reviews

  • Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Painting, Blue, 1952, oil on canvas, 18 x 14". © Estate of Ad Reinhardt/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    Ad Reinhardt

    David Zwirner | 34 East 69th Street

    The recent exhibition at David Zwirner of twenty-seven blue paintings made by Ad Reinhardt, focusing on the period between 1950 and 1953, was a tour de force on many levels. It is doubtful that any museum could or would have assembled such a concentrated, ambitious show, since it lacks the box-office appeal of shock-and-awe sensationalism. Ironically, the gathering of such a cohesive group of paintings was shocking in its laser-like focus and awe-inspiring in the loftiness of its uncompromised aesthetic achievement. It was, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful and coherent, even breathtaking,

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  • Kara Walker, Christ’s Entry into Journalism, 2017, sumi ink and collage on paper, 11' 8“ x 16' 4”.

    Kara Walker

    Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

    Kara Walker made all of the works for her September show at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. this past summer. She offers this information as a kind of afterthought, along with a dry, technical description of her awesome, stomach-turning output (“This is a show of works on paper and on linen, drawn and collaged using ink, blade, glue, and oil stick”) in the concluding paragraph of her accompanying statement. The text, save for its matter-of-fact ending, is an artful paroxysm of frustration and despair. Walker, an African American woman artist, who has for decades merged historical fact and fable to depict

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  • Peter Doig, Two Trees, 2017, oil on linen, 7' 10 1/2“ x 11' 7 3/4”.

    Peter Doig

    Michael Werner | New York

    It’s been fifteen years since Peter Doig moved from London to Trinidad. But his art has never gone tropical. If anything, his work these days seems more “northern” than ever. The thirty-four paintings and works on paper in this show kept making me think of Marsden Hartley, Max Beckmann, Helene Schjerfbeck—not of the Gauguins and Matisses who looked to the south for their light. Doig’s early paintings often seem to represent remembered or, perhaps, imagined scenes from his Canadian childhood, but stylistically they are hard to locate, concerned more with inner than outer landscapes, apparitions

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  • Lin Tianmiao, Protruding Patterns, 2014, wool and acrylic yarn, carpets. Installation view, 2017.

    Lin Tianmiao

    Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

    This show screamed out loud. Some 120 words in English and Chinese were woven into thick protuberances that rested on an assortment of antique carpets covering the entire floor of the gallery’s main room. These terms were all related to womanhood—expressions of appreciation or derogatory insults—and they reflected the stereotypes, social pressures, and repressive roles imposed for centuries on women all over the world. Over the past six years, Lin Tianmiao has collected approximately two thousand such words from different languages and their slang and local dialects, as well as from

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  • Amanda Ross-Ho, Untitled Timepiece (5 IN THE BOX), 2017, gesso, silkscreen, acrylic, gouache, coffee, wine, and graphite on canvas, 52 x 52".

    Amanda Ross-Ho

    Mitchell-Innes & Nash | Chelsea

    Amanda Ross-Ho’s most recent exhibition, “MY PEN IS HUGE,” stated its larger-than-life conceit at the outset while simultaneously referencing the artist’s preoccupation with the process of artistic production. For this show, the artist put front and center the oversize items for which her studio practice about studio practice is best known. In the center of the gallery specifically, one encountered the dual installations Untitled Set #1 (August 1–September 7) and Untitled Set #2 (August 1–September 7) (all works 2017), which consist of platforms teeming with huge wineglasses, cutlery, and X-Acto

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  • Rosalyn Drexler, Ana Falling (Was She Pushed?), 1989, acrylic and collage on canvas, 80 x 40". © Rosalyn
    Drexler/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    Rosalyn Drexler

    Garth Greenan Gallery

    Portrait of the Artist, 1989, finds Rosalyn Drexler crouched against a black rectangular background in a suit and tie. She wears a wrestling cap and a colorful mask; a toy airplane grazes her head and one manicured hand, in a fingerless glove, covers her mouth. In her other gloved hand she holds a paintbrush the way Holly Golightly held a cigarette. Out of the brush, a cloud of pointillist color flows, surrounding the framed artist like the confetti borders in many of Georges Seurat’s compositions. She is defined by art-historical reference but not contained by it.

    At once revealing and elusive,

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  • View of “Peter Halley,” 2017. From left: The Line, 2017; Revolt, 2017; Rift, 2017.

    Peter Halley

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    Peter Halley’s latest show—his first with Greene Naftali—was spectacular, though severely and queasily so. Setting the tone for severity, the artist commandeered the Brutalist ambience of the gray, cinderblock-enclosed courtyard adjacent to the gallery entrance with a prominently placed, bodily scaled, faux-concrete-and-asphalt work from 1994, Cell with Conduit, thrust several inches out from the wall by a hefty steel armature. A distilled (one-cell, one-conduit), quintessential Halley composition that signaled, as always, a core contemporary paradox—the isolating effect of mediated

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  • Anna Maria Maiolino, In-Out Antropofagia (In-Out Anthropophagy), 1973–74, Super-8 film transferred to DVD, black-and-white, sound, 8 minutes 14 seconds.

