reviews

  • Mika Rottenberg, Squeeze, 2010, still from a color video, 20 minutes.

    Mika Rottenberg

    Mary Boone Gallery | Uptown

    The Rube Goldberg contraption explored in Mika Rottenberg’s video Squeeze, 2010, is simultaneously a single machine, a full-blown factory, and a global system. A literal sweatshop, this jerry-built structure is at once concrete, fantastical, and metaphorical, its ricketiness no contradiction of the grinding realities it indexes. Filmed in part in far-flung locations and in part on an elaborate homemade set, the work describes a peculiar processing plant, its layout ungraspable not just as a space with a certain footprint but as a site on the planet. For one thing, it seems to have portals on

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  • Erwin Wurm, Telekinetischer Masturbator, 2009, acrylic, cloth, 18 1/2 x 4 3/4 x 4".

    Erwin Wurm

    Lehmann Maupin

    I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Erwin Wurm’s work, though it feels slightly odd saying so given that his recent exhibition at Lehmann Maupin was the first time I’d ever actually seen any significant amount of it in person. Of course, a good part of the artist’s wide-ranging, amiable practice lends itself very neatly to reproduction, from the transient “One-Minute Sculptures,” 1988–97, that brought his work to the attention of a wider public beginning in the late 1980s to his more recent photographic “instructions” for being idle or politically incorrect. And so despite the substantial

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  • Dieter Roth and Björn Roth, Matte vom Bürotisch, Hegenheimerstrasse, Basel, 1996–97, acrylic, oil, graphite, ink, and collage on paper mounted on wood, 50 3/4 x 45 5/8 x 1 5/8".

    Dieter Roth and Björn Roth

    Hauser & Wirth | West 18th Street

    For an exhibition coinciding with what would have been the eightieth birthday of Dieter Roth, the Swiss artist who died in 1998 at the age of sixty-eight, Hauser & Wirth surveys some twenty works that Dieter Roth, father, and Björn Roth, son, called Tischmatten (Table Mats). These are the cardboard sheets the artist laid over his work tables and upon which a multitude of actions took place: collaging, painting, drawing, pasting, cutting, spraying, gluing, affixing, list making, game playing, address noting, daubing, and doodling. In short, the mats carry the residuum of simply working as an

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  • Charlotte Park, #25, 1951, oil on canvas, 37 x 46".

    Charlotte Park

    Spanierman Gallery

    It is no secret that the Abstract Expressionists objectified and marginalized women. But as those decades recede ever further back (and the mighty male figures only grow more firmly ensconced in the canon), the AbEx pantheon has expanded to include major female painters such as Joan Mitchell and Lee Krasner. And, at this shifting frontier, newer figures (not new, of course, to the history of Abstract Expressionism but to canonic admiration) now command attention—painters of enormous merit who, perforce, were ground down by the era’s insistent denigration of women or whose admirable achievements

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  • Maria Lassnig, Selbst mit Meerschweinchen (Self with Guinea Pig), 2000–2001, oil on canvas, 49 1/4 x 39 3/8".

    Maria Lassnig

    Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

    “I do not aim for the ‘big emotions’ when I’m working,” Maria Lassnig explained in these pages two years ago, “but concentrate on small feelings: sensations in the skin or in the nerves, all of which one feels.” The real trick to pursuing such fleeting, ephemeral “sensations,” the painter goes on to say, is by notating them with some fidelity while nonetheless acknowledging their utter strangeness and instability. In other words: how to depict that which outruns depiction? “Well—a feeling doesn’t have edges, and you can’t quantify it.”

    Nonetheless, the ninety-one-year-old Austrian artist

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  • Jacques Lipchitz, Theseus and the Minotaur, 1942, bronze, 24 1/2 x 28 1/2 x 16".

    Jacques Lipchitz

    Marlborough Gallery | New York

    “Jacques Lipchitz’s sculpture before 1914 was banal,” Douglas Cooper writes, and “the late-baroque style he [cultivated after] 1928 has led to works which are more vigorous than artistically meaningful.” For Cooper, curator of the seminal 1970–71 exhibition “The Cubist Epoch,” Lipchitz produced important sculpture only in the short period between those dates, when, under the influence of Juan Gris and Henri Laurens, his works embodied the narrow category of Synthetic Cubism. This exhibition at Marlborough—which was curated by Kosme de Baraño, former Executive Director of the Instituto

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  • Jeff Koons, Violet Ice (Kama Sutra), 1991, colored glass, 13 x 27 1/4 x 16 1/2". From the series “Made in Heaven,” 1990–91.

    Jeff Koons

    Luxembourg & Dayan | New York

    On the occasion of a 2006 exhibition of his work at the Serpentine Gallery in London, Jeff Koons spoke to journalist Farah Nayeri about one of the infamous pictures from the “Made in Heaven,” 1990–91, series depicting the artist and Ilona Staller (aka Cicciolina), his then-soon-to-be-ex-wife, in scenes of intimate joy and compromise: “I always liked this painting,” he said with a straight face. He then praised the pimples on Staller’s backside and explained how the work conveyed a “removal of cultural guilt and shame.”

    Twenty years after the debut of the series at the 1990 Venice Biennale, “Made

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  • Michael Wolf, A Series of Unfortunate Events #57, 2010, color photograph, 60 x 48". From the series “Street Views,” 2009–10.

    Michael Wolf

    Bruce Silverstein Gallery

    Looking at Michael Wolf’s photographic series, one is flung between two poles: Is the photographer trying to demonstrate how dehumanized the world has become, or is he insisting on the opposite?

