reviews

  • Mike Kelley and Michael Smith

    SculptureCenter

    OVER THE PAST FEW DECADES, dancing, dressing up, and infantilism have been consistent components of the video and performance works of both Mike Kelley and Michael Smith, artists who frequently team with like-minded conspirators (Kelley with Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettibon, and Tony Oursler; Smith with Joshua White, Seth Price, and Doug Skinner) but who never collaborated with each other until now. For their video/sculpture/sound installation titled A Voyage of Growth and Discovery (curated and produced by Emi Fontana of West of Rome Public Art, Los Angeles; curated at SculptureCenter by Mary

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  • George Grosz

    David Nolan Gallery

    George Grosz’s time of greatness was during the Weimar Republic, when he, together with Otto Dix and Kurt Günther, produced what art historian Franz Roh describes as “a new kind of painting: art engagé.” The densely packed, often chaotic and grotesque paintings Grosz made around this time sprawl over the canvas, unlike the graphic works he produced for political journals, which are brilliantly pithy. At once vicious cartoons and pointed journalism, his drawings and lithographs are more clearly addressed to the German public than the grand paintings are. Indeed, if Grosz was, on the one hand, a

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  • Peter Halley

    Mary Boone Gallery | Uptown

    With their stark, rectilinear compositions and their palette of unmodulated blacks and retina-searing fluorescents, the nine large paintings in “Peter Halley: Early Work, 1982 to 1987” still pack a visual wallop, their Day-Glo acrylics as deathless as Clorox bottles. In the mid-1980s, some relict formalist, stumbling upon them in the East Village, might have mistaken them for a New Wave homage to de Stijl. But Halley, steeped in critical theory, dubbed his squares and rectangles cells or prisons and his rigid lines conduits, and occasionally introduced some liminally representational element,

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  • Janine Antoni

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    In the works on view in Janine Antoni’s recent exhibition, the body veers between mythical symbol and stubborn flesh and blood—it can be a tool, a vehicle for something else, an expression. In Tear, 2008, the blinking of a gigantic eye, shown in a large video projection, produces the sound of a wrecking ball crashing into a building (the wrecking ball itself is also part of the work and was shown, dented and the worse for wear, not far away). In Conduit, 2009, Antoni has created a set of gargoyle-shaped copper apparatuses through which a woman might pee while standing up, and traces of verdigris

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  • Josiah McElheny

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Think of contemporary glassmakers and the first name to come to mind might be Dale Chihuly and his Murano-like anemones (so to speak). Josiah McElheny, hardly a popular purveyor of pseudo-Venetian glass, is firmly on the far side of the old Craft versus Art divide. He could produce such gimcracks with one arm tied behind his back—on the condition that the historicizing programs he favors call for such glass forms in the first place.

    Spurred by the recondite history of glass (not to say art history or political theory), McElheny, on the occasion of this exhibition, has invented (or reinvented) a

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  • Tauba Auerbach

    Deitch Projects

    Tauba Auerbach hit the ground running a few years ago with a well-received debut at Deitch, followed by her recent participation in the New Museum’s “Younger Than Jesus” exhibition, and now this second buzzed-about show at the gallery—and she’s not yet thirty. Precociousness often keeps company with impatience, and on first look it seems Auerbach has dispensed with the concerns of her earlier work with typography, alphabets, and codes in favor of the even brainier bailiwicks of logic and physics. She, however, identifies a through-line: A previous interest in how language can embarrass and even

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  • Carter

    Salon 94 | Freemans

    Carter’s lack of transparency about his name has garnered its fair share of critical attention, with biography (or, more precisely, its lack of specificity; it is no secret that his first name is John, but what does that tell us?) functioning in determined lockstep with the work itself. Indeed, the evasions of his self-proclaimed “anonymous portraits” and their combinatory, exquisite corpse–like logic serve as Carter’s imprimatur. All the more surprising, then, to discover Carter in conversation with curator Matthew Higgs in a recent catalogue disclosing early memories that bear fairly directly

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  • Juergen Teller

    Lehmann Maupin

    Although Juergen Teller’s recent show at Lehmann Maupin (his fifth solo there) was billed as a project “blurring the distinction between his commercial and non-commercial work,” for the photographer it’s essentially a distinction without a difference. His practice moves with lucrative ease between the two worlds—in the pages of Vogue or W one day and on the walls of the Fondation Cartier or Tate Modern the next. Teller has made a tidy career selling precious things without appearing to be selling them (is it any wonder he’s found a home in the contemporary art world?) and does it so nimbly that

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  • Robert Kinmont

    Alexander and Bonin

    For those who arrived in the art world during the past three decades, Robert Kinmont was known, if at all, through the photograph of him performing a cliff’s-edge handstand reproduced in Lucy Lippard’s 1973 book Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972. That picture is part of Kinmont’s 8 Natural Handstands, 1969, which also finds him upended in desert grasslands and in a shallow river. The work is emblematic of the small but potent body of sculptures, photographs, and performances Kinmont created in the late 1960s and early ’70s, many of which were also on view in

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  • Bernadette Corporation

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    In the context of art, Bernadette Corporation is revered for the same reason it is intermittently invisible: “its willingness to go there, to disrespect,” as the oft-morphing collective wrote of a Manhattan-destroying tornado in its 2005 novel, Reena Spaulings, a two-hundred-page celebration of the thrills of instability. Experimental ruses such as a fashion label, a film production company, the novel, and other joint enterprises have functioned as portals, temporary propositions of how to produce and yet defy corporate co-optation and its attendant repurposing of the youthful or radical gesture.

