* Dieter Roth & Bjorn Roth "Work Tables & Tischmatten" @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. A first-time exhibition of the senior Roth's studio cardboards, vivid visual diaries of the artist's work process, intermixed w/ notes and scribbles from daily interventions. These are complemented by several actual work tables from Roth's studio, working ephemera and all, preserved by his artist son, Bjorn.
* Jeff Koons "Made in Heaven" @ Luxembourg & Dayan / 64 E 77th St. Did you know this is the 20th anniversary of Koons' notorious (and/or iconic, depending on how you remember contemporary art history) contribution to the '90 Venice Biennale, his suite of pornographic photorealist works w/ then-wife and former porn-star Ilona Staller? Koons destroyed many of those works after parting from Staller in '92, so the nine canvases and one sculpture on view in this new coupling should be considered extremely rare.
* "The Last Newspaper" @ New Museum / 235 Bowery (F to 2nd Ave). Alexandra Mir's conversion of Mary Boone's Chelsea gallery into a "newsroom" back in Fall '07, where the artist and a team of assistants produced poster-sized, text-heavy NY Post & Daily News front-pages on a news-cycle's schedule, remains one of the coolest info-driven shows I've had the opportunity to witness. She participates in the New Museum's far more expansive, conceptual exhibition/performance, joining news-hungry aritsts like Kelley Walker, Adrian Piper, Sarah Lucas, Rirkirit Tiravanjia, William Pope.L and others, plus partner organizations like Brooklyn's StoryCorps, Philly-based Slought Foundation, and the team Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere, who host projects and programs in their converted 5th Fl offices, plus produce a weekly recording happenings in the exhibition and special events on a constant basis.
* Tokyo Dolores "Spanking the LES" @ Nurse Bettie / 106 Norfolk St (FM/JZ to Rivington/Essex), 10p. The 1st of two in-residency performances by Tokyo's fiercest burlesque troupe, this one featuring Alk's gravity-defying acrobatics & Aloe, the cutie contortionist, both of whom do a mean pole-dance. I am humbled to say I know both these girls: they will stun you, then wow you, then stun you again.
* M.I.A. @ Brooklyn Bowl / 61 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 7p/FREE. Bananas!!! Love her or not — and, incidentally, I still love her — M.I.A. made good on her free-concert pledge after the maligned HARD Fest on Governor's Island in June. OK, the way this works is: doors are at 9:30p, but the queuing begins at 7p SHARP. No earlier. Meaning: there may well be several hundred+ hipsters milling about beforehand. Expect some insanity here, but when was the last time M.I.A. had a free public show since Siren Fest 2007?π
* Marisa Merz @ Gladstone Gallery / 530 W 21st St. Merz's classic, bent-metal sculptural works from the Arte Povera movement, of which she was the only female artist member.
* Tony Oursler "Peak" @ Lehmann Maupin / 201 Chrystie St. A deeper trip into the artist's continued fascination w/ the human psyche & the virtual world, via Oursler's bodily projections through a variety of media, w/ a more steampunkish/celestial angle this time.
* "Solaris" (dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972) screening @ Anthology Film Archives / 32 2nd St (F to 2nd Ave), 7:30p. The epitome of sublime sci-fi, a breathtaking orchestra of meditative shots and visual emotion set in an uncertain far-future time. Cosmonaut returns to a defunct space-station orbiting Solaris, a planet w/ an intelligent ocean that dredges up memories, then extended lucid visions, of the dude's deceased wife. The shattered mirrors still freak me out, in a good way.
* Coasting + Reading Rainbow @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Beford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$10. Duo rockers are so hot. And if Philly's garage thumpin', literary-minded Reading Rainbow don't get your juices flowing, locals Coasting (who released their debut 7" like the same time I was leaving town 2+ weeks ago) take it to eleven.
* Alicia McCarthy @ Jack Hanley Gallery / 136 Watts St. Folk-punk sounds good to me, in the Bay Area artist's patterned textile-like paintings (w/ a more muted palette this time) on discarded-wood canvases.
* "Nowhere Boy" (dir. Sam Taylor-Wood, 2010) screenings @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston). I find the trailer for this softly faded family melodrama entirely charming. The subject, if you can't tell from the title, is young John Lennon, the rakish, bespectacled bloke who clashes w/ his strict household and voyages into rock 'n roll. What's that band's name again?
* "I Spit On Your Grave" (dir. Steven R. Monroe, 2010) screenings @ Village East Cinema / 181 Second Ave (L to 1st Ave, NR/L/456 to Union Square). I checked the runtimes of this harrowing remake of the '79 cult film (which bears the notorious emblem of something like "longest rape scene") w/ the uncut version I saw at Fantastic Fest and they're the same, meaning this brutal rape-revenge thriller, which took the trauma inflicted upon its lead character Jennifer (and her eventual merciless rebuttal to her attackers) to an even more sadistic level, is also uncut. Take that as a cautionary word: this is a punishing film.
