reviews

  • Beverly Buchanan, Medicine Woman (detail), ca. 1993, found-object assemblage, 75 × 23 3/4 × 16 1/2". Photo: Chandra Glick.

    Beverly Buchanan

    Brooklyn Museum

    BEVERLY BUCHANAN was born in 1940 in North Carolina and created artwork of singular scale, force, and emotion. From her earliest series, for which she responded to the deteriorating urban environments of New York and New Jersey in the 1970s, to her later works, which intertwine with oral history to excavate African American social life in rural communities of the American Southeast, Buchanan undertook a deep, empirically driven study of architecture in visual art. With her work, the artist asked crucial questions: She attempted to see inside architecture and through it, and to reveal it as

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  • Stan VanDerBeek, Movie Mural, 1968, 35-mm slides, hand-drawn scroll, slide projectors, overhead projector, multiple 35-mm and 16-mm films transferred to video, sound. Installation view. Photo: Chandra Glick.

    “Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016”

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    INSIDE THE LUMINOUS ROOMS of “Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016,” numerous screens, sounds, and curatorial proposals compete for attention, bleeding into one another in an expansive and ambitious venture. As curator Chrissie Iles states in her catalogue essay, “This is not a show about cinema,” nor is it a show about immersion per se. It is, however, many other things: an exhibition of conceptual sprawl that skips around from the historical avant-garde to the internet and in between, skimming across animation, digitization, synesthesia, and interactions between the body and

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  • View of “Kai Althoff: and then leave me to the common swifts,” 2016–17. Photo: Kai Althoff.

    Kai Althoff

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    AN ART MUSEUM is a public place. Yet this status is often challenged by the argument that it excludes vast sections of the public and ultimately serves only a narrow—even elite—audience. In response, museums mobilize an army of educators, organize participatory programming, and deploy endless wall texts in their efforts to engage a wider public, as if didacticism alone could improve class relations. In this contested climate, the measure of an exhibition’s success often becomes, by default, the breadth of its appeal, the sheer number of visitors it can draw to the museum.

    From time to

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  • Joan Mitchell, Untitled, 1964, oil on canvas, 108 × 79 5/8".

    Joan Mitchell

    Cheim & Read

    It’s difficult to ever view a Joan Mitchell painting as pure abstraction. Her famously synesthetic approach to landscape and figure gives her works—whether a small drawing or a diptych that fills a wall—a gravity. They are environments.

    This compact show touched on the long arc of Mitchell’s career, from her early, calligraphic slashes in the 1950s, when she was painting in a studio off St. Marks Place in New York and drinking with the AbEx boys, through her time in Paris in the ’60s, and, until her death in 1992, in the French countryside at an estate with an overgrown garden and a

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  • Richard Hawkins, Turd Plug to Prevent Nocturnal Insemination, 2016, glazed ceramic in frame, 25 3/4 × 22 3/4 × 3 1/2".

    Richard Hawkins

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    Having seen a number of Richard Hawkins’s exhibitions over the years, I’ve learned at least one thing: not to expect the next one to look like the last. His most recent show made me realize something more: His works may not even look like what they really are. When I first walked into the gallery—before picking up the press release bearing the show’s title, “Norogachi: Ceramics After Artaud”—the works on view looked like paintings. And that’s not exactly wrong. The twenty-four small works that were on view are paintings, if that means, in the famous definition given by Maurice Denis,

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  • Salvatore Scarpitta, Matrimonio segreto (Extramural n. 6) (Secret Marriage [Extramural n. 6]), 1958, bandages, mixed media, 64 1/8 × 51 1/8". © Stella Alba Cartaino.

    Salvatore Scarpitta

    Luxembourg & Dayan | New York

    All lives are unique, but none more so than that of Salvatore Scarpitta. New York–born in 1919 but Hollywood-bred, Scarpitta developed an early obsession with the automotive. At seventeen, he landed in Palermo, Italy—his father was born in Sicily—before moving on to Rome, then at the zenith of the Mussolini imperium. He studied at the Accademie di Belle Arti there until 1940, with studio space granted at the American Academy. (One wonders what this early “academic” painting looked like considering the conservatism of those institutions, especially at that time.)

