reviews

  • David Hammons, Untitled, 2010, mixed media, 92 x 72".

    David Hammons

    L&M Arts | New York

    In 2007, David Hammons made a show at L & M Arts on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Collaborating with his wife, Chie Hammons, he installed six fur coats on dressmaker’s dummies; each fur looked fine from the front, but was grotesquely charred or glopped with paint or plaster at the back. For this recent exhibition—his first since then—Hammons returned to L & M’s neo-Georgian town house with another not-subtle, not-simple caricature of luxury goods and fetishism. If the coats were conceived as post-Duchampian sculpture, their burns and drips the Hammonses’ R. Mutt in quotation marks, then

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  • Glen Fogel, With Me . . . You (detail), 2011, still from a five-channel color video, 19 minutes 15 seconds.

    Glen Fogel

    Participant Inc.

    The two painted reproductions of love letters that introduce Glen Fogel’s first solo show announce an exhibitionary poise and epistolary tack. Enlarged to six times their size (one is a diptych), the messages are both addressed to the artist, and, in their infatuated, unself-conscious zeal, strike a universal note of hormonal desperation. “You, both the ideal and the mortal, have taught me the meaning of Love and what it is to feel joy,” one declares, later mentioning someone named Lucas. The other, from Lucas, smolders, “I’m amazed sometimes by the fire in your eye when you talk about things

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  • Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler, Grand Paris Texas, 2009, still from a color video, 54 minutes.

    Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler

    Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

    Like much of their quietly elegant, keenly intelligent video work, the two ambitious projects by the artist team of Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler recently on view at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery made significant demands on, and richly rewarded, viewers’ attention. Clocking in at fifty-four and twenty-four minutes, respectively, the works—Grand Paris Texas, 2009, and the new two-screen video installation Méliès, 2011—represent the first two installments in a planned trilogy exploring the physical conditions and social character of the cinematic experience, here with particular respect

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  • Ezra Stoller, General Motors Technical Center, Eero Saarinen, Warren, MI, 1950, black-and-white photograph, 20 x 16".

    Ezra Stoller

    Yossi Milo Gallery

    Beginning in roughly 1939, modernist architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Paul Rudolph, Eero Saarinen, Marcel Breuer, and Richard Meier, among others, had photographer Ezra Stoller document their now-classic buildings—“classic” in themselves, but also because of Stoller’s exquisite “classicizing” of them. With deft assurance, Stoller imbued the structures with an aura of inevitability. Seen through his lens, their geometry seems eternal—timeless as the pyramids—and drawn to some perceptual seventh heaven. Thus, Fifth Avenue fades into wet darkness, leaving the 1954 Manufacturers Hanover

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

    Joe Scanlan

    Wallspace

    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

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  • Marcel Odenbach, Im Kreises drehen (Turning Circles), 2009, still from a color video, 15 minutes 50 seconds. Anton Kern Gallery.

    Marcel Odenbach

    Anton Kern Gallery/Kimmerich

    After beginning apparently sunnily with two teenage boys horsing around in a field, Marcel Odenbach’s Im Kreises drehen (Turning Circles), 2009, quite quickly changes mood. The rest of the sixteen-minute video is a study of Majdanek, the death camp in Lublin, Poland, where more than seventy thousand people were killed by the Nazis during World War II. More particularly, it is a study of a Holocaust monument built at Majdanek in 1969; more particularly still, it is a study of a mausoleum, for the monument, designed by Wiktor Tolkin, takes the form of a giant marble bowl, the repository for a

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  • Hurvin Anderson, Beaded Curtain (Red Apples), 2010, oil on canvas, 94 1/2 x 59".

    Hurvin Anderson

    Michael Werner | New York

    The thirteen paintings and one diptych, most intimately sized but some of epic dimensions, in Hurvin Anderson’s first New York solo gallery exhibition can be classified as landscapes: They picture the lush, equatorial scenery of Trinidad, where the London-based artist spent some time a few years ago. That they are all predominantly green thus stands to reason. Why, then, did the omnipresent verdancy (in all its guises—lime to teal, olive to emerald) feel at times superfluous, a gilding-the-lily excess?

    The answer, I think, is that Anderson is at heart just as much an abstract painter as he

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  • León Ferrari, Untitled, 2010, wire, 47 1/4 x 47 1/4 x 47 1/4".

