new-york

Tomma Abts

New Museum

If the compact, boxlike galleries of the new New Museum did no favors for the raggedy lo-fi sculptures in “Unmonumental,” the museum’s inaugural show, the ensuing exhibition—German painter Tomma Abt’s first solo outing in the United States—made clear the potential of the building’s small spaces. Hung low, the fourteen paintings on view worked with the architecture to draw the viewer into an emotional and intellectual engagement with a complex and enveloping space. For those who have previously seen Abts’s works only in reproduction, where they appear rather flat, encountering them in person makes for a revelation, as each composition pulls you into a three-dimensional, almost holographic environment that tends to produce full-throttle kinetic effects yet is held in check by the surface of the paint and—not least—the edges of the canvas itself.

Each of the paintings measures eighteen and

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