reviews

  • Hans Haacke, Blue Sail, 1964–65, chiffon, oscillating fan, thread, fishing weights. Installation view, New Museum, New York, 2019. Photo: Dario Lasagni. © Hans Haacke/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

    Hans Haacke, Blue Sail, 1964–65, chiffon, oscillating fan, thread, fishing weights. Installation view, New Museum, New York, 2019. Photo: Dario Lasagni. © Hans Haacke/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

    Hans Haacke

    New Museum

    THIS EXHIBITION, titled “Hans Haacke: All Connected,” was painfully overdue. The last US retrospective of Hans Haacke’s work occurred at the New Museum in 1986 during the Reagan-Thatcher era—a period that both foretells the inequality and cruelty that are hallmarks of our current moment and feels increasingly distant. Installed at the museum’s former space on Broadway, that show, “Unfinished Business,” restored the career of an artist who had been severely impacted by the infamous shuttering of his one-person show at the Guggenheim Museum by then director Thomas Messer in 1971. Denouncing Haacke’s

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  • Brice Marden, Elevation, 2018–19, oil on linen, 72 × 120".

    Brice Marden, Elevation, 2018–19, oil on linen, 72 × 120".

    Brice Marden

    Gagosian | 980 Madison Avenue

    Brice Marden’s recent show “It reminds me of something, and I don’t know what it is.” included a sextet of horizontal paintings (each six by ten feet), as well as five smaller but still substantially scaled studies in oil (three by five feet), and four vertical drawings on paper. (I note at the outset the works’ format because, in a very interesting way, they make an issue of it by playing their rectangularity against a contained square.)

    Marden has long been fascinated by Chinese calligraphy, most evidently until now in his “Cold Mountain” series, 1989–91, which was directly inspired by the

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  • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Woman in a Green Jacket, 1913, oil on canvas, 31 5⁄8 × 27 5⁄8".

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Woman in a Green Jacket, 1913, oil on canvas, 31 5⁄8 × 27 5⁄8".

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

    Neue Galerie New York

    The women traipsing through the painted worlds of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner are as kaleidoscopic as his colors. Some are birds of paradise—chartreuse-skinned acrobats, strumpets in black stockings, begonia-pink ballerinas—who seem to exist for our delectation alone. Others are portrayed as individuals as stormy and complex as the artist himself. Take the subject of Woman in a Green Jacket, 1913: She appears wary, even resentful, with tight-set lips and narrow, apprehensive eyes. The angle from which we view her suggests that we are straddling her thighs as she lies back, squinting up at us as though

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  • Keith Sonnier, Ba-O-Ba Nice II, 1977/2018, neon, glass, paint, wire, transformer, 6' 11 1⁄2“ × 14' 8” × 11". From the series “Ba-O-Ba,” 1969–.

    Keith Sonnier, Ba-O-Ba Nice II, 1977/2018, neon, glass, paint, wire, transformer, 6' 11 1⁄2“ × 14' 8” × 11". From the series “Ba-O-Ba,” 1969–.

    Keith Sonnier

    Kasmin | 509 W 27th Street

    Red, yellow, and blue neon tubes were illuminated. Wires hung loosely and were expressively slack. A flat black plane, rectangular or square, was often thrown into the mix. Everything was finessed into the gallery’s smooth, white walls like a bas relief. The works’ finitude and self-containment were exacting, perfect: Such is the formula for Keith Sonnier’s technological constructions, which were arranged like altarpieces within Kasmin’s West Twenty-Seventh Street space in Manhattan’s Chelsea. The compositions have a peculiarly sacramental character, all the more so because their radiant colors

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  • Bear’s Heart, untitled ledger drawing, ca. 1875–78, watercolor, graphite, and colored pencil on paper, 8 5⁄8 × 11 1⁄4".

    Bear’s Heart, untitled ledger drawing, ca. 1875–78, watercolor, graphite, and colored pencil on paper, 8 5⁄8 × 11 1⁄4".

