reviews

  • Analia Saban, Pleated Ink (Computer Chip, TMS 1000, Texas Instrument, 1974) (detail), 2018, laser-carved paper and ink on wooden panel, 60 × 60 × 2 1⁄8". From the series “Pleated Ink,” 2016–.

    Analia Saban

    Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

    Why did Analytic Cubism have to be so drab? All that black, ocher, and gray. Something about Picasso and Braque’s joint effort to pry apart the conventions of naturalist painting—linear perspective, chiaroscuro, modeling—drove them toward the dullest of hues. Analia Saban’s exhibition “Punched Card” betrayed a similar impulse. Her work waged a campaign to disarticulate painting in a muted palette of matte black and linen beige. But whereas Cubism targeted painting’s signs, Saban’s post-centennial update took aim at painting’s techniques.

    The exhibition centered on two principal bodies

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  • Charline von Heyl, The Language of the Underworld, 2017, acrylic and charcoal on linen, 90 × 108".

    Charline von Heyl

    Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

    Many of Charline von Heyl’s paintings crackle with an awkward intensity. Though her works occasionally lapse into relatively uncomplicated decor, the lion’s share of her oeuvre, a thirteen-year sampling of which was recently on display at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg (with condensed versions traveling to museums in Deurle, Belgium, and Washington, DC), is marked by the deliberate upending of formal expectation. Indeed, in attempting to describe the New York– and Marfa, Texas–based German artist’s modus operandi, the writer, musician, and gallerist John Corbett cites—in a catalogue essay for

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  • Orra White Hitchcock, Colossal Octopus (After Pierre Denys de Montfort), ca. 1828–40, pen ink and watercolor on cotton, 27 7⁄8 × 21".

    Orra White Hitchcock

    American Folk Art Museum

    The American illustrator Orra White Hitchcock (1796–1863) was born, lived, worked, and died in and around Amherst, Massachusetts. She probably left the area only a handful of times. On the few occasions I stumbled, speechless, through this utterly germane celebration of her life and work, I wondered if that ability to stay in one place for so long had something, or everything, to do with her keen and pragmatic understanding of the synthesis between nature and the divine.

    Hitchcock’s prolonged sense of ecological time sang out strongly, providing a sharp reminder that it’s the already documented,

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  • Simone Leigh, Cupboard VIII, 2018, stoneware, steel, raffia, Albany slip, 10' 4 3⁄4" × 10' × 10'.

    Simone Leigh

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    A ceramic female head crowned by a hollow receptacle met the viewer as she entered Simone Leigh’s exhibition. This hybrid object, 102 (Face Jug Series) (all works cited, 2018), conflates portraiture with functional pottery, playing on essentialist notions of the female body as a reproductive vessel and symbolic container. Themes of anthropomorphism and embodiment were amplified in Cupboard VIII, the largest of this exhibition’s three sculptures. More than ten feet tall, bare-breasted, and arrayed in a capacious, multitiered raffia skirt, the figure quotes the architecture of Mammy’s Cupboard,

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  • Judith Eisler, Tilda 2, 2017, oil on canvas, 60 × 48".

    Judith Eisler

    Casey Kaplan

    Judith Eisler paints from film stills. This fact is often the first thing you hear about the artist, as if the conceit, which she has productively mined for more than two decades now, is sufficient to explain the formal qualities and conceptual underpinnings of her work. Snapping pictures while pausing movies on her DVD (or, in another age, VHS) player, Eisler freezes moments meant to be fleeting—capturing headlights in the fog, for example, or exhaled cigarette smoke, a backward glance—and renders them in oil. Blurry and slightly distorted, the resulting paintings are explications of

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  • Mitchell Algus, Doll I, 1987, fabric, trim, vitrine, 10 3⁄4 × 36 3⁄4 × 13 1⁄2".

    Mitchell Algus

    47 Canal

    Mitchell Algus is best known as a gallerist of a particularly rare stripe—one with a singular heart, famous for resuscitating the careers of great artists such as Barkley Hendricks, Lee Lozano, Joan Semmel, and Betty Tompkins, who, once upon a time, were nearly swallowed up by obscurity. He’s been showing art in New York for more than three decades, in various spaces and capacities, though he’s rarely made a proper living at it. (He was a science teacher for twenty-three years at Long Island City High School in Queens, which allowed him some freedom from having to sell art to pay the bills).

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  • View of “Fred Wilson,” 2018. Photo: Tom Barratt.

    Fred Wilson

    Pace | 510 West 25th Street

    Intelligent, expansive, and elegantly trenchant, Fred Wilson’s exhibition at Pace was a clarion announcement of conceptual sophistication during the dog days of the summer gallery season. “Afro Kismet,” a sprawling collection of objects, images, paintings, and text, was shown in New York after being presented in slightly different forms at both the 2017 Istanbul Biennial (where it originated) and Pace’s London outpost earlier this year. The innovative strategies of research-based reappropriation and museological critique that Wilson employed in “Mining the Museum”—his landmark 1992 intervention

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  • Luchita Hurtado, Untitled, 1970, oil on canvas, 32 7⁄8 × 19 1⁄8". From “Painting: Now and Forever, Part III.”

