Doug McClemont’s Top Ten Shows for March

A Pair of Group Shows at Andrea Rosen

The main gallery is currently home to “Cultural Production,” a conceptual group show of artists that includes works by Hanne Darboven, Josephine Meckseper, Alexandre Singh and Allen Ruppersberg. Darboven’s seminal work with grids is the first thing the gallery visitor encounters, and its austere but somehow poignant references to childhood and the passage of time set the tone for the exhibition. In the second gallery is a wonderfully naughty little show featuring such heavy hitters as Hans Bellmer, Llyn Foulkes, John Currin, Robert Heinecken and Hannah Wilke. Any image of Bellmer’s Poupée is a memorable experience, and an ink doodle on paper of a woman masturbating by Currin continues the female nudity theme.  Wilke’s work has never felt timelier. But being a longtime Duchamp aficionado, I found myself returning to his 1947 solitary latex boobie entitled Priere de toucher (Please touch), this version one that had been gifted to Man Ray. A group show that will titillate any student of art history.
Through March 24th

Cindy Sherman at Museum of Modern Art
It’s Cindy. It’s a retrospective. What more do we need to know? Although one can quibble with the relative lack of riskier choices from Sherman’s oeuvre, MoMA has mounted a spectacular exhibition highlighting one of the most important photographers of all time.  It was not too long ago–1995–that MoMA purchased the sole remaining intact set of Untitled Film Stills for a cool million dollars.  Strange now to think that it seemed like a lot of money for photography at the time. Not to be missed.
Through June 11th

The Big Toe at Wallspace
It would be difficult not to be charmed by this oozy, corporeal group exhibition. The title is a reference to Bataille’s assertion that despite the vital role our feet play in walking erect, the part of our body that remains in contact with the filthy earth is the big toe. As evolved humans, therefore, we can’t avoid a perverse attraction to the low and the ugly. Daniel Gordon’s scrappy body part images are still fresh and compelling, and Johannes VanDerBeek’s Sky Impressions are rich abstractions created with acrylic and foam. Harry Dodge contributes a suite of new acrylic and ballpoint pen drawings that has themes including indigestion and politics.  Martha Friedman’s giant tongue sculptures (which I’ve always been partial to) steal the show. This time, the artist’s cast green and pink silicone slurpers have been dipped in concrete, as if to further claim their monolithic status.  Also in the exhibition are winning works by Gaylen Gerber (with Adrian Schiess), Talia Chetrit, and Melodie Mouset.
Through March 24th

Adel Abdessemed at David Zwirner
Titled “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf”, the exhibition of new works by Abdessemed is striking for its stark (and expensively fabricated) sculptural interventions. Though I’m vociferously dismissive of anything resembling bullshit Catholic baggage, Abdessemed’s cross-less Christ figures made of razor wire are so well conceived as to be striking. At once a reference to the violence and the solitude of the figure’s death, the works are hung low to the ground; it’s as if they are sagging under their own weight and suffering. The artist’s Hope (2011-2012) is an actual refugee boat found off the coast of Florida. In place of endangered human beings are cast black bags of trash.
Through March 17th.

Charles Atlas at Luhring Augustine-Bushwick
For the inaugural exhibition in its Brooklyn space, Luhring Augustine has wisely selected recent work by video pioneer Charles Atlas.  Atlas, who can boast of nearly forty years of masterpieces from his collaborations with legendary performers such as Leigh Bowery, Michael Clark, and Merce Cunningham, is certainly experiencing a much-deserved resurgence of interest in his work. A solo exhibition at The New Museum last year and inclusion in this year’s Whitney Biennial are just a few of his recent happenings.  The spectacular installation at Luhring Augustine includes the newest video, Painting by Numbers, which must be seen and savored. The show will be up until May of this year, so there is no reason to let this exhibition pass you by. Make it a point to take the L train to witness the past, present and the future collide.
Through May 20th

Gran Fury at New York University
Gran Fury was a collective of fierce AIDS activists and artists that included Donald Moffett, Mark Simpson, Marlene McCarty and Loring McAlpin. The group came about as an offshoot of the activism in the 1990s that included ACT  UP, and the work addressed not only the lack of queer visibility but the post-Reagan vortex of harmful AIDS drugs such as AZT. Whenever I attended ACT UP meetings during those years, there were brilliantly stylized handouts and posters that succinctly and handsomely confronted the crisis. Although NYU remains a hydra-like bane on the existence of many of us still living in downtown New York, (skirting building regulations while lording over its massive real estate holdings) the university deserves credit for the historically important installations it frequently houses.  Whether the images will evoke admiration or melancholy, this tribute to Gran Fury’s public singular public awareness blitz is one of the most important shows of the year.