    “The Pencil Is a Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists”

    The Drawing Center

    Growing consciousness of mass incarceration in the United States—the product of a bipartisan consensus that has seen the prison population, disproportionately represented by black, brown, and poor people, explode by 700 percent in the past fifty years—has motivated a surge of recent exhibitions devoted to art made by those serving time. While of a piece with this development, “The Pencil Is a Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists,” the Drawing Center’s first show under the direction of Laura Hoptman, is also unique in the way it uses the condition of imprisonment (broadly defined here to encompass

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  • Hernan Bas, The Sip In, 2019, acrylic on linen, 84 × 108".

    Hernan Bas, The Sip In, 2019, acrylic on linen, 84 × 108".

    Hernan Bas

    Lehmann Maupin | New York, W 24 Street

    In Hernan Bas’s exhibition at Lehmann Maupin, the artist punctured the notion that any given situation has a single truth or reality by highlighting the combination of fact and fiction that contributes to our perception of historical record, politics, news, or cultural rites. With the exception of the show’s single freestanding screen, each of the seven large-scale acrylic-on-linen paintings featured a young man, or groups of men, as the locus of a formally elaborate tableau which together took on a panoply of topics—the supernatural, homosexuality, mass media, fantasy, alienation, memory, and

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  • Luis Camnitzer, El mirador (The Observatory), 1996, mixed media. Installation view.

    Luis Camnitzer, El mirador (The Observatory), 1996, mixed media. Installation view.

    Luis Camnitzer

    Alexander Gray Associates

    An unsettling presence pervades Luis Camnitzer’s El mirador (The Observatory), 1996, a room-within-a-room whose components—including a stained pillow, an enamel plate, a few magazines, and a (mostly) empty bottle of wine—suggest an inhabitant. Have they died or, in some mysterious way, just disappeared? The sliding metal gate above a shelf built into the installation’s inaccessible door—through which that dish might be slid back and forth, full or empty of food—likens these quarters to a prison cell. Surveillance could be facilitated by the fist-size horizontal gap running at eye level along

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  • Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, CLEANER, 2019, 4K video, color, sound, 27 minutes 10 seconds.

    Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, CLEANER, 2019, 4K video, color, sound, 27 minutes 10 seconds.

    Jennifer and Kevin McCoy

    Postmasters

    When the textbook history of contemporary art at the turn of the twenty-first century is eventually written, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy will likely appear under the heading “From Critique to Creative Disruption.” Citing the magazine Adbusters, Naomi Klein’s No Logo (1999), and Nato Thompson’s The Interventionists: Users’ Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life (2004), the chapter will explain how the critical postmodernism of the 1980s morphed into a neo-Situationism that advocated culture jamming and off-kilter annexations of public space. In part, this change flagged a reshuffling

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  • Katsura Funakoshi, The Book of Azure (detail), 2017, painted camphorwood, marble, tin, stainless steel, glass, 71 7⁄8 × 18 3⁄4 × 15 3⁄4".

    Katsura Funakoshi, The Book of Azure (detail), 2017, painted camphorwood, marble, tin, stainless steel, glass, 71 7⁄8 × 18 3⁄4 × 15 3⁄4".

    Katsura Funakoshi

    Van Doren Waxter

    Sculptor Katsura Funakoshi’s exhibition at Van Doren Waxter, “A Tower in the Night Forest,” collected five humanoid forms fashioned from camphorwood, arranged like mannequins in a showroom. Each sculpture evinced an almost sentient presence that was just as much about absence. At approximately forty-two inches tall and mounted on pedestals that were roughly three feet high, these avatars were/are postlife, vaguely afterlife, and utterly deathless.

    Somewhat resemblant of carved religious icons, they conjure the accidental melancholy of wooden millinery heads and seemingly wait for something to

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  • Suzy Lake, Choreogrpahed Puppet #4, 1976/2007, C-print, 41 5⁄8 × 44 1⁄2".

    Suzy Lake, Choreogrpahed Puppet #4, 1976/2007, C-print, 41 5⁄8 × 44 1⁄2".

    Suzy Lake

    Arsenal Contemporary Art | New York

    One of the first things Suzy Lake did after moving to Montreal in 1968 from her native Detroit—a city whose fiery upheavals had recently jolted her into political consciousness—was enroll in mime school at the Théâtre de Quat’Sous. Miming proved a formative education for Lake, who learned to manage both the dramas of various personae and, one supposes, the constraints of muteness inherent in a photographic subject. Crucially, the course also tutored her in the eradicative powers of whiteface, adopted throughout her practice as a “point of nothing.” From there, she embarked on her conceptually

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  • Conrad Ventur, barbara 2, 2020, digital C-print, 30 × 20".