* "Red White & Blue" (dir. Simon Rumley, 2010) screenings @ reRun Theatre / 147 Front St, DUMBO (F to York St, AC to High St), 7/9:30/midnight. WHOA. Consider me incredibly surprised — I won't say "pleasantly", this isn't a "pleasant" film by any means, maybe "thoughtfully" is the word — this punishing film, a haunting plunge into the darkest, most violent realms of the human psyche, received a proper week-long screening. I just saw it at Fantastic Fest in Austin (where the film is set), and believe me, brother, this one is TOUGH. Though considering reRun serves alcohol (as does Fantastic Fest's Alamo Drafthouse Cinema), I'm compelled to see it again, nightmares be damned. Who's with me?? THRU OCT 14
* "Primal" (dir. Josh Reed, 2010) screening @ reRun Theatre / 147 Front St, DUMBO (F to York St, AC to High St), 11:55p. Uh…major?! Another bloodthirsty film straight off Fantastic Fest, a neo-Ozploitation, weird-world cannibalism flick in it's one-night-only NY premiere! See this AFTER "Red White & Blue" and channel my Fantastic Fest experience in a nutshell.
* Raw Stock Part 2: "No Wave Films from Downtown NYC, 1976-1984" @ Louis V E.S.P. / 140 Jackson St #4D, Williamsburg (L to Graham or Lorimer, G to Lorimer), 7p. Vanessa Roworth, Sabine Rogers and Celine Danhier (dir. of "Blank City") curated this incredible night of of NY's iconic "No Wave" film movement, feat. shorts from artist/filmmaker James Nares, "Guérillere Talks" (1978) by Vivienne Dick, and shorts by Michael Holman and Robin Crutchfield (from DNA!!). For lovers of the avant-garde (like myself) who weren't born then but wished they'd been in their 20s during this time, this night of experimental films provides a goldmine opportunity.
* "My Soul to Take 3D" (dir. Wes Craven, 2010) screenings in wide release. I'll tell you something: Craven knows teen slasher films (see, uh, "Nightmare on Elm Street" for starters). Take the director's background in bloody, nightmarish scenarios, add a young cast and the 3D element and there's potential here for something fresh and frightening. Just please no "Nickelcreek" lousy rock drivel on the soundtrack.
* The Insound Design Store @ 201 Mulberry St (BDFM to Broadway/Lafayette, 6 to Spring St), 10a-10p w/ DJs/booze 7-10p nightly. My favorite online record store does the pop-up thing again, echoing last year's December party (where I purchased my long-overdue record player and a cache of vinyl) w/ three days of wickedness. The silkscreened concert posters, band T-shirts and audiophile stuff are all dope and worth a look, but the draw for me is after the clock turns 7p and the DJing begins. Each night feat. somebody you might know: Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs' shredder) spins tonight, Kip & Peggy from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart spin Saturday (that's when I'll attend!) and Fred Armisen (SNL's Pres. Obama) does Sunday, which should be interesting. THRU SUN
* MV Carbon & Brian Chase @ ISSUE Project Room / 232 3rd St, Gowanus (DF/G/NR to 9th St-4th Ave), 8p/FREE. Local experimental electronic musician MV Carbon continues her monthly ISSUE residency w/ a solo set w/ "sculptural instrument" plus a duet w/ Brooklyn's jazz-drummer impresario Chase, perhaps best known for his fierce beats in Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
* Debo Eilers "Professor Eilers: 4 Hour Fundamental" performance @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to 23rd St/Ely Ave, 7 to 45th Rd/Courthouse Sq), 2p (part of "Greater NY"). Eilers, the mad scientist of Day-Glo and effervescent mixed-medium assemblages, leads a "classroom" of students presenting their year-end projects, w/ guest lecturers Ronnie Bass and Gandalf Gavan, in the basement Education Room.
+ robbinschilds Open Studios @ noon. Check installation/performance duo robbinschilds and their work-in-progress contribution to "Greater New York", 'I came here on my own'.
* The Hole presents RE:FORM SCHOOL @ 233 Mott St (BDFM to Broadway/Lafayette, 6 to Bleecker St). The Hole, the new idiosyncratic and entirely compelling offshoot from Deitch Projects, hosts an art exhibition (think David Benjamin Sherry, Cheryl Dunn, SWOON, Matt Green, Misaki Kawai etc) to raise money for education reform. THRU OCT 11
* "Summer Hours" (dir. Olivier Assayas, 2008) screenings @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins, C to Lafayette), 6:50/9:15p. w/ Assayas' five-hour cannonball "Carlos" debuting at this year's NYFF before crashing into IFC Center next week for a brief roadshow screening, BAM hosts a sendup of this "post-punk auteur" w/ his coolest films. The fun begins w/ this sun-streaked family drama, w/ Juliette Binoche at her most charming as she and her two brothers reunite in the art-filled countryside home of their recently deceased mother.