Through March 17th at 80 Washington Square East

“The Steins Collect” at The Metropolitan Museum
If the cliché “an embarrassment of riches,” was ever necessary, it is to describe the collection of masterpieces amassed by eldest brother Michael Stein, Gertrude and her brother Leo, with whom she shared a studio at 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris. The many works by Matisse and Picasso on display are as familiar as old friends, as the Steins’ collection was so seminal that it has been studied and reproduced for nearly a century.  Though still debated, history tells us that it was Leo, an artist himself, who had the real “eye” for talent and not his famous writer sister.  After their final falling out, Gertrude chose to keep the bulk of the Picassos and Leo got the Matisses. The Met has put together one of the most exciting portrait shows in recent memory. Don’t miss the “actual size” gallery with projections of the Steins’ collection hung salon style and in a constant state of flux as new acquisitions are placed.
Through June 3rd

Michael Scoggins at Freight and Volume
The artist revivifies junior high school doodles on crumpled, classic notebook in large scale, all of which evoke hilarity and nostalgia in equal measure. Scoggins’s previous work in this style often reminded us just how insignificant adolescent concerns could be. For the current exhibition, entitled “Us Against Them (The War between the Classes)” he turns this notion on its head by making his unseen young artist alter ego into a politically aware—if brainwashed and misguided—kind of flag-waver wannabe.  I Promise I’ll Be a Better Patriot (2012) is apparently some kind of (self-imposed?) punishment, and Commies Everywhere (2012) a paranoid tribute.  They share the gallery with the artist’s cutout imaginings of GI Joe-type soldiers in battle scenes. With lower case penmanship, Scoggins makes art that cracks on the art world, the government and every kind of bully in power.
Through April 7th

Group Show at Marlborough
An accessible show of paintings from the gallery’s collection. The exhibition, as the gallery states, “explores the enduring convergence of pop-culture imagery, art historical conventions, and pure painterly concerns,” and includes works by Katherine Bernhardt, Alistair Frost, R.B. Kitaj, Larry Rivers, Max Schumann and Michael Williams.  Straightforward with rich juxtapositions.
Through March 24th

Wardell Milan at Louis B. James
Despite exhibiting extensively for years, Milan is, in my opinion, still very much underappreciated. A draughtsman with an edge, the artist has created memorable works such as his “Drawings of Harlem” series and depictions of wrestling dwarves. For the current exhibition at Louis B. James Gallery, Milan presents his charcoal on paper depictions of female bodybuilders.  Race, gender and notions of sexuality and power are tackled with a minimum of markings in a unique style that mashes-up verticals and horizontals to great effect.
Through April 14th


About the author

Doug McClemont is a writer, curator and critic and the New York correspondent for Saatchi Online's magazine. He has contributed essays to several monographs on contemporary art, and his writing appears in publications from ARTNews to Publisher’s Weekly. As the former editor-in-chief of the infamous magazine HONCHO, he has been the subject of profiles in Time Out New York and Frieze. You can now following Doug on twitter @duggworld


  1. some very nice works ……….

  2. Doug says:

    I would love to see the steins collect
    I just watched a dvd ‘matisse picasso film by phillippe kohly
    I enjoyed it more than i had expected too. I love that m n p had each other to challenge themselves intellectually.
    The stein siblings were also in the film.
    Wish nyork was 5 mins away/around the corner from melbournetown

  3. mabonnetoile says:

    Dear  ,

    now this wonderfull exhibition,”The Steins Collect;Matisse,Picasso,Cezanne and the Parisian Avant Garde” in NewYork at the Metropolitan Museum of Art ,is over .

    It was a little more than twelve months the Steins’s Year .Perhaps more than one million visitors in the five exhibitions .

    What a pleasure to see the portrait of Gertrude Stein by Riba-Rovira .

    Who was as Picasso an antifascist and antinazi artist .Persecuted by Franco and the Nazis .And he is in this exhibition ,thanks to Rebecca Rabinow and Edward Burns.
    So Riba-Rovira is beside Tchelitchew and Balthus and Francis Rose near Picabia and Picasso in the last room of this exhibition with Cézanne, Matisse .

    You have an interesting article in Appollo London Revew about him .And also in Artes Magazine from San Francisco where the exhibition was before .

    The main revelation is in the mention beside the picture with the Preface Gertrude Stein wrote for first Riba-Rovira’s exhibition in the Galerie Roquepine in Paris on 1945 .

    Where we can read Gertrude Stein writing Riba-Rovira “will go farther than Cezanne…will succeed in where Picasso failed…I am fascinated ” by Riba-Rovira Gertrude Stein tells us .

