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In the Arms of Time

When you walked into the gallery—light, low, and airy—the first thing you saw were large color prints of Doric temples at once warring Sicilian towns, the single photo of the temple at Segesta made at a distance.

JOSEF ALBERS in America: Painting on Paper

Josef Albers in America, yes, but also America in Josef Albers. Work the ratio: how much America was in the German when he arrived here in 1933?


It is a sunny day, 82 degrees, just a few clouds in the sky. I enter the park from the southwest corner, brush by the hordes chattering and eating Shake Shack burgers at aluminum tables, walk past the fountain, and pause at the entrance to Charles Long’s installation.


This two-part note concerns the pastel of 1775 by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699–1779), acquired by the Musée du Louvre in 1839, and alternatively known as “Self-Portrait”and “Portrait of Chardin Wearing an Eyeshade.”

Some Shorter Lines for MARTIN PURYEAR

A few months ago, Martin Puryear asked me to write an essay for a catalogue to accompany an exhibition of his new work at McKee Gallery (May 3 - June 29, 2012). When I went to Martin’s studio to see the sculptures that would appear in the show, the wheels immediately began to turn, and I knew that I could write the essay.

Paving Paradise Part II

In part I of “Paving Paradise” I started to discuss the results of some of the research I’ve been conducting for a large painting diagramming the history of the East Village art scene. Patterns of circumstances began to leap out at me with regards to the current situation in burgeoning Bushwick.


Christopher Kurtz is a sculptor who works in wood. His work moves between natural winding branches and pointed stick-like forms. Either way, his approach to sculpture is a classical one. It contains a will to order, one that is less about power than balance.

ALEXIS MYRE Orchid Petal and Small Twig of the Upper Hemisphere: “Ojo de Dios”

Alexis Myre builds a box of light with flowers, other natural objects, fragile and tenacious, and metaphors and correspondences. Alexis Myre begins “using a compass” to master a world within. What plays out in the Orchid theatre? Am I her Situationist? Her poet? We will see.

A Panorama Considered as a Conversation (or the Other Way Around)

Floating in this blue panorama are forms that look like chunks of limestone, though some look more like clouds hit hard by sunlight. Of course, this is just a first impression. The second impression is of forms that are neither clouds nor stones but unique to this setting and, for all their differences, united by a family resemblance.

EUGEN SCHÖNEBECK, “Saxon Landscape” (1964)
Eugen Schönebeck 1957 – 1967

 “Sausage clouds” were the first words out of my mouth—to the apparent dismay of the artist whose drawing I was looking at. I couldn’t help myself.

Seeing Blindness
NICOLAS POUSSIN, “Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun”

A blind man might write an interesting treatise on visual aesthetics: he could explain that painters depict still-life objects, historical events, landscapes and whatever else may be seen. He could tell us that some 20th-century artists created paintings with no depicted subject.

NICOLAS POUSSIN, “The Abduction of the Sabine Women,” (1633-34)

The actors have forgotten. One of the women has forgotten her real name and maybe the rest of them have lost their’s too, as has he, and his friends.


The history of the drill hall carries its own weight. The history of the unconscious similarly traces a lineage of effects waged by war: community, a sense of connection forged in darkness, the flicker of nightmare and equal parts light, at times visual and at others purely aural, haunting, familiar, elusive, as if existing just beyond the boundaries of the physical world.

MARSDEN HARTLEY Soliloquy in Dogtown

clouds over land / land filled form / flows floods scratches / Boulder and Brake

The Nobody in a Field of Abstraction
OTTO DIX, “Wounded Solider”

There is meat in this face, an explosion of vivid abstraction. Meat is the nobody; the abstracting of the once lived. In war, soldiers who are sent to the front of the battle to distract are called “meat shields.”

On the Drawing Cases at Musée Gustave-Moreau, Paris

“I dreamed of breaking into it at night with a lantern,” wrote André Breton of the Musée Gustave-Moreau, which to this day remains as the Symbolist painter designed it in 1896. Moving up the narrow stair, past the apartment areas preserved with their original decor, one enters a two-storey atelier.

“The Poetics of Wattage, after Alighiero e Boetti”

Once a year this poem / will be temporarily transformed / from a self-descriptive exercise / written in the plainest language / into something altogether different

TAUBA AUERBACH, “How to Spell the Alphabet”
Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language

Tauba Auerbach’s “How to Spell the Alphabet” is an ink and pencil drawing on pale pink paper. It is 30 inches tall and 22 inches wide. Completed in 2005, the drawing is currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art in the Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language exhibition.

Standing Still and Walking in Kassel

No way was I anticipating coming to the conclusion that dOCUMENTA (13) is a triumph. I arrived a cynic and left a skeptic, and a joyful one at that.

On MICHAEL BERRYHILL’s “Sensitive Parlour Ghost”
Incidental Western

Possessed by certain homeostatic eccentricities, / She prefers to avoid definite lines that / Trace the body, especially in sunlight.

Put Neon, Bright Light

What we really want is nice places to hang out—pool halls, swimming pools, pools of light in a museum. I liked it so much I puddled; what glows captivates. Who sleeps, eats. It splashes arbitrarily on its surroundings.


The tranquil ambiguity of an intriguing line appears punctuated by speculative moments. At least, that is what I hope to encounter. Concise yet inconclusive, these moments do in fact occur, again and again.


Once upon an avant-garde time, three poet-artists collaborated on a one-of-a-kind artists’ book of 33 photomontages done in the spirit of the cadavre exquis. Together they discovered a completely new yet universal language of sexual symbols, radical juxtapositions, the sublime, and the grotesque.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2012

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