* "New Directors/New Films 2010" @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St) + MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/V to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). Just how it sounds: new works from emerging international filmmakers. Screenings occur at either theatre, and though some of 'em have hit the int'l film circuit, this is the first-time screening for most of 'em stateside, so read on below for some of my picks, or visit the site for the full list. THROUGH APR 4.
* James Welling "Glass House" @ David Zwirner / 525 W 19th St. A three-year survey of Philip Johnson's iconic Glass House in New Canaan, CT, luminously elevated by Welling's color filters and trichromatic effects.
* "Bill Cunningham New York" (dir. Richard Press, USA, 2010) screening @ MoMA (part of "New Directors/New Films 2010"), 7:30p/9:30p. You've seen this man, the older gentleman in the blue windbreaker, permasmiling on his Schwinn whilst photographing fashion trends for the NY Times. Hell, he'd been doing it for decades before all these trendy 'street-photographers' came around. So it's time we had a portrait of Cunningham. ALSO THURS, 9:15, at Walter Reade Theatre.
* deVries + North Highlands @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$8. OK, SXSW is OVER. Jam-packed indie shows for Austinites and non-locals are great, but Brooklyn knows how to do it. Like this half-psych/half-folky night, w/ locals deVries, North Highlands, Schocholautte and Small Mountain Path. Welcome back, all.
* Tatiana Trouvé @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. The entire 5th Fl gallery space is Trouvé's playground, and she's turning it into a stark, dystopic landscape of scrap metal, graphite wall drawings, and fragmented domesticity. (read my Ed Paschke review below in CURRENT SHOWS; Trouvé's should be a strong counterpoint)
* Joe Zucker "Tales of Cotton" @ Mary Boone Gallery / 745 Fifth Ave. Classic Zucker, taking Ben-Day-style Pop Art on its side (and w/ that the textural Process Art and gridded Minimalism) w/ his paint saturated fields of cotton balls, forming a disarming relationship w/ their charged Antebellum imagery.
* Magdalena Abakanowicz @ Marlborough Chelsea / 545 W 25th St. New sculpture from the 'Anatomy' series of 'deconstructed humans' in burlap w/ steel and wood armatures, plus life-size and larger-than-life-size cast-aluminum figures.
+ Stephen Talasnik "Thought Pattern". Talasnik's mechanical drawings/collages and related fantastical sculpture is like an ongoing push-pull w/ the unbuildable, but what SHOULD be buildable.
* Miki Carmi + Tamy Ben-Tor "Disembodied Archetypes" @ Zach Feuer LFL / 530 W 24th St + STUX / 530 W 25th St. A really dope dual-gallery experience, feat. chameleonlike performance/video-art impresario Ben-Tor (of Zach Feuer) and painter/photographer Carmi (of STUX) in collaboration. How do Carmi's unsettling old-person 'death masks' fare w/ Ben-Tor's multi-persona farces on the Middle East? The notion of identity is an ongoing theme, and luckily Ben-Tor's live performances (like on Saturday, at Zach Feuer, read below) might help.
* Antony Gormley "Breathing Room II" @ Sean Kelly Gallery / 528 W 29th St. Many NYers (and loads of tourists) are getting to know Gormley via his 'Event Horizon', those 2doz+ sculptures of himself on rooftops and sidewalks around Madison Square Park. But this show @ Sean Kelly, Gormley's light-sculpture, spatially-disrupting titular piece (plus freestanding sculptures based on orthogonal structures and absolute geometry), should be way doper.
* "Great Photographs of the 20th Century: Staged and Startled" @ Hasted Hunt Kraeutler / 537 W 24th St. We have an incredible range here in a century's-worth of brilliant photographers. The span is incredible and the names are the best (Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Lee Friedlander, Steven Klein, Robert Frank, Lisette Model and more).
* German Measles + The Nymphets @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JMZ to Marcy), 8p/$6. I think 1/2 German Measles' songs have 'wild' in the title, but seriously they're loads of fun, these Brooklyn boys. The Nymphets are not-too-serious punk, Montreal-style.
