reviews

  • View of “Louise Lawler,” 2021. Background: Hair (adjusted to fit), 2005/2019/2021. Foreground: Pollock and Tureen (traced and painted), Red, Yellow, Blue, 1984/2013/2014/2020.

    View of “Louise Lawler,” 2021. Background: Hair (adjusted to fit), 2005/2019/2021. Foreground: Pollock and Tureen (traced and painted), Red, Yellow, Blue, 1984/2013/2014/2020.

    Louise Lawler

    Metro Pictures

    Everything must go. At Metro Pictures, which is ending its historic run this year after four decades, Louise Lawler held a two-for-one blowout sale: an exhibition titled “One Show on Top of the Other.” Such a tagline—a fairly literal description of what was on display—reminds us of the artist’s career-long embrace of the gimmick, a category newly theorized by Sianne Ngai as a phenomenon that, through its simultaneous under- and overperformance (its effort-saving tricks and inherent bid for attention), indexes our anxieties about the relation of labor, time, and value under capitalism. Recall

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  • Dan Graham, Ovoid, 2020, two-way mirror glass, stainless steel, 7' 7" × 21' × 14' 9 ".

    Dan Graham, Ovoid, 2020, two-way mirror glass, stainless steel, 7' 7" × 21' × 14' 9 ".

    Dan Graham

    303 Gallery

    Despite his unimpeachable position in the postwar canon, Dan Graham has always seemed a little like a man without a country in the contemporary art world—his half century worth of media-agnostic Conceptualism has never fully aligned, for better or worse, with any single methodological or stylistic framework. Even the glass-and-metal pavilions that have been his central focus for the past several decades elude attempts at neat categorization. They’re in dialogue with modernist architecture and post-Minimalist sculpture, but hold both at arm’s length; they impersonate forms of functional decor

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  • Cameron Rowland, 7.5', 2015, exit height strip, 36 × 1". Installation view, 2021. The height strip allows for identification. Typically it is used at the door of gas stations and convenience stores. Photo: Dario Lasagni.

    Cameron Rowland, 7.5', 2015, exit height strip, 36 × 1". Installation view, 2021. The height strip allows for identification. Typically it is used at the door of gas stations and convenience stores. Photo: Dario Lasagni.

    “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America”

    New Museum

    Conceived by Okwui Enwezor; realized by curatorial advisers Naomi Beckwith, Massimiliano Gioni, Glenn Ligon, and Mark Nash

    THE EXHORTATIONS BURN/ITD/OWN, KI/LL, and FUCK 12 greeted visitors to “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America,” the late curator Okwui Enwezor’s exhibition at the New Museum. Conceived by Enwezor in 2018 and realized after his death the following year by artist Glenn Ligon and curators Naomi Beckwith, Massimiliano Gioni, and Mark Nash, the show was initially intended as a commentary on the Trump administration and was projected to open in the run-up to the 2020

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  • Paul Cézanne, Étude d’arbre (Study of a Tree), 1885–90, watercolor on paper, 14 1⁄4 × 11 1⁄8".

    Paul Cézanne, Étude d’arbre (Study of a Tree), 1885–90, watercolor on paper, 14 1⁄4 × 11 1⁄8".

    “Cézanne Drawing”

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    I’M NOT ONE FOR FLATTERY and hyperbole, especially when reacting to exhibitions. There is already enough sycophancy to go around on social media—even in the feeds of those who should know better. I am therefore going against every fiber of my being when I say that the Cézanne drawing show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art is unequivocally a once-in-a-generation not-to-be-missed event.

    Why the superlatives? First, there is the sheer volume: more than 250 works on paper, mostly drawings and watercolors, some of which may never be seen again (or will

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  • Jennifer Bartlett, Leaking Systems, 2001, oil on five canvases, overall 104 × 88".

    Jennifer Bartlett, Leaking Systems, 2001, oil on five canvases, overall 104 × 88".

    Jennifer Bartlett

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 524 W 26th Street

    The dichotomous tension between abstraction and representation is as important today as it was a century ago. The polarity is particularly rich in painting, where the construct tests relations between what we see, what we imagine, and what we know. That this domain has been the basis of Jennifer Bartett’s practice for more than half a century is in and of itself quite remarkable. Her exhibition here, presenting work made between 2000 and 2003, showed how adept she is at activating both the sensual and the cerebral, using formal vocabularies that emerged in her art during the late ’70s and early

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  • Juan Uslé, Soñé que revelabas (Hudson Blue) (I Dreamed That You Revealed [Hudson Blue]), 2021, vinyl, dispersion paint, and dry pigment on canvas, 120 × 89 3⁄4". From the series “Soñé qu revelabas,” 1997–.

