reviews

  • View of “Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1948–1988,” 2014. Works from the series “Bichos” (Beasts), 1960–66. Photo: Thomas Griesel.

    Lygia Clark

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    WHEN ONE OF YOUR HANDS touches the other, something peculiar happens: You become aware of the strange ambivalence that makes your body different from all other things. Your hand is an object in the world, but it is also something you experience from within. And the hand you touch is also both an object and a feeling, sensing part of your embodied self. The touched thing is also touching. This ambiguity of corporeal life—of the active/passive, inside/outside, subject/object—is what phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty spent his life trying to elucidate, and in the late 1950s, Brazilian

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  • View of “Bloodflames Revisited,” 2014.

    “Bloodflames Revisited”

    Kasmin Gallery | 515 27th Street

    “Bloodflames Revisited” commemorated the swan song of late Surrealism in exile. Despite much that was praiseworthy in the show, its major failing was that the work of its twenty-five artists—complexly installed in the two Kasmin venues—ignored the mad swish and sheer bliss of the original event. What intrigued, after all, was the promised revival of a feckless gay sensibility of theatricalized femininity, worlds away from gay pride, ACT UP, and queer theory.

    The first “Bloodflames” was organized in 1947 by the young Alexander Iolas, a well-heeled balletomane (and former dancer) of Greek

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  • Tom Friedman, Blue Styrofoam Seascape, 2014, paint, Styrofoam, 45 3/8 × 63 1/2".

    Tom Friedman

    Luhring Augustine | Bushwick

    Tom Friedman tells a story about hitting a creative dry patch back in grad school: Feeling stuck and out of ideas, he decided to completely empty his studio, wall off the windows, and paint the room totally white, from floor to ceiling. This evacuation complete, he began bringing objects and materials into the space, one at a time, to focus on a kind of Cagean project of close, sustained attention to the material conditions of individual artifacts and substances.

    Across his twenty-five-year career, Friedman has steadily filled up the epiphanic physical and theoretical space he cleared out for

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  • Duane Michals, Empty New York, ca. 1964, gelatin silver print, 5 1/4 × 7 1/8".

    Duane Michals

    DC Moore Gallery

    Around 1964, Duane Michals had the habit of leaving home in the early morning to take photographs in New York. Michals was already beginning a celebrated career, both in the glossies and in galleries and museums, where his contributions to photographic discourse would come to include the staging of pictures to be viewed in short narrative sequences, fictive and symbolic, and the addition of text, usually in an apparently handwritten or hand-printed script, to guide our reading of them. The New York photos of around 1964, though, remain relatively unknown, and, in fact, this exhibition marked

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  • View of “Mark Leckey,” 2014.

    Mark Leckey

    Gavin Brown's enterprise | 620 Greenwich Street

    The white cube. The black box. The green screen. Mark Leckey’s “A Month of Making” heralded the latest of these color-coded exhibition conventions. First the modern museum delimited the contemplation of painting and sculpture to supposedly neutral, blank-slate conditions; then it folded the filmic apparatus into darkened, immersive environments; now it furnishes backdrops for rehearsal and other modes of cultural labor once sequestered from public view. At Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, a green screen and a blue screen stood side by side, populated by assorted objects, such as a plaster cast of

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  • Billy Al Bengston, Gold Hill Dracula, 1969, oil on canvas, 14 × 14".

    Billy Al Bengston

    Franklin Parrasch Gallery

    “We’d surf, play Ping-Pong and work, smoke and drink black coffee. That’s it. That was what we did for three or four years. That’s all we could afford to do,” Billy Al Bengston recently said, recounting his time sharing a studio with fellow painter and ceramicist Ken Price in the early 1960s. I don’t surf, but those close to me who do have often noted the degree to which it’s a transfixing waiting game in which natural rhythms take over any sense of structured temporality, and doing the same thing over and over again is never the same thing. And so it’s a smart conceit that this small exhibition

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  • Garry Winogrand, New York, ca. 1963, gelatin silver print, 9 × 13 3/8".

    Garry Winogrand

    Pace/MacGill Gallery

    This incisive exhibition at Pace/MacGill—which opened simultaneously alongside the installation of a major traveling retrospective of Garry Winogrand’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York—focuses on six of the Bronx-born photographer’s core subjects: Texas, Central Park, zoos, women, public relations, and the streets of New York. Together, the photographs exemplify Winogrand’s keen yet skeptical eye as he dealt with American culture at the height of its pre–Vietnam War prosperity and self-confidence.

