Jessica Holmes is a New York based writer and critic who contributes regularly to Brooklyn Rail, Artcritical, Hyperallergic, and other publications.
FEB 2018 | ArtSeen
A woman, face blemished with grime, sleeps in a half-sitting position, her head propped in one hand. Her body curls protectively against those of two small children. One appears to be only an infant, and the other is wound into a thin blanket fast asleep, shadows encircling her eyes and mouth agape in an expression of utter exhaustion.
MAR 2018 | ArtSeen
History is made up of layers. The present, like a creeping vine, overtakes the past and without studied remembrance it becomes easy to forget that times now are not always what times once were.
APR 2018 | ArtSeen
Though more closely identified with the San Francisco Beat artists and poets of the late 1950s and early 1960s, DeFeo also looked to the Surrealists a generation older than she, and drew from artists such as Yves Tanguy, Marcel Duchamp, and Man Ray, whom she once called her “north star.
JUL-AUG 2018 | Art
For the past twenty years, Sue de Beer has been using, challenging, and subverting the tropes of horror to make experimental films that are by turns unsettling and beautiful, and infused with a sly-eyed humor. Her sixth major production centers in and around a medical clinic located on a remote island off the New England coast, whose doctors, nurses, and patients all hold their secrets, and are possibly not what they seem. De Beer has long wished to make a werewolf film, and on the occasion of her fourth exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery, I sat down with her to preview and discuss her newest piece, The White Wolf.
OCT 2018 | ArtSeen
The music hits you as you walk through the door of Kate Werble Gallery, where Walking Backward Running Forward, a new show of work by artist Marilyn Lerner, is on view.
APR 2017 | ArtSeen
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.
JUL-AUG 2017 | ArtSeen
A convergence of influences is at play across painter Ali Banisadr’s body of work. In writing dedicated to his paintings a reader will find frequent reference to Northern Renaissance and Venetian art, Persian miniatures, as well as more modern touchstones like Francis Bacon and Willem de Kooning. Banisadr has acknowledged the effects of literature and cinema upon his thinking, and although these influences are apparent in his recent exhibition, Trust in the Future, certain paintings achieve something differentand more exciting.
OCT 2017 | Critics Page
On the 50th anniversary of Smithson’s Passaic stroll, America is catching up to him in the sense that our assumptions of what a monument is have been deeply shaken, and what was once presumed to be a given now is not.
FEB 2016 | ArtSeen
Ralph Eugene Meatyard, a married father of three children, was an optician who lived and worked in Lexington, Kentucky, where he owned an eyeglass shop called “Eyeglasses of Kentucky.”
APR 2016 | ArtSeen
What strikes first upon entry to Pace Gallery on West 24th Street is the persistent thrum of muted noise: the creaking of shaky machinery, a droning waaah, an intermittent snippet of what sounds like a vacuum cleaner’s motor.
DEC 16-JAN 17 | Critics Page
Writing in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, the craft of criticism feels more urgent than ever, a skill to continually hone at all costs. When I was first asked the question, “What is criticism?” upon entering the Art Writing MFA program at the School of Visual Arts five years ago, I’d suggested that good criticism, in the context of considering art, is a civility.
JUNE 2015 | ArtSeen
If you ponder a rose for too long you wont budge in a storm. The work of octogenarian artist Emily Mason shares roots with those words by poet Mahmoud Darwish, on the importance of adhering to ones intuition.
OCT 2015 | ArtSeen
Chuck Close once said in an interview in the pages of this publication that “Painting [. . .] makes space where it doesn’t exist, but you relate to it through life experience.” If a viewer takes pause from looking at the new paintings on display in “Chuck Close: Red Yellow Blue” at Pace Gallery in order to observe her surroundings, she will note the insight of that remark.
DEC 15-JAN 16 | ArtSeen
Puerto Rican-born, New York-based artist Angel Otero has refined a singular, labor-intensive process for making paintings. He applies thick oil paint to Plexiglas slabs and allows it to nearly dry before painstakingly peeling the oil skins away and reapplying them to canvas, to which he then adds and scrapes additional paint, resulting in an entirely new composition.
JUNE 2014 | ArtSeen
Howardena Pindell has been making work steadily since the late 1960s, when she arrived in New York after receiving her M.F.A. at Yale. A founding member of the landmark feminist artists collective A.I.R. Gallery in 1972, she has taught at SUNY Stony Brook since 1979, all the while consistently producing bodies of work both complex and multifarious.
OCT 2014 | ArtSeen
The danger of the art world constantly searching for the “next big thing” is that quieter, more introspective work, like that of painter Bill Lynch is easily overlooked. Thankfully, he has just been given his inauguraland posthumousNew York exhibition at White Columns.
JUL-AUG 2013 | ArtSeen
Among the small and passionate subculture of mycophiles, it is well known that there is much joy to be found in methodically combing a damp forest in order to unearth rare fungi. In much the same way, art, like mushrooms, rarely lays bare its secrets.
