reviews

  • Dan Graham

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    OF ACTIVE ARTISTS over the age of sixty in the United States, Dan Graham may be the most admired figure among younger practitioners. Though never as famous as his peers Robert Smithson, Richard Serra, and Bruce Nauman, Graham has now gained, as artist-critic John Miller puts it, a “retrospective public.” Why might this be so? “Dan Graham: Beyond,” the excellent survey curated by Bennett Simpson of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (the show’s inaugural venue), and Chrissie Iles of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, offers ample reasons.

    If Minimalism was a crux in postwar

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  • “Yinka Shonibare MBE”

    Brooklyn Museum

    YINKA SHONIBARE HAS often called himself “the outsider within.” It’s fitting, then, that the entrance to the artist’s midcareer retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum in New York was both welcoming and sharply forbidding. Leisure Lady (with Ocelots), 2001, greeted visitors with a life-size Victorian figure whose ostentatiously outstretched arm and splayed fingers seemed to usher us into her dominion. Yet her other hand tautly held the leashes of three barely contained exotic wildcats, suggesting the violence born of the Enlightenment desire to colonize, classify, and tame the natural world.

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  • Frank Lloyd Wright, Herbert Jacobs House #2, 1943–48, Middleton, WI. Interior. Photo: Ezra Stroller. © Esto.

    Frank Lloyd Wright

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

    HALF A CENTURY AFTER PHILIP JOHNSON acidly proclaimed Frank Lloyd Wright “the greatest architect of the nineteenth century,” a new traveling retrospective makes the case for Wright’s relevance to the twenty-first. “Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward,” organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, explores Wright’s expression of interior spaces on his buildings’ exteriors, as in the perfect example of the Guggenheim’s concrete coil. With a generation of architects modeling building shapes with functionally coded blocks of blue foam, external form is

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  • Tim Hawkinson

    PaceWildenstein

    Tim Hawkinson often depends on ingenuity and surprise, on shifting something familiar or at least imaginable into an unimaginable medium or scale. Like Tom Friedman, an artist I’ve fantasized seeing him paired with, he fosters in viewers a sense of jaw-dropped wonder, the “How did he do that?” coming way before “And why?” For this show, for example, Hawkinson made a full-scale motorbike out of feathers. He made a stool out of eggshells and a model of the atmosphere out of tape and what looked like a bicycle frame. There’s something of the science nerd in Hawkinson, and also something of the

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  • Dorothy Iannone

    Anton Kern Gallery

    In the preface accompanying Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer (1934), Anaïs Nin (or, some claim, Miller ghostwriting) argues, “If there is here revealed a capacity to shock, to startle the lifeless ones from their profound slumber, let us congratulate ourselves; for the tragedy of our world is precisely that nothing any longer is capable of rousing it from its lethargy.” The long-term censorship of Miller’s work in America and Britain made clear that the book indeed had such a capacity: Tropic of Cancer was not published in the US until 1961, when it become a central object in the era’s fierce

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  • Anri Sala

    Toward the beginning of Andrei Tarkovsky’s science-fiction film Stalker (1979), three men, including the eponymous guide, stand at the edge of the “zone,” a mysterious off-limits realm said to contain a room where one’s innermost wishes may be granted. As the camera peers through a burned-out military vehicle at the apprehensive trio, framed in silhouette from behind, a short monologue ensues regarding what they might encounter beyond. A rupture between sight and sound occurs as one man looks back at the camera just as another begins to speak, creating an uneasy pairing of portent and disorientation

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  • Lynda Benglis and Robert Morris

    Susan Inglett Gallery

    Some art-world controversies never get old. Lynda Benglis’s November 1974 Artforum advertisement for her exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery remains a contender for the most persistently demanding of attention. Lesser known, perhaps, is the image that sparked her ad: Robert Morris’s April 1974 poster for his Castelli-Sonnabend show. Yet these iconic plays on gender––Morris, buff in chains, and Benglis, in the buff with dildo—offer just a slice of the pie, similar to the ensuing story of the editors at this magazine who objected to Benglis’s “centerfold,” two of whom, Rosalind Krauss and Annette

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  • John Currin

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    An intriguing survey of seventy-seven works on paper, borrowed from some fifty lenders, was handsomely installed at the Andrea Rosen Gallery, home of the artist’s early career. These drawings— let’s call them that for expediency’s sake (there were numerous watercolors and gouaches as well)—largely date from 1992 to 2002. During that ten-year run, John Currin emerged as a leading proponent of an insouciant, comedic, randy, figurative realism then being explored by a set of young provocateurs that also included Lisa Yuskavage and Ron Mueck.

    By 2002, Currin had all but renounced drawing as a manual

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  • “Black Acid Co-op”

    Deitch Projects

    This summer at Deitch Projects, Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe transformed the gallery’s Wooster Street space beyond recognition. Constructing a main line into the contemporary American imaginary, the artists fabricated a multilevel compound housing a dense network of replicated spaces that, while known to exist within society, typically operate out of sight and beyond the law. Linked by a series of waiting areas and corridors and overseen by jerry-rigged surveillance equipment, the rooms were evocative of such places as a bare-shelved drug-front store, a dropout commune, meth labs, an underground

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  • “White Noise”

    James Cohan | Tribeca

    Another group show based on the to-and-fro between artists and music and musicians and art, “White Noise” boasted a solid cross section of youngish musicians (Jason Ajemian, Brendan Fowler, Mario Diaz de León), visual artists from older generations with a verifiable interest in rock music (Robert Smithson, Raymond Pettibon), and figures who work extensively in both media (Yoko Ono, Christian Marclay, Jutta Koether, Rodney Graham, Emily Sundblad). By raising expectations of sonic overlap in the title, curator Elyse Goldberg acknowledged the difficulties in containing individual sounds in an

