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Shane McAdams

Land Grab

Curated by Sarah Lookofsky and Lillian Fellman, Land Grab at Apex Art looks at how contemporary artists are responding to issues of land use as it becomes more scarce and expensive.

Sterling Ruby Chron

For hundreds of years, artists did everything in their control to refine their studio practices to achieve a singularity of style and technique.

Marcel Dzama Even the Ghost of the Past

On March 6, Marcel Dzama’s anticipated exhibition, Even the Ghost of the Past, opened at David Zwirner, marking the cresting of the neo-folk floodwaters. His work, once groundbreaking and as fresh as the air in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he’s from, now looks more familiar than ever.

Darina Karpov Infinitely Small Disasters

Infinitely Small Disasters, Darina Karpov’s second show with Pierogi, expands on the technical ambition and scale of her last exhibition there just 16 months ago.

Cowboys without Cows Live Forever

If you asked someone in 1920 to name the most famous people in the United States, they would have come up with names like Thomas Edison and William Randolph Hearst, Rudolf Valentino and Clara Bow. You would’ve heard Will Rogers’s name next to Amelia Earhart’s; Louise Brooks’s next to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s.

Today’s Special: Saucy Curatorship and Tofu Art

The idea of originality has seen its credibility erode significantly over the past century. Why this happened is a complex matter.

Mike Womack: High Grade Empty

The history of the moving image is a history written by victors. The victors were electricians: Maxwell, Westinghouse, Marconi, et al.

James Hyde, UNBUILT

If time permitted, I would have written an essay this month about the glorification of youth and cool by the art press, through the lens of the Younger Than Jesus show at the New Museum.

Katrin Sigurdardóttir

For a country of just over 300,000 people, Iceland does a pretty efficient job of disseminating its culture abroad; we’ve all spotted the “dottirs” and “ssons” sprinkled around the art world.

OMER FAST

In two current exhibitions, Omer Fast shows us that he’s one of the rare artists working in video who is capable of technical magic even as he strips the medium bare, exposing its power to conflate truth and fiction.

WHIRLED PEAS AND LYING BY DEGREES

Every day, I pick up The New York Times from my stoop, slide it out of its blue sheath, unfold it, and scan the headlines as I weave back inside my apartment. The headlines are always there, big news day or small, with a uniform urgency.

DEAN MONOGENIS Above the Railing, Above the World

It was about two years ago that the Unmonumental show at the New Museum was drawing to a close, sparking hopeful chatter about the end of “Home Depot-chic,” “neo-Arte Povera,” or whatever your personal moniker is for it. It was the nail in the coffin for the nail-in-the-plywood-coffin school of art making.

Exit from the Overpass

In 2011, the art world will make a rare appearance at the Academy Awards, and not in the guise of the stereotypically brooding lothario painter or tiny-dog-clutching patrician art collector.

Unpainted Paintings

T. J. Clark noted that “flatness was construed as a barrier put up against the viewer’s normal wish to enter a picture and dream.” This prohibition has become irrevocably ensnarled in the woolly history of reductive painting.

NEIL FARBER Slugging

Slugging, Neil Farber’s second exhibition at Edward Thorp, supplies an ample helping of the tragicomic faux-folk art fantasies we’ve come to associate with his work, though the degree to which they are intuited or calculated by the artist will start heated debates—or reignite old ones—among viewers

MIKE WOMACK Spectres, Phantoms, and Poltergeists

Unlike most visual art exhibitions, which tend to avoid discrete liminal moments of “beginning,” Mike Womack’s current show at ZieherSmith literally takes place on the other side of an unambiguous and quasi-magical threshold.

Well Read

Well Read, curated by Christopher Howard and currently showing at Nurture Art in Brooklyn, aims to explore “the cognition and understanding of visual signs.”

Orrie King and Laurie Sermos

I recently had the chance to see the David Smith retrospective at the Guggenheim and left feeling slightly dissatisfied. After my exit I spent a few hours trying to wrap my mind around the reasons why.

Analogous Logic

Remember when curators were content to take a passive role in the art world, when they were agents and administrators of creativity rather than producers in their own right?

