reviews

  • Richard Pousette-Dart, Angel Forms, 1952–53, oil on linen, 44 x 62 1/2"

    Richard Pousette-Dart

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    Richard Pousette-Dart was there right at the beginning. Though he is known for his paintings from the 1980s, which glow with pointillist orbs and spiritual awakenings, this exhibition, organized by Christopher Wool, of paintings and sculptures made in Pousette-Dart’s East River studio during the ’40s and early ’50s, reminds us that he was the youngest of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists. Some of these paintings have never been shown publicly, and others have not been shown since their initial exhibition at Betty Parsons’s gallery in the ’40s. The opening of this crypt thus exposes

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  • Sanja Iveković, Sweet Violence, 1974, still from a black-and- white video, 5 minutes 56 seconds.

    Sanja Iveković

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Croatian artist Sanja Iveković’s works, which range from private gestures documented on video to public interventions broadcast on television or erected in a city square, were never intended for museum display. Yet for “Sweet Violence,” the artist’s first retrospective in the United States, curator Roxana Marcoci overcame the challenge of presenting such formally diverse works in an institutional context. At once the starting point and the centerpiece of this exhibition, the large-scale Lady Rosa of Luxembourg, 2001, emblematized this success—it actually seemed made to fit MoMA’s atrium.

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  • View of “The Wedding (The Walker Evans Polaroid Project),” 2011–12.

    “The Wedding (The Walker Evans Polaroid Project)”

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    At her foundation’s gallery space in Toronto and elsewhere, Ydessa Hendeles has organized exhibitions that set artworks and other objects, both everyday and extraordinary, in arrangements that blur the line between the curator’s discipline and the artist’s. Hendeles’s intensely thoughtful choices and placements involve intellectual and aesthetic processes of research and selection, as a curator’s do and an artist’s may, and each show responds to its site rather as installation art does, though it’s rare that installation artists give incisive attention to other artists’ work. Hendeles actually

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  • Jess, “Danger Don’t Advance,” Salvages IX (last painting), ca. 1990, oil on canvas, 44 x 18 3/4". From the series “Salvages,” ca. 1970–94.

    Jess

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    The painter and collagist Jess (1923–2004) had a poet in his life, of course. On New Year’s Day, 1951, he exchanged vows with Robert Duncan, sage of the San Francisco Renaissance, and they lived together for nearly four decades. But the poet that Jess’s early paintings—nineteen, made between 1950 and 1966, were exhibited here—brought to mind, for me at least, was Frank O’Hara, specifically his “Memorial Day, 1950”: “Fathers of Dada! You carried shining erector sets / in your rough bony pockets, you were generous / and they were lovely as chewing gum or flowers! / Thank you!” Jess

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  • Donald Baechler, Deep North, 1989, acrylic, oil, fabric collage on linen, 9' 3" x 12'

    Donald Baechler

    Fisher Landau Center for Art

    Like Buster Keaton, Donald Baechler nimbly treads an elegant path between the banana peel of the obvious and that of the obscure; one slip and his work falls into comedic bathos. But, by the merest breadth, Baechler is always saved despite an often cloying imagery of cartoony faces, toys, and children’s-book illustrations. And, then, after what could easily be an awkward face-off between the artist’s self-reflexive subject the viewer’s awareness of its purely pretextual role, the work alights without fail on the side of refinement and tact.

    Baechler first attracted attention in the early 1980s

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  • June Leaf, Untitled (Theater), 2010–11, mixed media, 53 x 23 1/4 x 36".

    June Leaf

    Edward Thorp Gallery

    It’s usual, and not without good reason, to praise a contemporary artist’s work, or even that of a historical figure, for its currency—for the way it seems to put its viewer in touch with the now. But while I mean to praise the “Recent Works” June Leaf has just exhibited, I can’t do so on those grounds. Although all but one of the paintings, sculptures, and things-in-between in the exhibition were made in the last two years, they feel distinctly untimely, like scattered finds from an archaeological dig into the strata of a human psyche, where past, present, and eternity mingle playfully

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  • Günther Förg, Untitled, 2008, acrylic and oil on canvas, 9' 6 1/8“ x 13' 1 1/2”.

    Günther Förg

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    A fixture of the storied Cologne scene of the 1980s, Günther Förg is still recognized in this country for what he produced during that formative decade: Blinky Palermo–inspired paintings on lead, whose puckered surfaces register raw materiality, even as the monochrome bands applied to the supports provide a sensuousness that all but negates the lead’s astringent qualities. Given the rough-hewn sophistication of these works, it is perhaps unsurprising that they are the output for which Förg is chiefly known. Yet they may also loom so large because Förg has not had a solo show in New York in over

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  • On Kawara, 26. ÁG. 1995, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 13". From the series “Today,” 1966–.