    And you are you also fascinated indeed as Gertrude Stein by Riba-Rovira ?
    Me I am when I see « L’Arlequin » on the free access website of « Galeria Muro ».

    Gertrude Stein spoke in this same document not only Picasso and Cezanne but also Matisse and  Juan Gris .
    Riba-Rovira went each week in Gertrude Stein’s saloon rue Christine with Masson, Hemingway and others. By Edward Burns and Carl Van Vechten we can know Riba-Rovira did others portraits of Gertrude Stein .

    But we do not know where they are ;and you do you know perhaps ?

    With this portrait we do not forget it is the last time Gertrude Stein sat for an artist who is Riba-Rovira .Picasso the first .
    This exhibition presents us a world success with this last painting portrait before she died .And her last Gertrude Stein’s Art Retrospective before dead .

    It illuminates the tone as an esthetic light over that exhibition now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York thanks to Curator Rebecca Rabinow .
    Coming from San Francisco “Seeing five stories” in the Jewish museum to Washington in National Portrait Gallery .And after Paris, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York for our pleasure .

    And the must is to see for the first time in the same place portraits by Picasso, Picabia, Riba-Rovira, Rose ,Tall-Coat, Valloton .Never before it was .

    You have the translate of Gertrude Stein’s Riba-Rovira Preface on english Gertrude Stein’s page on Wikipedia and in the catalog of this Roquepine exhibition you can see in first place the mention of this portrait .And also other pictures Gertrude Stein bought to Riba-Rovira .
    There is another place where you can see now Riba-Rovira’s works in an exhibition in Valencia in Spain “Homenage a Gertrude Stein” by Riba-Rovira in Galeria Muro ,if you like art …

    We do not missed today that all over Europe a very bad wind is blowing again bringing the worth in front of us .And we must know that at least were two antinazis and antifascists in this exhibition but the only one fighting weapons in hands would be Riba-Rovira who did one of the first three « affiches » supporting Republicans in the beguining Spanish civil war .

    Seeing the Portrait of Gertrude Stein by Riba-Rovira in the Metropolitain Museum of New York with Picasso ,Cézanne ,Matisse we feel a recreation of spirit .

  4. mabonnetoile says:

    Stein’s preface to the exhibition by Francisco Riba Rovira at Roquepine Gallery in May 1945:[72]
    It is inevitable that when we really need someone we find him. The person you need attracts you like a magnet. I returned to Paris, after these long years spent in the countryside and I needed a young painter, a young painter who would awaken me. Paris was magnificent, but where was the young painter? I looked everywhere: at my contemporaries and their followers. I walked a lot, I looked everywhere, in all the galleries, but the young painter was not there. Yes, I walk a lot, a lot at the edge of the Seine where we fish, where we paint, where we walk dogs (I am of those who walk their dogs). Not a single young painter!
    One day, on the corner of a street, in one of these small streets in my district, I saw a man painting. I looked at him; at him and at his painting, as I always look at everybody who creates something I have an indefatigable curiosity to look and I was moved. Yes, a young painter!
    We began to speak, because we speak easily, as easily as in country roads, in the small streets of the district. His story was the sad story of the young people of our time. A young Spaniard who studied in fine arts in Barcelona: civil war; exile; a concentration camp; escape. Gestapo, another prison, another escape… Eight lost years! If they were lost, who knows? And now a little misery, but all the same the painting. Why did I find that it was him the young painter, why? I visited his drawings, his painting: we speak.
    I explained that for me, all modern painting is based on what Cézanne nearly made, instead of basing itself on what he almost managed to make. When he could not make a thing, he hijacked it and left it. He insisted on showing his incapacity: he spread his lack of success: showing what he could not do, became an obsession for him. People influenced by him were also obsessed by the things which they could not reach and they began the system of camouflage. It was natural to do so, even inevitable: that soon became an art, in peace and in war, and Matisse concealed and insisted at the same time on that Cézanne could not realize, and Picassoconcealed, played and tormented all these things.
    The only one who wanted to insist on this problem, was Juan Gris. He persisted by deepening the things which Cézanne wanted to do, but it was too hard a task for him: it killed him.
    And now here we are, I find a young painter who does not follow the tendency to play with what Cézanne could not do, but who attacks any right the things which he tried to make, to create the objects which have to exist, for, and in themselves, and not in relation.
    This young painter has his weaknesses and his strengths. His force will push him in this road. I am fascinated and that is why he is the young painter who I needed. He is Francisco Riba Rovira.
    Gertrude Stein
    (from Wikipedia and Yale University)


Leave a Comment