reviews

  • View of “Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor,” 2014–15. Foreground: Untitled, 1990. Background: Forest, 1991. Photo: Thomas Griesel.

    Robert Gober

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    FROM THE BEGINNING, the art of Robert Gober was distinctive, as if it had emerged full-blown from his forehead; and, in fact, an early work, Slides of a Changing Painting, 1982–83, a slide show of eighty-nine photographs of a single painting altered again and again, has served as a source for many pieces ever since. (The template of this painting, the torso, is a leitmotif of his work as a whole.) Right away, Gober announced metamorphosis as a central concern—metamorphosis not only from image to image but also from medium to medium, above all from the pictorial to the sculptural and the

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  • Judy Pfaff, There Is a Field, I Will Meet You There [Rumi], 2014, steel, Plexiglas, fluorescent lights, plastic, expanding foam, dimensions variable.

    Judy Pfaff

    Loretta Howard Gallery/Pavel Zoubok Gallery

    A half century ago, the time-honored distinctions between painting and sculpture surrendered to the forces majeures of Minimalism, Conceptualism, and their offspring. Judy Pfaff’s two-gallery exhibition reminded us of that moment in the 1960s when young artists, cued by Eva Hesse, smashed those mutually defining species together to form a single pictorial/sculptural continuum. Some five decades later, Pfaff remains the exemplary figure—the last artist of this type still standing as others (notably Lynda Benglis) have reverted to a sculpture of autonomous objects. Pfaff’s recent installations

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  • Norman Lewis, Twilight Sounds, 1947, oil on canvas, 23 1/2 × 28".

    “From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952”

    The Jewish Museum

    Compare and contrast—that indelible Art 101 injunction so central to creating meaning between the work of often incongruent and marginalized figures—is the analytical mode that this exhibition, “From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952,” invites us to adopt. Lee Krasner (1908–1984), daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants and the wife of Jackson Pollock, was long ago reinstated as an Abstract Expressionist notable; Norman Lewis (1909–1979), an African American artist and founding member of the Spiral group, on the other hand, remains relatively underknown.

    This richly

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  • Jacob Hashimoto, Skyfarm Fortress, 2014, acrylic, paper, wood, dimensions variable.

    Jacob Hashimoto

    Mary Boone Gallery | Uptown

    To say that Jacob Hashimoto makes kites, then strings them together in the air, will do as a description of his process but gives no sense at all of the visual quality of Skyfarm Fortress, 2014, the installation that made up this show. To get a sense of the work’s presence, you have to understand that it contained thousands of kites, each a small square or circle of mulberry paper, from four to eight inches across, stretched on a bamboo frame; that the kites were multicolored, some intricately patterned, some monochrome, though even the monochromes kept a sense of pattern and texture through

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  • Michelle Grabner, Untitled, 2014, enamel on canvas over panel, 30 × 30 × 1 3/4".

    Michelle Grabner

    James Cohan Gallery | Chelsea

    “The great artist of tomorrow will go underground,” Marcel Duchamp predicted. And how much farther underground can the artist go than adopting the guise of a midwestern suburban housewife? As Thierry de Duve recently pointed out in these pages, the fundamental upshot of Duchamp’s work is not that anything can be an art object but that anyone can be an artist. But are we willing to accept that? Nearly a century after Fountain, Michelle Grabner has proved that the answer is no—some of us are not willing to accept that anyone can be an artist, especially if the person is or appears to be

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  • Huguette Caland, Bribes de corps (Body Fragments), 1973, oil on linen, 19 × 13 3/4". From the series “Bribes de corps,” 1973.

    Huguette Caland

    Jane Lombard Gallery

    Was there a single, absolutely straight line in this wonderfully loopy exhibition of the early works of Huguette Caland? Compositions circle back on themselves, forms wobbled, the corners of squares puckered, bisections meandered ever so slightly like rivers through unsteady topography. Encompassing abstract and figurative painting, drawing, and textiles, this efficient show bracketed fifteen productive years—beginning in 1970, the year that Caland, who was born in Beirut in 1931, moved to Paris, and ending in 1985, just before she left for California (like her compatriot Etel Adnan), where

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  • Jean-Luc Moulène, Blown Knot 1 (CIRVA, Marseille, June 2014), steel, glass, 18 1/8 × 15 3/4 × 15 3/4".

    Jean-Luc Moulène

    Miguel Abreu Gallery | Orchard Street

    After visiting Jean-Luc Moulène’s “Torture Concrete” at Miguel Abreu Gallery this past fall, one would have been forgiven for scratching one’s head. The artist’s diverse, astringent work, which has ranged from monochrome paintings and landscape photographs to enigmatic sculptures comes wrapped in an aura of obdurate difficulty—the implacable air of the deadly and complex. Split between the gallery’s two spaces, this show displayed thirty-seven pieces in various media, many (though not all) belonging to “Opus,” 1995–, a series that was the subject of a major survey at Dia:Beacon in 2011.

