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William Corwin

is a sculptor and journalist from New York. He has exhibited at The Clocktower, LaMama and Geary galleries in New York, as well as galleries in London, Hamburg, Beijing and Taipei. He has written regularly for The Brooklyn Rail, Artpapers, Bomb, Artcritical, Raintaxi and Canvas and formerly for Frieze. Most recently he curated and wrote the catalog for Postwar Women at The Art Students League in New York, an exhibition of the school’s alumnae active between 1945-65, and 9th Street Club, and exhibition of Perle Fine, Helen Frankenthaler, Mercedes Matter, Grace Hartigan, Lee Krasner and Elaine Dekooning at Gazelli Art House in Mayfair. He is the editor of Formalism; Collected Essays of Saul Ostrow, to be published in 2020, and he will participate in the exhibition Anchor/Roots at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor Cultural Center in 2021.

In Conversation

DAVID HOCKNEY with William Corwin

William Corwin visited David Hockney in his studio in Bridlington, Yorkshire, to discuss the paintings, iPad drawings, and videos that form the core of his show A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy in London (January–April 9, 2012).

In Conversation

GILLIAN WEARING with William Corwin

A retrospective of Gillian Wearing’s work ran from March 28 – June 17 at London’s Whitechapel Gallery and following quickly on its heels will be an exhibition at K20 Kunsthallsammlung NRW in Dusseldorf (September 8 – January 6, 2013). William Corwin sat down with Wearing at her East London studio to quiz her about various projects in her past and present, particularly her 2010 feature film Self-Made.

In Conversation

LIAM GILLICK with William Corwin

William Corwin sat down with Liam Gillick to discuss a recipe for creating public art that is neither grandiose, kitschy, nor dismissive of the public; the responsibilities of the contemporary curator; and the joys of lying face down on the floor.

In Conversation

SARAH LUCAS with William Corwin

After a pub lunch of lamb kidney and sweetbread salad and with the cool breezes wafting in off the coastal Suffolk marshes, William Corwin sat down with Sarah Lucas on the back terrace of Snape Maltings to discuss her first ever public sculpture “Perceval” and her current project/exhibition with Gelatin at the Kunsthalle Krems.

In Conversation

ROXY PAINE with Will Corwin

Will Corwin has spent the last three years ferreting out Roxy Paine in his various habitats—upstate in Delhi, New York, and in his Long Island City and Maspeth studios—watching the progress of various works of art and attempting to develop a taxonomy of the various strains and tropes into which his ideas fall.

In Conversation

ALEXANDER ROSS with Will Corwin

Alexander Ross’s paintings exist in the hazy space between photorealism and abstraction. Recent Terrestrials at David Nolan Gallery (October 30 – December 6, 2014) pushed Ross’s practice even further, exploring landscape and portraiture without leaving the alternate dimension his earlier work inhabited.

In Conversation

Douglas Gordon with William Corwin

The film I Had Nowhere to Go (2016) is Douglas Gordon’s meditation on the early life and adventures of the filmmaker Jonas Mekas. William Corwin sat down with Gordon in his studio in Berlin to discuss his friendship with Mekas and the origins of the project. Gordon also speaks to his use of disjointed time, Scottish literature, and the poignancy of image, sound, and text from the perspective of the viewer.

Florence and Daniel Guerlain Donation

Since its very origins, the practice of drawing has eluded definition, which is perhaps why it has become metaphorically aligned with the seemingly futile pursuit of chasing shadows.


While some curators and critics may bemoan the end of the era of the 12-hour-long performance piece, Will Cotton’s debut in the arena of live-action public art, “Cockaigne,” was a short and sweet representation of the artist’s signature thinly veiled psycho-sexual imagery, which left the audience craving just a little bit more.

Where it all Began

Though Ronnie Landfield’s work is more frequently connected to fellow lyrical abstractionists Ron Davis, Peter Young, Larry Stafford, Bill Pettit, and Larry Poons, history makes strange bedfellows when it comes to whom you went to high school with in New York.

ALINA SZAPOCZNIKOW Sculpture Undone, 1955-1972

Sculpture Undone is a small but thorough retrospective of the work of Polish sculptor Alina Szapocznikow (1926-1973).  The artist, who was Jewish, never publicly discussed her experiences in the Łódź ghetto or in Auschwitz and several other concentration camps.

