reviews

  • Anne Truitt, Untitled, 1986, acrylic on paper, 30 1/4 x 23".

    Anne Truitt

    Matthew Marks Gallery

    The overriding aesthetic of the early 1960s was marked by Clement Greenberg’s procrustean sense of historical inevitability. Anne Truitt first met the demanding critic in 1959; over the years, she encountered Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, and the gallerist André Emmerich, who began to show her work in 1963. A New England blue blood who died at the age of eighty-three in 2004, Truitt is best known for her fusion of strong, boxy forms with a cultivated sense of color—Donald Judd meets Brice Marden, as it were. Yet the various associations made with Truitt’s work were anathema to the

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  • Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Addio del Passato, 2011, still from a color video, 16 minutes 52 seconds.

    Yinka Shonibare, MBE

    James Cohan Gallery | Chelsea

    What stripes are to Daniel Buren or the “blp” is to Richard Artschwager, wax-printed cotton is to Yinka Shonibare, MBE—a medium, a trademark, a transformative tool. These inexpensive fabrics were initially manufactured by the Dutch in the nineteenth century for trade in the Far East, but found a readier market in Africa, to the point that today they index that continent. To Shonibare they also index the trade between Europe and its former colonies, and accordingly a complex and problematic nest of arrangements among nations and races. Throughout Shonibare’s work in many media, these fabrics

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  • Rashid Johnson, Black Yoga Communication Station, 2011, mixed media, 84 x 71 1/2 x 110".

    Rashid Johnson

    Hauser & Wirth | West 18th Street

    Suppose that there are three kinds of grooves. One you make by raking an implement through a semiresistant substance. One takes hold when a great song plays. And one you get stuck in. Rashid Johnson’s show had them all.

    His exhibition, titled “Rumble,” comprised eleven assemblages distributed along the painting-to-sculpture spectrum, plus a short film. Johnson has for several years been making wall-based and freestanding consoles presenting particular kinds of fetishistic objects, like altars crossed with rec-room entertainment centers and boutique displays. Just one piece in the current group—

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  • Jason Fox, Marley on Obama, 2010, mixed media on paper, 14 1/4 x 10 1/8".

    Jason Fox

    Peter Blum Gallery

    It sounds like the setup to a misbegotten revolutionary—or, even worse, adolescent—joke: What do you get if you cross Bob Marley and Barack Obama? But in Jason Fox’s most recent show, the seamless transposition of these quite literal figureheads—carefully rendered atop one another, with the latter’s tidy hairline positioned at the base of the former’s trademark mane—had a surprisingly profound effect, by turns pictorial and social. Appearing at the outset of “Eating Symbols”and recurring in various pieces throughout, this emblematic mash-up managed a slow burn. Like Jasper

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  • Uri Aran, Untitled, 2012, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Uri Aran

    Gavin Brown's enterprise | 620 Greenwich Street

    Presiding over Uri Aran’s exhibition was a video, taken by the artist via Skype, of a man examining a plate of cookies. He picks up each one and looks at it closely, then shows it to the camera, as though the concept of a cookie were entirely foreign and slightly suspect. He groups them at one end of the plate, spreads them out again in neat rows. One of the cookies is broken, and he tries to reassemble it, over and over again, patiently, curiously, evincing no visible awareness of the task’s futility. Later, the man dips a tea bag into a cup of water again and again, this commonplace task made

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  • Kay Rosen, Constructed Landscape (Winter), 2011, enamel sign paint on canvas, 22 1/2 x 30".

    Kay Rosen

    Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

    Over the past four decades, Kay Rosen has made works that stage demonstrations of language’s materiality––its visual and aural qualities––by marshaling her unique brand of wordplay and various typefaces, colors, and (most important) arrangements of spacing and scale. She has revealed, time and again, that words and phrases can distort, amplify, and sometimes even negate their own meaning. Rosen’s cohesive ouevre has always telegraphed her writerly obsessions more than any painterly concerns, and has often evoked, in my mind, one author in particular (who is also a woman born in 1947). When, in

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  • Alec Soth, The Unabomber’s View, 2006, black-and-white ink-jet print, 30 x 24".

    Alec Soth

    Sean Kelly Gallery

    The initial photograph encountered in Alec Soth’s “Broken Manual,” Roman, the nocturnal hermit, 2006, embodies the tension between disclosure and concealment that underpins this exhibition, which comprises a series of photographs and a new installation generated from Soth’s journeys to remote areas of the United States in search of men—from eccentric loners to paranoid survivalists—who have excommunicated themselves from society. Roman’s ancient, bearded visage surfaces reluctantly from a grainy black-and-white miasma—he is a ghostly afterimage of himself. With a subtly quizzical

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  • Klara Liden, S.A.D., 2012, found Christmas trees, grow lights, buckets, plywood, safety blue paint, dimensions variable.

