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Tom McGlynn

TOM MCGLYNN is an artist, writer, and independent curator based in the N.Y.C. area. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum of the Smithsonian. He is the director of Beautiful Fields, an organization dedicated to socially-engaged curatorial projects, and is also currently a visiting lecturer at Parsons/the New School.

In Conversation

SAM GILLIAM with Tom McGlynn

At its very core, the intrinsic value of art—which can be disruptive, unpredictable, and at the very least challenging—has tremendous transformative and healing incentives. Whether it occurs at the first encounter or over time, the implications for the viewer, be they formal or emotional, are simultaneously simple and complex, generous and demanding.

In Conversation

TAUBA AUERBACH with Tom McGlynn

On the occasion of her third one-person show at Paula Cooper, I took the chance to talk with Tauba Aeurbach about her work and its laterally-cutting through of ideas and forms related to somatic being and its symbolic tissue.

In Conversation

EVA ROTHSCHILD with Tom McGlynn

A work I always think about in these terms of a puncture is this piece I made in 2007, a huge, tangle on this spindly stand: in the studio, almost jokingly, it came to be called “Mr. Messy,” which is from a children’s book.

In Conversation

STEPHEN SHORE
with Tom McGlynn

I’d like to open our discussion with a statement from your essay “Form and Pressure,” in which you preface the scene from Hamlet directing the actors he brought to Elsinore for a play

In Conversation

PETER HALLEY with Tom McGlynn

Since the early 1980s the influence of Peter Halley’s writings, paintings, and installations has been widespread.

Mary McDonnell
Clear Pause

Mary McDonnell’s show of new paintings, Clear Pause, takes the viewer to this risky place with insistent gestures, held in suspension by a sensual, musical use of color.

LUCIO FONTANA Retrospective

Lucio Fontana is amongst those latter-day European modernists whose post-WWII reputation was made by a signature autographic gesture.

JUSTINE KURLAND Sincere Auto Care

In 1970, there was a pop hit that promised, “I’m your vehicle baby, I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.” These lyrics perfectly epitomize the transcendental nature of America’s relationship to the automobile, from the time the first Model T rolled off of Ford’s assembly line to today, when reissues of G.M. muscle cars like Camaros and Chargers conspicuously consume ever more costly fossil fuels.

Olivier Mosset

Olivier Mosset isn’t really an abstract painter, because his paintings aren’t abstractly real. This might seem like a tautological game, but it is actually at the root of Mosset’s raison d’être.

From the Ruins…

Since the future was invented as a rational concept in time, relieved of its superstitious portents and omens during the Enlightenment, ruins have been relegated to picturesque monuments of the past in the present. Ruins came to represent a second-order past, not to be dwelt upon too long in a modernist lurch toward utopic ends.

Berliner Sommerzeit

Ferdinand Lassalle, the great early international-socialist light of 19th century Prussia, loved its capital Berlin so much that he snuck back into the city disguised as a wagon-driver after he was banished for social organizing during the 1848 – 49 uprisings in the still un-unified Germany.

Carolanna Parlato: A Delicate Balance

As a style of painting, lyrical abstraction can too easily get short shrift as a histrionic sigh to the deeper draughts of abstract painting’s historical breadth. In general, the form tends to move away from the symmetry of compositional plotting toward a more rambling mapping of the picture plane. In doing so it can actually risk quite a bit in terms of painting’s clarifying limits for a wager on the optical choreography of the brushstroke.

MARCEL BROODTHAERS A Retrospective

Marcel Broodthaers’s career has to be one of the most hermetically abstruse, at least to an American audience, of the 20th century, so it’s a signal event when a museum like MoMA, so vested in the pas de deux of Dada and Surrealism, celebrates one of that tradition’s most prodigious acolytes.

MARYAM JAFRI Economy Corner

In the mid 1970s consumer culture in the U.S. took a rare pause in its relentless appetite for brand name products. High inflation, the winding down of the Vietnam War, and the onset of OPEC and gasoline shortages all put pressure on marketing mavens to come up with a strategy that would address the budget-conscious consumer.

Painting as Modeling

The first time I saw a grouping of Sadie Benning’s more recent paintings was at the Greater New York show at PS1 in 2015 – 16.

After, Ever After

When exactly did postmodernism begin? For that matter, has the question of when modernism began ever been resolved?

Max Beckmann in New York

This current exhibition of his works not only represents the paintings actually made in New York, but its curator, Sabine Rewald, has used the city as a kind of compass with which to orient the viewer within the scope of the artist’s life and vision—one that changed throughout his life challenges and geographic dislocations.

Marisa Merz The Sky Is a Great Space

The blatant poetry and phenomenological politics of the Arte Povera group in post-World War II Italy offered a corrective to what art historian Jaleh Mansoor has termed “Marshall Plan Modernism 1” or the encroachment of hyper-realized American financial and cultural capital into war-torn Europe.

