• View of “Mark Leckey: Containers and Their Drivers,” 2016–17. From left: Felix Mask Portrait, 2016; Felix the Cat, 2013. Photo: Pablo Enriquez.

    Mark Leckey

    MoMA PS1

    HERE’S THE BAIT AND SWITCH: Each new technology that further isolates individuals first promises to connect them. It was film’s potential to organize collective perception that so excited Walter Benjamin: “The ancient truth expressed by Heraclitus, that those who are awake have a world in common while each sleeper has a world of his own, has been invalidated by film,” he wrote, “and less by depicting the dream world itself than by creating figures of collective dream, such as the globe-encircling Mickey Mouse.” Alone together in the darkened theater, the proletariat would commune with new totems.

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  • Mark di Suvero, The Cave, 2015, steel, 13' 1 1/2“ × 14' 4” × 11'.

    Mark di Suvero

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 521 West 21st Street

    As the academy of art criticism developed over this past half century, a vocabulary of enthusiasm—great, masterpiece, awesome, cool, and suchlike opinion—was struck from the lexicon of permissible discourse. The fear, quite correctly, was that such descriptives served to bolster bourgeois acquisition (ever an academic bugbear) while in no way explaining the work of art or facilitating access to its experience or meaning.

    Yet, the recent exhibitions of Mark di Suvero’s sculptures at Paula Cooper’s magnificent Chelsea space reset the path anew, and we can once more use such academically

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  • William Christenberry, Palmist Building (Summer), Havana Junction, Alabama, 1980, ink-jet print, 26 5/8 × 34 1/8". © William Christenberry.

    William Christenberry

    Pace/MacGill Gallery

    Years ago I was talking to a woman from Virginia about Ireland, where I grew up, and she said, “I love Ireland. It reminds me of home.” Ireland not being known for its tobacco nor Virginia for its stout, that surprised me, until she said, “They’re both tragic.” Indeed, both Ireland and the South have deeply embedded histories of defeat, of eclipse by a nearby elsewhere, and in both places, as William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” I often think of that conversation when I look at William Christenberry’s photographs of Alabama, but I’m also reminded of the Band

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  • Carolee Schneemann, Devour, 2003–2004, multichannel video, color, sound, 3 minutes 37 seconds. Installation view. Galerie Lelong.

    Carolee Schneemann

    P.P.O.W/Galerie Lelong

    What does an enduring commitment to feminist antiwar resistance look like? For more than five decades, Carolee Schneemann has underwritten her art with a desire to understand and observe. From Viet-Flakes, 1965, and Snows, 1967, which protested the Vietnam War, to the “Lebanon Series,” 1983–91, on the destruction of Beirut, and Terminal Velocity, 2001–2005, wherein she took on 9/11, she has long borne witness to cruelty and empathy, though discussions of her oeuvre sideline this theme in favor of other, related issues of gender and sexuality. Hot on the heels of her retrospective at the Museum

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  • Elmgreen & Dragset, Untitled (Morgue), 2011, mixed media, 11' 3” × 15' × 7' 1 3/4”.

    Elmgreen & Dragset

    The Flag Art Foundation

    Across twenty-odd years of collaboration, the artist team of Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have created a rangy, often memorable body of sculptural and installation work that oscillates—perhaps too freely for some tastes—between the melancholic and the glib, the subtle and the slapstick. All in all, they’re probably better known for the latter than for the former: for works such as Prada Marfa, 2005, their winking dig at the cultural gentrification of the art-saturated West Texas town, or Van Gogh’s Ear, 2016, a charmingish public-art non sequitur—amputated body part as

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  • Jonathan Meese, Fort d’EVOLUTIONSKNOXOZ de ZARDOZEDADADDY 2 (ERZ JOHNNY WAYNE IS DADDY COOLISMEESE), 2016, mixed media. Installation view. Photo: Stan Narten.

    Jonathan Meese

    David Nolan Gallery

    Inspired by the singular if unfashionable vision of Franz Erhard Walther, under whom he studied at Hamburg’s Hochschule für Bildende Künste in the late 1990s, Jonathan Meese has developed a self-consciously grandiose vision of “total art” that continues to shape his output and its reception. This exhibition, “DR. TRANS-FORM-ERZ,” gathered seventy-odd drawings made by the German artist over the past twenty years or so, but only scratched the surface of his expansive and deliberately contrarian practice. A scattershot installation of works on paper in the gallery’s ground-level space was paired

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  • Denzil Forrester, LITTLE SHAKA, 1985, oil on board, 46 1/2 × 30 1/4".

    Denzil Forrester

    White Columns

    I have an enduring memory of an early-1990s set by legendary dub reggae DJ Jah Shaka at the North London club the Rocket that garnered the performer all the more respect for his stubborn reliance on a single turntable: no hyperactive cutting and scratching here. Shaka’s simple, unhurried approach signaled absolute confidence in a perfect selection of tracks, the effect of which was immediate and immersive. The aural space that dub establishes through the use of echo, reverb, and other effects—Claude Debussy’s oft-quoted line about music residing in the space between the notes is nowhere

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  • Michele Abeles, 5641, 2016, ink-jet print, 42 × 29 1/2".

