reviews

  • Jennifer Bartlett, Recitative (detail), 2009–10, enamel, silk screen, and baked enamel on 372 steel plates, overall 11' 2“ x 158' 3”.

    Jennifer Bartlett

    Pace | 32 East 57th Street

    Though I didn’t see Rhapsody, 1975–76, Jennifer Bartlett’s best-known installation, when it was first shown at Paula Cooper Gallery, I did see it some thirty years later, in 2006, at the Museum of Modern Art. Finally encountering the sprawling, epic work, which comprises nearly a thousand enamel-bearing metal plates, I suddenly—and even rather violently—had to reconfigure my own internalized images of it. Memories of the holistic photographic panoramas (and attendant detail shots) I’d found in books over the years yielded to the actual experience of tripping back and forth for closer

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  • Gordon Matta-Clark, Open House, 1972, still from a film in 16 mm transferred to DVD, 41 minutes. From “112 Greene Street: The Early Years (1970–1974).

    “112 Greene Street: The Early Years (1970–1974)”

    David Zwirner/Salomon Contemporary

    112 Greene Street helped catalyze SoHo in the 1970s. The artist-run gallery occupied a building owned by Jeffrey Lew, with Gordon Matta-Clark as resident imp and impresario; artists and dancers working there comprised a friendship circle that was also a post-Minimal Who’s Who. Like that of any legend, the history of this wild incubator—where site-specific, collaborative artmaking bloomed—poses curatorial problems now. Whose memories get sanctioned? How can re-created objects, archived ephemera, and grainy video in commercial white cubes capture what participants loved: no-holds-barred

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  • Antonio Caballero, Sandra Chávez, fotonovela para la revista “Capricho,” ca. 1972/2010, black-and-white photograph, 39 3/8 x 39 3/8".

    Antonio Caballero

    Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

    Antonio Caballero likes photographs of mostly handsome young people in conditions of melodrama—romance, marriage, adultery, plane crash. In his world rather more than in mine, every gesture is freighted with meaning, as if capitalized, a phone call becoming The Phone Call, a train ride The Embarkation. A woman standing in the street, looking at dresses in a shop window, strikes a pose that is literally statuesque—she might be modeling for the Venus de Milo—while a girl getting into a car curls herself elaborately and unnecessarily around the steering wheel like a cat. Between 1963

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  • Judit Reigl, Untitled, 2010, ink on paper, 29 1/2 x 53 3/4".

    Judit Reigl

    Ubu Gallery

    A handful of paintings in New York museums is scant guarantee that the name Judit Reigl will ring a bell here in the United States; her status is likely different in France, where her long career began in 1950 following a harrowing escape from her native Hungary in the wake of its absorption into the Soviet Bloc.

    Having reached France, Reigl was drawn to the ossified circle of André Breton, briefly taking on and as quickly throwing off an illustrative mode recalling that of Victor Brauner and Max Walter Svanberg (rather dim Surrealist luminaries for whom Breton was then tub-thumping), but remaining

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  • E. V. Day, Water Lily, 2010–11, digital composite on photographic paper, 72 x 72". From the series “Seducers,” 2010–11.

    E. V. Day

    Carolina Nitsch

    Last summer, E. V. Day spent three months as an artist in residence at Monet’s garden in Giverny, France, with the charge that she find inspiration in the floral idyll being the only condition of her stay. The fifty works that visit yielded, fifteen of which comprised this show, began as horticultural residua. Day trailed Giverny’s gardeners on their pruning rounds and selected the most striking of the clipped botanicals, which she then pressed in a microwave, scanned digitally, and printed, magnified to eighteen times their original size, on photo paper. Color has not been manipulated, but form

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  • Martin Barré, 91— 120 x 160—D, 1991, acrylic on canvas, 47 1/4 x 63". From the series “91,” 1991.

    Martin Barré

    Andrew Kreps Gallery

    Given that he has achieved a near cultish following, and that his influence resonates so decisively across contemporary abstract painting (from the work of Cheyney Thompson and Blake Rayne to that of Wade Guyton and Rebecca Quaytman, among others), it comes as a surprise to learn that Martin Barré had only one US solo exhibition in his lifetime. In fact, it was not until roughly a decade after his death, in 1993, that his work began regularly appearing in group shows in the States, a shift accompanied, more broadly, by a groundswell of interest in his singular experiment with anticompositional

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  • Matthew Benedict, Baker and Chimney Sweep, 2001/2010, sepia-toned black-and-white photograph, 14 x 11".

    Matthew Benedict

    Alexander and Bonin

    The works presented in Matthew Benedict’s “Dramatis Personae” are photographs made as studies for paintings—but they are striking nonetheless. Portraying archetypes from unfamiliar parables and allegories—the cabin boy, the sea god, the widow, the sideshow freak—the sepia-toned images distinctly resemble daguerreotypes: Most of the figures pose in a manner that suggests stillness (rather than frozen movement), and the prints have odd unfocused areas and various flecks and scratches. Some of these flaws are not part of a photographic plate or film but appear on the walls and floor

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  • Heinz Mack, Lamellen Relief, 1967–68, aluminum, Plexiglas, wood, stainless steel, 48 1/2 x 40 3/8 x 3 1/2".