Times Narrow

William Kentridge’s The Refusal of Time, which debuted in dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012, is a multi-channel video and sculpture installation that, at first, seems an evolution of the artist’s ability to craft complicated allegories of the struggle between the personal and the political.

ANECHOIC* MIRROR
ANRI SALA Answer Me

Anri Sala’s sound, vision, and sculptural installations feel like they want to exist whether or not anyone is there to hear or see them. Like the entranced drummer in the work that lends the show its title, Answer Me (2008), Sala is not concerned with conventional conversation.

Irgin Sena: 21 fiftytwo (the day after)

Irgin Sena’s work is substantial in its fragility: it explores the ephemerality of the representational structures and systems that constitute the foundations of our need to project significance, and perhaps narrative coherence, onto widely disparate signs.

Audubon’s Aviary: The Final Flight
(Part III of the Complete Flock)

In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War and facing family financial hardship, Lucy Bakewell Audubon (John James’s widow) sold her husband’s portfolio of original paintings executed in preparation for his engraved and hand-colored masterwork The Birds Of America (1827 – 38) to the New York Historical Society.

THE CLAMOR OF REASON
Frank Stella: A Retrospective

Frank Stella’s famous aphorism, “What you see is what you see,” seems most likely to have been followed in his mind by an urgent, “Don’t just stand there looking, do something!”

Tom McGlynn
on Leon Golub

I first met Leon Golub when the samizdat literary magazine I was co-editing, Ferro-Botanica (1980 – 1986) solicited an interview. Both he and his wife, the artist Nancy Spero, were quite generous with access to their studios, accommodating myself and my friends who at the time were just beginning to inscribe our mark in the New York art world.

STEPHEN MAINE New Paintings

Stephen Maine’s new paintings at Hionas exude a crackling static charge that might jolt even the most jaded of zombie aesthetics into a gritty kind of materialist satori. One could argue the merits of this: if a powerful-enough transcendent hit can revive an exhausted faith in abstraction, does this imply an idealistic renewal or simply the stoic resolve of a conditional belief?

Informed Painting

Writing on Cézanne, D.H. Lawrence noted that, “After a fight tooth-and-nail for forty years, he did succeed in knowing an apple, fully; and, not quite as fully, a jug or two.

MICHAEL BERRYHILL: A Window, Adore

Walking down the slot canyon of Vandam Street and into the mini-cavern of the Kate Werble Gallery and Michael Berryhill’s show of recent paintings can have the effect of discovering a fecund microclimate of crystalline flora and fauna nestled among the bleached, late summer-bones of lower Manhattan.

Doing What Comes Naturally: Seven Painters in Their Prime

The boldly cliché title of this show is turned inside out in the introductory paragraph to curator Robert Storr’s catalog essay in which he clarifies that “art, by definition, is artificial and unnatural.

RITUALS OF RENTED ISLAND: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970–1980

Imagine a place and time in New York where multiple city blocks were devoid of pedestrians and in which the passages from one neighborhood to the next occasioned drastic psychic shifts.

KIM JONES mountain girl door

Kim Jones’s most recent show at Pierogi opens with a small acrylic on Xerox piece “Untitled, (Kim as Boy)” (1955 – 99). It presents a Xeroxed childhood photograph of the artist in boxer shorts or  swim trunks overdrawn with intestines that stretch out to form an angular superstructure surrounding the artist’s head and shoulders, like the truss work of a Byzantine halo.

NEO RAUCH At the Well

Neo Rauch has all but cornered the market on post-modern historical painting. While his histories don’t overtly present as such, he does thread a specific temporal narrative (German, idealist) through what one might describe as the hangover dream of the repressed nation-state.

POPS STANDARD
STUART DAVIS In Full Swing

The logo-type signature that Stuart Davis affixed to all of his later compositions has the feel of an exuberantly but deliberately carved and cast-off orange peel. This shaped incorporation of the author with his works, which in many instances resemble a virtual junkyard of animate cast-offs, clearly signals Davis’s lifelong intention: to sublate an older genius of the exceptional subject into the oblivious, objective meander of the modern commons.

Vel Minimum

In discussing Dan Walsh’s work here, perhaps it’s best to get the term “post-minimalism” figured from the beginning. There is an undeniable link in Walsh’s work to what artists and critics ranging from Mel Bochner to Rosalind Krauss helped to define in Minimalism’s 1960s heyday.

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.

JAMES SIENA New Sculpture

James Siena is an artist whose work has gained extraordinary critical acceptance over the past two decades for its ingenuity and grace, yet I still wonder what exactly it is that compels such a consensual reception, given that its intellectual rigor and complexity might just as well achieve the opposite effect.

