reviews

  • Wolfgang Tillmans

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Individual photographs: a sweeping view of a Venetian lagoon; members of the World Adult Kickball Association gathered on the mall in Washington, DC; a sheet of paper, curled into a teardrop shape and glinting against a reflective surface; a profile of a man’s face encrusted with an assortment of mottled stones. All were encountered in the main room of Andrea Rosen Gallery as part of Wolfgang Tillmans’s eighth solo outing there, “Atair,” where the photographer’s characteristic range of genre and format spurred an initial feeling described once by Thomas Pynchon as “antiparanoia,” “where nothing

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  • Hirsch Perlman

    Robert Miller Gallery

    Hirsch Perlman exhibits regularly but infrequently in New York—it’s been six years since he participated in the Whitney Biennial and more than a decade since his last solo show here. These time lapses are sufficient almost to allow us to forget about his practice, an effect that complements the already spare means and demeanor of his art and ratifies his preference for understatement. Perlman’s use of ephemeral materials, simple black-and-white photography, and text dates back to the ’80s and aligns itself with vintage Conceptualism’s promotion of ideas over objects. True to form, he often

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  • Alighiero Boetti

    Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

    Gladstone Gallery’s recent exhibition of works made by Italian artist Alighiero Boetti between the late 1980s and the early ’90s showcased two core elements of his work: an investigation of personal and collective identity conducted with reference to the idea of the Other, and a reflection on the power of art to dissolve boundaries between people. Like Andy Warhol and Sol LeWitt, Boetti was a “lazy genius,” and regularly entrusted the completion of his work to others, thereby distancing himself from the myth of the solitary artist and allowing for a deeper immersion in his themes. (Traveling

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  • Raymond Pettibon

    David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

    Raymond Pettibon is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore. With “Here’s Your Irony Back (The Big Picture),” the artist may also have been seeking some mainstream political relevance, appearing to dive headfirst into the deep end of the already crowded Bushbashing pool. In his characteristic ferocious dreamscape style, he pounds us with lamentations regarding the Iraq morass. Comprised of groupings of small-scale drawings on paper, the show finds Pettibon painting a lot of blood onto the hands of our current administration, and staging his deadpan outrage as a freak show: The title

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  • Jay Heikes

    Marianne Boesky Gallery

    Richard Prince’s “Joke” paintings remain the gold standard for the use of dark verbal humor in contemporary art, but in the last few years a younger set of artists has expanded on Prince’s turn to the debased language and iconography of comedy. Its themes appear in Sarah Greenberger-Rafferty’s sculptures of splattered pies, in Sanford Biggers’s theatrical resuscitations of “Negro variety shows,” in Kalup Linzy’s tragicomic soap operas, and in Jay Heikes’s bronze casts of canes—essential props for whisking foundering comedians from onstage misery.

    At the 2006 Whitney Biennial, Heikes showed

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  • Karin Sander

    D’Amelio Terras

    In 1926, Edward Steichen tried to bring his version of Constantin Brancusi’s Bird in Space, 1923, into New York on the occasion of the sculptor’s retrospective, only to have the work held up at customs on the grounds that it was not art but a duty-entitled industrial implement—a kitchen utensil. As the story goes, Steichen had to pay a heavy tax, as did Marcel Duchamp when he imported another Brancusi some weeks later. The verdict in Steichen’s case was subsequently overturned when a court decreed that, despite its not looking particularly like a bird, the work was “nevertheless pleasing

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  • Aaron Spangler

    Feuer/Messler

    In the contemporary art world, work featuring (or even originating from) the prairie states is about as popular as wood carving, but both figured prominently in Aaron Spangler’s recent exhibition. While there have been fitful creative explorations of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s Montana cabin by Seth Weiner (in faithful reproduction; Hermitage, 2007), Constantin and Laurene Leon Boym (in souvenir mode; Souvenirs for the End of the Century, 1998), and Richard Barnes (in crisp color photographs; 1998); and while Catherine Opie has captured the languor of Minneapolis’s ice-fishing huts and Habitrail

