Joe Scanlan, Idée Fixe, 2009, wool, polystyrene, dimensions variable.

Joe Scanlan


Joe Scanlan, Idée Fixe, 2009, wool, polystyrene, dimensions variable.

The day that I visited Joe Scanlan’s “Three Works” at Wallspace—the artist’s first solo show at a New York gallery in a decade—he was there, bag of food in hand, clearly digging in for an afternoon’s work. It wasn’t a performance (though I wondered) or even one of the scheduled moments to change the “round robin” configuration of works on view. Instead, it seemed, he was there to tweak some element that had him unsatisfied, to refine, mid-exhibition, a stray aesthetic element or imperfect detail.

The impulse seemed incongruous enough with the work on view. While material exactitude or even aesthetic pleasure are hardly of minor consequence to Scanlan, the pieces here were relatively modest, and, indeed, two were always presented in a disassembled form. In the rear of the gallery was Empire, 2005, a flag made, according to the press release, of “remnant fabric,” whose wood

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