reviews

  • Thomas Struth

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    Thomas Struth’s ongoing sequence of photographs of museum galleries and the audiences within them reaches a fortissimo in this recent group, taken in the Prado, Madrid, and the Hermitage, St. Petersburg. Struth uses the mural-scale prints that have become a trope in contemporary art, not least in Germany—he is a peer of Thomas Ruff and Andreas Gursky, having graduated from the same Kunstakademie Düsseldorf program taught by Bernd and Hilla Becher—and the size and deep color of his images are crucial to their effect: In the museum work in particular (Struth also makes streetscapes and portraits),

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  • James Turrell

    PaceWildenstein

    With an atmosphere that was equal parts chapel and fun house, an exhibition of recent works by James Turrell demonstrated not only the obvious achievements but also the nagging limitations of the artist’s practice. Seventeen pieces from the last several years represented two primary impulses pursued by Turrell across his distinguished career-long engagement with light: deploying it, on the one hand, as a paradoxically material presence designed to draw our perceptual attention outward, toward the spectral volumetric “objects” it creates, and, on the other, as a dematerialized emanation designed

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  • Charles Pollock

    Jason McCoy Gallery

    Visiting Charles Pollock’s exhibition at Jason McCoy, Inc. one felt strangely intimidated in the presence of works that seemed to return us to a not-so-distant past that now feels completely foreign. Or maybe it is the other way around: Maybe it is the works themselves that are in exile today. They seem to belong to an art world that had not yet been swept up in concepts like the “art star,” to a time when grandstanding and networking were not yet mandatory for the making of an artist’s career. But maybe the modesty of these works, their reserve, was the artist’s reluctant response to the first

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  • Armando Reverón

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Although influenced by Impressionism and Symbolism, the work of Venezuelan artist Armando Reverón (1889–1954) defies stylistic labeling. It is for this reason that, despite its current MoMA-orchestrated introduction to North American audiences, Reverón’s work speaks only to those capable of looking beyond the modernist canon. That John Elderfield, the exhibition’s curator, was capable of achieving precisely this mode of thinking outside the cube merits much recognition.

    The chronologically organized show maps the ways in which Reverón manipulated pigment and support to achieve an aesthetic

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  • Carl Andre

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    “First poem in the third grade,” Carl Andre recalled in 1963. “After the age of twelve a steady production”: so steady, in fact, that his poetic corpus exceeds one thousand sheets of paper. Many of these are owned by the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, and by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, making the opportunity to see forty-three of Andre’s poems and works on paper in the back room of Andrea Rosen Gallery worth the trip alone. But this museum-caliber show of work made between 1958 and 1966 had much else to recommend it. First was the decision to forego the usual practice of exhibiting

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  • Josh Smith

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    Around 1957, Robert Ryman began using his name (at first RRYMAN and subsequently just RYMAN) as a compositional element in his paintings. When asked about this some decades later, Ryman explained that the signature was a traditional device, albeit not in the way he put it to use. Cleaved both from signification and subjective presence, these inscriptions read first and foremost as lines or curves, which is to say, visual incidents not unlike—or qualitatively distinct from—the surrounding passages of brushy facture. Akin to a word spoken so often as to void it semantically, RYMAN, repeated again

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  • Lee Bontecou

    Knoedler & Company

    Lee Bontecou achieved success in the early 1960s with shaped paintings and wall-mounted assemblages that hovered on the edge of figuration, vaguely suggesting bodies, buildings, and machines. Though resistant to narrative, the works’ telescoping elements lend them an aggressive feel, while their orifices seem to suggest a secret, subcutaneous functionality. Shreds of canvas tied to welded steel armatures, some incorporating menacing, mouthlike saw blades, transcend the aesthetic of impoverishment as a purely formal device to suggest pathologies of the unknown, war, and death. A ongoing sequence

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  • Teresita Fernández

    Lehmann Maupin | New York, W 22 Street

    Ever since Narcissus glimpsed his likeness in a pool, Western culture has worried about the mirror’s deathly power of enchantment. The pool, as described in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, is unnatural, untouched by falling leaves, and never visited by animals. It exists only to captivate the boy whose name is etymologically related to “narcotic.” Lacan had some of this in mind when he spoke about the “captation” of the infant by the imago in the mirror stage. Then there is the Claude glass, the convex black mirror that pensive Romantics carried on their excursions toward the picturesque. Movie, television,

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  • Jonathan Monk

    Casey Kaplan

    A few years ago, Ken Johnson, reviewing a Jonathan Monk exhibition at Casey Kaplan Gallery, stated that “Conceptualism can be overbearing but it can also be sweet, wry and poetic.” Such readings—of Monk as the sensitive offspring of a band of drier forebears—abound. The word playful is often used to characterize the artist, who is generally considered to be enacting a kind of spunky homage. Indeed, Monk is most often understood to be nudging viewers into believing that conceptual tenets remain relevant by acknowledging the tendency’s contemporary potential for a “softer” side.

