reviews

  • Pat Steir, Winter Group 3: Red, Green, Blue and Gold, 2009–11, oil on canvas, 10' 11 5/8“ x 11' 3/8”. From the series “Winter Paintings,” 2009–.

    Pat Steir

    Cheim & Read

    Since 1989, Pat Steir has remained committed to producing her signature “Waterfall Paintings,” for which she pours thinned, almost aqueous oil paint in multiple layers onto a dry, primed ground so that it cascades down the canvas. Reminiscent of their namesake cataracts, these works effect—through Steir’s incorporation of drips and frank homage to modernist geometries—what Matthew Guy Nichols aptly described in 2008 as a “rain shower through a Newman ‘zip’ painting.” Others have written paeans to Steir’s gravity-abetted rivulets and torrents, and most cannot help but note her engagement

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  • Mark Morrisroe, Ramsey, Lake Oswego, 1988, color photograph from black-and-white and color negatives, 20 x 16".

    Mark Morrisroe

    Artists Space Exhibitions

    His life cut short by aids, Mark Morrisroe worked tirelessly to the end. Yet his art was in no way stunted. From his early photos of the 1980s Boston punk rock scene to his last images of his own bedridden body, his work consistently evinces a yearning for insider’s fame and success (fueled by his idol worship of Andy Warhol, Jack Smith, and John Waters), as well as a queer and outsider sensibility––see Morrisroe’s risqué self-portraits or the campy drag performances and Super 8 films he made with friend and collaborator Tabboo! (aka Stephen Tashjian). Morrisroe was the most experimental, moreover

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  • Hermann Nitsch, Hermann Nitsch 60. Painting Action // 60. Malaktion, 2011. Performance view, February 16, 2011. From left: Loretta Mae, Giuseppe Zevola, Hermann Nitsch, Monica Lorraine Bernal.

    Hermann Nitsch

    Mike Weiss Gallery

    Over the course of two consecutive evenings this past February, Hermann Nitsch executed the first American “Painting Action,” officially the sixtieth such performance since 1960, when he debuted this mode at the Technisches Museum in Vienna. The Painting Actions—the most recent one included—are not as scandalous as his better-known Actions from the early 1960s, for which he once skinned, mutilated, and crucified a lamb, displaying its body on a wall of white fabric and its entrails on a white table, covered with blood and hot water. Hermann Nitsch 60. Painting Action // 60. Malaktion

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  • Laurie Simmons, The Love Doll/Day 25 (The Jump), 2010, color photograph, 70 x 52 1/2". From the series, “The Love Doll: Days 1–30,” 2009–.

    Laurie Simmons

    Salon 94 | Bowery

    Perhaps, to paraphrase the old Freudian misquote, it’s possible for a doll to sometimes just be a doll—but certainly not in Laurie Simmons’s work. The photographer and filmmaker has built a thirty-year practice by drafting a town’s worth of figurines, mannequins, and puppets into formal and symbolic roles, typically deploying these human surrogates in miniaturized, dollhouselike scenarios designed variously to dramatize the claustrophobia of the domestic, unearth the uncanny in the interpersonal, and tease out the myriad varieties of desire and disenchantment she detects hovering around

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  • Kasimir Malevich, Painterly Realism of a Football Player— Color Masses in the 4th Dimension, 1915, oil on canvas, 27 1/2 x 17 3/8".

    “Malevich and the American Legacy”

    Gagosian | 522 West 21st Street

    This dazzling exhibition contrasted six Kasimir Malevich paintings with the work of twenty-five putative American legatees. Malevich carried the day, while the “legacy” side of things—distinguished efforts to be sure—struck me as a roster of usual suspects. Had we—you and I—been asked to come up with the names of the pertinent American artists working in the train of an imagined Malevich, doubtless there would have been many overlaps on the wish list. Donald Judd, Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt, Robert Ryman, Richard Serra, Frank Stella, Agnes Martin all seem right, though one

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  • Larry Rivers, Pyrography: Poem and Portrait of John Ashbery II, 1977, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 58".

