reviews

  • Richard Avedon, Allen Ginsberg’s family: Hannah (Honey) Litzky, aunt; Leo Litzky, uncle; Abe Ginsberg, uncle; Anna Ginsberg, aunt; Louis Ginsberg, father; Eugene Brooks, brother; Allen Ginsberg, poet; Anne Brooks, niece; Peter Brooks, nephew; Connie Brooks, sister-in-law; Lyle Brooks, nephew; Eugene Brooks; Neal Brooks, nephew; Edith Ginsberg, stepmother; Louis Ginsberg, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970, two silver gelatin prints mounted on linen, overall 8 x 20'.

    Richard Avedon

    Gagosian | 522 West 21st Street

    This extraordinary exhibition, “Richard Avedon: Murals & Portraits,” brought together four vast group portraits made between 1969 and 1971, ranging from eight to over ten feet tall and from twenty to more than thirty feet long, in addition to a multitude of smaller portraits made between 1960 and 1976 as well as contact sheets and documentary materials. These were housed within a specially designed interior architecture by David Adjaye that functioned as a perfect machine for viewing, with walls creating sight lines that focused attention either on one of the four “murals” (Andy Warhol and

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  • André Masson, Jeune Fille soufflant sur le feu (Young Girl Blowing on the Fire), 1927, oil on canvas, 28 3/4 x 23 5/8".

    André Masson

    Blain | Di Donna

    Comprising thirty-five works dating from between 1922 and 1944, this informative presentation offered important examples of André Masson’s various early phases, providing a rare occasion for a reconsideration of the artist’s larger contribution to modern art history, long overshadowed by his decidedly lesser postwar output.

    French born, Belgian raised, and seriously wounded, mentally and physically, in World War I, Masson had, by the 1920s, entered the circle of artists drawn to theories of automatism. That is not to say that Masson’s early works, such as Le Rêve du prisonnier (The Dream of the

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  • Annette Messager, Bras/Voitures (Arm, Cars), 2009, mixed media, 97 5/8 x 78 3/4 x 19 5/8".

    Annette Messager

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    In interviews, Annette Messager has spoken of her admiration for Roland Barthes and, in particular, for his Fragments d’un discours amoureux (A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, 1977). It makes sense that the artist, perhaps best known for her portrayals of literal and figurative dismemberment, would be attracted to this volume. An account of things come undone (a love affair, a life, the body, discourse itself) written, appropriately enough, in parts (some that feel like shards), Barthes’s book not only echoes formal and conceptual elements of Messager’s forty-year career but interestingly was

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  • Martin Puryear, The Load, 2012, wood, steel, glass, 7' 7“ x 15' 5” x 6' 2".

    Martin Puryear

    McKee Gallery

    Like most of Martin Puryear’s sculpture in this typically virtuosic exhibition of recent work, the piece that met the visitor entering the show, The Rest, 2009–10, has many precedents in his art. Wheels and a long harness pole make this bronze representational—it is a covered wagon, though of a smaller, stubbier kind than the settlers’ Conestoga—but were it stripped of those accessories and turned to stand on its only flat side (the doorway where the rider would sit, open in a wagon but here filled in), it would instantly recall a good number of classic Puryear abstractions: humped,

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  • Domenico Gnoli, Ritratto di Luis T (Portrait of Luis T), 1967, acrylic and sand on canvas, 18 1/2 x 15".

    Domenico Gnoli

    Luxembourg & Dayan | New York

    Domenico Gnoli’s untimely death in 1970—just months after the widely anticipated show of his paintings at Sidney Janis Gallery in New York—cut short what had promised to be a prodigious career. This exhibition, a presentation of twenty-four selections from the artist’s limited, strikingly consistent corpus, marked a return, of sorts, to a city he first visited in 1956. Departing from the creeds of both abstraction (then in its twilight) and Conceptual practices (on the rise), Gnoli’s work stood out during its time as something of an anomaly and an anachronism, both on American shores

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  • View of “Tom Sachs,” 2012.

    Tom Sachs

    Park Avenue Armory

    Though Tom Sachs’s preposterously hypertrophic installation “Space Program: Mars” proposed to viewers a kind of voyage, it turned out to provide a very different sort of trip than the one advertised. Organized by Creative Time, the prolific artist’s ersatz expedition to outer space—which colonized a heroically large proportion of the Park Avenue Armory’s floor plan—never really got off the ground. But the actual journey on offer, one into the mind and working habits of its author, was a fascinating adventure nonetheless.

    The show was, in essence, an extravagant, life-size (and then

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  • Christian Jankowski, The Eye of Dubai (detail), 2012, video, black-and-white, sound, 47 minutes 20 seconds; ink-jet print, 48 1/2 x 48 1/2"

    Christian Jankowski

    Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

    As a metaphor for art criticism, “message in a bottle” is, at best, rather anomic. Is that what we as writers do: just chuck it out there and pray some random reader halfway around the world stumbles on the entreaty of our otherwise lonely prose? Review, 2012, part of Christian Jankowski’s exhibition “Discourse News,” consists of approximately one hundred bottles sealed with red wax, which contain handwritten art reviews the artist solicited from critics and were here organized in clusters throughout the gallery space. Not only are the enclosed texts proleptic—Jankowski asked the

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  • View of “Tomás Saraceno,” 2012.

