* "The Modern Myth: Drawing Mythologies in Modern Times" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/V to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). Mythological references in works on paper, spanning over 200 years and feat. artists not always known for their visual-representational tenacity. How ever will MoMA do it? w/ usual suspects and some nice surprises, incl. Odilon Redon, Mark Rothko, Richard Prince, Ana Mendieta, Paul Cezanne and Arshile Gorky.
* Dream Diary + Fluffy Lumbers + McDonalds @ Monster Island Basement / 128 River St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$7. Classic ToddP lineup here. We've got Dream Diary (feat. Madison, the singer/guitarist of rockin' duo Coasting), Fluffy Lumbers (Samuel Franklin, who drums and sings a la Phil Collins, w/ a full band), and the punkish McDonalds (Liam from caUSE co-MOTION!). w/ openers Free Kisses, perfect non?
* Total Slacker + Prince Rama @ Silent Barn / 9-15 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood (L to Halsey, M to Myrtle/Wyckoff), 8p/$7. If Monster Island didn't have such an overloadedly dope lineup, I'd be here. Slacker reverb-heavy indie + electronics paired w/ Hindustani devotional.
* Otto Dix @ Neue Galerie / 1018 Fifth Ave (456 to 86th St). 1st solo exhibit of the major German artist EVER in N. America. His particular style of portraiture, ranging from the wildly surreal to the lovingly emotive, is unparalleled — wittily rendered, graphically intense, spanning WWI, sexuality, religion, and of course the 'Golden Weimar Years'.
* "Unspecified Objects" Group Show @ Thierry Goldberg Projects / 5 Rivington St. Minimalist art — the show title is taken from Donald Judd's 1965 essay — reinterpreted w/ six contemporary voices. Like Jona Bechtolt (1/2 the band YACHT) and his animated test-pattern (Bruce Nauman?), Rashawn Griffin's 'nostalgia composites' (Joseph Beuys?), David Scanavino's pared-down sculpture (Walter de Maria?).
* Standard Fare @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (FV to 2nd Ave), 8p/$8. Twee as Standard Fare, you say?? Straight out of Sheffield, in town a few days before hitting SXSW. Don't miss these cuties! w/ Diehard (delish NY indie rock).
* Blissed Out + Miho Hatori + Fluffy Lumbers @ Market Hotel / 1142 Myrtle Ave, Bushwick (JMZ to Myrtle), 7p/$8.Let's take a trip. I mean, the inclusion of always-unpredictable Hatori just won me over. Now if only this didn't conflict w/ Standard Fare at Cake Shop...
* Rendez-Vous with French Cinema @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St). This unbearably chic festival of contemporary French cinema is back. I warned you last week to begin reserving your shows, b/c 1) this is a very popular film festival (IMO, third to New York Film Festival and NYAFF) and 2) Film Society members were already reserving their tix since the last week of Feb. So go at it. THRU MAR 21
* "\ (Lean)" @ Nicole Klagsbrun / 526 W 26th St #213. Sometimes my pre-review write-ups create themselves, spontaneously, based on superb lineups. Hence: Susan Collis, Robert Gober, Adam McEwen, Gedi Sibony, Nari Ward, Matthew Day Jackson, Richard Tuttle, Keith Sonnier + more
* Josef Albers "Formulation: Articulation, 1972" @ Peter Blum Soho / 99 Wooster St. The sumptuous collection of 127 silkscreened plates, finished shortly before Albers' death and acting as a summation of his ongoing investigation into color and perception.
* 'Brooklyn v. Osaka' @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St (L to Bedford), 8p/$10. YES this will be intense: hard-rockin' all-girl groups from the two cities. w/ Talk Normal (Brooklyn's finest no-wave duo), Moon Mama (one-half of Osaka's freak-rock Afrirampo), Water Fai (Osaka psych-pop) + more.
* "Mother" (dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2009) screenings @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFV to W 4th St). Dude hard-up on his luck possibly framed for murder, and his tough-as-nails mom goes to bat for him on an inexhaustible quest to prove his innocence.
* Sam Durant "Dead Labor Day" @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 534 W 21st St. Durant's recent work on capital punishment, incl. a large sculpture based on the scaffold use to hang famous Chicago anarchists 'Haymarket Martyrs' in 1887, plus related small-scale sculpture and drawings.