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  • Miranda Lichtenstein

    Elizabeth Dee Gallery

    While several of the photographs in Miranda Lichtenstein’s recent show build on the artist’s interest in painterly still life and the frozen moment, a handful break with this pattern to introduce not just a sense of movement but a system of temporal flux. In the photographic diptych Dream Machine, 2007, the artist sits behind a stroboscope device that in the first image is still and in the second is blurred by motion. And in another diptych, Two Trees, 2007, the image of a tree trunk appears to continue upward from one shot to another hung directly above it, over the gap between frames. Though

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  • Kristin Lucas

    Postmasters

    Recently, a friend remarked to me that she was experiencing her Saturn return—an astrological phenomenon that happens about once every thirty years when, after orbiting the sun, the planet returns to the place it was when a person was born. Her feelings of trepidation, the changes in her life, and her description of the ominous effect led us to the following, from newage-directory.com: “While undergoing your Saturn Return you may find yourself turning inward and reflecting on your individual destiny. You examine your true needs and desires and the role you want to play on the world’s stage.”

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  • Francis Alÿs

    Dia at The Hispanic Society of America

    From September 2007 to April 2008, the North Building Galleries of the Hispanic Society—dimly lit, mahogany-paneled rooms usually set aside for nineteenth-century holdings—are being occupied by a rogue collection. At a glance, the works assembled don’t look so very out of place, save for the relentless repetition of their subject matter. The myriad pictures on display—created by many hands and culled from locales around the globe—all show a crimson-veiled woman, her face in profile. The image feels generically iconic—the attendant whiff of religiosity tempered (or perhaps

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  • Zhang Huan

    Asia Society | New York

    Few serious artists today could call their work “a metaphor for the human condition.” Zhang Huan does—and with a straight face. He also states, “The body is my most basic language,” and claims, “I wanted to measure myself against insurmountable limits.” His recent retrospective, “Altered States”—the Asia Society’s first for a living artist—examined three career periods. In the early nineties, in the art enclave of post-Tiananmen Beijing (dubbed the “East Village” after another once-risky hot spot), Zhang specialized in simple, grueling performances, confronting absurd situations

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  • Michele O’Marah and Henry Taylor

    RENTAL Gallery

    In their recent exhibition, “Repeat after me: I AM a Revolutionary,” Michele O’Marah and Henry Taylor considered the civil rights struggle from distinct yet complementary perspectives. The show was a chance to reflect on a political era more charged than our own with the hope of achieving social justice, and with the expectation that individual struggle might lead to meaningful participation in the fate of community and nation. Though in terms of cultural integration certain of the advances envisioned by the civil rights movement have come to pass, “Repeat after me…” spoke to the racism that

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  • Stefan Sehler

    Parker's Box

    At first glance, Berlin-based artist Stefan Sehler’s lush, intricate images appear to be photographic. They depict fragments of nature— branches and leaves, pine needles, vines, and ferns—often lushly entangled and seen close-up, as though they were specimens for scientific study or the subjects of a contemplative gaze. A second look suggests that the images are printed on their Plexiglas supports; we seem to be looking both through and into the picturesque scene. The works draw us into a seemingly endless space; as we catch glimpses of the distant empty sky, we find ourselves immersed

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  • “The Geometry of Hope”

    Grey Art Gallery

    The title of this ambitious exhibition of Latin American geometric abstract art from the 1930s to the ’70s, drawn from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros collection, is a self-conscious response to Herbert Read’s term “the geometry of fear,” which he coined in 1952 to describe cold war British abstraction. Broadly speaking, the show encouraged viewers to link abstraction to utopian politics, but its arguments remained confused. A more helpful title might have been “Cold War Constructivism Redux: The Contradictions of Postwar Abstraction.” While the show’s existing title, and its focus on art that

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