reviews

  • View of “Mel Bochner: Strong Language,” 2014. From left: Blah, Blah, Blah, 2008; Silence!, 2011; Voiceover, 2006/2012; No, 2007.

    Mel Bochner

    The Jewish Museum

    CONCISELY, SUCCINCTLY, PITHILY, “Mel Bochner: Strong Language” opened with two works, both titled Self/Portrait—the first, from 1966, ink on graph paper; the second, from 2013, oil on canvas. In each, the words SELF and PORTRAIT sat atop parallel columns of synonyms, with EGO beside PORTRAYAL, ONESELF beside HEAD, and so on, a sequence that yielded nonsensical yet evocative phrases such as ONENESS DELINEATION and SPIRIT MIRROR. The painting’s proportions were somewhat longer and its word lists a tad shorter, but the works’ correspondence was unmistakable, as was the curatorial conceit. “

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  • Stephen Shore, Isaak Bakmayev’s Medals, Berdichev, Ukraine, July 29, 2012, C-print, 16 × 20".

    Stephen Shore

    303 Gallery

    With William Eggleston, Joel Sternfeld, and others, Stephen Shore was one of those who established color photography as an important aesthetic medium in the 1970s. (Before then, in sympathy with a famous dictum of Walker Evans’s—“Color photography is vulgar”—serious photographers had worked mainly in black-and-white.) Beyond the applause he won for this formal shift, Shore is equally acclaimed as a documenter of the American scene. Although he has occasionally worked abroad, he took his best-known photos in the United States, many of them on cross-country drives; he relishes motel

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  • James Bishop, Avant le jour (Before the Day), 1986, oil on canvas, 66 1/2 × 67 3/4".

    James Bishop

    David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

    This thoughtfully selected, beautifully installed show of James Bishop’s work—his first solo exhibition in New York since 1987—opened with four small paintings, all from 2012, of the sort to which the eighty-seven-year-old artist has devoted himself exclusively since 1986: compositions in oil and crayon on modest paper supports, in this case, surfaces in the vicinity of five by four and a half inches. Three rework the same basic form, a post-and-lintel structure reduced to pale, gleaming lines within a deep-blue field. As is true within many of the bodies of work produced by the artist,

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  • Andy Coolquitt, kandy, 2014, lighter parts, glass dish, 11 1/2 × 11 1/2".

    Andy Coolquitt

    Lisa Cooley

    An extended investigation into the character and qualities of things-in-the-world, Andy Coolquitt’s practice situates objects in compelling, provocative reciprocity with the viewer. Coolquitt is at base a committed devotee of stuff—what its most acute modern theorizer, Martin Heidegger, referred to as Zeug, a slippery word that sometimes ends up being rendered as “equipment”—and the Austin-based artist’s unusual skills as a bricoleur stem from his willingness to follow various materials where they lead, even as he continually imagines some other form of presence into which they might

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  • View of “Walead Beshty,” 2014.

    Walead Beshty

    Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

    For his first solo exhibition at his new New York gallery, Walead Beshty brought back-of-the-house operations to the front, revealing the otherwise invisible systems of exchange that underpin Petzel’s brisk business. By enlisting the gallery’s staff in the production of his show’s finished sculptures, Beshty, in “Performances Under Working Conditions,” focalized the aesthetic economy that surrounded its making. The exhibition borrowed its title from a 1973 work—part video, part photo-novel—by photographer-historian Allan Sekula, in which the artist and two performers banter away while

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  • Heather Guertin, We Are All One, 2014, oil on canvas, 68 × 48".

    Heather Guertin

    Brennan & Griffin

    With “Development,” her second solo show (following in quick succession from her first, held this past January in Brooklyn), Heather Guertin confronted viewers with ten largish paintings packed into a fairly small space. The paintings are each quite specific in palette and touch, yet, united in format, they work together like a gang. In the gallery’s entryway, a lonely monitor, discreetly placed to the side, presented a story by the artist, an excerpt from a book in progress called Not Yet Titled, Cambodia (all works 2014), also published as a preface to the show’s catalogue. “In Cambodia we

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  • Xanti Schawinsky, The Aviator (Faces of War), 1942, watercolor and pen on paper, 28 7/8 × 21". From the series “Faces of War,” 1942. © The Xanti Schawinsky Estate.

    Xanti Schawinsky

    Drawing Center

    Xanti Schawinsky, a Swiss-born Polish Jew, studied at the Bauhaus under that oft-recited pantheon of modern masters—Walter Gropius, László Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlemmer—and took a bit from each. Already trained in architecture before arriving in Weimar, Schawinsky worked in everything over the course of his long career, from theater and music to photography, painting, and graphic design. This great variety, not only in form but also in style—he moved easily from photograms to de Chirico–esque dreamscapes to painterly abstraction—has made Schawinsky difficult to place in standard

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  • Gabriel Orozco, Satellite View of North America, 2014, oil-jet painting, 15 × 9 × 4 1/2".

