• Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

    Dia at the Hispanic Society

    More than futuristic imaginings or dystopian scenarios, what works of science fiction valuably convey to their readers is an acute awareness of materialist contingency. With sci-fi, at its best, everything from civilization to subjectivity is deeply vulnerable to changes (whether natural or man-made) in the greater environment, and therefore as susceptible to erosion or extinction as any common mineral or diminutive life-form. Even words and ideas—the very substance of culture, the science-fiction writer will suggest—are just another part of the organic world. The notion of psychogeography, in

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  • Thomas Struth

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    Thomas Struth’s exhibition of new photographs opened with a C-print of a rocky coastline under a cloudy sky. A streak of bottle green marks the horizon in Donghae City, South Korea, 2007; in the foreground, outcrops of ancient-looking stone align to form orthogonals that plunge through foam to a romantic distance. It takes a while to notice the cast-concrete barrier units stockpiled at the picture’s far left edge. Fake reef? Military emplacement? Dump? We never discover, but in the fifteen images that follow, a related man-made plethora expands to fill every frame. Since 2007, Struth has been

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  • Edward Kienholz

    David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

    “Marvelously vulgar artist. Marvelously vulgar. I like that work.” This assessment of Edward Kienholz, conveyed to the artist’s close friend and longtime business partner Walter Hopps, came courtesy of Marcel Duchamp, who—as Hopps recounted in a catalogue essay for the 1996 Kienholz retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art—“leaned back, laughed and laughed, and slapped his hands on the table” as he delivered the verdict. Duchamp had recently seen Kienholz’s 1963 New York debut at Alexander Iolas’s gallery, the centerpiece of which was Roxys, 1960–61. The work—whose situational point

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  • Amy Sillman

    Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

    Not so many years ago, while teaching the “theory” class at an MFA program in New York, I was told winkingly by the (it so happens: tenured, male) chair of the department that what I offered the students was all well and good, but that at the end of the day, “you don’t need to read to paint.” Though conferred upon me in this case by a proud, self-declared anti-intellectual, the sentiment is hardly rare. Indeed, for all the attention paid to so-called Conceptual painting and its attendant practices over the (at least) past four decades, a kind of inherent allure remains—for better or worse—around

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  • Rodney Graham

    303 Gallery

    “Don’t Trust Anyone over 30,” the title of one of Rodney Graham’s catchy and drily humorous alt-rock songs, emblematizes the artist/musician’s uncanny talent for redeploying cultural clichés and received typologies—“’cause they’re fucking old and they’re fucking mean,” he gently snarls on the track. Cunningly self-deprecating, meta-ironic yet seriously accomplished, Graham’s work allegorizes the vexingly absurd contradictions of making “original” art and music in an epoch of radical uncertainty regarding aesthetic criteria, value systems, and ideological distinctions (e.g., between the authentic

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  • Trisha Donnelly

    Casey Kaplan

    Comb-like. This is the word Trisha Donnelly uses to describe (to divine?) the process through which sound (a Russian Men’s Chorus) becomes sculpture. It appears in the typewritten text “The Vortex Notes,” 2002, a guide of sorts related to her edifying 2003 demonstration The Vortex: TAKE THE HIGHEST MALE VOICE. LISTEN AND TRACK IT THROUGHOUT THE RECORDING. THE SOUND CAN COMPRESS LIKE A PHOTOGRAPH. WHILE LISTENING, FLATTEN IT INTO AN OBJECT. IT’S A COMB-LIKE STRUCTURE. Attempting, successfully, to evoke an experience of synesthesia via a visual eddy in the mind’s eye, the short text collapses easy

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  • Jim Nutt

    David Nolan Gallery

    What struck me about this exhibition of Jim Nutt’s works (perhaps it had something to do with the tidy elegance of the installation) was not the monstrousness of his figures, to refer to their place in the so-called Chicago monster roster, or to their supposedly “hairy” (who) character, in the slang sense of that word—difficult, frightening, or risky—but rather the immaculateness of their execution. His figures may be monstrous and hairy, but Nutt is a perfectionist—a master draftsman.