Raoul De Keyser

Much is made of Raoul De Keyser’s belated recognition in the United States, and to a slightly lesser degree, by the art world in general. Although it is unfortunate that it took so long for him to receive the attention he deserves, it is also not hard to understand.

Brian DeGraw

A few weeks ago Ken Johnson wrote something in The Boston Globe about a show called Big Bang! Abstract Art for the 21st Century that stuck with me. According to the ex-New York Times critic, “Making art appear more meaningful and relevant by relating it to some other field of study is a strategy that’s become all too common among artists and curators of the postmodern era.”

Naoto Nakagawa

Tradition, community, and their preservation are sticky subjects for artists in the 21st century. The communication, trade, and information networks that encourage interaction among once isolated cultures have engendered a pervasive sense of ambivalence.

Whiting Tennis

“Reaper,” an acrylic with collage, is especially suggestive, with a moon looming over an eerie shack and a slumped pine tree. Its dusky, ominous tone feels counterintuitive given the unassuming nature of its pictorial vocabulary—a fact that speaks to Tennis’s control of this language and the latent expressive power of his materials.

Amy Pleasant: Tight Shot

In her recent exhibition at Jeff Bailey Gallery, Amy Pleasant considers: “How does the act of drawing function in my work? Does the intimacy of the imagery come from the image itself, the scale, or both?” After viewing the work, I would add something about how the image is executed in relation to its scale.

A Bright Future and a Dark History

In a recent essay titled “D.I.Y. Culture” in the New York Times, Michael Kimmelman argued that the fluid exchange of information inaugurated by the age of globalization isn’t homogenizing world cultures as many expected it would, but rather tribalizing them.

The Importance of Being Unimportant

For the first time in six years I will get to spend the inaugural Thursday of the art season as one of the yahoos I used to serve wine to as a gallery employee. After 15 years, the gallery I worked at closed, one of a number of high-profile casualties of last year’s art market. Anyone who’s had feet in both the commercial and the critical worlds, as I did, recognizes the stark difference between the two.

Sebastiaan Bremer

Some speak of the ambling “figure eight,” a disinterested gallerygoer makes when entering an exhibition en route to quickly exiting.

Glen Fogel

In the wake of the hubbub surrounding John McCain’s controversial commencement speech at the New School this past weekend, my stray thoughts were already preoccupied by the state of America’s divisive culture wars.

Roland Flexner
Nocturne

If you ask Roland Flexner, he will adamantly deny being anything so categorically limiting as a “process artist,” despite the ingenious mark making events using blown bubbles of soap, ink, and water he has come to be known for. He’s not playing coy about the sexy forms that emerge in his art—these methods are the journey for him, not the destination.

Crits' Pix

Summer is here, and with it that most unpredictable of beasts: the summer group show. Our chances for variety, new blood, and new ideas increases along with poorly conceived afterthoughts and sticky hot opening receptions.

Robert Jack Before and Aftermath

A few weeks ago I took on a challenge to list ten good young abstract painters. It turned out to be more difficult than it sounded. I mulled the idea over for several days with little success. Later that week I went to to see Before and Aftermath, an exhibition of abstract paintings and drawings by Robert Jack. It didn’t fatten the list, but it did shed some light on the issue.

We Don’t Need No Education…Well, Maybe a Little

Visual artists today are virtually committed to a pay-to-play system, in which their merits are recognized only after they’ve had their hand stamped at an expensive master’s program. But last week, after coming across the above announcement, I did some web research and discovered an alarming trend of new PhD programs in the visual arts.

Next Wave Art

My ten-year old version of Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize the word “curate.” Because it’s been underlining the term for as long I’ve been writing it, I’ve always assumed that “curate” was a wonky piece of jargon bandied about by no one but art nerds.

The Ecstasy of Saint Herzog

Werner Herzog has expended equal amounts of blood, sweat, and perhaps even a few stoic Bavarian tears, both fictionalizing and documenting the fantastic, the heroic, the misfit, and the magical.

The Wedding Project

Unless you’ve been avoiding television for the past twenty years, you’ve probably seen more fake weddings than real ones. They’re everywhere, virtually, and virtually everywhere.

Art 38 Basel and Beyond

In my original notes covering the Basel art circus, I emphasized what, in retrospect, seems a tired take on the art fair phenomenon.