    Michele Abeles

    47 Canal | Grand Street

    What’s black and white and red all over? Such a question, of course, is a riddle whose punch line could be “a sunburned zebra” or “a newspaper.” Michele Abeles nods to this joke in the announcement for her recent exhibition at 47 Canal: The word zebra, her show’s title, runs vertically down an iPhone screenshot of the New York Times’s home page. The riddle’s obsoleteness—obsolete because it suggests that, in this attention-dry digital era, newspapers might be black-and-white or read to completion—is a distillation of the themes that ran through the exhibition.

    In the show were nine

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  • Ena Swansea, Tiny Plastic Hands, 2016, oil on graphite on linen, 20 × 30".

    Ena Swansea

    Albertz Benda

    A visitor once asked me how long it takes a new arrival to become a New Yorker. My considered response: You are a New Yorker when you start to miss the “real” New York, the one you knew when the city was still fresh to you and hadn’t yet been replaced by . . . whatever it is that the next wave of arrivals brought with them. By that standard, I might have to call myself an inhabitant of the city that Ena Swansea evokes in her most recent paintings. It’s recognizably New York, but not as I see it when I walk its streets these days. Swansea’s New York is wrapped up in a decayed Romanticism that’s

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  • Susan Lipper, Untitled (Grapevine), 1991, gelatin silver print, 35 × 35". From the series “Grapevine,” 1988–92.

    Susan Lipper

    Higher Pictures

    As Susan Lipper laconically tells it, a “series of chance events” led her from New York to Grapevine Branch, West Virginia, in the late 1980s. There, in this tiny Appalachian community at the southwestern tip of the state, she “was immediately adopted by most of the inhabitants and, in particular, by a certain family.” She lived among the residents of Grapevine off and on for several years, taking a series of black-and-white photos whose immediacy and intimacy made it clear that she had, indeed, become part of the fold. The images that form “Grapevine,” 1988–92, are mostly of hard-living

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  • Jimmy Wright, Anvil #1, 1975, color ink on paper, 10 1/4 × 10 1/4". From the series “New York Underground,” 1973–90.

    Jimmy Wright


    Though freshly painted and well lit, David Fierman’s new Lower East Side gallery is something of a hole-in-the-wall—a very tiny, these days rare, unrenovated storefront space that lends itself to intimate and focused shows. Painter Jimmy Wright’s “New York Underground,” a collection of voluptuous, ebullient, and funny works on paper from between 1974 and 1976, felt especially appropriate to the charming, bare-bones venue, as his casually explicit depictions of gay nightlife—cruising, public sex, and socializing in clubs, bathrooms, and bathhouses, speak to a bygone era of downtown

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  • Helen Lundeberg, Water Map, 1963, acrylic on canvas, 60 × 60".

    Helen Lundeberg

    Cristin Tierney

    Helen Lundeberg (1908–1999) is an important if underrecognized figure in California art. Perhaps best known for her enigmatic “post-Surrealist” figurative paintings of the 1930s, she made a transition to hard-edge geometric abstraction in the ’50s; the latter works, marked by their austere and ingenious eccentricity, were the focus of this revealing show at Cristin Tierney Gallery.

    Abstract without purely being so, pieces such as Seascape, 1962; By the Sea II, 1962; and Water Map, 1963, clearly allude to the sea. It must be a serenely unruffled sea, for its surface is flat and unmoving (suggesting,

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  • Theo Triantafyllidis, How to Everything, 2016, live digital simulation, color, sound, indefinite duration.

    Theo Triantafyllidis

    Sargent's Daughters

    For his New York solo debut, Theo Triantafyllidis, an Athens-, Los Angeles–, and Berlin-educated architecture graduate turned artist, presented one small sculpture; a medium-size wall relief composed of shape-fitted shards of colorful trash; two ink-jet-on-nylon wall hangings; and, most notably, three self-generating videos, two of which were accompanied by comical props and cosmetically augmented computer hardware. The sculpture, Mountain (Ceramic) (all works 2016), a piled-up mound of extruded white clay bearing splashes of color and bright plastic appendages, crowned a plain white plinth.

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  • Phoebe Collings-James, Bodied, 2016, polypropylene woven sack, tape, poplar frame, 70 × 70 × 7".

    Phoebe Collings-James and Jesse Darling


    One of the seven freestanding components of Jesse Darling’s Liberty Poles (all works 2016) clattered to the floor at the opening of “Atrophilia”in late October, when someone brushed against it. So many signs are ominous in retrospect, but this incident felt especially preordained: The two-person exhibition with Phoebe Collings-James had taken its title from a word invented by the two artists to convey a “desire for collapse or stasis” (a fall into rest or hibernation, then, rather than anarchy).

    Liberty Poles comprises several empty, upturned bags of Gold Medal–brand flour positioned atop spindly,

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