    Conrad Ventur, barbara 2, 2020, digital C-print, 30 × 20".

    Conrad Ventur

    PARTICIPANT INC

    “This is a tough town. And if you’re not standing on something solid, you’re gonna get pushed over.” Thus spake the photographer and filmmaker Conrad Ventur on his decision to become a gardener in The Internship, 2018–19, a forty-four-minute video that was the fulcrum of his show, “A Green New Deal,” at Participant Inc. After fifteen years of being on what he calls “the artist roller coaster . . . lots of money and then no money, and then more no money. And then more more no money”—and working as an archivist and editor to support his artmaking—Ventur began taking night classes in horticulture

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  • View of “Elizabeth Enders,” 2019–20. From left: Battle of Lepanto 1571, 2019; Untitled—Fields, 2019.

    View of “Elizabeth Enders,” 2019–20. From left: Battle of Lepanto 1571, 2019; Untitled—Fields, 2019.

    Elizabeth Enders

    Betty Cuningham Gallery

    The last battle fought almost entirely between rowing vessels occurred nearly five hundred years ago. The mechanics, not to mention horrors, of such a confrontation are nigh unimaginable today. History paintings depicting the Battle of Lepanto tend to portray its maritime setting, in the Gulf of Patras off western Greece, as stuffed full of masts, prows, flags, cannons, and oars. Little order emerges from these chaotic scenes. In “Elsewhere,” Elizabeth Enders’s exhibition at Betty Cuningham Gallery—a fantastic, transtemporal, and world-spanning journey that unfolds across twenty-one works on

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  • Quay Quinn Wolf, Fear of Softness (No. 1) (detail), 2020, mixed media, 43 1⁄2 × 22 × 22".

    Quay Quinn Wolf, Fear of Softness (No. 1) (detail), 2020, mixed media, 43 1⁄2 × 22 × 22".

    Quay Quinn Wolf

    Jack Barrett

    Like a tastefully styled crime scene, Quay Quinn Wolf’s show at Jack Barrett greeted viewers with bits of twisted metal dressed in scraps of fur and set on a floor freshly painted in lavender, a vaguely sickly tang hanging in the air above them. As is characteristic of Wolf’s work, the exhibition was a strategically coordinated series of sculptural scenarios composed from poetically repurposed found materials. The artist has often juxtaposed “soft” domestic objects—such as articles of clothing and other textiles, as well as flowers and plant pigments—with infrastructural flotsam, including latex

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  • Melanie Baker, Pomp and Sycophants (detail), 2019, charcoal, graphite, and pastel on paper, 72 × 120".

    Melanie Baker, Pomp and Sycophants (detail), 2019, charcoal, graphite, and pastel on paper, 72 × 120".

    Melanie Baker

    Cristin Tierney

    The smoldering, menacing drawings in Melanie Baker’s “The Optimates,” her first New York solo show in roughly a decade, depicted strategically cropped images of male politicians. The three monumental works on view (the tallest was eight feet high, and the longest was ten feet wide) were rendered with fierce and at times frenzied strokes of charcoal, graphite, and pastel. In Mouthpiece, 2018, Baker leaves the bloviating face of her subject (presumably Donald Trump) out of the frame, focusing instead on the grip of his hands on a lectern emblazoned with a partially obliterated POTUS seal. In Pomp

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  • Chulayarnnon Siriphol, Golden Spiral, 2018, painted snail shells, HD video projection (color, sound, 18 minutes). Installation view.

    Chulayarnnon Siriphol, Golden Spiral, 2018, painted snail shells, HD video projection (color, sound, 18 minutes). Installation view.

    “How shall we dress for the occasion?”

    601Artspace

    Climate change poses many dangers, but perhaps the most insidious one is the erosion of our faith in the future, a belief regarded by some philosophers and scientists as essential to human nature and progress. If we act and moralize our actions around imagined consequences for coming generations, then what are we to do in the face of a dying earth and an uncertain tomorrow? This question lies at the heart of “How shall we dress for the occasion?” at 601Artspace. Curated by Ulya Soley, with help from Mari Spirito, the show brings together works by four artists who consider how to cope with the

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