    One series, “Architecture of Density,” 2003–2009, shows images of Hong Kong high-rise buildings, with rows and columns of windows that seem to extend ad infinitum and, in fact, look quite like pixels. The images don’t have the all-encompassing feel of those by Andreas Gursky, such as the artist’s Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, 1994; the motion Wolf’s works inspire is less one of stepping back to be enveloped

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  • Davide Balula, Untitled, 2007–2010, color photograph, 13 1/4 x 10". From the series “Walls Meet Walls,” 2007–2010.

    Davide Balula

    Blackston

    Upon entering Davide Balula’s recent show, your first notion might have been that the forty-odd images hung in a line at eye level (all Untitled, from the series “Walls Meet Walls,” 2007–10) made up another instance of “abstract photography.” Some works brought to mind James Welling or Eileen Quinlan, and others seemed like pastiches of the midcentury styles (Rothko, Newman) from which this recently much-hyped genre borrows its claims on our attention. Yet, perhaps indicating an oblique connection to more distant precursors (Moholy-Nagy, Rodchenko), the implicit dichotomy of abstraction and

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  • Martin Soto Climent, Luminous Flux (detail), 2010, video, tables, seven mixed-media objects, 3' 2“ x 1' 3 3/4” x 24'.

    Martin Soto Climent

    Clifton Benevento

    Martin Soto Climent’s objects are nominally ready-made: buckets and broom handles, a plastic tissue holder and women’s stockings, a wine bottle and gloves. Yet their presentation here has entailed some refashioning, by turns straightforward and lyrical. Folding, wrapping, and draping these things, Soto Climent draws out a poetics intrinsic to particular fabrics and textures—a poetics relentlessly, but subtly, corporeal. Composed simply of two nestled ballet shoes and some downy plumes, Dorothea (all works 2010), discreetly evokes female genitalia. Moon Bouquet features a cluster of large

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  • Matt Connors, Picture Corners, 2010, oil, acrylic, colored pencil on canvas, 27 1/8 x 27 1/8".

    Matt Connors

    CANADA

    YOU DON'T KNOW: As the eponym for Matt Connors’s sophomore show at Canada and the subject of a large-scale photograph therein, this plaintive slogan reverberated through the process-conscious abstractions on view. It was culled from a protest placard spied in a British documentary about 1970s progressive rock and—like so much of prog rock’s esoteric subject matter and often fantastic lyrics—bespeaks an antiauthoritarian sentiment lodged in the chasm between ’60s utopianism and what came after (the “hangover we exist in today, in our post heroic state,” according to the press materials).

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  • Chris Caccamise, Geometric Abstraction Will Save America, 2010, enamel on Bristol paper, 21 x 21 x 3".

    Chris Caccamise

    11R

    GEOMETRIC ABSTRACTION WILL SAVE AMERICA, reads the eponymous text of one of Chris Caccamise’s 2010 constructions, fourteen of which were on display in the artist’s fifth New York solo exhibition. A bold claim indeed. But while Uncle Sam’s travails may have led some to trumpet yet again the death of irony, such reports are, as ever, greatly exaggerated. Neither an abstract revival nor Caccamise’s works themselves—in spite of their abundant charm—seems likely to make much impression on the country at large. Caccamise’s show has the visual appeal of a well-designed toy and the verbal

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  • Daniel Bauer, Maison des Oiseaux, 2010, color photograph, 30 x 24".

    Daniel Bauer

    Andrea Meislin Gallery

    The subject matter of Daniel Bauer’s “Νεφελοκοκκυγία” (Cloudcuckooland)—the inevitable erosion of utopian modernism’s high ideals by the vagaries of everyday life—is overfamiliar to the point of nostalgia. Wasn’t this the theme du jour a decade ago? Or has it achieved a kind of evergreen status, become a standard tune to break into when all else fails? Bauer’s exhibition—his second at this gallery—was altogether too polite to make even this question feel urgent. But subject matter, after all, isn’t everything, and the nine photographs and single video featured are sufficiently

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  • Paulina Olowska, Hunting, 2010, oil on canvas, 69 x 49 1/4".

    Paulina Olowska

    Metro Pictures

    During the mid-2000s, Paulina Olowska worked ardently to revive a cast of women excluded from the canon of European modernism (for instance, the British Pop painter Pauline Boty in 2006 and the Polish artist Zofia Stryjeńska in 2008); more recently, her overt references to art history have slowly transformed into subtle hints and traces. Olowska has returned to concerns that have been central to her work since her earliest exhibitions: the fashions, styles, and subcultures of late-communist-era Poland—particularly those that defied Soviet austerity, sometimes by imitating the West. Her

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  • Rob Mullender, Said Object, 2010, still from a color video, 14 minutes 7 seconds. From “Non-Cochlear Sound.

    “Non-Cochlear Sound”

    Diapason

    Marcel Duchamp notoriously dismissed modern painting as merely visual, calling instead for an “antiretinal” art that would “put painting once again at the service of the mind.” In his recent book In the Blink of an Ear: Toward a Non-Cochlear Sonic Art (2009), Seth Kim-Cohen levels a parallel charge against sound art. From its inception in the late 1940s, Kim-Cohen argues, sound art has been almost exclusively concerned with sound as sensuous material and hence has failed to take the Conceptual turn that has marked the visual arts over the past four decades. The “non-cochlear” practice called

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