    But Monk’s overarching

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  • Liz Deschenes

    Miguel Abreu Gallery | Orchard Street

    In the 1920s, Aleksandr Rodchenko suggested that the camera could and should be used as a tool of Soviet advancement, one capable of encouraging visual awareness in a mass audience. Traditional photography was not up to the task, since photographs mimicking painterly illusion offered no more than a middle vantage, a “belly-button” view, as Rodchenko termed it. Modern photography ought, he argued, to harness perspectives “above down and from below up and their diagonals.” The value of such exercises manifests in viewers who ordinarily “don’t see what [they] look at” being granted—via photographic

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  • Dara Friedman

    Gavin Brown's enterprise | 620 Greenwich Street

    The bell tolling at the outset of Tigertail, 2007, Dara Friedman’s new 16-mm film, immediately calls to mind Toll, 2002, in which film footage was projected onto a drywall campanile she erected in the exhibition space. The two works otherwise could not be more different. In the rigorous earlier installation, three swinging clappers were projected more or less where they would appear in an actual bell tower, an alignment of form and content that speaks to the filmmaker’s structuralist roots. The mournful peal proves incongruous, however, within the context of the newer, sun-dappled, and seemingly

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  • Richard Jackson

    Yvon Lambert New York

    Venerable California artist Richard Jackson might be thought of as a missing link between the Viennese actionists and contemporaries such as Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, or even the late Jason Rhoades. His recent exhibition at Yvon Lambert’s Twenty-fifth Street location (the final show in that space) featured previously seen drawings and an installation, as well as a new eight-panel wall painting reprising what has generally been regarded as Jackson’s signature style. These older (and older-style) works form a kind of historical backdrop to the subsequent inaugural exhibition at Yvon Lambert’s

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  • Paul Thek

    Alexander and Bonin

    In colors so bright as to be almost garish, the rough-hewn brushstrokes of Paul Thek’s “Newspaper Paintings,” 1981–83—featuring sprays of yellow polka dots, fields of pink, and slashes of electric blue—allow us, to varying degrees, to see the even type on the New York Times pages on which they were made. Here shown collectively for the first time, these works comprise a discrete series within a career-long body of paintings using newspaper as a support. Thek’s early works, made in the late 1960s, involved rendering isolated images (a diver, a seascape, flowers) on grounds of opaque color; he

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  • Althea Thauberger

    John Connelly Presents

    For her project Zivildienst ≠ Kunstprojekt (Social Service ≠ Art Project), 2006, Althea Thauberger collaborated with a group of young German men known as Zivis, participants in the titular program, which allows citizens to perform social work in lieu of stints in the military. This group investigation into issues such as mandatory service and national identity resulted in a series of connected works, including an eighteen-minute video. The latter features the eight young men pantomiming a series of social rituals and protocols—discussing, disagreeing, splitting into factions, reconciling, helping

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  • Robert Kushner

    DC Moore Gallery

    The decorative has long had a bad name in modern art, yet it’s been there from the very beginning. “It can only do you good to be forced to decorate,” Gauguin wrote to his friend Daniel de Monfried in 1892, while in 1953, Clement Greenberg noted “how intense and profound sheer decoration, or what looks like sheer decoration, can be.” Greenberg admired the “large, monumental kind of decorative painting” produced by Bonnard, thought Cézanne wanted to emulate “the decorative masters” Rubens and Veronese, and argued that even Beckmann “realiz[ed] decorative design in spite of [his] inability to

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  • Charles Steffen

    Andrew Edlin Gallery

    For today’s bumper crop of degree-toting, ready-made “insider” artists, the outsider artist remains an alluring exotic; his or her apparent distance from the commercial and social responsibilities that are the machinery of the art industry are viewed by many as a badge of credibility. Paul Chan regularly references the art of Henry Darger, the posthumously reigning kingpin of outsider art, while Marcel Dzama’s quietly deranged tableaux would blend seamlessly into New York’s Outsider Art Fair, sharing a sensibility with a host of practitioners who are self-taught, mentally disturbed, or just

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  • A. L. Steiner and robbinschilds

    Taxter & Spengemann

    The danger of characterizing a work as “fun” is that, in doing so, one also risks implying that it is inconsequential. This is an especially deadly charge when measuring art of a feminist provenance: It’s still rare enough that such art is considered worthy of serious discourse. (Though perhaps such misogyny will attenuate in the wake of two current surveys: “WACK!” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and “Global Feminisms” at the Brooklyn Museum.) With that in mind, A. L. Steiner’s latest project, C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience), Part 1, 2007, a ten-minute forty-eight-second

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