You like art, and art likes you.
ART FAIR OVERLOAD
* The Armory Show / Pier 92/94 aka 55th St + 12th Ave (CE to 50th St or take shuttle from VOLTA)
* VOLTA / 7 W 34th St (BDFV/NRW to 34th St, 6 to 33rd St, or take shuttle from The Armory Show)
* ADAA / Park Ave Armory aka 67th St + Park Ave (6 to 68th St)
* Korean Art Show / 608 W 28th St (CE to 23rd St)
* Scope / Pavillion @ Lincoln Center Damrosch Park, 62nd St & Amsterdam (1 to 66th St)
* Pulse / 330 W St @ Houston (1 to Houston)
* Independent / 548 W 22nd St aka the former X (CE to 23rd St)
* Fountain / Pier 66 aka W 26th St + 12th Ave (CE to 23rd St)
+ loads else
My main base of operations is VOLTA (+ the Armory, when I can get there), though I will try to hit Korean Art Show and Independent (since they're in my neighborhood) and at least Scope (since I dug it last year), and ideally I'll make it up to ADAA. You'd better believe I've got a lot to say re: these art fairs, so follow my talking-points on #voltany, #armoryshow and all that.
* "Skin Fruit: Selections from the Dakis Joannou Collection, curated by Jeff Koons" @ New Museum / 235 Bowery (FV to 2nd Ave). It is times like this when I am pleased to be writing such a piece where words like DOPE and MAYJAH come like totally naturally, b/c my review of this exhibition will no doubt be inundated w/ the aforementioned adjectives and all their variations (DOPER, the adverb MAYJAHLY). OK, so how does the New Museum one-up trickster Urs Fischer (which, if you recall, won a spot on my Top Ten LIST-related Cultural Events of 2009), their awesome gallery-wide exhibition? Why, by featuring a swath of the Athens-based Joannou Collection, one of the leading in contemporary art, who hasn't shown this stuff in the states YET, and having Koons curate the whole thing. Oh, and by naming it "Skin Fruit" (I used to have the working title "Invisible Museum" for the longest time...). Feat. Robert Gober, Nathalie Djurberg, Terence Koh, Mark Manders, Kara Walker, Christopher Wool, loads others, and of course Koons himself (Joannou owns the classic "One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank" from wayyy back when). Essential?? Dope?? This is what my LIST is all about!
N.B.: I saw the show, it is indeed essential/dope. Still processing, review to come next week (or sooner, in a blog post).
* "Bluebeard/Barbe Bleue", (dir. Catherine Breillat, 2009) screening @ Anthology Film Archives / 32 2nd Ave (FV to 2nd Ave), 7:30p. NICE, Anthology gets the jump on the proper run (opening at IFC late this month) of 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.
* Akron/Family @ Music Hall of Williamsburg / 66 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/SOLD OUT (oops!). A very trippy, very intimate experience, no matter how many people are on stage performing w/ Akron/Family, no matter what the venue. The fact Warpaint and Please the Trees are on the bill, both psychedelic in their own ways, should add to the experience.
* TIX ON SALE for "Rendez-Vous with French Cinema" @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St). This festival — one of the chicest film festivals to go through the city every year — actually begins next Wednesday, spanning about 20 films and concluding on Mar 21. But tix go on sale today (Wednesday) and it wouldn't hurt, if you're like me and addicted to contemporary French cinema, to have an early look and start reserving what you want. BECAUSE Film Society members have been reserving their tix since last week! Full festival here, and a few I'm eyeing:
- "Making Plans for Lena (Non ma fille, tu n'iras pas danser)", dir. Christophe Honore, 2009. w/ Chiara Mastrioianni
- "Le Refuge", dir. François Ozon, 2009. NEW Ozon!
- "Restless (Le Bel âge)", dir. Laurent Perreau, 2009.
* William Kentridge: "I am not me, the horse is not mine" (Performance 8) @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E,V to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 7:30p. See my review on Kentridge's retrospective under CURRENT SHOWS. This is Kentridge's solo performance adaptatioin of Nikolai Gogol's "The Nose", a rather trippy short-story about class distinction and a nose on the lam. Feat. Kentridge's own video animation w/ monologue, in his exhibition-designed installation.
* Miao Xiaochun "Microcosm" @ Arario NY / 521 W 25th St 2nd Fl. Picture Bosch's 'Garden of Earthly Delight' but done via 3D rendering and feat. a bunch of same-ish naked guys. Maximalist to the extreme.