    Juan Uslé, Soñé que revelabas (Hudson Blue) (I Dreamed That You Revealed [Hudson Blue]), 2021, vinyl, dispersion paint, and dry pigment on canvas, 120 × 89 3⁄4". From the series “Soñé qu revelabas,” 1997–.

    Juan Uslé

    Galerie Lelong & Co.

    “When we estimate nature as being dynamically sublime,” Immanuel Kant once wrote, “our idea of it must be fearful. . . . Bold, overhanging rocks which seem to threaten us, storm clouds piled up in heaven . . . a high waterfall in a mighty river . . . reduce our power of resistance to impotence as compared with their might.”

    Juan Uslé’s quartet of abstract, vertically oriented canvases in “Horizontal Light,” his solo exhibition at Galerie Lelong, felt as imposing as Kant’s great waterfalls. Three of them were ten feet high and roughly seven-and-a-half feet wide, while the fourth was similar in

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  • Alex Hay, Cash Register Slip, 1966, spray lacquer and stencil on linen, 80 5⁄8 × 37 7⁄8".

    Alex Hay, Cash Register Slip, 1966, spray lacquer and stencil on linen, 80 5⁄8 × 37 7⁄8".

    Alex Hay

    Peter Freeman, Inc.

    In 1959, Alex Hay came to New York. He hung out at Max’s Kansas City, sipped whiskey at Robert Rauschenberg’s dining table, married dancer Deborah Hay (née Goldensohn), and appeared in “9 Evenings,” 1966. Then, roughly a decade later, he left and has remained largely absent from received accounts of New York’s storied 1960s art world. (He barely comes up in this magazine’s archives.) Since 2002, Peter Freeman, Inc. has been on a mission to correct that oversight, and this past spring the gallery put up its fifth exhibition of the ninety-one-year-old artist’s work: a retrospective of more than

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  • Dominique Fung, The Largest and Most Formal Meal of the Day, 2021, oil on linen, 78 × 94".

    Dominique Fung, The Largest and Most Formal Meal of the Day, 2021, oil on linen, 78 × 94".

    Dominique Fung

    Jeffrey Deitch | 76 Grand Street

    Eugène Delacroix’s Orientalist tableaux once thrilled European viewers with their veiled courtesans and dusky harems; today, those paintings are understood as, among other things, imperialist propaganda. As in most arenas of modern life, the forces of hegemony and their attendant gazes—male, white, Western—that shaped the canon have come in for reckoning yet again, with various results.

    Dominique Fung’s imagery tweaks historical painting in a number of sensuous, seditious ways. Her visually knotty and pleasantly perception-scrambling canvases antagonize both colonialist conceptions of Asian art

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  • Ming Smith, Sun Ra Space II (New York), 1978, ink-jet print, 40 × 60".

    Ming Smith, Sun Ra Space II (New York), 1978, ink-jet print, 40 × 60".

    Ming Smith

    Nicola Vassell

    In 1979, Ming Smith dropped off a portfolio of eighteen photographs in response to an open call at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. A few days later, the institution bought two images: a hand-colored print of her husband, jazz musician David Murray, holding a saxophone, and a black-and-white photo of a woman walking in front of a lighted Christmas tree at night. The sale, as she remembers it, wasn’t enough to cover her printing costs.

    Smith had been living in New York for six years when she quietly became the first Black female photographer in MoMA’s collection. Modeling to pay the bills, she

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  • Arghavan Khosravi, Patiently Waiting, 2021, acrylic and cement on cotton canvas wrapped over wood panel, wood cutout, polyester rope, 53 1⁄2 × 58 1⁄8 × 12".

    Arghavan Khosravi, Patiently Waiting, 2021, acrylic and cement on cotton canvas wrapped over wood panel, wood cutout, polyester rope, 53 1⁄2 × 58 1⁄8 × 12".

