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Dona Nelson: Stretchers Strung Out On Space

At a time when paintings are projected on walls or traded as digital tokens, Dona Nelson continues to engage viewers in close interaction with painting’s materials: fabric, liquid, and wooden supports.

Caitlin Keogh: Waxing Year

This pictorial mimicry of a postcard featuring a photograph of a sculpture, which in turn depicts locomotion through water, typifies Waxing Year’s conceptual somersaults, and it offers a micro-lesson in appreciating the tumbling energy that activates Keogh’s presentation.

François Morellet: In-Coherent

François Morellet’s life work represents the rakish progress of a cockeyed formalist. Though the artist was self-taught and sedentary, his various paintings, installations, and sculptures have nevertheless had a worldwide reach, largely due to their adaptability made possible by the artist’s inclination towards open-ended formal systems.

Paul Anthony Smith: Tradewinds

Paul Anthony Smith never forgets to remind us in his work that we are always looking, and we are not there. That is very important, because often the viewer feels that they are immersed in that at which they are looking, which can breed a false sense of intimacy with the subject.

Nicole Eisenman and Keith Boadwee

Nicole Eisenman and Keith Boadwee is an unexpected pairing and exhibition format. There is a lot of work on view. As a result, there are many opportunities to find both affinities and issues with what’s there—a quality that straddles both artists’ practices and that recalls the troubling, yet self-aware, late figurative work of Philip Guston.

Alastair MacKinven: Dlnrg [oeeey]

MacKinven’s scenes approach history painting in both scale and mood, but fall just short. This is a good thing, as a step further would overload the pictures with meaning, and a step back would thrust their subjects into banality.

Dmitri Hertz: Crabapple

Bitter and misshapen, perhaps the crabapple has its reasons? Dmitri Hertz has reasons—ideas and sources that inform his sculptures—but the understated eccentricity of his work is so visually compelling that I was in no hurry to interpret these forms in terms other than their own.

Elia Alba, Baseera Khan, Sola Olulode, and Maya Varadaraj: Home Body

The work in Home Body, curated by Nico Wheadon, reminds us that artists have been inquiring into the self, human relationships, and humanity’s ills long before the COVID-19 shutdown. Though the ideas in these artworks were conceived pre-pandemic, their contemplations into relationships between fellow humans seem more relevant during our present moment of isolation.

Mark McKnight: Hunger for the Absolute

Drawn almost entirely from his remarkable monograph Heaven Is a Prison (2020), the photographs in Hunger for the Absolute dramatically expand, and forcefully concentrate, McKnight’s previous explorations of the landscape as a transmogrified space of sexual resonance and desire.

TR Ericsson: Pale Fires

TR Ericsson’s solo exhibition at TOTAH constructs a tender portrait of his mother who died by suicide in 2003 at the age of 57.

The Symbolists: Les Fleurs du mal

With Baudelaire’s compendium as their touchstone, gallerist and artist Karen Hesse Flatow and guest curator Nicole Kaack show that Baudelaire’s chief concerns remain productive terrain for an emerging generation of artists whose diverse work is gathered in The Symbolists: Les Fleurs du mal at Hesse Flatow.

Ezra Tessler: An angle to the place I live in

Tessler harnesses both the sensual pleasure and physicality of color, putting it to work in the conversation between image and object.

The Frick Madison

The long-desired and long-overdue renovation and enhancement of the Frick museum and library campus has left the bulk of the collection in limbo, and it now sits in a holding pattern in the structure that was built for the Whitney Museum of American Art in the mid-1960s, and lately been host to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s contemporary collection and some memorable temporary exhibitions.

Goya’s Graphic Imagination

Goya sees deeply into our species, but he’s too creative for cynicism.

Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented

Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented is a robust catalog not of paintings, but of everything else Aleksandr Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, Luibova Popova, Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Hoch, and the rest of the big central and eastern European names of the era did.

Mortality: A Survey of Contemporary Death Art

This is a review of an exhibition that never took place. One year and a half million deaths since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the United States, Mortality has yet to be resurrected, though its themes could not be timelier.

David Hammons: Body Prints, 1968–1979

David Hammons: Body Prints, 1968–1979 at The Drawing Center is the first show to focus exclusively on Hammons’s body prints.

Lucas Blalock: Florida, 1989

Lucas Blalock’s second solo show at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Florida, 1989, achieves that difficult balance of being an intensely personal show that resonates beyond the private symbols and winks embedded in its photographs and sculptures.

Esteban Cabeza de Baca: Nepantla

In his first solo exhibition with Garth Greenan, Esteban Cabeza de Baca shows paintings and ceramic sculptures that flicker with the colors of Southwest border towns: turquoise and marine blue, dusty terracotta, and the bloody hues of open sky sunsets.

Paul McCarthy: A&E Sessions–Drawing and Painting

A&E Sessions at Hauser and Wirth comprises works made as a result of Paul McCarthy’s multi-disciplinary project A&E, which was produced by the artist during improvisatory performances involving him and the Berlin-born German actor Lilith Stangenberg.

Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration is an exhibition of more than 35 artists interrogating the logics of the carceral system

Shirin Neshat: Land of Dreams

Comprised of more than 100 photographs and a two-channel video installation, Land of Dreams is the New York premiere of Shirin Neshat’s latest body of work. The show marks a monumental conceptual and visual shift for the artist, whose repertoire has often looked back at her native Iran. Here, her explorations and camera are fixed on her adoptive home in the United States.

Mariana Castillo Deball: Between making and knowing something

A water vessel with a hole cannot fulfill its intended function. In Between making and knowing something at Modern Art Oxford (MAO), Mariana Castillo Deball kills the utilitarian aspect of her Zuni pueblo-inspired red stoneware ceramics in a ceremonial action, perforating them with “kill-holes,” intentionally making them “something useless.”

Albers and Morandi: Never Finished

The work that’s never truly done for the scholar of art is to relate an intimate experience of the artist’s task without merely boiling it down to a referential precipitate. David Leiber, in his juxtaposition of Josef Albers and Giorgio Morandi, has managed to do this. By ignoring a strict art historic bracketing and shotgun-pairing these two modest masters, he proposes that their compulsive attention to subject and material might actually attain a sublime aesthetic concordance.

Mildred Thompson: Throughlines, Assemblages and Works on Paper from the 1960s to the 1990s

Mildred Thompson: Throughlines, Assemblages and Works on Paper from the 1960s to the 1990s cracks the veneer of the 20th century, modernist canon to highlight a little-known body of work by an African American abstract artist who, in spite of being overlooked and criticized for her race, gender, and style, remained resolute in her vision.

Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell

In Sandy’s Room (1989–1990) is one of Laura Aguilar’s (1959–2018) most well-known images—a self-portrait, a monumental nude, a rejection of the fetishization of women’s bodies. It is one of Aguilar’s largest single prints, more than three feet tall and four feet wide. Within her retrospective, Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell, this immense work is reconfigured as one sentence within the much larger story that Aguilar’s work tells about the complexity and embodied experience of identity.

Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Throughout Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, we can see artists, some currently incarcerated, emerging from indeterminacy, indicating and reconfiguring an existence in constant threat of being snuffed out.

Ron Athey: Queer Communion

The fact that the world has had to wait until 2021 to see a Ron Athey retrospective is a tragedy. A queer icon who indisputably helped shape the role of the body in performance art, Athey has only recently started to receive long-overdue art historical recognition.

Ljiljana Blazevska

This exhibition at 15 Orient is the first of Serbian-Macedonian painter Ljiljana Blazevska’s in the United States. The context that makes Blazevska’s work approachable in the US is obscured by the extremely personal, sequestered nature it has all of its own, that makes each painting, like a private dream or memory, untranslatable for the viewer.

Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented, 1918–1939

The goal of MoMA’s Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented, 1918–1939 is to showcase the ways that artists participated in spreading radical new ideas made urgent by World War I and the 1917 Russian Revolution. The exhibition largely focuses on activity in what would become the Soviet Bloc, as artists enthusiastically adopted new print and distribution technologies, and embraced a geometric, abstract aesthetic that dramatized their rejection of the decadent, bourgeois parlor.

Sun You: This Two

At Geary Contemporary, Sun You makes a very good show out of demotic objects—wire, magnets, clay forms, cardboard—proving that works constructed from poor materials can attain an elegance we had not expected.

Goya’s Graphic Imagination

Born in 1746 and died 1828 at the age of 82, Goya made nearly five decades of drawings and etchings, assembled here, that constitute his artistic alter ego, where self-awareness and intention could yield to emotion.

Carl Craig: Party/After-party

Party/After-party (2020) is the five-year lovechild of Detroit-based DJ/producer Carl Craig and curator Kelly Kivland, a sound-and-light-installation that turned the basement of the former Nabisco packaging factory into a hologram of a night club.

Lawrence Weiner

Lawrence Weiner’s concept of language as sculpture—in his words “language + the materials referred to”—began to take shape in the late 1960s. Ultimately, his approach to sculpture would reveal an entirely new concept of art-making. The use of language, often painted directly on the wall, became his primary visual medium.

Georg Baselitz: Pivotal Turn

In 1969, Georg Baselitz, then a 31-year-old artist based in southwest Germany, began painting people, places, and things upside down. Over the course of the following decades, his art changed considerably. Nevertheless, he still inverts his subjects. This practice, coupled with existential themes, remains the hallmark of his art.

Souvenirs: Cornell Duchamp Johns Rauschenberg

Souvenirs at Craig F. Starr Gallery brings together six works by Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg.

Peter Sacks: Republic

Like the artists who shaped movements such as Constructivism and Suprematism, Sacks seeks to ally abstraction with social commentary, even a radical view. Here, the social implications of Sacks's outlook are linked to a complex collage of different sources of cloth: his materials come from all over the world, as if proposing a kind of internationalism that might be able to respond to the limits imposed by the isolation and xenophobia of many around the world.

Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America

Just before the end of his life, Okwui Enwezor worked with Massimiliano Gioni to organize this exhibition, which now is installed on all three floors of the New Museum. It is presented with curatorial support from Naomi Beckwith, Glenn Ligon, and Mark Nash.


The Brooklyn Rail

MARCH 2021

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