reviews

  • Martin Creed

    Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard/508 West 25th Street

    “Feelings,” British artist Martin Creed’s first retrospective in North America, was noisy, chaotic, hyperactive, circuslike, funny, stupid, clever, provocative, elegant, and annoying—none of which qualities jibe with the sensitivity alluded to by the title. Creed’s verbal and visual jokes, far from simply describing physical sensations or emotional states, often mark the distance between historically informed maneuvers and genial allusions to intimate personal experience.

    Presented in two concurrent parts (at Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies [CCS], along with a two-work Manhattan

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  • Neo Rauch

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    “His art is uniquely his own because it springs from his dreams.” So claims the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s introductory wall text for German painter Neo Rauch’s recent exhibition “Neo Rauch at the Met: para,” a show installed in the gallery where the museum has lately begun exhibiting contemporary artists (Rauch’s is the third installment, following Tony Oursler and Kara Walker). Thus Rauch, the most prominent of the Leipzig painters, is implicitly aligned by the Met with the Surrealists whose work hangs just a few rooms away (their imagery was also, notoriously, determined by the subconscious).

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  • William Anastasi

    The Drawing Center

    For perhaps four decades, William Anastasi has been a sort of New York art-world secret: a conceptual artist who in the early 1960s began to generate extremely original ideas that seemed to predict a range of later works by other artists but at the same time to have been only tangentially influential, for while those later works made it into the journals, textbooks, and museums, Anastasi’s own did to a far lesser degree. Yet artists and critics who saw his shows back then tend to remember them well. For others who came to New York later, but who have met Anastasi and talked with him about his

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  • Yuri Masnyj

    Metro Pictures

    “Are you decorating a room? Building a library? Designing a theater or film set?” The Strand bookstore’s website offers to help you assemble collections—overnight!—of books by the foot, arranged by binding material (antique leather or the winsome “leather looking”), subject (art monographs, cookbooks, biographies, or contemporary fiction), or color (also a subset of the subject option, as in law books in “green, black, red, maroon, and blue”). That such a service is utilized in Manhattan is unsurprising. Nonetheless, its viability is but a telling instance of a persistent, broader repackaging

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  • Richard Serra

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    RICHARD SERRA HAS BEEN HEADLINED in recent years by both the New York Times and the New Yorker as a “Man of Steel,” and indeed, like Superman, he seems to be everything to everyone. The most eminent art historians have brilliantly analyzed his art; he enjoys major commercial success; his work is in demand at museums worldwide; and his thrilling, architecturally scaled curvilinear sculptures have at least for the past decade been enormously popular among general audiences. Few contemporary artists have succeeded so well on so many fronts. Why Serra? The Museum of Modern Art’s “Richard Serra

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  • View of “Frank Stella: Painting into Architecture,” 2007, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Foreground, Gate House (Model), 1994. Background, from left: The Broken Jug (Model), 1998; The Dart (D-15) 1X, 1990; and The Broken Jug (Left-Handed Version), 2007. All works by Frank Stella © Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    Frank Stella

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    “GIVEN THE FINE ARTS, architecture, painting, and sculpture, I feel caught in the middle,” Frank Stella said recently. For anyone with a passing knowledge of the work he has made over the course of the past fifty years, the statement is hardly surprising; for anyone who has kept up in the past fifteen, neither is the comment that followed: “Now I can’t stop thinking about architecture.” The oddity comes with what Stella said next: “I can only blame the pursuit of abstraction.”

    It may seem a little unfair, in order to decipher this last remark, to begin years ago and worlds away, with the “Black

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  • Louise Nevelson, Dawn’s Wedding Feast, 1959, painted wood. Installation view, 2007. Photo: David Heald.

    Louise Nevelson

    The Jewish Museum

    THERE WAS A TIME when Louise Nevelson’s reputation far outshone that of the other Louise of postwar American sculpture: Louise Bourgeois. By the late 1960s Bourgeois still ranked as a minor scion of late Surrealism. In contrast, Nevelson had featured with Johns, Rauschenberg, and Stella in the Museum of Modern Art’s “Sixteen Americans” (1959), attracted widespread acclaim, received numerous public commissions, and had a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1967. However, the two women’s subsequent historical fortunes are an object lesson in trading places. Bourgeois became a

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  • Haim Steinbach

    Sonnabend Gallery

    It perhaps should come as no surprise that Haim Steinbach’s practice has seemed increasingly relevant during the past decade, a period in which the rituals around commercial objects have become all the more pervasive and resolved in their choreographies of desire. Indeed, the heightened attention to design in mass culture—its near-total application in commerce, from the making of products to the construction of display space, at the service of rendering life itself more a matter of lifestyle—would seem an immediately resonant context for an artist long interested in the ways in which our

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  • Jill Magid

    Gagosian Gallery

    Legal papers and surveillance cameras can be the stuff of messy divorces, but in the hands of Brooklyn- and Amsterdam-based artist Jill Magid, they become instruments for the expression of love—or something like it. Featuring various artifacts such as an activity log, documentary photographs, CCTV footage, and objects in Plexiglas displays laid out case by case like courtroom evidence, the artist’s New York solo debut detailed a series of perverse romances with authority. Blending forensic precision with poetic obliqueness, the works carve out intimate niches within civic structures, rewiring

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  • Alex Hay

    Peter Freeman, Inc.

