reviews

  • Robert Gober, Hanging Man/Sleeping Man, 1989, silk screen on paper, 85 1⁄2 × 29 1⁄2".

    Robert Gober, Hanging Man/Sleeping Man, 1989, silk screen on paper, 85 1⁄2 × 29 1⁄2".

    Robert Gober

    Matthew Marks Gallery

    It took a pandemic for dreaming to become a common concern again. But Robert Gober never lost interest. For nearly four decades, his art has mined the movement from consciousness to the unconscious and back again, giving us a novel thought landscape: wax objects sprouting a fine layer of human hair, sinks sans faucets, and uncannily detailed sculptures of domestic items. Examples of each were included in this online survey of twenty works, made between 1976 and 2019, alongside related content. At the top of the site was the chimeric Death Mask, 2008, a ten-inch-high plaster amalgamation of the

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  • Julian Schnabel, Lagunillas II, 2018, oil on found fabric, 11' 8“ × 14' 8”.

    Julian Schnabel, Lagunillas II, 2018, oil on found fabric, 11' 8“ × 14' 8”.

    Julian Schnabel

    Pace

    Art-historical accounts of the 1980s are dominated by the tale of two postmodernisms, which pits the critical rigor of Pictures artists against the fast-and-loose pluralism of neo-expressionists. In this morality play, Julian Schnabel has reliably borne the epithets of the archvillain. He is by turns the preening heel, the masculinist brute, or the avaricious avatar of the Reagan zeitgeist. There are stakes, then, in not allowing Schnabel’s persona—the pajamas, the real estate, even the films—to distract from taking a hard look at the paintings themselves, including those in his show “The Patch

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  • Peter Nagy, Entertainment Erases History (detail), 1983, UV print on vinyl, 6' × 11' 1".

    Peter Nagy, Entertainment Erases History (detail), 1983, UV print on vinyl, 6' × 11' 1".

    Peter Nagy

    Jeffrey Deitch | 18 Wooster Street

    As an artist and a cofounder of legendary East Village gallery Nature Morte, Peter Nagy launched his storied career amid the combative, hyperintellectual atmosphere of 1980s postmodernity. This retrospective survey of works produced between 1982 and 1992, all rendered in black and white, constituted a richly nuanced time capsule of a paradigm-shifting period.

    To revisit work predicated on cultural critique several decades after its production is to submit it to quite an acid test. How amazing to discover that Nagy’s early output, which shows the artist’s penchant for mapping transformations

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  • John Marin, Brooklyn Bridge and Lower New York, 1913, etching and drypoint on paper, 6 3⁄4 × 8 1⁄2". From “New York, New York.”

    John Marin, Brooklyn Bridge and Lower New York, 1913, etching and drypoint on paper, 6 3⁄4 × 8 1⁄2". From “New York, New York.”

    “New York, New York”

    Craig F. Starr Gallery

    In a 1965 interview with critic Calvin Tomkins, Marcel Duchamp declared—with characteristically ironic nihilism—that “the only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges.” Well, we know he took to its sanitary installations, as his Fountain, 1917, makes clear. (Having lived in Paris in 1953 and having experienced the holes in the ground that passed for urinals, I perfectly understand the artist’s adoration of Uncle Sam’s pissoirs.) But he never did make (or should I say appropriate?) any bridges. I think he would have admired the elegant lines of New York’s Queensboro Bridge,

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  • Adrianne Rubenstein, Love Letter, 2020, oil on panel, 35 × 23".

    Adrianne Rubenstein, Love Letter, 2020, oil on panel, 35 × 23".

    Adrianne Rubenstein

    Deli Gallery

    I made a big mistake by walking through “Ruby in the Dust,” Adrianne Rubenstein’s exhibition at Brooklyn’s Deli Gallery, without a checklist in hand. Sure, I found plenty to enjoy in her ebullient, inventively composed oils—her painterly and coloristic gusto would probably have precursors such as Asger Jorn, George McNeil, or Don Van Vliet nodding in accord. But I “got” her works in another way when their titles clued me in to just how much humor is in them. Yes, I could see that the subject of that mostly pink-and-orange horizontal painting resembles a lumpy sofa, but it was quite something

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  • Rachel Libeskind, What Happens in the Kitchen?, 2020, video, color, sound, 7 minutes 54 seconds.

    Rachel Libeskind, What Happens in the Kitchen?, 2020, video, color, sound, 7 minutes 54 seconds.

    Rachel Libeskind

    Signs and Symbols

    In her classic 1975 video Semiotics of the Kitchen, Martha Rosler inhabits a character she has described as “an anti-Julia Child” who “replaces the domesticated ‘meaning’ of tools with a lexicon of rage and frustration.” Reciting a deadpan domestic abecedarium—apron, bowl, chopper, dish—as she stares into the camera and proffers the inventoried items to her audience from behind a countertop, Rosler reappropriates the setting and accoutrements of food preparation to stage a personal rebellion against the drudgery of that odiously limiting category of gendered labor, “women’s work.” Rachel

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  • Rebecca Morris, Untitled (#16-19), 2019, oil and spray paint on canvas, 60 1⁄2 × 54 1⁄2".

