reviews

  • Alberto Burri, Nero Celotex (Black Celotex), 1986–87, acrylic and Vinavil on Celotex, 50 x 98".

    Alberto Burri

    Luxembourg & Dayan | New York

    Shown in this bijou Upper East Side town-house gallery, a group of ten paintings titled Nero Celotex (Black Celotex), 1986–87, by Alberto Burri (1915–1995) bring to mind contrasting works by Dieter Roth (1930–1998) and his son Björn in a concurrent exhibition at Hauser & Wirth’s dauntingly mammoth new outpost in Chelsea. Both Burri and Roth the elder, in some measure overlooked in the United States, are in their own countries—Italy and Switzerland, respectively—regarded as iconic figures. I briefly couple these exhibitions because they curiously illustrate reverse patterns of development.

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  • View of “Doug Aitken,” 2013. From left: Sunset (black), 2013; Sonic Fountain, 2013; 100 YRS, 2013.

    Doug Aitken

    303 Gallery

    Imagine that you are wandering through an old warehouse. It’s near the river in an ex-industrial zone; it might have been a taxi garage once. What’s that dripping sound? Why is it so musical? A hole has been gouged in the concrete floor. It is filled with milky water and has apparently been miked; a rig of pipes and spigots in the rafters is releasing timed drops into the pool. Amplified, they reverberate as if struck on a postapocalyptic xylophone. Concentric ripples shiver on the surface of the toxic-looking puddle and throw reflections onto the black ceiling, a synesthetic extension of the

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  • View of “Mary Beth Edelson,” 2013. Foreground: Fire Altar, 1973. Background, from left: Passage Series: Two Clouds, 1972–73; Passage Series: Dawning, 1972–73; Passage Series: Night Passage, 1972–73.

    Mary Beth Edelson

    The Suzanne Geiss Company

    “We are only lightly covered with buttoned cloth; and beneath these pavements are shells, bones and silence,” Virginia Woolf writes in The Waves, 1931, her famously elusive novel in which multiple narrative voices intertwine to form a collective consciousness. It’s an apt description of Mary Beth Edelson’s exploration of the collective unconscious in the terrific “22 Others, 1973”: What do we make of images that keep coming to us, and how do we make ourselves continue to see new things, even forty years on?

    “22 Others, 1973” re-presents most of the art from a 1973 show held at the Washington,

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  • View of “Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light,” 2013. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar.

    Henri Labrouste

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY FRENCH ARCHITECT Henri Labrouste is best known today for designing places of learning: libraries of unsurpassed beauty, clarity, and drama, structured by a tense but serene rationality. Indeed, to prepare himself for the task, he staged a “revolution on a few elephant folio sheets of paper,” as his compatriot Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc described the heterodox reimaginings of ancient structures Labrouste produced while still a student at the École des Beaux-Arts. But if Viollet-le-Duc tested the limits of architecture as a textural practice with his famous ten-volume

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  • Tacita Dean, Fatigues, 2012, chalk on blackboard, 7' 6“ x 18' 3”. From the series “Fatigues,” 2012.

    Tacita Dean

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    Though best known as a filmmaker, Tacita Dean works in a variety of media, including chalk drawings executed on blackboards at large scale. Last year, after a ten-year pause in making such drawings, Dean decided to produce a suite of them as her contribution to the Documenta 13 exhibition in Kassel, where they were installed not in the show’s main exhibition halls but in an off-site space, a onetime bank building appropriated by the Documenta team for the occasion. These were the works Dean brought to New York for her recent show: six drawings of the mountains of the Hindu Kush, the storied

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  • Jean-Michel Basquiat, With Strings Two, 1983, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 96 x 60".

    Jean-Michel Basquiat

    Gagosian Gallery

    I’ve never seen a commercial gallery show as well attended as this exhibition of nearly sixty works by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The artist was once a divisive figure, but no more: The crowds who poured in to see his work didn’t imagine they were coming to see something controversial. They were coming to see the work of a legend, a man whose life has been endowed by the press and cinema with all the tragic glamour of a James Dean or Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Cobain. But they also saw art that has turned out to have far more staying power than many would have once predicted.

    The show presented the full

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  • Darren Almond, Fullmoon South Pacific, 2012, C-print face mounted on Perspex, 55 1/8 x 119 3/4". From the series “Fullmoon,” 2000–.

    Darren Almond

    Matthew Marks Gallery

    For nearly two decades, British artist Darren Almond has demonstrated a fascination with the particular ways in which we chart and divide up time. Some of his earliest and best-known pieces involve retro-style flip clocks, including one the size of a cargo container. He has made films and photographs about trains, which are governed by precisely calibrated timetables, as well as about mines, which operate in unchanging shifts. The sixteen large-scale landscape photographs in this exhibition seem to exist outside the choreographed nature of much of Almond’s other work. The pictures are part of

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  • Anthony McCall, Face to Face, 2013, two projectors, two haze machines, two double-sided projection screens, dimensions variable.

    Anthony McCall

    Sean Kelly Gallery

    Appropriately enough, given the beautiful paradox of “solid light” with which he refers to them, Anthony McCall’s projections are often described as simultaneously embodying film, sculpture, and drawing. But McCall’s recent show “Face to Face,” which combined a physical intervention into the gallery space with his latest solid-light piece, suggested another medium—architecture—as equally fundamental to his practice.

