reviews

  • Andy Warhol’s T.V., 1980–83, still from a TV show on MSG Network and Manhattan Cable TV. Season 1, episode 18.

    Andy Warhol’s T.V., 1980–83, still from a TV show on MSG Network and Manhattan Cable TV. Season 1, episode 18.

    Andy Warhol

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    I’M PROBABLY THE WRONG PERSON TO ASK. As a forever Warhol devotee, I feel proprietary, cranky, when it comes to other people’s Andys. I will out myself up front: Half of me was ready for this show to fall flat. The other, better half was bracing to be blown away, to be overawed once more by the breadth and depth and prescience of the man who, in the years since I first began seriously consuming contemporary art, ascended from the washed-up Pop star many wrote him off as in the late 1970s to all but inarguably the most significant artist of the second half of the twentieth century. Alas, neither

    Read more
  • Dana Schutz, Beat Out the Sun, 2018, oil on canvas, 94 × 87 1⁄2".

    Dana Schutz, Beat Out the Sun, 2018, oil on canvas, 94 × 87 1⁄2".

    Dana Schutz

    Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

    Americans do not see eye to eye on much these days, but we have, as the writer Nitsuh Abebe notes, “reached a weird, quiet agreement that the most potent force in our politics is . . . a stew of unease, fear, rage, grief, helplessness, and humiliation.” Dana Schutz is rendering our deeply anxious times with rare bravura. Her latest New York exhibition delivered twelve mordantly funny visions of modern agony: high-speed collisions of the mythic and the banal executed in a searing palette that is part German Expressionism and part underground comics. Photos fail to convey the tectonic textures of

    Read more
  • Ulrike Ottinger, Das perfekte Ebenbild und seine unaufthaltsame Mechanik  (The Perfect Image and Its Unrelenting Mechanics), 1977, C-print, 35 3⁄8 × 23 5⁄8".

    Ulrike Ottinger, Das perfekte Ebenbild und seine unaufthaltsame Mechanik (The Perfect Image and Its Unrelenting Mechanics), 1977, C-print, 35 3⁄8 × 23 5⁄8".

    Ulrike Ottinger

    Bridget Donahue

    Taken on the set of filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger’s swashbuckling s/m fantasy Madame X: An Absolute Ruler (1977), the photograph Das perfekte Ebenbild und seine unaufthaltsame Mechanik (The Perfect Image and Its Unrelenting Mechanics) captures a saucy tableau on board the corsair Orlando. A female pirate—sporting fetishy, elbow-length gloves; a black bralette; and an irrepressibly blonde, Boris Vallejo–worthy mane—wields a stake over actress Tabea Blumenschein, cast as the flesh-and-blood, leather-clad figurehead bedecking the ship’s bow. Moments later, the pirate will ecstatically plunge her blade

    Read more
  • Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Closer to a Comfort, 2018, oil on linen, 51 1⁄2 × 78 3⁄4".

    Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Closer to a Comfort, 2018, oil on linen, 51 1⁄2 × 78 3⁄4".

    Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

    Jack Shainman Gallery | West 20th Street

    “In Lieu of a Louder Love,” Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s exhibition of twenty-six paintings—including two diptychs and a quadriptych—occupied both of Jack Shainman Gallery’s Chelsea spaces. These imaginary portraits conveyed a timelessness, a sense that they might have been made either a hundred years ago or just the other day. Yiadom-Boakye’s work does not elicit mere nostalgia; it evokes a sense of inward reflection, less affected by immediate sensations than by what’s been brooding in the soul. Although the artist relies on imagination rather than observation, she still uses photographs and other

    Read more
  • David Robilliard, Too Many Cocks Spoil the Breath, 1987, acrylic on canvas, 39 1/2 x 59 1/8".

    David Robilliard, Too Many Cocks Spoil the Breath, 1987, acrylic on canvas, 39 1/2 x 59 1/8".

    David Robilliard

    Ortuzar Projects

    WELCOME TO MY OPENING. Outwardly polite, the announcement takes on a cheeky second meaning when rendered by the late British artist and poet David Robilliard. Daubed in childlike dirty-yellow capital letters on a small framed sheet of paper, it ushered us into his first New York solo exhibition in nearly thirty years and immersed us in the queer London milieu that he inhabited throughout most of the 1980s. Championed by Gilbert and George, who anointed him “the new master of the modern person,” Robilliard pursued a disarming combination of image and text that found its most distinctive expression

    Read more
  • Neke Carson, Portrait of Andy Warhol, 1972,  acrylic on canvas, 21 1⁄4 × 19 1⁄4".