    Klara Liden

    Reena Spaulings Fine Art | New York

    Some eighty Christmas trees made up the centerpiece of Klara Liden’s recent exhibition at Reena Spaulings. Installed behind blue plywood fencing, the trees had been reclaimed from New York City’s sidewalks, where they had been awaiting curbside trash pickup this past January as the show was being installed. For many visitors, the rich, resiny smell inside this dense forest inevitably evoked memories of Christmases past. The seasonal affective disorder invoked in the installation’s title (S.A.D., 2012) underscored the invitation to read the work in terms of metaphor and affect—to consider

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  • Ross Knight, Part, 2012, steel, plastic, 104 x 114 x 61".

    Ross Knight

    Team Gallery | Grand Street

    If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to heat-seal a giant sheet of industrial plastic around something other than a dry-docked boat, Ross Knight’s sculpture Part, 2012, is an intriguing case. At over eight feet high, Part is a mysterious object whose armature creates protuberances in the opaque plastic shrink wrap that envelops its upper half. Stemlike metal legs painted an alarming hue of fuchsia protrude from the base and attach to unpainted threaded steel posts, while two rods of red wheeled casters in blue plastic tracks (such as those used to scoot boxes down conveyor belts) project

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  • Margaret Lee and Ajay Kurian, Darren’s Chair, 2011, color photograph, 7 x 5". From “Looking Back: The 6th White Columns Annual.”

    “Looking Back: The 6th White Columns Annual”

    White Columns

    The line between community and clique is a fine one, and this highly idiosyncratic year-end review of goings-on about town walked it with a conspicuous wobble. Curated by artists Ken Okiishi and Nick Mauss, the exhibition dipped into a variety of overlapping, interrelated New York scenes, with results that were at times intriguing, at others too hermetic to have much appeal beyond their own circles. Never intended as a definitive best-of, but rather as a review of works encountered by the curators in the course of twelve months of NYC art-viewing, the annual is a snapshot of personal preference,

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  • Jesús Rafael Soto, Sin título (El gran clavo) (Untitled [The Big Nail]), ca. 1959–60, mixed media, 10 3/8 x 5 1/4 x 9 3/8".

    Jesús Rafael Soto

    Grey Art Gallery

    Vibration noire (Black Vibration), 1960, exemplifies the confusion of optic and haptic registers that defined Jesús Rafael Soto’s work between 1957 and the late 1960s. Fragile sculptural elements—twisted red, blue, and black metal wires—are affixed to a black cloth marked with dozens of ultrathin white vertical lines. With the slightest change in the viewer’s position before the work, the alignment of the physical and pictorial elements shifts, resulting in “vibration”—a disorienting shimmer that adds to a sense of movement to this otherwise static object. Yet in the area around

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  • Mimmo Jodice, Church of San Marcellino, Naples, ca. 1977, black-and-white photograph, 9 x 14". From “Peripheral Visions: Italian Photography, 1950s–Present.”

    “Peripheral Visions: Italian Photography, 1950s–Present”

    The Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery at Hunter College

    In the half century after World War II, cities across the United States and Europe underwent structural transformations. In America, middle-class whites fled downtowns for the safety and amenities of the suburbs, leaving behind a minority “underclass” to bear the brunt of the shift to a postindustrial economy. In Europe, it was the poor who were pushed to urban fringes (think Parisian banlieues) while central districts became jewel boxes cosseting the wealthy. On both sides of the Atlantic, cities sprawled outward, absorbing once-independent suburbs into larger metropolitan frameworks. “Peripheral

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  • Paul Bloodgood, Objects in Pieces, 2011, oil on board, 48 x 58".

    Paul Bloodgood

    Newman Popiashvili

    Modernism shares with Romanticism a fascination with the fragment, with things that are broken yet by that very fact seem to offer the possibility of recombining to create something new. Collage is only the most obvious manifestation of this outlook, and its history is now a century long. So “Objects in Pieces,” the title of the most recent exhibition by Paul Bloodgood—a veteran, by now, of the New York art scene, but a seriously underknown one—might sound a bit generic. As a gallery press release explains, however, it takes on a more determinate meaning in relation to Bloodgood’s

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  • Stanley Boxer, Paradisicalsuccors, 1990, mixed media on board, 26 3/4 x 13 5/8".

    Stanley Boxer

    Spanierman Gallery

    Stanley Boxer (1926–2000) has been called a Color Field painter, but I don’t think that does justice to his works—or at least not to the paintings he made in the 1990s, nineteen of which were on view in this exhibition (along with one canvas from 1960 and one from 1973). In these works, Boxer’s fields of color are not as uniformly smooth as Ellsworth Kelly’s in his hard-edge Color Field paintings, nor are they as ingeniously blended, even magically merged, as Morris Louis’s in his stained paintings. What distinguishes Boxer’s paint-saturated canvases from these supposed epitomes of the

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