reviews

  • Monika Sosnowska, Tower, 2014, steel, paint, 10' 9“ × 105' 7” × 21' 9".

    Monika Sosnowska

    Hauser & Wirth | West 18th Street

    Just as all fundamentally utopian propositions, whether social, political, or aesthetic, are necessarily bound to fall short of their goals, so do their remnants almost axiomatically become fodder for artistic critique and repurposing. The legacy of echt-modernist architecture and planning, for example—a creed of formal sobriety in the service of rationalized material (and social) technologies that was uniquely influential on the condition of the twentieth-century urban fabric—has long provided raw material for any number of theoretical and artifactual recapitulations. The recent

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  • Rene Ricard, Enlightenment, 2010, acrylic and marker on canvas, 27 × 20".

    Rene Ricard

    Half Gallery @ 16 Morton Street

    This past February, Rene Ricard, the hard-living art-world personality, died at the age of sixty-seven. He was too many things to pigeonhole solely as a poet, though the poems in Rene Ricard, 1979–1980, a slim volume of confessional free verse bound in glossy turquoise like a Tiffany catalogue, leave little doubt as to what his true vocation was.

    Flying the colors of the maudit adolescent aesthete (Arthur Rimbaud meets Raymond Radiguet), the Boston-born Ricard arrived in New York City in 1964 and was quickly absorbed into the world of Warhol’s Silver Factory, where—unsurprisingly—he

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  • Karel Appel, Between Mud and Heaven, 1962, oil on canvas, 51 1/4 × 63 3/4".

    Karel Appel

    Blum & Poe | New York

    Karel Appel (1921–2006) was a key member of Cobra, an artist collective that banded together after World War II to survey not only the war’s destruction but also the possibilities of creation: Perhaps more than anything, it sought to bring “outside” energies to the project of Continental reconstruction. The group’s name was a chimera pieced together from the first letters of the artists’ home cities—Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam—and there is no doubt that the moniker was meant as a venomous threat to Paris, which at the time was still the (teetering) capital of modern art. To a

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  • Dan Graham, Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout, 2014, steel, two-way mirrored glass, ivy. Installation view.

    Dan Graham

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Dan Graham is famously wide-ranging, working in film, performance, print, photography, and more, but his best-known pieces remain the pavilions that he began to develop in the late 1970s, steel-and-glass structures that shift in the viewer’s mind between sculpture to be looked at and architecture to be entered and moved through. These works are usually designed for specific places, and this year, working with the Swiss landscape architect Günther Vogt, Graham made one for the roof of the Met. Having hosted memorable shows—Doug and Mike Starn and Jeff Koons come to mind—this high outdoor

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  • Helene Appel, Beinscheibe (Hind Shin Cross Cut), 2014, encaustic and oil on linen, 6 3/4 × 6".

    Helene Appel

    James Cohan Gallery | Chelsea

    Absorbed by the careful rendering of everyday objects and materials, German artist Helene Appel transforms the surfaces of her variously sized canvases into trays or tabletops, across which generally unremarkable things appear to have been scattered or spilled. In this, her US solo debut, Appel presented entries from three new groups of work—devoted to fabric, meat, and plastic, respectively—alongside other, closely related pieces. In each case, the painter’s handling is delicate and detailed, but never so rigorously illusionistic that the structure of the support is forgotten. Appel’s

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  • Tomma Abts, Oke, 2013, acrylic and oil on canvas, 18 7/8 × 15".

    Tomma Abts

    David Zwirner | 525 & 533 West 19th Street

    At once volatile and precise, Tomma Abts’s work keeps shifting beneath your feet. Echoing a wide range of precursors—from high Constructivism (Alexander Archipenko and Henryk Stażewski), to geometric abstraction’s flashier midcentury incarnations (Richard Anuszkiewicz, Victor Vasarely), to the eager swallowing-up of both by the “rad,” spray-paint-besmirched graphic design of the 1980s—the London-based artist’s neat, sharp, labor-intensive paintings unite a shallow if convincing illusory depth with a neurotic meticulousness to erect optical labyrinths that both tantalize and deceive.

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  • Knud Lonberg-Holm, Illustrated Production Cycle, 1937, printed matter, 10 7/8 × 8 1/2".

    Knud Lonberg-Holm

    Ubu Gallery

    Like anything, the appeal of high modernism ebbs and flows. This presentation of architect Knud Lonberg-Holm’s work, assembled from an archive of photographs, drawings, letters, and other materials compiled by the late historian Marc Dessauce, suggests that in our precarious, decentralized moment, its allure is on the upswing.

