FEB 2012 | ArtSeen
The concept of taste looms uncomfortably over the practice of art criticism, a constant reminder of the fundamental difficulty in assessing aesthetic quality in objective terms.
APR 2011 | ArtSeen
T. J. Clark noted that “flatness was construed as a barrier put up against the viewer’s normal wish to enter a picture and dream.” This prohibition has become irrevocably ensnarled in the woolly history of reductive painting.
JUL-AUG 2011 | ArtSeen
Werner Herzog has expended equal amounts of blood, sweat, and perhaps even a few stoic Bavarian tears, both fictionalizing and documenting the fantastic, the heroic, the misfit, and the magical.
FEB 2010 | ArtSeen
In two current exhibitions, Omer Fast shows us that hes one of the rare artists working in video who is capable of technical magic even as he strips the medium bare, exposing its power to conflate truth and fiction.
APR 2010 | ArtSeen
It was about two years ago that the Unmonumental show at the New Museum was drawing to a close, sparking hopeful chatter about the end of Home Depot-chic, neo-Arte Povera, or whatever your personal moniker is for it. It was the nail in the coffin for the nail-in-the-plywood-coffin school of art making.
JUL-AUG 2010 | ArtSeen
If a work of art isnt working when its small, it probably wont work any better if its 10 times the size. The problem with this truth truism is that if bigger isnt necessarily better, it is often more spectacular and, unfortunately, in some sad cases, spectacle is passed off as real feeling (much of what was on display at Skin Fruit at the New Museum comes quickly to mind.)
OCT 2010 | ArtSeen
As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said of pornography: You know it when you see it. And many say it is so with art: good art cant be defined, it just hits you at a gut level.
DEC 10-JAN 11 | ArtSeen
When I saw Marco Breuers show, Nature of the Pencil, at Von Lintel Gallery, I was still visually hungover from seeing my first ever Dreamworks animated movie, about a boy who trains a dragon.
MARCH 2009 | ArtSeen
The idea of originality has seen its credibility erode significantly over the past century. Why this happened is a complex matter.
APRIL 2009 | ArtSeen
In her recent exhibition at Jeff Bailey Gallery, Amy Pleasant considers: How does the act of drawing function in my work? Does the intimacy of the imagery come from the image itself, the scale, or both? After viewing the work, I would add something about how the image is executed in relation to its scale.
JUL-AUG 2009 | ArtSeen
For a country of just over 300,000 people, Iceland does a pretty efficient job of disseminating its culture abroad; weve all spotted the dottirs and ssons sprinkled around the art world.
OCT 2009 | ArtSeen
Visual artists today are virtually committed to a pay-to-play system, in which their merits are recognized only after theyve had their hand stamped at an expensive masters program. But last week, after coming across the above announcement, I did some web research and discovered an alarming trend of new PhD programs in the visual arts.
DEC 09-JAN 10 | ArtSeen
In 1979, 10 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Jean-Francois Lyotard characterized the condition of postmodernism as the end of grand narratives. These included Marxism, analytical philosophy, structural anthropology, you name it: if it had a telos, a Hegelian destiny, or any type of historical vector, its autopsy was written in The Postmodern Condition.
MAR 2008 | ArtSeen
For hundreds of years, artists did everything in their control to refine their studio practices to achieve a singularity of style and technique.
MAY 2008 | ArtSeen
Reaper, an acrylic with collage, is especially suggestive, with a moon looming over an eerie shack and a slumped pine tree. Its dusky, ominous tone feels counterintuitive given the unassuming nature of its pictorial vocabularya fact that speaks to Tenniss control of this language and the latent expressive power of his materials.
JUL-AUG 2008 | ArtSeen
Infinitely Small Disasters, Darina Karpovs second show with Pierogi, expands on the technical ambition and scale of her last exhibition there just 16 months ago.
OCT 2008 | ArtSeen
When I first saw Alejandro Almanza Peredas precariously arranged constructions a few years ago, I remember thinking that he must have been the kind of kid who tortured his mother by rollerskating around the pool with scissors in his hands, drinking Coca-Cola and eating pop rocks.
DEC 08-JAN 09 | ArtSeen
Since the 1960s, certain portions of the conceptual art world have been on a mission to emancipate arts intellectual essence from its corporeal burdento make art into pure idea. Lucy Lippard gave her account of this purging in her book, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972.