* "Irma Vep" (dir. Olivier Assayas, 1996) screenings @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins, C to Lafayette), 6:50/9:15p. If Assayas had never directed "Clean", then this earlier film w/ Maggie Cheung as titular catsuit-clad lead probably would've been my favorite. It's an incredibly surreal, meta-filmic romp through a Neo-Nouvelle Vague set, w/ Jean-Pierre Leaud as the driven director, Cheung his muse, and lots of snogging, debauchery and alcohol in between. And the soundtrack is kicking'.
* Telenovelas + RUN DMT @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Beford, JM to Marcy), 8:30p/$7. It's going to be very hot in the already AC-dodgy Glasslands tonight, w/ Brooklyn's astute shoegazers Telenovelas & the startlingly powerful psych contingent RUN DMT (if you missed Gaspar Noe's visual riot "Enter the Void", wiki "dimethyltryptamine" to see what I mean).
* "Abstract Expressionist New York" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). Let's hear it for New York! Big canvases by badass artists, a veritable Who's Who of NY's boy's club from the 40s through mid-60s (there are a few stunning examples from women artists during the time, incl the phosphorescent "Gaea" by Lee Krasner, moving rooms from its semi-permanent position on the same floor, but the emphasis here is on "few"), ranging from familiar favorites to rarely shown masterpieces. Props due for the thoughtful installation: there is a real flow to the rooms, maintaining a richly visual exhilaration after the absolutely flooring opener, that (for me, anyway) only peters out a bit at the final gallery. But enough, on to the art:
Room One: Robert Motherwell's singular early collage-work "Pancho Villa, Dead and Alive" (1943) was acquired by the MoMA shortly after Peggy Guggenheim's exhibition that year. I'm not sure I have EVER seen this work in person, and it's a mid-sized beauty, one of the few quiet works in this gallery. B/c the scene swiftly shifts to chaos and turbulence, via Jackson Pollock's early, snarling "The She-Wolf" ('43) and "Mask" ('41), both echoing Pablo Picasso's oeuvre (and specifically "Guernica"). Pollock nearly rules this room w/ his increasingly violent abstraction — check the blue-slashed "Gather" ('44) — but he meets his equal w/ the unfurling textural mania of Richard Pousette-Dart's "Fugue No. 2" ('43), a carnival of flashing lights and masked figures, w/ sand mixed into the oil paint. We're left breathless.
Rooms Two - Four: either head straight back to Barnett Newman's solo gallery, a brilliant choice by the curators, as his minimalist, soft washes, punctuated by vertical-line "zips", quench the visual palette from the surrounding busier rooms, or head adjacent to the see Motherwell's huge "Western Air" ('46-7), a geometric landscape w/ more sand in the paint, and a wall of Arshile Gorky paintings, each more color-saturated and Joan Miro-contorted than the last (though my favorite is the grayscale "Diary of a Seducer" from '45, which comes off almost like an abstract Warner Bros cartoon still).
Rooms Five - Six: Pollock rules one, Mark Rothko the other. Both are essential. The former commands many familiar canvases, like "Number 1, 1948" that nearly suffocates in the narrower room, but I especially dug the first-time "Full Fathom Five" ('42), a smaller vertical canvas of motor-oil-like paint rivulets, covering bottle caps and nails, and the horizontal scroller "Number 7, 1950", a sideways cascade of white on taupe that almost looks like calligraphy. Rothko's room is particularly dense, w/ the deafening sunset from "No. 5/No. 22" ('50) as the antithesis to the watery slate-blue rectangle floating in a sea of dark plum in "No. 37/No. 19" ('58). You won't want to leave this room too quickly.
Rooms Seven - Ten: It is in the 7th room that (I think) we encounter the first paintings by women NY-based Abstract Expressionists, and two of 'em in particular eclipse nearly all the male competition. I speak of the aforementioned Krasner "Gaea" and the gorgeous Grace Hartigan "Shinnecock Canal" ('57), a riot of green and blue, coming off like a forest scene put through several prisms. It is intriguing to note that these two strong works share the space w/ Willem de Kooning's famous "Woman 1" (one of "only" four de Koonings in the show, meaning he is sparsely shown as well). Ad Reinhardt channels the intensity in a room of his own, a suite of his (nearly) one-color "Abstract Paintings", and Franz Kline has nearly one to himself as well, what I'm calling the Zen room, as it pairs Kline's action paintings w/ David Smith's blocky sculpture, Clyfford Still's color tremors and a grand Louise Nevelson relief "Sky Cathedral" ('58). It's only the final gallery where I lull a bit, in that it features mostly Philip Guston, and I've admittedly never been a fan, but one of his still-abstract canvases, the textural gray-and-red-orange "Painting" ('54) is pretty tasty.