* Yojiro Imasaka + Jun Ahn "Perspectives" @ Onishi Gallery / 515 W 26th St. Two young photographers and two takes on their respective urban environments. Anh's are in color and from high elevation, Imasaka's in b&w and from street-level, pointed skyward.
* Zhao Bo "Vibrant City" + Zhang Gong "Miss Panda" @ Eli Klein Fine Art / 462 W Broadway, 6-9p. Hypercolor from two of China's contemporary artists. Zhao's high-contrast figures strike poses in advert-engulfed landscapes while Zhang's laces crowds of familiar animated cartoons in unlikely settings.
* Rosson Crow "Bowery Boys" @ Deitch / 18 Wooster St. Deitch is in its final months, so what better way than get Crow's particular brand of large-scale hallucinogenic abstracts, as she takes on NYC's 'bad boys'? This includes opium dens, the Standard's Boom Boom Room and Keith Haring's Pop Shop, plus lots of Deitch-referentiality (Dash Snow and Dan Colen's NEST; an overall Deitch palette).
* R. Crumb "The Bible Illuminated" @ David Zwirner Gallery / 519 W 19th St. Perhaps you recall like four years ago when underground comix legend Crumb (he of buxom vixens like Devil Girl and lascivious Fritz the Cat) began illustrating the Book of Genesis from the Bible. He published it late last autumn, an extensive series of his lush pen & ink on paper woodcut-like drawings, to rousing acclaim. And that, those 207 drawings, is this exhibit.
* Silk Flowers + Prince Rama @ Market Hotel / 1142 Myrtle Ave, Bushwick (JMZ to Myrtle), 8p/$7. Chill out w/ two of the lo-fi set's dreamiest: Prince Rama pairs Hindu devotional w/ electronics and Silk Flowers is sort of like Joy Division on codeine. And the New Yorker gave this show props, if that encourages you.
* Joseph Beuys "Make the Secrets Productive" @ Pacewildenstein / 534 W 25th St. Mary Boone Gallery ushered in 2010 w/ a fab, info-packed survey of Beuys' popular multiples and related media — to overall critical acclaim (this writer was a fan). So PW takes it a step further w/ a suite of twelve rare sculptures from Beuys, as in works many probably have never seen before, and photography from Ute Klophaus documenting Beuys' 'Aktion's.
* Boris Hoppek + Alex Diamond "Damage:Control" @ Factory Fresh / 1053 Flushing Ave, E Williamsburg (L to Morgan), opening 8-11p. The gallery partners w/ Hamburg's heliumcowboy artspace in featuring mega-Graf artist Hoppek (who has an installation in this year's VOLTA), contributing a series of watercolors and an 'upskirt installation', and Diamond's Vaughn Bode-ish fantasy creatures — plus collaborative ink drawings from the two artists.
* Adult. + The Depreciation Guild @ Fountain / Pier 66 aka W 26th St + 12th Ave (CE to 23rd St), 7p. NY's decidedly avant-garde art fair gets major brownie points from yrstruly w/ its public opening night bash, feat. Detroit's electro-couple Adult. (remember when electroclash was FIRST happening, like in the late '90s? Adult. was part of that original wave. w/ Brooklyn's ultra-heartthrobs The Depreciation Guild, who meld shoegaze and NES programming so seamlessly you'd think they were a charmed pair from the start.
* Amananaguchi + Sabrepulse @ Market Hotel / 1142 Myrtle Ave, Bushwick (JMZ to Myrtle), 8p/. The 8-Bit Alliance tour kicks off here, led by UK's Sabrepulse (you know, the guy who rocks out on a Gameboy) and NY's Anamanaguchi (you know, the punks who shred over programmed NES melodies). Is America ready??
* Tanlines + Lemonade @ Monster Island Basement / 128 River St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$10. I'm digging Brooklyn duo Tanlines' new atmospheric single 'Real Life'. This is their EP release party, paired w/ dancey Lemonade, which seems totally appropriate.
* 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).
* Titus Andronicus + Parts & Labor @ Bowery Ballroom / 6 Delancey St (F/JMZ to Delancey/Essex), 8p/$15. You know I only advise these big venues if the lineup is dope. And here it is: Titus Andronicus...an experience, live. Parts & Labor's latest album may be more melodic but these Brooklyn guys play a fierce math-rock-fueled set. Add to that Babies (feat. Cassie of Vivian Girls and some Woods guys) + the heavy-ish Cloud Nothings and you've got quite a night for just $15.
