reviews

  • Josh Smith, Untitled, 2013, oil on canvas, 60 x 48".

    Josh Smith

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    My hobby: posting artworks on Instagram, sequencing the purity of the monochrome into that endless reshuffling of history that now defines contemporary life. Josh Smith’s two-part exhibition at Luhring Augustine’s galleries in Chelsea and Bushwick balanced a brushy group of monochrome canvases in Manhattan against an Edvard-Munch-goes-to-the-Bahamas grouping of palm-tree silhouettes (and a modest selection of oddball, endearing ceramics) in Brooklyn, requiring the viewer to travel physically as well as mentally. Smith has often mixed unexpected images within a single show—e.g., his 2011

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  • Robert Ryman, Untitled, 2010, oil on stretched-cotton canvas, 22 x 22".

    Robert Ryman

    Pace | 510 West 25th Street

    Since the beginning of his career, in the 1950s, Robert Ryman has pragmatically tested the means of painting, deploying a variety of supports and an equally catholic range of utensils and paints. He has applied pigment directly onto gallery architecture, moved canvas fasteners from the rear of a painting to the front, and installed his works so they project outward at right angles from the wall. In all of these experiments, Ryman checks action and consequence—which is to say, what one material will do to another: what force it exerts, what response it elicits, what value it suggests, and

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  • Walter Dahn, The Momento m., 1982, oil on canvas, 78 3/4 x 45 1/4".

    Walter Dahn

    Venus

    Walter Dahn is a founding member of Mülheimer Freiheit, aka the Junge Wilde, a group of young German artists who took their moniker from the Cologne street on which they once worked. The artists in question were part of a generation of talented painters whose work was seriously informed by the “capitalist realism” of Sigmar Polke and by the shamanism of Joseph Beuys. “We were . . . like a band. We went to every concert we could see. . . . It was a kind of mixture of an insane asylum, kindergarten, and art school,” says Dahn in an interview with Richard Prince that appears in the exhibition’s

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  • Edward Burtynsky, Glacial Runoff #1, Skeidararsandur, Iceland, 2012, C-print, 48 x 64". Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery.

    Edward Burtynsky

    Howard Greenberg Gallery/Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery

    Water is never only water. Absorbed, even vanishing into what collapses without it—forest, field, ecosystem—water can seem subordinate. The scope, scale, and deceptive, disturbing beauty of our fate are both visible and to be sought in the very large color photographs by Edward Burtynsky that were shown at Howard Greenberg Gallery and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery this past fall. Each offered a selection from “WATER,” a sweeping, five-year, ten-country project designed partly to show the impact of “human systems” on this natural resource, the various efforts to “harness it, shape it and

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  • Gene Davis, Yellow Jacket, 1969, acrylic on canvas, 8' 11 1/4“ x 18' 4”.

    Gene Davis

    Miles McEnery Gallery | 22nd Street

    Made between 1961 and 1985, the eight enormous acrylic-on-canvas paintings by Gene Davis in this show—all composed of vertical bands and stripes—testify to the artist’s devotion to color. “To understand what my painting is all about,” Davis once said, “look at my painting in terms of individual colors . . . select[ing] a specific color such as yellow or a lime green, and take the time to see how it operates across the painting.” When one looks at Yellow Jacket, 1969, one notices yellow used in a variety of ways: On the right, narrow vertical lines of yellows are tightly interspersed

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  • Amie Siegel, Provenance, 2013, HD-video projection, color, sound, 40 minutes 30 seconds.

    Amie Siegel

    Simon Preston

    Provenance, 2013, Amie Siegel’s new video and the linchpin of her recent exhibition in New York, focuses on furniture pieces designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret for their utopian building project in the northwestern Indian city of Chandigarh, tracking these sofas and stools as they travel from India to the high-end homes of collectors in Europe and the United States. The video progresses in a counterintuitive fashion. Rather than start with the furniture’s origin, Siegel begins with its destination, and then moves backward in time through each stage of the voyage. The work’s first

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  • View of “Aldo Tambellini,” 2013.