* "Art Museums, Private Collectors, and the Public" symposium @ New Museum / 235 Bowery (FV to 2nd Ave), 12:30p/$10 (FREE for members, RSVP here). WOW 'Skin Fruit', the Dakis Joannou collection show, curated by Jeff Koons, has received some interesting press, way before the show opened last week. As in, critics questioning the validity of a private collector showing their wares in a public institution, esp. in the glaring fact that the private collector is blue-chip Joannou and the public institution the assumedly anti-mainstream New Museum. But I am telling you the combo works, here (check my review of the exhibition, under CURRENT SHOWS). For those still doubting, the museum provides two panels tracing the history of patronage and partnerships in American art museums and the future of such collaborations. Richard Flood (Chief Curator of the New Museum) moderates the 1st panel (historic partnerships) and Lisa Phillips (New Museum director) hosts the 2nd panel (future collaborations) at 3p.
* PopJew's Pre-SXSW Showcase @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (FV to 2nd Ave), 7p/$12 (or $10 w/ food for the road). Rachel, one of my fav NY-area promoters, is throwing a beast of a party before heading down to Austin to cause a musical ruckus. Feat. Darlings (some of the coolest, smart indie-pop I've ever encountered), Sundelles, Total Slacker, My Teenage Stride, Big Troubles + MORE.
* Sissy Spacek @ ISSUE Project Room / 232 3rd St, Gowanus (F/M/R to 9th St-4th Ave), 8p/$10. A rather auspicious night, I'd say, as I don't recall the last time Cali noisicians Sissy Spacek graced our presence (that's right, 2007 No Fun Fest). Well, it's been awhile and apparently no 2010 No Fun in NYC...
* Marina Abramović "The Artist is Present" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/V to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). All I can say is EPIC. Peerless performance artist Abramović returns to NY w/ a new duration piece — her longest ever and named after the show-title — and five of her classic time-related works, re-performed for the 1st time by a group of carefully selected people (incl. Maria José Arjona, the Columbian performance artist who captivated me at this year's VOLTA NY).
* Standard Fare @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JMZ to Marcy), 8p/$6. See my Thursday's hyping of Sheffield twee-rockers Standard Fare, then see them twice!
* Eva Hesse @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. A very special exhibition, focused on Hesse's late-period 'non-art' objects, at once intimate, experimental and challenging.
* Pika & Yuka + Water Fai + Moon Mama @ Pianos / 158 Ludlow St (FV to 2nd Ave), 8p/$8. In case you missed those hard-rockin' Osaka girls at Bruar Falls Friday nite, you've another chance, only this time Pika & Yuka (meaning, Pika from Afrirampo aka Moon Mama + Yuka Honda) headline. Yikes, this should be dope.
* "Skin Fruit: Selections from the Dakis Joannou Collection, curated by Jeff Koons" @ New Museum / 235 Bowery (FV to 2nd Ave). I'm not here to postulate on the compromise created by hosting New Museum trustee (and Greek multimillionaire) Joannou's collection in a distinctly non-mainstream, anti-establishment complex. Nor am I here to postulate on the swelling value of Joannou's exquisite, eyebrow-raising collection, by hosting it here on American shores, in this selection, for the first time. No, I am an aesthete. I am not aloof to such controversies, but I see the reasons and ingenuity for 1) hosting Joannou's collection here and 2) Koons' fine job of dispersing these A-list artists' raucous works, the type that tend to dominate a room. There's been much said about how overly-busy and stimulus-overloading this show is, that Koons as an art-history-minded collector made a super-crowded show. No he didn't, and that I WILL defend.
Don't miss the side gallery space by the café: it's a great teaser for what's ahead (a text-y joke abstract from Richard Prince, a vibrant pinkish sprayed-silkscreen from Christopher Wool, the creepy "Inochi" figure from Takashi Murakami) plus the busted up body of a camper-like van, outfitted w/ soft toys and a TV and dominating 1/2 the room. This is John Bock's "Malträtierte Fregatte", or rather the installation related to his performance piece of the same name, playing on the TV screen. It adds a good bit of sudden violence that carries, in varying ebbs and flows, in the floors above.