Painting After Postmodernism:
Belgium-USA-Italy

Barbara Rose’s conception of Painting After Postmodernism (PAP) seems to want to address, in Owen’s terms, the “static, ritualistic and repetitive” aspect of the postmodernist turn.

Idris Khan:Blue Rhythms

Insistent repetition is one way to measure time.

The Internal Machine

The modern book is the product of a mechanical operation, the printing press, but as Internal Machine suggests, it can be considered a mechanism in and of itself.

Neo Rauch: Aus dem Boden (From The Floor)

In Aus dem Boden (From the Floor) at The Drawing Center, one is presented with the opportunity to delve deeply into the artist’s mode of conjuring up his symbolical derivatives with a series of drawings (not quite studies) for his larger paintings which are helpfully organized by the show’s curator, Brett Littman, into six groupings under the loose headings of absurdist drawings, architectural and landscape drawings, character studies, scenarios and figure drawings.

Reflections on Philip Guston
The Generous Law: Philip Guston’s Wobble

The title of this brief reflection is cobbled together from Philip Guston’s 1978 letter to Ross Feld, a younger poet and critic who had written appreciatively of Guston’s signal 1970 show, which marked his leap (or return) to figuration after years building a solid legacy of moodily lyrical abstractions.

Strategic Vandalism: The Legacy of Asger Jorn's Modification Paintings

In the pit of the post-war Modern European Theater lay the ruins of the School of Paris. Its various painterly edifices, a formerly fruitful mélange of Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism had been shaken loose from their avant garde foundations by cataclysmic world events. This pit would, in part, become dominated by an aesthetic pendulum swinging between the capriciously whimsical and the patently absurd—between the promise of revived joy and the depressing reality of modern alienation.

KATE TEALE The Sea Is All Around Us

Kate Teale’s work, in her first one-person show in 10 years, looks and feels, at first glance, to be quietest in its tonal reduction and insular subjects. Her works on paper and rice paper affixed to canvas are modest in scale and play the middle range of contrast.

De Kooning: Five Decades

It’s been 22 years since Willem de Kooning’s death at 93. His long and prodigiously productive career was lately most fully examined in a retrospective held between 2011–12 at MoMA.

Brand-New & Terrific: Alex Katz in the 1950s

The quotidian fortune of being bull’s-eyed by a bird letting loose from on high supposedly augurs good luck, a sign that the splat was a chance operation. The deeper magic, of course, is that both pedestrian and the bird exist within a universal plane of consistency that somehow purposefully unites the bird’s flight with the walker’s groundedness. This may seem an odd analogy with which to introduce the prodigious sequence of painterly operations brought into intentional coincidence by Alex Katz over his long professional lifetime, yet it does concur with his stated notion of getting at a sense of “figure-in-ground” in his work.

Katy Moran: I want to live in the afternoon of that day

If one were tasked with coming up with a phrase that would roughly characterize Katy Moran's way of painting, then "aggressive diffidence" might suit. In her case, however, it's a stance that projects a deeply powerful, perhaps even anarchic, energy.

Sense and Unsensibility

The symbolic battle between word and image is a metaphoric representation of the contained malleability of human expression.

Alex Katz Subway Drawings

 If Alex Katz hadn’t so deftly invented himself, New York would have had to. Born in the city in 1927, he belongs to a remarkably self-creative generation, which has included such singular individuals as Frank O’Hara and Edwin Denby, whose urbane voices and visions became inextricably identified with the realigning echelons of post-war American upward mobility.

Disappearing, Inc.

The Times is a cleverly capacious title for this large group exhibition, referring simultaneously to a multiplicity of historical periodizations and to a colloquial condensation of the New York Times. The works, like the title, encompass the specificity of individual perspectives, as well as the generalized verbal semantics and visual syntax of the printed commons.

London Painters

For painters of this generation the war allowed for a break from the gravitational influences of Picasso and the School of Paris, the same break that would lend lift to the Abstract Expressionist ascendancy in New York.

Will Corwin: The Old Gods

Will Corwin has chosen to work within this premise of archeological projection, and further, to ventriloquize its forms for a contemporary audience. So, what happens when an archeologically derived artifact is remade in the likeness of the artist’s own ontological projection?

Greater New York

Greater New York 2015 Edition

This most recent Greater New York is tightly curated (with some speculative room to move) around a trans-generational city of reality and dreams. It’s an amalgam of contemporary and historic art interpretations of the multi-layered, collective experience we call living for the city.

Al Held in Paris: 1952-53

Al Held moved to Paris in 1949 where he was part of a loose-knit expatriate community of American painters that included Joan Mitchell and Sam Francis.

CLAUDIA HART Welcome to Alice’s Gift Shop!

