reviews

  • View of “the Generational: Younger than Jesus,” 2009, New Museum, New york. Foreground: Icaro Zorbar, Golden Triangle, 2006. Background, from left: Brendan Fowler, Poster for Dialog with the Band AIDS Wolf, 2009; Brendan Fowler, Untitled (Spring 2007–Fall 2008), 2009. Photo: Bendoit Pailley.

    “The Generational: Younger than Jesus”

    New Museum

    ONE OF THE STANDOUT PIECES in “Younger than Jesus”—the New Museum’s inaugural triennial for artists under the fateful age of thirty-three—is Luke Fowler’s What You See Is Where You’re At, 2001, a video documenting schizophrenia treatments developed in the 1960s by psychiatrist R. D. Laing. The video begins with an overview of Laing’s experimental protocols, which are premised on the notion that schizophrenia is not an illness and therefore needs no cure, but the narrative quickly begins to derail. Shots of disoriented patients and their equally disoriented doctors are interspersed with

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  • León Ferrari and Mira Schendel

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    A PAIR OF PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAITS of the artists adorn the entrance of the Museum of Modern Art’s joint retrospective “Tangled Alphabets: León Ferrari and Mira Schendel,” the first major North American survey for either of these two key figures of postwar Latin American art. Similarly framed, equally expressionless, and each flanked by abstract sculptures, the two artists look strikingly alike. This coincidence reflects the show’s primary operation: The dearth of actual historical connections between Ferrari and Schendel is repeatedly eclipsed by immediate visual affinities. While a retrospective

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  • Rudolf Stingel

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    Rudolf Stingel’s 2005 exhibition at Paula Cooper consisted of one work, a painting of his gallerist based on a Robert Mapplethorpe portrait. Installed on the back wall of Cooper’s cavernous space, whose floors were covered with white panels that recorded visitors’ tracks, the picture turned the white cube into a shrine and its founder into a godhead. The holies were more literal in the artist’s latest show, which comprised five diminutive, black-and-white oil-on-linen paintings of saints sourced from photographs of statues and hung one per wall across two rooms. Such austerity rendered the

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  • Alex Bag

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    TV SHOW HOST IN FUGUE STATE. Like LINDSAY LOHAN ESCAPES REHAB, or similar headlines in the tabloid press, the sentence seems calculated to strike terror in the heart of our republic, media dependent as it is. Make that CHILDREN’S TV SHOW HOST IN FUGUE STATE and America is lost. Yet Alex Bag made that bloodcurdling image the premise of her latest video installation—her first solo, to tie the knot a little tighter, in a major museum, or actually in any museum at all. In going mainstream Bag hasn’t exactly cleaned up.

    The work has Bag developing a TV show in which she will star. It’s one of those

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  • Barbara Kruger

    Skarstedt Gallery | New York

    If ever there were a time to reflect on the recent past of a present moment, this would seem to be it. With its many uncanny parallels to and, perhaps in retrospect, prescient harbingers for our day, the ’80s—that messy, sprawling decade, which seemed to begin sometime in the 1970s and arguably maintained force well into the early 1990s—holds a certain kind of fascination for many of us today. Indeed, the seeds of our current situation (economic, political, and specifically for this context, artistic) were sowed during those years when Reagan took office, the AIDS crisis hit, and the stock market

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  • Andrew Lord

    Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

    The arts/crafts divide is a vexed passage; painting and sculpture versus the potter’s wheel and the loom. Of recent decades the rancor that once marked these age-old oppositions has abated. Certainly, much contemporary art embraces crafts’ methods—think of the feminist coding of weaving so central to Eva Hesse’s sculpture. Conversely, while craftspeople may now be regarded as artists, convincing examples are rare. Peter Voulkos, who led the West Coast ceramics renaissance, comes to mind, and now, with this ambitious show, Andrew Lord enters the lists.

    Lord is a master ceramist of intense personality.

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  • Nate Lowman

    Maccarone | 630 Greenwich Street

    In his second solo show at Maccarone, Nate Lowman presented an exhibition in two parts, the first of which devolved on the Smiley Face icon. This installation consisted mostly of paintings that clustered tightly on two walls of the gallery’s expansive front room. The artist’s obsessive elaboration of the Smiley Face icon in multifarious guises and contexts derives from its original appearance in his inaugural solo show. Lowman then exhibited a painting of the signature of O. J. Simpson taken from a letter Simpson sent to fans shortly after his arrest—“Peace and Love O. J.” Within the O of his

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  • David Musgrave

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    David Musgrave’s art, like Seinfeld, elevates seemingly banal or arbitrary subjects to unexpected heights. In his New York solo debut, the British artist presented an austerely beautiful suite of drawings and objects in which painstakingly flawless technique is brought to bear on motifs that oscillate between the timelessly iconic and the neither-here-nor-there. What the exhibition made indisputable was Musgrave’s ability to reveal the underlying complexity of outwardly trivial images, and to extract a sensual beauty from materials without resort to “expressive” (or even readily perceptible)

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  • “Cast in Bronze"

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    This great exhibition—it is absurd to mince adjectives—is a monumental event. Apart from the breathtaking loans, there is a daunting catalogue containing 144 entries on works by canonic figures (Goujon, Pilon, Falconet, Girardon, Coysevox, Pigalle, Houdon) in addition to lesser lights as one moves from French Mannerism past Louis XIV, XV, and XVI to the rationalist French sculptors of the eighteenth century. The occasion was largely orchestrated by savants at the Louvre, the Metropolitan, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where the show arrives this month.