Up the lifts and out the 2nd Fl, we have Koons' only piece in the show, the seductively simple "One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank" aka the 1st Koons artwork Joannou acquired, like 25 years ago, and the spark that set aflame this hyper-visual collection. While the body is a recurring topic in all the works here, and in Joannou's many others in his collection, I found the 2nd Fl to be particularly body-driven, in a fleshy, visceral, lusty sense. The old Ashley Bickerton "F.O.B." exemplifies this at an atomic level, as it looks like an orb of rippling alienesque skin — like a million light-years from his psychedelic tropical imagery now. Maurizio Cattelan's "All", a suite of carved-marble 'body-bags', is truncated from the rest of the floor in a narrow hall, accompanied only by a melodious museum employee replicated Tino Sehgal's "This is Propaganda" and one of two super-freaky Andro Wekua sculptures. This one, "Sneakers", appears to be a long-haired nude girl clad in running shoes, w/ a harlequin pattern tattooed on her bare back, but her head is tucked into her knees, hidden from view. In the main room, Chris Ofili's portraiture,from the trippy cloisonné-appliquéd (and elephant-dunged) to the ecstatic shimmery blue (and chromed) Matisse-like, are some of the most beautiful on the floor (and indeed in the entire show, compare/contrast w/ the, ahem, 'earthy' Tim Noble & Sue Webster 'silhouette' installation on the other side of the lifts). Urs Fischer (another recurring figure in the show, and the only artist to figure into three floors) and Mark Manders 'remix' the body, via Fischer's signature candle figure and Manders' wet-clay-like epoxy torso in an oversized cardboard box. David Altmejd's "Giant", one of the finer of the artist's series of Norse-like gods and heroes, peers away from the action — into a Robert Gober room. Something is up here, in this little installation of Gober's waxy, Puritanical works: the crooked "Scary Sink", the wallpaper of rolling hills and a highway off to nowhere, and the distorted baby's crib, pointed into the wall as being tugged into a black hole. It's off somewhere, and we are meant to follow.
3rd Fl: if the 2nd was 'The Flesh', this one is 'The Dream' (somehow I think Cattelan would be pleased w/ this). Or...is it 'The Nightmare'? Gone is the mellifluous Sehgal piece, replaced here w/ the pervading creak of Wekua's second piece, the wholly disturbing "Wait and Wait", which looks like a partied-out transvestite sitting splay-legged on a rocking chair, their face still half-painted from the previous night, in a multicolored greenhouse-like chamber. Pawel Althamer's duet — an installation based on Jesus and the crucifixion but performed, sporadically, by a male actor, and "Nomo", this gold-plated figure w/ a staff, fighter-jet-nose-like helmet, and briefcase (somehow astronaut, medieval warrior and Pope all in one) that luckily is NOT a performer — are fittingly here, as is Franz West's "Gartenpouf", a strawberry astronaut ice-cream-colored cross-like shape. Cattelan's "Now" fittingly ends the floor w/ its own narrow chamber, filled w/ a 'dead' wax dummy in a coffin. A dream of death? Ascension awaits.
4th Fl: to....Heaven? Nirvana? A spiritual plane? Lots has been written on this floor, beginning w/ the Roberto Cuoghi monstrosity "Pazuzu", but that nearly-20-ft piece somehow recedes into the wall compared to the women guardians of the floor: Charles Ray's "Fall '91" (a larger-than-lifesize businesswoman) and Liza Lou's jewel-encrusted "Super Sister". And while I emphasize that this exhibition is NOT crowded, the 4th Fl in particular has an eerie sparseness to it (like so many of the New Museum's full-museum shows, I've noticed). I encourage you to walk through and around Terence Koh's megalith "Untitled (Chocolate Mountains)", taking in the sickly sweetness of the sculpture whilst perusing the sins of American history, in Kara Walker's powerful half-dozen watercolors. The creaking continues, too, only from Ray's show-stopping "Revolution Counter-Revolution", a grayscale full-sized carnival ride, slowly spinning in both directions simultaneously (meaning the horses go one way, the top the other). And this, a nostalgic yet somehow fractured recollection of childhood, leads us way off to the corner of the floor, to Gober's "Side Bed", ascetically simple, child-sized, awaiting its occupant.
Perhaps you need to see this again.
