"The Manhattan Art Review"
Artist @ Gallery - Suggested whisky pairing
Jana Euler @ Artists Space - Springbank 12 Cask Strength
Concerning Superfluities @ Essex Street vs. Georgie Nettell @ Reena Spaulings - ES: I don't think Shakers drank alcohol RS: A sort of cold Budweiser at an opening
Alex Da Corte @ Karma - Edradour Fairy Flag
Florian Pumhösl @ Miguel Abreu - Macallan 12
Robert D. Scott @ The Middler - Bruichladdich Classic Laddie
The Manhattan Art Book Review
Andrea Fraser: Collected Interviews 1990-2018
William Copley - The New York Years - Kasmin Gallery - ****
Copley is someone who was in the right place at the right time, not as a member of a movement but as an understudy of the previous one. The show's texts and posted quotes such as this one make much of his having learned from Duchamp and his other illustrious elders, and of being historically and geographically located between Surrealism and Pop art without being a member of either, which makes for an odd mental acrobatic to try to approach him on his own terms. Nevertheless you have to, because neither movement does much to clarify his work. If anything, he seems to be one of the very few unafflicted artists, or rather, one of the few unafflicted artists of talent. With a mentor like Duchamp to explain the secrets of art to him, he could pursue his work without the usual anxieties of the artist: of history, of subject, of material, of concept, etc., anxieties fundamental to Duchamp's own work. It's probably for this reason that Copley's work is "scarcely 'major,'" as Peter Schjeldahl notes in his 1971 review included in the press release. His subjects, images lifted from porn, images lifted from the Sears catalog, illustrating the writings of Robert W. Service, the perennial female nude, are the ideas of a relaxed man, someone who comes up with paintings as lackadaisically as one picks flowers. This isn't bad, of course, it's just to say that his work is good, pleasurable, tasteful, clever, and completely unconcerned with the avant-garde, the conceptual, the devastating, or the sublime.
Gene Beery - Transmissions From Logoscape Ranch - Bodega - ****.5
"There's too much art in this show, and I want more." In this post-canonical art world everyone wants to dig up an obscure genius from the past because that's having it both ways; it's fresh work but with the historical gravitas you usually only get from those big institutional shows of artists everyone already knows backwards and forwards. Unlike most shows that try this maneuver, Beery holds up under scrutiny. It's kind of astonishing that, in a room literally packed with his little meta-art dad jokes on canvas, none of them come off as cloying or forced. He really crafted his own micro-current of Minimalism out of little more than making fun of the grandiloquence of the arts (though he knows how to paint, with great precision and economy, when he feels like it), and, even more impressively, has kept it up out in the middle of nowhere since before 1980.
Jutta Koether - 4 the Team - Lévy Gorvy - ****
Similar to the Poledna show, this feels burdened by the weight of European history/art history. Naturally, she's a good painter, but the newer paintings feel a bit neutralized, or even escapist. The references to Renaissance art and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are more like a cop-out than a propulsive idea, as if her career progresses by its own inertial force and she's grabbing at ideas so she can keep up with it, a feeling I don't get from the older works in the show. I mean, I'm definitely nitpicking because the work is good, and I feel a little guilty for being so harsh. There's just something about art in the Upper East Side that's a bit declawed and unthreatening and it bothers me.
Christopher Williams - Footwear (Adapted for Use) - David Zwirner - *****
Having said that, this show escapes the malaise of wealth in the Upper East Side. Maybe I'm biased, I love Christopher Williams. The archivist's artist, his work is all about perceptual sensitivity and attention to detail, which is the fundamental quality of art, in my opinion. The artist's problem is to construct a system that allows them to exercise their attentiveness, and he's the most minutely attentive artist I know of. An anecdote I overheard while I was in the gallery: One of the photos is of a drawer of discarded espresso grounds, which is from the cafe below Williams' apartment in Cologne. He looked at the drawer every day and wanted to photograph it, but since he's too obsessive to take the photo in situ he settled on a solution with the cafe where he bought them a new drawer, took the old one to his studio, had a replica of the cafe counter built, and took the picture. He's perfect. I could go on, but I'll spare you my gushing. Like I keep telling people, photography is the future.
Mathias Poledna - Indifference - Galerie Buchholz - ****
This was weird for me, like maybe I'm outgrowing my Yale Union roots, but this kind of austere northern European high-class/brow neo-minimalism doesn't get me off like it used to. It's intelligent, it's tasteful, it's beautiful, but is it enough? The front room is a collection of very simple line drawings but good, unlike that Florian Pumhösl show, the middle room is a short film of a man in a World War I officer's uniform (drinking in a beautiful bar, standing by a beautiful fountain, falling down in front of a beautiful building, with a beautiful Romantic music soundtrack), the back room is a collection of framed pages from a manual for a printing press, which have a lot of beautiful illustrative photos. It's all very much a lament for the lost grandeur of Belle Époque Europe, not flagrant nostalgia but nostalgia nonetheless. I think, at root, my discomfort is a sense of moneyed impotence. The actor in the film is Alain Delon's son, Galerie Buchholz, the Upper East Side... It's smart but it's aristocratic, and for that reason it can't solve any of our problems, it just yearns for a time when we could ignore them.
