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Cassandra Neyenesch

Cassandra Neyenesch is a contributor to the Rail.

Enantiomorphic Chamber

Enantiomorphic Chamber is not a statement of purpose or a world-changing philosophy, but it does explore a visual idea that seems to open up much wider fields of inquiry all around it, and that’s pretty exciting. An enantiomorph is “a pair of asymmetrical figures that are mirror images of one another.”

Dan Walsh

Paintings by Dan Walsh at Paula Cooper Gallery summon several monumental streams of late twentieth century painting—color field, geometric abstraction, and even the less monumental Op—to the side of an artist who somehow eludes categorization. The works are comprised of regular lines, grids or squares repeated in near-perfect regularity.


In works like “Bill Clinton, the Lippo Group, and Jackson Stephens of Little Rock, Arkansas 5th Version” Mark Lombardi researched relationships among the world’s most powerful people: politicians, financial manipulators, out-and-out crooks, and laid them out on huge drawings in the form of diagrammatic networks.

First Class / Second Class

Class is a topic conspicuously absent from our national discourse, being antithetical to our foundation myth. First Class / Second Class, the group show currently on view at Asya Geisberg Gallery, seems as good a place as any to start.

Ready Mades at Urban Outfitters

Mass-produced canvases for sale at Urban Outfitters, though of course decorative, offer a pointed commentary about the way art is produced and thought about and the consumer’s relationship to it.

Rick Klauber: Shim Paintings

Works by Rick Klauber at the Amelie A. Wallace Gallery of SUNY, Old Westbury, are assembled from wooden shims that are each painted a single, intense color and hung up, mostly in rows that form a roughly rectangular pattern. The shims are wedge-shaped, about 16 inches long and anywhere from two to ten inches in width.

Judy Rifka Nostos

Since her days at the forefront of postmodern painting in the 80’s, Judy Rifka’s oeuvre has been admirably restless.

Swantje Hielscher: A New World

Conceptual art can be viewed two distinct ways. First, we can just look at it. The second way is to read the press release (or catalogue), and then look at it.

Corban Walker

Imagine that Yao Ming, upon his retirement from the NBA, becomes a sculptor. His gallery issues a press release on his exhibition, and just in case you don’t know who he is, talks about the artist’s height and how it affects his work: obviating the use of a step-ladder, skewing a certain tallishness, and so on. This would, of course, be patently silly.

Melissa Pokorny there/there

Bedeviled by its roots in conceptualism, installation art is seen as inherently more political than painting. In the 90s, any really tedious piece of Po-Mo dogma—what’s that, did I hear the words “Whitney Biennial?—was nine times out of ten three-dimensional.

Sadie Benning: Play Pause

Sadie Benning first shook up the art world as a slip of a grrrl at the Whitney Biennial in 1992. Her self-confidently personal yet visually alienated videos, made with a Fisher Price Pixelvision camera, advanced the political agendas of the decade while superseding their polemic through a quirky and personal storytelling style.

Cynthia Hartling

In a talk given at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts, Frank Stella, clearly tilting at the contemporary art market, drew a distinction between “exalted” and “ordinary” art. Abstraction, he said, is exalted, while Pop Art is ordinary.

Dawn Clements: Conditions of Desire

In her large-scale drawings at Pierogi Gallery, Dawn Clements seems to be operating in the expanding realm that Proust charted, the project of depicting the three-dimensional quality of memory.

Larry Clark Los Angeles 2003-2006

Since his 1995 movie Kids, Larry Clark has slid around the photographic line between document and exploitation, and to this reviewer there is something greasy and repugnant about this artist’s gaze.

Lee Tribe

A painful ambivalence emerges from a viewing of Lee Tribe’s show Prayers, Angels and Spirits. Tribe uses constructed steel to make sculptures that have a feeling of totemic obsession and pre-industrial roughness, from tiny amulets formed of bolts and other metal scraps to a giant bent phallus with two heads.

Thomas Kiesewetter

Thomas Kiesewetter’s new small bronze castings from cardboard have a fine, waxy, almost edible surface, which, combined with their black patina, led one viewer at the opening to compare them to “licorice.” They are likable works; in fact, delicious.