* Susan Philipsz "I See a Darkness" @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. Philipsz continues her sculptural sound forays with a journey: converting the main gallery space into a darkened lair w/ precisely angled and sequenced speakers for an immersive experience.
+ Siobhan Hapaska "The Nose that Lost its Dog". New sculptural works from the artist, blurring the line b/w organic and machine, that come from her residency at Glasgow Sculpture Studios.
* Lia Halloran "The Only Way Out is Through" @ DCKT Contemporary / 195 Bowery. Fuzzified — and I hate to use this word but 'painterly', as in you can follow the brushstrokes — paintings of crystal caves in the Cueva de los Cristales in Naica, Mexico.
* Aki Sasamoto "Strange Attractors" @ Whitney Museum (part of 2010 Whitney Biennial), 4p. I caught Sasamoto last year at Zach Feuer and I was hooked. I have this vision in my head about Joseph Beuys' chalkboard 'teaching' performances, and to me Sasamoto's stream-of-consciousness forays into the sociopolitical, the mathematical and the mundane (somehow she balances all this, coherently) is, to me, like a Beuys. Her lair @ the Whitney, astrewn w/ video cameras and hanging net bags containing microphones and water glasses, is the site of her shows, performed at 4p on dates incl the numerals '6' and '9' (so if you can't make this one you've other chances).
* "My Turn: Ari Marcopoulos" @ Whitney Museum (part of 2010 Whitney Biennial), 7:30p. I REALLY dug Marcopoulos' deliciously noisy "Detroit" video from the Biennial, and his live performance should be even more ferosh, as 'electroacoustic improvisation' artists — read: NOISE — like Orphan and, ahem, Yellow Tears threaten to tear the roof off the Whitney. Thank you, Whitney, for daring to do it.
* Black Tambourine listening party @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (FV to 2nd Ave), 8p/FREE. OK, not the same as Slumberland Records' Black Tambourine THE BAND, performing off their brand-new compilation LP, which if that were the case it'd be = MAYJAH, but this is a listening party for perhaps the rarest yet terribly influential early '90s, stateside fuzz-pop band (you know, back during grunge).
* "Bluebeard" (dir. Catherine Breillat, 2009) screenings @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFV to W 4th St). Breillat's adaptation of that classic psychosexual fairy tale, the brutish, otherworldly noblemen who murders his wives, and the young Marie-Catherine who confronts him.
* Barbara Kruger @ Mary Boone Gallery / 541 W 24th St. Introducing Kruger's new multi-channel video installation "The Globe Shrinks", a cacophonous conversation on contemporary culture, and all that, but surely as piercingly to-the-point as her characteristically bold, textual silkscreens.
* Tamy Ben-Tor "Disembodied Archetypes" performance @ Zach Feuer LFL / 530 W 24th St (CE to 23rd St), 4p. See my above entry on Ben-Tor's collaboration w/ Miki Carmi in this two-gallery mixed media show.
* "Tehroun" (dir. Nader T. Homayoun, Iran/France, 2009) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre (part of "New Directors/New Films 2010"), 8p. Homayoun's feature-length debut is a moving portrait — beauty and violence, dreams and nightmares — of Iran's multifaceted capital city.
* "Mulholland Dr." (dir. David Lynch, 2001) screening @ 92Y Tribeca / 200 Hudson St (1/ACE to Canal St), 7:30p/$12. In my opinion, this is Lynch's modern masterpiece, not as jackknife-surrealist as the later "Inland Empire", nor as dread-imbued as earlier "Blue Velvet" or as sinister as the untouchable "Eraserhead" — it's Lynch's surgical takedown of the Hollywood façade.
* Love Is All + Crystal Stilts @ Maxwell's / 1039 Washington St, Hoboken (PATH to Hoboken), 10p/$12. The Stilts are working on a new album, and if it's anything like their increasingly psychedelic jam-session sets (complete w/ Brad rocking out on a harmonica), then this Velvet Underground-ish band hasn't lost its edge at ALL. w/ The Beachniks (added bonus).