ANSELM KIEFER Morgenthau Plan

With the words “The quality of mercy is not strain’d,” Portia lays out the principle that mercy is a one-size-fits-all concept; that charity and forbearance are to be shown to innocent and guilty alike; that mercy, like justice, is blind.


Dennis Congdon’s palette may lay claim to the fresco aesthetic of Latium, but his subject matter inhabits the coffee houses and bars (and psychoanalytic offices) of late 19th century Vienna and Paris.

The Shining (Backwards and Forwards)

By aiming four projectors at four sides of a cube made from screening fabric, a jerry-rigged tesseract is generated: a four-dimensional cube or a cube projected upon itself.

WILLIAM ANASTASI Sound Works, 1963–2013

William Anastasi is “piping to the spirit ditties of no-tone.” In his retrospective at the Leubsdorf Gallery at Hunter College, curated by Maxim Weintraub, Anastasi’s ready-made “The World’s Greatest Music,” (1977) hits all the notes.

ALI BANISADR Motherboard

From the distant view of the mezzanine of the gallery, Ali Banisadr’s triptych “Ran” (2014) gains a depth of field that allows the viewer to get a handle on the wild whirring, spinning choreography of the oil painting.

TOM LEVINE New Paintings

In this recent series of earth tone infused canvases, Tom Levine seeks to redefine the terms of engagement with his medium.

Truth in the Visual Arts
Skepticism in the Work of Ellen K. Levy and Patricia Olynyk

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Márquez describes a rain of yellow flowers falling on the town of Macondo; it is a miracle and has no scientific explanation, but in the context of fiction, it needs no rationalization.

DENNIS OPPENHEIM Terrestrial Studio

Just about everything you need to know about Dennis Oppenheim and his work is expressed in the touching video piece Star Exchange (1970) on view in the indoor gallery at Storm King—part of the expansive indoor and outdoor exhibition of the artist’s work, Terrestrial Studio.

Turner Prize 2016

And the nominees are: Anthea Hamilton, Helen Marten, Josephine Pryde, and Michael Dean. The public presentation of the shortlisted artists combined with the long run-up to the announcement of the winner always makes the Turner Prize a horse race of sorts.

Beverly Fishman: I Dream of Sleep

The overarching theme of I Dream of Sleep is opioid addiction, and by implication Fishman’s conglomerations of squares, hemispheres, pentagons, and triangles model the molecular structure of pharmaceutical “cures” for depression and other disorders.


Peter Young deals often in infinities, symmetries, and repeating and non-repeating patterns; strategies that are patently abstract, but at the same time manage to harness an intensely human connection to the spiritual.

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.

Philip Pearlstein: Nudes and Other Landscapes

Philip Pearlstein, Nudes and Other Landscapes is a casual retrospective of the artist’s paintings, drawings, and watercolors going back almost 70 years. It starts with a wonderful and gritty textured painting titled The Capture (1954), and comes up to the present with Two Models with Carousel Giraffe and Le Corbusier Chair (2020), right at the front door of the gallery.

NATHANIEL MELLORS: Progressive Rocks

Progressive Rocks is a cycle of four substantial video works that require a commitment of time and attention amounting to over two-and-a-half hours. Margot Norton’s curation plays to the theatrical nature of Mellors’s enterprise by guiding the viewer through the space in a circular motion, creating a central square core of flickering screens.

Ida Kohlmeyer: Cloistered

The relationship of painting to the viewer is reversed as the spectator is surveilled by an alien eye. Kohlmeyer paints this cloistered presence into her works with varying degrees of directness.


The Tate Modern’s retrospective of Mona Hatoum presents the melancholy autobiography of an exile, and it is not a pretty picture. Filled with sharp edges, electrified fences, and cages, it is overall a portrait of discomfort, and of the ever-present disappointment of a life circumscribed by the perceived denial of a real origin.

Painting in the ’80s

The acquaintance with whom I viewed Elizabeth Murray: Painting in the ’80s remarked that it appeared two artists were at work creating the paintings on view.

