reviews

  • Martin Wong, Everything Must Go, 1983, acrylic on canvas, 48 × 60".

    Martin Wong

    Bronx Museum of the Arts

    DECADES AGO, well before Martin Wong had a gallery—let alone the fame that has only gathered momentum since his passing in 1999—he hung some paintings in an inexpensive little Japanese restaurant on St. Marks Place in New York. There were a few neighbors who disliked them and said so, but it’s safe to assume that most people never even noticed them: These were paintings of brick walls, hanging on brick walls. To those of us who were actually paying attention, they seemed like some ultrabanal trompe l’oeil, or perhaps a reminder of the horrifyingly cheap patchwork jobs the local slumlords

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  • Brice Marden, African Drawing 17, 2011–12, ink and white shellac ink on paper, 14 7/8 × 11 1/8".

    Brice Marden

    Matthew Marks Gallery

    This exhibition of a dozen paintings and twenty-five drawings from between 2007 and 2015, billed as the largest presentation of Brice Marden’s work since his 2006 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, reveals the artist still in a retrospective mood: At times he returns to the method of abutting monochrome panels—mostly subdued or cloudy in color—that was typical of his work in the 1960s and ’70s; at others he avails himself of the layering of sinuous linear gestures that he began using in the mid-’80s. In one work, he combines the two modes: Uphill with Center, 2012–15,

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  • Tauba Auerbach, Grain: Sierpiński Ghost I, 2015, acrylic on Masonite, 90 × 48".

    Tauba Auerbach

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    When considering Tauba Auerbach’s work of the past few years, I am often sent down a rabbit’s hole of unfamiliar mathematical and scientific terms: entheogen, the Sierpiński curve, metamaterial, oscillator fret. I order books like The New Ambidextrous Universe and The Shape of Space and print out early-twentieth-century treatises like Projective Ornament. It is with great pleasure that I dive into her world, but also with a bit of trepidation: not only because—just between us—I don’t really understand the fourth dimension, a theme that has fascinated Auerbach for several years now,

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  • View of “Painting in Italy 1910s–1950s: Futurism, Abstraction, Concrete Art,” 2015–16. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging.

    “Painting in Italy 1910s–1950s: Futurism, Abstraction, Concrete Art”

    Sperone Westwater

    Most persons committed to modern art possess at least a passing acquaintance with such proper nouns as Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, F. T. Marinetti, and Carlo Carrà—and with Futurism itself, the Biggest Bang of Italian modernism. How wonderful, then, to encounter this exhibition of some 120 works by more than thirty Italian artists working between 1910 and 1950, artists whose names are virtually unknown except to specialists.

    One such individual is the international art dealer Gian Enzo Sperone, whose collection comprises the heart of this exhibition, to which has been added numerous

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  • Carroll Dunham, Now and Around Here (3), 2015, mixed media on linen, 88 1/8 × 68 1/8".

    Carroll Dunham

    Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

    Eight or nine years ago Carroll Dunham ended a period of focusing on male figures—figures comically, formulaically masculine, wearing suits and sporting cigarette-butt heads and penis noses, their hands sometimes wielding things that could have been pipes or guns or penises again—and went to the other side, developing an imagery of naked women gamboling in gardens. The women were large and big-boned and ungraceful, their sexual signifiers were as distinct and determining as the men’s had been, and there were those who found them grotesque, but I thought their exuberant physicality was

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  • Yoko Ono, Mend Piece, 1966/2015, mixed media, dimensions variable. Galerie Lelong.

    Yoko Ono

    Galerie Lelong/Andrea Rosen Gallery

    To those who wondered why Yoko Ono’s “The Riverbed” comprised two separate installations, identical in their components, that were sited in two separate galleries in close proximity in Chelsea, the answer quickly became evident. The show resonated differently in its two locations: In my experience, the installation at Galerie Lelong was more concentrated, silent, and intimate, while the one at Andrea Rosen Gallery was more luminous, open, and social. Others might have felt differently. But that is all to the point, for each visit was unique, affected by its participant’s individual memories and

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  • Ann Veronica Janssens, Untitled (blue glitter), 2015, glitter, dimensions variable.

    Ann Veronica Janssens

    Bortolami Gallery

    A whisper of a show, spare to the point of near-disappearance, Ann Veronica Janssens’s recent exhibition at Bortolami—the Belgium-based artist’s solo debut at the gallery, timed to coincide with the first American museum survey of her work, at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas—provided a modest glimpse into her range of sculptural, spatial, and atmospheric concerns, and a sense of both the strengths and limitations of her practice. Though obviously a temperamental descendant of the Light and Space artists, Janssens, who has shown widely in Europe, also derives formal strategies

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  • Miranda Lichtenstein, Thank You (orange), 2015, ink-jet print, 40 × 26 1/2".