"The magic black of an open barn door on a really sunny summer day, when you just cannot see into it."

When I first saw Matthew Miller’s portraits at a group show at Centotto, I thought they seemed to combine aspects of northern Renaissance portraiture and Mexican black velvet paintings.

Bettina Sellmann: Taina . cosmogony . make your own paper dragon

The figures in paintings by Bettina Sellmann at Derek Eller Gallery emerge from chaos like misty, gem-colored invocations of the fearful nothingness ancient cultures believed to be just outside the human realm.

Philip Taaffe

Am I getting old? Have the dirty words of my college years—like “cultural appropriation”—become so outdated that a white artist can cover his paintings with totem pole faces, announce that he is borrowing their power, and be celebrated for it?

Sasha Bezzubov and Jessica Sucher The Searchers

Every culture has its voyeurs, but somehow it is more horribly acute to see members of our own society peering in at another; sexual tourism in Thailand seems more interesting than sexual tourism in Las Vegas. We either naively idealize this other land and its people, or use them to fill our own low or impenetrable needs.

Justine Kurland

Photos by Justine Kurland at Mitchell-Innes & Nash depict, from the middle distance, naked women cradling their toddlers or leading them through semi-wilderness.

Robert Bordo: It's always raining

The clearest preoccupation one takes away from the paintings by Robert Bordo at Alexander and Bonin is obliteration. He paints over an earlier layer of a painting to the point that it is visible only as a line or a few chinks of color.

Joanne Greenbaum: Hollywood Squares, Elliott Green: Personified Abstraction

“Someone’s having fun around here,” said a visitor to D’amelio Terras gallery the other day, referring to the large paintings on exhibit by Joanne Greenbaum. The man behind the counter agreed that the paintings were “colorful” and tried for some time to explain the deeper reverberations of the work, but I observed that my friend, the art critic, was not having any, and soon left.


“Grandma” is a word that can mean either nothing at all apart from a kinship designation—grandmothers are women, and a woman can be a lot of different things—or a set of familiar stereotypes associated with things like antimacassars and tea cozies.

Incision: Feminist in Residence Exhibition

I’m pleased to announce that the Vagina is back—at least in New Jersey. Not the “pussy” in its pornographic or hat form, but the chthonic orifice that my mother and her friends got intimate with in their Happenings, wielding speculums in the name of the Goddess.


It’s hard to say something new about Picasso, but the current show at Gagosian on West 21st Street demonstrates that it is not impossible to experience something new about him.


Once, talking to two brilliant young poets, my father extolled Billy Collins, the former U.S. Poet Laureate. “He’s accessible,” responded the brilliant young poets witheringly, and I hope that if I begin by saying that Don Paterson’s book Rain is accessible, I am not condemning it thereby.

In Conversation

Mamapalooza: Marjorie Tesser with Cassandra Neyenesch

Last year I participated in a festival called Mamapalooza, and this year one of my stories was published in its journal, The Mom Egg. Both times, I felt a little guilty, like I was pulling the old “I pushed a person out of my body” card just to get a gig.

In Conversation

Ellis Avery and Sharon Marcus with Cassandra Neyenesch

Early in Ellis Avery’s new novel, The Teahouse Fire, (Riverhead, 2006) the narrator describes her experience of tea ceremony, or chado : I felt this one moment in all the world, three women in a room, doors thrown back to the bright day, the drunk bees in the purple flowers. I felt the alchemy of food made flesh. We were candles that burned on rice and salt. These ground green leaves came from earth, water, light and air; and so did my guest’s drinking body. And I myself was a leaf adrift… I felt my mind both river and leaf at once. (p.98)

No More Acts of God: Tim Flannery’s The Weathermakers

There’s no question that we’ve been a destructive species. The question is more of how long, and how much longer? New evidence suggests that it may even have been late-Pleistocene man that wiped out the era’s megafauna—giant sloths, beavers, camels—rather than climate change, as was believed.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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