Jonah Bokaer: About An Arabesque

In the exhibition About An Arabesque, choreographer Jonah Bokaer investigates the socio-political underpinnings of the notion of the “arabesque,” a European aesthetic catch-all for a wide swathe of Middle Eastern and North-African decorative gestures. It is also the title of a ballet position.

Gary Simmons: Screaming into the Ether

In this unnatural movement of dread and looming disaster lies the artist’s characterization of racial degradation lurking in the seemingly innocent faces of impish animations of the 1930s. The centerpiece of the exhibition, a cheerful, toothy cowpoke stroking the ivories in Piano Man (2020) dissolves in front of our eyes, slowly and painfully torn apart by the artist’s dragging hand and inevitable vectors of force pulling in opposite directions.


Randy Williams, my teacher for a high school drawing class that I attended at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, told the students decisively during an exercise that there are no lines in real life; he may even have said it multiple times.


New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast once created a cartoon retelling Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain using Bic ballpoint pens as stand-in for the characters: this, I think, was a comment on the cartoonists’ and writers’ obsession with the banal writing implement. Roberto Visani, in his dramatically staged exhibition In Medias Res has populated a Beckett or Noh drama with the much darker personage of the gun.

Checkered History

Despite being all about the grid, David Weinstein and Ruth Kahn’s curation of Checkered History is decidedly of the tree network variety.

Æthelred Eldridge

There is little to guide one through the twistings and turnings of the fervid imaginings and aphorisms of Æthelred Eldridge in this beautifully curated exhibition at Essex Flowers, but the enigmatic approach is in keeping with the artist’s own practice of ambiguous and oracular image-making and writing.

Joris-Karl Huysmans Art Critic

Flowing through three contiguous galleries along the right-hand mezzanine of the Musée d’Orsay is the stream of consciousness of the novelist and art critic Joris-Karl Huysmans, in the form of the exhibition and installation Joris-Karl Huysmans Art Critic. Acting as a valve on this torrent of images and ideas is another enigmatic aesthetic impresario, the artist Francesco Vezzoli.


MOTHER IS PASSING. COME AT ONCE is an enigmatically fitting title for a show that has more veils than Salome’s dance.


Robert Wilson has taken up temporary residence at the Louvre, and there he has created a “bedroom of state” that rivals any one of the Louis’s.

Finding the Major Arcana
CARIN RILEY Linear Figurations

In Carin Riley’s understated and demure pastel drawings and oil paintings, a quest for symbols takes place, mimicking the process that generates such vocabularies of signs as the Major Arcana, the constellations, or the beings of the Chinese zodiac.

Tim Kent: Enfilade

There is something comforting yet dreadful about the idea of an enfilade in architecture. The painter Tim Kent has rhapsodically incorporated both the aesthetic highs and the sociological lows of this hierarchical space in his cycle of six oil on linen paintings.

Rute Merk: SS20

The seven-and-a-half-foot-square canvas BALENCIAGA, SS20, Look 89 (2019) by Rute Merk presents a disquieting vision of humanoid perfection: a confident androgyne blue goddess on a blue background. Like the depiction of the Vitruvian man, Merk’s model is inscribed in a square and stares out at us blankly.

BOSILJKA RADITSA The Nature of Memory

In this small, delicate show of gouache paintings and pencil drawings, Bosiljka Raditsa has fashioned a vibrant pageant of meditations on color and gesture. Though the paintings are thoroughly abstract, memory is a clear subtext throughout the works, secondary to formalist aesthetic experimentation.

Apocalypse, Right Now: Abel Tilahun: Vital Signs

Abel Tilahun’s exhibition, Vital Signs, indulges in a play of scale and materiality meant to momentarily disorient the viewer. It is illusionism on a level at which we question our own perception, falling into a subset of sculpture which includes Duane Hanson, Ron Mueck, George Segal, and Robert Gober.


Corinne Wasmuht is a contemporary surrealist, and her visions are fraught with the same edgy aesthetic of what we are just-uncomfortable-enough-with, in terms of distortions of our reality—similar to Dalí, Magritte, or even Bosch.


Elisabeth Kley’s exhibition Ozymandias at the new Canada Gallery space, presents ten ceramic works; they are urns, bottles, and containers, and all the pieces are habitations of one sort or another.


