reviews

  • View of “Florian Meisenberg,” 2015.

    Florian Meisenberg

    Simone Subal Gallery

    In David Foster Wallace’s epic 1996 novel, Infinite Jest, the young tennis-academy student Hal Incandenza dreams of a tennis court with lines and systems so unfathomably complex, they turn to liquid before his eyes: “There are lines going every which way, and they run oblique or meet and form relationships and boxes and rivers and tributaries and systems inside systems: lines, corners, alleys, and angles deliquesce into a blur at the horizon of the distant net.” Nearly two decades later, we know all about networks so vast, intricate, and complex they are described as clouds—masses of data

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  • DIS, The Island (KEN), 2015, mixed media. Installation view. Photo: Heji Shin.

    the 2015 New Museum Triennial

    New Museum

    THE NEW MUSEUM TRIENNIAL is an exploration of culture’s future through the art of today. And this futurity is the province of curating and marketing alike: The traditional retrospective survey is here replaced by a predictive model, going for broke rather than for taste, for speculative investment rather than accrued aesthetic value. As one of the more recent kids on the New York block to inhabit a brick ’n’ mortar architectural logo, the New Museum has made a triannual wager on art that relies on bankability. The first two go-rounds, in 2009 and 2012, laid some notable groundwork. The first

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  • Francesca Woodman, Untitled, Providence, Rhode Island, 1978, gelatin silver print, 4 1/2 × 4 1/2".

    Francesca Woodman

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    Among the reasons the photographs of Francesca Woodman entrance me is the insouciant grace with which she and her collaborators occupy their frames. Wearing a long dress, striped stockings, or nothing at all, hair in a sloppy bun or set loose, Woodman presented a distinct style, evident even in her earliest self-portraits as a teenager. Her presentation’s declarative (often humorously hedged) ambition at times became a literal aspect of the work, as in a handwritten note in red pen on a photograph she sent to her parents in 1977: I'M TRYING MY HAND AT FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY. In the black-and-white

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  • Anton van Dalen, Self-Portrait with Pigeon Coop Looking North, 2014, oil on canvas, 48 × 64".

    Anton van Dalen

    P.P.O.W

    A local artist and proud of it, Anton van Dalen has lived in the East Village since 1972, and his years there have generated his subject matter. This show largely focused on the neighborhood, and included not only recent and a few older paintings but also a one-evening enactment of Avenue A Cut-Out Theatre, a performance he first aired in 1995 and has developed steadily in the years since. In the past, Van Dalen has enjoyed flights of fancy—scenes of interplanetary travel, and spatial fantasies recalling M. C. Escher, and the like—and this show too had its Magrittean moments of rabbits

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  • Constantin Brancusi, View of the Studio: Plato, Mademoiselle Pogany II, and Golden Bird, ca. 1920, gelatin silver print, 11 3/4 × 9 1/2". From “In the Studio: Paintings”/“In the Studio: Photographs.” © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

    “In the Studio: Paintings”/“In the Studio: Photographs”

    Gagosian | 522 West 21st Street

    Though I am not in perfect sympathy with all of the fifty-one artworks by thirty-six artists and some 150 photographs by fifty-two photographers chosen for this hugely ambitious Gagosian doubleheader, I admit to being awed by many of the loans secured from public collections—always a challenge for a private gallery. Of them, the Picasso classical-period still lifes from the 1920s and Jasper Johns’s paintings took pride of place. Particularly subtle was the way in which the whitish planes of color and rectangular collage-like structure of Picasso’s two 1928 L’Atelier works—brought

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  • Tomi Ungerer, Fear of Feelings, 1982, ink and colored pencil on tracing paper, 10 × 8".

    Tomi Ungerer

    Drawing Center

    Anyone who’s ever had occasion to care for kids knows that there are certain books you read with them that are just as much for you as they are for them, perhaps even more so. In our house, we turned to the authors of these books—Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm; Seuss, Dahl, Sendak, Gorey—not just because they were more fun to read than the usual children’s fare, but also, I suppose, with the idea that our children would detect in their work, however informally, traces of complexity and nuance, of genuine artistry. Among the volumes by these familiar figures we also had

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  • László Moholy-Nagy, Untitled, 1936–46, Fujicolor crystal archive print, 9 × 13 1/2". © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

    László Moholy-Nagy

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

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  • Rosalyn Drexler, Night Visitors, 1988, oil on canvas, 24 × 30 1/8". © Rosalyn Drexler/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New
    York and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

    Rosalyn Drexler

    Garth Greenan Gallery

    “Women in Pop art” is a thing these days. And I’m not just talking about a few big show, such as the 2010–11 American touring exhibition “Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists 1958–1968” or the concurrent “Power Up: Female Pop Art” in Vienna. Individual artists including Evelyne Axell, Pauline Boty, Dorothy Iannone, and even Niki de Saint Phalle have lately been accorded critical attention as never before while also exerting influence on younger artists. The welcome reappearance of Rosalyn Drexler is part of this trend, and indeed crucial to it, but “Vulgar Lives,” a presentation of selected

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  • Günther Förg, Untitled, 1990, acrylic on lead, 110 1/4 × 63". Skarstedt.