    “Painting: Now and Forever, Part III”

    Greene Naftali/Matthew Marks Gallery

    The pensive woman portrayed in Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Jubilee, 2016, prominently hung in “Painting: Now and Forever, Part III,” appeared to be contemplating her predicament: “How’d a good painting like me end up in a show like this?” The spectacularly haphazard exhibition, a mishmash of roughly one hundred works by forty-six artists at both Greene Naftali and Matthew Marks, raised a lot of questions. Why so many bad painters? Why so many bad pieces by good painters? Why the whipsaw transitions between works as bewilderingly different as Alex Israel’s giant, onanistic self-portrait and a subtle

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  • Glen Fogel, With You . . . Me, 2014–18, seven-channel synchronized video (color, sound, 12 minutes 40 seconds), LED lighting, solid-state relay, custom benches. Photo: Charles Benton.

    Glen Fogel

    JTT

    On the day my parents moved out of the London house in which I grew up—I was in my twenties and had already moved away for college, but still thought of it as home—I realized with a jolt that I had precious little documentation of the place. In something close to panic, I grabbed my camcorder and made a rapid, tearful circuit of the place, by then mostly stripped of furniture and other belongings, but still infused with years of memories. I may still have the tape somewhere; I’ve certainly never watched it.

    To make the multichannel video With You . . . Me, 2014–18, the centerpiece of

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  • Kathy Butterly, Baked Sale, 2018, clay, glaze, 4 5⁄8 × 5 3⁄8 × 5 3⁄8".

    Kathy Butterly

    James Cohan Gallery | Tribeca

    At Ken Price’s 2013 retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, my companions and I (all full-grown adults) dared each other to reach a finger inside the black openings of his colorful glazed vessels. The voids, so impossibly matte and inky, beckoned a touch to determine if they were real or just an illusion. The ceramics of Kathy Butterly, who counts Price as an influence, are equally seductive to the eyes and hands. But where Price played with depth as a trick, Butterly uses it to expand the amount of painstaking detail in her sensuous pieces.

    For “Thought Presence,” Butterly

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  • Gertrude Abercrombie, Birds, Eggs, and Dominoes with Pyramid, 1963, oil on board, painted wooden frame, 11 × 13".

    Gertrude Abercrombie

    Karma | New York

    Gertrude Abercrombie (1909–1977) painted gloomy nightscapes and forlorn domestic scenes that revealed her internal state more than the outside world. She also made portraits, landscapes, and still lifes often influenced by the Midwestern environments of Aledo, Illinois, where she spent much of her childhood. The seventy works in this show, made between 1930 and 1971—dolorous vignettes in hushed blues, greens, and shadowy grays—utterly beguiled.

    Abercrombie moved to Chicago with her parents in 1916 and lived there until the end of her life. She was primarily self-taught, although she

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  • Vladislav Markov, xC, 2017, tar and gasoline on vintage toilet paper, dimensions variable.

    Brian Dario, Liza Lacroix, and Vladislav Markov

    M23

    The palette of this three-person show was dominated by brown hues: in the crude-oil-like sheen of paintings by Liza Lacroix, the grimy residues of sweaty hands and raw materials in sculptures by Brian Dario, and the delicate gradations of burnt umber to dark tan in an installation by Vladislav Markov. Materially, each work was in some way stained. The protective panels of suede in Dario’s Foam, 2018—a foot-and-a-half-high stack of eighteen single, used work gloves—looked rough, teased into a texture resembling sandpaper. Markov’s long sheets of old toilet paper, xC, 2017, which had

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  • Jörg Immendorff, Gestatten. Mein Name ist Geschichte! (Permit Me, My Name Is History!), 2005, oil on canvas, 59 × 51 1⁄4". From “Vile Bodies.”

    “Vile Bodies”

    Michael Werner | New York

    The bodies in this group exhibition may have been vile—they certainly weren’t classically ideal—but they were absolutely distinctive. “Vile Bodies,” which extended to the gallery’s London branch, was full of various stylistic persuasions. Take, for instance, the linear clarity of Lucio Fontana’s drawing Nudo (Nude), ca. 1956–59; the bawdiness of Joseph Beuys’s sketch Josephine, 1954; or the expressionistic zeal of Don Van Vliet’s gouache on paper Untitled (Woman), 1986. Yet its major through line, as the title of the exhibition made clear, was a roiling contempt for the human form.

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  • Jean Dubuffet, Le strabique, 1953, butterfly wings and gouache on paperboard, 9 3⁄4 × 7". From “Intimate Infinite: Imagine a Journey.”

    “Intimate Infinite: Imagine a Journey”

    Lévy Gorvy | New York

    Featuring scores of small works spread across three floors, “Intimate Infinite: Imagine a Journey” wasn’t your typical survey of exquisite works by historically significant makers and thinkers. Lévy Gorvy mounted a museum-quality exhibition that few art institutions would have had the courage or means to organize. It was packed with idiosyncratic and rarely seen paintings, constructions, and works on paper. As the title suggests, the exhibition was utterly transporting, designed to submerge the viewer in “the work of artists who collapse the vastness of infinity into tangible dimensions.” You

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