reviews

  • Cecilia Vicuna, Leoparda de Ojitos (Leopard of Little Eyes), 1976, oil on canvas, 55 3⁄8 × 35 1⁄2".

    Cecilia Vicuña

    Lehmann Maupin

    Entering “La India Contaminada” (The Contaminated Indian), Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña’s first survey in New York, the viewer encountered Quipu Viscera (Visceral Quipu), 2017. Numerous swaths of unspun wool—dyed various shades of pink, peach, and heliotrope—cascaded from the ceiling, amassing in a fibrous, flesh-colored forest. While the first word of the work’s title refers to the intricate system of knotted cords used by pre-Columbian Andean cultures for accounting and record keeping (a concept that has motivated much of Vicuña’s fiber-based art since the mid-1960s), the second

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  • View of “Jack Smith,” 2018. From left: I Danced with a Penguin, 1983; Yolanda la Penguina, date unknown. Photo: Daniel Pérez.

    Jack Smith

    Artists Space

    In Artists Space’s final exhibition at 55 Walker Street, a hulking television monitor screened mottled, mid-1970s footage of Jack Smith standing outside the Cologne Zoological Garden, resplendent in a feathered turban. “The Museum is filled with a lot of stuff chosen from artists who represent the artist as the playmate of the rich,” he intones. “These artists suck art out of everyday life and transfer it to paintings and other kinds of crusts and sell it to galleries—who in turn sell it to museums and the rich so that the art eventually ends up in penthouses and storage warehouses of

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  • Roy Newell, Lifelines, 1995, oil on board, 10 1⁄4 × 9 3⁄8".

    Roy Newell

    Simon Lee | New York

    Roy Newell taught himself how to paint at the New York Public Library on Forty-Second Street in Manhattan, working day after day for ten years in the 1930s and ’40s. During this period, he met Willem de Kooning by chance in the library’s art reference room—a popular haunt for many artists at the time. Not long after, Newell was swept into the orbit of soon-to-be AbEx stars including Franz Kline and Arshile Gorky. When they scaled up their canvases and gestures, so did he. Then, in what would remain his most dramatic creative act, Newell destroyed everything he had ever made. Afterward, he

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  • Yup’ik people, Complex Mask, ca. 1890–1905, wood, paint, sinew, vegetal fiber, cotton thread, feathers, 34 1⁄4 × 22 × 19 1⁄4". From “Moon Dancers: Yup’ik Masks and the Surrealists.”

    “Moon Dancers: Yup’ik Masks and the Surrealists”

    DI DONNA

    This exhibition was a model of concision, an intensely pleasurable summary of the knotty moment in art history when a bunch of French artists got it into their heads to collect ceremonial masks made by the Yup’ik people, a native Alaskan tribe. “Moon Dancers: Yup’ik Masks and the Surrealists” presented seventy-four pieces, most of them paintings and sculptures by artists such as Victor Brauner, André Breton, Leonora Carrington, and Max Ernst, along with nineteen Yup’ik masks owned by these same artists.

    Breton and Man Ray first saw the Yup’ik masks in 1935 in Paris, at the Galerie Charles Ratton.

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  • Jeff Perrone, Kill Your Landlord, 2016, mud cloth, buttons, and thread on canvas, 16 × 12".

    Jeff Perrone

    Marinaro

    A visitor to this show might understandably have come away thinking Jeff Perrone is an angry guy. All of the sixty-odd works exhibited, made over a ten-year span, are based on words, and a lot of those words are in your face—HATE, VILE, FUCK. The earliest pieces here, from 2008, featured one four-letter word each. By the following year, Perrone had broadened both his vocabulary and his syntax, but he’d kept his politics blunt: OVERTHROW NOT OCCUPY, ALL PROPERTY IS THEFT, WITHOUT BOSSES. A work from 2010 is just one word, but that word has six syllables: RADICALIZATION. By 2017, Perrone

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  • Peter Fischli, Untitled, 2018, cardboard, newspaper, paper, enamel, 4 7⁄8 × 4 7⁄8 × 9 3⁄8".

    Peter Fischli

    Reena Spaulings Fine Art | New York

    “Two different types of glue have been used: wallpaper glue and white wood glue. All sculptures and pedestals have been painted first with a mixture of indoor emulsion paint and champagne chalk. Additional layers of color were applied using acrylic, silicate paint, gouache, or enamel, and in this way a variety of surface effects, patinas, and sculptural looks have been achieved.” The resolutely deadpan style of the press release for Peter Fischli’s debut exhibition here (a version of the show was installed at the gallery’s sister location in Los Angeles earlier this year), with its steadfast

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  • Thornton Dial, Looking for the Right Spot, 2004, metal, clothing, oil, enamel and epoxy on canvas, 72 × 84 × 3".

    Beverly Buchanan, Thornton Dial, and the Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers

    Andrew Edlin Gallery

    Contingency, a complex relationship to the body, and an abiding respect for the homespun were the threads that wove together this neatly conceived exhibition. The artists here—all African American and natives of the American South—served as pendants to one another, advancing a shared understanding of the artwork as mediated through memory and use.