* Beaches + Total Slacker @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JMZ to Marcy), 8p/$6. Melbourne's Beaches are in town a few days via SXSW, and this is probably the dopest night of them all. Think about it: five Aussie women playing psych-tinged, proggy guitar lines. DbA will be crawling the walls!
* "Picasso: Themes and Variations" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/V to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). Pablo Picasso at MoMA. Have I got your attention yet?? Remember "Mosqueteros", that wonderful Picasso portrait show @ Gagosian, around this time last year? The queues that stretched around the block? Think this one's going to be as popular, what w/ its 100+ print-related works related to the prolific artist's experimentation w/ lithography, etching and the like, from his early Blue Period through Cubism and his later works? Answer: OBVS. Luckily this is on the 2nd Fl and that exhaustively long-running Tim Burton show is on 3, so the inevitable clusterf**k won't be so major. (and just a head's up: there's a MAYJAH Picasso show coming to the Met next month; so consider the MoMA's a tasty primer)
* Vivian Girls + German Measles @ Brooklyn Bowl / 61 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 7p/FREE. Hmm, free show w/ adorable lo-fi party-rockin' boys (German Measles) and super-cute punkish girls (Vivian Girls) in a very beery bowling alley. How crowded do you think it'll be?
* Love is All + The Beets + Beach Fossils @ Knitting Factory / 361 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$14. If you didn't feel like hauling out on the PATH to check Swedish indie cuties Love Is All alongside Brooklyn's art-swaggerers Crystal Stilts, OK I get it. How about this: Love Is All but in Wsburg, w/ the singalong dancey one-two punch of Beach Fossils (surfy!) and The Beets (punky!). LOVE!
* A Sunny Day in Glasgow @ Bell House / 149 7th St, Gowanus (F/M/R to 9th St/4th Ave), 7:30p/$12. Sometimes you get that band w/ the PERFECT name, like A Sunny Day in Glasgow, that Philly six-piece led by songwriter Ben Daniels and feat. dual vocalists Jen Goma and Annie Fredrickson. They sometimes cover Fleetwood Mac! That's OK with me!
* "Blame It on Voltaire/La Faute à Voltaire" (dir. Abdel Kechiche, 2000) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 3:15p. I LOVE Kechiche's films — "L'Esquive" and "La Graine et le Mulet" — and their beautiful casts of 'real' France: multicultural, multiethnic. This is his debut full-length, about a young Moroccan man facing shocking adversity and forging relationships in a very real Paris.
* "Evening Dress/La Robe du soir" (dir. Myriam Aziza, France, 2009) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre (part of "New Directors/New Films 2010"), 6:15p. A young girl's coming-of-age, and her intense physical attraction to Mme. Solenska, her effortlessly-chic French teacher. ALSO WED, 9:15p, @ MoMA.
* "Women Without Men" (dir. Shirin Neshat, Germany/Austria/France, 2009) screening @ MoMA (part of "New Directors/New Films 2010"), 6:15p. The interconnected lives of four women in 1950's Iran, amid the CIA-supported coup d'état that struck down Iran's democratically-elected government.
* Flying Lotus @ (le) poisson rouge / 158 Bleecker St (ACE/BDFV to W 4th St, 6 to Bleecker), 10p/$20. Luckily the venue is removing the chairs/tables before Mr. Steven Ellison takes the decks, w/ his slammin', fractured beats and sampled bedroom moans. Eschew terms like IDM and just call his particular style of dance-floor 'fierce'. (I mean, check his newish song "Meeting the Prez" on his Myspace — it could be a 20min track, it's that dope)
* Ursula von Rydingsvard "ERRĀTUS" @ Galerie Lelong / 528 W 26th St. There is a complex awe and elegance to von Rydingsvard's rough-hewn cedar sculpture — the sort that follows Louise Bourgeois' non-spider sculpture (like the Personages) rather than the steel/cubular/mobile stuff of other large-scale sculptors. Her works tower and crawl, ripple and bend. The wavelike "Droga", for instance...OK permit me to geek out a bit, but it TOTALLY reminded me of the massive 'land worm' beast from Final Fantasy VI (anyone get the ref?). The incredible "Blackened Word" is canyon-like, smoothly flowing on one side and replete w/ gullies and Paleolithic nooks on the other. I encourage you to peer into this one: besides the fact it smells good, the closeness to the wood mutes outside sounds.