    In

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  • Kiki Kogelnik, Hanging, 1970, acrylic, sheet vinyl, and hangers on canvas, 66 1/4 × 54".

    Kiki Kogelnik

    Simone Subal Gallery

    Kiki Kogelnik’s art has rarely been seen in New York aside from a superb 2012 show of work from the 1960s at Simone Subal, despite the fact that the artist, who died in 1997, lived in the city for the entirety of her adult life and maintained close friendships with other significant artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg. With “Cuts, Fissures and Identity: Works from the 1960s and 70s,” a second exhibition at Simone Subal that opened this past November, Kogelnik’s art feels hard to ignore; it puts pressure on a Pop moment we thought we knew, and, in doing so, forces us to reconsider

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  • Peter Stichbury, Barbara Robbins, Westall High, 2014, oil on linen, 23 1/2 × 19 3/4".

    Peter Stichbury

    Tracy Williams, Ltd.

    “In the afternoon of April 6, 1966, one of the most famous UFO cases in the world occurred over a school in Westall, Australia,” begins a passage on a handout that accompanied “Anatomy of a Phenomenon,” New Zealand painter Peter Stichbury’s recent exhibition. “Pupils and teachers were told not to talk about what they had seen, and the chemistry teacher, Barbara Robbins, who had taken photos with her camera, was forced by authorities to hand it over.” In Stichbury’s portrait of the woman, Ms. Robbins is depicted as an oval-faced blonde with haunted, wide-set eyes that suggest the persistence of

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  • Gillian Jagger, And the Horses Ran, 2009, latex, plaster, sand, dimensions variable.

    Gillian Jagger

    David Lewis

    In 1997, John Perreault published a glowing review of Gillian Jagger’s work: The artist, the critic gushed, will “eventually be seen as one of the great ones.” Is there loftier praise than that? This recent exhibition—a refreshing, if too small, sampling of the upstate New York–based artist’s sculptures from between 1963 and 2014—signaled the beginning of the reassessment Perrault predicted. It took a while. Jagger and her anthropomorphic output have typically had slippery affinities to past movements. In the mid-1960s the artist famously made plaster casts of manhole covers on the

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  • Hannah Wilke, S.O.S. Starification Object Series, 1975, chewing gum on rice paper mounted on rag board, 33 3/4 × 26". From the series “S.O.S. Starification Object Series,” 1974–82. © Marsie, Emanuelle, Damon, and Andrew Scharlatt/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

    Hannah Wilke

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    Hannah Wilke’s art was always one of intimate gestures. Sculpting gum she chewed into vaginal voids, photographing herself nude in various poses, and drawing watercolors that detailed the deterioration of her body from cancer treatments, Wilke used touch and extreme candor to explore feminine form. Tibor de Nagy’s exhibition included examples of these well-known bodies of work, yet, most interestingly, it also shed light on the way in which intimacy came to inflect Wilke’s practice through a foregrounding of her personal relationships: namely her friendship with a single family, the Axelrods,

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  • Michael Bell-Smith, Rabbit Season, Duck Season, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 5 minutes 18 seconds.

    Michael Bell-Smith

    Foxy Production

    Like a marriage vow or a death sentence, the announcement inaugurating “rabbit season” or “duck season” is a speech act that changes everything, particularly if you are a duck or a rabbit. Or, for that matter, a wabbit. Michael Bell-Smith’s “Rabbit Season, Duck Season,” his fourth solo exhibition at Foxy Production, took its title from the existential comedy set-pieces enacted by Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd in the 1951 Looney Tunes short Rabbit Fire, in which duck and rabbit attempt to outwit each other—and their hunter—by switching game seasons and thusly reasserting whose

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  • Keunmin Lee, Refining Hallucinations, 2014, oil and graphite on paper, 29 × 22".

    Keunmin Lee

    SHIN GALLERY

    The paintings and drawings in Korean-born artist Keunmin Lee’s first solo show in the United States are all titled Refining Hallucinations—that is, they depict raw hallucinations, artistically refined. According to the clinical definition, a hallucination is “an apparent perception of an external object when no such object is present.” It can be purely visual or experienced as touch. In this exhibition, Lee suggests both these sensations at once: The works are aggressively visual and dramatically haptic. The show’s centerpiece was an immense canvas that occupied nearly an entire wall,

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  • Marisol, Mi mamá y yo (My Mother and I), 1968, steel, aluminum, 73 × 56 × 56".

    Marisol

    El Museo del Barrio

    Marisol Escobar’s long-overdue retrospective, which remains on view until January 10, does not disappoint. With figurative sculpture once again popular in the art world, the seventeen sculptures and fourteen works on paper on view at El Museo del Barrio look fresher than ever. The spare, elegant installation further enhances the Marina Pacini–curated survey devoted to the artist’s fifty-plus-year career. Practically from the get-go (see Tea for Three, 1960), Marisol, as she is known, has melded representational sculpture with elements of abstract painting and exquisite draftsmanship, not to

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