* Joseph Beuys "Make the Secrets Productive" @ Pacewildenstein / 534 W 25th St. NYC was not totally sated by the brilliant, thorough, info-packed survey at Mary Boone Gallery at the threshold of 2010, what w/ its chockablock vitrines of Beuys' famous multiples and press materials. PW got this and presents to us a dozen rare sculptures from the German artist, incl. "Feldbett" (a felt covered block of electric transistors), "Doppelaggregat" (entirely cast-bronze, but like two tables turned upside down and welded to two right-side-up, outfitted w/ these bronzed spools) and "OFEN", a half-dozen massive cylinders of felt stapled to the wall, sucking the sound out of its corner of the gallery. This in itself would be a dope show, but PW goes further in the adjacent gallery, feat. nearly 100 of Ute Klophaus' photos documenting Beuys' "Aktions", incl. the famous "I Like America and America Likes Me" (accompanied by the video, which MoMA also has in their collection but it's too wicked not to pass up, Beuys cavorting w/ a coyote and all), "Eurasienstab", "Filz-TV" (w/ incl. video, feat. Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman) and the bracing "How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare". AND IF THAT WASN'T ENOUGH...the gallery opened part of their back-gallery space to footage from Beuys' lecture "Public Dialogue at the New School for Social Research" (1974, his 1st trip to NY) and other films.
* Miao Xiaochun "Microcosm" @ Arario NY / 521 W 25th St 2nd Fl. This extensive multidisciplinary exhibition — full of computer renderings transferred to canvas and multi-panel wire-model etching-like drawings — center around the titular piece, Miao's take on Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights", a ridiculously detailed nine-panel C-print of a world utopian and chaotic, and its related extra-psychedelic film. You've GOT to watch the film, or at least part of it, where Miao's legions of self-rendered naked men prance about the landscape and dunk in shimmering ponds and, um, take on the impression of potatoes and cucumbers and get sliced up, so wire-model birds can sneak off w/ a piece? It was about here that I felt like I'd dosed a heady hallucinogen, but no it's all part of Miao's process.
* R. Crumb "The Bible Illuminated" @ David Zwirner Gallery / 519 W 19th St. This is indeed the entire Crumb book of pen & ink woodcut-like drawings based on the Book of Genesis, but just b/c you've seen the whole thing laid out on the gallery walls doesn't mean the publication deserves a 2nd look. I was a bit skeptical going in, that the show would reveal everything and leave the publication irrelevant, but Crumb's work — each and every one of these text and image pages — is so lastingly detailed that, if you're engaged w/ it, you need something portable to refer back to, multiple times, to fully appreciate it.
* Esko Männikkö "Harmony Sisters" @ Yancey Richardson Gallery / 535 W 22nd St 3rd Fl. Super-vivid C-prints framed mostly on close-ups of animal eyes; the show opens w/ a horse's closed eye, either at rest or in a wink, yet it particularly feels somehow sad or ashamed. There's a lot here, and the other animal crops (closeup of a cow's muzzle, tongue out, backside of a zebra) break up the otherwise intense gazes of the subjects. It's like you can see into their souls and they, these monkeys, horses, cattle, are staring straight back into you.
* "10th Anniv. Invitational, Part 1" @ Frederieke Taylor Gallery / 535 W 22nd St, 6th Fl. 1st of two 'invitational' group shows, feat. gallery artists and works selected by friends, before the gallery relocates in May. Highlights incl. quite a bit of eye-trickery, courtesy of Mel Chin (think Urs Fischer's "Noisette" but in cast bronze), Long-Bin Chen (a Buddhist head composed of NYC phone-books, there's recycling for you!), tricked out mixed media pieces by Franco Mondini-Ruiz (which mostly involved a figure stuck in some sort of trompe l'oeil food/drink) and abstracts by Mary Lum and Justin Valdes.
+ Marion Wilson "Artificially Free of Nature". Tiny oil paintings deftly rendered on glass slides, each a sparsely attended landscape from a contaminated waste bed near the artist's home in upstate NY. Magnifying glasses included and necessary.
* James Siena @ Pace Prints Chelsea / 521 W 26th St. Geometric woodcuts and engravings in monotone colors, plus some wildly skewed topographical-like drawings to add a bit of flavor to all the straight lines and corners.
