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