reviews

  • Robert Morris, Maybe They Won’t Find Out, 2014–15, linen, resin, 46 × 32 × 72". © Robert Morris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    Robert Morris

    Castelli Gallery

    Robert Morris, now eighty-four, is a figure of singular importance to American sculpture, painting, Conceptualism, and performance art. His recent exhibition, which he titled—with admirable didactic zeal—“MOLTINGSEXOSKELETONSSHROUDS,” comprised several figural groups made of Belgian linen. Saturated with epoxy resin and draped over life-size mannequins, the linen, when dry, is lifted from its support, becoming, in turn, a ghostly exoskeleton, the memory of what had once been the weighty dross below: immaterial weightlessness versus earthen matter.

    The new shells of figures—light

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  • Silvia Bächli, Untitled (Nr. 6), 2015, gouache on paper, 40 1/8 × 57 1/8".

    Silvia Bächli

    Peter Freeman, Inc.

    Silvia Bächli has invoked the words of the late Danish poet Inger Christensen several times throughout the past decade, taking inspiration and installation titles from the renowned writer, and even dedicating her presentation for the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009 to her. This exhibition, Bächli’s first in New York in four years, continued the Swiss-born artist’s deliberate, durable engagement with the poet: Its title, “further. evolves,” comes from Christensen’s 1969 masterwork it. Because most of Bächli’s works—like all those that were shown here—are untitled, language

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  • Keltie Ferris, Facade, 2015, oil and powdered pigment on paper, 40 × 26".

    Keltie Ferris

    Mitchell-Innes & Nash | Chelsea

    In 2012, Keltie Ferris tried to throw her body into painting—and it wasn’t working out. Gamely, she smeared her torso in paint and pressed herself against canvas, but she found the results embarrassingly direct and, at the same time, discomfitingly haunted by Yves Klein. Then, on a visit to “Now Dig This!,” curator Kellie Jones’s survey of postwar black art in Los Angeles at MoMA PS1, she encountered David Hammons’s body prints of the late 1960s and early ’70s. Hammons had coated himself in margarine or grease and then lay atop paper sheets, leaving a gluey residue that could be used to

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  • Josiah McElheny, Window Painting I, 2015, hand-formed cut and polished gray glass, low-iron mirror, gray architectural sheet glass, oak, sumi ink, 50 1/2 × 19 1/2 × 7 1/2".

    Josiah McElheny

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    This show by Josiah McElheny conveyed the force of his preoccupation with history as a creative medium—with the way in which it is made and, at points, seems to make itself when social, aesthetic, and practical agendas converge. No moment epitomizes his vision more perfectly than the turn of the twentieth century, with its mentality of abstraction. Organized as an address to “painting,” this show featured thirteen objects presented as abstract paintings, though fashioned from materials rarely associated with the medium. Included among these works were two black-and-white videos manufactured

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  • View of “Rosemarie Castoro,” 2015.

    Rosemarie Castoro

    BROADWAY 1602 | Uptown

    On the busy shopping thoroughfare of SoHo’s Spring Street, just beyond tourists queuing for Cronuts, you ring a doorbell and ascend in an old hand-cranked elevator to the sixth floor. The doors open directly into the loft where the artist Rosemarie Castoro lived and worked for over fifty years, and therefore, directly into the exhibit—an extraordinary, swift passage from one cultural iteration of a city’s neighborhood to another.

    It was a fitting entrée to an artist who staged pieces in the streets of Manhattan, and whose studio was a backdrop for performances and architectural interventions.

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  • Robert Janitz, To Photograph Perfume, 2015, oil, wax, and flour on linen, 25 × 20".

    Robert Janitz

    Team Gallery | Grand Street

    Robert Janitz titled his second show at Team “Kerckhoffs’ Principle,” named for a century-old theorem, postulated by the Dutch cryptologist Auguste Kerkckhoffs, that states that a system will remain secure if everything about that system is known, so long as there is a key that remains secret. (Since illimitable permutations of digits are possible, a complex-enough numerical key is functionally uncrackable.) Once intended for military ciphers, the principle now guides the development of algorithms via which data is encrypted online. The apposition of such a program to the suite of ten Reverse

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  • McArthur Binion, DNA: Black Painting I, 2015, oil-paint stick, graphite, and paper on board, 84 × 84".

