New York

Gabriel Orozco

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

THE MIDCAREER RETROSPECTIVE can be tricky business. A case in point was “Gabriel Orozco,” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York this past winter, which joined a recent spate of surveys of artists who came to prominence in the 1990s—from Matthew Barney, Olafur Eliasson, Douglas Gordon, Chris Ofili, Elizabeth Peyton, and Rirkrit Tiravanija to Kara Walker. Like those of his peers, Orozco’s exhibition raises serious questions: Is the midcareer retrospective the most illuminating way to make a case for the importance of these artists? Or does it risk atomizing even the liveliest of ideas?

In a way, Orozco’s work has always courted this kind of paradox, suggesting both dispersal and visibility, diminution and ambition. Such oppositions stem directly from his practice: For example, the artist is a supreme manipulator of form, but his pieces were often impossible to ground within established

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