    Gabriel Orozco

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    Coming to Gabriel Orozco’s work a generation late, I find it difficult to imagine the impact it had when it was first presented to New Yorkers in the form of the legendary installation Yogurt Caps at Marian Goodman Gallery in 1994. The aggressive simplicity of that ultra-unassuming piece—it consisted of only four clear Dannon lids, one tacked to each of the walls of an otherwise empty room—was seen as deeply audacious, if not an affront. It was also, by most accounts, amazing, at once capturing and crystallizing a wide and diverse range of sensibilities then floating in the air in a

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  • Kate Shepherd, womantorse daz3d2 Draw-On-1.lrfr(three scenes), 2014, triptych, oil and enamel on panel, overall 6' × 11' 2".

    Kate Shepherd

    Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

    The surfaces of Kate Shepherd’s paintings in “Fwd: The Telephone Game” are glossy, rich, and warm, even when the colors are cool. Made on large wood panels, the works feature compositions of thin white lines in oil applied to unmodulated fields of enamel. These lines appear chaotic at first—they form jagged angles, jointed curves, and sprays like fallen pins—but on sustained viewing, familiar shapes emerge: We recognize an angle as the bend of an elbow, a curve as the swell of a hip, and two or three quick, short lines as the outline of a nipple. Some works engender these flashes of

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  • Marcel Storr, Untitled (unfinished work), 1971, pencil, colored ink, and varnish on paper, 24 × 19 5/8".

    Marcel Storr

    Andrew Edlin Gallery

    Marcel Storr (1911–1976) was a self-taught, so-called outsider artist who lived and worked in Paris, initially at Les Halles food market, later as a street sweeper in the Bois de Boulogne. Abandoned by his mother at the age of two, he became a ward of the state. He was sickly and never sent to school, grew deaf either from beatings or illness, and was unable to write anything but his own name. But with the exquisite, meticulously executed drawings of cathedrals and “Megalopolises” in the exhibition—thirteen of Storr’s sixty-three surviving works are on display—it is clear his name will

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  • Adam Putnam, Untitled (The Drop IV), 2014, C-print, 40 × 30". From the series “The Drop,” 2014.

    Adam Putnam

    P.P.O.W

    Exhibitions by Adam Putnam test the boundaries between architecture and bodies—specifically his own. The New York–based and –born artist explores this theme in a number of ways, most notably through a particularly uneasy brand of performance: Once every week during his last New York show, in 2009, he hung, for five minutes, from an approximately eighteen-foot-long chain. This show, the artist’s first at this gallery, emphasized his sculptures, photographs, and works on paper, presenting exquisitely rendered drawings of Romanesque arches and steeples in charcoal and pigment; sculptures

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  • Amy Feldman, Gut Smut, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 79 × 79".

    Amy Feldman

    Blackston

    There’s a photograph in the catalogue for Amy Feldman’s exhibition “High Sign” that depicts one of her large square canvases being winched out of the artist’s Brooklyn studio. As the painting hovers momentarily in front of an open garage door, the bushy-looking, ring-like form that occupies its lower three quarters is juxtaposed with the building’s upper windows to give the squat two-story structure what looks like a bearded face. Whether this mildly comical anthropomorphic effect was intentional is unclear, but the shot nonetheless announces the witty ambiguity of Feldman’s compositions; as

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  • View of “Puddle, pothole, portal,” 2014–15. Floor, from left: Antoine Catala, (::( )::), 2014; Antoine Catala, :), 2014; Antoine Catala, >(///)<, 2014; Antoine Catala, </3, 2014. Wall: Win McCarthy, Long Drain, 2014.

    “Puddle, pothole, portal”

    SculptureCenter

    “Puddle, pothole, portal”: Repeat the title five times fast and you might have some clue as to this exhibition’s exuberant slipups. Not just the tongue trips: You must always watch your step here, a feat still easier said than done around the slow-motion jerks of Antoine Catala’s motorized post-word emoji shapes (part rotisserie, part toy) or Win McCarthy’s delicate glass sculptures surreptitiously installed all over the place, which resemble spurts of gushing water paused in time. (Robert Gober’s shadow stretches from the Museum of Modern Art, New York.)

    Co-organized by SculptureCenter curator

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  • Henry Flynt, Esthetics of Eerieness (selected) (detail), 1992, twelve ink-jet prints on painted MDF, each 14 1/2 × 28".

    Henry Flynt

    Audio Visual Arts (AVA)

    The philosopher, artist, musician, and one-time hard leftist Henry Flynt has engaged questions of bourgeois culture, formalism, and modernist aesthetics since at least 1961, when he coined the term “Concept Art” (not to be confused with Conceptual art) in a text published in the George Maciunas–designed An Anthology (1963). He is still hard at work undermining the ideology of dominant cultural forms today—long after abandoning his rigorously anti-art stance and confrontational protest tactics. Liz Kotz named him, in the pages of this magazine, the most elusive avant-gardist, and he is

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