ArtSeen

“I am not now nor have I ever been…”

I am not a feminist artist. Now I’ve got your attention. I am following a time-honored tradition and taking a page out of Marina Abramovic’s playbook.

Miami Beach: Swimming in Pigment

To feed Two Coats of Paint, my daily blog about painting, I comb the Internet for art reviews and commentary from all over the world. It’s an enriching process but not very tactile: online, the artwork, galleries and museums remain distant and two-dimensional.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Assistant

This particular artist employs dozens of assistants and I’ve known a good deal of them. They told me that the workweek could be seven days long with 18-hour shifts and no overtime pay. One confided in me, like an Upton Sinclair character: “In his studio, people come in and they get chewed up and spit out and it keeps going.”

Merlin James Paintings of Buildings

It is very easy and probably even comforting to think of Merlin James as a contrarian, and certainly many people do, but this lets you off the hook. The reason he has been pegged this way is because he is a highly articulate painter and writer who openly rejects the belief that painting is dead, and even has gone so far as to say that painting should not be included in exhibitions of works done in other mediums.

Al Taylor Early Work

The art world finally seems to be catching up with the sculptures and drawings of Al Taylor (1948-1999), who stopped painting in 1984, and began making constructions in 1985 (he made his first mature drawings as early as 1974). Dating between 1985 and 1990, this exhibition of “early work” serves as an introduction to the first five years of a wildly prolific and sustained outburst of sculpture and drawing that lasted fifteen years.

Thomas Ruff

Thomas Ruff’s latest exhibition of large-scale, modified digital photographs is a continuation of an Internet-based project, jpegs, which he started in 2004. It expands upon his earlier, Internet-based nudes, where he downloaded and categorized, then altered and enlarged, low-resolution images of pornography.

Robert Jack Before and Aftermath

A few weeks ago I took on a challenge to list ten good young abstract painters. It turned out to be more difficult than it sounded. I mulled the idea over for several days with little success. Later that week I went to to see Before and Aftermath, an exhibition of abstract paintings and drawings by Robert Jack. It didn’t fatten the list, but it did shed some light on the issue.

Ivin Ballen 50/50

Does the term late capitalism still define the period preceding the system’s predicted downfall, or could it, like late childhood, refer to a stage of development? Georges Perec’s 1965 novel, Things (Les Choses) suggests that there is a connection between things and happiness, that Western consumer culture quite possibly holds previously unseen and unpredicted promise for its citizens’ welfare.

Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa/ SANAA

When the Whitney Museum was completed in 1966, who could have guessed that New York would have to wait until the 21st century for another building of comparable brilliance? With the opening of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in December, a long era of disappointment has finally come to a close.

Unmonumental: The Object in the 21st Century Collage: The Unmonumental Picture

The New Museum opened on the Bowery in December, garnering near-universal praise for its ethereal, SANAA-designed building and pitiless abuse over its ghastly inaugural show. That exhibition, Unmonumental: The Object in the 21st Century, is still with us, but on January 16th it expanded to include Collage: The Unmonumental Picture, the second of a four-part series, with sound art and online montage on the way.

Anselm Kiefer: Paintings and Sculpture

What is it about Anselm Kiefer’s art that inhibits unfettered admiration? I write this as a longtime fan, someone who was left reeling from his big show at Mary Boone in 1982. Of the dozen or so artists vying for prominence in the 1980s under the mantle of Neo-Expressionism, Kiefer seemed to have single-handedly legitimated and fulfilled the promise of Postmodernism.

Brooklyn Dispatches Authentic Beauty, or The Real Phony

Sometimes as I peddle to endless art openings, studio visits, multi-million dollar museum extravaganzas and the ever-expanding galaxy of art fairs, I’m occasionally struck by parallel sensibilities or common developments. As a spate of recent shows here in Brooklyn seem to indicate, a subtle shift seems to be taking place with regard to culture’s perception of beauty.

Katy Grannan

Another Woman Who Died in Her Sleep, San Francisco area-based photographer Katy Grannan depicts the same person, Nicole, in various Northwestern landscapes and interiors. Grannan worked with Nicole for almost three years and established a comfortable intimacy with her subject.