    Following Pearl Harbor

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  • Fred Sandback, Untitled (Four-Part Vertical Construction in Two Colors), 1987, acrylic yarn. Installation view. © Fred Sandback Archive.

    Fred Sandback

    David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

    It’s hard to get through an article or even a conversation about Fred Sandback’s work without hearing it described as “drawing in space.” This is hardly surprising, given that for over three decades he used thin strands of acrylic yarn (and occasionally wire, string, or elastic cord) to create three-dimensional configurations composed from that most basic element of drawing: the line. Yet while the notion of drawing in space had already featured prominently in Clement Greenberg’s writing about midcentury expressionist sculpture, Sandback’s drawing is hardly so subjective; his lines look less

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  • Sam McKinniss, Prince, 2016, oil and acrylic on canvas, 96 × 84".

    Sam McKinniss

    Team Gallery | Grand Street

    The young figurative painter Sam McKinniss selected the source images for his solo show “Egyptian Violet” at Team Gallery and translated them onto canvas—rendering them lusher and more fiery, finding menace in their dark areas, simplifying them slightly with his signature sentimental panache—all before the November presidential election. His beautiful paintings of celebrities, flowers, a swan, and a dolphin, which come in small or big but not medium sizes, were hanging in the gallery on Election Day, and on the terrible day after. His work fulfilled its obligation to hang there until

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  • Marilyn Minter, Thigh Gap, 2016, enamel on metal, 72 × 86 1/2".

    Marilyn Minter

    Salon 94

    Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with pornography—which, given its utter digital ubiquity, is pretty much anybody who’s ever turned on a computer—will know that the contemporary taste in female pubic hair (certainly, at least, among the largely male producers and consumers of erotica) has for some time been decidedly on the side of less is more. And so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that a few years ago, when Marilyn Minter was commissioned by Playboy’s creative director, curator Neville Wakefield, to produce a project for a special issue of the magazine, her photographs

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  • Pipilotti Rist, Pixelwald (Pixel Forest), 2016, mixed media. Installation view. Photo: Maris Hutchinson.

    Pipilotti Rist

    New Museum

    It was Heraclitus who said that you never step in the same river twice: The world is fluid, and the only constant is change. The metaphor is a fitting one for the challenge of organizing an artist’s retrospective—especially if that artist is Pipilotti Rist, whose works submerge us in the aesthetics of the aqueous and the currents of technological advancement.

    The earliest works in this show, which was organized by Massimiliano Gioni, Margot Norton, and Helga Christoffersen and remains on view until January 15, date to the mid-1980s, when the Swiss-born Rist was a musician and student, first

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  • Austė, Nine Powers of Nine Flowers, 1981, acrylic on paper, 29 1/2 × 41 1/2".

    Austė

    Greenspon

    “So bad it’s good.” In his 1987 review of a show by Austė in these pages, critic Carlo McCormick cited this patronizing qualifier as one possible read on the artist’s darkly campy work. It is perhaps no surprise that her unabashedly treacly confections baffled many 1980s viewers, even as Austė herself secured her place in New York’s downtown nightlife scene. The artist’s most prolific decade was coterminous with the vying neo-geo and neo-expressionist movements, neither of which had much truck with the scrawled curlicues and unapologetic girliness of her acrylics and works on paper.

    For Austė’s

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  • Hugh Scott-Douglas, Boomerang, 2016, ink-jet print and resin on canvas, 80 × 53".