MAR 2007 | ArtSeen
A few weeks ago Ken Johnson wrote something in The Boston Globe about a show called Big Bang! Abstract Art for the 21st Century that stuck with me. According to the ex-New York Times critic, “Making art appear more meaningful and relevant by relating it to some other field of study is a strategy that’s become all too common among artists and curators of the postmodern era.”
APR 2007 | ArtSeen
Tradition, community, and their preservation are sticky subjects for artists in the 21st century. The communication, trade, and information networks that encourage interaction among once isolated cultures have engendered a pervasive sense of ambivalence.
MAY 2007 | ArtSeen
I always make this joke that if a fly were to land on a Robert Ryman painting, the dramatic effect would be almost Wagnerian. Dave Hickey ascribes a similar phenomenon to Andy Warhol’s short film, Haircut No 1, when the protagonist lights up a cigarette after being shornan otherwise meaningless gesture that in this case explodes with all the pop of the last ten minutes of a Michael Bay movie.
JUL-AUG 2007 | ArtSeen
In my original notes covering the Basel art circus, I emphasized what, in retrospect, seems a tired take on the art fair phenomenon.
OCT 2007 | ArtSeen
Robert Whitman is part of a bygone generation of artists who sought to cleanse art of the commodification and commercialization that befell the art world in the heyday of Abstract Expressionism.
DEC 07-JAN 08 | ArtSeen
Curated by Sarah Lookofsky and Lillian Fellman, Land Grab at Apex Art looks at how contemporary artists are responding to issues of land use as it becomes more scarce and expensive.
APR 2006 | ArtSeen
Well Read, curated by Christopher Howard and currently showing at Nurture Art in Brooklyn, aims to explore “the cognition and understanding of visual signs.”
MAY 2006 | ArtSeen
I recently had the chance to see the David Smith retrospective at the Guggenheim and left feeling slightly dissatisfied. After my exit I spent a few hours trying to wrap my mind around the reasons why.
JUN 2006 | ArtSeen
Judging by the look of the eerie outcropping of debris that comprises “Panic Grass and Feverfew” (2006), Jon Elliot has a pessimistic outlook for the future of the environment.
SEPT 2006 | ArtSeen
London-based artist Clare Gasson uses sound as her primary medium, but she is far from what most gallery goers would consider a “sound artist.” Even so, her first New York exhibition at Parker’s Box—with its cradles of headphones, formations of speakers, and ample darkness—serves up all the preliminary indications that might get her work falsely accused.
OCT 2006 | ArtSeen
September in the art world has looked so far like what it is every year: an exercise in Dionysian excess. But thankfully, miles away from the clamor in Chelsea, HOLIDAY, has gone ahead with its modest business-as-usual from a converted garage on the outskirts of Williamsburg.
NOV 2006 | ArtSeen
Much is made of Raoul De Keyser’s belated recognition in the United States, and to a slightly lesser degree, by the art world in general. Although it is unfortunate that it took so long for him to receive the attention he deserves, it is also not hard to understand.
JUL-AUG 2005 | ArtSeen
Of the large supply of concrete subject matter available to contemporary painters, nothing is more literal than text. And no concrete form does a better job of transferring meaning to an image than a sequence of letters that make up a word.
NOV 2005 | ArtSeen
If you ask Roland Flexner, he will adamantly deny being anything so categorically limiting as a “process artist,” despite the ingenious mark making events using blown bubbles of soap, ink, and water he has come to be known for. He’s not playing coy about the sexy forms that emerge in his art—these methods are the journey for him, not the destination.
DEC 05-JAN 06 | ArtSeen
The relationship between painting and architecture through the years has been a fruitful one. In its adolescence, modern art embraced the mathematical regularity and geometric precision of suspension bridges and steel-frame skyscrapers for their formal and symbolic potential.
OCT 2004 | ArtSeen
Unless youve been avoiding television for the past twenty years, youve probably seen more fake weddings than real ones. Theyre everywhere, virtually, and virtually everywhere.
MAR 2011 | ArtSeen
In 2011, the art world will make a rare appearance at the Academy Awards, and not in the guise of the stereotypically brooding lothario painter or tiny-dog-clutching patrician art collector.
