reviews

  • Dorothea Rockburne, “C” Study for Scalar, 1970, chipboard, crude oil, paper, nails, 30 x 20 x 1".

    Dorothea Rockburne

    Craig F. Starr Gallery

    This show of twenty-four works—ranging in size from the parietal Tropical Tan, 1966–67, to the diminutive group of drawings called Silence, 1972—reminded us of Dorothea Rockburne’s vital achievement. Moreover, the exhibition demonstrated that the once-radical pictorial solutions of post-Minimalism, with the passage of more than four decades, now strike affective notes unusual to the art’s original intentions (to the extent they can be determined).

    This new, emotional key is registered, for example, in six studies for Scalar, the large 1971 work in the collection of the Museum of Modern

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  • Ralph Humphrey, Thin Edge, 1981, casein and modeling paste on wood, 60 x 36 x 4".

    Ralph Humphrey

    Gary Snyder Gallery

    Because Ralph Humphrey is saddled anew with the unfortunate appellation “’70s painter” each time his work is rediscovered—as happens seemingly once a decade—the results of these excavations have typically been equivocal. Artists such as Elizabeth Murray, by contrast, have broken free of the faint praise built into that suspect moniker.

    Humphrey entered the lists as the elusive obsession of Klaus Kertess (as he tells us in a Candide-like catalogue memoir) when the latter turned away from art history at Yale University to found the Bykert Gallery. The catalogue text by the fine painter/critic

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  • Fazal Sheikh, Ether, 2008–11, ink-jet print on handmade cotton paper, 5 1/4 x 7 7/8".

    Fazal Sheikh

    Pace/MacGill Gallery

    The photographer Fazal Sheikh’s concern with international issues of human rights has led him not only to many pictures of people living under conditions of displacement and duress but to a meditation on how this kind of image may most ethically be conceived. Through much of the 1990s, for example, Sheikh worked in African refugee camps, the products of conflicts in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and other countries. Whereas another photographer might have documented the difficulties of the camps’ conditions or hunted for visible traces of traumas accumulated on the way there, Sheikh most

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  • Peter Coffin, Untitled (Unfinished OK Hand), 2012, wood, wire mesh, bolts, screws, 12' 7 1/2“ x 6' 5” x 11' 6".

    Peter Coffin

    Venus

    In a conversation between Peter Coffin and Maurizio Cattelan published in 2007, Coffin warned against the “tendency to clutter things up, to try and make sure people know something is art, when all that’s necessary is to present it, to leave it alone. I think the hardest thing to do,” he continued, “is to present an idea in the most straightforward way.” Coffin’s recent show at Venus over Manhattan showed the broadly curious Conceptualist practicing what he preaches, but also demonstrated that leaving things too much alone can risk leaving the viewer behind.

    The pointedly uncluttered installation

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  • Roland Flexner, Untitled, 2012, liquid graphite on Yupo, 9 x 12".

    Roland Flexner

    D'Amelio Gallery

    Automatism meets science fiction meets the sublime landscape in the one hundred works on paper (all Untitled, 2012) that, along with a single large painting in metal leaf on canvas dating from 1984, made up Roland Flexner’s recent show. Most of the drawings were presented as groups of nine or ten, but they were best taken in either as an overwhelming mass or one by one—that is, as so many manifestations of processes insistently repeated, or as singular expressions of the ever-changing play between intention and chance. Flexner once told the critic Faye Hirsch that his project is twofold:

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  • Andrea Zittel, Prototype for Billboard: A-Z Cover Series 1 (Gold and Black Stripes), 2012, enamel on plywood, 36 3/8 x 72 3/8 x 2".

    Andrea Zittel

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Andrea Zittel’s signature works usually integrate into quotidian routines and address basic needs such as shelter and clothing (a fact that feels particularly significant as I write in the wake of Hurricane Sandy). Exemplary in this regard are her “A-Z Living Units,” 1991–96, and “A-Z Escape Vehicles,” 1996, compact structures custom-made to efficiently house everything her clients would need to survive (and in the latter case, to retreat). But since viewers are rarely granted direct use of these functional art objects, it’s always been hard to grasp how they are experienced, how they “work” on

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  • Kiki Kogelnik, The Human Touch, ca. 1965, oil and acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24".

    Kiki Kogelnik

    Simone Subal Gallery

    “I’m not involved with Coca-Cola,” Kiki Kogelnik avowed in 1966, marking her distance from Pop art, or at least its consumerist strains. But making the association was sensible enough. After moving to New York in 1961 (encouraged by Sam Francis, whom she’d met in Venice), the Austrian artist befriended Claes Oldenburg and Roy Lichtenstein, and visited Warhol’s Factory; her early stateside output—in painting, drawing, prints, and sculpture—admits Benday dots and spray paint, flattened forms and jazzed-up surfaces. Kogelnik, who died in 1997, is having a belated moment. She was recently

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  • View of “Goshka Macuga,” 2012. Foreground: Daybed for the Spirit of Polish Culture, 2012. Background: The Letter, 2012.