* Golden Triangle + Coasting @ Monster Island Basement / 128 River St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$8. G.T.'s dual lead vocalists do it for me every time. This is their album release party, so expect a lot of debauchery-related fun, incl. the one-two thump of Coasting.
* Summer Cats @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/FREE. True, despite my outward appearance I am a big Slumberland Records fan (have you SEEN me at a Pains of Being Pure at Heart show??). So I'm pumped about twee-poppy Summer Cats, who traveled all the way from Melbourne.
* Aa + Screens @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$7. The percussive menagerie Aa sound like old Boredoms (speed-punk) crossed w/ new Boredoms (tribal drumming), after a tab of ecstasy.
* 2010 Whitney Biennial @ Whitney Museum / 945 Madison Ave (6 to 77th St). Much has been made, preemptively and post-opening gala, about the no-frills, unthemed, smaller-scale 2010 Biennial. That this year's show features less artists, less spectacle, and is contained entirely w/in the museum and its immediate environs (as opposed to the Park Ave Armory and elsewhere, viruslike, two years ago) is not an outlandish idea. All the museums have been doing it, being more sensible, crafting smaller but still thought-provoking exhibitions, tighter-like. That's the deal here, and by my watch it is a success. I enjoyed the 2006 Biennial for all its seam-busting array but 2008 rubbed me the wrong way. This one works, and while it's an overall spartan affair, there are plenty of moments of interest and even great shock. And it totally whetted my palate for this week's very busy Armory Arts Week. A few personal highlights:
Photo series (not a new thing but in full force @ this Biennial): Nina Berman's 'Marine Wedding', which you may have seen before in '06, broadened by an updated look at the young man and his current situation. And photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair's cringe-inducing series of badly burned Afghani women, protesting their marriages.
Installation: Robert Grosvenor splits his room very nicely + I'm coming around to digging his newer pieces. Jessica Jackson Hutchins' Pres. Obama-newspapered sofa w/ ceramics and David Adamo's just-happened split wood scattering (these two artists are both featured in the Armory), and if I may the room of Charles Ray's ink-drawn flowers, mutant-'Avatar'-world dandelions, childishly conceived but so perfectly rendered, and in such an array that they produce a much-needed calming effect (they share the floor w/ Sinclair's photography).
Video: loads (and loads of press on them), incl. The Bruce High Quality Foundation (the collective whose NY-themed piece, projected on the windshield of a car, somehow combines the vibe of Youtube clips w/ poetic narrative, to captivating results); Ari Marcopolous (I'm a noise-head, what can I say, and this super-bright video, like Luis Gispert channelled through distortion pedals, is great); Josephine Meckseper (her red/blue-tinted 'Mall of America' piece would work well against Superflex's "Flooded McDonalds" @ Peter Blum Chelsea).
Painting: yes, lots of it! Jim Lutes masks his portraits in smoky swaths of colorful egg tempera (check 'Piece of Barbara', those eyes...); Tauba Auerbach's masterful 'wrinkled' Op-art canvases work double-time w/ their odd color choices; and Roland Flexner's ink-inundated works are determined by gravity and his breath, rather than a brush (think Max Ernst's decalcomania landscapes).
But like all Biennials, you can't do it all at once. Hence, the performances by Aki Sasamoto (incl one this Saturday, Rashaad Nesome, Martin Kersels, plus noise artists curated by Ari Marcopolous (in late March) and others.
* William Kentridge "Five Themes" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/V to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). It is a most delightful feeling to go into an exhibition (here, a three-decade survey of the S. African's sociopolitically-themed oeuvre) w/o expectations and even w/ tangential knowledge of their art (he does charcoal-drawing animations) and then be TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY. I very much enjoyed the trip, both Kentridge's superior dreamlike animated narratives and his drawings/works on paper/set designs. One thing, taking the title of that awesome Olafur Eliasson exhibition two years ago: take your time. You need to watch at least some of Kentridge's vignettes (preferably all nine of his early "9 Drawings" series (feat. sort-of personas Soho Eckstein, the wealthy white industrialist and alter-ego Felix Teitelbaum) to 'get it'. They screen in pairs of three (ranging from like 3 to 9 min each, so you CAN see them all). Eckstein is evil incarnate, all pinstripe-suited and cackling against streams of miners and laborers, watching his empire grow and erecting a monument to an indentured worker (who, incidentally, is chained to said monument). Teitelbaum, nude throughout, steals away Eckstein's wife and the fat-cat falls into depression, bombing his factories and standing sullenly in a room flooded w/ his tears (Kentridge notably uses charcoal and blue pastels almost exclusively). Eckstein gets his wife back and, in the mesmerizing 'Felix in Exile', the alter-ego pines for Nandi, a surveyor of a landscape strewn with bodies. She soon joins this scene. I was riveted. The suites of drawings are like 'best-of' moments from these films, Eckstein in a flooded room, Eckstein and his wife seated back to back, Nandi against a starry night sky. The installation for "Magic Flute" is brilliant, mainly b/c I am a sucker for Mozart, but Kentridge's adaptation for Dmitri Shostakovich's "The Nose" (based on Nikolai Gogol's psychedelic class-study) is better. This is a seven-projection installation w/ Shostakovich's soundtrack and clips of Kentridge's performance interspersed w/ protest and Constructivist lettering, a teasing out for the full-on show at the Met Opera this month.