MAY 2011 | ArtSeen
Slugging, Neil Farbers second exhibition at Edward Thorp, supplies an ample helping of the tragicomic faux-folk art fantasies weve come to associate with his work, though the degree to which they are intuited or calculated by the artist will start heated debatesor reignite old onesamong viewers
OCT 2011 | ArtSeen
Unlike most visual art exhibitions, which tend to avoid discrete liminal moments of beginning, Mike Womacks current show at ZieherSmith literally takes place on the other side of an unambiguous and quasi-magical threshold.
MAR 2010 | ArtSeen
Every day, I pick up The New York Times from my stoop, slide it out of its blue sheath, unfold it, and scan the headlines as I weave back inside my apartment. The headlines are always there, big news day or small, with a uniform urgency.
JUNE 2010 | ArtSeen
In a recent essay titled D.I.Y. Culture in the New York Times, Michael Kimmelman argued that the fluid exchange of information inaugurated by the age of globalization isnt homogenizing world cultures as many expected it would, but rather tribalizing them.
SEPT 2010 | ArtSeen
It was so hot last week that my phone sent me a message that it was overheating. I had no idea it was capable of either overheating or alerting me of its feelings, but, whatever its degree of sentience, it was only confirming what most of New York had already arrived at.
NOV 2010 | ArtSeen
Against the consistent attack of Mondrian and Picasso, Leider booms, Americans had only an art of half-truths, lacking all conviction. The best artists began to yield rather than kick against the pricks.
FEB 2009 | ArtSeen
It is somewhat unclear whether the exhibitions by Vlatka Horvat and Sara Greenberger Rafferty at the Kitchen were conceived as separate shows, or as independent efforts that, as curated by Matthew Lyons, just happen to work well together.
MARCH 2009 | ArtSeen
The history of the moving image is a history written by victors. The victors were electricians: Maxwell, Westinghouse, Marconi, et al.
MAY 2009 | ArtSeen
If time permitted, I would have written an essay this month about the glorification of youth and cool by the art press, through the lens of the Younger Than Jesus show at the New Museum.
SEPT 2009 | ArtSeen
For the first time in six years I will get to spend the inaugural Thursday of the art season as one of the yahoos I used to serve wine to as a gallery employee. After 15 years, the gallery I worked at closed, one of a number of high-profile casualties of last years art market. Anyone whos had feet in both the commercial and the critical worlds, as I did, recognizes the stark difference between the two.
NOV 2009 | ArtSeen
My ten-year old version of Microsoft Word doesnt recognize the word curate. Because its been underlining the term for as long Ive been writing it, Ive always assumed that curate was a wonky piece of jargon bandied about by no one but art nerds.
FEB 2008 | ArtSeen
A few weeks ago I took on a challenge to list ten good young abstract painters. It turned out to be more difficult than it sounded. I mulled the idea over for several days with little success. Later that week I went to to see Before and Aftermath, an exhibition of abstract paintings and drawings by Robert Jack. It didnt fatten the list, but it did shed some light on the issue.
APR 2008 | ArtSeen
On March 6, Marcel Dzamas anticipated exhibition, Even the Ghost of the Past, opened at David Zwirner, marking the cresting of the neo-folk floodwaters. His work, once groundbreaking and as fresh as the air in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where hes from, now looks more familiar than ever.
JUN 2008 | ArtSeen
Hes gone a bit more abstract this time, but Tomory Dodges six large-scale paintings at CRG will be immediately recognizable to those familiar with his work. There are no rock outcroppings, cacti, or icebergs, but his painterly trademarks are all over: gradated, sky-colored backgrounds traversed by rainbow thatches of striated oil paint.
SEPT 2008 | ArtSeen
Art world insiders have a peculiar relationship with the notion of mainstream popularity. On one hand they hope that art as a cultural force can have a significant impact on the consciousness of a larger public; and on the other they disparage anything that seems like pandering to a general audience. So whats an ambitious artist to do?
NOV 2008 | ArtSeen
If you asked someone in 1920 to name the most famous people in the United States, they would have come up with names like Thomas Edison and William Randolph Hearst, Rudolf Valentino and Clara Bow. You wouldve heard Will Rogerss name next to Amelia Earharts; Louise Brookss next to F. Scott Fitzgeralds.