    Goshka Macuga

    Andrew Kreps Gallery

    If Poland—“God’s playground,” in historian Norman Davies’s pithy phrase—didn’t invent black comedy, it has surely produced some of the wryest examples of tragic-absurd performance throughout its fraught post–World War II period. Take Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958), one of Roman Polanski’s early films, in which two men emerge from the sea carrying a large wardrobe, only to be beaten with a dead cat by a group of local toughs, or Tadeusz Konwicki’s novel A Minor Apocalypse (1979), which follows the slapstick tribulations of a hungover middle-aged man who wanders the streets of Warsaw,

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  • Darren Waterston, Island, 2012, oil on wood panel, 16 x 20".

    Darren Waterston

    DC Moore Gallery

    Grand, visionary landscapes unfold across the seventeen oil paintings from 2012 in Darren Waterston’s exhibition at DC Moore, all of which appear on gessoed wood panels (with the exception of Edifice, which is on canvas) and vary in size from large to small. The exquisitely strange scenes are based on nature. Meticulously drawn pine trees proliferate throughout, forming a dark ring around the luminous center of City of Sun, growing from a spindly, desiccated trunk in City on the Edge, or looming above an outcrop of rock in Island.

    In the last of the works, a small, abstracted city sits beneath

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  • View of “Haroon Mirza,” 2012.

    Haroon Mirza

    New Museum

    For his first New York solo exhibition, curated by Gary Carrion-Murayari and Jenny Moore, British artist Haroon Mirza stocked the New Museum’s next-door storefront space with signal emitters. Studio speakers issue modemlike trills, junk-shop televisions flash syncopated bursts of white noise, and strips of LED lights intermittently douse the room in red, blue, or green. It is an installation that doubles as a concert, a pulsing electric fugue.

    Surprisingly, the installation also supplies an inadvertent comment on the legacy of Matisse, specifically the painter’s characterization of his art as “

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  • Alice Channer, MAR108, 2012, cast pigmented polyurethane resin, 29 1/2 x 9 3/4 x 7".

    Alice Channer

    Lisa Cooley

    In the annals of transformative buzzwords, “mass customization” seems particularly relevant to our moment. Coined in 1987, the term refers to the use of flexible, computerized manufacturing facilities to create products to order, enabling a firm to benefit from the efficiency and low cost of mass production while tailoring output to customers’ individual needs. The method is particularly well suited to the online marketplace: Measurements of your body—typed into, say, Levi’s online store—can be converted by adaptable machines at a distant factory into bespoke blue jeans that are then

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  • Katrín Sigurðardóttir, Dinning Room, Hallway, Bathroom, Coat Closet, 2012, Hydrocal, wood, 46 x 28 x 24".

    Katrín Sigurðardóttir

    11R

    Ellefu,” an exhibition by Katrín Sigurðardóttir, comprised three structures representing cross-sectioned portions of the artist’s childhood home at Langahlíð 11, Reykjavík, Iceland. Ellefu means “eleven” in Icelandic, and its consonance with the gallery’s name, Eleven Rivington, was entirely appropriate to the various keys of order and disorientation that the installation produced.

    The four-foot-tall structures are made of plaster poured into basswood frames, chalky white and adorned only with the natural lines of the wood. They resemble overgrown architectural maquettes, more ideal than real.

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  • Joel Meyerowitz, New York City, Times Square, 1963, gelatin silver print, 9 x 13 3/8".

    Joel Meyerowitz

    Howard Greenberg Gallery

    The first of a two-part survey of Joel Meyerowitz’s fifty-year career as a photographer, this exhibition presented nearly four dozen color and black-and-white prints of varying sizes. Today, Meyerowitz is known for large-format landscape images in often saturated, emotionally resonant colors, a vein of his work that had its spectacular debut with the 1977 exhibition of his “Cape Light” photographs at Witkin Gallery in New York; the book of that series is a milestone in the history of color art photography. By including no photographs shot later than 1976, this exhibition offered viewers a chance

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  • The First Amendment Network, Studio of the Streets, 1991–93, still from a cable access TV show on public television, Buffalo, NY. From “Tony Conrad: Urban Community Inventions,” 2012.

    Tony Conrad

    80WSE Gallery, NYU Steinhardt School

    Tony Conrad has made his way through the past half century of cultural shifts by puncturing paradigms to let out some of the hot air. While his major contributions to movements from minimal music to structural film to media studies are only growing in recognition, it was no surprise that this exhibition, organized by Michael Cohen along with the artist, forestalled nostalgic retrospection. Viewers were greeted with a window display ostensibly referencing New York University’s controversial expansion plan, with blinking caution barriers and a wheelbarrow of cement mix—signals of a work in

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