    Günther Förg

    Greene Naftali/Skarstedt

    The work of German artist Günther Förg, who died in 2013, has been shown infrequently in New York in recent years. So the simultaneous presentations of his art earlier this year—at Greene Naftali and Skarstedt—constituted a noteworthy event, one that followed major institutional revisitings of his contemporaries Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger.

    The exhibition at Greene Naftali was divided into two parts. In the gallery’s ground-floor space, visitors encountered ten large monochrome canvases from 1991, each painted a modish shade—olive, lime, and a kind of pale burnt umber,

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  • Candice Breitz, Treatment, 2013, two-channel video projection, color, sound, 9 minutes 11 seconds.

    Candice Breitz

    kaufmann repetto | New York

    Cleft-lipped, navel-less miniature mutants—dressed inexplicably in Devo-esque jumpsuits—are the chilling bogeymen in David Cronenberg’s 1979 horror film, The Brood. Scarier, though, is what unleashes them: the unorthodox therapeutic practice of Dr. Raglan, who seeks to treat the antiheroine Nola Carveth by excavating her repressed rage through spirited role play. As a result of Raglan’s questionable methods, his patients’ emotions become somatized symptoms: whether welts, glistening pustules, or, in Nola’s case, the titular squad of undersize assassins, who bud parthenogenetically from

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  • Yan Shanchun, Ruangong Islet #5, 2008, acrylic and ink on paper mounted on canvas, 39 1/2 × 59".

    Yan Shanchun

    Chambers Fine Art | New York

    This exhibition featured two groups of works: acrylic paintings and copperplate etchings. Both are more or less abstract portrayals of China’s West Lake Cultural Landscape, an area located west of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province in eastern China and Yan Shanchun’s native city. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011, West Lake is home to numerous pagodas, temples, and gardens. UNESCO calls it an “idealized fusion between human and nature,” and its carefully cultivated natural beauty has been the subject of Chinese painting and poetry for over a thousand years.

    The poet Ouyang

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  • Molly Smith, Seasoned, 2015, watercolor, ink, and mixed media on paper, wood, 12' × 12' × 1' 8".

    Molly Smith

    Kate Werble Gallery

    While the claim to have merged art and life is a perennial and universal cliché, it rarely holds water, functioning more often as a highfalutin excuse for doing nothing much. But when a change in an artist’s practical circumstances—whether planned or accidental—forces her creative practice and day-to-day routine into closer-than-usual proximity, the results can prove serendipitously engaging. On the evidence of Molly Smith’s recent exhibition “Hours,” this holds true in the relocation of the artist and her partner to rural western Massachusetts in the spring of 2013. The move left

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  • View of “Kamau Amu Patton,” 2015. From left: Untitled, 2014; Untitled, 2014; Untitled, 2014.

    Kamau Amu Patton

    Callicoon Fine Arts

    In Kamau Amu Patton’s recent exhibition, chaotic input gave rise to surprisingly orderly results. Using electronic feedback as a generative force work, Patton allowed the technological to bleed into the more outwardly organic, showing multilayered prints rendered from screen grabs of a video produced by training a camera on a monitor receiving that camera’s signal. He also employed sound, broadcasting a related audio piece, via FM radio, into the gallery space and beyond.

    Occupying the walls of the main gallery were seven large, scroll-like, unstretched canvases silk-screened—three times

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  • Anton Ginzburg, Walking the Sea, 2013, digital video, color, sound, 30 minutes. From “Specters of Communism: Contemporary Russian Art.” e-flux.

    “Specters of Communism: Contemporary Russian Art”

    The James Gallery, the Graduate Center, City University of New York/e-flux

    In perhaps his most popular one-liner, perestroika-era satirist Mikhail Zadornov dubbed Russia “a country with an unpredictable past.” Spanning two continents and eleven time zones, the state now known as the Russian Federation lays claim to conflicting inheritances, from Kievan Rus and the Third Rome to the czarist Russian empire and the Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin was able to consolidate power by cherry-picking aspects from each of these legacies and placing them under the banner of his political party, United Russia; the liberal opposition, however, is having a much harder time formulating

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  • Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, The Class, 2005, video, color, sound, 16 minutes 30 seconds.

    Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

    SculptureCenter

    A centerpiece of the Thai Pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale, the video The Class, 2005, shows Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook in her element: staging impossible conversations with interlocutors unable to respond. Standing by a blackboard, the artist peers over a row of cadavers. “Death is today’s topic,” she says. “Tell me what you think. Oh, you need some more time to think.” An uncomfortable silence sets in. Her audience lies on the floor, unresponsive. Their shriveled heads and feet, rendered a sickly yellow by the garish fluorescent light, emerge from the white drapes that cover their bodies.

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