reviews

  • Pierre Huyghe, Opening, 2008. Performance view, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 24, 2008. Photo: Kristopher McKay.

    “theanyspacewhatever”

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

    MAYBE WE’VE FINALLY GIVEN UP on the “old realism of places,” as Gilles Deleuze put it. In his book Cinema 1: The Movement-Image (1983), he used the term éspace quelconque—“whatever-space” or “any-space-whatever”—to describe the cinematic image of undone space that, however shattered or blurred it may be, is also a space of pure potential. It could be a wasted urban void or a shaky zoom into the luminous screen of a Macintosh. It is a postwar feeling of lost coordinates, a certain anonymous emptiness. It is a space that could be “extracted” from the familiar state of things embodied in

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  • Joan Miró

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    THIS EXHILARATING EXHIBITION forced anew the question of Joan Miró’s position in the early-twentieth-century canon—his shifting third or fourth place after Picasso and Matisse owing to the sabot tossed into that spinning jenny by Marcel Duchamp. Despite Miró’s inspired Catalan Pantagruelism, the formalist predispositions of this show’s curator, Anne Umland, reveal that the seemingly capricious artistic strategies that Miró adopted (and equally suddenly departed from) between 1927 and 1937 were as dispassionately Cartesian as any of Duchamp’s arcane gestures. Miró’s rationalist, virtually annual

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  • Terry Winters

    Matthew Marks Gallery

    Terry Winters’s series “Knotted Graphs,” 2008, consists of eleven large abstract paintings—seven of which measure seventy-seven by ninety-eight inches—that, in their mood indigo, introduce, as it were, Jasper Johns to Henri Matisse. The works balance empyrean pleasure and sober order—a contrast struck by Matisse during his epochal struggle with Cubism in the teens of the previous century. Matisse’s reconciliation of these antipodal approaches set an unsurpassed example for painting in modern times. So, while not breaking the mold, Winters’s hard-won reprise of Matisse sounds a distinguished note

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  • Hiroshi Sugimoto

    Gagosian Gallery

    Sometimes, when looking at solemn, serious works of art, particularly religious art, I have the giggle reaction of a teenager in church: I wonder, Does this guy ever go to the mall? What are his feelings on chocolate? It helps to get over this hump if I can mentally substitute art for religion—if the artist seems to have invested in artmaking the concentration that a Christian might spend on prayer or a Buddhist on meditation, a care that rewards looking even without shared belief. Hiroshi Sugimoto is one such artist. The quality of his attention to the subjects of his photographs—most famously

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  • William Anastasi

    Peter Blum Gallery

    It’s too simple to think of William Anastasi as a Conceptualist or a Minimalist, as is usually done. Think of him rather as the Buster Keaton of “post-art” (to use Kaprow’s term); that is, a deadpan master of the indifferent, not exactly ironic à la Duchamp, not exactly interested in the merely interesting. Instead, Anastasi presents himself as the tongue-in-cheek witness to the banality that avant-garde art has become by reason of its built-in obsolescence—an entropic necessity if it is to “advance,” to produce, in other words, ever newer products to satisfy the needs of capitalism, eventually

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  • Richard Aldrich

    Bortolami Gallery

    To judge from the meandering short story, fragmented catalogue essay, and two press releases (both with a distinctly self-penned feel) that accompanied Richard Aldrich’s first solo exhibition at Bortolami, his is the kind of art that tends to attract not explication exactly, but rather a variety of more or less experimental attempts at verbal equivalency. Just as Aldrich’s work veers from oil-on-canvas painting to mixed-media collage, and from hermetic abstraction to quirky part-figuration (with occasional textual and objet trouvé interjections), so the interpretive efforts that shadow it run

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  • Pam Lins

    Rachel Uffner Gallery

    The awkwardness involved in physically negotiating Pam Lins’s exhibition “Owl” was surely no accident, but whether knowing this made the viewing experience more fulfilling is debatable. By arranging her sculptures in a tight but multidirectional cluster, Lins made a case for active engagement but repaid the effort with an assortment of rather clumsily worked-out ideas. Shoehorning several concerns—each of them independently complex—into one basic formal unit (repeated, with variations, in close quarters), the Brooklyn-based artist communicated wide-ranging interests but did not match them with

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  • Nayland Blake

    Location One

    The OED tells us that the word behave derives from the Middle English “be + haven”—“to have” or, slightly differently, “to hold”—and that behavior, then, designates the manner in which one holds oneself. But though the dictionary doesn’t ascribe any inherent judgment to the term (one could behave very badly or with utter propriety or in any manner in between) there is built into its everyday use an assumption of the worst. One rarely brings up behavior if it’s good (unless as a way to reduce jail time!); and though ostensibly describing an individual’s actions, the word always serves to point