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  • Basil Wolverton

    Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

    “Fangs Finkelstein has snappers that are always in demand by meat tenderizer services, but his ambition is to become the world’s greatest orthodontist.” The caption to Basil Wolverton’s 1971 drawing Fangs Finkelstein goes some way toward contextualizing its grotesque extremity, but the image’s comic intent does little to mitigate its capacity to induce profound discomfort. The subject’s upper row of teeth emerges from not only his gum but also from his ears and nostrils, projecting downward like enormous tusks. Cracked, misaligned, and misshapen (though in one instance repaired with an improvised

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  • Anissa Mack

    Flitting restlessly from reference to reference, Anissa Mack’s work can be confounding in its seeming impatience with any given format, period, or place; it is almost as if the New York–based sculptor is anxious about the possible limitations of a too-intimate association with the themes she addresses. “Your Past A Star,” her first exhibition at Small A’s diminutive Lower East Side space (the gallery was formerly a Portland, Oregon, fixture) was suitably compact, but also diverse enough that it practically did the job of a summer group show. The ten recent works assembled did share some common

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  • Gareth James

    Elizabeth Dee

    Gareth James’s recent exhibition took as its starting point the iconic photograph of Louis Althusser in front of an inscrutable diagram and the phrase that would become the title of the Marxist philosopher’s autobiography, L’Avenir dure longtemps (The Future Lasts a Long Time). Framed by a bicycle inner tube, a modified print of this image, punningly titled Lui (all works 2009), was paired in the first gallery with Poor neon. Rubber behaves like a one-dimensional gas. (The flower absent from all bouquets), which uses a series of conjoined inner tubes to spell out the Mallarmé quotation in its

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  • Stephen Shore

    303 Gallery

    The Velvet Underground has been aboveground for decades, and all tomorrow’s parties have become all yesterday’s parties, yet the Warholian milieu of the mid-1960s continuously resurfaces as the eternally hip subaltern. The Factory has been fetishized, romanticized, historicized, and analyzed as an incubator for the cross-pollination of art, experimental film, fashion, music, performance, parties, glamour, sexual/identity transgression, a new sub-pop culture, and more. So it’s a rather quaint experience to revisit that environment through the eyes of Stephen Shore, who was a mere seventeen years

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  • Larry Rivers

    Tibor De Nagy

    Larry Rivers has always been hard for art historians to place—being, on the one hand, a “painterly realist,” as Jonathan Fineberg calls him, and, on the other, a proto-Pop artist, for instance in his use of commercial imagery in the “French Money” and “Camel Cigarette” series (both begun in 1959). But this exhibition of twenty-eight choice works from the 1950s and ’60s presented Rivers instead as a “poet painter”—a reading of him most tellingly conveyed in the exuberant bouquet in Flower Poem, 1953.

    Two of the other paintings in the show are rather notorious: The seated nude depicted in Augusta

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  • Violet Hopkins

    Foxy Production

    A large watercolor and pencil depiction of a golden disc, covered with runic designs and floating against a depthless black background, greeted visitors upon their entrance to Violet Hopkins’s second solo exhibition at this gallery. The lines and symbols imprinted on the orb seem evidence of an animating intelligence, but their meaning is nearly impossible to intuit. The image depicts the instructions on the cover of the Golden Record, created in 1977 and sent on the Voyager space missions to communicate information about life on earth to any alien life forms that may encounter it. Around the

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  • Unica Zürn

    The Drawing Center

    This compelling exhibition reflected a growing recognition of Unica Zürn as an important late Surrealist. Her first major exhibition in the United States since a well-received show at New York’s Ubu Gallery in 2005, it featured forty-nine of the German-born artist’s works—primarily drawings on paper in ink, pencil, and/or gouache, as well as three paintings. None larger than a large sketch pad, the works were arranged around the blue-gray painted walls of the gallery in a generally chronological hang spanning 1953 to 1970.

    Zürn had been a writer before she met the Surrealist photographer Hans

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  • Kathryn Garcia

    Venetia Kapernekas Gallery

    Since the beginnings of modernism, popular culture has fetishized the artist as bohemian other. The professionalization of the contemporary visual artist’s life notwithstanding, the stereotype of the starving, lunatic artist endures. The shopworn cliché has (usually posthumously) functioned as a merit stamp for artists as diverse as Kafka, van Gogh, Syd Barrett, and Sun Ra, and it is blithely reiterated in films like last year’s Séraphine. The very discomfort caused by experiencing art of the mentally ill is also the reason for its exotification. In One-Dimensional Man, Marcuse argues, “

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  • Conrad Shawcross

    Location One

    Conrad Shawcross’s Slow Arc III, 2009, is a small light in a cage in a darkened room—already fertile ground for metaphor—mounted on a mechanism that moves up and down, side to side, and forward and back. The light travels slowly from point to point along the three axes that these movements describe, and in so doing casts shadows of the wire mesh onto the walls; these moving shadows make the walls appear to recede and stop and come closer and reverse, a vertiginous and not entirely benignant effect, especially when accompanied by the relentless grinding sound of the mechanism.

    Slow Arc III is the

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  • Carol Bove and Janine Lariviere

    The Horticultural Society of New York

    Beauty, reflection, mimesis, vanity, knowledge: Comprehending all of these concepts, it’s no wonder the Narcissus legend has proved a hardy subject and allegorical theme for artists for centuries—to say nothing of its metaphoric utility for philosophers and critics. But the myth’s material denouement, those namesake flowers that sprout from the site where the prepossessing young hunter perished, has had less of an afterlife.

    Carol Bove made narcissus blooms a focus of her exhibition at the Horticultural Society of New York this past summer, in the form of an accordion-style picture book by artist

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