    Hugh Scott-Douglas

    Casey Kaplan

    When British artist Rebecca Moss boarded the container ship Hanjin Geneva last summer to begin a “traveling” residency arranged by Access Gallery in Vancouver, she expected to arrive in Shanghai twenty-three days later. But after the craft’s operator, the Seoul-based Hanjin Shipping Company, went bust a mere week into the voyage, Moss ended up in Tokyo instead, the Geneva having been denied access to its intended port amid worries that docking fees would go unpaid. The artist made it onto dry land just a couple of days later than planned, but the crew members of numerous other Hanjin ships

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  • Cecily Brown, Untitled (After von Bayros), ca. 1997–98, ballpoint pen and colored pencil on paper, 12 5/8 × 12 5/8".

    Cecily Brown

    Drawing Center

    Cecily Brown’s exhibition at the Drawing Center, the first devoted exclusively to her works on paper, delivered everything we expect from the artist: sex, violence, prurient gestural marks, and bursts of garish color. Organized by Claire Gilman, the show included nearly eighty drawings, including works based on paintings by Bruegel, prints by Hogarth, photos by nineteenth-century pornographers, and even the cover of a Dover paperback of “copyright-free” animal figures. Brown created the works over twenty-some years using a variety of mediums (ink, colored pencil, watercolor, pastel) and sizes

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  • Victor Burgin, UK 76 (detail), 1976/2016, eleven ink-jet prints, each 40 × 60".

    Victor Burgin

    Bridget Donahue

    Victor Burgin is an artist who has persistently sought a kind of penetrating cultural analysis in his practice, whether you consider his wide-ranging, often-difficult theoretical writing, or the conceptual photography and video work for which he is also known. The target of that analysis has often been media itself, from his early efforts to reimagine advertising and photojournalism to more recent experiments with virtual worlds and three-dimensional rendering. Coming to prominence in the 1970s, Burgin is part of a generation of Conceptual artists with a special orientation to critical

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  • Andreas Sterzing, David and Mike at the Pier, 1983, C-print, 13 × 19". From “Something Possible Everywhere: Pier 34 NYC, 1983–84.”

    “Something Possible Everywhere: Pier 34 NYC, 1983–84”

    205 Hudson Gallery, Hunter College

    The story of Pier 34, on the Hudson River at Canal Street in Manhattan, traces a kind of poem of empire: Built in 1932, when New York was a busy port, it would then have been a meaningful source of employment for the working class of the city’s industrial and maritime age. That heyday was short: By the 1960s the city’s piers were sidelined, not by the globalization that today has made so many American factory workers redundant but by the streamlining efficiencies of old-fashioned capitalism, the growth of the container traffic that demanded both fewer hands on the docks and more storage space

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  • John O’Connor, Charlie (Butterfly) (detail), 2016, colored pencil and graphite on paper, 86 1/4 × 69 7/8".

    John O’Connor

    Pierogi

    John O’Connor revels in schematic mutation. Ceding varying degrees of aesthetic agency to programmatic procedures that give visual and linguistic form to statistics, sociocultural phenomena, and chance operations, he is best known for large, labor-intensive, colored-pencil-and-graphite drawings that creep and sprawl across their supports in accordance with eccentric, self-imposed directives. Pertinent examples include A Recurrence Plot, 2013, in which economic data and markers of social stratification are gaudily plotted onto a cross-sectional chart of planet Earth’s geologic layers, and Cleverbot

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  • Jean Dubuffet, Plage aux baigneurs (Beach with Bathers), 1944, pen and ink on paper, 6 3/8 × 9". © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

    Jean Dubuffet

    The Morgan Library & Museum

    The Morgan Library & Museum’s impressive and comprehensive “Dubuffet Drawings, 1935–1962” comes at the end of a recent wave of Dubuffet mania that spawned three other New York shows: at the Museum of Modern Art, the American Folk Art Museum, and Acquavella Galleries. While the Morgan’s exhibition putatively focuses on Dubuffet as draftsman, drawing here is broadly defined. The works on paper range in material from graphite pencil and watercolor to india ink imprints, wax crayon, gouache, butterfly-wing collages, incised scratchboards, and paint with gum arabic.

    Curated by Isabelle Dervaux, the

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