    Almost half the show, which included works made from 1967 to this year, were drawings, seven of them of female

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  • Leon Golub

    The Drawing Center

    An analyst and chronicler of violence, Leon Golub was a great shifter of the content of painting, which he wrenched into a career-long consideration of the ancient endurance of the aggressive impulse and of both the artist’s and the ordinary citizen’s moral responsibility in the face of it. To meet the brutality of his subject matter, his process was strenuous—he used to joke (or was he joking?) about attacking the canvas with an ax—and the surfaces of his works were scarred and flayed to prove it. In poor health during the last five years of his life (he died in 2004), Golub basically set this

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  • Vija Celmins

    McKee Gallery

    Encompassing ocean waves and spiderwebs, desert floors and nighttime skies, Vija Celmins’s subjects have long been immense and empyreal, and occasion equally lofty responses, inspiring purple prose from even the driest of critics—but there is nothing otherworldly about their making. These are hard-won wonders, often years in the works: canvases realized with a tiny sable brush and slow-drying alkyd oil; drawings created by the accretion of astonishingly dense, allover graphite marks or the erasure of bits of thick expanses of powdered charcoal; prints made via the difficult mezzotint process.

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  • Josephine Meckseper

    Elizabeth Dee Gallery

    Josephine Meckseper, well attuned to the ways in which consumer products are arranged to concoct desire, creates facsimiles of store displays in which all the elements are present, with the charm—that ineffable whiff of possibility that propels a buyer toward opening his or her wallet—replaced by astringent commentary. In a recent show at Elizabeth Dee, the artist plausibly conjured the auto showrooms around the corner on Eleventh Avenue, with their decor of aggressive male Minimalism (mirrors, black surfaces, lots of chrome) that equates power with clean lines and metal. Meckseper anatomizes

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  • Joe Bradley and Chris Martin

    Mitchell-Innes & Nash | Chelsea

    In Chris Martin’s painting Six Pillows Rose Up to Greet the Dawn—Good Morning! Good Morning!, 2007–2009, the six pillows—appended to a canvas in two rows of three—appear to have had a rough night indeed. But, per the title, they are nevertheless jaunty in their thick coatings of blue, white, pink, or yellow pigment, cheerfully registering all the depravities of facture that may occur when oil paint is slathered onto stuffed-cotton convexities. The paint is scabby and scrofulous in some places, rippled with mazelike whorls in others, while the sections that are smooth have a strangely plasticine

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  • Noam Rappaport

    White Columns

    In the paintings of Noam Rappaport, the canvas assumes a character of its own, becoming an ingredient with weight equal to that of any other. In his first solo exhibition at White Columns, the artist gave stretcher bars—usually hidden completely—a similar identity, and did the same for a list of other structural bits and pieces, from nails and screws to wiring. The New York–based artist seems to aim for a kind of material transparency, through a practice that also constantly directs our attention to the modest and the everyday.

    Rappaport’s constructions, then, have a rawness that reveals a

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  • Josephine Pryde

    Reena Spaulings Fine Art | New York

    For all the vigilance with which Josephine Pryde’s art guards meaning, it does reveal some of the ways in which its maker is alert to the complexities and mundanities of being a working artist. She has written for Texte Zur Kunst about stealing time on the job through daydreaming. For her show at Richard Telles Fine Art last year, she presented photographs of a toddler and delivered an opening-night performance of Léo Ferré’s “La Vie d’Artiste,” a song whose lyrics relay a biting narrative of an artist’s submission to economic reality. The juxtaposition suggested the complicationsboth in the

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  • Molly Smith

    Kate Werble Gallery

    For her third New York solo show—and her first at Kate Werble—Molly Smith grouped diminutive sculptures in casual table-bound cliques, with other, larger assemblages hugging the surrounding walls. Surprisingly evocative installation devices, these bases offered up their wares in a manner that highlighted the delicate formal specificity of each of Smith’s structures, while simultaneously rendering the pieces all the more affective for their staged interrelations. For instance, the triangular, sail-like zenith of Sink, 2009, repeated the apex of the adjacent Stand, 2010; the former’s cracked mirror

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  • Tod Wizon

    Nicholas Robinson Gallery

    Rarely has a series been titled more aptly than Tod Wizon’s “Little Darknesses,” 1996. The acrylic panel paintings that make up this suite of fourteen nocturnes are a uniform eleven by eight inches and lean on a somber palette of dense blues, punctuated by waves of gray and shafts of radiant yellow. Essentially abstract but strongly suggestive of oceanic vistas and drama on a cosmic scale, they were here secreted in the gallery’s basement, as if they had been stewing there for years in their own doomy, romantic juice. Arranged in a numbered sequence loosely suggestive of narrative flow, these

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