reviews

  • Dan Herschlein, The Hourglass Figure, 2020, wood, plaster, pigmented joint compound, epoxy putty, milk paint, wax, graphite, colored pencil, 61 1/2 × 46 1/2 × 6 1/4".

    Dan Herschlein, The Hourglass Figure, 2020, wood, plaster, pigmented joint compound, epoxy putty, milk paint, wax, graphite, colored pencil, 61 1/2 × 46 1/2 × 6 1/4".

    Dan Herschlein

    JTT

    The shuddersome tableaux created by Brooklyn-based artist Dan Herschlein aren’t intended to frighten, he says. On the contrary, he hopes his eldritch images will offer some solace to the suffering. But “Dweller,” his solo exhibition at JTT, was so preternaturally dominated by creepiness that finding comfort therein seemed unfathomable.

    Though never directly pictured, some sort of violence was implied across the six painted reliefs on view. In Breathing in the Corner (all works 2020), a man’s barely human face—reduced to a trio of grimy, puckered orifices—collapses like a vacuum-sucked plastic

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  • Jacob Lawrence, Massacre in Boston, 1954, egg tempera on hardboard, 12 × 16". From the series “Struggle: From the History of the American People,” 1954–56.

    Jacob Lawrence, Massacre in Boston, 1954, egg tempera on hardboard, 12 × 16". From the series “Struggle: From the History of the American People,” 1954–56.

    Jacob Lawrence

    The Met | Metropolitan Museum of Art

    In 1961, Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000) spoke of his thirty-panel series “Struggle: From the History of the American People,” 1954–56, as a crux in his oeuvre: “Years ago, I was just interested in expressing the Negro in American life, but a larger concern, an expression of humanity and of America, developed. My history series grew out of that concern.” Shown in its near entirety for the first time since 1958 (the show opened at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, earlier this year), the unfinished and under-studied “Struggle” reimagines roughly the first forty years of the United

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  • Peter Saul, Untitled, 1966, acrylic, oil, and metallic paint on canvas, 75 1/4 × 69 1/4".

    Peter Saul, Untitled, 1966, acrylic, oil, and metallic paint on canvas, 75 1/4 × 69 1/4".

    Peter Saul

    Michael Werner | New York

    Peter Saul remembers listening to the electrocution of American scapegoat Ethel Rosenberg live on the radio. This would have been 1953, when he was eighteen. According to the artist, the reporter became “completely unhinged,” shouting, “Her hair is on fire! Her hair is on fire!” Sadly for Saul, his parents made him switch off the broadcast, leaving him to forever imagine what followed. This possibly apocryphal origin story goes a long way toward explaining Saul’s work: He’s been envisioning the depth of the country’s depravity ever since and has never lost a sense of our zeal for public suffering.

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  • Nicola Tyson, Big Yellow Self-Portrait, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 80 × 62 1/4".

    Nicola Tyson, Big Yellow Self-Portrait, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 80 × 62 1/4".

    Nicola Tyson

    Petzel Gallery | East 67th Street

    Three of the eight paintings in Nicola Tyson’s exhibition “Sense of Self” were designated as self-portraits, but they didn’t tell you much about how she looks. First of all, they didn’t have faces, usually a sine qua non of the genre. I can also assure you that, contrary to Self-Portrait: Wings (all works 2020), the artist lacks the feathery appendages common to birds, the ones covered in tiny iridescent scales boasted by butterflies, or the presumably more immaterial ones worn by angels. Likewise, if more prosaically, she did not (last time I saw her) have the massive body of the seated figure

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  • Kim Dingle, Full Service–Restaurant Mandala, 2012–20, oil on canvas, 48 × 48".

    Kim Dingle, Full Service–Restaurant Mandala, 2012–20, oil on canvas, 48 × 48".

    Kim Dingle

    Andrew Kreps Gallery

    Sunny and animated, Kim Dingle’s latest series of oil paintings at Andrew Kreps Gallery, titled “Restaurant Mandalas” and produced between 2012 and 2020, exude a sense of casual ease and comfort. Channeling the formal languages of abstraction into open floor plans, seating arrangements, table settings, and serving suggestions, they describe the dimensions and pleasures of dining out (remember when we did that?) and fit the bill as templates for the good life. The idea for these pictures came from a phase in Dingle’s career during which she operated a neighborhood-style café named Fatty’s from

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  • Jess, Mystic Writing XI, 1955, wax crayon on paper, 10 3/4 × 9 3/4 ".

