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A Brief Look Into Institutional Celebration

Starring Performa the Moca the Gugg the Whitney

FRANK LOBDELL: Figure Drawings

In 1960, Frank Lobdell told an interviewer “being anonymous is really the best condition to be able to create.” Thankfully, in the half-century that has passed since the artist made this remark, he hasn’t quite achieved his goal, but he has gone his own way, building upon his early encounters with the work of Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, of other Abstract Expressionists and, most importantly, Pablo Picasso.


Stanley Whitney has been exploring the fundamentals of painting for over 30 years. His recent geometric abstractions flow from one to the next and then back again through color, line, position, surface, and depth. Anchored in their physical substance they transcend mere matter-of-factness and open the mind to complex geometries of thought and feeling, what Agnes Martin once referred to as “non-objective experiences.”

PHILIP GUSTON: Small Oils on Panel 1969-1973

Every once in a while a work of art splits across your consciousness like a cracked egg. That happened in late December—with two paintings, actually—at the McKee Gallery’s exhibition of small figurative panels by Philip Guston dating from 1969 to 1973, presented here as a group for the first time.


Curating an index of Iran is a daunting task given that many of the artists included in the exhibition actually live and work in Tehran and continue to produce social and political comments. The Promise of Loss—an ironic title indeed—marks a different approach from most of the exhibitions of Iranian art that were shown in New York during the summer of 2009.

New Mirrors: Painting in a Transparent World

In New Mirrors: Painting in a Transparent World, a group show at Exit Art, curator Herb Tam suggests that painters, confronting a digital onslaught in which shifting identities are continually updated and instantly distributed, are compelled to deconstruct the logistics of painting in a similar fashion.


Now, Marcel Duchamp “made” but one readymade when in Argentina during 1919. This, near as immaterial as Archimboldi.

The Difference Between Jerry Saltz's America and Mine


STUART SHERMAN: Nothing Up My Sleeve

Stuart Sherman was an under-recognized, New York-based artist who experimented in film, video, and performance for three decades until his death in 2001.

JOSEPH BEUYS: “We Are the Revolution”

Solo exhibitions of Joseph Beuys (1921–1986) are rare, and the focus of curator Pamela Kort for the current show at Mary Boone is on the artist’s iconic “multiples” and “editions,” augmented by a few original masterpieces—altogether more than 175 works that create a partial political and ironic-philosophical time capsule.


In two current exhibitions, Omer Fast shows us that he’s one of the rare artists working in video who is capable of technical magic even as he strips the medium bare, exposing its power to conflate truth and fiction.


With this show, Ebner has made it abundantly clear that the last thing he wants to do is let his work just be, slapping us in the face with—of all things—paintings in the shape of “surrogate” fish.

AGNES DENES: Philosophy in the Land II

At Leslie Tonkonow, a survey of Land Art icon Agnes Denes fits this contemplative criterion with over 100 photographs documenting the individual performances and earthwork interventions made by the artist from the late 60s onward, as well as chronicling, via meticulously rendered drawings and prints, her scientifically-based research into the essence of human nature and the paradoxical dialectic of philosophical thought.


Sylvia Sleigh’s recent eponymous exhibition at I-20 Gallery featured 12 portraits dating from 1961-79, many of which were being shown for the first time in decades.

DENYSE THOMASOS: The Divide: New Paintings

Denyse Thomasos’s paintings propose hypothetical cities where buildings overtop each other. Ruler-drawn lines scaffold over clouds of color, but never settle into finished form.

Letter from LONDON: RICHARD WRIGHT: Turner Prize 09

Viewing 2009 Turner Prize winner Richard Wright’s pareidolia-like no title (2009) sets in motion a collection of considerations about the contemporary condition of art. Something prime is shifting.

FRANCES BARTH: Scale, Economy and Unnamable Color

One of the most striking things about Frances Barth’s acrylic paintings is how clearly straightforward they are. Having stated as much, the complexity of her dialectical approach slowly starts to unfold.


Art that comments on its own medium and art that comments on political events are often assigned to separate categories, attracting different audiences, different kinds of critical responses, different ways of looking.


As one would think, any matchup between what appears to be a pair of opposites usually ends up amplifying subtle and hidden aspects that one would otherwise miss or ignore.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2010

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