reviews

  • Steve McQueen, End Credits, 2012/2016, sequence of digital scans, black-and-white, sound, 12 hours 54 minutes; sound element: 19 hours 23 minutes. Installation view. Photo: Ron Amstutz.

    Steve McQueen

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    FIRST EXHIBITED as a six-hour, single-channel projection in 2012, Steve McQueen’s End Credits was recently installed at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (with an expanded running time of nearly thirteen hours) on two large screens facing each other across a space nearly three-quarters the length of a football field.

    The work’s title suggests the stately, somewhat enigmatic list of names and job titles projected at the end of a movie while audiences customarily exit the theater, but here the continuously scrolling text’s subject is the scholar, athlete, actor, singer, political

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  • Ed Atkins, Ribbons, 2014, three-channel HD video, color, sound, 13 minutes 18 seconds.

    Ed Atkins

    Gavin Brown's Enterprise | Harlem

    Pixel-thin in aspect but frequently profound in effect, the disturbingly polished motion-capture video works of British artist Ed Atkins engage, and complicate, the sensory-emotional space known as the “uncanny valley.” First limned in the world of early robotics, the concept was an attempt to describe the disorienting feeling of revulsion that one experiences as artificial life forms approach—but do not quite achieve—exact human likeness. Obviously motivated in its formulation by modern techno-formal concerns, the idea is indebted to Sigmund Freud’s decades-earlier consideration of

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  • Eric Fischl, Rift/Raft, 2016, oil on linen, 8' 2“ × 18' 4”.

    Eric Fischl

    Skarstedt Gallery | West 21st street

    My earliest reviews of Eric Fischl’s “narrative paintings”—they date some thirty-five years back—bore the titles “Snatch and Snatching” (1981), and “Analytical Pubism” (1985), their snarkiness meant to take note of the then-tenderfoot painter’s louche imagery. In the early 1980s, Fischl was negotiating the shoals between Conceptual art and figurative painting, a divide that also marked the curriculum of CalArts, where Fischl graduated as a member of the school’s initial class in 1972. For a while, it seemed that the Conceptualist adherents of John Baldessari, a justifiably beloved

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  • View of “Jason Moran,” 2016. From left: STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1, 2015; The Temple (for Terry Adkins), 2016; Basin Street Run 1, 2016; Basin Street Run 2, 2016; STAGED: Three Deuces, 2015. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

    Jason Moran

    Luhring Augustine | Bushwick

    As many a musician or barback can tell you, a live-music nightclub—sadly, today they call them venues—is a strange place during off-hours, whether that is 3 PM or 3 AM. Unlike a theater or cinema, which might play to an audience of one, a nightclub requires people; early in the day and very late at night, the nightclub uniquely evokes simultaneous feelings of loss and potential. In “STAGED,” Jason Moran—the visionary musician, composer, impresario, and visual artist—set two architecturally scaled sculptures kitty-corner to each other, each a reimagined version of the main

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  • View of “David Hammons,” 2016. From left: Untitled, 2014; Untitled, 2003; Smoke Screen, 1990–95; Standing Room Only, 1996; Basketball Chandelier, 1997. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging.

    David Hammons

    Mnuchin Gallery

    The whispers surrounding “David Hammons: Five Decades” were as important to the exhibition as the art itself. Accounts of the show tend to focus on how Hammons revisited the gallery on multiple occasions to contribute additional framed materials and reposition those artworks already included, and on how his last-minute changes to the show’s installation meant the works featured in the catalogue did not match up with the works on view, as if the real story was about Hammons and his enigmatic ways. Indeed, every exhibition review seems to describe a different show altogether, reflecting the way

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  • View of “Anish Kapoor,” 2016. From left: First Milk, 2015; Today You Will Be in Paradise, 2016. Photo: David Regen.

    Anish Kapoor

    Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

    “Today You Will Be in Paradise,” Anish Kapoor’s exhibition at Gladstone Gallery this past spring, embarked on a visceral journey through the body, displaying sculptures that emulate its muscle fibers, fat, and intestines in a profusion of blood-red fluids, drippings, blobs, and creepy organic matter. Fearlessly, his senses fibrillating, Kapoor burrowed into the world of flesh.

    Kapoor’s chief material, silicone, is significant: It is a substance associated with plastic surgery, most notably with breast implants, and here it conveys the body’s materiality with intensity and luminosity. While the

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  • Bernard Frize, Euros, 2015, acrylic and resin on canvas, 31 1/2 × 31 1/2". © Bernard Frize/ADGAP, Paris & ARS, New York.

    Bernard Frize

    Perrotin | New York

    “It is a rather complex thing to arrange situations in which you do nothing and things happen by themselves.” French artist Bernard Frize’s consciously paradoxical statement relates of course specifically to the activity (or nonactivity) of abstract painting, his rigorous approach to which continues to yield a beauty that is at once distanced and engaged. Through processes that, when they avoid gimmickry, tend toward the artless, Frize achieves results that echo the most outwardly expressive of styles, even as they otherwise approach the condition of machine-made permutations. “Dawn comes up so

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  • Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Naczka Expanse, 1978, oil on cardboard, 35 3/4 × 22 1/2".