“Two wrongs can make a right,” “what you see is what you get,” and all sorts of impenetrable truths and blatant cliches are up for grabs in the maelstrom of data and dots in this well paired exhibition of Israel Lund and Amy Granat.

Peter Halley: Heterotopia II

Fortress-like, Peter Halley’s newest exhibition, Heterotopia II (2019), immediately presents a situation of pleasure postponed. The bright, DayGlo green and yellow exterior walls of his temple-like structure offer only narrow slits and doorways through which to glimpse the throbbing color within.

Allan McCollum: Early Works

McCollum approaches multiplicity and diversity with a gentle omniscient hand that both demands that we examine each and every object with a fresh eye, but also, through his presentation, quells the inevitable rising panic of the human psyche in the presence of infinity.

MIKE CLOUD Bad Faith and Universal Techique

A fellow spectator at Mike Cloud’s recent exhibition described the largest painting in the show, “Removed Individual,” (2013) as the “Buckminster Fuller one.” Initially this seemed superficial, based merely on the construction of the piece as a network of visible intersecting stretchers.

A Sense of Place: Ellen Phelan’s Kenjockety

Ellen Phelan’s exhibition of twenty-four prints, “A Sense of Place: Ellen Phelan’s Kenjockety,” at The Adirondack Museum, is a visual tone poem for the digital age.


Toba Khedoori’s monochromatic paintings and drawings are subtle and shifty exercises in visual sleight-of-hand. These seemingly pristine objects are not what they seem; Khedoori clearly relishes the dichotomy between what they are initially perceived to be and the reality of the surface.

The World is a Totality of Things

A series of exhibitions in London this winter deals with the collection of objects and the archiving of images as a pathway, through art, to a variety of utopias. In most cases these utopias are inaccessible, whether the artists are willing to admit it or not, or so deeply subjective they appear to be the vision of one person.


Come with a thorough knowledge of Britain’s queer subculture or be prepared to take notes: the convoluted, colorful, and vibrant world of alternating genders, orientations, romantic attachments, and associations is the focus of this exhibition.

Letter from LEEDS
Windows and Doors

Fiona Rae: Maybe you can live on the moon in the next century at the Leeds Art Gallery (through August 26th) and Michael Dean: Government at the Henry Moore Institute (through June 17th) share little commonality beyond the fact that their exhibiting galleries are next door to each other, but both abundantly fulfill architectural tropes ascribed to the visual arts.


As one compares forms as diverse as her classic grounded stalactite Z BOKU (2017) and the wood and linen book Book with no words (2018), TORN is perhaps not meant to be taken literally as a physical action but as a violent and painful divergence of ideas.

Moving Image Department and Stanislav Kolíbal

Adam Budak’s first major gesture as the Chief Curator of the National Gallery in Prague was to introduce a Moving Image Department. This is in keeping with his ambition to make the Veletržní Palace a major European venue for contemporary art.


David Goodman’s current exhibition of sculpture and works on paper, entitled Apparatus, confronts the viewer with two questions. One is aesthetic: Can two trajectories of visual practice be combined in a harmonious and visually meaningful and satisfying whole? In Goodman’s case the answer is yes and works itself out wittily through the small sculptures.

The King and the Corpse

The King and the Corpse is a room-within-a-room and fills the main gallery to such an extent—from floor-to-ceiling with a walk-able, but not too capacious path around—that it’s impossible to get far enough away from the sculpture to gauge its true nature as a structure. It’s all sides and angles, but no sense of a whole.

MOBY Innocents

As a photographer, Moby’s efforts have been predominantly autobiographical. His 2011 book of images, Destroyed,offered a view into the life of a travelling musician: empty hotel rooms, paparazzi lying in ambush at the arrivals gate, and fans in ecstasy, viewed from the stage.

Joan Snyder: The Summer Becomes a Room

Snyder wraps this body of work in an overwhelming sense of acceptance and gratitude for the cycles of nature: the seasons, life and death, day and night, morning and dusk. Overall this seems a positive reckoning; her palette is bright and harmonious, and it’s hard not to get a boost from looking at it.

Lauretta Vinciarelli: Intimate Distances

The irony of a lot of architecture is that it’s meant to be looked at but not physically interacted with. We, the viewers, are expected to take in the symmetries, shadows, and rhythms of the structure from a privileged viewpoint. Lauretta Vinciarelli’s watercolors depict spaces created from this curated perspective. Her work is a conversation with, but ultimately a concession to, the frozen requirements of the architect’s eye—yet this is not necessarily a pejorative trait.

