Art Review

Zapped!

Zap: Masters of Psychedelic Art, 1965-1974
Andrew Edlin Gallery, NYC
Through June 25, 2011

I was an impressionable teen in the late 1960s, and Zap commix brought me a front row seat, albeit a twisted one, to a world of drugs, sex, psychedelia, violence, brilliance, and stupidity. As mentioned in essay by Gary Panter and Chris Byrne, the exhibition's curators state how the Zap artists "dared to critique and satirize the messy cultural and social network in progress." The Zap artists let it all hang out, literally and figuratively, and they targeted their like-minded peers as well, making it all the more compelling.

Pretty Tied Up

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

Polonius said it best: “Clothes maketh the man -- but make sure they are quality, not flashy...and above all to your own self be true.” From his lips to Alexander McQueen’s ears, it seems. For those who have been buried under a rock for the last fifteen years, or, perhaps more likely, locked in their Master’s dungeon, McQueen’s sartorial splendors may come as something of a shock. To those of us who have appreciated the curve and grace of Aimee Mullins (below-the-knee parapalegic, model/actress/athlete), admired Prince Charles’s Savile Row suits, watched Björk on the red carpet, or seen Lady Gaga (Six Million People Can’t Be Wrong), this exhibition may seem more overdue than revelatory. Oh, yeah. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, is at MMA's Costume Institute through August.

Drums Along the Mohawk

Mark Grotjahn: Nine Faces
Through June 25, 2011

For nearly a century the search for the Primitive, the essential, untouched-by-civilization essence of Man, drove artists as diverse as Ensor and Picasso in their Modernist depictions. Apparently, this Conradian pursuit has not been completely exhausted, as the recent works of Mark Grotjahn at Anton Kern demonstrate.

"It was a distinct glimpse: the dugout, four paddling savages, and the lone white man turning his back suddenly on the headquarters, on relief, on thoughts of home -- perhaps; setting his face towards the depth of the wilderness, towards his empty and desolate station.” Conrad’s narrator, Marlowe, in paddling down the Congo in search of Kurtz, finds that he brings the seeds of corruption to the innocent savages that he has come to survey. In a similar vein, Grotjahn, with these paintings, seeks to bring a sense of purity, geometry, and order to the simple depiction of a human face but shows that such a task is insurmountable (at best) and fuck-headed (at worst).

Swimsuit Edition

Willem de Kooning: The Figure, Movement and Gesture
Pace Gallery, NY

This is for Irene, who still gets a thrill, when she sees Bill.

It has been said that memory recounted at leisure is adventure; if we hold that as truth, then the paintings of Willem de Kooning, those tortured creations of his struggles, constitute High Adventure, indeed. The Pace Gallery exhibit The Figure, Movement and Gesture focuses on his painterly transformation from abstraction to figuration and back again. "The figure," de Kooning once said, "is nothing unless you twist it around like a strange miracle." Twist it he did, contorting it into the pastoral landscapes, creating a new style of painting and blurring the boundaries of representation and abstraction.

Sylvia Roth: Paintings and Monoprints

Sylvia Roth: Paintings and Monoprints 
The OUTSIDE IN Piermont, NY

Sylvia Roth, founder of Hudson River Editions, is a painter and master printer who has worked with the likes of Karen Finley, Richard Pousette-Dart, April Gornik, Alfonso Ossorio, and John Chamberlain. Among her many early brushes with greatness was Roth's study of painting with one of my all-time favorites, Philip Guston, at New York University.

Standing on a Beach

David Salle: New Paintings
Mary Boone Gallery, NYC

It was not that long ago that David Salle seemed to strike a collective nerve with his simulations of paintings: for some, he resurrected Painting; for others he fucked its necrotic corpse. Among critics he was praised for revivifying the art form, along with his colleagues Julian Schnabel and Eric Fischl, and vilified by feminist critics for his reified soft-core porn subject matter. Artist and writers such as Peter Halley and Mira Schor drew up highly articulate sides in the battlefields that Salle called paintings.

Transience Is the Meaning: Gary Stephan

Gary Stephan's recent one-person exhibitions include those at the Baumgartner Gallery; Cristinerose Gallery; Mary Boone Gallery; Diane Brown Gallery; and the Margo Leavin Gallery, CA. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Grant, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant.

Horizon Lines Lost and Found

Sandra Lee Eula: Two Waters (Seeds in a Wild Garden)

It's an April day, actually Palm Sunday, and my mind is on how the warm sun and cool air meet on the surface of my skin, creating a brew of sentimental storm of dawn and departure. The morning's gauzy mist lifted to reveal lines – lines from my window panes, yellow lane dividers, disappearing train tracks, and sinuous subway lines that deliver me to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's front step to witness artist Sandra Eula Lee’s Two Waters (Seeds in a Wild Garden).

American Caesar

Jasper Johns
New Sculpture and Works on Paper

Woody Allen once said that he didn't want to achieve immortality through his art; he wanted to achieve it through not dying. The octogenarian Jasper Johns has seemingly pulled off the ultimate trick, managing to do both.

Tyson vs. Bacon

Nicola Tyson responds to the work of Francis Bacon, now on view at The Helly Nahmad Gallery, NY through June 18. Ms. Tyson will be reading from her collected letters at the Fredrich Petzel Gallery, NY, May 18.

Dear Bacon,

I’m sick and tired of how often my work is compared to yours! OK, there was a stage in my student years when I got myself embroiled in an S&M relationship with your work. Well not quite...what I mean is, I was seduced into wanting to be a top to your bottom, or rather I wanted to top your painterly top, except that you weren’t really a top...except that all tops are really also bottoms, except I don’t want my bottom smacked so I must just be a top.