    On Kawara

    David Zwirner | 525 & 533 West 19th Street

    This year, On Kawara will enter his eighth decade of being still alive. For more than half his life, he has been producing the rigidly formulaic “Today” paintings, his most enduring body of work. The series remains key (and is the earliest) among the diarizing projects he began between the mid-1960s and the early ’70s––from the cryptic, deadpan telegrams that broadcast the quotidian facts of his life or confirmed his continuing existence (“I Am Still Alive,” 1970–ca. 2005) to the postcards that announce when he rose from bed (“I Got Up,” 1968–79). Now numbering in the thousands, the “Today”

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  • Doug Ischar, Untitled (San Francisco, 1987), 2012, color photograph, 13 1/2 x 20".

    Doug Ischar

    Golden Gallery

    Doug Ischar’s presentation of work at Golden Gallery might have appeared, to a visitor first walking in, a modest affair. Indeed, the gallery itself is no more than a slim slice of storefront in SoHo. Yet the seven works assembled in “Sleepless” all deftly challenge any notion of modesty, wholly bucking that word’s association with conventions of decorum and bodily restraint even while utilizing antispectacular formal elements and means. While quiet—clandestine, one might say—Ischar’s work opens to the eye like a clenched orifice to the right touch. If that metaphor sounds more than

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  • Zefrey Throwell, Ocularpation: Wall Street, 2011, still from a color video, 19 minutes 58 seconds.

    Zefrey Throwell Klemens

    Tanja Grunert Gallery

    On August 1, less than a month and a half before last year’s occupation of Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, Zefrey Throwell staged the performance Ocularpation: Wall Street. At 7 AM, fifty volunteers, dressed in the garb of a range of professions—from personal assistant to trader, prostitute, dog walker, janitor, and lawyer—gathered in front of the New York Stock Exchange and at other locations on Wall Street and stripped naked for five minutes. Three performers were arrested, charged with exposure, and later bailed out by the artist. Throwell has stated that this project was triggered

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  • Edwin Dickinson, Frances Foley, 1927, oil on board, 50 x 40".

    Edwin Dickinson

    Driscoll Babcock Galleries

    When art historian Lloyd Goodrich observed in 1965 that Edwin Dickinson “does not fit into any neat classification,” he could have been comparing the paintings Frances Foley, 1927, and Frances Blazer, 1937—both of which were on view at the artist’s recent show at Babcock Galleries. The first represents Dickinson’s young wife in a Romantic realist style, her facial features crisply delineated; in the second, her visage is a pure abstraction. On the cusp of the new, yet devoted to the old, Dickinson was a student of academic realist Charles Hawthorne, yet he nonetheless appeared—along

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  • Greg Parma Smith, Poseurs 4, 2011, oil and gesso on canvas, 36 x 48".

    Greg Parma Smith

    Balice Hertling at the Film Center | New York

    It’s not often that practitioners of academic figure painting are identified as a subculture, but when Greg Parma Smith used the term in relation to such artists in his exhibition “Life Drawings, Poseurs, and ‘thirteen oil paintings on canvas,’” the classification didn’t seem entirely off-the-wall. Juxtaposing nude studies with paintings that sample from comic strips, a handmade book of graffiti-style lettering and imagery, and a cartoonlike wall painting, Smith’s show made a case for connecting stylistically divergent representations of the body to niche interests identified with particular

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  • Matthew Brannon, Early Retirement, 2011, metal, wood, hand-carved high density foam, acrylic, enamel, 56 1/2 x 111 1/4 x 9".

    Matthew Brannon

    Casey Kaplan

    The flat, graphic style of Matthew Brannon’s work derives from the visual innovations of Madison Avenue during its midcentury golden age. In this exhibition, that coolly nostalgic look surfaced in silkscreen and letterpress prints, as well as in paintings, sculptures, and cloth uniforms (the last made in collaboration with menswear designer Carlo Brandelli). These works were installed across three galleries, each of which suggested a discrete room—or, more precisely, a theatrical set. For each gallery corresponded to an “act” in a play, written by the artist, the plot of which is elliptically

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  • Robert Bourdeau, Pennsylvania, USA, 1997, black-and-white photograph, 10 5/8 x 13 7/8".

    Robert Bourdeau

    Edwynn Houk Gallery | New York

    Robert Bourdeau trained and worked as an architectural technologist before an influential encounter with Aperture magazine and its editor, Minor White. A ten-year friendship with that elder statesman of photography encouraged Bourdeau to pursue the medium and embrace the emotional expressiveness on which White placed so much importance. Now in his eighties, Bourdeau is best known for landscape photographs in which the subject fills the entire frame, a compositional choice that emphasizes texture and occasionally creates odd spatial effects. Two pictures in this exhibition, his second at the

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  • Matthew Picton, “Ghost Map” The 1854 London Cholera Epidemic, 2011, archival Japanese absorbent paper, 32 x 32".

    Matthew Picton

    Christopher Henry Gallery

    A map, reductive by definition, is full of ghosts. Matthew Picton engages these specters with paper sculptures that add a third dimension to the map and in various ways give form to imaginary cartographies of history. Indeed, he renders his maps four-dimensional by referring to the passage of time.

    For his recent show at Christopher Henry, Picton presented a selection of these works. Some begin with a specific historical episode: A map of London comprises only the area of the city affected by the cholera outbreak of 1854. The map appears blank when looked at head-on, but from the side one sees

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