* Tala Madani "Pictograms" @ Lombard-Freid Projects / 531 W 26th St. The spraypaint additions to Madani's figurative canvases (usually w/ black backgrounds) add a searing glowing effect. Her usual all-male cast pose like stylized letters, from an eye-chart to an amalgam 'leviathan'. Also, three short animations that end in variously hilarious disasters.
* J Shih Chieh Huang @ Virgil de Voldere Gallery / 526 W 26th St #416. Huang's new installation of mixed media electronic critters, w/ their light-up screens, neon glow and waving plastic-bag tendrils, look sort of like deep-sea dwellers in a contained environment. Or, like my first impression, something bioluminescent out of "Avatar".
* "Animate Matter" Group Show @ Thomas Erben Gallery / 526 W 26th St 4th Fl. Four gallery artists 'activate' their mediums, to varying effects and successes. I dug VOLTA showcase artist Dona Nelson, whose sparsely painted abstract canvases either flip over to show the wild action on the reverse side, or are traumatized by painted yarn and cut fabric. Also: Richard Staub's free-form junk-assemblage is a bit shocking at first, these hanging, draped plastic bags, but I think a strong reaction is part of the point.
* Pieter Hugo "Nollywood" @ Yossi Milo Gallery / 525 W 25th St. The S. African photographer returns w/ his lens focused on the Nigerian film industry and its special self-representation. The result is a lush and at times unsettling selection of prints, rivaling the intensity of his 'Hyena' show a few years ago. A man holding a huge cut of red flesh next to a trussed water buffalo w/ its throat cut out necessarily = shock. Also: nude woman in bed w/ a 'dagger' through her chest, the blanket around her soaked through red = shock. But there's loveliness to be had here, too, like the reclining woman in a sailor shirt and the kids. And, unintentionally funny moment: muscular naked guy wearing a Darth Vader mask.
* Chris Martin + Joe Bradley @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash / 528 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).
* Nari Ward "LIVESupport" @ Lehmann Maupin / 540 W 26th St. An intense multilinear solo offering from the artist, incl. enlarged X-ray images bordered w/ ink-covered shoes, ink-stained church pews modded into like a divided wheelchair, an entire ambulance w/ whited-out signage and fogged up windows. The more subtle works include vintage photography that Ward recontextualized w/ black ink and the short-film 'Fathers and Sons', which creates a palpable tension b/w its long silences and layered, rushed dialogue. Ward contributes to the gallery's booth @ Armory + he gives a talk @ the gallery SAT 1:30p.
* Debra Hampton "Twenty Paces" @ Priska C. Juschka Fine Art / 547 W 27th St 2nd Fl. Wildly realized warrior-heroines of some near-future apocalyptic world, composed of lots of fashion-mag collages and minimal paint — think Wangechi Mutu crossed w/ early 'Heavy Metal'.
* Alexander Calder @ Gagosian / 522 W 21st St. So there IS a mobile here, a soaring black thing, like a pterosaur, in addition to several massive land-dwelling steel pieces that all manage to carry Calder's typical lightness. Even the really big one, spread out like a 15-ft-tall black lobster, appears that, if if could move, it would do so w/ an unnerving grace.
* David Smith @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. I can take Smith's signature cubular steel sculpture in small dosages, but this five-piece exhibit of his late works is incredibly good, in a quiet, contemplative way. Only one stacked giftbox-style sculpture here. The other four steels incl two Joan Miro-like formless painted abstracts and two conglomerates, one like the ribcage of a large extinct lizard and the other, w/ the ominous addition of wheels that makes it somehow both alienesque and like a precursor to an obscure torture mechanism.
