reviews

  • Jeffrey Vallance

    Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

    Depending on your temperament, or maybe just your mood, it’s possible to have wildly divergent experiences with Jeffrey Vallance’s work. In certain lights, his thirty-year-plus project—here, in his debut at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, taking the form of a collection of “relics and reliquaries”—reads as a gently affirmatory paean to the latent poetry in castoffs and kitsch, a sincere mash-up of pop-culture doodads, dork-cool autobiography, and low-wattage ritual that eludes criticality and expands the range of aesthetic permissibility. Viewed from a slightly darker perspective, however, Vallance has

    Read more
  • Ida Applebroog

    Galerie Hauser & Wirth

    There were many reasons to wonder just how to approach the work presented in Ida Applebroog’s recent exhibition at Hauser & Wirth. First was the practical question of how to get a complete picture of what was there, particularly when it came to the central element, a kind of schematic “house” in the main area of the gallery space. A smallish structure built from two-by-fours, whose “walls” were, in fact, made of tacked-up images, the house—since it offered no entryway—required viewers to peek and strain in order to look inside, not only granting them visual access to further images but also

    Read more
  • 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,

    Read more
  • Martin Wong

    P.P.O.W Gallery

    Martin Wong’s paintings of New York’s downtown dystopia have occasionally materialized in exhibitions rounding up the East Village scene of the 1980s, but such a diverse group of his works as was seen in this exhibition had not been assembled since his retrospective at the New Museum in New York in 1998, one year before his death of aids. Curated by artist Adam Putnam, P.P.O.W Gallery’s miniretrospective combined Wong’s iconic early cityscapes and mysterious paintings of pudgy hands rendering sign language with lesser-known later photo-collages of the decayed Lower East Side and paintings on

    Read more
  • Anne Collier

    Anton Kern Gallery

    Anne Collier is an exceedingly patient artist, revisiting key themes again and again to refine the delicate balance between what she has termed her “forensic aesthetics” and her photographs’ “psychological or emotive” content. This exhibition, her first full-scale one-person show in New York, came after more than a dozen other solo presentations, including a small backroom debut at this venue in early 2008 that offers several illuminating points of comparison. A 2007 image of a self-help book inviting its readers to outline individual goals found its corollary in First Person 1–4, 2009, a

    Read more
  • Joel Shapiro

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    A selection of nine early works by Joel Shapiro was installed in two smaller rooms of Paula Cooper’s several brut Chelsea spaces, a presentation of work so dazzlingly beatific that one wished for its permanent presence as respite from the jangling disorder engulfing us.

    In the larger of the two cloistral spaces were seven small works (in certain instances veritable miniatures, measurable in scant inches), each Untitled and dating to the mid-1970s, situated widely apart from one another and mostly set down directly on the floor. Shapiro’s severe little houses are simply seven planes reduced to

    Read more
  • Robert Adams

    Matthew Marks Gallery

    When looking at Robert Adams’s work, I often think about one of the other great Roberts of twentieth-century photography—Robert Frank—and the different relationships the two artists have with time. The restless clip of Frank’s cinematic images in The Americans (1958) differs vastly from Adams’s slow gait in a specific area—whether in Colorado, his home for thirty-five years, or around western Oregon, where he now resides. “Summer Nights, Walking,” 1976–82, recently on view at Matthew Marks Gallery, is Adams’s somber suite of fifty nocturnal scenes captured in the environs of Denver, many in

    Read more
  • William Eggleston

    Cheim & Read

    William Eggleston’s color photographs were the first ever to be exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in 1976. This breakthrough was shocking to some at the time, but the content of his photographs has generally been more interesting, not to say more provocative, than their use of color. In fact, Eggleston’s deployment of color rarely seems innate to the image, suggesting it functions instead as a sort of distracting camouflage for the real subjects of his work.