* Janet Cardiff & George Burnes Miller @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. I drop terms like 'heady trip' a bit too often, but that is precisely what this show is, beginning w/ the sensorially-disturbing "Carnie" installation, a very disturbing, sonically treated carousel, which plays like cut-up, backwards merry-go-round tunes w/ sped-up kids' voices and a sporadic snare rush. Oh: and the carousel animals have speakers tethered to their faces like gimp masks. However...in the next gallery, "The Cabinet of Curiousness" is extremely cool, and lighter-hearted: a circuit-bent card catalog that plays various musical/operatic loops depending on which drawers are pulled out.
* Ross Rudel "Burgeon" @ Jack Shainman Gallery / 513 W 20th St. Rudel's flexible mastery of organic sculpture (sans the gorgeous bronzed 'Ouroboros 2', the 1st in that media for him, most of the works are various woods) is tempered by his thoughtful acrylic resin 'collages' on wood, which incorporate carrion blossoms into lush nighttime scenes. He handles abstraction well (the walnut-carved 'Ouroboros' and the disquietingly damp-looking 'Phantom', a knot of resin-slickened bed linen on wood) but I'll bet you've never seen Los Angeles river algae handled quite like his shamanic 'Green Man Resurrection'.
+ Todd Hebert. Paintings and works on paper in a hyperrealistic style that somehow, probably due to the lighting (cityscapes, christmas lights etc) and the use of blurring, become cleverly abstract, in a fogged-window, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" sort of way.
* Catherine Opie "Girlfriends" @ Gladstone Gallery / 515 W 24th St. I'm quite fond of this sweet, portraiture-driven exhibition. Opie's new body of work, portraits of friends and lovers of the 'butch-dyke' persona, is elevated by an array of square-format b&w prints from her archive, never before printed before now. The latter acts almost diary-like, recalling Opie's ties to the S&M community in LA and San Francisco from the early '90s, and some of its subjects (like the riveting Pig Pen) recur in the new series, nearly 15 years later. Among the portraits include a regal k.d. lang against a Canadian wilderness, Jenny Shimizu in leather on a pristine white-sheeted bed and Idexa, tattooed and barechested, crouching on a rock. But I kept going back to Pig Pen, from her almost waifish figure in '94, wearing a play-piercing 'crown of thorns' for a performance in Mexico City, to her tanned, mature figure in '09, a thorn-wrapped heart tattoo emblazoned on her chest.
* Ed Paschke @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. Jeff Koons, Paschke's studio assistant in the '70s and curator of this career-spanner, notes the 'neurological effect' of Paschke's paintings. That's adept, as this array of druggy, acid-colored anti-Pop portraits, w/ their either collage-y or hallucinogenic (often both) effects, are a particularly fierce trip. His earlier works fuse celebrity w/ kitchy wrestlers and cartoons — like the Marilyn in "Pink Lady" (1970), the gender-bending "Ramrod" (1969). But then they get weirder, as Paschke nears and bypasses 1980, adding test-patterns and neon glows to this increasingly psychedelic bunch. "Gestapo" (1970) feels like a scene from David Lynch's "Inland Empire", and the terrific trio "Ambrosia" (1979), "Fumar" (1979) and stunner "Violencia" (1980), w/ its disembodied lips and saturated electrical singes, is like diving into your favorite '80's cyberpunk film — though the proliferation of blank-eyed, identical, vaguely sinister, suited dudes could be interpreted as a precursor to "The Matrix".
+ Alberto di Fabio. I recommend immersing yourself in Di Fabio's fractured abstract acrylic paintings (most of smallish to medium-sized scale) and works on paper, w/ their purplish and pinkish hues that mimic both ice crystals, frozen tree branches, and somehow neural synapses and aveoli, AFTER pulling yourself from Ed Paschke's intense, but rewarding, exhibition.