    León Ferrari

    Haunch of Venison | New York

    Despite the signal 2009 exhibition “Tangled Alphabets: León Ferrari and Mira Schendel,” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the work of the Argentine artist León Ferrari is, in all likelihood, unfamiliar to much of the North American public; in fact, that show’s catalogue forms the basic English reference to Ferrari’s striking output, which is still in vital production though Ferrari is, at this reviewing, a veteran prodigy at ninety years of age.

    When he was young, to judge from the MoMA catalogue, Ferrari was an enchanting idealist—also an accomplished ceramist and draughtsman, but not

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  • Ellen Gallagher, IGBT, 2008, gesso, gold leaf, ink, varnish, and cut paper on paper, 79 1/2 x 74".

    Ellen Gallagher

    Gagosian | 522 West 21st Street

    Greasy. The word less sits on the page than penetrates it, threatening slickness or seepage, and, more to the point, an unruly mess. That it reads as inescapably classed is apposite, too, as is the implication of unmanageable hair and one of its oft-advertised solutions, pomade, given Ellen Gallagher’s previous employment of the stuff. Indeed, for “Greasy,” the artist’s first solo show in New York in five years, she invoked several protagonists, narratives, and strategies from her past work, such as the lined penmanship paper and disembodied minstrel lips found in the pieces that first brought

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  • View of “Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison,” 2011.

    Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    For figures from John Muir to Ansel Adams and beyond, the Sierra Nevada has long been a locus classicus of the American wilderness sublime. Traditionally represented as a sacred zone of untouched nature standing outside of human history, the transcendentalist landscape imaginary of the Sierra in fact developed in tandem with a range of biopolitical technologies concerning the government of populations, territories, and resources. Ranging from the imperial survey photography of Timothy O’Sullivan to Adams’s own work for the Department of the Interior, this ambivalent history shadows “Sierra

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  • View of “Jeppe Hein,” 2011. From left: 360º Gallery—303 Gallery (Photo Edition), 2011; Light Pavilion II, 2009.

    Jeppe Hein

    303 Gallery

    Jeppe Hein’s second show at 303 Gallery—his last show here was “Please . . .” in 2008—started before visitors even entered the space. Piercing the broad storefront’s frosted glass window was Upside Down, 2011, a telescope-like arrangement of lenses through which an unexpectedly shrunken and inverted view of the interior was visible. Hein’s primary concern—shared with Olafur Eliasson and Carsten Höller among others—is the interplay of presumption and perception, with what we expect to see and what finally manifests. In Upside Down, as in the other works of which it here provided

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  • R. Luke DuBois, A More Perfect Union: Lonely, 2011, ink on paper, 18 x 24".

    R. Luke DuBois

    bitforms gallery

    Curious about the geographic distribution in the United States of men and women who characterize themselves as, say, submissive, shy, bored, or lonely? If so, you’ll likely be delighted by R. Luke DuBois’s project “A More Perfect Union,” 2008–, for which he created statistical maps of the nation describing the ways in which people represent themselves on online dating services—and the qualities those people are seeking in a possible mate. In 2010, DuBois, who might be considered something of a polymath (he is an artist, composer, performer, and a coauthor of the software Jitter, which

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  • O. Winston Link, Hawksbill Creek Swimming Hole, Luray, VA, August 9, 1956, black-and-white photograph, 20 x 16".

    O. Winston Link

    Robert Mann Gallery

    O. Winston Link’s magnificent photographs of steam-powered locomotives, taken half a century ago, appear now to prefigure artistic projects with which gallery-goers are likely more familiar. In one image, the speeding locomotive seen through a living room window calls to mind Martha Rosler’s Vietnam-era collage series “Bringing the War Home,” 1967–72. Link’s picture of a massive engine racing across a railway bridge, beneath which a boy shoos cows and a couple sits in a car, or his image of a man sitting at the window of a third-floor apartment as a train lumbers along Main Street, offer a

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  • Michael Huey, China Cupboard (no.39), 2010, color photograph mounted on aluminum, 15 3/4 x 21".

    Michael Huey

    Newman Popiashvili

    Michael Huey’s “China Cupboards,” 2005–, is a series of medium-size photographs that portray shelves and cupboards stocked with china, glassware, serving dishes, trinkets, and other items whose purposes are not entirely clear. (One gropes for their obscure names: salvers, epergnes, tankards?) These depictions are not straightforward, however; they have been printed in the negative, reversing their colors. So blues become orange—of which there are frequent dense patches, suggesting a collection of delftware—and the whites come up in shades of the gray scale. The shadows around each

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