This is both a scholarly experience and thrilling, emotive romp. NY's had some fine Picasso shows of late, and the galleries have hosted extensive, illuminating exhibitions on Claude Monet, Gerhard Richter, amid others. But Abstract Expressionism IS New York, so it's no surprise that the best collection of its kind is here, at the MoMA. Go see it.
* "50 Years at Pace" @ Pace Gallery / 545 W 22nd St + 534 W 25th St + 510 W 25th St + 32 E 57th St. This whole "music experience in a gallery setting" that I (amongst many, many writers/bloggers/art enthusiasts, surely) have championed has never been more frothily at our fingertips than the multi-gallery celebration of this NY icon's support of Abstract Expressionism, Pop, Minimalism, New-Wave Chinese, all that & more. W/ MoMA's overhaul of its 4th Fl galleries for "Abstract Expressionist New York", now open to the public, it's quite something to have that AND have Pace, devoid of gift-shops, entrance fees, coat-check lines and Midwesterners (though don't doubt for a second these galleries won't be abuzz). Enough sarcasm, on to the art: I'll pick my five favorite pieces per gallery, since everything is dope and essential as is. 534 W 25th St is Pace's original Chelsea location, and it encapsulates the Abstract Expressionism wing (compare/contrast w/ MoMA) + Pop Art (and for bonus points, there's a cache of historical materials, show invites, ephemera etc + a timeline of the gallery's existence against current events in the back project space). My picks: the jumbo-size Mark Rothko "No. 15 (Dark Greens on Blue with Green Band)" (1957), sucking up the entire atmosphere of its portion of the gallery; the sharp Barnett Newman "Queen of the Night II" (1967), vividly blue and perhaps the ONLY piece that can withstand Rotkho's whirlpool; Robert Rauschenberg's "Windward" (1963), b/c Pace always had the best Rauschenbergs; Clyfford Still "1956, PH-967, NYC" (1956), which makes me forget I'm in a gallery, more than any of the pieces; and finally, obvs, Jasper Johns "Three Flags" (1958), now owned by the Whitney, b/c you don't mess w/ Jasper Johns, son. 545 W 22nd is my favorite theme, overall, "Minimalism / Phenomenological and Conceptual Art / Post-Modern and Post-Minimal Art" (right??). I'm hardest pressed here to pick just five, but since I agreed to do that: Donald Judd "Untitled" (1993), it's his trademark stacked copper-and-Plexiglas boxes, but they're tinted purple and it's oh-so awesome; Sol LeWitt "11x11x1" (1989), a VERY NY painted aluminum tower; James Turrell "Sensing Thought" (2005), sublimely wicked; Brice Marden "Conturbatio" (1978) just the right kind of color I need; and the hugest Robert Ryman (from 1990) I think I've ever encountered, like dropping headlong into a perfect snowdrift. Pace's new location, 510 W 25th, is the most "future-thinking" and gives me hope of what's to come, plus some great trips down memory lane. I loved the inclusion of Michal Rovner's "Data Zone, Cultures Table #1" (2003) and still have fond memories of her lava-like "Fields of Fire" show back in 2006; Zhang Xiaogang's "Comrades" (2006); Fiona Rae's "All around us, our own world of wonder!" (2009) straight off a brilliant show uptown; Chuck Close's portrait of "Zhang Huan I" (2008), both for its intrinsic, mosaiced beauty & the power of these two artists; and Hiroshi Sugimoto's "Henry VIII and His Wives" (1999), a thrill and surprise, as I've never seen this side of the photographer before. Go forth now, art-lover, and see what I mean.
* Sarah Sze @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. I found myself unconsciously creating one-word terms for the four large installations in Sze's splashy, mind-altering debut at the gallery, just so I could keep my head screwed on straight. It's brilliant, overwhelmingly so (nearly), and can really only be appreciated by being "experienced", by walking into and around these crazy structures that are one part futureperfect space-station, one part organic lifeform — so I'll try my best to break this mind-candied headrush down for you. The main room holds "The Uncountables (Encyclopedia)" or my term "everything", this slanting, illuminated, multitiered open structure, like a window into our collective subconscious and childhoods, bearing everything familiar and repeated yet somehow refreshingly new and valuable. Side room's "Never Enough (Projector)" is my "lunar", a textured surface, a light source. Upstairs' ecstatic "360 (Portable Planetarium)" is my aforementioned space-station, this cut-into globe w/ tiers of greenery amid stairs and twinkling stars. Finally "Landscape for the Urban Dweller (Horizon Line)" is what I called "weather", w/ its fans and water source, and its wooden boughs stretching up into the gallery skylight. This show turned my own conscious inside out.