* Eva Hesse @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. A very special exhibition of Hesse's late-period postminimalist works, shortly before her premature passing at age 34. I stress the importance of this collection of mostly unseen pieces, as Hesse had achieved — and was furthering — a transcendent 'non-art' trade that was unlike anything else at the time. That said, however, the majority of this 14-piece offering is a collection of 'improvisational test pieces', wisps and husks of papier-caché (often combined w/ cheesecloth and sometimes a type of adhesive), displayed on a spotlighted work-table, throwing dynamic shadows and resting there simultaneously like archaeological artifacts (they are a boon for us to investigate Hesse's work process) and potentialities for her never-realized future sculpture.
* Marlene Dumas "Against the Wall" @ David Zwirner / 533 W 19th St. Dumas wields a sense of tension and foreboding in her typically ghostly/ambiguious suite of new paintings, set approximately from media imagery of Israel and Palestine. "The Wall", probably the 1st canvas you'll see upon entering the gallery, sets the tone: a group of Orthodox Jewish men in front of what appears to be the Western Wall in Jerusalem, though it's actually an Israeli security fence in Bethlehem. This stark reality recurs in the other wall works, women lined up against a wall not in prayer but to be searched by armed soldiers, and the unsettling, De Chirico-esque "Figure in a Landscape", where the constriction of the lone woman to the looming security wall 'landscape' is practically echoing. Dumas' close-ups manage to capture this feeling of permeating isolation and lack of human communication, whether the painful "Resurrection" or the mysterious "Olive Tree", whose foliage cannot totally blot out the barriers in the distance.
* Elliot Hundley "Agave of the Bacchae" @ Andrea Rosen Gallery / 525 W 24th St. I got strong echoes of Dave McKean's "Sandman"-era cover work, specifically the 'Brief Lives' series, from Hundley's stunning large-scale collage works (paint swooshes, multiple photographs of the actors, and cut-out lettering amid forests of pins), which takes cues from Euripides.
+ Inez Van Lamsweerde + Vinoodh Matadin & Eugene Van Lamsweerde "Sculptographs". I thought back to the power photog couple's knockout show at Matthew Marks back in 2005, and recalled they collaborated w/ Inez's uncle Eugene in that one too, but this show, filled w/ the couple's discreet, lovely bodily works augmented by Eugene's metal and mixed media, is way more thorough and fine-figured. Nearly all these pieces are very small, locket-sized prints w/ dabs of enamel or wax and reedlike appendages of scrap metal, like mechanical fairies.
* Ryan McGinley "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" @ Team Gallery / 83 Grand St. Much as I can get down w/ McGinley's ecstatically-tinged soft-focus C-prints of naked youth romping about in fields just after a spring rain (sounds great, right?), I really dig the starkness of this b&w portrait show, part of the 150 subjects the photographer chose and snapped from around the world over a two-year period. Perhaps strains of Robert Mapplethorpe run in these nude, generally androgynous youths (bare breasts and cocks aside), but Mapplethorpe was before my time; I am experiencing McGinley NOW and I find a freshness to it. Now, his subjects aren't entirely anonymous — I picked out Rila Fukushima straight off the bat, but then again how many other enamoring platinum blond, high-cheekboned Japanese women does one know? — but they're suitably 'clean-slate'. Roughly half have some piercing or tattoo, or several, and many are lean to the point of 'waifish' or 'gangly'. But there's a lot of beautiful moments here, like Rila's, like India's clasped hands, Chloe (who could be a young French starlet), Sal (whose sculptural contortion nearly hides his wrist-brace), Owl (either that's the girl's 'name' or the name of the wide-eyed bird on her ass), Janelle (another classic starlet's visage) and Christina's lithe physique and gentle Afro crown.
* Joseph Smolinski @ Mixed Greens / 531 W 26th St. Smolinski continues his dialogue on American wildlife w/ infringing technologies w/ these creepy mobile phone towers, disguised in his detailed works on paper as trees. You'd better believe the bison, kodiaks, wolves, woodpeckers (and non-native beasts, like an elephant) know what the jig is and do everything in their power to dismantle said shady devices. I especially dug "Disconnected - Beaver Dam", where said animal grins toward the viewer liked 'don't worry about us, mate, we've got it under control'.