    Miranda Lichtenstein

    Elizabeth Dee Gallery

    Plastic bags have fallen on hard times since they stole the show in American Beauty (1999), in a scene reminiscent of Nathaniel Dorsky’s film Variations from a year earlier. No longer the mesmerizing Isadora Duncan of refuse, reminding us of the surprising elegance stirring in the corners of parking lots and our lives, plastic is now understood to represent a growing crisis, leaching toxins and forming garbage continents in the ocean. In New York City, it’s one more index of class—Whole Foods no longer uses plastic bags, but your corner bodega does.

    Into this mix come Miranda Lichtenstein’s

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  • Jane Corrigan, The Noise Upstairs (Creep), 2015, oil on canvas, 36 × 31".

    Jane Corrigan

    Feuer/Messler

    Jane Corrigan’s latest works in oil had some of the louche narrative implications prevalent within recent figurative painting, but retained the delicacy that marked the artist’s previous work. A cast of ten coltish figures, their proportions and mien familiar to those who saw Corrigan’s 2014 solo exhibition at Kerry Schuss in New York, were presented in similarly central compositions. The figures’ long limbs extend across the canvases in gently off-kilter verticals that activate domestic and pastoral settings composed of ocher and cream, Naples yellow, and Prussian blue. Corrigan’s Toulouse-Lautrecian

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  • Indrė Šerpytytė, 27 Vilniaus Street, Alytus, 2014, gelatin silver print, 19 3/8 × 24 1/8". From the series “(1944–1991) Former NKVD-MVD-MGB-KGB Buildings,” 2009–15. From “Ocean of Images,” 2015–16.

    “Ocean of Images”

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    “Photography is a system of visual editing,” wrote John Szarkowski, MoMA’s long-presiding chief curator of photography. “At bottom, it is a matter of surrounding with a frame a portion of one’s cone of vision, while standing in the right place at the right time.” The belief that photography comes down to finding a spot in the landscape guided Szarkowki’s selections for “New Photography,” the annual showcase he inaugurated in 1985, and it continued to hold sway in the installments organized under his successor, Peter Galassi. Quentin Bajac, the department’s latest chief curator, broke with the

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  • Penelope Umbrico, (Not) Easy Canvases, from Four Photographs of Rays of Sunlight in Grand Central Station . . . , 2015, fifteen giclée prints on polyester canvas, each 16 × 20".

    Penelope Umbrico

    Bruce Silverstein Gallery

    Like words repeated over and over until they sound like the utterances of an alien tongue, Penelope Umbrico’s images are fascinating for their exploration of the differences between multiple photographs of the “same” subject—for the fact that no two shots can ever accurately be described as identical. Her true subject is thus not that which is pictured in her appropriated snaps, but the personal-social circumstances and technological-commercial processes through which they were arrived at. Pre-Internet, hers would have been a much tougher, perhaps impossible, undertaking. Now, the very

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  • Ronnie Landfield, Blue Wall, 1970, acrylic on canvas, 82 × 103".

    Ronnie Landfield

    57 STUX + Haller Gallery

    Ronnie Landfield was once an enfant terrible: In 1967, at the age of twenty, he was invited to exhibit in the Whitney Annual an eight-foot-square painting called The Howl of Terror, a terrifyingly mystical Abstract Expressionist work. Now sixty-nine, he’s mellowed into an elder statesman, yet his paintings, albeit today somewhat tamer, are still poetic, the artist still seeking, as he puts it, to “fill the void that defines who we are”—fill it with glorious color, his forte from the beginning.

    Paintings such as Long Way Across and Twilight Rise, both 2015, are “constructions”—Landfield’s

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  • Urban Zellweger, Everything You Need for Smalltalk, 2015, oil on canvas, 31 1/2 × 39 3/8".

    Urban Zellweger

    Shoot The Lobster | New York

    For “Tables and Landscapes” at Shoot the Lobster, Urban Zellweger’s sprightly first New York solo show, the young Zurich-based artist presented six paintings from 2015 that mined art-historical conventions, and while at first this might sound familiar—yet another tiresome, “critical” recapitulation of painting’s heroic, bygone forms—Zellweger did something different. The paintings he displayed were positively alive, teeming with a playful surrealism that is at once inventive and unstable.

    The most striking works were the “Tables” of the show’s title, thanks largely to Zellweger’s

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