Donald Judd - Judd in Two Dimensions: Fifteen Drawings - Mignoni - ***.5
Water from a stone, as they say, and Judd is a genius of that, of course. The gallery is trying very hard to pass off these drawings as compelling because they reveal the artist's hand, but if the artist's hand is drawing straight lines with a ruler it's not that compelling. There's an interesting kind of rhyme between this and the Poledna show, like line drawings are the spirit of the UES or something.
Good Luck - Shrine - ***.5
I don't know what to say, not in a bad way because the work mostly ranges from pretty good to very good. The problem is the show feels more like a cross between a benefit auction and an antique shop, so I can't make sense of what's happening. It even draws an interesting through line between outsider art, expressionism, and vaguely street/graffiti art, but really, was this some kind of fundraiser? There are 18 artists and everyone has 2-4 works in the show, in one room! Chill out!
Trevor Shimizu - Landscapes - 47 Canal - *****
Some people just have it. I overheard at least three people at the opening say variations of "Wow, Trevor's a Real Painter." The obvious comparison is Monet's water lilies, which is too obvious on one level but totally spot on on a few more. One, after being challenging and avant-garde through your 20s and 30s, you've earned the right to pivot to "wow, nature is beautiful" when you're in your 40s, and two, whereas your average reference to Monet is facile and literal, the work has a level of purely painterly impressionism where you can compare the two without blushing. Standing confidently underneath the weight of history, is there a better criterion of success in 2020?
Kim Gordon - The Bonfire - 303 Gallery - *
Charles Burchfield - Solitude - DC Moore Gallery - ***.5
Burchfield's best landscapes convey lush verdure so intensely that they're psychedelic. Everything in this show is a winter landscape though, I guess because it's winter? His straightforward paintings are a little bland, which are most of the ones here, and the more visionary ones are pretty good but not near his best. Not bad by any stretch but he can be so much better.
Gothic Spirit: Medieval Art From Europe - Luhring Augustine - *****
Hell yeah I'm biased, this rules. I'll give 5 stars to any show with a Romanesque capital in it.
Laurie Anderson, Robert Barry, Dan Graham, Joseph Kosuth, Gordon Matta-Clark, Dennis Oppenheim, Martha Rosler, Allen Ruppersberg, Alexis Smith, William Wegman - Conceptual Photography - Marlborough - ****
Cute and funny, makes you nostalgic for "those headier days." But the works develop interest not so much in themselves as they do as a group of documents of what must have been a very fun period of time. I do love that Dan Graham though.
Max Ernst - Collages - Kasmin - ***.5
Also cute. Stoner logic before the hippies ruined it for the rest of us.
Mathieu Malouf - The Fairy Godmother - Greene Naftali - ***.5
Edgelord art is, in spite of itself, the mean-spirited cousin of Institutional Critique in that both methodologies end up being more "about" art than actually "being" art. Mathieu's recent shows had been a victim of this tendency; his sense of humor works on Instagram but makes a dull thud as installation art. So this return to painting is a good call, he's taking the piss less than he has in years and the results are pretty good, heaping appropriately demented masses of pop-high-low cultural imagery into a nauseous pile. He didn't paint them himself though, which, call me old fashioned, reduces the appeal, and my painter friend pointed out that it all looks a lot like Jana Euler.
Beauty Can Be the Opposite of a Number - Bureau - ****.5
Unlike most art these days, this show has joie de vivre. Quintessa's drunk painting successfully approaches the painterly disorientation of classic cubism, Libby's sculptures aestheticize the mundane (bathrooms, single digits), as should we all, the video is funny, the other paintings are smart, funny, or both, Peter Hujar's photos aestheticize the mundane (animals on the farm). It's refreshing to be reminded that group shows can be good, make sense, not feel arbitrary, etc. It's almost like intelligently curating intelligent work makes that fog of ambivalence hanging over the art world go away...
Merlin Carpenter - Paint-It-Yourself - Reena Spaulings - **
Remember when I mentioned art not having joie de vivre these days? This is what I was talking about. It's kind of a funny joke, but the press release undercuts the joke with a sad attempt at self-justification, which doesn't make it any less stupid but less funny. Impotent cynicism masquerading as a critique. That's the problem with making a career out of being an edgelord, you end up stuck in your own stupid joke long after you're tired of telling it. Probably the most interesting part of the show is how badly it reflects on the crowd who painted the canvases at the opening.