* Charline von Heyl @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 537 W 22nd St. Lots of great abstract shows in W Chelsea, and von Heyl's pairing linework w/ splashes of color and undulating shapes (to sometimes collage-y effect) is a winner. Check especially "Yellow Guitar", w/ vibes of Picasso/Braque Cubism and "Black Stripe Mojo", a chimeric figure laying over a precise jaillike b&w grid.
* Simon Hantai @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 293 10th Ave. An excellent mini-survey of the Hungarian-born/Paris-based Abstract Expressionist's unique oeuvre: 'folded canvases'. This includes his heyday works from the '60s, like the stained-glass-like "Peinture", through his reductive monochromes from the '80s that fuse a pattern b/w the paint and bare canvas.
* "Donald Judd and 101 Spring St" @ Nicholas Robinson Gallery / 535 W 20th St. Judd's iconic downtown cast iron dwelling/studio is going under a three-year, major restoration beginning this summer. But first!! Robinson Gallery has a cache of Judd's personal collection — mostly Minimalist — and you bet it's a beauty. One of his lovely angled-plywood boxes is in effect, but the rest veer b/w clean lines (Carl Andre, Larry Bell, David Novros, Frank Stella) and some nice surprises (HC Westermann's mesmerizing "Lily Bolero", a painted wood prism w/ color streams suspended in one glass side; a tiny Kurt Schwitters charcoal figure). And don't miss the two Dan Flavin fluorescent pieces downstairs, esp. the soothingly chromatic "Untitled (In Honor of Harold Joachim)".
* "A Word Like Tomorrow Wears Things Out" @ Sikkema Jenkins & Co / 530 W 22nd St. Photography doesn't have to be fussy (see Catherine Opie's "Girlriends" show @ Gladstone, above, or Robert Adams' night-scapes @ Matthew Marks) — but sometimes tricked-out prints is just what I need. My favorite from this four-artist show, far and beyond, is Mariah Robertson, whose misshapen C-prints looked like jagged buildings (all glass and prisms) over fields of color. Not exactly neo-Cubist but definitely fun, and a consequence of her darkroom experimentation. Kelly Barrie's photo luminescent pigments as 'drawings', tremendously collaged into their final print forms, are rather neat too, in an unearthly Tim Burton-esque sense.
* Jessica Jackson Hutchins "Over Come Over" @ Laurel Gitlen (Small A Projects) / 261 Broome St. Hutchins does a fine job of conveying the beguiling impression of human presence and absence via her trade glazed ceramic vessels and roughly composed plaster forms (and deftly chosen other media). Her Pres. Obama-newspapered sofa at this year's Whitney Biennial is one of the stronger pieces in an overall solid show, AND she had an echo-y presence at this year's Armory Show (repped by this gallery and Derek Eller's) — so 2010 has been a particularly good year to 'get to know' this Portland-based artist's dynamic mixed media works. This show works excellently as an installation, w/ pieces involving chairs (the striking "Sweater Arms", incl. a sweater pinned to a chair by a ceramic vase) or chair-like forms (the disarming "Leaning Figure") referenced in collage works on paper. Same deal in the side gallery, w/ a crouching ceramic blob, "Disgraced Skater", echoed w/ collaged newsprint works about the same subject.
* Jessica Jackson Hutchins "Kitchen Table Allegory" @ Derek Eller Gallery / 615 W 27th St. An excellent counter-dialogue to Hutchins' show on the LES. Eller lends breathing room to Hutchins' larger pieces — the standout "Couple", a messily figurative couple from the torso up locked in amorous embrace on a sagging, discolored couch (think Brancusi crossed w/ Rene Magritte's "Personal Values"), and the titular piece, a lived-in-and-loved kitchen table from Hutchins' family home, bearing a large, open-ended vase (like a picked over hunk of crusty French bread) in place of a table-leaf. There's an overall feeling of happiness, of loved ones (lovers and familial relations) and connectivity, that balances the sombre vibe at Laurel Gitlen's gallery.