    Of the twenty-four new images on view here—all made in the “21st Century,” as this exhibition was titled—there were some

    Read more
  • Jacob Aue Sobol

    Yossi Milo Gallery

    Jacob Aue Sobol is a young Danish photographer who doesn’t seem to photograph much in Denmark: In the tradition of the Magnum photo group—he is one of its younger members—he travels, particularly favoring places where the living is hard. Sobol first became publicly known through a series on Greenland, where he spent three years in the small village of Tiniteqilaaq, largely following the local way of life. Pictures from that series, “Sabine,” 1999–2001, formed part of this exhibition. The rest of the works on view were shot between 2006 and 2008 in Tokyo, where Sobol presumably lived more

    Read more
  • Mitzi Pederson

    Nicole Klagsbrun

    When dealing in understatement, it pays to have the courage of one’s convictions. Cramming an exhibition space with variations on a less-is-more theme can risk displacing the subtlety of such an artistic project by imparting to the work a possibly misleading but often indelible appearance of slightness. Showing ten works of this kind when two would do might be a symptom of creative insecurity or of our recessionary times. Berlin-based sculptor Mitzi Pederson has a reputation for taking the specifics of gallery architecture into account, so it was surprising to see her succumb to this particular

    Read more
  • Gelitin

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    “Blind Sculpture,” Gelitin’s first solo exhibition at Greene Naftali Gallery, began as a diurnal “happening”: Over the course of eight days, the collective’s four artists—along with two full-time helpers and between four and nine “friends,” who functioned variously as interlocutors, assistants, and window dressing—gathered in the center of a makeshift amphitheater cordoned off by wooden bleachers surrounding the central gallery space and constructed a sprawling sculpture. The artists who compose Gelitin were blindfolded for the duration of its creation, becoming the mad, groping masters of an

    Read more
  • “A Very, Very Long Cat”

    Wallspace

    Samuel Morse’s technology might be a relic, but the etymological basis of telegraphy still obtains (from the Greek, it literally means “writing from afar”). Indeed, if anything, one can—as “A Very, Very Long Cat” did—argue that, specific hardware of dots and dashes aside, ideas of transfer are now omnipresent, shaped by e-mail, social networks, and other technological and cultural shifts. Speaking of the proliferation of radio in his own time, Albert Einstein described communication devoid of physical support: “You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New

    Read more
  • Superflex

    Peter Blum Gallery

    Since 1993, the three-person Danish art collective Superflex have been encouraging locally driven, globally networked forms of self-organized cultural and economic labor in order to counter the abstractive tendencies of post-Fordist global capitalism. A well-known project is Guaraná Power, 2003–, an actual soda for sale and consumption, which Superflex are producing in collaboration with a cooperative of guarana farmers in the Brazilian Amazon. They have also tested the possibility of “free” economic exchange, for instance with FREE SHOP, 2003–, wherein real shops are temporarily converted into

    Read more
  • PROW

    Sara Meltzer Gallery

    We all now know better than to believe in the myth of the artist working alone in her studio. But what of the supposed alternative, the idea of a collective happily plugging away on a shared project? prow, a collaborative entity whose name is a combination of the initials of the group’s primary constituents, Peter Rostovsky and Olav Westphalen, staged two separate exhibitions in New York this winter. Both shows were produced by, and dealt with, cooperative enterprise. But whether they were promoting or satirizing it remained intriguingly ambiguous.

    PROW claim that they are modeled after a Hollywood

    Read more
  • “Ecstatic Peace Poetry Journal Issue #10”

    White Columns

    Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore founded Ecstatic Peace Poetry Journal in 2001. An offshoot of his label, Ecstatic Peace Records + Tapes, it was envisaged as a means of gathering downtown writers with affinities to art and music. Celebrating its tenth issue (coedited with Byron Coley and Eva Prinz), this show positioned the journal—proudly black-and-white and stapled—as faith keeper for the mimeo revolution of the 1960s and ’70s, when little magazines mushroomed in the East Village, North Beach, and points between. Arcing back to Charles Henri Ford’s 1940 volume of poems, ABC’s (with a cover

    Read more
  • Kazuo Shiraga

    McCaffrey Fine Art | 23 East 67th Street

    Though Kazuo Shiraga (1924–2008) has long been considered one of the most important members of Japan’s Gutaï group, this lucid exhibition was his first solo show in the United States. In consequence, many viewers may have been unaware, at least initially, of the salient fact that he painted with his feet. Laying his support (first flimsy paper, later canvas) on the floor, and holding on to a rope suspended from the ceiling of his studio, he would slip and slide through blobs of oil paint. The marks that resulted have a kind of beastly quality: deeply furrowed; seemingly random, sometimes spasmodic,

    Read more