    Tomás Saraceno

    Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

    The sculptures and collages shown in Tomás Saraceno’s recent exhibition belong to a wide-ranging scientific and philosophical project begun in 2002, variously called Cloud Cities and Air-Port-City. At the crux of the undertaking is a speculative metropolis composed of continuously shifting configurations of cell-like modules that float above the earth, the entire process powered by solar energy and wind.

    In Tanya Bonakdar’s large downstairs space, various arrangements of polyhedrons made from beech plywood or nylon string—representations of the Cloud City’s component cells—hung from

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  • Sharon Hayes, Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) Screeds #13, 16, 20 & 29 (detail), 2003, four-channel video installation, color, sound, 9, 10, 20, and 15 minutes, respectively.

    Sharon Hayes

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Sharon Hayes’s ambitious show was set amid wooden dividers, platforms, and stair-units. Designed by Hayes and her frequent collaborator Andrea Geyer, the mise-en-scène was a cross between speaker’s corner, radical-history library, and trade fair—mixed, of course, with major-museum exhibition. (The show was curated by Chrissie Iles.) Hayes’s art, here as in the past decade, explores oratory, confession, re-performance, and the erotics of public talk. We need all the intelligence we can muster on such subjects, and hers is considerable. Still, results were mixed.

    Arriving visitors were confronted

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  • Martine Franck, Tory Island, Donegal, Ireland, 1995, gelatin silver print, 19 5/8 x 15 3/4".

    Martine Franck

    Howard Greenberg Gallery

    Featuring twenty-six photographs made between the early 1960s and 2008, “Pérégrinations” offered a retrospective tour of Martine Franck’s work. A photo from 1995, Tory Island, Donegal, Ireland, was one of the show’s triumphs. It portrays two girls holding hands in midair as they jump off a wall; they’re caught in an instant of infectious excitement—in a “decisive moment,” as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Franck’s husband, called it. The image is rich with striking formal achievement: The bright white dress worn by one of the girls contrasts with the dark shadows she and her companion cast, and

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  • Evelyne Axell, Valentine, 1966, oil on canvas, gold leaf spray paint, zipper, helmet, 52 3/8 x 32 5/8".

    Evelyne Axell

    BROADWAY 1602 | Uptown

    Cut short by a fatal car crash in 1972, Evelyne Axell’s career burned fast and bright. At the age of twenty-eight, the Belgian artist abandoned a promising career in acting and took up painting, enlisting René Magritte for a year of bimonthly art lessons as she developed a style characterized by lusty, unembarrassed sexuality, vibrant colors, and groovy, psychedelic Pop-Futurism. Axell’s well-received show at Broadway 1602 in 2009 introduced her to New York audiences. This more recent exhibition, “The Great Journey into Space,” again emphasized her utopian inclinations, while problematizing

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  • Jane Fox Hipple, Pink Thing, 2011, spray paint on wood, plaster, and tape, 10 x 7 x 1 3/4".

    Jane Fox Hipple

    Dodge Gallery

    The title of Jane Fox Hipple’s exhibition “The Way of Things” suggests a rather matter-of-fact approach to artmaking, one rooted in the everyday and concerned more with direct observation—even with a kind of logic—than with flights of imaginative fancy. Yet while Hipple certainly makes use of quotidian materials and sticks to a modest scale, she attempts to unite her object-paintings via an interlinking structure derived in part from narrative fiction. Her works are outwardly abstract and seem independent of one another, but titles such as Narrator, 2011, and Supporting Role, 2012,

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  • Hannah Weinberger, Le Moi Du Toi, 2012, speakers, amplifiers, with sound, dimensions variable.

    Hannah Weinberger

    Swiss Institute / CONTEMPORARY ART

    Perhaps the most startling aspect of young Basel-based artist Hannah Weinberger’s sound installation Le Moi Du Toi, 2012, is its sheer accessibility. While not technically easy listening—it might be classified, perhaps, as a loungey and sometimes Latinate variant on Chicago house—the relaxed 4/4 instrumental dance music with which Weinberger permeated the Swiss Institute is free of the outré or confrontational aspects shared by so many works in the medium. While wandering through the space, which was veiled here and there with long white curtains and dotted with high-tech speakers, one could

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  • Kim Kelly, Two amazons together on horseback with labryses all around, 2012, watercolor and pencil, 6 x 9". From “Herstory Inventory: 100 Feminist Drawings by 100 Artists,” 2012

    Ulrike Müller

    Brooklyn Museum

    What does it mean to make feminist history a little silly? For her contribution to the Brooklyn Museum’s “Raw/Cooked” series (a yearlong string of exhibitions dedicated to Brooklyn-based artists), Ulrike Müller handled her personal and political affinities with a refreshingly light touch. Born in Austria and living in New York since 2002, Müller often works collaboratively, coediting the queer journal LTTR, for instance. This exhibition marked the latest in her series of “Herstory Inventory” installations, for which she bands together with like-minded artists to reimagine entries in a droll

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