    Neke Carson, Portrait of Andy Warhol, 1972, acrylic on canvas, 21 1⁄4 × 19 1⁄4".

    Neke Carson

    Mitchell Algus Gallery

    A conceptual artist walks into a gallery. He says, “Take my art—please!” When the dealer doesn’t, the artist snaps a picture of him and goes on his merry way. So what’s the punch line of Neke Carson’s Time Wasting Event, for which he documented the four years and ten minutes he spent between 1971 and 1975 fruitlessly showing assorted people his work? On the day he was finally offered a show, at the René Block Gallery, he declared the piece finished, since he would no longer be wasting his time. But seriously, folks, since the late 1960s Carson has created unconventional and ebullient performances,

    Read more
  • View of “Helène Aylon,” 2019. From left: Drifting Pink, 1970; Whirling White, 1971; Brazen White, 1972; Laden White, 1970. Photo: Jeffrey Sturges.

    View of “Helène Aylon,” 2019. From left: Drifting Pink, 1970; Whirling White, 1971; Brazen White, 1972; Laden White, 1970. Photo: Jeffrey Sturges.

    Helène Aylon

    Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects

    In 1963, two years after Helène Fisch (née Greenfield) became widowed at age thirty, she was painting a mural for a community center when a newspaper reporter asked for her name. Spontaneously, she replied, “Helène Aylon,” offering a shortened Hebraic version of her first name for her last. This creation story is untold in the artist’s various exhibition reviews from the 1960s and ’70s, but I find it central to her often self-mythologizing work. Also essential: In those high and hard times, Aylon was raising her two children alone, struggling to be both an artist and a mother. But by 1970 she

    Read more
  • Marlon Mullen, Untitled, 2018, acrylic on linen, 30 × 30 1⁄4".

    Marlon Mullen, Untitled, 2018, acrylic on linen, 30 × 30 1⁄4".

    Marlon Mullen

    JTT

    Marlon Mullen begins by painting words, performing an act that neither comes from nor returns to reading. The artist has autistic spectrum disorder and suffers from expressive aphasia; he rarely uses spoken or written language to communicate. His voice, though, is coherent and glorious. This was Mullen’s third solo show at JTT.

    In the late 1960s, California governor Ronald Reagan deinstitutionalized many of those diagnosed with mental illness; as US president, he continued in this vein and shifted responsibility for the mentally ill to the states, leaving thousands with limited options. In

    Read more
  • Jane Dickson, Peep VII, 1992–96, oil and pumice on canvas, 57 × 40".

    Jane Dickson, Peep VII, 1992–96, oil and pumice on canvas, 57 × 40".

    Jane Dickson

    James Fuentes

    In 1978, the Chicago-born painter Jane Dickson was a few years out of college and looking for a job in New York. She answered a newspaper ad for artists “willing to learn computers,” and soon found herself on the night shift, designing animations for the first digital light board in Manhattan’s Times Square. Although she disdained what she called the “commercial propaganda” being broadcast on the Spectacolor screen, Dickson did manage to make the display work in her favor. First, she talked her boss into letting her commandeer it briefly to advertise the “Times Square Show,” the legendary 1980

    Read more
  • Erica Baum, Line Line Green Red, 2018, ink-jet print, 16 × 16 5⁄8". From the series “Patterns,” 2018–.

    Erica Baum, Line Line Green Red, 2018, ink-jet print, 16 × 16 5⁄8". From the series “Patterns,” 2018–.

    Erica Baum

    Bureau

    Via close-ups of found language on partially erased chalkboards, View-Master discs, and newspaper clippings, Erica Baum has established herself as an insightful and nimble poet-photographer. Lists in particular yield an unexpected beauty under her gaze. Take Untitled [Suburban Homes], 1997, a picture of an old-fashioned library card catalogue that cleverly isolates a pair of consecutive tabs marked suburban homes and SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES; or How Long, 2011, which features bits of dialogue along the diagonal fold of a dog-eared page. Even when Baum spotlights an image rather than a text (her

    Read more
  • Dora Budor, Benedick, or Else (detail), 2018, scenographic elements, script, architectural modifications, light. Installation view.

    Dora Budor, Benedick, or Else (detail), 2018, scenographic elements, script, architectural modifications, light. Installation view.

    Dora Budor

    80WSE Gallery, NYU Steinhardt School

    New York University opened 80WSE in 1974, initially as a showcase for student work and later as a venue for practicing artists. Currently under the direction of curator Nicola Lees, the gallery’s programming is heady, multifaceted and experimental, oftentimes incorporating the expertise of NYU’s diverse faculty. 80WSE is also—sorry to say—a challenging place to mount an exhibition. Its physical dimensions are awkwardly scaled, and its floor plan faintly resembles a coiled python digesting a family of antelope.