    “Painters & Poets”

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    In 1950, Hungarian émigré Tibor de Nagy and American impresario John Bernard Myers announced their new gallery. “Not only will painting and sculpture be here,” they declared, “but also anything that an astonished or adoring eye might select instantaneously from the cinema of life. . . . [Visitors] will be objets trouvés among objets trouvés, beheld by one another in joy.” Much of the venerable gallery’s ethos is predicted here, from the tone of amused overripeness, to the accent on instantaneity and life as cinematic. What Myers and de Nagy didn’t anticipate was that the “objects” joyously found

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  • View of “Rirkrit Tiravanija.” Wall text: untitled 2011. Plywood structure: untitled 2011.

    Rirkrit Tiravanija

    Gavin Brown's enterprise | 620 Greenwich Street

    Rirkrit Tiravanija has always understood, intuitively and intellectually, that a gallery is a social frame, at once quasi-private and quasi-public, wherein a diverse range of encounters and frictions connected to rituals of making, displaying, and consuming art are staged. I vividly recall his exhibition “Untitled, 1992 (Free)” at 303 Gallery, for which structural elements and appurtenances from the space’s back office were displayed in the front of the gallery, and the office was converted into a rudimentary cooking and eating area, with free curries offered daily. I saw this as a deftly

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  • Marcel Dzama, A Game of Chess, 2011, still from a black-and-white video, 14 minutes.

    Marcel Dzama

    David Zwirner | 525 & 533 West 19th Street

    Marcel Dzama is one of a number of artists in their thirties and forties—such as Elizabeth Peyton and Amy Cutler in New York, Jockum Nordström in Europe, with Neo Rauch, perhaps, an elder statesman—whose work for varying purposes recalls the drawings of old-fashioned illustration, a word once considered toxic when applied to serious art. On top of that, Dzama has a cult following—actually a little too large and too glamorous, with its movie stars and rock musicians, to be called “cult”—and a healthy bibliography of coverage in the glossies. Even so, his recent show “Behind

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  • Terence Koh, nothingtoodoo, 2011. Performance view, February 15, 2011.

    Terence Koh

    Mary Boone Gallery | Uptown

    For better or worse, Terence Koh is a serious artist. You have to be serious to spend twenty-six days in a gallery circumnavigating a mountain of salt on your knees, as Koh did for “nothingtoodoo,” his solo debut at Mary Boone Gallery. And you really have to be serious to take a vow of silence, as Koh also did, for the duration of the exhibition. The often hushed, almost reverential tone of the audience reflected and bolstered this seriousness, as did the artist’s overall aesthetic fussiness: his all-white outfit, the removal of any vestiges of decoration from the gallery’s reception space, the

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  • Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern, Der Mondamtsschimmelreiter (The Moon Rider Official on a White Horse), 1956, colored pencil on cardboard, 28 3/4 x 20".

    Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern

    Michael Werner | New York

    Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern’s biography is almost as fantastical as his art. Born in 1892 in East Prussia, he muddled through life until, at the age of twenty-six, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to a sanatorium. One year later he showed up in Berlin, where he soon found considerable renown as a “naturopath”—a quack doctor, magnetist, and “prophet of the street.” This career path was cut off by the Nazis’ interdiction of occult practices, and after being confined in psychiatric institutes and in a penal camp, Schröder-Sonnenstern reemerged in 1944, scavenging firewood

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  • Alison Knowles, A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss, 2011, found materials, acrylic, raw flax, hand stamps, raw cotton, maple, tea-stained frame, 17 1/4 x 22 1/2 x 4".

