Art Review

Snow Blind

Paul McCarthy: The Dwarves, The Forests
Hauser and Wirth, NYC
Through December 17, 2011

Once upon a time, as a queen sat sewing at her window, she pricked her finger, and three drops of blood fell on the snow gathered on the ebony windowsill. As she looked at the blood she said, "Oh, how I wish I had a daughter who had skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair black as ebony." Soon after, the queen gave birth to a baby girl whose skin was white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair black as ebony. She named her Snow White. The Dwarves, The Forests is the first exhibition of sculptures to come from Paul McCarthy's recent exploration of the classic 19th century German folk tale Snow White (Schneewittchen) and of the modern reinterpretation, Disney's 1937 animated Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

On Duty

On Duty: Odermatt, Metinides and Weegee

The first time I saw the color photograph "Untitled (primer plano de mujer rubia arollada e impactada contra un poste, Ciudad de Mexico)" (1979) [at left] by Enrique Metinides, it was in a press communication. At that time, I was reminded of the Alfred Hitchcock film Frenzy. This reaction, I suspect, was a coping method -- a way for me to imagine that it was not real by thinking it was a film still. You see, the photograph is of a woman who lies bleeding, dead or dying, crammed between two metal posts, a victim of a car crash. Next to her, a medic offers a jacket -- a gesture that elicits no response whatsoever in the victim.

Atrocity Exhibition

Maurizio Cattelan: All
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC
Through January 22, 2012

The ironic thing about blasphemy is that, in order for there to be any cathartic meaning for the blasphemer, he must first believe in the subject or object he is debasing. Like, really believe in it. De Sade’s endless accounts of nun rapes and shooting loads into the Eucharist would hold little interest, in their own right, if we were not so intrigued by how devout a believer he truly was. Maurizio Cattelan intrigues us for similar reasons, but to lesser effect. For all his posturing, à la Marcel Duchamp, he constantly returns to themes of a religious nature that belie his crueler intentions. His draped, marble figures suggest both Lazarus and Beuys’s I Like America and America Likes Me (1974). A horse hangs below a hand-lettered sign that reads “INRI” (Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm), a donkey carries a TV set, and Pope John Paul II is felled by a giant meteorite (The Ninth Hour, 1999). His recurring use of taxidermy gives us animals resurrected, and a small, penitent Adolph Hitler (Him, 2001) depicts the dictator seeking redemption.

The Sublime is Now: Lucio Pozzi + Bradley Rubenstein

Lucio Pozzi was born in 1935 in Milan, Italy. After living a few years in Rome, where he studied architecture, he came to the United States in 1962 as a guest of the Harvard International Summer Seminar. He then settled in New York and attained U.S. citizenship. He now shares his time between his Hudson (NY) and Valeggio s/M (VR) studios.

In 1978 the Museum of Modern Art, New York, exhibited his early videotapes in one of the first single-artist exhibitions of the Projects:Video series. He occasionally writes and has taught at the Cooper Union, Yale Graduate Sculpture Program, Princeton University, and the Maryland Institute of Art. He currently is an instructor at the MFA and BFA programs of the School of Visual Arts in New York. His work has been presented at Documenta 6 (1977) and at the Venice Biennale (American Pavilion) in 1980. His art is represented in various private and  public collections.


Jonathan Meese: Hot Earl Green Sausage Tea Barbie (First Flush)
Bortolami Gallery
Through December 23, 2011

Just in the nick of time Jonathan Meese has rolled up like a panzer division, bringing his ribald "Dictatorship of Art" to New York. Meese's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to exhibitions hasn't changed, and here we get paintings, bronze sculpture, video, and a performance, War "Saint Just (First Flash)."

Buried Treasure

Thomas Lyon Mills
The Catacombs

"...where the temperature and humidity are unchanging, I share space with eight-inch phosphorescent mantises, translucent spiders and tiny moths that, attracted to my lights, cling to my clothes and hair."

These are the words of artist Thomas Lyons Mills, referring to the Roman catacombs – a place where he has spent countless hours accumulating visual and emotional data in both his sketchbook and his mind. The resulting mixed media meanderings through those most sacred of spaces yield masterful renderings of timeless textures that cover curious corridors riddled with subtle life forms and ages-old death. Like an in-between place, Purgatory, the waking dream or your everyday day dream, Mills's most effectively awakens with his art, your subconscious, your fears, your phobias, and your fantasies and breathes a thick atmosphere of sights, sounds, smells, and sighs that travel right through to your core. 

Waltzing Mathilda

Peter Williams: Midnight Waltz in D Minor
Paul Kotula Projects, Ferndale, Michigan
Through December 3, 2011

One of the problematic legacies of Modernism was its emphasis on originality, youth, and the myth of the artist who sprang sui generis into a recognizable, signature style. There were rare exceptions, such as Picasso and Matisse, who remained in the canon and were allowed to mature and develop their works past their youthful experiments and achieve a late body of work. Admittedly, the fact that they lived to be ninety sort of bludgeoned the historians and critics into pretty much accepting whatever they did just because they refused to die. On the other hand, de Kooning lived just as long, and his constant morphing of styles proved to be equally as protean but not as accepted, and his later painting was more or less dismissed until well after his death. What gets overlooked in this now familiar pattern of looking at artists is the fact that most of them go through a period of adolescence after their initial "breakthrough" works, and then they slowly hone their style. This period of artistic growth, often overlooked, is usually the most interesting of an artist's career.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Sanford Biggers: Sweet Funk -- An Introspective
The Brooklyn Museum
Through January 8, 2012

Sanford Biggers gathers the imagery and sounds of Blues, the rhythm and movement of break dancing, and the costumes and theatricality of blackface routines and turns them into a very personal discourse on race and culture in our time. The exhibition centers on a large installation of a tree growing through a player piano (Blossom, 2007), which grows through the museum’s fifth-floor rotunda. With passing references to “a tree grows in Brooklyn,” nature versus culture, and Buddha's enlightenment under the bodhi tree, it drives home its point by intermittently playing “Strange Fruit,” the ode to black victims of racism made famous by Billie Holiday.


Allison Schulnik: Mound
Zieher Smith
Through December 17, 2011

On May 5th they isolated the strain of Virus HC-35, which became known as The Flu. On April 1st President Manson declared a State of Emergency, cleared the protesters from Zapruder Park, and issued orders for the Continuous Curfew. And the deaths came in millions. By June the food had run out, and we began to hunt the neighbors. By July the neighbors had run out, and we stayed confined to the 69th floor. Two days ago we ate Amelie. Now Katya is sitting in the living room, counting the last of the drugs on the table. Enough Neroin and Serafem to last only one person for the rest of the month.

Tones on Tail

Tom Kotik: Tone
Lesley Heller Workspace
Through November 27, 2011

Nothing says "Rock and Roll" louder than the Marshall Stack, the amplification system developed in the 1960s that continues to define the stage appearance of bands as diverse as Slayer, U2, and The Who. A full stack consists of one head, containing the actual amplifier, on top of two stacked 4x12s -- loudspeaker cabinets containing four twelve-inch speakers. Walls of up to sixty stacks have become the background for most metal bands, with the volume of the music connoted by the large number of stacks. In fact, some bands use the empty cases as props, to create the impression of a large sound, much like the on-stage swigs taken from a bottle of Jack Daniels that in fact are refreshing sips of iced tea. Tom Kotik, in his exhibition Tone, begins with something of the same premise in his sculptures of silent guitars and amps.