TOMMY MINTZ Mind the Gap/Mine the Gaps

The detection of a spirit presence lies at the heart of many current TV shows claiming to search for the paranormal. Mind the Gap/Mine the Gaps, Tommy Mintz’s current exhibition of photography, does the reverse.

ISHMAEL RANDALL WEEKS: Annotations, Striations and Souvenirs

Ishmael Randall Weeks’s exhibition, Annotations, Striations and Souvenirs delved into questions surrounding the demarcations between the authentic, the counterfeit and the use-value of the real.

Skin Deep

Perle Fine was a great but under-recognized Abstract Expressionist painter; Paul Anthony Smith is a painter, originally from Jamaica, who recently moved from Kansas City to Bushwick. Their innovations in the art of manipulating the form and surface of paper make them odd but not unwilling bedfellows.

Someday We Will Draw Lions Together: Les Combarelles and Font-de-Gaume

The Paleolithic caves of the Dordogne, clustered around the town of Eyzies-de-Tayac, are still accessible to the general public, with the exception of Lascaux, which has been replaced with an exact reproduction, Lascaux II. In January, there are no lines.

N. Dash

Can a rectangle be sensual? The artist N. Dash sublimates perceptual experience through assemblages of rectilinear panels separated at times by incised lines, string, layers of fabric and even thick segments of high-density foam insulation.

RICO GATSON: Icons 2007-2017

Rico Gatson’s exhibition Icons 2007–2017 is an exercise in catapulting the human into the supernatural realm. We are watching an artist doing what artists do best: rendering the unimaginable into the visual and the unspeakable into human terms.

Early Works on Paper + Late Painting

Avery’s reductionist approach is seductive; he is not a believer in the imponderableness of infinity and instead chooses a localized vision of the world.

IVANA BAŠIĆ: Through the Hum of Black Velvet Sleep

Ivana Bašić presents a dire vision of the not-too-distant future in her exhibition Through the hum of black velvet sleep (2017).

Sindy Lutz: Seascapes

Crayon and graphite on paper allows Lutz to direct our eyes to very specific cues: cloud shape, the color of the sky, and the relative placidity or querulousness of weather and water are all communicated by details of mark‐making.

MARK THOMAS GIBSON: Early Retirement

I know it is futile—an impossible dream—for me to join Mark Thomas Gibson’s NRA (Negro Rifle Association), but longing is a major component of the magic associated with comic books.

The Pursuit of Aesthetics: Artwork Created During Quarantine

This certainly seems like a time for image and text: straightforward and direct gestures for marshalling ideas, crowds, and righteous fury. So one has to stop and collect a reeling brain, full of protest acronyms and painful or ghastly YouTube footage, in order to focus on the premise of an exhibition that emphasizes, as its title suggests, “The Pursuit of Aesthetics.”


The studio was in flux when I stopped by as preparations were being made to transport most of the new paintings to the Friedrich Petzel gallery for Pensato’s show, Batman Returns, which opened on January 12 and comes down on the 25th of February.

Of ash and coal

Greg Lindquist constructs an image cycle of social inequity in the face of environmental desecration, playing a requiem above a baseline of spoilt nature caused by corporate self-interest.

Giuseppe Penone’s “Spazio di Luce” and Rachel Whiteread’s “Tree of Life”

Giuseppe Penone’s sculpture “Spazio di Luce (Space of Light)” is a reconstitution of an older project, “Gli anni dell’albero piú uno (All the years of the tree plus one)” (1969), in which Penone coated a tree in a thin layer of wax, approximating a growth ring.

Playing Solitaire

At age 14, in my sophomore year in high school, I was in Dr. Nikol’s Advanced Placement European History class. The syllabus was thorough and in the section on the Enlightenment we paused briefly on Descartes, to note his contributions to mathematics, and secondly his Meditations on First Philosophy, which have to this day never left me a moment’s peace.

Protecting Renoir: The Legacy of Helen Frankenthaler

Will Corwin write about the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation and how it supports emerging artists while maintaining the legacy of its founder.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

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