* John McCracken "New Works in Bronze and Steel" @ David Zwirner Gallery / 533 W 19th St. So badass, so simple. The seminal "surface Minimalist" from the '60s Cali scene dropped some heavy metal on W.Chelsea, specifically stainless steel monoliths and (new medium for McCracken) bronze planks, everything polished to mirrored, spatial disruption quality.
* Joan Snyder "A Year in the Painting Life" @ Betty Cuningham Gallery / 541 W 25th St. Gorgeous, blossom- (and herb-, and silk-) infused abstract paintings, like plunging into a rose garden and rolling around. The triptych "Summer Fugue" is a brilliant opener, a pondlike visage at day and dusk, bookending a sunstreaked vertical panel abloom w/ reds, oranges and blues. The stunner, mural-sized "Oh April" in the back is, quite honestly, the closest I've seen for a modern artist articulating Claude Monet's watery ecstasy on ginormous scale (and that's not knocking Joan Mitchell nor Cy Twombly, but there is a brilliant immediacy to Synder's field here). I'll admit, this is a "pretty" lot (a few of them bear glass beads and glitter amid the other media) but pretty is just fine. We need pretty sometimes.
* Thierry Despont "Threading Orbs" @ Marlborough NY / 40 W 57th St. The NY-based artist's properly starry-eyed, large-scale solo show "Through the Moon Door" at Marlborough's Chelsea location bewitched its guests w/ its cosmic mix of mixed medium, metallic "artifacts", vaguely alien-esque sculpture & massive painted worlds on wood panel. His new exhibition at the uptown gallery is a sublime affair, reduced to the aforementioned satellites, threaded on massive jacquard looms in vivid color and gold/silver thread, floating in pure black space, and as a series of monotypes, asphaltum stamped on wide swaths of paper, mirroring the tapestries in size and coming off as their afterimage.
* Gregory Crewdson "Sanctuary" @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. The immediately compelling thing about Crewdson's new b&w photography series, his first outside the U.S. and centered on the empty Cinecitta studios in Rome, is how painterly they look. Amid the half-composed scaffoldings, wide-open doorways proclaiming the foggy mid-distance, and the (ahem) Roman columns, the light is even and matte, to the end effect that these only marginally resemble photographs, though Crewdson only minimally retouched them. Rather, they're imagined renderings of a mythical film studio, transfixed in history.
+ Dike Blair. Perhaps unintentionally, perhaps not, Gagosian has achieved a double tromp l'oeil effect w/ its pairing Crewdson's flat, painterly b&w photography w/ Blair's typically beguiling mix of sculpture and paintings. The best of this lot are Blair's painted crates, coming off more like "coffins", w/ actual paintings affixed to several of its planar surfaces.
* Dale Chihuly @ Marlborough Chelsea / 545 W 25th St. Feel what you want about this corporate lobby-loved artist, he's an alchemist at hand-blown glass and this new lot, a wall- and ceiling-mounted "garden", plus crystalline forms snaking up glass "vases" and "columns", is damn beautiful.
* James Busby "White and Black" @ STUX Gallery / 530 W 25th St. Busby's exemplary experimental all-white paintings show at this gallery in '07 strikes a beautiful, reductive tone here, as he focuses less on how much bizarre stuff he can throw on a piece and turns instead to a stark diet of gesso, oil and lots of shiny graphite on a suite of glowingly black minimalist paintings, on panel and shaped MDF. The former often come in diptychs and just as often are scored like record grooves, mesmerizingly psychedelic whilst being almost anti-Op. The latter are alien-slick, like out of a dystopian near-future cyberpunk novel.
* "The Personal Dimension" @ Arario NY / 521 W 25th St. These four "X Generation" Chinese artists, born during the economic/modernity boom, will tweak your viewpoint on contemporary Chinese art via their depoliticized, fiercely personal works. Gao Lei's voyeuristic, surrealist hyperreal paintings and installations reflect a strong notion of Big Brother surveillance w/o reducing it to cliched Red Army theatrics that occurred in the generation before him. Instead, we get chained and truncated animal combinations in white-tiled rooms, and WE are the ones peering in at their distress. Jia Aili's reductive canvases are far more opaque and devoid of his recurring narrative themes, but the inclusion of Jia's canvas-strewn bookshelf/workspace hints at his methodology. Li Qing's depictions of violence against countrymen and actual/emotional captivity are channeled by bright orange ping-pong balls, of all things, stuck to heavily impastoed "firing squad" silhouettes or inside a Plexiglas-enclosed table-tennis chamber. The WAZA Group collective features one installation, "30 Floating Musicians", devoting a stand, speaker and info card for each absent, traditional musician, amplifying their compositions to a much wider audience.
* Adam Fuss "Home and the World" @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. Fuss' large serpentine C-prints, as the reptiles slither b/w super-sharp and fuzzed-out, are no doubt high-quality, but the only joy for me here are the trio of large-scale daguerrotypes (the largest of the kind?), in the side gallery. Step into the dim room and observe the synthesis of bare mattress, vagina close-up, and mattress replete w/ snakes. Is there a story arc here?