    Lonberg-Holm—who, until Dessauce’s heroic scholarly efforts, had largely been forgotten—was born in 1895. In 1923, after working for several years with the Berlin Bauhaus in Germany and De Stijl in his native Denmark, he settled in New York, where he quickly

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  • Hito Steyerl, HOW NOT TO BE SEEN A Fucking Didactic Educational .Mov File, 2013, HD video, color, sound, 14 minutes.

    Hito Steyerl

    Andrew Kreps Gallery

    With large-scale solo exhibitions slated for the spring and fall of 2015—at Artists Space in New York and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, respectively—along with the recent conclusion of shows at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, Hito Steyerl has had a lot on her plate. It makes sense, then, that on this occasion, the Berlin-based filmmaker, theorist, and critic would choose to present work from her archives, taking a moment amid midcareer pressures to be a little redundant. “How Not to Be Seen:

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  • Charles Gaines, Regression: Drawing #4, Group #2, 1973–74, mechanical pen on paper, 24 3/4 × 30 3/4". From the series “Regression,” 1973–74.

    Charles Gaines

    The Studio Museum in Harlem

    As became evident in “Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974–1989,” a dense yet elegantly presented exhibition curated by Naima J. Keith, the artist’s early works employ rules to systematically manipulate forms in such a way that the underlying systems cannot be inferred from their appearance. Suggesting the influence of both John Cage and Sol LeWitt, the series “Regression,” 1973–74, for example, features permutations of a roughly triangular abstract form that have been marked out in numbered squares on gridded paper; mathematically derived from an unidentified “specific formula,” the shape morphs from

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  • Judy Chicago, Rainbow Pickett, 1965/2004, latex paint on canvas-covered plywood, 10' 6“ × 10' 6” × 9' 10".

    Judy Chicago

    Brooklyn Museum

    There we were, a contemporary Bruegel tableau in Prospect Park, waiting for Judy Chicago’s A Butterfly for Brooklyn fireworks display to begin: We had shimmied up trees for a better view or were madly waving glow sticks as if light begot light. The park at the end of April was already an explosion of pink, and when Butterfly spluttered into action in all its kitschy splendor, and the fuchsia smoke from the flares on the ground that outlined the giant wings started drifting over us and through the cherry blossoms, it was a transporting spectacle. Then the sky cleared into night, and our painting

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  • GCC, Inaugural Summit, Morschach 2013 3, C-print, 46 3/4 × 33 1/8".

    GCC

    MoMA PS1

    It seems like a joke, doesn’t it, for GCC to claim that it was founded in the VIP lounge of Art Dubai 2013? That nine young artists with roots in the Middle East formed a partnership while sporting art-fair badges? The scene comes off as satire, a wry comment on high culture’s role in rebranding the emirates as teetotaling Xanadus. Certainly in New York, where GCC made its US debut with the exhibition “Achievements in Retrospective,” there’s precedent for concocted origin stories (e.g., the Bruce High Quality Foundation notoriously backdates its beginnings to 9/11). Yet the facts check out. Art

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  • Caio Reisewitz, Casa Canoas, 2013, C-print on Diasec, 70 7/8 × 99 1/4".

    Caio Reisewitz

    International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)

    The works in this survey of Caio Reisewitz’s photography, organized by Christopher Phillips, could be grouped into three categories: those that focused on the Brazil-based artist’s native country, on what he calls its “places of power”; those that focused on that nation’s rain forests, which have their own peculiar power; and those that focused on China, where he attends to people more than to places. In Brazil, Reisewitz sets up a contrast between old and venerable places of power, as in Ataide, 2008, which portrays the Saint Francis of Assisi church in the city of Ouro Preto, and new, sleekly

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  • View of “Marni Kotak,” 2014.

    Marni Kotak

    Microscope Gallery

    This summer, Microscope Gallery presented Mad Meds, 2014, a work by Marni Kotak, who is perhaps best known for her infamous 2011 piece The Birth of Baby X, in which she gave birth to her son in this very same gallery before a live audience. As she did for that earlier work, Kotak here exposed the public to something that usually takes place in private, in this case the process of weaning herself from postpartum-depression medications—a strong cocktail of antidepressants, antipsychotics, and antianxiety drugs. During the run of the exhibition, Kotak made herself readily available to those

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