reviews

  • View of “Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective,” 2013, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Foreground, from left: Little D, 2011; Ordell, 2011–12;Venus, 2000.

    Ken Price

    The Drawing Center / Metropolitan Museum of Art

    AN ICONIC KEN PRICE SCULPTURE finds its way into a pool in his 1968 collage Floating Turtle Cup; sketched onto a found photograph of a naked woman wearing a tiara, it seems to be swimming by her, trailing in its wake a scribbled note: SEE IF TURTLE CUPS WILL FLOAT? SHOTS IN POOL—. A kindred ceramic vessel makes an appearance in the drawing Sea Turtle Cup from the following year, wherePrice’s experiment in animating his sculptures deepens: See if cups will become turtles? Oblivious to us, and to the enormous cup with handle protruding out of its shell, a turtle glides orthogonally by in a

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  • Martial Raysse, Made in Japan, 1963, photocollage, oil, and wood on canvas, 49 1/4 x 75 3/4".

    Martial Raysse

    Luxembourg & Dayan | New York

    Well remembered as one of the nine signers of the 1960 Nouveau Réalisme manifesto, Martial Raysse spent a good portion of the 1960s in New York City during the salad days of Pop art. His familiarity with the movement is echoed in A propos de New York en peinturama, 1965, a piece conflating painting and Super 8 projection. Such hybridity typifies the thirty-five early works by Raysse in this show, the first American overview of this somewhat neglected artist in forty years. Indeed, his signature works are hodgepodges, combining film, photography, collage, found objects, neon tubing, art-historical

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  • Philip Taaffe, Imaginary Landscape I, 2013, mixed media on canvas, 37 1/2 x 37 5/8".

    Philip Taaffe

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    I’ve liked Philip Taaffe’s work since I first saw it, in the early to mid-1980s, but I’ve also been puzzled by its reception—by its considerable success and reputation. That puzzle was pointed up for me this summer, when this show of thirteen works mostly from 2013, all but one mixed media on canvas or linen, ran a few blocks away from a simultaneous exhibition by the Pattern and Decoration (P&D) artist Robert Zakanitch, which I wrote on here last month. P&D emerged in the 1970s, won a good deal of attention, then largely fell from critical grace; just a few years later, Taaffe’s early

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  • View of “Francis Cape,” 2013.

    Francis Cape

    Murray Guy

    A bench is a minimal form. A plank supported by two legs (or in some instances by four), maybe braced with crosspieces, a bench is hard and narrow, typically backless, conducive to sitting upright. Comparatively easy to build and a leveler of hierarchy, such furniture takes on particular resonance when used, as it has been for centuries, in vowed communities, where the mundane facts of simplicity and nonluxuriousness plus the lack of precedence for seated members take on symbolic value. A bench is a social sculpture, and this is why it interests Francis Cape.

    Cape trained as a woodworker, and

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  • Eliot Porter, Monument Valley, Utah, 1940, gelatin silver print, 7 1/4 x 9 1/2".

    Eliot Porter

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 534 West 21st Street

    Eliot Porter was eleven years old when his parents gave him a box camera for Christmas. In the woods behind his house in Illinois, what most fascinated his boyhood imagination were weeds, wildflowers, insects, and birds. Starting then and for the rest of his life, he photographed bitterns, red-winged blackbirds, and marsh wrens, among other bird species. At twelve, Porter created moody pictures of majestic ospreys in Maine, dramatic studies in the mechanics of flight that capture the predatory fish hawk in muscular moments of taking off and landing. Finding the resulting images too muddy, however,

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  • Piotr Uklański, Pornalikes (detail), 2002–, one of 103 ink-jet prints on Sintra, overall 8' 1“ x 28' 2 3/8”.

    Piotr Uklański

    Karma

    Over the past decade, Piotr Uklański has amassed a vast archive of photographs of porn actors who strongly resemble famous contemporary personalities. These Pornalikes, 2002–, are readymades—taken from lowbrow “men’s magazines” such as Loaded and Hustler, and, more recently, websites and blogs. For his solo exhibition at Karma, Uklański assembled a colorful and densely hung pantheon from his vast archive of these images before the unblinking gaze of an enormous stuffed eyeball, whose trailing blood vessels and mucous membranes, crafted from hand-dyed fabrics, recall the ghost of 1970s

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  • Corey McCorkle, Monument, 2013, HD-video projection, color, sound, 5 minutes 36 seconds.

    Corey McCorkle

    Maccarone | 630 Greenwich Street

    “There’s a video of a blind horse named Zachary; it goes with the crevice piece.” Such was the entirety of the information provided by the attendant on my visit to Corey McCorkle’s recent exhibition at Maccarone; there was nothing in printed form bar a minimal checklist identifying the two works on display as, respectively, Monument and Crevice, both 2013. But while curt to the point of near absurdity, the official description was at least truthful. The darkened gallery was dominated by a five-and-a-half minute silent, color video of said horse, projected at cinematic scale on a freestanding

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  • Judith Schaechter, The Battle of Carnival and Lent, 2011–12, stained glass, 56 x 56 x 2".