    Arghavan Khosravi

    Rachel Uffner Gallery

    You could see the rocket through the glass door. In the surreal setting of Arghavan Khosravi’s The Suspension, 2020, a dark-haired woman bows beneath a pointed silver projectile. Hung directly across from the gallery’s entrance, the painting conjured an image that comported with the talking points of hawkish cable-news pundits looking to cast Iran as a militaristic and misogynist theocratic regime. Yet just as quickly as Khosravi advanced this threatening caricature of her homeland, she undermined it as well. A second glance revealed that the woman wears a magenta athleisure jumpsuit—a getup

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  • Alice Mackler, Untitled, 2020, glazed ceramic, 13 3⁄4 × 11 1⁄2 × 8 1⁄4".

    Alice Mackler, Untitled, 2020, glazed ceramic, 13 3⁄4 × 11 1⁄2 × 8 1⁄4".

    Alice Mackler

    Kerry Schuss Gallery

    In his introduction to a new book on Alice Mackler’s work, curator Matthew Higgs urged viewers “to think of her as a ‘young’ artist who just happens to be in her eighties.” I couldn’t agree more. But the temporal paradoxes hardly end there; she might equally be considered an ancient artist, the survivor of some lost civilization who just happens to live among us today. The belief system underlying the artifacts of this prehistoric culture remains obscure; and the insistent untitled designation of all of Mackler’s works suggests a staunch refusal to initiate outsiders into a body of knowledge

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  • Kathleen Ryan, Jackie, 2021, azurite-malachite, lapis lazuli, agate, black onyx, brecciated jasper, moss agate, malachite, calcite, labradorite, rose quartz, smoky quartz, Ching Hai jade, red aventurine, carnelian, citrine, amethyst, quartz, acrylic, polystyrene, fiberglass, nails, steel pins, wood, 66 × 90 × 86". From the series “Bad Fruit,” 2018–.

    Kathleen Ryan, Jackie, 2021, azurite-malachite, lapis lazuli, agate, black onyx, brecciated jasper, moss agate, malachite, calcite, labradorite, rose quartz, smoky quartz, Ching Hai jade, red aventurine, carnelian, citrine, amethyst, quartz, acrylic, polystyrene, fiberglass, nails, steel pins, wood, 66 × 90 × 86". From the series “Bad Fruit,” 2018–.

    Kathleen Ryan

    Karma | New York

    When working inside the belly of the beast—say, within an art market fueled by extreme wealth and its cultural and political influence—artists, or anyone for that matter, inevitably think about survival, about matters of shelf life. Most of the works in Kathleen Ryan’s recent show at Karma were part of her “Bad Fruit” series, 2018–, exquisite oversize sculptures of overripe lemons and cherries meticulously fabricated from glass beads, crystals, and semiprecious stones. Hers is a triumph of trompe l’oeil decay, rot rendered as intricately and seductively as a piece of high jewelry. Bad Lemon (

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  • Hardy Hill, 2 Figures, 1 Sleeping 1 (Sleep 4), 2021, plate lithograph on cotton rag paper, 14 1⁄4 × 18 1⁄4".

    Hardy Hill, 2 Figures, 1 Sleeping 1 (Sleep 4), 2021, plate lithograph on cotton rag paper, 14 1⁄4 × 18 1⁄4".

    Hardy Hill

    15 ORIENT

    There were many naked young men, rendered with astonishing craftsmanship, in Hardy Hill’s solo exhibition “Almost Blind Like a Camera.” But they were not exactly exciting. The majority of Hill’s taut figures seem to be all limbs, posed at rigid angles and connected to handsome bodies that are fascistically fit, as if they were athletes from Leni Riefenstahl’s documentary film Olympia (1938). The kouroi are sanitized, two-dimensional, with barely a trace of sensuality or selfhood—blank slates onto which viewers can project their own idyllic (or perverse) fantasies of tender play.

    Still, a certain

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  • Sal Salandra, Teachings of the Devil, 2020, mixed threads on canvas, 38 × 27".

    Sal Salandra, Teachings of the Devil, 2020, mixed threads on canvas, 38 × 27".

    Sal Salandra

    Club Rhubarb

    Sal Salandra didn’t set out to make a body of work stitching together the mundane, the profane, and the sacred. A long career dressing hair in New Jersey had instilled strength and precision in his fingers, but the countless hours standing in a penitent posture as he tended to clients almost broke his back. When it finally gave out, Salandra recuperated in bed. A needlepoint kit, a gift from his mother-in-law, kept his hands busy. The craft must have tied together other strands in his life, for in the coming years, as he honed his chops on floral patterns and commissions for portraits of pets,

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