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Alfred Mac Adam

ALFRED MAC ADAM is professor of Latin American literature at Barnard College-Columbia University. He has translated works by Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, Juan Carlos Onetti, José Donoso, and Jorge Volpi, among others. He recently published an essay on the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa included in The Cambridge Companion to Autobiography.

Rackstraw Downes: Paintings & Drawings

“So I said to the person I was with, ‘You know I think I’d like to paint the whole world on a postcard,’ and in a funny way, though I never thought about that remark until years later, that was what I did, in a way.”

MARTHA TUTTLE:
I long and seek after

In a lost play by Sophocles mentioned by Aristotle in the Poetics, the princess Philomela, having been raped and maimed, can only express the horror of what has happened by weaving a tapestry.

Abby Leigh: Sledgehammer Paintings

Abby Leigh’s visible work seduces with subtle, unassuming color and flashes of silvery metal. We look at these paintings, and it is as if we were peering into a microscope at a specimen displayed on a slide.

Walter Robinson: Salad, Candles, & Money

Walter Robinson’s sardonic eye flits from one banality to another, fusing an Existentialist will to create meaning with a Pop delight in the things of this world.

Lesley Vance

Lesley Vance swirls her powerful colors over the canvas until she dominates the entire surface. Horror vacui or will-to power? Probably equal doses of both, but the utter assertiveness of her ribbons of color in these nine oils on canvas mark her as a conquistador.

Chaim Soutine: Flesh

The title of this rich, tightly focused show of thirty or so paintings is somewhat misleading. “Flesh” could imply sexuality or sensuality, a Rubensesque or Boucher-like delight in the human body. But such corporeal delights could not be further from Soutine’s relationship with formerly living animals. No other artist has taken nature morte, the French term for still life, quite as literally, reminding us that once life has been drained from a living organism, it becomes inanimate—that is, lifeless, it becomes a thing. No other artist enacts the transformation of matter into art with as much ironic self-awareness as Chaim Soutine (1893–1943).

Joseph Elmer Yoakum

The 60 works on paper by Joseph Elmer Yoakum (1890–1972) assembled here automatically make us wonder who this bizarre artist was. Yoakum's picaresque life and his late embrace of an artistic vocation call to mind traditional myths that assume artists are born, not made.

Elise Ansel: Time Present

Ansel begins by reading the past, finding elements that interest her, and recombining them. Her eye and her camera wander over paintings in real, virtual, and recalled museums until something tells her to stop.

cart, horse, cart

This exhibition proves, first, that nowadays there is no down time in the art world and, second, that abstraction is not only not dead but has also risen phoenix-like to new heights in the twenty-first century.

Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Motherwell: The Art of Marriage

Humor is not a matter we associate with great artists, but it is with these star-crossed lovers, both dedicated body and soul to their craft but with the good sense to periodically stop making sense.

Aleksandar Duravcevic: YOUTH

Most of the works in Youth have a reflective quality that transforms visitors into potential avatars of Narcissus.

Wayne Thiebaud: Mountains 1965–2019

These mountains embody the most sensuous aspects of the beautiful, as Thiebaud is a fundamentally erotic artist whose work arouses the viewer’s appetites.

CY TWOMBLY:
Coronation of Sesostris  &  In Beauty It Is Finished: Drawings 1951-2008

Scheduled to coincide with what would have been Cy Twombly’s ninetieth birthday, Gagosian’s vast two-venue exhibition is an asymmetrical two-headed monster.

THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH:
Experiments in Drawing

This concise, dazzling show of sixteen drawings (primarily landscapes) corrects this view, establishing Gainsborough as the progenitor of an English landscape tradition running from Constable to Turner and, ultimately, David Hockney.

Michael Goldberg End to End: The 1950s & 2000s

Thirty-three works, fifty-seven years of Michael Goldberg’s long and rich artistic career. The alpha and the omega of his artistic life: nine paintings from the 1950s (1950-1959) and twenty-four from this century, from 2000 until 2007, the year of his death.

JANE CORRIGAN:
Ma Paw

Much of Corrigan’s work until now has been charged with narrative, her paintings often episodes from untold tales she invited viewers to invent and complete. In these eighteen works, she attenuates narrative to focus on specific scenes from her forest-garden borderland.

William Hogarth: Cruelty and Humor

In a marginal note, William Hogarth (1697–1764) summarizes his artistic program: “to treat my subjects as a dramatic writer, my picture was my stage.”

Joe Zucker: 100-Foot-Long Piece, 1968-1969

Let's get into Joe Zucker's time machine. 100-Foot-Long Piece (1968-1969) is our point of departure, but Zucker brings us up to date with nine acrylic-cotton pieces from 2019. The show is not exactly a retrospective, but enough of one: nine gestural drawings in India ink from 1964 and two vitrines stuffed with miscellanea, including Zucker's high school diploma, a photo of him playing varsity basketball, and a host of gallery announcements and posters capture his chameleon nature.

