There were those who once believed that Alberto Giacometti pissed away a flourishing career as a leading Surrealist sculptor for what some saw as the seemingly futile pursuit of trying to paint a nose convincingly affixed to a face. Because it was Giacometti, we trust his judgment and agree that it was a good idea after all. His project for portraiture, which he pursued for the next 30-odd years, was of vital importance. Similarly, Jenny Dubnau's exhibition at the Aldrich, of simple faces portrayed against a blank ground, shows how compelling that idea still is. Read more »
Outside, adopting the form of mountaintops, pyramidal mounds of snow in the parking lot and courtyard masked views and uncovered new perspectives. Inhaling, the sub-zero air crystalized inside my body; exhaling and imagining white sandy beaches, my breath left a trail of fog that looked like an aerial message advertising an Iceland getaway. Read more »
"Going beyond what is human, stepping into a reality which is turned toward the heaven, but [is] uncanny -- the realm where the monkey, the automatons, and with them…[all] seem at home."
As might be expected from the hyper-prolific Condo, his retrospective Mental States at the New Museum is a bawdy, sprawling affair. Since the early 80s Condo has continued to develop a body of work which both appropriated and expanded on artists as diverse as Picasso and Velasquez, Guston and Gorky, while striving for a hybrid sort of Pop Surrealism, peppered with subject matter like Crucifixions and Shakespearean dramas. Condo has more often than not hit his mark by accidently landing in a zone of comical, dark, whimsy. This fine exhibition backs him on this gambit by studiously trying to elevate his work to Old Master status. Read more »
Feo Belcari of Florence wrote in 1449: "The Eye is called the first of all the gates/Through which the Intellect may learn and taste/The Ear is second, with the attentive Word/That arms and nourishes the Mind." The basic premise of these lines is underscored in A More Perfect Union R. Luke DuBois exhibition at Bitforms. We are taught, early on, that the eye, the window to the soul, is also the first portal through which desire enters -- bringing with it, and upon us, the seed of The Deadly Sins. Read more »
Almost since the term was coined, Abstract Expressionism and The Museum of Modern Art have been synonymous. Thanks to many factors, (including economic and political, as well as cheap New York real estate), the generation of artists who became known by that sobriquet would find their places in Art History held by Alfred Barr, the Salaambo of all things Modern. Unfortunately, over time, the definition "modern" became elastic, and new art was acquired, pushing aside some artists, making room for new ones. Fortunately for us Abstract Expressionist New York takes us back in time, exhuming works from the permanent collection which are ordinarily not always on view. Read more »
My father, talented engineer, and aficionado of Blackstone and Houdini, and my longtime friend Julie Sloane, artist and creator who could see the magic in ordinary things were both shuffled off this mortal coil this year. I miss that they were not here to see this poignant Jewish Museum exhibition, Houdini: Art and Magic, as they would have had such diametrically opposed responses. Read more »
Even in the metric age we still measure animals and things in hands and feet. So acute is our need for a haptic experience of our surroundings that the measure of the man, so to speak, is the measure of the universe. In the beautiful retrospective of the sculptures of Charles LeDray, currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art, we find this basic tenant upturned as we enter a Lilliputian world of very tiny things.
LeDray has spent the better part of two decades crafting a world of everyday objects, faithfully replicated in miniature. Entering the galleries of these minute versions of pottery, men’s clothes and uniforms, teddy bears and furniture one finds oneself suddenly Gulliverized, made aware of one’s clumsy corporeal bigness. The 14th century Saint Augustine wrote: "Look and see; feel and see…see with your eyes…see with all your senses. Because [Christ] was seeking the inner sense of faith, he apprehended also the outer senses." Read more »
The duality of human nature is that we exist between two poles of existence; the need for redemption and the desire for retribution. In Michael Zansky' exhibition The Reincarnation of Michael Vick (As a Dog), at Ice Box, in Philadelphia, we are shown the Eagle's dog-murdering quarterback in a state of reincarnation; in the process of, if not quite achieving, redemption. Read more »
Outside Trinity Church, perched on the empty flagstone courtyard facing Wall Street, lightly rests Steve Tobin's bronze sculpture, Roots. Recovered from the suffocating rubble of collapsed concrete and shattered glass from the 9/11 attacks, this massive root structure from a seventy-year old sycamore tree fell into St. Paul's churchyard in downtown Manhattan, missing the church itself and surrounding tombstones. The roots remained. Transplanted as a symbol of hope and memorial of struggle, to me the sculpture looks like an anatomically correct heart with chambers, veins, aorta, exposed for the world to see it survived, still pumping life. Decorated for Christmas, I notice a glittery star suspended in the center of the skeletal root canopy, blowing in the wind. Interior light from the church's stained glass gothic window mottles the bronze surface in a slight spectrum of color. A permanent fixture, Tobin's sculpture is not part of the Phenomena Project's exhibition, All Insignificant Things Must Disappear, but it is. Read more »
Kim Foster Gallery, NYC
December 2-24, 2010
When Lucifer fell from Grace, we are told, it was because, as God's once most favored creation, he had lost His countenance, and thus, his status. To remove, in other words, the sight of the face, whether God's, or the beloved who turns their back, is to ameliorate our existence. In Anonymous at Kim Foster Gallery, we see this theme woven into the works of artists working in a variety of mediums. Alejandra Villasmil paints, draws and collages over found images of people. Unlike a grafitti artist who attacks first the eyes (usually) then the mouth (adding words) of a subway ad, Vilasmil obscures the faces, e.g. identity, while leaving the eyes, those "windows to the soul," intact. Read more »
What is Left
Curated by Rachel Gugelberger
Nina Lola Bachhuber, Elissa Levy and Nick Herman
Winkelman Gallery/CRLab, NYC
Through December 23, 2010
There was a time in the late 60s and early 70s where the collision of failed economy and the booming production of art objects eerily resembled our current situation. Curators, those unsung entities of the artworld suddenly gained in importance and became names as they sought to fill empty museum and gallery space with a variety of inexpensively made (or, in some cases, faxed-in) art objects and ideas. Read more »
Anselm 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 »
Liz 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 »