* Jaehyo Lee @ Cynthia Reeves Gallery / 535 W 24th St 2nd Fl. I was absolutely riveted by Lee's first environmental-intervention sculpture show in 2008, from the leaves-curtain onward. This one is a bit 'fancier', like the designer furniture fashioned smoothly from logs or the obelisk of nail-formed letters (looking something like Jasper Johns' stamped encaustics, only in heavy metal). But mate that w/ this dorsal column of logs, like a massive sea-beast rising from the gallery floor, and an array of twig curtains, and it's impossible to ignore Lee's unique artistic prowess.
* Rosson Crow "Bowery Boys" @ Deitch / 18 Wooster St. The third-to-final show at Deitch is a fierce summary of classic (and in blurred ways, contemporary) naughty downtown NYC culture, so infused in Deitch itself, wielded w/ hallucinogenic panache by Crow. Her works are huge and familiar by degrees (even if you've never been to The Cock, you'll no doubt recognize its facade, or white-neon titular animal, unless you've like never been on the Bowery before. In some works, she combines the 'old' bad boy-type w/ the new, like "The Bang Bang Room", overlaying Andre Balazs' Boom Boom Room w/ Bruce Nauman's neon copulating figures. Others have particular timing, like the riff on the Dakis show at the New Museum. Or there's "The Nest", named after the Dash Snow + Dan Colen famous installation at Deitch, perhaps the gallery's pivotal show and, considering Snow's premature passing, definitely the coda to an era.
* Robert Ryman "Large/Small, Thick/Thin, Light Reflecting, Light Absorbing" @ Pacewildenstein / 32 E 57th St. An exhibition rich in Ryman's particular aesthetic vocabulary, both in media (varnish, enamel, epoxy, graphite) and surface (wood, MDF, Tyvek, cotton). In my opinion one of THE MOST important shows on right now, and an excellent primer for anyone who 1) wants to 'get' this painter's message and 2) might think just because he uses only white paint his stuff all looks the same and boring. Guess again!
* Sterling Ruby "2TRAPS" @ Pacewildenstein / 545 W 22nd St. Ruby's debut show at PW is a heavy metal gut-punch: two same-scale installations, the self-describing BUS (covered inside and out w/ metal security gates and outfitted w/ subwoofers) and the chilling PIG PEN, a bus-shaped rectangular prism of interlocking rusty security gates, a dialogue on both human containment and an apocalyptic near-future.
* FIve Year Anniversary @ Jonathan Levine Gallery / 529 W 20th St 9th Fl. One immediate takeaway from this 3doz.-strong group show, nearly the entire gallery roster, + some special guests, is that figurative/realist painting is NOT dead. Many of these artists (Andy Kehoe, Jim Houser, Xiaoqing Ding, Tara McPherson) have excellent control of the brush. Add to it the cultural-mindedness of Doze Green, Jeff Soto and WK Interact (+ the requisite lovelies of Ray Caesar, Invader and Souther Salazar) and you'd better cast that term 'low art' wayyy off to the side. This is dope.
* Chris Martin + Joe Bradley @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash / 534 W 26th St. VERY successful pairing by these two painters. Bradley's stoically clean canvases (some w/ just painted frames) prepare the eyes b/w Martin's breathlessly maximalist mixed media paintings, like the massive 'Hemlock' (complete w/ fungi seed packets) and the self-referential 'Big Glitter Painting' (which, if you didn't get it, is both gigantic and glittery).
* Liam Gillick @ Casey Kaplan / 525 W 21st St. The immediately apparent 1/2 of Gillick's great two-tone show is the installation of his signature colored-plexiglass frames (like roofs, here) and painted aluminum benches. These act as open-airs contemplation booths ('Discussion Benches') for the 2nd 1/2 of the show, an amusing and intriguing array of text- and woodblock-derived prints. It begins rather funnily:
Alberto: "What can I get you?"
Frank: "What's on tap?"
Alberto: "Old beer."
Frank: "Old beer?"
Alberto: "I've also got Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi Breezers or Red Strip in bottles with a straw."
But then, in subsequent frames, becomes increasingly surreal. That + the juxtaposition w/ the woodblock prints reminded me of the double world in Haruki Murakami's "Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World".