    Heinz Mack

    Sperone Westwater

    In 1958, in Düsseldorf, Heinz Mack and Otto Piene formed the group Zero, publishing a journal by the same name and staging one-night exhibitions in Piene’s studio. Expanding in 1961 to include Günther Uecker, who with Mack and Piene formed the core of the undertaking, Zero came to be associated with myriad international groups, such as Gutaï in Japan and Nove Tendencije in Yugoslavia. Yves Klein, working in the Rhineland at the time, was briefly affiliated with them.

    Important to Zero’s eclectic output was a consideration of natural phenomena; the group imagined a kind of sculpture that would,

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  • Butt Johnson, Starchitects, 2009–10, ballpoint pen on Bristol, 40 x 30".

    Butt Johnson

    CRG Gallery

    In choosing The Name of the Rose as the title of his 1980 best-selling medieval thriller, Italian author and semiotician Umberto Eco confronted readers with an image charged with so many symbolic readings as to have been effectively hollowed out, set adrift on a sea of equivalent possibilities. And with the book’s last line, Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus, which translates as “Yesterday’s rose endures in its name, we hold empty names,” he suggests that from the beauty of the past, now vanished, only a linguistic trace remains. The emphasis on the free play of sign and signifier

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  • Tedd Nash Pomaski, Untitled 1, 2010, graphite on paper, 12 1/2 x 12 1/2". From the series “Waves in Isolation,” 2010–.

    Tedd Nash Pomaski

    Bose Pacia

    In “At the Foot of the Lighthouse,” Tedd Nash Pomaski presents new drawings in which images, while generally recognizable, struggle against their facture. Picturing nocturnal highways and roads, hospital examination rooms, and ocean waves, Pomaski filters his careful draftsmanship though an array of mediating strategies, some preliminary, others visible on the surface of the work. The cumulative effect is of a veil or glare that slows but never entirely cancels out the processes of looking and comprehension. Areas of darkness—of which there are many—surrender their depth as in an

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  • E’wao Kagoshima, Libidoll No. 1, 1985, oil on shaped canvas, 48 x 42 x 2 1/2".

    E’wao Kagoshima

    Greenspon

    There’s nothing like a giant phallus poking out of a fruit bowl to complicate a dinner party. E’wao Kagoshima’s work taps into the anxieties—the social missteps and gaucheries—that haunt the nightmares of the overly refined among us. An untitled series from 1976 presents détourned House Beautiful tableaux rife with priapic forms sprouting from the tastefully arranged chintz. Joining this fauna are a cast of polymorphous cartoon figures, rendered in thin washes of pastel-colored oils, who simulate fellatio or otherwise erotically commingle with the erect penises. Lounging in negligees

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  • Sean Snyder, Dallas Southfork in Hermes Land, Slobozia, Romania (detail), 2001, photographs, color videos, architectural models, digital prints, photocopied documents, news-paper articles. Dimensions variable.

    Sean Snyder

    Artists Space Exhibitions

    What does the classic Warner Brothers cartoon “Road Runner and Coyote” have to do with the urban condition? Sean Snyder’s 1996–98 Urban Planning Documentation (Road Runner & Coyote)—the earliest of the eight works in this modest, twelve-year survey—proffers tentative answers. Beside a monitor playing clips of Wile E. Coyote’s elaborate, doomed-to-fail schemes, Snyder presents two groups of black-and-white photos, all depicting seemingly innocuous elements from the urban landscape. In the first set, each image is accompanied by an ambiguously descriptive sentence: A FAILED LANDSCAPING

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  • Taryn Simon, Cigarettes, Shuangxi, China (prohibited), 2010,color photograph, 6 1/4 x 6 1/4". From the series “Contraband,” 2010.

    Taryn Simon

    Lever House Art Collection

    To shoot the 1,075 images that constitute her project “Contraband,” 2010, Taryn Simon erected makeshift photo studios at the US Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Site and the US Postal Service International Mail Facility at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Then, she and her team meticulously documented items confiscated by customs agents over the course of five days: heroin, envelopes with unknown medication, counterfeit BlackBerry batteries, shark fins, South Korean dog treats made with unidentified meats, Russian diet pills, a Haitian goatskin drum, Pakistani steroids,

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  • Sarah Michelson, Devotion, 2010. Performance view, 2011. Jim Fletcher (Adam) and Eleanor Hullihan (Eve).

    Sarah Michelson

    The Kitchen

    It’s a bit like Sarah Michelson has taken the carcass of dance and reanimated it via some sort of highly personal transvaluation machine, an apparatus powered not by a storm but by rakish lighting and thunderous music. But this makes the result sound like a monster rather than what it really is: a second chance. After all, what can you really do after the Fall except produce new children and hope that they turn out better than we did?

    This, anyway, is one thing I took from the premiere of Michelson’s latest piece at the Kitchen in New York. And there were many things to take (how many things she

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  • Ellie Ga, Reading the Deck of Tara, 2011. Performance View.

    Ellie Ga

    Bureau

    For the past three years, Ellie Ga has grappled with the materials—the documents and memories—from her experiences traveling to the North Pole in 2007. Acting as a “poet of the quotidian,” she was an artist in residence aboard the French climate-change research vessel the Tara and spent five months drifting in the ice of the Arctic Ocean, recording the crew’s activities during the long polar night. Having produced books, videos, and slide shows based on the journey, Ga is perhaps best known for The Fortunetellers, 2008–, her captivating performance-lectures. In these, she alludes to

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