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I heard about the Brooklyn Museum’s Basquiat retrospective a couple of months ago on CNN’s ticker. Sandwiched between the news that Rod Stewart had proposed to his girlfriend atop the Eiffel Tower and relationship gossip about Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston was the blurb that Basquiat would open at the Brooklyn Museum in April.

Martha Cooper

On March 9 top-selling gangsta rappers 50 Cent and The Game formally ended a long-simmering feud that, a week earlier, had erupted in gunfire outside Manhattan’s Hot 97 radio station. Interestingly, the setting for the much-hyped reconciliation was Harlem’s Schomburg Library, part of the New York Public Library system.

Martin Kippenberger

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to think of underwear in the same way again. The three current shows of the late lamented prankster Martin Kippenberger show the similarities and repeated images that made up this most self-conscious of artists’ personal mythology.

Diana Cooper

The traditional categories of painting, drawing, and sculpture have for a long time been useless in understanding the art object. Where they can still be of service is in providing artists like Diana Cooper with a set of rules to ignore.

Nancy de Holl

For Nancy de Holl’s debut solo show at Taxter & Spengemann Gallery, she presents a group of still-life photographs. Spare and understated, each image is composed of three or four objects clustered together. The items are domestic, more or less, and evoke a kind of late-midcentury nostalgia.

Aneta Grzeszykowska and Jan Smaga

For those who live in urban apartment buildings, one of the most disturbing nightmares is to be unknowingly spied upon by a neighbor, be it through a small crack in the closet (think of Roman Polanski’s The Tenant) or a hole in the ceiling. What would they see, and what would we feel if we knew that there was no corner left at home that could provide refuge from a scrutinizing and judgmental eye?

Jim Torok

Jim Torok’s latest solo show at Pierogi is a deeply felt, literary comedy presented in a series of ink drawings on paper. Torok employs a simple comic-book style to convey his everyday struggles and eventual triumph over a troubled existence.

Brian Walker

Lost in Queens: A Natural History Museum in 7 Parts is the program for the research and projects by Brian Walker at Plus Ultra. Walker presents an aerial view of Queens populated with numbered icons of animals both extinct and extant, as if indicating habitats or “finds.”

Jules de Balincourt

Never having seen de Balincourt’s work prior to This Is Our Town, his second solo exhibition at LFL, I missed the “prewar optimism” of his earlier work. While there is a dystopian narrative concerning the rise of corporate-driven cultural conservatism in America, the message isn’t baroque.

Joe Fyfe

n a current exhibition of works from 2004, all of which were conceived and completed during a visit to Vietnam, Joe Fyfe reiterates his self-appointed task to clear out the busyness in painting in order to examine the basics: the image of the work and its physical presence, as well as the inherent relationships between image and light, pigment and surface. In order to decipher these, Fyfe keeps his materials as undisguised as possible, treating them with almost equal importance as the artistic process and even the finished work itself.

Thornton Willis and James Little

Raising the Bar is an apt title for Sideshow’s exhibition of the paintings of Thornton Willis and James Little because it’s what these two painters do for the painters who succeed them. This is what a painter’s painter does: He opens a door for other painters onto the history of the art and shows that history to be rich in possibilities.

Emily Mason

The boldly colorful paintings that make up Emily Mason’s show of recent work reside in a fickle and uncanny space—one with parameters as drastically thin yet overwhelmingly vast as all the myriad tones and nuances existing between like colors.

Carol Salmanson and Jae Hi Ahn

In his classic book Principles of Art History, Heinrich Wölffin establishes the concept of the “development of style” and lays out five opposing dynamics that signal its evolution. The first of these dynamics is the advance from a linear style to that of a painterly (planar) style; that is, using forms, light, and shadow and flattened space instead of just line as a means of representing a more true visual representation.

Saul Steinberg

In 1974, Harold Rosenberg, one of Saul Steinberg’s earliest and most eloquent supporters, wrote that “Cubism… which in the canon of the American art historian is the nucleus of twentieth-century formal development in painting, sculpture and drawing, is to Steinberg merely another detail in the pattern of modern mannerisms; in a landscape, he finds no difficulty in combining Cubist and Constructivist elements with an imitation van Gogh ‘self-portrait.’”

Elise Freda

In an art scene that makes a virtue of anarchy, careening from the shrill to the fatalistic without a dominant direction or commanding style, a shot of unadulterated beauty like Elise Freda’s abstractions at Ch’i Contemporary Fine Art can feel both clarifying and unsettling.

Harvey Quaytman

Harvey Quaytman’s current show, Flying the Colors, is strong, deep, and soaring. A celebration of the artist’s bold color work, it features twelve outstanding paintings drawn from the past twenty-five years.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2005

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