* 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.
* Stefan Bruggemann "Headlines & Last Line in the Movies" @ Yvon Lambert / 550 W 21st St. A mirrored, well-lit chamber, where said mirrors are covered in spraypainted words, the end dialogue of films + current headlines. It's when you read them and can't quite determine which came from where that it gets really interesting.
* Mike Nelson @ 303 Gallery / 547 W 21st St. OK picture the 'period rooms' of the Met museum (or the Brooklyn Museum), you know those like colonial, Victorian etc rooms. So it's like that, only a bunch of camper-trailers welded together, creating a slightly unsettling white-trash romp. And keeping it freaky, Nelson adds a busted mirror, low ceilings and odd mood lighting to the experience.
* Peter Halley @ Mary Boone Gallery / 541 W 24th St. Tasty geometric abstracts in furious, yet complementary, Day-glo paint, a textural mix of canvas and 'roll-a-tex' (think magnified sponge), rendered in Halley's unique vocab = 'prisons' (boxy horizontal bars, like Dan Walsh only hardedge) and 'conduits' (Mario Bros pipes, but hardedge again). Chiptune bands would have a field-day here.
* Jacco Olivier @ Marianne Boesky Gallery / 509 W 24th St. We have got a stunning, all-encompassing environment right here, courtesy of the Dutch artist's immaculately rendered painted animations. Before you even get to the centerpiece, 'Revolution', you'll be taken aback by his effectively emotive works. 'Bath' (recalling proper post-Impressionists) and 'Stumble' (an abstract seashore, complete w/ the sound of crashing waves) sets the scene for the brilliant 'Transition', an inland cove set around rock walls and fluttering petals. A figure slowly emerges from the distance, trudging through a jewel-like pool of water before plunging into it and swimming away. The effect is both "Avatar" and that scene from Michelangelo Antonioni's "Red Desert" (that Sardinia-set dream sequence when Monica Vitti is w/ her sick son). Then we have 'Revolution', like staring into either magma or, more appropriately, some colored-gas nebula in deep space, as worlds form and float by us. Cosmically trippy.
* "In Standard Time" Group Show @ Ana Cristea Gallery / 521 W 26th St. Marc Straus curates this tight, youngish/international 10-artist showcase. We have several fine takes on still-life (Adam Stennett's pristinely composed trippy lot; Roland Horvath's gauzily Morandi-esque) and intriguing portraiture (Tim Eitel's chilling entry, which from a short distance looks like a duotone minimalist piece; Richard Wathen's exquisite Old World-style, Andrew Sendor's cheekily realized), plus the extra treat from Michael Brown (melted LPs into trompe l'oeil sculpture and Marc Bijl's Gagosian signage.
* Dan Walsh "Days and Nights" @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 521 W 21st St. 1st off, Walsh's titular multipanel work/installation, created especially for the gallery, is a show-stopper: think blinking lights through a haze of urban night and day. The other new works are fairly subdued in tone and palette, but the diagonally glowing 'Facility' is quite nice.
* Céleste Boursier-Mougenot "harmonichaos" @ Paula Cooper 'Boutique' / 465 W 23rd St. The full arsenal of Boursier-Mougenot's awe-inspiring sound installation, which I saw at the 21st St gallery back in '06, involving old-school vacuum cleaners outfitted w/ harmonicas, motion sensors and lights.
* Lian 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".
* Damien Hirst "End of An Era" @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. Hirst's last solo show at the gallery was nearly five years ago and didn't include any formaldehyde tanks. Don't worry: they're back. Actually, he's provided several flavours of viewing-experience, so if you're more into the luxe, aesthetic Hirst, check the 4th fl. Beyond his dot paintings (the grayscale immemorially titled "Acetaldehye" is especially off-putting) and medicine cabinets are a series of wildly colored, wildly effective butterfly paintings. Indeed, Hirst combines household gloss and actual butterflies (either just the wings or the entire insect) into brilliant, super-trippy mosaics. Check them from different POVs to get the iridescent effect. It's like Philip Taaffe's mandala drawings only way more intense, like comparing shroom tea to a double-hit of acid. Fancy the de-luxe Hirst? Hit the 6th fl, ideally up the spiraling staircase instead of the lifts, and blind yourself w/ "Forgotten Promises" (he always names his art well), a room-filling gold-plated mirrored vitrine, its shelves lined w/ like a thousand cubic zirconia. The next-door gallery contains the aforementioned show-stopper: surrounded by photorealistic renderings of precious gemstones, and an even bigger wall-lining gold-plated mirrored vitrine ("Judgement Day", housing like a million manufactured diamonds) is "End of an Era", a gold-horned bull's head, in formaldehyde, on a marble plinth. If you fear being even remotely offended by said installation, I advise you to give wide berth to the neck-end of the vitrine (the bull is, after all, decapitated). But seen from a front or side view (and more effectively from a short distance, w/ the glittering wall of diamonds in the background, it's a stirring piece. And a highly recommended, very dope exhibition.
