Art Review

Achtung, Baby

anslem-kiefer-jerusalemAnselm Kiefer: Next Year in Jerusalem
Gagosian Gallery, NYC
Through December 18, 2010

The brilliance of Mel Brook's film The Producers is that the plot turns on the creation of a musical so horrifyingly bad that no one will see it -- whose very appallingness is, of course, exactly what the audience was hungering for. Thus, "Springtime for Hitler" is born. We might be tempted to feel thinking along those lines went into the production of Anselm Kiefer's recent exhibit Next Year in Jerusalem, a crowed, operatic, and at times jaw-droppingly distasteful spectacle. Read more »

Lipstick Traces

liz-markus-punkLiz Markus: Are You Punk or New Wave?
Zieher Smith Gallery
Through December 18, 2010

Punk was about color. Puce, fuschia, chartreuse. The colors of spray paint; the colors of cheap nail varnish and hair color. Colors abhorrent to Nature. Color represented individual choices, perhaps the last individual choice that the disempowered could actually make. The legions of those that came after missed the boat, and black became standard issue, no doubt due to the misguided apotheosis of the gormless retard Sid Vicious as the poster-boy for the movement. Liz Markus, as witnessed by her solo exhibition "Are You Punk or New Wave?" at Zieher Smith hasn't forgotten the primary role that color played in those years.

In the past Markus has used thin washes of subtle hues to pay homage to a wide variety of her artistic peers and heroes. Television idols, Color Field Abstractionists, and 80s artworld "superstars" like Julian Schnabel and Jean Michel Basquiat. Read more »

Confusion is Next

raymond_pettibon_paintRaymond Pettibon: Hard in the Paint
David Zwirner Gallery
Through December 21, 2010

Satire, that first cousin of Irony, has long held a high place in both literature and the visual arts. Voltaire, Boswell and Dr. Johnson, Daumier and Hogarth paved a road for the free critique of politics, social interactions, and the breaking down and understanding of class, race, and economic structures. Raymond Pettibon, who three decades ago began his career creating cover art for Post-Punk bands like The Minutemen and Sonic Youth, continues this tradition in the recent exhibition at David Zwirner. Read more »

Holding On and Letting Go

christian-boltanski-berlin-photoA Collection of Memory at the Westport Arts Center We are a world obsessed with memory. And rightfully so, because in the end, this is what we are left with -- an intangible of all the tangible photos, videos, letters, souvenirs, newspaper clippings, charms, and other keepsakes that we collect throughout our lives to remember our own journey and document it for those that we have walked with and sometimes never will meet. Just as paper yellows, edges fray, and video warps, so too do our memories blur and fade with time. By their very nature, the details of memories lose their significance and what is left, at the core, is a feeling.

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Aggressive Perfector

miro-dutchMiro: The Dutch Interiors
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Through January 17, 2011

Two years ago the Museum of Modern Art presented Joan Miro: Painting and Anti-Painting, a retrospective of the Catalan artist's work from 1927 to 1937. This small slice of the painter's oeuvre proved to be one of the best and most intelligent shows of that year, parsing Miro's long and often repetitive years of work to get to the period that not only made him an important figure for his time, but made him an important painter for ours. Now, the Metropolitan Museum follows up this event by winnowing further the scope of works of that period and gives us just three works, called The Dutch Interiors, magnificent proto-surrealist pieces from his most fertile research into image deconstructing, along with preparatory studies, sketches, and most importantly two of the original Dutch masterpieces upon which they were based. Read more »

Stateless

francesco_clemente_conferenceFrancesco Clemente: A Private Geography
Mary Boone Gallery, NY

Through December 18, 2010

Francesco Clemente has always traversed various boundaries in his work: the geographical, personal, and sexual have all been routed through his various explorations in a multitude of media. His exhibit A Private Geography at Mary Boone uptown, his best in many years, proves no exception to this rule. It may be misleading to say that his work is all about the breaking down of perimeters. Instead, he renders them porous through his work and peripatetic lifestyle: He lives and works in New York, Italy, and India through various parts of the year, and works in painting, sculpture, prints, and most successfully pastel, drawing, and watercolor. Read more »

Sweet Fred in Brooklyn

Tomaselli_Big_RavenFred Tomaselli: Sweet Leaf
Brooklyn Museum, NY

Through January 2, 2011

There is a wonderful scene in Pink Floyd's film version of The Wall where Bob Geldof, having ingested a significant quantity of everything, trashes his hotel room, carefully shaves his head (and, memorably, his eyebrows), and then proceeds to obsessively arrange the shards and fragments of the mayhem, as well as the surviving pills and drug paraphernalia, into patterns on the carpet. Fred Tomaselli has created a coherent body of collage works over the years, deploying an astounding array of painstakingly layered images embedded with an equally astounding array of drugs embedded in their resin surfaces. LSD, speed, aspirin, anti-depressants, Ecstasy, marijuana leaves, and psychedelic mushrooms are carefully aligned in patterns reminiscent of the psychedelic art of the 1960s, and also of the trashed-hotel-room-floor-sculpture of Mr. Geldoff. Read more »

Staring at the Sea

beautiul-peopledYoan Capote: Mental States
Jack Shainman Gallery, NYC

Through November 14, 2010

In 1886 the French sculptor Fredrick Auguste Bartholdi sent aboard the ship Isere a large statue based on a portrait of his mother. For nearly a decade he had been working on this large-scale piece, which was to represent American Liberty, a gift from the French to the American people. By now this icon has become a familiar image, the "face" of liberty in the United States, but one must wonder sometimes how the artist came to represent this abstract concept, for a country he hadn't visited, in such a remarkably clear way. Read more »