    “Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950–1980”

    The Met Breuer

    Much ink has been spilled on Jacques Derrida’s passionate exchange with Michel Foucault around the latter’s publication of Folie et déraison: Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique (Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason) in 1961. I would like to recall that the primary issue for Derrida was not that madness was expulsed during the Classical Age, but that madness is always already internal to reason. A similar claim informs this compelling postwar survey of international art, but it does so by focusing on the procedures immanent to the artwork on display, while

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  • Bernadette Mayer, Memory (detail), 1971, approx. 1,100 wall-mounted C-prints, dimensions variable.

    Bernadette Mayer

    CANADA

    A self-described “emotional science project,” Bernadette Mayer’s Memory—1,100-odd photographs made by shooting a thirty-six-exposure roll of 35-mm color slide film on each of the thirty-one days of July 1971, accompanied by six-plus hours of diaristic narration that the artist later revised into a book—is one of those conceptual pieces from the 1960s and ’70s that have been better known as anecdote than as physical fact. The work was first shown in its entirety in February 1972 at Holly Solomon’s 98 Greene Street space and has been re-created in various partial arrangements over the

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  • Jordan Casteel, Cowboy E, Sean Cross, and Og Jabar, 2017, oil on canvas, 90 x 78".

    Jordan Casteel

    Casey Kaplan

    The initial response to Jordan Casteel’s “Nights in Harlem” is a case study in how an exhibition’s reception can be overdetermined by an immediately preceding exhibition. By dint of their subject matter, her larger-than-life paintings of black men she met on the streets of Harlem inevitably recall the recent survey of portraits by Alice Neel of her neighbors in Spanish Harlem and on the Upper West Side, organized by Hilton Als at David Zwirner gallery. This has prompted critics to equate Casteel with Neel, more out of reflex than reflection. Most prominently, Jerry Saltz proclaimed Casteel “

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  • Nicolas Party, Red Portrait, 2017, soft pastel on pastel card, 31 1/2 x 22 1/4".

    Nicolas Party

    Karma | New York

    Ingrid Sischy once located a disjunction in the critical response to the doughy imps of Fernando Botero’s paintings—there didn’t appear to be a consensus as to whether the Colombian artist’s work was a parody of the bourgeoisie or a bourgeois parody. A similar ambiguity might be attributed to the comely chalk pastels of Swiss artist Nicolas Party. With crisp, saturated graphics, Party moves through the genres of portraiture, landscape, and still life, keeping each categorically distinct, and keeping it all contemporary by borrowing art-historical styles with post-internet abandon. We see

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  • Stefan Tcherepnin, Glam Flying Fox, 2017, faux fur, synthetic leather, 61 x 68 x 12".

    Stefan Tcherepnin

    Real Fine Arts

    In recent years, artist and composer Stefan Tcherepnin’s work has featured a number of “Cookie Monsters,” who appear again and again in his performances, videos, and sculptures. These “bad” copies come in a range of colors, with googly eyes askew, and sloppy, sagging fur. I’m told that one might represent the Sesame Street character’s “evil Russian twin,” though each also resembles a bootlegged Times Square costume. In other words, we’re looking at a “poor man’s Cookie Monster,” with more pathos than the original. These monsters, however, also carry with them a more adult form of comedy—confused,

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  • Sadie Barnette, My Father’s FBI File: Government Employee (detail), 2017, five ink-jet prints, each 22 × 17".

    Sadie Barnette

    Fort Gansevoort Gallery

    On the ground floor of Sadie Barnette’s solo exhibition, a group of five framed and enlarged COINTELPRO-era documents, sporadically misted with passages of black and hot-pink spray paint, reported that Rodney Ellis Barnette was observed wearing a postal uniform at a meeting of the Black Panther Party in Los Angeles on December 18, 1968. Barnette, we learned, was also “living with a woman to whom he was not married” at the time and, on June 6, 1969, received a letter from the US Civil Service Commission advising that he did “not meet the suitability requirements for employment in the competitive

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  • Gigi Scaria, Trial, 2017, bronze, plastic, 56 x 36 x 5".

    Gigi Scaria

    Aicon Gallery

    The array of media in this exhibition was rather startling: two videos and a photograph, all rather large (each took up a wall of its own); sculptures of bronze and plastic, or bronze alone, most small, often serially arranged; and works on paper, variously sized, sometimes watercolors, sometimes subtly mixing watercolor and automotive paint. All but two were made this year, and all were meticulously crafted; the works on paper in particular have a nuanced clarity. Many of these works pictured outlandish, bizarrely constructed buildings: monstrous towers of geometrical babel, as in Ladders of

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  • Justin Berry, Palisade, 2017, ink-jet print, 15 x 12".

    Justin Berry

    Essex Flowers

    “My first impression was of a dusty distant untouched space, ”begins Lucy Lippard’s text in Cracking (1978), an artist’s book that she co-authored with Charles Simonds and that served as an exhibition catalogue for a show of Simonds’s sculptures in 1979. The black-and-white images in each spread depict the tiny dwellings—small structures, mounds of mud, heaps of rocks—of an imagined group of what he called Little People, for whom Simonds constructed diorama-sized site-specific villages that were nested in and around art institutions and crumbling buildings in New York and in other

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