    Aldo Tambellini

    James Cohan Gallery | Chelsea

    Let’s get the usual encomiums out of the way: “pioneering,” “little known but influential,” “long overdue recognition.” The language accompanying the revival of interest in Aldo Tambellini is familiar enough, as are the rites. Since 2012, Tambellini’s work has screened at the Centre Pompidou, the Tate Modern, and the Museum of Modern Art; the Harvard Film Archive has assembled a collection of restored prints; and, most recently, the artist was the subject of this retrospective, “Aldo Tambellini: We Are the Primitives of a New Era,” curated by Joseph Ketner.

    Known for the swirling black vortexes

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  • Mark Strand, Madrid, 2013, paper collage, 4 5/8 x 6 5/8".

    Mark Strand

    Lori Bookstein Fine Art

    A onetime poet laureate exhibiting his collages? That sounds like another one of those slightly embarrassing crossover exercises on the order of Bob Dylan showing his paintings or philosophers moonlighting as curators. Mark Strand, however, is no Johnny-come-lately when it comes to pictorial culture; he studied with Josef Albers at Yale, where he earned a BFA in 1959. And the pieces in this exhibition—fifteen small abstract collages made between 2011 and 2013, each titled only with the name of the city where it was made, either New York or Madrid—could never have been the work of a

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  • Heather Cassils, Becoming an Image Performance Still No. 1, 2013, C-print, 22 x 30".

    Heather Cassils

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    In many contexts, soft is a derisive term. When describing character, it connotes wimpiness or gullibility; when describing physique, it suggests the flabbiness our fat-phobic culture finds utterly repellent. In 2011, Heather Cassils banished every trace of physical softness—without surgery or any kind of hormone treatment—by adhering to a grueling diet and workout regimen, gaining twenty-three pounds of muscle in as many weeks. For this solo show, Cassils used his body—now a paragon of hypertrophic hardness and butched-out sexiness—as both medium and prop.

    A display of twelve

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  • Paul Feeley, Vespasian, 1960, oil-based enamel on canvas, 95 x 67".

    Paul Feeley

    Garth Greenan Gallery

    Big, bold, and vibrant, Paul Feeley’s paintings are hard to miss. Rarely shown in the decades following his death in 1967, the artist’s sculptures and abstract canvases were given a major exhibition at Matthew Marks Gallery in 2002. Now we have this smaller show, featuring nine large paintings made between 1957 and 1962.

    Feeley’s style is distinctive. His forms hover on the cusp between biomorphic and severely geometric, consisting of a vocabulary of oblongs and rounded corners, simple shapes and curves informed by Moorish tile design and classical art. In the 1940s, Feeley broke with Abstract

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  • View of “David Adamo,” 2013.

    David Adamo

    Untitled

    Picking one’s way through Berlin-based sculptor David Adamo’s second solo exhibition at this gallery made one feel oddly like a goldfish in a domestic aquarium. Scattered across the floor—and oriented according to the directions they would face in nature—were a number of variously shaped but generally amorphous and sandy-colored waist-high peaks and accretions with the pitted, spongy look of undersea coral. Negotiating these clumps, which are actually cast from clay models in a synthetic plaster called Zellan, the viewer might almost have expected to encounter a tiny model shipwreck

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  • David Gilbert, Yarnia, 2013, ink-jet print, 50 x 33".

    David Gilbert

    Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery

    David Gilbert is inspired by Brancusi, an artist who saw his studio as a dynamic place—a place with “nothing fixed, nothing rigid”—and who often photographed his sculptures there. Gilbert’s studio is also a vital site, but the studio is all there is. Gilbert takes the things that litter it and arranges them into tableaux that exist only in and for his photographs. Aside from the paintings and drawings that variously appear in these images, the materials that populate Gilbert’s photos are generally domestic: a lot of yarn and string, rolls of tape, screws, hooks, a bucket, and fabric.

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  • View of “Jacolby Satterwhite,” 2013.

    Jacolby Satterwhite

    Recess Activities, Inc.

    Many times when we say collaboration, we actually mean task-based audience participation, or even, simply, appropriation. Think, for example, of how “collaborative” processes such as workshopping and inviting audience contributions often result in a single-authored artwork—the artist has annexed others’ efforts as his own. Jacolby Satterwhite literally dances amid these semantic distinctions, producing a body of work that mines the slippery word for all it’s worth. To create his fantastical videos, the artist makes CGI renderings of speculative consumer products drawn by his mother, and

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