* Bing Wright "Silver" @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 521 W 21st St. An interesting dichotomy w/ Fuss' show a few blocks up. Wright eschews dead bugs (mostly) for crisp silver-leaf shots against Hiroshi Sugimoto-styled featureless silvery backdrops, to stunning results. While everything looks similar, it felt meatier to me than Fuss' elaborations on a serpent theme, plus, funnily enough, Wright included a daguerrotype of his own (smaller than Fuss', mind). What he did here to knock this one up several levels was the inclusion of collage-like works of silver-leaf and wax applied directly to the prints, shimmering and playful.
* David Shrigley @ Anton Kern Gallery / 532 W 20th St. Shrigley's new show is as wordy and tongue-in-cheek as before (we're greeted by a painted-letter flag declaiming the situation before we even enter the gallery), w/ a row of huge, crudely formed ceramic boots (think "The Simpsons" footwear) and tinier bronzes protruding from the walls and floor (don't trip over "IT" as you walk indoors). My delight came from his ink works on paper, lining the gallery, everything from irony ("Welcome to Hell", says a beautiful, smeared color mountainous landscape) to non sequitor humor (a vaguely shaped animal w/ the words beneath it: "I'm a mammal. My mother was a mammal. My father also"), to some intriguing displays of death and fragile emotion: one, a frowning nude poses, and we see it from POV of the artist, and the rendering has the nude smiling. The title: "I have made you happy." Another even simpler, perhaps not even deliberate, example, is the text only: "I DID IT ALL [scratched out word] FOR YOU".
* Polly Apfelbaum "Lost + Found Colour" @ D'Amelio Terras / 525 W 22nd St. A very intriguing take on abstraction, via the temporal and site-specific. Apfelbaum extends her "drop-color" works to this sequined fabric installation, cut, torn and deposited, both happenstance and methodically, around the gallery's confines. Bit like floating in a hardedge painting.
* Alex Olson "As a Verb, As a Noun, In Peach and Silver" @ Lisa Cooley Fine Art / 34 Orchard St. Outstanding! One of my favorite shows so far this season, and a breath of fresh air in the abstraction realm. Olson's paintings retain her work history while nearly obliterating the grid, resulting in the incandescent "Correspondence", its Crayola layers blanketed under a field of silver, the hypnotically scarred "Transcript" and the beguiling "Notes", which reminded me of an ice-storm w/ its repeating slashes and clouds of cold colors.
* JJ Peet "Shadow" @ On Stellar Rays / 133 Orchard St. An incredibly compelling exhibition of ostensibly smallish and medium-sized abstract paintings on handmade wood panels. I use the coded term "ostensibly" on purpose, as there are many clues and glimpses of figuration (often politically- and economically-charged) amid these high-technique, beguilingly textured surfaces. One of my favorites, "Blockers - 3", is scored w/ Xs over its ocean-blue backdrop. Another, 'Station to Station" (beyond its dope title) features a few Paul Klee-esque mechanical figures drawn in blue in on an opalescent shoreline landscape, though the whole effect is peered at through a blocked-out lens, as the rest of the panel is a nearly featureless black expanse. We are encouraged to draw near and study the intimately scaled works up close (the midrange "Wimpo_1", at nearly two feet in length, feels practically massive in relation to its kin) and delve beneath their sanded down and reworked layers to discover the histories within.
* "The Space Between Reference and Regret" @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 537 W 22nd St. Oh, I'm not one to shy away from a tasty "challenge" of discreet and/or conceptual art. In fact, this is an incredibly active group show that exceeds the overall subtle talent listed. Check the main room & the duality b/w Wade Guyton's lovely tectonic "red-ballpoint" inkjet prints on cotton facing a wall of nearly twinkling Allan McCollum black frame "surrogates". Heimo Zobernig's ostensibly blank, primed diptych works well in sequence w/ McCollum's optical overload; switch back & forth b/w the two and see what I mean. Elsewhere Daniel Buren's striped fabric and Karin Sander's scuffed "mailed paintings" bear environmental histories.
* TM Davy @ Eleven Rivington / 11 Rivington. Sumptuous blurred-color paintings of domesticity, w/ the artist and his lover lounging about, paired w/ lush foliage.
* Kirsi Mikkola "Flex" @ Sue Scott Gallery / 1 Rivington St. WOW. Mikkola's laborious painted paper "constructions" (I can't call them collage), some demanding 8+ years before completion, are an exercise in deft, needle-tip precision and seemingly chance, as these cut-paper shards become zoomed-out urban networks or spiraling fantastical beasts.