    The catalogue for Knoedler

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  • Alfredo Jaar

    Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

    Alfredo Jaar, an artist who has committed many years to examining the potentialities of art’s response (and perhaps responsibility) to those at the extreme margins of life or in the crosshairs of social/political/existential crisis, produced an unremittingly complex and disturbing installation in 2006, The Sound of Silence. Originally presented at DiverseWorks in Houston within the context of FotoFest 2006 (and subsequently in a number of international contexts), the work here made a long overdue appearance in New York.

    Passing in front of a vast array of vertically organized fluorescent bulbs—a

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  • Dana Schutz

    Feuer/Messler

    “Missing Pictures” was Dana Schutz’s twelfth solo exhibition, and it’s time to stop appraising her as a prodigy. Neither instant nor sustained stardom has ruined her, and these twelve paintings evinced the same luxe, wack, et volupté she has been praised for before, with the same ambitious chewing up and spitting out of art-historical exemplars. Ten minutes in the gallery was time enough for a viewer to cycle through thoughts of Guston, Manet, Kandinsky, Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard, Rodin, and Johns—whose hatch marks Schutz has adapted as parquet flooring in a scene of periwigged Founding Fathers,

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  • Leon Kossoff

    Mitchell-Innes & Nash | Chelsea

    Leon Kossoff’s painterliness invites us to scan the image for subconscious meaning—to play on Anton Ehrenzweig’s idea of the way we approach what he calls “gestalt-free painting”—and the meaning we find involves what Freud called “primary process thinking,” and traces of what D. W. Winnicott, elaborating and deepening Freud’s idea, called “primary creativity,” by which he meant the spontaneity innate to us all yet often stifled or channeled into trivial pursuits by society. As shown in “Leon Kossoff: From the Early Years 1957–1967,” a miniretrospective of choice works, there’s nothing trivial

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  • Matt Saunders

    Harris Lieberman

    Had Warhol dropped the irony that made him who he was and embraced the romanticism that undeniably coursed through his work (and life), his art might have looked a lot like Matt Saunders’s. Like the King of Pop, Saunders makes serial, photo-derived images of celebrity icons and manipulates their surfaces with washes of paint. In his 2006 exhibition at Harris Lieberman, he showed works depicting the faces of male screen stars from generations past (Jean-Paul Belmondo, Buster Keaton), painted on Mylar and frosted with a lush sheen of oil paint and metallic silver ink. The effect is gorgeous and

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  • Barbara Probst

    Murray Guy

    A woman reaches for something on a coffee table. This is the core event of Barbara Probst’s Exposure #56: NYC, 428 Broome Street, 06.05.08, 1:42 PM (all works 2008). Around it are layers of action that play out, as in Probst’s other works, in multiple photographs taken from various points of view, all of them shot simultaneously by radio-controlled cameras that Probst sets up around and within her tableaux. She does not hide her apparatus, so that the cameras, as they record the limited bits of information afforded by their various angles, also record one another, creating an extra layer of

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  • Simryn Gill

    Tracy Williams, Ltd.

    The sculptures and photographs in Sydney-based Malaysian artist Simryn Gill’s recent exhibition, like her project “Standing still,” 2000–2003, a series of photographs documenting derelict properties throughout Southeast Asia, and Garland, 2006, a selection of waterworn objects found during beachcombing excursions, occupied the shifting and indistinct boundary between abandonment and reclamation.

    As is characteristic of Gill’s practice, the works in the show were marked by a visual modesty that belies the ramifications of the stories of their genesis. In Mine, 2007–2009—a collection of spherical

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  • Xavier Cha

    Taxter & Spengemann

    Over the past few years, Xavier Cha has developed a quasi-mythic reputation for her strange, nearly gauche, performances. In her exhibition “Holiday Cruise!” in 2006, for example, she appeared in several ways: lounging in an enormous cornucopia; as a deity called Polyhedra; and gyrating while wearing a full-body costume of hair braided in cornrows. Anyone expecting such lavishness in her recent exhibition would have been surprised by the chilly, detached tone, by the stark and minimal presentation and less over-the-top subjects. But most unexpectedly, she did not perform here herself, opting

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  • Mungo Thomson

    John Connelly Presents

    Elliptical has many meanings, from oval, egg-shaped, or oviform to cryptic, ambiguous, or obscure. It might also denote something that has been abridged or is laconic about its means (which is to say nothing of its effects). Less descriptive than functional, this term surfaced—sometimes obliquely—throughout Mungo Thomson’s recent show, which was gamely titled “The Varieties of Experience” in dual homage to William James and Carl Sagan (James’s seminal The Varieties of Religious Experience was taken up by Sagan as The Varieties of Scientific Experience, a 2006 publication based on his Gifford

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  • Ry Rocklen

    Marc Jancou | New York

    Los Angeles artist Ry Rocklen’s fascination with the “soul residue” of discarded objects leads him to create sculptures that, while not anthropomorphic, possess many human qualities: tenderness, a complicated history, resilience despite apparent fragility. “Good Heavens,” the artist’s first exhibition in New York since the 2008 Whitney Biennial, emphasized that the seemingly childlike or quasi-mystical lens through which he views the world’s detritus is conjoined with a talent for drawing out and communicating the essential dignity in whatever catches his eye. Yet his alchemical transformations—a

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  • Laura Parnes

    Participant Inc.

    Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School (1978) is a messy novel filled with nihilistic divagations and high-theory musings, juvenile drawings of cunts and cocks, unstable characters on a bombastic path of nonbecoming. Genet has a lengthy cameo, as does Jimmy Carter; there’s a character named Mr. Blowjob. For all the dialogic chaos, it’s an easy text to thematize, to reduce to some glib scrawl lifted from some po-mo bad-girl diary. When putting the book to another medium, one could imagine any number of ways to make vulgar and vapid the pensive, difficult texts, subtexts, and intertexts that,

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