    Rebecca Morris, Untitled (#16-19), 2019, oil and spray paint on canvas, 60 1⁄2 × 54 1⁄2".

    Rebecca Morris

    Bortolami

    For more than twenty-five years, Rebecca Morris has been constructing a visual language that can be read as obtuse yet direct, historical and personal, abstract but also unabashedly literal. Her syntax is composed of a sparse but growing number of motifs that recur within a seemingly infinite number of inflections. Shapes get slurred. Squares become round. Edges bleed. Patterns are executed with reckless imprecision. Grids feel like fishing nets, unyielding but malleable. Lines function as cartographic divisions, tentative embraces, or cartoon snakes—sometimes all at once. In this most recent

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  • Hiba Schahbaz, Roots (After Frida), 2020, watercolor, gouache, tea, and gold leaf on wasli, 14 × 11".

    Hiba Schahbaz, Roots (After Frida), 2020, watercolor, gouache, tea, and gold leaf on wasli, 14 × 11".

    Hiba Schahbaz

    De Buck Gallery

    Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Hiba Schahbaz studied Indo-Persian miniature painting in Lahore before moving to New York about a decade ago. Her work melds the formal traditions of this genre with contemporary interests of self-representation, as the perspectives of female artists are virtually absent from the history of this type of imagemaking. Schahbaz’s art features stylized nude figures based on her own likeness and range in scale from small paintings to life-size installations composed of paper cutouts. “In Solitude,” her online-only exhibition at De Buck Gallery, featured seven intimately

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  • Clifford Prince King, Jug of Change, 2019, ink-jet print, 36 × 24".

    Clifford Prince King, Jug of Change, 2019, ink-jet print, 36 × 24".

    Clifford Prince King

    LAUNCH F18

    Clifford Prince King is a photographer who documents black gay male desire. Given that artists such as James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Marlon Riggs are among his canonical forebears, his approach might seem a daunting gambit for any young artist to pursue. But as the six works featured in his online exhibition at Launch F18 attested, King very much has his own voice, which both harmonizes with and distinguishes itself from this esteemed lineage.

    In Jug of Change, 2019, a nude man sits in a swivel chair, his foot extended onto beige, wall-to-wall carpeting. The upper half of his head is wrapped

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  • Keijaun Thomas, My Last American Dollar: Round 1. Tricking and Flipping Coins: Making Dollars Hit and Round 2. Black Angels in the Infield: Dripping Faggot Sweat, 2019, video, color, sound, 5 minutes. Installation view. From “Hard Opening: Vigil for Black Death.”

    Keijaun Thomas, My Last American Dollar: Round 1. Tricking and Flipping Coins: Making Dollars Hit and Round 2. Black Angels in the Infield: Dripping Faggot Sweat, 2019, video, color, sound, 5 minutes. Installation view. From “Hard Opening: Vigil for Black Death.”

    “Hard Opening: Vigil for Black Death”

    HOUSING

    HOUSING opened the doors to its new Lower East Side location as a sanctuary for protestors before its inaugural exhibition. Founder KJ Freeman secured the keys for the space in May 2020, in the midst of demonstrations against the senseless and ceaseless killing of Black people by the police. During all this, the gallery announced a vigil for “Black Death”—the preventable, premature loss of life caused by systemic racism. Mourners brought flowers and candles, which were placed by portraits of those who died at the hands of law enforcement, such as Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and

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  • Richard Bosman, Night Studio, 1979, acrylic on paper, 30 × 22".

    Richard Bosman, Night Studio, 1979, acrylic on paper, 30 × 22".

    Richard Bosman

    Nicelle Beauchene Gallery

    Richard Bosman is renowned for his noirish paintings, which often feel like settings for the artist himself to play out his hard-boiled fantasies full of bloody knives, mutilated bodies, and dimly lit mise-en-scènes. Yet the artist’s crude brushwork and comic-book aesthetics—along with a generous dollop of black humor—frequently lighten the load. But Bosman’s exhibition at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, which featured nine modestly sized acrylic-on-paper paintings made between 1979 and 1980, struck a decidedly different tone and seemed more indebted to the stylings of ’50s science fiction and mystical

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  • Anonymous, Untitled, ca. 1930s–1950s, graphite and colored pencil on brown wrapping paper, 11 × 8". From “EPHEMERAMA: Hollywood”.

    Anonymous, Untitled, ca. 1930s–1950s, graphite and colored pencil on brown wrapping paper, 11 × 8". From “EPHEMERAMA: Hollywood”.

    “EPHEMERAMA: Hollywood”

    Shelter

    “EPHEMERAMA: Hollywood” presents a collection of anonymous amateur drawings of women from the first half of the twentieth century—an archive of unsolved mysteries from an estate-liquidation sale in Southern California. They are unsigned and undated (although the names of legendary actresses, such as Lucille Ball, Yvonne De Carlo, and Vivien Leigh, are written on some). Forty-seven of these headshot-like portraits, from a set of more than one hundred, are exhibited by Shelter online. Researchers at the gallery have begun the process of trying to identify each face. They have located some source

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