Katy Grannan The Westerns

Like many Easterners who’ve been uprooted to California, photographer Katy Grannan has found herself simultaneously unsettled and ensnared by the Golden State’s seductive sunshine and mania for personal transformation. That unease and fascination brilliantly inform her latest series of pictures, which are on view in galleries in both San Francisco and New York.

Hugh Walton *UCKED

Hugh Walton’s first solo show of his career melded bittersweet humor with personal disclosure in four new high definition videos (all works 2007). In the main gallery space, three of those pieces were shown on flatscreen monitors, mounted to the wall. In preparation for each, the artist froze liquids into single or paired words in blocky letters.

Julian Schnabel Navigation Drawings

What aberration allows bad artists to make terrific films? Why is it that the clichés that make for turgid art become acceptable and engaging when they are translated into celluloid? I am thinking of Julian Schnabel and Jean Cocteau, who, besides being self-aggrandizing artists who have made interesting films, also share a misguided obsession with Pablo Picasso.

Behind the Seen

I’ve always found the term ‘street artist’ somewhat suspect. Yes, the label is apt for someone who paints graffiti on building walls or places paper sculptures on city sidewalks, and yet we don’t go around calling artists who show in galleries, ‘gallery artists.’ Those people are just artists. They don’t need a descriptor, a qualifying moniker.

Alberto Burri

The exhibit at Mitchell-Innes & Nash is an overview of the lifelong work of the late Italian avant-gardist Alberto Burri, a mini-retrospective of one of the most mysterious members of the Arte Povera movement. Burri’s collage-paintings have an immediate 3-D effect, as they are made from patched and stitched brown burlap, mailbag canvases, cracked mud, burned plastic, discarded wood and other found materials.

Extending the Universe: Conceptual Art, Women, and the Structuralist Paradigm

In his book Structuralism (1970), the renowned Swiss philosopher Jean Piaget revealed the affinity between the structure of language and the function of systemic processes in developmental psychology. Piaget’s investigations closely though indirectly paralleled the work of conceptual artists of the same period who were more interested in clarifying their art through structural parameters than in terms of aesthetic form.

Frankenstein (Mortal Toys): a miniature spectacle

Victor Frankenstein, his sister Elizabeth and brother William played hide-and-seek in the woods outside Geneva, their laughter and giggling voiced by two performers seated in plain view on either side of a small proscenium stage.

Barry Le Va Voltage

Thought, as I experience it, is generally an unpredictable, often murky process. Sometimes a whole strain of interesting thought may spring on me fully formed and unannounced, one facet leading smoothly into the next, complete and beautiful. If I’m lucky, I have a pencil handy. But those are rare and beneficent days. For the most part, the act of thinking is a muddled, disappointing and tedious journey over well-worn ruts and patches of quicksand up to my neck.

Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager (b. 1923) is an American original, and, like Lee Bontecou (b. 1931) and Peter Saul (b. 1934), he will never be seen as a mainstream artist. In his introduction of his longtime friend, Malcolm Morley (another interesting misfit), which he read at the Skowhegan Awards ceremony in 1992, Artschwager said something that holds true for his own work.

Love/War/Sex

Exit Art is an oasis, one of the only professional alternative spaces in New York that takes a chance with carefully curated new work, effortlessly interspersing established and emerging talents. Saying that, their current show is a mixed bag of ideas about the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, their resulting impact and their mind-numbing role in our lives.

Rackstraw Downes

Rackstraw Downes’ paintings reveal the material function of the American landscape. He works onsite, with attention to the slow, unfolding process of seeing and a meticulous, almost microcosmic depiction of detail. Many of his previous vistas have focused on the interstices of industry, contraposing the natural and man-made.

A Tribute to Michael Goldberg (1924—2008)

My mental snapshots of Michael Goldberg start circa 1968 on an Easthampton bay beach. It’s windy, early spring. Our party of daytime drinkers is crouched on the dunes, smoking Gauloises and pot. The one at the shore line pouring the Bloody Marys tells me Goldberg’s backstory: Back in the '50s, when he made his precocious reputation, he signed his paintings “Michael Stuart.”

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FEB 2008

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