reviews

  • Willie Doherty

    Alexander and Bonin

    In Willie Doherty’s new video PASSAGE (all works 2006), two young men stride determinedly along a roadside path at night, apparently heading toward each other. Silent and grim-faced, they seem to have some felonious, or at least nefarious, purpose in mind. Our view cuts from one to the other with metronomic regularity, usually focusing closely on the subjects but sometimes pulling back a short distance to include more of their surroundings, which would seem to be a scrubby postindustrial wasteland. After some time, just as we begin to assume that the implied rendezvous may never actually occur,

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  • Jeff Gabel

    Spencer Brownstone Gallery

    YOUNG ARTIST THAT’S IN HIS STUDIO RIGHT WHEN HE FIGURES OUT HE GAVE UP EVERYTHING HE HAS FOR ART + DOESNT HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO MAKE HARDLY ANY MORE WORKS, AND HE’LL PROBABLY BE LONELY FOR A LONG TIME, SO HE JUST SAT DOWN IN A CHAIR AND STARTED CRYING. On a six-inch-square wood panel, Jeff Gabel pairs the scrawled caption of a 2006 pencil drawing with a fuzzy sketch of the titular sad sack slumped in despair against a blank white ground. The Brooklyn-based Gabel specializes in just this sort of compact but devastating personality profile, summing up in run-on sentences exactly what makes the

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  • Dike Blair

    D’Amelio Terras

    Dike Blair’s recent show was a mini survey of gouache still lifes made between 1988 and 1997. Presented in D’Amelio Terras’s front room by arrangement with Blair’s regular gallery, Feature, Inc., these works had not all been shown together before. The artist began last year to incorporate similar hyperrealist paintings on paper into his post-Minimal sculptures, which typically also involve light boxes, power cords, and industrial carpeting. But when not constituting conceptual devices within larger works, Blair’s early stand-alone scenes from the life of mundane objects occupy an oddly indeterminate

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  • Yun-Fei Ji

    James Cohan | Tribeca

    Earlier this season, reviewing Sze Tsung Leong’s photographs of today’s China, I speculated that the title of his recent series “History Images,” 2002–2005, referred to the old academic genre of history painting. I was making the point that Leong’s apparently documentary records are deeply informed in aesthetic terms, but the argument could as easily have run the other way: The title could equally imply that ambitious art should address far-reaching events, whether past or present—and Leong’s concern is clearly with the present. Modern art has an ambivalent, off-again-on-again relationship with

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  • Sabine Hornig

    Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

    A room on a stage is typically missing one side, the virtual “fourth wall” through which the audience peers; the rooms depicted in the photographs Sabine Hornig included in this show are, unexpectedly, absent two sides. In each of the photos on view, the street-facing window of a Berlin storefront (there are two images of one of these storefronts and a third of another) is presented at roughly two-thirds scale, the casement marking the edges of the otherwise unframed image. The second missing division is more unsettling. In two shots, the floor has been demolished; in the third, behind the small

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  • Henry Darger

    Andrew Edlin Gallery

    Henry Darger might seem the epitome of the outsider artist, a loner-next-door type who spent endless hours in his dilapidated house, creating a strange and brilliant masterwork that would only be discovered after his death in 1973: hundreds of illustrations and more than fifteen thousand densely typed pages of narration depicting the sagas of the “Realms of the Unreal,” in which brave and beautiful prepubescent girls are enslaved by a band of craven elders, the Glandelinians, led by the evil Glandelinian general, John Manley.

    Yet Darger’s work itself points up the limits of his ostensible

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  • Mario Schifano

    Sperone Westwater

    For all the experimentation—bred from crossovers with film, performance, music, dance, and new technology—that characterized the art of the 1960s, art histories chronicling that decade still too often distill its raucous energies to fit neatly into three distinct movements (Pop, Minimalism, and Conceptual art), packaging each as both self-contained and uniquely American. But such oversimplifications can’t account for the hybridized practices that flourished in the margins; illicit alliances between high art and popular culture; and the simultaneities of influence generated by a shrinking world.