* Allen Ruppersberg @ Greene Naftali / 526 W 26th St 8th Fl. The West Coast Conceptualist had, in my opinion, the standout piece in MoMA's overall fab "In & Out of Amsterdam, 1960-1976" exhibition last year, the wall of polaroid-sized C-prints and index cards entitled "Where's Al?" (1972). This two-piece installation, his 1st show at Greene Naftali, requires a bit more digging for immediate gratification but it's a winner. "Big Trouble", a blown-up rendering of a vintage 'Ducktails' comic (evil Scrooge McDuck etc), is Ruppersberg's revisitation and revitalization of a mail-art piece he'd conceived in '69, shown here w/ cut-out mockups from the comic and the entire strip itself. Against this is "The Never-Ending Book Part Two/Art and Therefore Ourselves" (which is cheekily subtitled, in the signage, as 'Songs, Recipes, and the Old People'), a wall mural of color-copied found vintage images (which also fill various boxes in the room), sheet music, Depression-era recipes and these albums that you can actually buy if you want, w/ a bartering system of 50 pre-1970 images for an LP, to continue the journey of this organic work.
* Daido Moriyama @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. Double props here for the brilliant installation, specifically the hanging of Moriyama's newish 'Hawaii' series in the main gallery. Largish b&w prints, 40x60" verticals or horizontals, framed in white pine, line the walls at comfortable eye level, like Josh Smith's show last year, creating an immersive environment for the photographer's lovely, contrasty works. And as with his classic Japanese prints in the back gallery, Moriyama captures various local subjects w/ effortless chic — whether it's a flower-draped mannequin, the Hawaiian skyline at night, an old automobile, or a rocky seashore, everything looks gorgeous. The most usual and banal ARE gorgeous under Moriyama's lens. Highly recommended, esp. w/ the adjacent Wolfgang Tillmans photo show at Andrea Rosen Gallery (also ending this weekend).
* Wolfgang Tillmans @ Andrea Rosen Gallery / 525 W 24th St. Lots of fine moments — emotive, aha, and inspired — in Tillman's 'constellation of photography' show. Nothing is framed sans his 'Ostgut/December Edit' from 2002, the earliest piece in the show, and it's like 50 Kodak print-center-sized C-prints, a primer for what's ahead. And what's ahead is the main gallery covered, but not consumed, by Tillman's bright C-prints and inkjet prints, in varying sizes, shot from all over the world. We have recognizable Thailand here (an open-airs Bangkok market) and India there (four continuous vignettes shot from a bus in Varanasi). The cheeky moments (Tillmans titles a slew of trashy gossip/entertainment mags 'magazine rack UK', and you don't need to know German to discern the title 'Scheisse im Gras') are continuously balanced by the beautiful ones, the Bauhaus-like 'bus seat', the 'Tarsier' peering from a cropped-in rain forest, the embracing 'fans at concert'. Even a row of depleted toner cartridges ('waste ink') looks lovely. That's the thing about these prints: they're not ultra-composed, nor are they forced upon you w/ airs of reverence or seriousness. It's this precise looseness that makes them so accessible, so engaging and endearing.
* Thomas Ruff @ David Zwirner Gallery / 533 W 19th St. Works from two new series by the conceptual photographer — 'zycles' (I dug it, large-scale prints or canvas-printed renderings of wire-frame curves) and 'cassini', spacey captures of Saturn from the Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft, which are beautiful but foggy, a combo of the original film grain and Ruff's color saturation.
* Diana Thater "Between Science and Magic" @ David Zwirner Gallery / 525 W 19th St. Appearances are deceiving, so I suggest you stay longer than a minute when viewing Thater's dual-projection video installation. It subject, a rabbit-in-the-hat magic show, lasts but a blip in time, but she films it from multiple perspectives, and as the cameras travel 'round our magician, we begin to wonder: 'which is the 'actual' film and which is the 'film of the filming'?'
* El Anatsui @ Jack Shainman Gallery / 513 W 20th St. The Ghanian sculpture had a major installation at last year's Armory Show, nearly stealing the attention from, well, practically all else there, it was that dope. So I've been yearning for an Anatsui fix, and he delivers. His shimmery, curtainlike woven sculptures, if they can be called 'sculptures' as they seem so fluid, resemble flags, animal pelts, and zoomed-out topography, variously — yet look close their painstaking composition (liquor labels, bottle caps). They're so big, you've got to step back from various angles to take 'em all in, like you're contemplating a sleeping lion from the distance.
* Theresa Chong @ Danese / 535 W 24th St 6th Fl. Chong's new series of pencil and gouaches on paper (either a midnight blue backdrop or a whitish rice paper) are named for snowy Arctic Circle scenes, which makes sense as her constellations of lines and tiny blocks sort of resemble ice crystals.