    When we use the phrase “like watching paint dry,” it’s typically to register our impatience with the leisurely unfurling of some event over which we have no control. But recently, as I looked at Alex Hay’s new paintings, the phrase came to mind in the form of a peculiar compliment and, perhaps more to the point, as a way of articulating a methodological paradigm for the artist’s long—if arguably interrupted—oeuvre. By interrupted, I mean that Hay, a fixture of the New York art world in the 1960s and early ’70s, abruptly quit the scene at the moment he seemed to have it made, and it has been

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  • “Role Exchange”

    Sean Kelly Gallery

    “Role Exchange,” a group show exploring the theme of adopted personae in the art of the past three decades, demonstrated that an exhibition is not always greater than, or even equal to, the sum of its parts. If such were the case, this all-star lineup of often inspired works by twenty-seven exceptional artists would have been the hit of the season. Instead, it was largely a lackluster academic exercise that sparkled in spite of, rather than because of, its curatorial ambitions.

    The exhibition’s title was borrowed from Marina Abramović’s performance at Amsterdam’s De Appel in 1975. Abramović found

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  • “Circa 70: Lynda Benglis and Louise Bourgeois”

    Cheim & Read

    A museumworthy show presented as a gallery two-hander, “Circa 70: Lynda Benglis and Louise Bourgeois” joined recent exhibitions like “High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting 1967–1975” and “Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution” in inviting audiences to reconsider— or to consider at all—what happened thirty or forty years ago, when the legacies of Dada, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism met Minimalism, Process, Pop, and performance in the minds and studios of women artists who were in love with art history but mad as hell; ambitious but self-reflexive; funny and subversive, yet dedicated

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  • Christian Denzler

    Rivington Arms

    Thanks to a stretch of skylights, Rivington Arms is an atypically bright gallery, and in the glare of the afternoon sun, Christian Denzler’s nine new untitled drawings looked initially like nothing more than a row of large white sheets of paper set in white frames, so faint are his marks. “Portraits of Unknown Persons” was, with one exception, exactly that, its subjects derived from old photographs the Brussels-based Swiss artist collects from flea markets, then enlarges, traces, and redraws with the lightest of light touches.

    Found photography, even found-at-fl ea-market photography, is well-trod

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  • Thomas Flechtner

    Marianne Boesky Gallery

    What to do, if you’re a gallerist, when summer comes around? Throwing together a hodgepodge from the storeroom is always a popular option. Those with a little more ambition might attempt something hipper by engaging the services of a guest curator. Either way, a lighter-than-usual theme is de rigueur. But mounting a solo show remains the exception. If the artist is a current darling you might get away with it; otherwise, the dog days are also something of a graveyard slot (London’s Richard Salmon Gallery admitted as much by titling a show “Bad August” back in 1996). Thomas Flechtner’s recent “

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  • Davide Cantoni

    Daneyal Mahmood Gallery

    Using perhaps the most appropriate method imaginable for the making of a summer show, Davide Cantoni produced the works in his recent debut outing at Daneyal Mahmood Gallery with the help of a classic childhood stunt: burning paper by using a magnifying glass to focus and direct the rays of the sun. Recalling instances of “destructive” painterly and graphic technique from Gustav Metzger’s “acid action paintings” to William S. Burroughs’s shot-peppered planks, the Brooklyn-based artist’s drawings exhibit a range and subtlety of marks and other traces that suggest he has invested considerable time

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  • Babette Mangolte

    BROADWAY 1602 | Uptown

    For more than three decades filmmaker Babette Mangolte has documented, in still and moving images, the performances of artists and dancers, from her early chronicling of the work of Yvonne Rainer to her recording of Marina Abramović’s Seven Easy Pieces at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2005. Considering that she is esteemed as a director of splintered, nonnarrative, highly subjective experimental films and of equally exploratory documentaries (about Robert Bresson’s 1959 film Pickpocket, for example), it is a wonder that this was Mangolte’s first US solo exhibition. Forty-five black-and-white

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  • Scott Richter

    Elizabeth Harris Gallery

    Why bother to paint when one not only lacks the skill but also doesn’t even seem to enjoy the attempt? The question invites a number of possible answers, several of which were on display in Scott Richter’s recent exhibition, “Portraits: Based on the Irreconcilable” (irreconcilable with what?). First, one may be absorbed, as Richter appears to be, in the production of latter-day “bad painting,” in the tipping of one’s art-historical hat to a quasi-movement associated with the bad old days of Fun Gallery and the calculatedly messy work of the Hamburg-based painters, such as Albert Oehlen and Werner

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