• Yael Bartana, Kings of the Hill, 2003, still from a color video, 7 minutes 30 seconds.

    Yael Bartana, Kings of the Hill, 2003, still from a color video, 7 minutes 30 seconds.

    Yael Bartana

    MoMA PS1

    DISPUTATIOUS CLAIMS of belonging and emplacement; boundaries and flows; communication and misunderstanding; historical narratives in contradiction: These are the preoccupations of Yael Bartana’s postdocumentary, allegorical practice. Born in Israel in 1970, Bartana makes work that delivers resonant poetic-political reflections on the cultural, political, geographic, psychological, and religious irreconcilabilities of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, who seem incapable, in their mutually reinforcing fears and misunderstandings and their reciprocal—indeed, at this point, ritualistic—gestures

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  • Robert Irwin

    Pace Wildenstein

    Grand, stately, and a little static—that is the magisterial phase that Robert Irwin’s work is going through, judging from his last two installations in PaceWildenstein’s Twenty-second Street space: the recent Red Drawing White Drawing Black Painting and, in 2006–2007, Who’s Afraid of Red Yellow and Blue3. Both involved homogenous treatments of large fields: In the earlier one, twenty-two-foot aluminum-honeycomb panels were painted with the primary colors; in the later one, two walls running nearly the length and height of the large space each got an arrangement of fluorescent light tubes. The

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  • Peter Doig

    Gavin Brown's Enterprise/Michael Werner Gallery

    In a roundtable in these pages one year ago, Peter Doig became the fall guy for several participants’ vexations with the big bad art market. One had to feel a little sorry for him in the reckoning: One of his paintings, through no doings of his own, breaks auction records for a work by a living European artist, and he gets pitted against no less a luminary than Giovanni Battista Tiepolo as quintessential of what art historian James Meyer called the market’s “overestimation of the contemporary.” Economies, art and otherwise, are of course worlds different now, and the point that Doig’s work (like

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  • Andrea Zittel

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Andrea Zittel’s exhibition “single strand, forward motion” followed two major surveys of her work: “Critical Space,” which toured the US and Canada in 2006 and 2007, and a retrospective of works on paper at Schaulager in Basel in 2008. Perhaps her slate felt clean. Or perhaps, since her home in Joshua Tree, California, aka A-Z West, has been a tourist destination and test site for about seven years now, she wanted to shift her terms; she might also be tracking an economically influenced curve away from high-finish collectibles toward faster, lighter experiments. In any case, this show was more

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  • Erik van Lieshout

    Maccarone | 630 Greenwich Street

    The camcorder-video installations for which Dutch artist Erik van Lieshout is best known transgress boundaries to push upon our society’s unspoken weak points. He is a crooked man in a crooked world, and his rebellion against decorum—whether he’s cajoling his gay brother into cruising Rotterdam’s immigrants, or teaching a Chinese woman how to pronounce the word feminism—has long functioned as a thorn in the side of social and political complacency. His utter disregard for courtesy, decorum, and deference often seems calculated to make us uncomfortable: While our curiosity compels us, for example,

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  • Keren Cytter

    Thierry Goldberg Gallery

    Keren Cytter, who lives in Berlin, pulls from film history for her work, usually in service to video, the medium for which she is best known (though she redirected the practice to text in her novel from last year, The seven most exciting hours of Mr. Trier’s life in twenty-four chapters, which draws from Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom). The two short videos in her exhibition at Thierry Goldberg refer most directly to Blowup and Dial M for Murder, though they also bring to mind a range of other subjects: soap operas, reality television, Godard, Fassbinder. But while Cytter’s videos explore particular

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  • Guy de Cointet

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    Ferdinand de Saussure’s famous Course in General Linguistics (published posthumously in 1916) defines language as “a system of pure values which are determined by nothing except the momentary arrangements of its terms.” Such a characterization—a radical proposition in its day—has over the years become largely taken for granted. Most people, it seems, would admit that words are tethered somewhat arbitrarily to what they signify (“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”), but however well-established the idea might be, we rarely see this premise of instability in action. For the most part,

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  • “Zones of Conflict”

    Pratt Manhattan Gallery

    Debates and discussions around the profoundly contradictory, and often uncomfortable, interrelationships of art, aesthetics, and politics have been in motion for decades. Numerous exhibitions, panel discussions, and other events have been organized to address these worthy issues, yet we remain, after two decades of increased networks of globalized artistic exchange, unable to effectively trace the social reverberations. Such uncertainty seemed to be the undercurrent of “Zones of Conflict,” a modest group exhibition intermixing documentary, postdocumentary, and hybrid docu-fictive photographic