    On the basis of these thirty-six works, one could class Winogrand as an

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  • Lucas Ajemian, Laundered Painting (20x16) I, 2014, painting on linen, 20 × 16". From the series “Laundered Paintings,” 2010–.

    Lucas Ajemian

    Marlborough | Broome Street

    Historically, aleatory procedures have yielded artworks that flaunt the removal of subjectivity, or at least posit as significant the marginalization of intention. Lucas Ajemian’s “Laundered Paintings,” 2010–, shown in bulk for the first time at Marlborough Broome Street, by contrast—and rather paradoxically, given the importance he grants to process—resupply the authorial presence that is undermined when composition cedes to chance. Further, the works insist on the social ground on which the making transpires.

    To create the series, Ajemian first obtained paintings made by his artist

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  • Florian Maier-Aichen, Halbes Bild (Half a Picture), 2014, gelatin silver print, 61 × 49 1/4".

    Florian Maier-Aichen

    303 Gallery

    In the most recent phase of his ongoing exploration of the photographic medium, Florian Maier-Aichen travels simultaneously forward and backward in time, filtering the conventions of Romantic landscape painting through contemporary image-processing technology, and pursuing abstraction via physical and optical methods associated with both pre- and post-darkroom techniques and aesthetics. In his fourth solo appearance at this gallery, the German artist continued to apply his mix-and-match approach, presenting a spare installation of large prints, all, bar one, in lush, sometimes eccentric color.

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  • View of “Supports/Surfaces,” 2014. From left: Daniel Dezeuze, Echelle de bois souple (Flexible Wood Ladder), 1974; Marc Devade, Untitled, 1967; Marc Devade, Untitled, 1967; Louis Cane, Toile découpée (Cut-Out Canvas), 1970. Floor: Patrick Saytour, Untitled, 1974.

    “Supports/Surfaces”

    CANADA

    “Is Supports/Surfaces a group or a movement?” asks Rachel Stella in the catalogue to this exhibition. “The boundaries remain indefinite,” responds Bernard Ceysson, whose French gallery copublished the volume with Canada, but the core was a “theoretical debate, which took place among a number of artists over a period of time in various manifestations.” The artists were French—mostly from le Midi rather than Paris—and the time was the late 1960s through the ’70s; the manifestations included not only exhibitions but also publications, including the journal Peinture: Cahiers Théoriques,

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  • View of “Polly Apfelbaum,” 2014.

    Polly Apfelbaum

    Clifton Benevento

    Over the past twenty years, Polly Apfelbaum has employed wool, cotton, and various other kinds of textiles in her works, but there’s one fabric in particular she returns to again and again: synthetic velvet. This material, with its iridescent sheen and simulated old-world opulence, wends through the majority of her floor-based output, her so-called fallen paintings—from The Dwarves Without Snow White, 1992, for which she presented dye-blotted sections of synthetic velvet on cardboard boxes; to Bones,2000, where she rolled vast, hand-stained bolts of the cloth; to Funkytown, 2005/2009, in

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  • Matthew Palladino, The Accident, 2014, acrylic and plaster on panel, 63 1/2 × 51 1/2".

    Matthew Palladino

    Garth Greenan Gallery

    Computer “graphical interfaces” have a cultural significance that is impossible to overstate. The window, the toolbar, the drop-down menu, the scroll bar: These ubiquitous mechanisms mediate our interactions with the digital—which is to say, an outsize portion of our work and play. (As others have noted, what Leo Steinberg called the flatbed picture plane—artwork as matrix of information, receptacle of data, vector in transmission—anticipated the computer desktop’s mode of address.) For his first solo show in New York, San Francisco–based artist Matthew Palladino presented eight

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  • Alain Biltereyst, Untitled, 2014, acrylic on plywood, 10 1/4 × 7 1/2".

    Alain Biltereyst

    Jack Hanley Gallery

    Alain Biltereyst’s solo show this past spring was called “Geo Land,” as if inviting us into a realm of pure shape and color, a utopia of abstraction along the lines of what the Bauhauslers might have imagined. The exhibition, the Brussels-based artist’s first in New York, comprised twenty-seven small vertical paintings on wood, each more or less the size of a hardcover book, hung in single file along the gallery walls. Across the works, the basic building blocks of line and shape, in bright colors and snappy blacks, are deployed in a variety of ways: We find a stack of thick diagonal black

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