Self-Discovery in Chelsea

Baltic-Blossom.jpgBendel Hydes: Circumnavigating the Globe
Tenri Cultural Institute's Gallery, Chelsea, NY

Through October 28, 2010

Sailing, an art that requires masterful skill and trust in wind and water, is a deceptively effortless movement in which a vessel is pushed, pulled, thrust, and propelled forward and onward. As in life, this would be true if we allowed destiny to control our fate. But on this prosperous voyage, we encounter choice and free will, often at odds with human emotion, erratic at times, as we change direction into unchartered seas. Bendel Hydes's current exhibition, Circumnavigating the Globe, curated by D. Dominick Lombardi, explores the landscape and sentiment of what lies within and underneath the seas and soul. The show contains eight of Hydes's twelve 78"x78" abstract paintings which represent segments of Earth's surface in twelve 30 degree sections of longitude, from -180 degrees west to +180 degrees east. Read more »

Roy's Keen

lichtenstein-printRoy Lichtenstein: The Black-and-White Drawings, 1961-1968
The Morgan Library & Museum

Through January 2, 2011

One of the many visual images to become embedded in our collective minds from the World Trade Center attack on 9/11 is the showers of paper falling from the Twin Towers. Paper memos, faxes, and archived letters -- things that a decade later seem quaint, having been replaced by emails, texts, and tweets. Of course, though it is a wild stretch to compare this event to any art-historical watershed moment, one might, tentatively, compare it with the papery revolution of Cubist collage. There was a moment, in the early half of the Twentieth Century, when the use of text and images from popular media such as advertising and newspapers sought to replace the high art materials of stone and paint, overthrowing notions of what comprised an artwork and its relationship to culture and politics. Read more »

Parallel Lines - Deborah Kass

being-alive-icon

Deborah Kass: More Feel Good Paintings for Feel Bad Times
Paul Kasmin Gallery, NYC
Through October 30, 2010

There is a great Roy Lichtenstein painting from the 1960s called "Image Duplicator" that shows a comic book mad scientist with a thought bubble that reads, "What do you know about my Image Duplicator!" Whether this mythical machine ever existed outside the realm of Lichtenstein's imagination is besides the point -- dozens of artist from the '60s through the '90s used image replication and deconstruction as their primary motif, from Jasper Johns and Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol through Sherrie Levine and David Salle and Jeff Koons. Deborah Kass has largely followed this model, with the twist of appropriating the appropriators -- using Warhol's images (already appropriated from newspapers and magazines) and then combining them with Jewish themes and pop icons (e.g. Barbara Streisand in Yentl), giving the works a post-modern, feminist, and political slant that most artists of her generation, with the possible exception of Cary Leibowitz, didn't have.

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Sk8er Boi

dan-colen-harleysDan Colen: Poetry
Gagosian Gallery, NYC

Through October 16, 2010

When we are young we think as children do; we see the world as full of promise, often mistaking signs for wonders. We start by faith, and consummate by vision, at least according to St. Augustine. When we grow older we put away childish things -- or, in the case of Dan Colen, who is having his first exhibit at the Gagosian Gallery, exhibit them in a pristine, polished concrete, Chelsea art space.

Mr. Colen's show doesn't so much occupy the gallery space as sulk against the walls. One meets these guarded, obdurent, art objects head-on. "The Sweetest Thing" (2010), a freestanding wall -- brick, concrete, steel and re-bar, is the first obstacle one encounters upon entering the first room. Read more »

Art as Geotherapy

Mara_Oyster_IslandWhen Henry Hudson first landed in New York, New York Harbor was home to 350 miles of oyster reef spanning the distance between Coney Island and Poughkeepsie. By the turn of the twentieth century, the one time "Oyster Capital of the World" was no more as its oyster population fell to zero due to over-harvesting, pollution, and disease.

New York City is about to launch a large-scale campaign to restore its oyster beds by creating shoreline protection and habitat for over 200 forms of aquatic life. One artist, Mara G. Haseltine, has joined the fight. Read more »

South of Heaven

matisse-portraitMatisse: Radical Invention 1913-1917
Museum of Modern Art

Through October 11, 2010

"Bathers by a River," in the collection of the Chicago Art Institute, has to be one of my top ten favorite paintings, though otherwise Matisse has always seemed a bit too lightweight for my taste. The Museum of Modern Art has devoted a large portion of the current Matisse: Radical Invention 1913-1917 exhibit to that newly cleaned and restored painting, so, with the prospect of seeing at least one great piece, I visited the show and unexpectedly got a fresh opportunity to rediscover a powerful painter.

Henri Matisse usually brings to mind bucolic scenes of rest and calm, but here we finally meet the artist who matched Cezanne and Picasso in his ambition to discover and convey a new, distilled way of seeing through painting; an artist driven to strip-mine nature in order to find an essential ore of pure form. Read more »

Detroit Art Kicks Out The Jams

gordon-newton-head-variatioContemporary Art 1945-Present
Detroit Institute of Arts

Through September

Detroit is rightly credited as the breeding ground for great music. Iggy and The Stooges, Eminem, Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, and Jack White have all captured the sound of the exquisite decay of metal, the beauty of rust which is Detroit. Less acknowledged are the artists who have sprung from, or continue to work in, the Rust Belt Capital, giving us a sense of the visual poetry found in the ruins. The newly retooled Detroit Institute of Arts has at last given us a glimpse of some of the works of these artists in a section of their current exhibition Contemporary Art: 1945-Present. A wonderful show of their permanent holdings (much the same as New York MoMA's similarly themed current exhibition), it gives us the opportunity to peruse the best-of-the-best of the collection. Read more »

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