FEB 2007 | ArtSeen
I had already been to a series of openings in Chelsea by the time I arrived at Sunday on the Lower East Side to see the late Vermont artist Gayleen Aiken’s work.
MAR 2007 | ArtSeen
The press release that accompanies Nancy Radloff’s solo debut at Outrageous Look features a conversation between Gallery Director Brook Bartlett and the artist. It deals matter-of-factly with the artist’s bout of mental illness as a student at Cal Arts.
APR 2007 | ArtSeen
Merrill Wagner’s art has always connected to nature: in her plein air paintings the connection is direct, while in her better-known steel, rock and wood constructions, it’s more oblique.
JUN 2007 | ArtSeen
Theres something immediately familiar about Kristen Schieles cycle of paintings at New General Catalog in Greenpoint: fragmented, architectural interiors scrubbed into medium-sized canvases with stylish, tongue-in-cheek recklessness, and enveloped by kaleidoscopic color schemes resembling a Black Forest fairy tale cloaked in moonlight.
SEPT 2007 | ArtSeen
Remember when curators were content to take a passive role in the art world, when they were agents and administrators of creativity rather than producers in their own right?
NOV 2007 | ArtSeen
Art fairs and their related spectacles are growing more commercial and frenzied with each new city I visit. In reality, the fairs in London during October probably werent any more maddening than Basel, but the effect is cumulative, like mercury in your blood.
FEB 2006 | ArtSeen
Visitors squirm and maneuver through the bottlenecked interior of Dam Stuhltragers cavernous, irregular galleries. Its cold outside, crowded and stuffy inside. You can smell the person next to you and see the places they missed shaving.
APR 2006 | ArtSeen
Some speak of the ambling “figure eight,” a disinterested gallerygoer makes when entering an exhibition en route to quickly exiting.
JUN 2006 | ArtSeen
In the wake of the hubbub surrounding John McCains controversial commencement speech at the New School this past weekend, my stray thoughts were already preoccupied by the state of Americas divisive culture wars.
JUL-AUG 2006 | ArtSeen
One thing that we have learned from Walter Benjamin is that any coherent and organically developing artistic movement will end up reentering the mainstream as a stylized version of the original impulse. For all their earnest optical scrutiny, the Impressionists seem forever associated with the reproductions of their work that decorate apartment walls and dentists’ offices around the world.
OCT 2006 | ArtSeen
The gripe many skeptics have with computer-based art is that the medium often takes precedence over the message. VertexList, a gallery in Williamsburg devoted to new media art, is wary of this pitfall, and aims to harness the expressive power of technology without drawing excessive attention to the method of delivery.
NOV 2006 | ArtSeen
Imagine yourself in a summer cottage somewhere in the north woods of Wisconsin, unlatching the doors and windows for a new season. It is twilight, and shafts of light are peeling in from the fading Edenic sunset. Children giggle in the distance. The oak trees outside cast their shimmering silhouettes on the interior walls.
DEC 06-JAN 07 | ArtSeen
In an ambitious and unlikely collaboration between the Williamsburg galleries Sideshow and Holland Tunnel, artists Jan Mulder and Bix Lye initially seem as oddly paired as the hosting galleries themselves. Lyes smooth, streamlined sculptures stand in stark contrast to Mulders atmospheric, washy landscape-inspired abstract paintings. Likewise, Holland Tunnels famously intimate space is an almost comical partner to Sideshows spacious interior.
OCT 2005 | ArtSeen
Karoly has indeed been making art about art for decades, and, while “Smart Art” has been reduced to a formula by some, the prevailing economic contradictions that inspired such critiques haven’t dissipated.
NOV 2005 | ArtSeen
Above the din of chatter and clinking espresso spoons from the coffee shop in the Brooklyn Public Librarys atrium, several constructions by Micki Watanabe sit quietly and inconspicuously behind glass on the second floor.
JUL-AUG 2004 | ArtSeen
Summer is here, and with it that most unpredictable of beasts: the summer group show. Our chances for variety, new blood, and new ideas increases along with poorly conceived afterthoughts and sticky hot opening receptions.