The Summer Ramp Down

It was so hot last week that my phone sent me a message that it was overheating. I had no idea it was capable of either overheating or alerting me of its feelings, but, whatever its degree of sentience, it was only confirming what most of New York had already arrived at.

"That Barnett Newman 'Onement' Painting Is, Like, So 1948"

“Against the consistent attack of Mondrian and Picasso,” Leider booms, Americans had only “an art of half-truths, lacking all conviction. The best artists began to yield rather than kick against the pricks.”

Jon Elliott

Judging by the look of the eerie outcropping of debris that comprises “Panic Grass and Feverfew” (2006), Jon Elliot has a pessimistic outlook for the future of the environment.

Mike Schall

Visitors squirm and maneuver through the bottlenecked interior of Dam Stuhltrager’s cavernous, irregular galleries. It’s cold outside, crowded and stuffy inside. You can smell the person next to you and see the places they missed shaving.

Tomory Dodge

He’s gone a bit more abstract this time, but Tomory Dodge’s six large-scale paintings at CRG will be immediately recognizable to those familiar with his work. There are no rock outcroppings, cacti, or icebergs, but his painterly trademarks are all over: gradated, sky-colored backgrounds traversed by rainbow thatches of striated oil paint.

WILL LAMSON A Line Describing the Sun

As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said of pornography: “You know it when you see it.” And many say it is so with art: good art can’t be defined, it just hits you at a gut level.

Invisible Might: Works From 1965-1971

One thing that we have learned from Walter Benjamin is that any coherent and organically developing artistic movement will end up reentering the mainstream as a stylized version of the original impulse. For all their earnest optical scrutiny, the Impressionists seem forever associated with the reproductions of their work that decorate apartment walls and dentists’ offices around the world.

Clare Gasson

London-based artist Clare Gasson uses sound as her primary medium, but she is far from what most gallery goers would consider a “sound artist.” Even so, her first New York exhibition at Parker’s Box—with its cradles of headphones, formations of speakers, and ample darkness—serves up all the preliminary indications that might get her work falsely accused.

C.J. Yeh

The gripe many skeptics have with computer-based art is that the medium often takes precedence over the message. VertexList, a gallery in Williamsburg devoted to new media art, is wary of this pitfall, and aims to harness the expressive power of technology without drawing excessive attention to the method of delivery.

Joseph Karoly

Karoly has indeed been making art about art for decades, and, while “Smart Art” has been reduced to a formula by some, the prevailing economic contradictions that inspired such critiques haven’t dissipated.

Judy Simonian

The relationship between painting and architecture through the years has been a fruitful one. In its adolescence, modern art embraced the mathematical regularity and geometric precision of suspension bridges and steel-frame skyscrapers for their formal and symbolic potential.

Alejandro Almanza Pereda THE FAN AND THE SHIT

When I first saw Alejandro Almanza Pereda’s precariously arranged constructions a few years ago, I remember thinking that he must have been the kind of kid who tortured his mother by rollerskating around the pool with scissors in his hands, drinking Coca-Cola and eating pop rocks.

Dana Frankfort

Of the large supply of concrete subject matter available to contemporary painters, nothing is more literal than text. And no concrete form does a better job of transferring meaning to an image than a sequence of letters that make up a word.

Chuck Webster

Since the 1960s, certain portions of the conceptual art world have been on a mission to emancipate art’s intellectual essence from its corporeal burden—to make art into pure idea. Lucy Lippard gave her account of this purging in her book, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972.

Sara Greenberger Rafferty BANANAS Vlatka Horvat Or Some Other Time

It is somewhat unclear whether the exhibitions by Vlatka Horvat and Sara Greenberger Rafferty at the Kitchen were conceived as separate shows, or as independent efforts that, as curated by Matthew Lyons, just happen to work well together.

Micki Watanabe
Lost and Found in the Stacks

Above the din of chatter and clinking espresso spoons from the coffee shop in the Brooklyn Public Library’s atrium, several constructions by Micki Watanabe sit quietly and inconspicuously behind glass on the second floor.

