• “Undercover Surrealism”

    Hayward Gallery

    FOR AN INVETERATE FAN of Georges Bataille’s groundbreaking journal Documents, visiting “Undercover Surrealism” was a bit like opening a pop-up album in which black-and-white images suddenly transform not only into three dimensions but also into color. Yet this little gem of an exhibition—curated by Dawn Ades, Simon Baker, and Fiona Bradley—could just as easily be appreciated by the uninitiated, for whom it provided a journey both quaint and fizzy into the late 1920s equivalent of a Mannerist cabinet of curiosities. The show greeted visitors with a potpourri that included an extraordinary

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  • Christopher Stewart

    Gimpel Fils

    It’s estimated that there are some twenty-five thousand private military personnel currently in Iraq, collectively comprising easily the second-largest fighting force in the country (the largest being of course the US Army). Employed by firms with names like Custer Battles, Global Risk Strategies, and Blackwater USA, they are mostly funded by US tax dollars and handle everything from training local forces to surveillance, weapons procurement, and on-the-ground fighting. But these mercenaries aren’t trained in US boot camps. They’re drilled in places like the one depicted in Christopher Stewart’s

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  • Jennifer Bornstein


    On first viewing, Jennifer Bornstein’s careful, sober intaglio prints look like slightly bland cartoons. Bornstein is a bit of an anti-artist: Her choice of the apparently backward technique of copperplate etching—a kind of “slow art”—is an intentional deskilling, and her output is fairly small. Perhaps as a result, the exhibition at greengrassi has a crystalline, almost icy precision, while paradoxically projecting an obtuse, diffident air. However, the works contain just enough slyly funny moments to suggest that braving their conceptual rigor may be rewarding after all.

    Bornstein’s figurehead

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  • Michelle Grabner


    Michelle Grabner’s paintings are so soft and sweet, I just want to pet them.

    Another kind of review might have ended rather than begun there—with a sarcastically annihilating judgment. Serious artworks are not supposed to be soft or sweet, and you’re certainly not supposed to want to pet them. Yet Grabner’s paintings are very serious, and very good. They are the work of a thoughtful, cultivated artist who is clearly well aware of the heritage of modern painting, on which she is nonetheless never abjectly dependent. Always based on the grid or some elastic variation thereof, her paintings might

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