    Beverly Buchanan (1940–2015) began making her “shack” sculptures in 1986, nearly a decade after moving to Macon, Georgia, from Manhattan, where she was a critical (if critically underrecognized) figure in the city’s post-Minimal art scene.

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  • Leon Golub, Interrogation, 1992, silk screen on paper, 17 × 22".

    Leon Golub

    The Met Breuer

    An unforgiving witness to his time, Leon Golub (1922–2004) was America’s Goya during the second half of the twentieth century, recording and denouncing in his art what critic Donald Kuspit called the “pathology of power.” While aware of various classical European sculptural and pictorial traditions, as well as developments in French postwar art, Golub’s painting is rough, stripped bare of anything agreeable or polite. Neither alluring nor eager to please, his images are coarse—they scrape against the eyes. He drew upon a wide variety of visual sources, high and low: from Greek statuary and

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  • Tim Maul, London Hotel, 1989, C-print, 23 1⁄4 × 15".

    Tim Maul

    Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects

    Similar in age to the younger members of the Pictures generation, Tim Maul practices a form of photography that reflects something of the group’s aesthetic of suspicion, along with an adherence to a legacy of “art” (Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol) rather than “photography” (Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson). And yet I can’t help thinking that, just as Russian literature came, according to Dostoevsky, out of Gogol’s overcoat, Maul’s sense of photography fell from William Eggleston’s red ceiling.

    Maul finds his subjects in places more than in things, and in things more than in people, as the title

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  • View of “Cast of Characters,” 2018. Photo: Regan Wood Studio.

    “Cast of Characters”

    As if looking out toward an audience in a theater-in-the-round, I sat alone on a white pleather cube eyeing portraits. “Cast of Characters,” a salon of likenesses by more than one hundred queer artists, was organized by Liz Collins for Pride Month in June. The show didn’t fall prey to the usual tropes of gay portraiture—images of shirtless young men were minimized in favor of a more wide-ranging panoply of bodies. Hannah Barrett’s oil painting Staying and Going, 2017, featured a knobby androgynous figure in a floral jumpsuit whose limbs are twisted into the extremities of a chair. Pregnant

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  • Diana Moore, Full Figure No. II (Athlete), 1995, carbon steel, aluminum, 73 × 22 × 16". Photo: Allan Stone Projects

    Diana Moore

    Allan Stone Projects

    Diana Moore’s eleven-foot-tall Head of Justice, 1991, commands a plaza in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building & Courthouse in Newark, New Jersey. And the artist’s stainless-steel statue of Figure of Justice, 1998, at nine and a half feet tall, towers over the foyer of another courthouse in Concord, New Hampshire. Working as a figurative sculptor since the late 1960s, Moore gained prominence with these and other 1990s commissions by the US General Services Administration—they are touchstones of her practice. Intended to stand as universal figures, the monuments nonetheless

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  • Oliver Lee Jackson, Composite, 2012, intaglio print and mixed media on paper, 40 1⁄4 × 28 7⁄8".

    Oliver Lee Jackson

    Burning in Water

    An eclectic mix of paintings and sculptures by Oliver Lee Jackson was exhibited at Burning in Water. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, know that the octogenarian artist has a rich past: Among other things, he founded in 1971 the African Continuum arts organization, a body dedicated to the support and advancement of black thinking and culture, and from 1968 to 1972 he collaborated with Saint Louis’s cross-disciplinary Black Artists Group (or BAG), befriending and working with the avant-garde jazz musician Julius Hemphill. Jackson’s show was a modest sampling from a lifetime of production by an

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  • Ione Saldanha, Cidades (Cities), 1964, gouache on cardboard, 7 7⁄8 × 9 3⁄4".

    Etel Adnan, Ione Saldanha, and Carolee Schneemann

    Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

    Beauty is a difficult thing to grapple with in a moment of political cataclysm. Is it an indulgence, a retreat, a surrender? Is finding pleasure in a gorgeous artwork the equivalent of pulling the covers over your head? It would be easy to say yes, and then to dismiss a show such as Galerie Lelong & Co.’s “Of the Self and of the Other.” The exhibition was clearly organized to capitalize on current tastes in the market, as it brought together three older female artists: Etel Adnan, the late Ione Saldanha (who died in 2001 at the age of eighty), and Carolee Schneemann. The works on view were

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  • View of “Chitra Ganesh,” 2018. Foreground: Artist unknown, Maitreya, the Future Buddha, ca. late 18th century–early 19th century. Background: Chitra Ganesh, Silhouette in the Graveyard, 2018. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle.

    Chitra Ganesh

    Rubin Museum of Art

    As part of the Rubin Museum of Art’s yearlong exploration of the “future,” Brooklyn-based artist Chitra Ganesh took inspiration from the institution’s collection of Tibetan art to examine how the dystopic present can be changed for a better tomorrow in two separate, yet connected, exhibitions. The title of the core exhibition, “The Scorpion Gesture,” for which she created five animations (her first and, by my lights, rather successful foray into the medium) refers to a Tibetan Buddhist hand gesture, or mudra, that represents the endless possibilities of transformation embodied metaphorically in

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