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  • Ján Mančuška

    Andrew Kreps Gallery

    An accumulation of deliberate false starts Ján Mančuška third solo exhibition at Andrew Kreps furthered his exploration of the theatrical space of art as diffracted by design. The video Reflection (all works 2008) begins with a man and a woman carrying out a Beckettian go-nowhere dialogue in which they ponder whether anything can be “seen” in a dark nearby space, qualifying each other’s lines with such novelistic rejoinders as “he said after a while” and “she answered.” With the brisk pace of seasoned performers (and wielding British stage accents), the pair ably enact the twists and turns of

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  • Nick Cave

    Jack Shainman Gallery | West 20th Street

    Pioneers of Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and Conceptualism all braved the establishment’s most elementary and con- founding query: “Why is this art?” Nick Cave’s “Soundsuits,” 1991– , his primary body of work (this isn’t the Nick Cave of the Bad Seeds), summon the same line of inquiry. Dazzling and bejeweled, sequined and beaded, the costumes conflate brilliant African robes or the fanciful plumage of Mardi Gras attire with a thrift-store aesthetic both grandmotherly and evocative of the Providence look associated most closely with the artist Jim Drain. The “Soundsuits” have in

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  • Paul P.

    Daniel Reich Gallery

    Paul P. depicts youth with a longing that suggests nostalgia, although he is himself quite young. His early works feature the faces of young men taken from pornographic photographs shot between the 1960s and the 1980s, portraits that, by denying full-body views, run counter to the imagery’s initial uses and introduce the complexities of the subjects’ emotional life, of the parallel truths of boyishness and sensuality. Lounging, posing, staring languidly into the distance, P.’s most recent subjects appear to be taken from high-fashion and beefcake photographs, though the artist has given them

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  • Erik Schmidt

    Elizabeth Dee Gallery

    As I write this review, the New York Times is featuring news of a Hamas cease-fire in Gaza, with Israel agreeing—provisionally—to withdraw its forces. Whether this will have come to pass by the time this magazine goes to press remains wholly unclear, but such events inevitably pressured readings of Berlin-based artist Erik Schmidt’s work, on view during the conflict in his first show at Elizabeth Dee, titled “As above is so below.” Consisting of one short video and a cohort of thickly encrusted paintings, the exhibition on first glance seemed to have nothing to do with politics. The paintings

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  • Daniel Guzmán

    Harris Lieberman

    Since the 1990s, Daniel Guzmán has made drawings that borrow imagery from a wide range of sources––from punk rock to the daily news, heavy metal to Mexican mural painting––and his first exhibition at this gallery charted similarly dense terrain. Guzmán’s latest sculptures share certain motifs with his drawing series “La Búsqueda del Ombligo” (The Search of the Navel), 2005–2007, in which he explored his cultural roots; but they focus on darker subjects, namely the New Fire, an Aztec bloodletting ceremony, the artist channeling aggression and disenchantment into metaphor.

    The rectangular structures

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  • Keltie Ferris

    SUNDAY

    Keltie Ferris—a 2006 Yale MFA who participated in the height-of-the-market, art-department-raiding exhibition “School Days” at Jack Tilton Gallery in 2006—has a lot of good ideas, even if they’re not all fully developed yet. Her debut show in New York coincided with a solo project at the New Art Dealers Alliance fair in Miami and included five medium- to large-scale abstract paintings that employed various techniques. The era of fancy, computer-generated stencils is waning; Ferris, like many of her peers, does things the old-school way, masking areas with tape and then applying pigment with

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  • Jaimie Warren

    Higher Pictures

    Jaimie Warren is by no means the first—or the best—artist to embrace self-portraiture as an artistic methodology, but she certainly looks to be having the most fun doing it. An uneven selection of forty-two of her droll, scrappy photographs constituted “Don’t You Feel Better,” her recent solo debut at Higher Pictures; the title, like the exhibition, betrayed a cathartic impulse at once frustrating and entirely refreshing.

    Warren’s work invokes a lineage of other female self-portraitists, most obviously Cindy Sherman and Nikki S. Lee. Whereas Lee, however, often dresses to pass—as stereotyped

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  • Emily Newman

    Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery

    In the seven recent videos included in this exhibition, Emily Newman—who was born in Singapore, identifies as American, and currently resides in Russia—presents a self-portrait that also functions, at its best, as a cultural inquiry. Mainly through informally shot footage of her young son, Isaac, and of Saint Petersburg, Newman examines the vicissitudes of cultural assimilation. The videos, which range from four to twenty minutes in length, do not feature a traditional narrative structure, and instead use occasional intertitle cards and brief on-screen text to help orient the viewer. Not knowing

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