Liz Deschenes: Registration

I always make this joke that if a fly were to land on a Robert Ryman painting, the dramatic effect would be almost Wagnerian. Dave Hickey ascribes a similar phenomenon to Andy Warhol’s short film, Haircut No 1, when the protagonist lights up a cigarette after being shorn—an otherwise meaningless gesture that in this case explodes with all the pop of the last ten minutes of a Michael Bay movie.

Robert Whitman Turning

Robert Whitman is part of a bygone generation of artists who sought to cleanse art of the commodification and commercialization that befell the art world in the heyday of Abstract Expressionism.

Manufacturing Dissent

Art fairs and their related spectacles are growing more commercial and frenzied with each new city I visit. In reality, the fairs in London during October probably weren’t any more maddening than Basel, but the effect is cumulative, like mercury in your blood.

FOOTLOOSE AMONG THE FUNCTORS

In 1979, 10 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Jean-Francois Lyotard characterized the condition of postmodernism as the end of grand narratives. These included Marxism, analytical philosophy, structural anthropology, you name it: if it had a telos, a Hegelian destiny, or any type of historical vector, its autopsy was written in The Postmodern Condition.

The Olaf Eliasson Phenomenon

Art world insiders have a peculiar relationship with the notion of mainstream popularity. On one hand they hope that art as a cultural force can have a significant impact on the consciousness of a larger public; and on the other they disparage anything that seems like pandering to a general audience. So what’s an ambitious artist to do?

Gayleen Aiken

I had already been to a series of openings in Chelsea by the time I arrived at Sunday on the Lower East Side to see the late Vermont artist Gayleen Aiken’s work.

Nancy Radloff

The press release that accompanies Nancy Radloff’s solo debut at Outrageous Look features a conversation between Gallery Director Brook Bartlett and the artist. It deals matter-of-factly with the artist’s bout of mental illness as a student at Cal Arts.

Kristen Schiele Gothicolor

There’s something immediately familiar about Kristen Schiele’s cycle of paintings at New General Catalog in Greenpoint: fragmented, architectural interiors scrubbed into medium-sized canvases with stylish, tongue-in-cheek recklessness, and enveloped by kaleidoscopic color schemes resembling a Black Forest fairy tale cloaked in moonlight.

CHRISTIAN BOLTANSKI No Man’s Land

If a work of art isn’t working when it’s small, it probably won’t work any better if it’s 10 times the size. The problem with this truth truism is that if bigger isn’t necessarily better, it is often more spectacular and, unfortunately, in some sad cases, spectacle is passed off as real feeling (much of what was on display at “Skin Fruit” at the New Museum comes quickly to mind.)

Bill Albertini

September in the art world has looked so far like what it is every year: an exercise in Dionysian excess. But thankfully, miles away from the clamor in Chelsea, HOLIDAY, has gone ahead with its modest business-as-usual from a converted garage on the outskirts of Williamsburg.

Merrill Wagner

Merrill Wagner’s art has always connected to nature: in her plein air paintings the connection is direct, while in her better-known steel, rock and wood constructions, it’s more oblique.

MARCO BREUER The Nature of the Pencil

When I saw Marco Breuer’s show, Nature of the Pencil, at Von Lintel Gallery, I was still visually hungover from seeing my first ever Dreamworks animated movie, about a boy who trains a dragon.

Mary Temple

Imagine yourself in a summer cottage somewhere in the north woods of Wisconsin, unlatching the doors and windows for a new season. It is twilight, and shafts of light are peeling in from the fading Edenic sunset. Children giggle in the distance. The oak trees outside cast their shimmering silhouettes on the interior walls.

Bix Lye & Jan Mulder

In an ambitious and unlikely collaboration between the Williamsburg galleries Sideshow and Holland Tunnel, artists Jan Mulder and Bix Lye initially seem as oddly paired as the hosting galleries themselves. Lye’s smooth, streamlined sculptures stand in stark contrast to Mulder’s atmospheric, washy landscape-inspired abstract paintings. Likewise, Holland Tunnel’s famously intimate space is an almost comical partner to Sideshow’s spacious interior.

Making American Taste: Narrative Art for a New Democracy

The concept of “taste” looms uncomfortably over the practice of art criticism, a constant reminder of the fundamental difficulty in assessing aesthetic quality in objective terms.

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The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2020

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