ArtSeen

Aleksandar Duravcevic: Steppenwolf

Though the intuition is the seed of the senses, intuition lies behind the need to find meaning through logic.

Threads of Fire and Water and Gold

The roving art space We Buy Gold, which Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels opened in Bed Stuy in March, is successfully managing a tricky balancing act: it is seriously and coherently embedded in its space and moment, even as it resists barricading itself into a particular corner.

The Power of Suggestion: Rhonda Wheatley

Anyone who has drowsily watched an episode of “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel, or leafed through a glossy book in the New Age section of Barnes and Noble, is aware of the seductive imagery of crystals and fractals, and of the primal human desire to tune out obvious answers for completely irrational solutions.

Romare Bearden: Bayou Fever and Related Works

For the artist Romare Bearden—born in 1911 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina—the American South always loomed large. His parents, driven north to Harlem during the Great Migration three years after his birth, quickly established themselves among the burgeoning black intelligentsia. Though Bearden remained an established New Yorker, annual childhood summer trips to visit grandparents who remained below the Mason-Dixon line supplied provocative fodder for his imagination and nourished a lifelong connection to the South.

Sputterances, organized by Sanya Kantarovsky

It’s obvious that Sputterances was organized by a painter.

Vanishing Points, curated by Andrianna Campbell

But like that broken-nosed woman on the subway wearing one blue shoe and one black shoe, you can’t shake the image.

Doug Wheeler: PSAD Synthetic Desert III

Sounds of life fade away as you, along with four museumgoers and one museum guard, pass through three successive off-white chambers separating the Guggenheim’s rotunda from Doug Wheeler’s PSAD Synthetic Desert III in the topmost tower gallery.

A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC - 200 AD

The tragedy of Ajax, a fierce, respected warrior who loses himself within frenzied slaughter, still resounds two thousand years later. “Yet I feel his wretchedness,” Odysseus, his rival, laments. “My enemy, yes, but caught up in a terrible doom.

Nina Chanel Abney Royal Flush

From the outset of her career, painter Nina Chanel Abney draped identities over her characters as changeably as clothes. Her thesis work, Class of 2007 (2007), depicts her school cohort in negative, with Abney—the only black student in the class—as a white prison guard, blonde-haired and blue-eyed, with assault rifle in hand. Her classmates, depicted as black prisoners, don orange jumpsuits and manacles.

Al Taylor Early Paintings

The image I retain is one more of a workshop of a freewheeling tinkerer than an eccentric abstractionist. At the time, I really didn’t know what to make of his work, as this small sampling was my first encounter with his approach to sculpture that seemed more like a non-approach to art.

Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages Through Time

The Frick Collection celebrates this British artist, lionized today for his explosive swirls of abstract color and light, with a selection of his luminous studies of European ports: harbors for the pursuits of everyday life that he renders as quotidian snippets in the infinite scheme of things.

Sue Williams

In the early days of Sue Williams’s career, her work frequently centered on male violence perpetrated on women. Vignettes of rape, sodomy, and battery pervaded her canvases, rendered in comic-book style with figures depicted in black-and-white, and incorporated text.

Alexei Jawlensky

This enlightening, first major U.S. museum exhibition on the artist (and the accompanying, defining catalogue) will not catapult him into the first rank, but it compellingly covers his entire career, with a particularly deep focus on the rocky second half of his life. For Jawlensky, this was a period marked by: exile due to war; the indignity of the Nazis labeling him a degenerate artist, prohibiting him from exhibiting, and crushing his market (although he became a German citizen the next year); and a fatally debilitating arthritis.

Rene Ricard: So, Who Left Who?

The heart of Rene Ricard’s second posthumous exhibition at Half Gallery is a pair of old tabletops resting on the mantel of a fireplace. The untitled diptych is dated to 1995 but looks much older; its rubber upholstery is yellowing like badly jaundiced skin. Ricard’s cursive handwriting spreads across their surfaces, posing a question that has shifted from hypothetical to literal: “Nan Goldin and David Armstrong, so which photo will they remember? The glamorus one on the bed or the crack face that looked too far?” These two photographs hang on either side of the fireplace: a sexy young poet (à la Armstrong in 1979) and an aging back alley scoundrel (Goldin, shot in 1995). Since Ricard has passed, this question has become even more relevant.

Paul Chan Rhi Anima

The first encounter with Rhi Anima, Paul Chan’s third solo exhibition at Greene Naftali, spanning both of the Chelsea gallery’s spaces, is in the outdoor entranceway, where an inflatable sprite, arms raised—not unlike the Air Dancer tube-men of suburban car lots—whacks the glass of a window and waves at passersby.

Marsden Hartley’s Maine

Is Marsden Hartley's pre-war America great? Though seemingly full of promise and productivity, in civic and art historical terms, the scenes and scapes within his paintings also constitute a world that repressed sexual desire, celebrated extractive industries, and segregated race and class and gender even more harshly than today.

Simone Fattal

The fourteen stoneware sculptural works in Simone Fattal’s first New York City solo exhibition resonate with a curious force of intimate gravity. Taken individually, they convey monumentality; stepping back, each could be easily held—delicately—in your hands or arms.

Merce Cunningham Common Time

To stage a retrospective of the works of Merce Cunningham is to take up two of the most challenging concerns of museum display: How to exhibit the ephemeral, and how to manifest a vast network of artistic collaboration without losing focus on its central figure.

A Whole Culture:
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston's 2017 Foster Prize

This year’s iteration of the James and Audrey Foster Prize exhibition (a bi-annual award and showcase of local artists) at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art presents five artists of international renown who’ve received scant attention in the city. Sonia Almeida, Jennifer Bornstein, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, and Lucy Kim all live in Boston; still, what unifies their work is not a shared locality, but a thematic search of the human body as a physical, geographic, linguistic, or cultural being.

Tattooed New York

Did you know United States President Teddy Roosevelt had a tat? This and other peculiar facts abound at the New York Historical Society’s 300-year purview of this ancient and universal art form as practiced in the city and its surrounding regions.

EJ Hauser ME + YOU

Chris Martin has a simple assignment for artists: keep a sketchbook, don’t show it to anyone, draw in it every day. But, like calisthenics, the simplest task, requiring no special equipment or expertise, can prove to be the most challenging.

JOS DE GRUYTER and HARALD THYS Xanax Film Festival

It is also fitting then that Xanax, a palindrome, reads as its own kind of riddle—without set beginning or end.

ArtSeen In Verse

The Garden of Eden

Symphony of light and refrains of machine unconscious / Plummet this anomalous and unflustered Eden into / Deliberations of unequal passages

SANDRO CHIA

The man sits pensively, smiling and looking up at them as they travel freely through the sky. What is he dreaming of?

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APR 2017

All Issues