    McArthur Binion

    Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

    McArthur Binion was born on September 1, 1946, in Noxubee County in Mississippi. His father, Russell Earl Binion, age thirty-one at the time of his birth, worked in “industry,” and his mother, Martha Binion, was twenty-six. All this information is available on the artist’s birth certificate, of which he has made multiple copies, arranging these into grids and using them as the substratum for repeating modules of gestural strokes. The works represent what Lawrence Alloway called systemic painting, with an expressionistic edginess. The document features handwriting that is neat, impersonal,

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  • Mason Williams, Sunflower, 1967. Production still for an unfinished film.

    “Double Standard: Ed Ruscha & Mason Williams, 1956–1971 (Part 1)”

    Alden Projects™

    Legend has it that in 1956 an eighteen-year-old Ed Ruscha set out solo from Oklahoma City in a customized Ford, taking the fabled Route 66 to Los Angeles (passing twenty-six gasoline stations along the way), where he would study at the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts) en route to elevating urban graphic vernaculars to the status of art. It’s a tidy account of a no doubt messy affair. Of course, the factual distillations and narrative compressions enabling such myths of origin are, necessarily, founded on omission. Case in point: Riding alongside Ruscha on his move to LA was childhood friend

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  • Emily Mae Smith, Medusa, 2015, oil on linen, 38 × 27".

    Emily Mae Smith

    Laurel Gitlen

    Christina Ramberg once took René Magritte on a blind date to see Disney’s Fantasia, but they couldn’t concentrate on the screen because of all the heckling from Joe Brainard and Evelyne Axell in the back row. So the four of them left the theater at intermission to chill out at Emily Mae Smith’s exhibition “Medusa,” where they all got along quite nicely. The end.

    If that scenario sounds like your idea of fun, then Smith might be your kind of painter. The visual wit, wealth of allusion, and crisp, sure-handed execution of the Brooklyn-based artist’s modestly scaled paintings, whose protagonists

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  • PaJaMa, Paul Cadmus and Margaret French, Provincetown, ca. 1947, vintage gelatin silver print, 4 1/2 × 6 3/4".

    PaJaMa

    Gitterman Gallery

    Vacation is boring, but does it have to be? I found myself reconsidering after seeing vintage photographs at Gitterman Gallery by the artists’ group PaJaMa, a loosely defined collaboration formed by American painters Paul Cadmus, Jared French, and Margaret French during the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. PaJaMa is an acronym made out of the first two letters of each member’s name. Jared and Margaret were husband and wife; Paul was Jared’s lover. All three shared affinities as painters, like tastes for the male nude and egg tempera.

    Gitterman gathered about forty pictures made in Fire Island, Nantucket,

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  • Alicia McCarthy, Untitled, 2015, spray paint and latex paint on wood panel, 7' 4“ × 10' 2”.

    Alicia McCarthy

    Jack Hanley Gallery

    Like the San Francisco Mission artists with whom she is often grouped, Alicia McCarthy makes art from pointedly unprecious materials: latex, colored pencil, or spray paint on wood panels. This gives her works the air of handmade signs; in fact, one very large piece at her recent presentation at Jack Hanley Gallery brings to mind a billboard. And like a sign painter, she relies on a restrained visual language—color arrays, woven lines, interlocking arcs—and she marshals these decorative elements toward ends that may have little to do with decoration at all.

    The billboard-size piece (all

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  • Jessica Sanders, Saturation AW6, 2015, beeswax on stretched linen, 54 × 97 1/2". From the series “Saturation,” 2013–.

    Jessica Sanders

    KANSAS Gallery

    A longtime fan of beeswax owing to its gooey organic mutability, Jessica Sanders exercised admirable restraint with the potentially messy material in her recent exhibition “Ambiguous Warmth.” Her first solo appearance at this relocated gallery, the show featured just two entries from the Brooklyn artist’s ongoing “Saturation” series, 2013–, of wax-infused linen works, and in neither case was the material’s identity immediately apparent. Hung close together side by side, the pair of large, painterly works faced off against eight small wall-mounted white porcelain sculptures. The first impression

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