    Alison Knowles

    James Fuentes

    Best known for her role as a founder of Fluxus some five decades ago, Alison Knowles has produced a remarkably multivalent yet precise body of work during the course of her long career, working in painting, sculpture, performance, sound, and in various ways with the printed and spoken word. For many years, I associated Knowles with beans—yes, those ubiquitous and overdetermined foodstuffs—because they so often appear in her performances, as do other such everyday materials. Like some figures with whom she is often associated (Marcel Duchamp and John Cage, for instance), Knowles can be

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  • Dario Robleto, Candles Un-burn, Suns Un-shine, Death Un-dies, 2010, digital composite on photographic paper mounted on Sintra, 46 x 65 1/2 x 2".

    Dario Robleto

    D'Amelio Gallery

    For an “abstract” medium composed of invisible sound waves traveling through air, music generates a considerable number of fetish objects. The idea of performing can itself become a substitute for direct experience: Even the shyest individual may harbor secret fantasies of rock-star success, of driving countless fans to a near frenzy of adulation and identification. But as Houston-based artist Dario Robleto’s recent show, using records, audio tapes, posters, show flyers, and handwritten lyrics demonstrates, it doesn’t take a psychotherapist (or a semiologist) to explain that any projective

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  • Paul Gabrielli, Untitled, 2010, Ultracal, plastic smoke detector, ink-jet-printed sticker, steel bolt, wood, acrylic, enamel, 12 x 12 x 4 1/2".

    Paul Gabrielli

    INVISIBLE-EXPORTS

    For the major part of Paul Gabrielli’s sophomore solo exhibition, “Generally,” half a dozen everyday institutional features—a railing, a fire alarm, a soap dispenser, etc.—installed around the gallery’s front room at points appropriate to the functions they reference, were afflicted with awkward protrusions. Each artifact hosted a parasite that glommed onto its surface, evoking a tumor or a tick before any form of assemblage blessed with an art-historical pedigree. Here Gabrielli blended the found, the manipulated, and the constructed to loosen the hold of use value over even the most

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  • Victoria Sambunaris, Untitled (Farm with workers, Jacumba, CA), 2010, color photograph, 39 x 55". From the series “The Border,” 2009–.

    Victoria Sambunaris

    Yancey Richardson Gallery

    The border between the United States and Mexico has been contested since 1848, when the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended war between the countries. It took survey teams six years just to draw the line, then marked with small obelisks and stone mounds. Disputes arising from population growth and other forms of development necessitated that this survey work be redone in the 1890s, when more than two hundred additional monuments were erected. During the twentieth century, as towns and cities along the border grew, five hundred more markers were dedicated; in recent decades, they

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  • Sarah Anne Johnson, Party Boat, 2011, photo-spotting ink, gouache, india ink, and acrylic ink on color photograph, 28 x 42".

    Sarah Anne Johnson

    Julie Saul Gallery

    The first photograph encountered in “Arctic Wonderland,” Sarah Anne Johnson’s fourth exhibition at Julie Saul Gallery, portrays a man dressed in heavy-duty outdoor gear, the kind meant to withstand extreme weather conditions, in the midst of what appears to be a leap of triumph or sheer glee. Behind him, a vast, frozen landscape stretches into the distance, while in his hands is a banner—clearly added by Johnson in the studio—that reads ARTIC CIRCLE, as though he were a sports fan cheering on a team. Similarly, in Cheerleading Pyramid, 2011, a group of people pose in the titular

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  • Mark Lombardi, World Finance Corporation and Associates, ca. 1970–84: Miami–Ajman–Bogota–Caracas (7th Version), 1999, graphite and colored pencil on paper, 69 1/8 x 84".

    Mark Lombardi

    Pierogi

    While living in Houston during the late 1980s, Mark Lombardi wrote two seemingly unrelated book manuscripts: one on panoramic painting and the other on the decade’s domestic and international drug wars. He then began to collect information on a subject that would transform him from part-time painter into one of the most prominent emerging artists at the turn of the millennium: the savings and loan crisis and its connections to President George H .W. Bush, Texas politics, and various US allies around the world. Starting with small, rough sketches he made on scraps of paper and napkins in an effort

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