    The exhibition’s titular 2013 work, installed in the gallery’s main space, is the first that McCall has projected onto freestanding screens, rather than directly onto a

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  • Sergei Tcherepnin, Motor-Matter Bench, 2013, wood subway bench, transducers, amplifier, HD media player, 2' 4 1/2“ x 10' 6 1/2” x 1' 8 1/2".

    Sergei Tcherepnin

    Murray Guy

    In his exhibition “Ear Tone Box,” a seven-minute video showed Sergei Tcherepnin idling beneath a crumbling aqueduct at the edge of a sparsely populated plaza in Rio de Janeiro. Dressed in ripped fishnets and a blue cocktail dress, barefoot and sporting an orange bandanna, he appeared to be a lost extra straying from the set of a Pasolini film, or, given his lanky frame, Francis Alÿs in drag. He crouched and paced, occasionally catching a wary glance from a passerby while leaning against the aqueduct’s arches. It all seemed so out of place—not Tcherepnin in his louche getup, but the video

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  • View of “Gianni Colombo,” 2013.

    Gianni Colombo

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    A furtive press on one of the metal levers at the bottom of Gianni Colombo’s Superficie in Variazione (Surface in Variation), 1959, would have rewarded you with an uncanny displacement of your touch: a dimple appearing on a shaggy white surface in tandem with the pressure of your finger. In a contemporary culture awash with exhortations to participate, such a simple interactive device could easily be regarded as a technocratic instrumentalization of the viewer. But leavened by Colombo’s characteristic playfulness, the work’s strange dissociation of the visual and tactile is also acutely visceral.

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  • Dana Hoey, Bodies in Space, 2011, ink-jet print, 30 x 45".

    Dana Hoey

    Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

    The title and content of Dana Hoey’s latest series of photographs riffs on classic works of French feminist theory—Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949) and Luce Irigaray’s This Sex Which Is Not One (1977)—while ushering in a contemporary take on representations of women’s rights and “femininity.” Named “The Phantom Sex,” 2010–13, the series portrays the female form in traces, all phantasmagoric: a “death mask” of actress Sean Young; a concrete cast of the artist’s face that resembles an antique statue; and a silicone cast of a friend’s torso, white and opaque like a (bizarre)

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  • Philip Pearlstein, Two Models with Peruvian Medicine Man, 2011, oil on canvas, 60 x 48".

    Philip Pearlstein

    Betty Cuningham Gallery

    Philip Pearlstein regards the body as a “territory for abstraction”—so writes Desirée Alvarez, an artist and a longtime model for the artist’s painting. This is a counterintuitive approach to figuration, Alvarez explains, because we always experience our bodies as “visceral,” and are therefore drawn to representations of it that are also visceral. Pearlstein’s language of abstraction is thus a challenge. Indeed, the bodies he paints lack any organic quality. There’s no “lushness,” no sense of flourishing flesh. The skin looks thin and dried. And his nudes are often irksomely positioned—their

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  • John Lehr, Window Drawing, 2013, pigmented ink-jet print, 34 x 46 1/2".

    John Lehr

    Kate Werble Gallery

    The nine color photographs in John Lehr’s recent exhibition “Low Relief” look like luscious but simple shots of chanced-upon urban surfaces—walls, doors, windows, grates—enriched by incidental wear and tear. And in terms of primary source, that’s exactly what they are. But Lehr has manipulated each close-up image physically and digitally, tinkering with both the subject on-site and its record in the studio to achieve a seamless hybrid of representation and abstraction. Concentrating on the subtle enhancement of existing characteristics, the Brooklyn-based artist variously heightens or

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  • Suzanne Treister, King of Pentacles—Economic Cybernetics (tarot), 2009–11, giclée print with watercolor on paper, 11 3/4 x 8 1/4".

    Suzanne Treister

    P.P.O.W

    The links between Ken Kesey, William Gibson, and Robert Oppenheimer are not immediately apparent; perhaps it is easier to understand the connections among Theodore Kaczynski, the Whole Earth Catalog, and Diogenes of Sinope—or maybe not. In Suzanne Treister’s “HEXEN 2.0,” her second solo show at this gallery, each of these is part of a network of thought and threat, of counterculture, conspiracy, and control.

    Treister represents such figures and ideas as tarot cards, each one a small, framed giclée print with watercolor additions. Arrayed in a long row around the gallery, the seventy-eight

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  • Steffani Jemison, Maniac Chase, 2008–2009, digital video, color, sound, continuous loop. From “Fore,” 2012–13.

    “Fore”

    The Studio Museum in Harlem

    Intermittently over the past twelve years, the Studio Museum in Harlem has given over its galleries to large group exhibitions that survey the practices of young black artists in the United States. The first, “Freestyle” (2001), is remembered today for its coinage of the then-provocative term post-black, a descriptor proposed by the show’s curator, Thelma Golden, to encompass the heterogeneous sensibilities of African American artists of the post-civil-rights generation. That show was followed in 2005–2006 by “Frequency,” and then by “Flow,” in 2008. The latest installment, “Fore,” organized by

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