    Most artists commissioned by 80WSE learn to cope with this space; Dora Budor wanted to

    Read more
  • Vivian Maier, Chicago, 1959, C-print, 10 × 15".

    Vivian Maier, Chicago, 1959, C-print, 10 × 15".

    Vivian Maier

    Howard Greenberg Gallery

    The photographer Vivian Maier is well known by now, at least in the storybook outlines of her career: Seen during her lifetime mostly as an eccentric live-in Chicago nanny who for some reason always carried a camera, she was revealed after her death—in 2009, at the age of eighty-three—as a photographer of grand authority. Though she is already the subject of two biographies and two movies, much about her life remains obscure, but her tale is best told by her images—more than 150,000 of them—discovered posthumously and now working their way into the public eye. Ignored in life, cherished in death,

    Read more
  • View of “Lex Brown,” 2019. From left: Sync, 2019; Animal Static (detail), 2019; New Codes, 2019.

    View of “Lex Brown,” 2019. From left: Sync, 2019; Animal Static (detail), 2019; New Codes, 2019.

    Lex Brown

    The Kitchen

    Lex Brown’s exhibition “Animal Static” was a dizzying, attention-span-fraying fun house of irony and gloom—just like the internet. The projectors and spotlights in the exhibition were activated by spectators via motion-sensor technology (when you stepped back from a work, for instance, its sources of illumination immediately dimmed). And in the case of the comedic three-channel video that gave the show its title (all works 2019), the content progressively degenerated into stretches of visual and linguistic glitching.

    Animal Static lays out sundry narratives that take on content producers, tragic

    Read more
  • Hans Hofmann, The Conjurer (Small Version), 1946, oil on panel, 25 × 30".

    Hans Hofmann, The Conjurer (Small Version), 1946, oil on panel, 25 × 30".

    Hans Hofmann

    Miles McEnery Gallery | 21st Street

    In 1903, Hans Hofmann (1880–1966) moved from Munich to Paris, where he saw the influential Paul Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d’Automne in 1907, worked with Henri Matisse, and became friends with Georges Braque, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, and Pablo Picasso, eventually fusing Fauvism and Cubism to new effect, and later adding Wassily Kandinsky to the influential mix. Though he was present at the birth of abstract painting in the early twentieth century, he was not one of its midwives, but rather a synthesizer of their ideas, opening what is generally regarded as the first school of modern

    Read more
  • Mel Odom, Them, ca. 1980, graphite on vellum, 14 × 11".

    Mel Odom, Them, ca. 1980, graphite on vellum, 14 × 11".

    Mel Odom

    Daniel Cooney Fine Art

    “An addict of beauty” is what the novelist Edmund White dubbed Mel Odom during a public conversation only days after the artist’s solo exhibition, aptly titled “Gorgeous,” opened. White would know, because he’s an expert on the subject. And so is Odom, a maker of ethereal images that depict splendidly chiseled men and glamorous women who appear as though they’ve been tenderly reinforced with light. Thirty-five of his modestly sized drawings (the largest of which are only fourteen inches high), produced between 1975 and 2018, made up this show.

    Odom came to fame in the 1970s as a commercial

    Read more
  • View of “Ger van Elk,” 2019. On wall, from left: Sandwich Study ‘Tombe’ (C de X), 1994; Cloudy Conscience (C de X), 1994; Los Angeles Freeway Flyer, 1973–2003. On floor: Camping Art II, 1968. Photo: Max Yawney.

    View of “Ger van Elk,” 2019. On wall, from left: Sandwich Study ‘Tombe’ (C de X), 1994; Cloudy Conscience (C de X), 1994; Los Angeles Freeway Flyer, 1973–2003. On floor: Camping Art II, 1968. Photo: Max Yawney.

    Ger van Elk

    GRIMM | New York

    The art of Dutch Conceptualist Ger van Elk (1941–2014) arrived stateside for a solo outing, the artist’s first in America since the dealer Marian Goodman, organizer of fellow jokester Marcel Broodthaers’s inaugural US exhibition, showed his work back in 1986. Though the two men share many poetic and intellectual concerns—most notably an affinity for Duchampian wit—Van Elk’s exploration of the life of images centers on the photograph, which he called his “faithful friend and basis.” In order to reintroduce Americans to Van Elk in advance of a 2021 retrospective at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum,

    Read more