee Byars, one of Detroit’s finest artists, is seldom considered as a product of his hometown, much less of the United States, a comprehensive American exhibition of the peripatetic artist’s oeuvre has nevertheless long been overdue. Byars, who died in Cairo in 1997, produced his formative work in Japan and spent much of the rest of his life shuttling between Venice, Los Angeles, Bern, and many other places, living an idiosyncratic life-work that was part midwestern, part European, and part “Oriental,” as his sui generis Japanese-inspired aesthetic has often been called. A recent

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  • Juan Muñoz

    Wrecks and collisions have featured in much contemporary art, from Andy Warhol’s early-’60s car and plane crashes to Aernout Mik’s video of the aftermath of a bus catastrophe (Refraction, 2005). One of the most evocative entries in the “accident art” subgenre is Juan Muñoz’s Derailment, 2000–2001, a pileup of four rusted Cor-Ten steel railroad cars. A greatly enlarged reworking of a small-scale model, the train is at once monumental (it absolutely commands its space) and relatively diminutive (the viewer must crouch down to peer, voyeuristically, into the cars’ open windows). Inside are

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  • “Dereconstruction”

    Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

    A grotesque neologism, the title of “Dereconstruction,” Matthew Higgs’s recent curatorial effort for Gladstone Gallery, was—according to the catalogue essay—both “a hybrid term, one that conflates notions of ‘construction,’ ‘reconstruction,’ ‘deconstruction,’ and ‘destruction,’” and a reference to “The New Reconstructions,” Pace Gallery’s 1979 exhibition of work by Lucas Samaras. It was surely no accident, then, that Samaras’s patterned fabric patchwork Reconstruction #41, 1978—hung on the far wall of a room adjoining the reception gallery—was the first work one noticed on entering Higgs’s show.

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  • Jenny Holzer

    Cheim & Read/Yvon Lambert

    Jenny Holzer’s “Redaction Paintings,” 2005–, some of which were shown recently at Cheim & Read in an exhibition titled “Archive,” reproduce, in silk-screened oil on linen, a series of declassified United States government documents mostly relating to military activity in Iraq. The material contained in these letters, statements, memos, orders, lists, and reports, which traces a brutal narrative of physical and psychological violence, both illegal and officially sanctioned, is bluntly shocking, even taking into account the fact that much of the text—no doubt the most damning portions—has been

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  • Matthew Higgs

    Art Always Changes. The first work in Matthew Higgs’s third solo exhibition at Murray Guy takes its content and title from a truism of creative endeavor. But with a self-deprecating wit characteristic of the British-born, New York–based artist, the phrase also appears knowingly self-contradictory. If Higgs considers art to be inherently mercurial, one might ask, why does he so doggedly pursue the same, apparently confining, line of inquiry even as his critical and curatorial interests broaden ever outward? Art Always Changes, 2005, is a framed book page (all the works in the show, bar one, are

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  • Uwe Henneken

    Andrew Kreps Gallery

    Two hundred years after its emergence, Romanticism still transparently, reductively, seems to denote antirationalism, anti-Enlightenment indeterminacy, nostalgia, transcendental individualism, and morbidity. This despite the fact that its meaning has always been nebulous, even to, or especially to, its greatest polemicists. Poet, critic, and scholar Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel wrote to his brother August Wilhelm that he could “hardly send you my explanation of the word Romantic, because it would take—125 pages,” an assertion that, as art historian Joseph Koerner underscores in his Caspar

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  • Sze Tsung Leong

    Yossi Milo Gallery

    Sze Tsung Leong’s extraordinary “History Images” series, 2002–2005, documents the human habitats of the new China. Taken mostly from elevated viewpoints, the photographs command large vistas; basic to all of them is a sense of great space, which they need every inch of to encompass the gargantuan construction projects and freshly built housing developments that they describe. This framing of distance is one device through which Leong’s work develops its visual power. Another is the frequent repetition of geometric forms, in the columns and rows of identical windows and terraces, vertical tower

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  • Russell Crotty

    CRG Gallery

    Russell Crotty combines the infinite and the everyday in the devotional and clear-minded manner of a scientist or a monk, rendering vast stretches of the universe in precise crosshatched ballpoint. These images—of fields of stars dotted with the occasional orange planet—have covered appropriately large expanses of paper in oversize books displayed on library-like tables and paper-covered spheres. The books and the spheres require of the viewer a kind of physical participation analogous to the perception of the original: They must be looked at page by page, surface by surface, so that one’s mind

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  • Stephen Mueller

    Baumgartner Gallery

    The Tao te Ching indicates the essential role of emptiness as an element in the creation of things, habitable space, and sentient beings: “We shape clay into a pot, / but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. . . . We work with being / but non-being is what we use.” Painter Stephen Mueller refers to this emptiness by suspending enigmatic objects in boundless colored space, making canvases that hover between lyrical abstraction and geometric decoration.

    The only recognizable and repeated formal element in Mueller’s work is a vase, which evokes the votive containers in Tibetan

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  • Thomas Zipp

    Harris Lieberman

    Thomas Zipp could never be called unambitious: The Berlin-based artist’s first major solo gallery show in New York, at Harris Lieberman, not only coincided with his second solo exhibition in Los Angeles and with a room-size installation at the Berlin Biennale but also tackled some complex subject matter. Zipp frequently interweaves aspects of art history, philosophy, and science. Here, in a show that comprised paintings, works on paper, and a sculptural installation, he sought out the residual value of early-twentieth-century utopian thought in a nuclear age (nuclear war being the “Uranlicht

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  • Joe Fig

    Plus Ultra

    Dollhouses are funny things. Introduced in northern Europe in the seventeenth century, they were originally used by rich women to manage their households, providing a virtual view of the premises. Later, they became more akin to little museums or cabinets of curiosities. More recently, they’ve become toys with an edge of macabre kitsch. Joe Fig’s recent sculpture borrows heavily from the dollhouse idiom, co-opting the God’s-eye perspective, the miniaturization, and the implication of a narrative (here, art historical), all played out on a tiny stage in a parallel world that mimics our own.

    In

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  • Carter

    Jack Hanley Gallery

    Carter (no last name) operates from a coolly paranoid position. In his collaged drawings and photographs, he seems primarily concerned with various means of masking the self. Most of his works, which in a recent show at Jack Hanley Gallery included several large gray blobs painted directly on the gallery walls, feature masklike profile silhouettes of a head based on the artist’s own image, or on a sculpted dummy that he created for the purpose. Many have blank apertures for eyes, and a few have cavernous holes where new noses might be affixed, Mr. Potato Head style.

    In Carter’s diagrammatic works

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