    Judith Schaechter

    Claire Oliver

    Judith Schaechter’s The Battle of Carnival and Lent, 2011–12, was first installed at the historical Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia together with sixteen related works of stained glass. These glass pieces remained colorful and exciting here, yet a significant component of the works’ original meaning—a commentary on the nature of imprisonment in the early modern era—was lamentably lost in the gallery context.

    I’ve visited the Eastern State Penitentiary several times; it’s a rather gloomy Gothic fortress, intimidating from the outside, oppressive on the inside. In its heyday—it

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  • Jimmy DeSana, Bubblegum (Self-Portrait), 1985, C-print, 16 5/8 x 14 5/8".

    Jimmy DeSana

    Salon 94

    At once anonymous and familiar, the figures populating Jimmy DeSana’s performative photographs are stripped of identity, their faces either cropped out of the frame, turned away from the camera, or obscured by objects both commonplace (gauze, motorcycle helmets) and of a more exotic variety (leather s/m masks). A sense of alienation pervades these images. Yet in this loose survey, the first exhibition of DeSana’s work at Salon 94, the inclusion of his portraits of downtown habitués—ranging from such notables as Debbie Harry and William S. Burroughs to more obscure denizens of the scene—adds

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  • Faig Ahmed, Ledge, 2011, handmade wool carpet, 59 x 39 1/2".

    Faig Ahmed

    Leila Heller Gallery | New York

    Set along the Caspian Sea between Russia and Iran, present-day Azerbaijan is heir to a long and storied history. Scholars have speculated that the country’s southern forests are the site of the biblical Garden of Eden, while its oil-rich Absheron Peninsula fell victim to some of the Soviet Union’s most devastating acts of environmental destruction; in the intervening years, this easternmost Caucasus nation has been captured, conquered, and occupied by such formidable empires, kingdoms, and khanates as those of the Greeks, Parthians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Persians, Russians, and Soviets.

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  • Mac Adams, The Whisper (Diptych), 1976–77, diptych, gelatin silver prints, each 36 5/8 x 40 1/8".

    Mac Adams

    Elizabeth Dee Gallery

    To begin his essay published for Mac Adams’s exhibition this past summer, critic David Campany catalogues the many allusions to be found in the photographer’s work: “detective stories and news reportage, crime scenes and film noir, the Nouveau Roman and the photo-roman, movie publicity and film frames, snapshots and high art, advertising and the still life, voyeurism and exhibitionism, glamour and horror, sculpture and painting, literature and architecture.” That sounds about right. The eleven pieces that were in this show—all part of the “Mysteries” series, 1973–80—evince a deep,

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  • Meredith Danluck, Good News/Bad News, 2013, two-channel HD-video projection, color, sound, 13 minutes 3 seconds.

    Meredith Danluck

    Leslie Fritz

    In Good News/Bad News (all works 2013), a two-channel video by Meredith Danluck, fifteen actors answer a telephone. The first channel, projected on one wall, shows the performers reacting to good news, while the second channel, projected on an adjacent wall, shows them reacting to bad. In each iteration, the script is roughly the same: A phone rings, an actor answers it, says “Hello?” and “Yes? Yes! Yes!”—or “No! Oh, no, no, no”—then, “Thank you,” and hangs up. After that, another performer appears, and it all happens again.

    The scenes take place in an anonymous room. It is dully

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  • View of “Julio Grinblatt,” 2013.

    Julio Grinblatt

    Minus Space

    In Fluxus event scores, the interpretive freedom invited by a brief and sometimes enigmatic textual composition encourages unexpected outcomes in the work’s performance. For example, how does one execute George Brecht’s Word Event • Exit, 1961, which consists simply of those few units of language printed on a small white card? Julio Grinblatt, an Argentinean artist based in the US, is clearly inspired by both the economy and the indeterminacy of Fluxus instructional works. In his ongoing photographic series “Cielito Lindo,” 2005–, he invited professional color labs to participate in the creation

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  • View of “Barbara Bloom,” 2013.

    Barbara Bloom

    The Jewish Museum

    This past spring, Barbara Bloom reimagined the installation of five galleries at the Jewish Museum in New York, crafting a suave, literary exhibition that set objects from the institution’s holdings in dialogue with her own words and site-specific assemblages. No stranger to working with museum collections, Bloom is well known for her permanent intervention at Vienna’s Museum für Angewandte Kunst (MAK) from 1994, for which she placed the institution’s display of Thonet bentwood chairs behind a translucent wall, illuminating the objects from behind so they are visible only as shadows. At the

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