* Airan Kang "Light Reading" @ Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery / 505 W 24th St. The centerpiece of Kang's solo show is her stunning "library" of LED-glowing resin books, art tomes and classic literature, flickering on mirrored shelves like something out of one of the later "Star Trek" series (they don't come off retro to me) w/ a colorful neon read-me energy.
* "Mine" @ Invisible-Exports / 14A Orchard St. Look, a group show involving archival Bob Flanagan (performance artist/writer/poet), who I know best from his heavy "supermasochist" performances, wields the emotionally-assaulting subtitle like a sledgehammer. And Flanagan's "Wall of Pain" (1981-1992), a grid of photographs tacked up w/ hypodermic needles, of the man gritting his teeth, howling, and getting smacked by the photographer and I'm guessing pain-inflicter, Sheree Rose, will induce some cringes, as may his outsized "Toy Box" (1992), filled w/ whips, a gargantuan dildo and a, ahem, Troll Doll, amid other things. Though I'd direct you to Hannah Wilke's series of three-photo studies, documenting her gradual, painful decline to lymphoma that ultimately took her life in 1993 (the photos end in '92), if you want a deeper infliction. Or Jana Leo's (who's last show at the gallery was an open archive around the rape she suffered while captive in her flat back in '01), glassy self-portraits and a visceral two-perspective video (use the headphones for full-on reaction). This is not an easy show.
* Sol LeWitt "The Complex Form" @ Dorfman Projects / 529 W 20th St 7th Fl. Look, anytime LeWitt's works are mentioned, you've got my full, undivided attention. This one, centered on his '88 metal work "Complex Form #6", w/ related geometric works on paper and sculpture, is, obviously, essential.
* "Redressing" @ Bortolami / 520 W 20th St. I had high expectations for this mega-sized group show in the gallery's new larger space, several blocks down from it's original Chelsea haunt. My history w/ the place, dating back to when it was hyphenated "-Dayan" even, has been erratic, w/ the usual gallery highs and lows, but more extreme here b/c the lows just pissed me off and the highs absolutely wowed my pants off, like phenomenal stuff. I'm particularly intrigued w/ how Bortolami will follow up, as "Redressing" is full to the brim, several dozen artists from the gallery's roster, downtown darlings, and some mid-career surprises (but still bearing that edge). All said, there are some lovely things here, most of 'em new, w/ Terence Koh's "History" (2008), a mannequin draped in a lioness and blue wildebeest hide, respectively, opening the experience. A brilliant combo further in begins w/ Daniel Buren's gray and white-striped wallpaper, carrying a new David Salle, "Lookout", and a new Jacki Pierson word-sculpture. Adjacent to this is Jonathan Horowitz's cheeky "Daily Mirror" (2006), a mirrored silkscreen of the 'Cocaine Kate' "Daily Mirror" cover, and if you look at it from a slight angle you get the prison-bars effect from the Buren. Another combo, in the back (and I'm interested in what the gallery does w/ this space, as it is quite obviously beneath their offices), includes Ryan Foerster's new "Julie Night Swimming" abstract C-print, which could be a twilit shoreline from the distance or the smear of a UFO, and the Tim Noble & Sue Webster heavy-metal copulating rats, scrap metal transformed by a spotlight into said vermin. It's one of their more stirring light-and-object examples, in my opinion, which is a bit funny b/c it's about rats.
* Dmitry Gutov "In Our Days, Everything Seems Pregnant with its Contrary" @ Scaramouche / 52 Orchard St. Yes you have to read at this show, Gutov's latest Constructivst-style typography paintings, based on Karl Marx quotes, but it's worth in the artist's execution of these multilayered works.
* Feng Mengbo "Yi Bi Te" @ Chambers Fine Art / 522 W 19th St. Technology-infused silkscreens, fields of mottled color and silver leaf accentuated by pixellated figures and hanzi.
* Andreas Hofer "ON TIME by Andy Hope 1930" @ Metro Pictures / 519 W 24th St. Ohhh this is a tough one, I know it's Hofer's thing (or Hope 1930's thing), being challenging and whatnot, but I could only abide w/ 1/3 of this one. The austere "paintings" as blanks on otherwise empty walls and the Star Trek multilevel chess set (a "readymade") rubbed me the wrong way. I dig, however, get into these wooden tube-like structures w/ empty picture frames fastened at one end. You peer into these portals and suddenly experience a mad spatial disruption. That was pretty wicked and worth the visit (just skip over the other stuff, unless it gets you off).
* Cordy Ryman @ DCKT Contemporary / 195 Bowery. Ryman's brand of bold "mixed media" works is of the muscular sort, drenched in Gorilla Glue (adding its own waxy pigment and physicality to the art), w/ protruding blocks like thumb-sized spikes, and textural elements like velcro and painted styrofoam. His color palette remains firmly w/in caution-brights, w/ psychedelic forays only when the medium is spraypaint, but Ryman's blues are as seductive and multilayered as his father's famously investigative white. Another father-son shared element I noticed is the care and attention to the mountings, as this Ryman's wall art becomes reliefs and even free-standing sculpture.