Claudia Hart is an artist for whom the ludic is essential to understanding the complicated concept of human individuation. Her tactical play with words, contexts, and mediums serves to poke fun at the logical machine we call “self.”

ROBERT RYMAN:
Drawings

Robert Ryman’s painting smolders with restrained, yet eccentric, color and gesture. His hand both withholds and idiosyncratically gestures with an open palm: the magic of an aesthetic disappearing act.

JOHN NEWMAN

John Newman’s recent mini-retrospective of works presented at Safe Gallery is thickly populated with all sorts of biomorphic tropes but fortunately the assemble works escape the fate of the quick read of quirky stylizations offered in place of uncanny presence.

BARRY FLANAGAN:
The Hare is Metaphor

The question of poise comes up in different ways when viewing Barry Flanagan’s survey at Paul Kasmin Gallery: Strictly sculptural poise (from the ground to the plinth) but also conceptual poise, the balancing act that an artist needs to sometime effect to get their point across.

BEN WILSON: From Social Realism to Abstraction

Ben Wilson’s career as a painter parallels that of many others in his generation who began their creative investigations in the social realist idiom of 1930s America, ultimately evolving their own responses to Modernist abstraction in the post-war period.

James Siena: Painting

The most radical aspect of James Siena’s aesthetics, extending from his earliest works, is that he foregrounds the empirical impulse.

Richard Serra

Perhaps more than any sculptor of his generation Serra has stared base materiality in the face, thereby forcing it to conditionally reveal its stock-still visage back. It’s a game of truth or dare that, in Serra’s case, he usually concedes with a poetic deference towards an unblinking counterpart: the secret to Serra’s work is not his intent to overcome gravity’s mortal indifference to the sculptor’s will, but to frankly acknowledge it.

Albert Oehlen: Fn Paintings

Albert Oehlen comes out of what might now be considered a tradition of anti-tradition in post war German painting. It was established by Sigmar Polke, one of Oehlen’s mentors at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg, as a bricolage of pop iconography and pattern combined with bravura impasto and dissolute washes.

Stanley Whitney: In the Color

In Stanley Whitney’s magisterially unfolding show at Lisson Gallery’s dual spaces in Chelsea, the artist presents a cycle of paintings and drawings that resemble a calendar of the conscious, a notational form of painting that checks off time as a series of vividly experienced partitions.

MARTHA DIAMOND:
Cityscapes

Walking off of Great Jones Street and into Eva Presenhuber’s beautifully proportioned New York space hosting Martha Diamond’s most recent show of paintings, one can figuratively reconstruct the quotidian grandeur of an urban promenade in luscious abstract oils.

The Deceptive Everyday

Everyday events are deceptive in that their very ordinariness can remain transparent to us. It is a somewhat irrational human impulse to maintain a more exalted interval between the art of life and naked subsistence. Who hasn't harbored a secret wish, formed perhaps in the magical thinking of childhood, that we can be artists of our own lives, authors of our own destinies—that we can make "me" a world.

Alex Katz: New Paintings and Sculptures

At a certain point in a career as long and accomplished as Alex Katz’s, one hopefully reckons to ask if that artist has begun to transcend themselves: where they become, in effect, “more themselves” (arguably a form of inner transcendence) or simply a representation of such.

JENNIFER COATES: 
Correspondences

Coates’s paintings share a transhistorical affinity with Caspar David Friedrich’s scenes of ruined Gothic architecture set amidst scraggly oaks, yet are much less explicitly allegorical or connected to any specific theology.

Dancing Around the Bride

The posse of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, has ridden off into the now canonical (if sun-setting) territory of Post-War American Art triumphant.

Poems

Tom McGlynn is an artist, writer, and independent curator based in the N.Y.C. area. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Cooper- Hewitt National Design Museum of the Smithsonian. He is the director of Beautiful Fields, an organization dedicated to socially- engaged curatorial projects, and is also currently a visiting lecturer at Parsons/the New School.

In Conversation

ALEXIS ROCKMAN with Tom McGlynn

Alexis Rockman graciously welcomed me into his Tribeca studio on two occasions this fall to talk about his work, natural (and personal) histories, and the natural world of the 21st century. Hanging in the studio was a series of large-scale watercolors related to a recent project entitled “The Great Lakes Cycle,” which looks at the environmental history, degradation and resilience of that particular ecosystem.

The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation

An artist isn’t motivated by need alone. One of the unique aspects of pursuing an artistic life is that the intent of such a life is driven by a personal vision and, if there is an economics of that desire, it is for “more vision.” Adolph Gottlieb believed, unequivocally, that to be an artist was the ultimate life choice. He also acutely knew, however, that from this choice, pragmatic necessities do, unavoidably, arise.

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The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2019

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