DEC 13-JAN 14 | ArtSeen
“In place of a hermeneutics, we need an erotics of art.” Susan Sontag offered this challenge to a critic in her 1964 essay, “Against Interpretation.” She argued that the task of a critic was to elucidate for the reader how a work of art “is what it is,” rather than to show “what it means.”
OCT 2011 | Art
In the form of a rebus, the announcement translates something like this: Louisa had a Caesarean. They cut her open and got the baby, and then they stitched her back up. Is she okay? Yes, shes okay. I am happy. So wrote Alexander Calder to his sister Peggy in California shortly after the birth of his second daughter, Mary Calder, on May 25, 1939.
FEB 2018 | Verbatim
Always taciturn on the nature of his art, Alexander Calder once quipped, “That others grasp what I have in mind seems unessential, at least as long as they have something else in theirs.”
APR 2018 | Art
Mariko Mori, unafraid to shed the skins of her past, has made a career from surprising contemporary art audiences around the world through a process of constant renewal in her work. But as it turns out, these are not skins of the past but rather strata that are all part of a continuum stretching back into ancient times and forward into the most distant realms of the universe.
JUNE 2018 | ArtSeen
Berlin-based artist Jorinde Voigt is recognized for the luminosity of her cerebral, abstract drawings, which feature mathematical equations and annotations that explore her hermetic belief systems.
SEPT 2018 | Verbatim
I dont actually keep a diary but sometimes I write things down on A4, and I sort of faintly hope they survive, says Sean Scully.
OCT 2018 | ArtSeen
The exhibition, whose title subverts Brownmiller’s epithet, recaptures the experience of rape from this art historical romanticizing, presenting work by twenty female artists from the past forty years on its decidedly “un-heroic” nature.
APR 2017 | ArtSeen
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.
OCT 2017 | Art Books
The portrait’s subject, a young woman with a snub nose in three-quarter profile, stares back at her viewer, the wide-set brown eyes direct but inscrutable. Something wry tugs at the corners of her mouth, leaving her with neither a smile nor a frown.
DEC 17-JAN 18 | ArtSeen
His dramatic camerawork draws out the luster of the bronze panels, and the audience is treated to an opportunity to examine their delicate detail in an intimate way.
MAR 2016 | ArtSeen
“Once you leave New York City, America begins,” or so the old maxim goes. The notion that the city is a threshold, that it stands apart from the rest of the country, is a potent cultural marker, one that many New Yorkers subscribe to.
NOV 2016 | ArtSeen
Across the board, Caitlin Keogh’s work appears at first formally sound and visually engaging. Her paintings, rendered in flat acrylics, display a surface sexiness that draws the viewer in, underscored by a sophisticated color palette.
MAY 2015 | Art Books
In our globalized art world, it is strange that an artist whose work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Tate Gallery, and who has had more than 75 solo exhibitions since the mid-1950s, could also somehow be considered, if not unknown, then at least not very well known.
SEPT 2015 | ArtSeen
Rodríguez Calerowho was born in Puerto Rico but has lived most of her life in New York and New Jerseyis an artist whose methods and processes are so intricate that she has had to invent unique terms of classification to describe them.
DEC 15-JAN 16 | Art Books
Cranes, steel beams, and industrial rigging don’t easily evoke carnality, sensuality, and human connection, but after reading Mark di Suvero, it might be impossible to subtract these bodily qualities from the artist’s mighty steel sculpture.
APR 2014 | ArtSeen
For a photographer, the prospect of creating an image that will resonate with its audience is no doubt a daunting prospect. Three artists currently on view in Metro at Julie Saul GalleryReinier Gerritsen, Adam Magyar, and David Molanderattempt to tackle this problem by stitching together, though varied processes, patchworks of other photographs in order to make a new whole.
JUL-AUG 2014 | ArtSeen
Two trains of thought about Larry Clarks artistic output consistently pervade consideration of his work, which for the past 40 years has almost exclusively examined the debauched underbelly of adolescent life in America.
JUNE 2013 | ArtSeen
Inside the Gary Snyder Gallery, a woman struck up a friendly exchange with another viewer about the current exhibition. They were strangers to each other but the connection seemed natural.
JUL-AUG 2013 | ArtSeen
Interconnections lie at the heart of artist Jason Middlebrooks work. The uneasy coexistence between natural phenomena and human-made objects, arts grappling with the places it inhabits, and the collisions of disparate facets of art history all surface in Middlebrooks paintings, sculpture, and installations.
OCT 2012 | Art
Prior to the opening reception of the writer/artist's new show at 1:1 gallery, (Vanishing Art & Hoodoo Metaphysics, September 23 October 20) a group of students the Art Criticism and Writing M.F.A. program at the School of Visual Arts drove upstate to speak with Peter Lamborn Wilson.