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  • John Latham

    MoMA PS1

    If you live in the United States, John Latham may be the most important artist whose work you’ve never seen. In the ’50s, he became the first Brit to put spray paint to canvas, an innovative response to American action painting and European Pop. He was prominent in the influential Destruction in Art Symposium in London in 1966. And it was Latham who, that same year, borrowed Clement Greenberg’s Art and Culture from the library at St. Martin’s School of Art and served it to a few delighted students for dinner. Returning the masticated pulp to the library got him fi red, but later earned him a place

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  • “Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle”

    Grey Art Gallery

    Having meandered across the country on a five-city tour, “Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle,” which originated at the Santa Monica Museum of Contemporary Art in late 2005, found its final destination at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery this January. The loose trajectory from West to East is hardly unrelated to the exhibition, which—while rich in SoCal, Beat-era flavor—highlighted the vehement cross-pollination between coasts as it was manifested particularly within Berman’s wide-ranging group of friends and acquaintances. Indeed, while the quintessential (but never mainstreamed) bohemian was the

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  • Marti Cormand

    Josée Bienvenu Gallery

    “Offside” was the title of both Marti Cormand’s third solo exhibition at Josée Bienvenu and of its signal work. This oil-on-linen painting, one of six on view, retools the romantic sublime for a digitized, global warmed present—Caspar David Friedrich’s Monk by the Sea, 1809–10, as a tiny macaw dwarfed by a range of polar ice caps. The parrot, rendered in exacting hyperrealism and comically alien to its frozen surrounds, looks like a Photoshop addition. Brooklyn-based Spanish artist Cormand thus engages the apparent theme of this show: imperiled nature as a parable for the encroachments of the

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  • Brent Green

    Bellwether

    Five years ago, armed with a cheap digital camera and a computer equipped with iMovie, Brent Green set out to produce his first short animated video. The result, Susa’s Red Ears, 2002, was a choppily edited, whimsical tale featuring characters drawn on fragments of translucent cels, Scotch-taped together and photographed moving across naively rendered landscapes painted on glass and wood. Green has since upgraded to a superior digital SLR camera and has also begun to integrate stop-motion animation of three-dimensional, carved wooden elements. He continues to draw as well; the figures are more

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  • Paul Laffoley

    Kent Gallery

    Though the art world has long prided itself on its tolerance for idiosyncratic cosmologies, there are still true believers out there whose single-mindedness outstrips even the forbearance of the avant-garde. For such artists, there typically awaits a lifetime of professional disappointment relieved only, if ever, by an official designation as an “outsider,” that class of cultural identity that transforms the very pathologies that originally barred its members’ assimilation by the mainstream into valorizing affirmations of their visionary singularity.

    Paul Laffoley presents an intriguing case

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  • Portia Munson

    P. P. O. W.

    Portia Munson remains best known for Pink Project Table, 1994–96, an installation that appeared in the controversially titled “Bad Girls,” a 1994 exhibition of feminist art curated by the late Marcia Tucker at the New Museum of Contemporary Art and Marcia Tanner at UCLA’s Wight Gallery. Munson’s work, which greeted visitors at the entrance to the New Museum’s portion of the show, took the shape of a table crammed with found objects, most of them plastic, all of them pink: hairbrushes, mirrors, curlers, wigs, toys, toilet brushes, ice cube trays, dolls, and other domestic items, the composition

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  • Laurie Fendrich

    Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery

    There’s an almost irksome attractiveness to Laurie Fendrich’s abstract paintings, a certain cleverness in their manipulation of fields of color. Sometimes these areas are large and are composed of curves and planes. These are juxtaposed with smaller patchwork grids and strips laid out like an unfolded spectrum. The abrupt shift in scale adds to the paintings’ spatial complexity and perceptual excitement. But the integration of these elements is not entirely convincing—the aesthetic point seems lost in the clutter, and intricacy seems to have been introduced for its own sake.

    Fendrich’s works

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  • Nina Katchadourian

    One Chase Manhattan Plaza

    Full disclosure: I first encountered Nina Katchadourian’s Public Art Fund project, Office Semaphore, 2006, via its press release, which began by asking, “Ever spot someone in a distant office window and wonder what is going on in his or her life? Part message decoding, part small-scale reality show, artist Nina Katchadourian’s Office Semaphore is a signaling system in which one person, who works on an upper story of an office building, communicates messages to people outside on street level.” Maybe this mode of introduction was appropriate—in that it intimated that our experience of such work

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