+ Elisa Sighicelli "The Party is Over". Sighicelli's forte is light. Her array of backlit lightbox C-prints of spare urban spaces (empty billboards, construction sites) glow with this energy, but there wasn't a lot of variety to hold my attention. Luckily she included two video works, the titular piece (this 7.5 hour beast, which obviously you don't have to stay the whole while to get it, a silent number w/ reverse fireworks against a night sky, quite mesmerizing) and the standout, called 'Phil Building', a very Electric Company-ish light show against an office tower, accompanied Paolo Campana's spacey soundtrack, veering from theremin-laden mood-scapes to light bossa-nova like from a YHC Heavy Industries piece. It's dope.
* Ida Applebroog "MONALISA" @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. The hook to this vibrant new installation from Applebroog lies in an extensive series of self-portrait vagina drawings from '69. This project was rediscovered only last year, and the artist scanned and digitally augmented the drawings (sometimes w/ the addition of light color washes) and hung the updated vellum prints to nearly totally cover a wood-scaffolding structure, the show's titular piece. The chamber itself is blocked by a ladder (adorned with an ambiguously gendered visage who I am honored to write shares my surname), and beyond that is the massive doll-like portrait 'Monalisa', swimming in a field of red. It's a bracingly energetic experience.
* Leonardo Drew @ Sikkema Jenkins @ Co / 530 W 22nd St. Attend Drew's wood-relief sculpture show and you'll see how my mind works when crafting these LISTs. Here's what I was thinking: the blackened wood pieces (incl. the MASSIVE one at the entryway) echo Louise Nevelson, and the inclusion of cubbyhole dividers practically scream her name; the spinier structures look sort of like Ursula von Rydingsvard's rough-hewn wood sculpture, only they're cut against the grain and suspended from the wall; the large cartography pieces (one spans an entire wall) resemble Mark Bradford's scorched urban mapmaking; and the behind-glass organic shapes are a bit like Anselm Reyle but w/o the new-car paint job. See, it's fun!
+ Vik Muniz, in the project room. Three more of his junk sculpture C-prints and one dirt-drawn C-print, everything has to do w/ skulls or skeletons and they look like woodcuts from a great distance but up close, when you decipher the scale Muniz used (a shoe here, a petrol can there) you realize these things are pretty fantastically big (except for the dirt-drawn skull, that's true to scale but no less impressive).
* David Reed "Works on Paper" @ Peter Blum Soho / 99 Wooster St. Absolutely essential viewing for Reed buffs (self included) or anyone remotely interested in the workings of one of contemporary art's more intriguing abstract painters. I am totally serious here. Check it: Reed paints these ribbon-y, otherworldly, color-saturated abstracts in either skinny verticals or subway-graf style horizontals. I have no idea how he does it, but his mastery and control of the paint is top-notch. This expansive show features his work-sheets (enlarged diary entries, almost, sketches, paint swatches and his draftsman's lettering covering graph paper) and color studies. Read through a suitably detailed work-sheet (they all are, just pick one), get the gist of 'layering', 'transparency', 'removal' etc, then check one of the rough color studies and you will still have NO idea how point A goes to point B — but you'll have some insight into the artist's workings. The suite of color studies in the front gallery, which I strongly suggest you check LAST, are an eye-popping green and dayglo orange mix from this year, progress towards some dope paintings, no doubt.
* Robert Grosvenor @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 534 W 21st St. Three fantastic vintage works from the industrial 'assemblage' artist, composed of his heavy signature materials (sheet metal, cinderblocks, concrete slabs). The earliest piece on display, from '86, is like an archaeological site, only the fossil is a concrete wall and the canopy a bunch of crudely-cut, welded steel. The latest, from '94,includes a welded surfboard/UFO object resting atop a row of lashed-together poles.