Raza Kazmi - Dread Circumference - Interstate Projects - **.5
The moth wing suspended by some fancy technology I don't understand is nice but the rest doesn't quite satisfy. That Chomsky drawing in particular is something the curator should have shut down. The artist is clearly working hard, but as a set of works it doesn't quite cohere into anything. I'm not sure if this is stuck in 2016 or if it's up-to-date but too Berlin for me, but I suspect the former. I don't review solo shows by my friends but I will say that Sofia Sinibaldi's show upstairs has a much more compelling sensibility with its handling of technology, in no small part because it's not digital. The Virtual is dead, long live the Real.
Max Schumann - Tonight Where You Live - 3A Gallery - ****
The political undertones are a little.... Boomer-y? But the paintings are dumbly iterative in a charming way (painted with house paint, prices painted in the lower right corner). The weatherman ones are beautiful. And if any of the $25 fighter jet paintings were still available I would have bought one.
Erin Jane Nelson - Shekinah - Chapter NY - **
Ugh, reminds me of all the organic farming people I knew in college. I'm all for tactility and herbs, but not like this. Just not my vibe, sorry.
Marie Karlberg - Illusion and Reality - Tramps - **
Funny, but not funny enough. Mocking the art world from securely within the art world, plenty of knowingness but nowhere near enough irony. Sure, they're playacting, but I don't get the sense that any of these people are really any different from their act, so what's the commentary? It's like how Woody Allen is a middlebrow satirist of the middlebrow; making fun of your own milieu just makes you think you're smarter than your peers when you're not. And Allen is more clever, a Frank Stella with a paint ass-print on it feels like someone laughing at their own bad joke.
Bill Hayden - Bar Idioto - Svetlana - ****.5
The drawings are good, very good actually. A very potent sort of psychedelic Neo-Piranesi feeling. The coat racks feel like an afterthought by an artist who feels uncomfortable doing a show without an installation element, but I guess it fills out the room and I like that it's stupid and frivolous. The "quitting art to start a bar" press release is funny too.
Shannon Cartier Lucy - Home is a crossword puzzle I can't solve - Lubov - ***
She's a good painter, which I like, and there's clearly a connection to Balthus, which I like. But where Balthus' greatest strength is his shamelessness, she demurs from taking things "too far", which is exactly what she should do.
Soshiro Matsubara - Haus der Matsubara - Brennan & Griffin - **.5
A pleasantly competent and not kitschy collection of found art: hobbyist cubism, a faux Leonora Carrington, dog's heads over pears, some modest sketches from life, even two very Body-Without-Organs-style paintings of collaged nude women's body parts and faces. The artist himself contributes four lamps draped with bubble wrap. Nice enough, but underscores the contemporary artist's need to appropriate authenticity from elsewhere because they can't provide it themselves.
Acquired On Ebay - Mitchell Algus Gallery - ***.5
It's funny this is on the same block as Brennan & Griffin because it's essentially the same thing, but the artists here are obscure (or not-so-obscure) rather than outsider, so they're credited, there's historical context, and there isn't an artist trying to pass off the curation as their own artwork.
Sam Lewitt - DREAMBOAT DIRTBLOCK - Miguel Abreu Gallery - ***
The caveat with "Abreu-core" theory art that is you can conceptualize all you want but it has to lead to art worth looking at. I didn't like the Lewitt show I saw a few years ago at Wattis Institute for that reason; the work was visually limp and underwhelming which made the accompanying theory feel overwrought. Most of this show looks a lot better, especially the lights on milled plexiglass thing. I'm not enough of a rationalist to find a pile of bricks interesting though.
"01102020" / Curated by Y2K Group - Fisher Parrish Gallery - *.5
The art itself is fine, but the press release and curation is terrible. Anti-curation is good when it's an active decision, not when you just don't have any ideas. And it gets really bad when they double down on "the concept of this show is that viewing art is subjective" AND some half-baked four years late stuff about living in a simulation (complete with a plot summary of The Matrix) which, naturally, has nothing to do with the art.
Danica Barboza, Jason Hirata, Yuki Kimura, Duane Linklater - Artists Space - ****
Post-conceptual lazy appropriation art is funny, Lomex "tweaker with glue" art isn't. .5 bonus for anti-curation.
But nobody showed up - Kai Matsumiya - **
From the press release I thought this might be interesting, but it was just horny, in the boring way.
David Lynch - Squeaky Flies in the Mud - Sperone Westwater - ***
Phill Niblock - Working Photos - Fridman Gallery - ***.5
Trisha Donnelly - Matthew Marks Gallery - ***
Lacks some of her usual je ne sais quoi.
Patricia L. Boyd - Me, not, not-me - Front Desk Apparatus - ***
Most of the show is stuff the artist's mother sent from her garden, plus a video of a to-do list. An art show about not having enough time to make art?
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