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  • Steve Wolfe

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Steve Wolfe’s best-known works nod to painting, in that many of them sit on the wall, and to sculpture, in that they’re three-dimensional objects, which you might think either solid or hollow except that as exacting trompe l’oeil copies of classic books they imply that sealed inside them are composite, flexible physical structures and infinite worlds of verbal content. As artworks, of course, they’re strictly do not touch, and once you understand what each one is—not a much-thumbed copy of a favorite art book or novel but its simulacrum, dog ears, grime, and all, painstakingly modeled in materials

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  • James Turrell

    Pace Wildenstein

    While its coverage of last year’s presidential election was otherwise undistinguished, CNN scored over its rival networks in one memorable respect: Reporter Jessica Yellin claimed to be following in the tradition of Princess Leia as she was beamed into the studio from her real-world location at Barack Obama’s Chicago victory bash in the form of a life-size hologram. In its lavish pointlessness, the stunt was entirely consistent with the medium’s reputation as an invention in search of a use. While practical applications in fields including information storage and biomedical imaging have gradually

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  • Ree Morton

    The Drawing Center

    As well deserved as the recent attention to the artist Ree Morton is, we should not overlook the critical or curatorial coaxing necessary to bring a neglected figure such as this one back onto the scene. Only a little digging makes it clear that prior to her death in 1977—at the age of forty, in a car crash—Morton had achieved notable success (showing work regularly in both gallery and museum exhibitions) and had fully installed herself within a vibrant artistic community; yet, for as engaged and present a figure as Morton would seem in retrospect, we must remind ourselves that until a few years

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  • Anthony Goicolea

    Postmasters

    The adolescent male fantasies and youth-obsessed sensuality that imbue much of Anthony Goicolea’s art have often made his work seem to add up to little more than eye candy. The 2001–2002 “Detention” series, for example, comprises digitally manipulated photographs in which schoolboy clones of the artist pose in various fanciful settings. This show encouraged a new look at his work, revealing a more serious side to his biography-driven practice.

    Titled “Once Removed,” the exhibition was—like two gallery presentations earlier this year in London and Los Angeles, and a show in spring at Denver’s

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  • K8 Hardy

    Reena Spaulings Fine Art | New York

    That K8 Hardy, one of the founders of the queer feminist art collective LTTR, wants to screw with our assumptions and expectations about how she should represent herself—or her multiple selves—to the world was loudly broadcast in “To All the G#%$! I’ve Loved Before,” her first one-person show in New York. With a post–Riot Grrrl intensity, neo-punk-inflected irreverence, and a dose of acidic wit, Hardy endeavored to provoke with a series of photographic (meta)self-portraits (and supporting props) that exploit campy visual tropes of gay cruising imagery, restaging gender/sexual identity as a

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  • Jessica Dickinson

    James Fuentes

    The title of Jessica Dickinson’s recent show, “Here,” signaled an unwillingness to look elsewhere—at, say, the history of abstract art—demanding instead that attention be paid to the situation at hand. The eponymous painting, which faced the viewer upon entering James Fuentes’s small storefront gallery, lent force to this insistence on presence. In the 2008–2009 work, a shining slab of pale yellow leans precariously rightward in front of a blue-gray, green, and chalky off-white background. Up close, one could see that the near-solid appearance of this sunshiny block was illusive; it in fact

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  • Ida Ekblad

    The Journal Gallery

    For “Salty Sap Green Black,” her first solo exhibition in the United States, Oslo-based artist Ida Ekblad took us along on a scavenger hunt of sorts. Taking her cue from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Gold Bug,” in which a man is believed to have been bitten by a mysterious golden insect that in fact helps him find buried treasure, the artist embarked on what she terms “drifts,” a means of collecting objects from around New York while “deconstructing habits of experience and discovering an area or a city.”

    Ekblad crafted the nine sculptures that make up the ensuing series, “The Gold Bug Drift

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  • Marc Camille Chaimowicz

    Artists Space Exhibitions

    This past summer, under the new direction of Stefan Kalmár (formerly at the Kunstverein Munich), the venerable nonprofit Artists Space underwent a significant physical transformation. Calling on architects IFAU & Jesko Fezer in collaboration with common room (Lars Fischer, Todd Rouhe, and Maria Ibañez de Sendadiano), Kalmár—taking into consideration a related site-specific project Michael Asher proposed for the space in 1988—had all interior walls and all existing lighting removed, and the floor sanded down and left unfinished. To establish spatial coordinates while retaining transparency, the

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