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  • Dirk Stewen

    Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

    Dirk Stewen’s assemblages perform a delicate balancing act, bringing together decorative abstractions and enigmatic arrangements of photography, appropriated text, and found objects. Elegant and reserved, the German artist’s second solo show in New York largely reiterated past successes while offering a few surprises. Each of three finely tuned works, Die Assistenten II, III, and IV (The Assistants II, III, and IV) (all works 2008), consists of two collaged compositions, between which a thin black wooden rod leans against the wall. In each configuration, one of the compositions combines three

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  • Mark Ruwedel

    Yossi Milo

    At the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, there were 35,085 miles of operable railroad track in the United States. Eight years later that number had doubled. Midway between these dates, on May 10, 1869, a golden spike joined the rails of the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific railroads at Promontory Summit, Utah. It was near this site that photographer Mark Ruwedel was inspired to begin his series “Westward the Course of Empire,” 1994–2007. This exhibition brought together seventy-five of the small black-and-white photographs, which document the railroad lines, now abandoned, that knit

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  • R. H. Quaytman

    Miguel Abreu Gallery | Orchard Street

    Most twentieth-century art dismissed by modernist gatekeepers—late Picabia, the most flagrantly commercial of Picasso’s and Warhol’s works, even Pattern and Decoration—has proven assimilable by now. Op, not so much. The movement made iconic by Bridget Riley’s trippily pulsating paintings was vilified in the Swinging ’60s as capricious flower-child art lite. The swirls and whorls of Op were not only suspected drug references, they ended up emblazoning miniskirts too; in the end, Pop posed the more formidable challenge to the presumption that art should be indifferent to pop culture. Despite

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  • Trenton Duerksen and Aaron King

    Guild & Greyshkul

    Every so often, an exhibition comes along that displays a real exuberance, a delight in the act of making or transforming before which ideals of formal resolution seem irrelevant. Trenton Duerksen and Aaron King’s recent appearance at the late lamented Guild & Greyshkul (this was the much-admired gallery’s penultimate project, preceding a last multiartist hurrah) was one such show. In this heterogeneous array of likably rough-and-ready sculptures, the identities and imagined agendas of the young artists ultimately mattered less than an overall atmosphere of energetic experiment. The room fizzed

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  • John Gerrard

    Simon Preston Gallery/Knoedler Project Space

    I never did get to see the pigs in John Gerrard’s Grow Finish Unit (near Elkhart, Kansas) 2008. Nor will I likely ever witness the culmination of the artist’s Oil Stick Work (Angelo Martinez/Richfield, Kansas) 2008. The animations’ respective climaxes and denouements will escape most viewers; indeed, that’s part of their charm.

    “Oil Stick Work,” Gerrard’s first New York solo show, was held at Simon Preston Gallery in conjunction with a small presentation uptown at Knoedler Project Space. The principal works, three interactive computer animations, offer the sort of virtual environments found in

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  • Lucy Stein

    BROADWAY 1602 | Uptown

    Mounted in the office of Broadway 1602 during Lucy Stein’s show was a small drawing made in ink on the kind of informational flyer found in college infirmaries—this one detailing the bodily dangers of bulimia. The drawing depicts a liberated Gibson Girl, with a hand, presumably of a man, reaching between her legs and approximately aligning with a medical illustration, printed on the flyer, of the digestive tract. Penned in fluid cursive at the top is a statement: STAND UP AND BE YOUR OWN CLICHÉ.

    For the past several years, market critique has run through certain veins of painting. In such works,

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  • Mary Lum

    Frederieke Taylor Gallery

    The subject of Mary Lum’s exhibition was urban space and time, and the materials of choice were comic books—cut neatly and precisely into strips, slivers, and squares and collaged onto paper, or rendered in paint on panels or, in a wall installation, around the gallery. Like an urban landscape, the comic is an instrument of compression: In the former, wildly diverse lives and cultures are organized by buildings within blocks—by grids within grids—and in the latter neat rows of squares create a shorthand for movement and the passage of time. Lum shatters the order of both, creating, instead, a

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  • Peter Pinchbeck

    Luise Ross Gallery

    Constituting the first significant showing of Peter Pinchbeck’s work in New York since the memorial exhibition that followed his passing in 2000, these tandem presentations offered a representative range of his formidable oeuvre, which still awaits critical recognition. Although primarily a painter (AbEx lured him to New York from his native England in 1960), Pinchbeck first became known for his Minimalist constructions, one of which was featured in the watershed “Primary Structures” show at the Jewish Museum in 1966. He would soon shift his full attention back to painting, devoting his efforts

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