    Eugene Von Bruenchenhein

    Andrew Edlin Gallery

    The world-in-a-grain-of-sand quality of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s work comes not from the work itself—it is expansive to the point of interstellar—but from our sense of the contrast between his art and his life. Born in 1910, he lived with his wife—Evelyn, but he called her Marie—in a small house in Milwaukee; had a job making doughnuts in a bakery; retired at the age of forty-nine, with a health problem contracted through years of working with flour (a baker’s equivalent of the miner’s black lung); lived into his early seventies, on very little money; and meanwhile filled

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  • Bunny Rogers, Mandy’s Piano Solo in Columbine Cafeteria, 2016, video, color, sound, 13 minutes 16 seconds.

    Bunny Rogers

    Greenspon

    What could easily have been too much—a confusion of references or a crowding of ideas—instead formed an economical and coherent network of symbols in “Columbine Cafeteria,” Bunny Rogers’s debut exhibition at Greenspon Gallery. Enchanted mops, Halloween apples, institutional furniture, rubber garbage cans, ballet slippers, a storybook key, and stained-glass panels were among the curious, mournful, and ominous objects on view in this poetic, almost austere, installation. They were part of a highly stylized, fantasy re-creation of the suburban Colorado high-school cafeteria where students

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  • Josh Kline, Aspirational Foreclosure (Matthew/ Mortgage Loan Officer), 2016, 3-D-printed plaster, ink-jet ink, cyanoacrylate, foam, polyethylene bag, 21 × 28 × 44".

    Josh Kline

    47 Canal | Grand Street

    I first visited Josh Kline’s studio in the fall of 2008, and I still haven’t recovered from the shock. At the time, Kline was filling bankers boxes with Bic pens, then slathering them in beige paint. Drawings of Tylenol bottles lay crumpled together in a pile. Everything seemed half-finished or badly neglected, yet Kline spoke of the work with animated conviction. Even in his studio, Kline harped on his day job, deeply bothered by how the protocols, postures, and products of his office had come to saturate his body.

    Kline no longer reports to an office, but he is nevertheless preoccupied with

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  • Amie Siegel, Double Negative, 2015, two 16-mm films (black-and-white, silent, each 4 minutes), HD video (color, sound, 17 minutes). Installation view. Photo: Miguel de Guzman.

    Amie Siegel

    Simon Preston

    “A house is a machine for living in.” So declared Le Corbusier in his revolutionary 1923 book Towards a New Architecture, thereby providing the burgeoning modern movement with one of its most famous maxims. Yet this pronouncement was as enigmatic as it was aphoristic, ripe for misinterpretation. Corbusier’s text was lavishly illustrated with images of automobiles, airplanes, and ocean liners, and in this context it was easy to understand his statement as a call for buildings to share the same sleek look that made such industrial technology so visually arresting. Indeed, the house to which

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  • Bracha L. Ettinger, Ophelia and Eurydice no. 1, 2001–2009, oil on canvas, 20 1/4 × 8".

    Bracha L. Ettinger

    Callicoon Fine Arts

    “Painting is not about representation,” according to Bracha L. Ettinger, but that doesn’t mean it’s about abstraction either. Her work registers the ambivalence of the image, photographic in origin—its way of insisting on its own presence while seemingly putting itself under erasure through a destabilizing instability of focus or refusal of clarity. The resulting sense of vagueness or veiling might recall Gerhard Richter’s famous blur, though Ettinger’s defocusing produces an effect that’s different than the one conjured by the German master, who once said, “I blur things so that they do

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  • Charles Koegel, Who Knows, 2010, acrylic, oil, and spray-painted grass on canvas, 70 × 62".

    Charles Koegel

    Waterhouse & Dodd

    The dozen abstract paintings by in this show tracked the development of the Brooklyn-based artist Charles Koegel’s work over the past eight years. Titled “Color Maps,” the exhibition began with thoroughly geometric pieces such as Best Kept Secret, 2008, and White Lotus, 2010, and concluded with the more visually complex Echoes, 2015, and Emulsion, 2016. These final works read as an extended homage to the history of abstraction: Josef Albers paid homage to the square, but, with Echoes, Koegel honors to a gestural matrix at a square’s center. Emulsion displays a variety of marks, each a different

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  • Ben Vida, Speech Act (Video), 2016, video, color, sound, 11 minutes 50 seconds.

    Ben Vida

    Lisa Cooley

    Midway through Beckett’s Endgame, the blind Hamm, agitated, asks his son/servant Clov, “What’s happening? What’s happening?” Clov responds, cagily, “Something is taking its course.” Later, Hamm attempts to identify this unspecified something, but his efforts—“We’re not beginning to . . . to . . . mean something?”—are unsuccessful, dismissed by Clov with a laugh.

    The spirit of Endgame is alive and well in composer Ben Vida’s “Speech Acts,” 2016–, a series of works that chart the ways in which sound and meaning work together or permeate each other, and the ways that they approach each

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