Margrit Lewczuk: Angels

Margrit Lewczuk has, as they say, a thing for angels. She has summoned 18 of them for this show, along with two paintings of birds and four of wings: a veritable heavenly host.

Ansel Krut: Back to Back Balloons

Like his fellow South Africans William Kentridge and Marlene Dumas, Ansel Krut might be defined as an expressionist of the latter day. Where Kentridge is theatrical and Dumas passionate, Krut seems zany, but in fact he is dead serious and addresses a wide range of artistic and social issues in these 30 acrylics and oils, all painted between 2017 and 2018.

LAUREL SPARKS:
Geomantria

There is an unstable mix of elements in Sparks’s work. On the one hand, a magic component—not the magic of sleight-of-hand or hat tricks, but the magic of religious belief, the magic of the fetish—the object that possesses obsessive power of some kind.

Jasper Johns: Recent Paintings & Works on Paper

This old dog can teach you more tricks than you can ever learn. Jasper Johns (b. May 15, 1930) fills Matthew Marks's gallery with 37 works and a 24-piece suite of drawings in ink on paper or plastic.

James Hyde: Western Painting—Magnasco

In Western Painting--Magnasco James Hyde makes a brilliant case for abstraction—as long as we understand what he means by that idea.

Dana Schutz: Imagine Me and You

Dana Schutz apparently found the title for this splendid show in the Turtles’ 1967 saccharine hymn to togetherness of the same name. No one is likely to become enraged over this appropriation. But it reminds us of the absurdity entailed in the very idea of appropriation, that somehow subjects are the exclusive property of some artists but not others.

Marco Maggi: Initialism (From Obscurantism to Enlightenment)

Marco Maggi has brought about the improbable union of Plato and Stéphane Mallarmé. Specifically, the marriage of Plato's allegory of the cave in the Republic and Mallarmé's Un coup des dés jamais n'abolira le hasard, his polyphonic text, meant to be read simultaneously at several levels in order to be understood.

Thornton Willis: Improvisational Structures

Elusive and unwilling to fix himself in a single modality, Willis always brings to mind a host of other painters, but in the last analysis, he is only like himself.

MARLENE DUMAS:
Myths & Mortals

Marlene Dumas has had every accolade, every apotheosis a living artist could want. She could easily rest on her laurels but instead trades her laurels for myrtle, the evergreen with white flowers sacred to Venus. Which is to say, she focuses on the erotic, specifically female love.

Eugène Delacroix at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

At this moment, the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains enough work by Eugène Delacroix (1798 – 1863) to keep you busy for several lifetimes.

Loló Soldevilla

The work brings into focus another aspect of the Concrete aesthetic: art as game with fixed rules within a fixed space, but a game in which the viewer participates. From a biographical perspective this work also constitutes an irony: with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Soldevilla’s work was deemed counterrevolutionary and she was obliged to discontinue her artistic practice and work in a factory making wooden toys for children.

Giacometti

The two hundred or so objects assembled in this superb show—sculptures, paintings, and drawings, many of which have never been shown before—enable us finally to set aside the monstrous obfuscation of Giacometti’s oeuvre by philosophers and critics (Jean-Paul Sartre especially) who projected their ideology or self-image onto him and his work, and see him in the company of Egyptian, Greek, and African painting and sculpture, as well as the work of Brâncusi, de Chirico, and Cézanne.

Alberto Giacometti: Giacometti

The two hundred or so objects assembled in this superb show—sculptures, paintings, and drawings, many of which have never been shown before—enable us finally to set aside the monstrous obfuscation of Giacometti’s oeuvre by philosophers and critics (Jean-Paul Sartre especially).

KATE GROOBEY:
I'm Made of Milk

Kate Groobey has rehabilitated the zany. Not that she is personally zany or that her wonderful large-scale paintings are zany, but that she has brought back to artistic life the zany, the clown, the zanni or Gianni or Giovanni of the Commedia dell'Arte.

Hélio Oiticica: Spatial Relief and Drawings 1955 - 59

Hélio Oiticica (1937 – 1980) is a now integral part of the New York art scene, in large measure thanks to his 2017 retrospective at the Whitney, To Organize Delirium, which provided New Yorkers with an opportunity to experience him in full. His posthumous apotheosis eclipses anything he experienced in life, which is why the tight chronological focus of the exhibition at Galerie Lelong, from 1955 to 1959, is so important: it takes us back to Oiticica's artistic origins.

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The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2019

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