    Jess, Mystic Writing XI, 1955, wax crayon on paper, 10 3/4 × 9 3/4 ".

    Jess

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    In 1974, the artist Jess (1923–2004) had an exhibition of oil paintings at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, curated by the institution’s legendary Kynaston McShine. The imagery and texts for the works were derived from a seemingly random variety of sources—including popular magazines, snapshots, and trading cards, along with quotations from Lewis Carroll, Thomas Hardy, Wassily Kandinsky, and Gertrude Stein, among many others. Accentuating the personal, evocative, and fantastical character of each piece, the poet Robert Duncan, Jess’s lifelong lover, emphasized that they were “related to

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  • William Scott, Untitled, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 60 × 48".

    William Scott, Untitled, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 60 × 48".

    William Scott

    Ortuzar Projects

    A segment from a 1972 episode of Sesame Street features a very youthful Jesse Jackson engaging in a call-and-response with a racially diverse group of kids. Jackson recites a piece based on a poem by William Holmes Borders Sr. titled “I Am—Somebody,” a stirring anthem of Black pride that Borders, a civil rights activist and Baptist minister from Georgia, famously read in 1943 for a radio broadcast. Jackson’s choir repeats after him with gusto: “I may be poor, but I am—somebody. . . . I may be small, but I am—somebody. . . . My clothes are different, my face is different, my hair is different,

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  • Lauretta Vinciarelli, Orange Silence, 2000, three watercolor-on-paper works, each 22 × 15".

    Lauretta Vinciarelli, Orange Silence, 2000, three watercolor-on-paper works, each 22 × 15".

    Lauretta Vinciarelli

    TOTAH

    Solace. That’s the word that kept coming to mind as I looked at Lauretta Vinciarelli’s exacting watercolor-and-ink studies of light, space, and reflection, after not having seen art in person for six months due to the Covid-19 closures. This exquisite exhibition focused on the artist and architect’s mature production between 1984 and 2002, before her untimely death in 2011 at age sixty-eight. It seemed to pick up right where the last Vinciarelli show—at New York’s Judd Foundation in 2019—left off. That presentation surveyed her output from the years 1976 to 1986, when she was romantically involved

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  • James Luna, Half Indian/Half Mexican, 1991, gelatin silver print, 5' 4" × 12'.

    James Luna, Half Indian/Half Mexican, 1991, gelatin silver print, 5' 4" × 12'.

    James Luna

    Garth Greenan Gallery

    James Luna first performed Take a Picture with a Real Indian in 1991 at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s branch at Federal Reserve Plaza in New York’s Financial District. In the piece, Luna presents himself as if seen through the eyes of a tourist cruising past a reservation on one of America’s byways. The artist delivers a monologue in three parts while attired three different ways: First, he wears only a breechcloth and moccasins, offering himself up as a kind of noble savage; next, typical American street clothes: slacks and a black crew-neck tee; and finally a stereotypical war-dance

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  • Frank Jones, Untitled (Whiskey Drunken Devil House CFA 692), 1964, colored pencil on paper, 8 1/2 × 11".

    Frank Jones, Untitled (Whiskey Drunken Devil House CFA 692), 1964, colored pencil on paper, 8 1/2 × 11".

    Frank Jones

    SHRINE

    Frank Jones was born in 1900 in Clarksville, Texas, with a flap of fetal membrane over his left eye—an omen that, according to a superstition descended from African folklore, allowed him to see into the spirit world. It was only three years earlier that W. E. B. Du Bois had invoked this supernatural “second sight” when introducing his famous concept of double consciousness—a condition of irreconcilable identities experienced by Black Americans in a white supremacist society. Jones bore the brunt of this oppression: The progeny of enslaved cotton pickers and likely an undiagnosed schizophrenic,

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  • Zach Bruder, Bounty, 2020, acrylic and Flashe paint on linen, 50 × 60".

    Zach Bruder, Bounty, 2020, acrylic and Flashe paint on linen, 50 × 60".

    Zach Bruder

    Magenta Plains

    Zach Bruder’s thirteen acrylic-and-Flashe paintings formed a phantasmagoric time capsule of human endeavor, riddled with rupture. No matter how tidy or idealized, Bruder’s places are more haunting than they are enlivened, as in the truncated colonial home of Decorum (all works cited, 2020), its dark innards at odds with the affable peachy hue of its exterior. In each of the canvas’s four corners is a clock that features a well-heeled old-timey man captured midstride and looking purposeful. Not a leaf is amiss outdoors, and a brick wall behind the dwelling furthers a sense of stringency. Coffer

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