New York

Valerie Hegarty

Guild & Greyshkul

The centerpiece of Valerie Hegarty’s recent exhibition at Guild & Greyshkul was a Federalist-era fireplace, but not one exactly redolent of comfort and home. This hearth, like the gallery as a whole, was stuck full of harpoons and spattered with all kinds of muck: tar, slime, mold, and seagull droppings, all of which appeared to emanate from the spot where a harpoon had pierced a grand seascape painting (a loose reworking of Frederic Edwin Church’s The Icebergs, 1861) hanging over the mantel. Hegarty’s show offered a retort to generations of artists who have sought to frame nature as something over which man has prevailed with moral authority. Caspar David Friedrich’s ice-strewn sea—terrifying and sublime, to be sure, but viewed from a place of safety—seems positively placid next to the relics assembled here. All that had once been contained seemed to have broken loose, creating

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