* Ingrid Calame "Swing Shift" @ James Cohan Gallery / 533 W 26th St. Boldly colorful oil on aluminum abstractions of inventory numbers stenciled into factory floors at a steel plant in Buffalo NY.
* Arlene Shechet "The Sound of It" @ Jack Shainman Gallery / 513 W 20th St. A refreshing exploration of the experimental potential of ceramics. Sounds dope, right? Dope #1: we don't see many examples of ceramics as contemporary art. Dope #2: Shechet stretches the limits of the medium in very intriguing ways, while keeping it grounded in its clay-and-glaze foundation. Some weighty, globular works reveal their (subtly) hollow nature via keyhole-like appendages. Others resonate w/ non-traditional glazes glistening from w/in the form, like a geode w/ a plain, rocky exterior.
* Alex Gross "Discrepancies" + Esao Andrews "Solid Void" @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery / 529 W 20th St. Show some love for slightly creepy, highly figurative, masterfully executed paintings — and chuck the term "low art" forever away. Gross is Cali-based, but his subjects, in their mixture of mythology and luxury name-brand consumer culture, bear echoes of his work in Japan (he did the U.S. paperback cover for Haruki Murakami's "After Dark"). In Gross' cocktail, everyone owns an iPhone and drinks Starbucks, they emerge from dark waters like an old-school screensaver, clutching their smartphones and cigarettes as a wrong-color sky fills w/ confetti and slogans ('Bittersweet', 'End User', 'Envy'). Andrews' style is much darker and warped , w/ his long-limbed figures interacting w/ cloven-hoofed….things…and smears of full-spectrum will o' the wisp against gloomy underworld backgrounds.
* Sarah Peters "An Appeal to Heaven" @ Winkleman Gallery / 621 W 27th St. The artist's continued investigation of colonial America, from inky maelstrom-like seascape drawings (the "Mayflower" series) to stylized bronze busts ("Descendants and Believers").
* Yi Hwan-Kwon @ Gana NY / 568 W 25th St. Yi's first U.S. solo exhibition is a cinematic stunner. You may have stumbled across his unmistakable photorealistic yet absurdly distorted sculpture before, familiar figures warped like at the edge of the event horizon of a black hole. Here we have elements from Yi's films series, incl. westerns and the showstopper "Léon & Mathilda", straight from that pivotal kitchen table scene, where Jean Reno shows precocious cutie Natalie Portman how to put a handgun together.
* Craig Kauffman @ Danese / 535 W 24th St 6th Fl. Late-period works from the high-gloss Cali minimalist, vacuum-formed acrylic reliefs like submerging yourself in some magical Kauffman-created coral reef. Shapes range from lustrous super-sized pearls to stunning anemonelike forms, gleaming in the center w/ a swell of glitter.
* Karl Wirsum "Drawings 1967-70" @ Derek Eller Gallery / 615 W 27th St. We haven't had a solo show from this original Hairy Who member in a lonnnng time, which is esp. notable b/c, if the legends are to be believed, Wirsum uttered the question that led to group's name. This show, culled from the artist's fecund sketchbooks, is good and grotesque. There are a few inky-black or fire-red renderings (for "Playboy"!) that recall fetish, but maybe that's my mind wandering at the heels and whips imagery. The majority are fleshy, muscled, hard-contrast figures, like superheroines exposed to high levels of some alien radiation. And since we were graced w/ a Jim Nutt old & new works exhibition at David Nolan, I can only hope NY sees some of Wirsum's neon-y new paintings sooner than later.
* Zsolt Bodoni "Fehérlofia, Son of the White Mare" @ Ana Cristea Gallery / 521 W 26th St. Huge Bodoni fan here, who enjoyed a fab inclusion in the four-artist "Year One" show at this gallery during the summer. He returns w/ ferocity in large-scale, grimy industrial oils/acrylics of factories, car-parks and ruined landscapes, interspersed w/ hints of Hungarian folklore. I get undercurrents of Anselm Kiefer and the mighty haunt of Francis Bacon here, as figures remain half-hidden or evaporate in Bodoni's palette of murky tones and acid color accents.
* Lori Field "The Sky is Falling" @ Claire Oliver / 513 W 26th St. Field's multilayered colored pencil and encaustic works remind me of chewing through a bag of psylocibin and diving head-first into a field of daffodils. Pop culture and human/animal hybrids poke in and out of these very druggy scenes.
* "Material Issue and Other Matters" @ Canada / 55 Chrystie St. A rewarding group show of emerging artists working in challenging mediums, but you'll only take from it if you're not stymied by its immediate opacity. I mean, small-scale muddily encaustic on linen canvases and frail-looking cobbled assemblages isn't your splashy seasonal debut opening. But stay w/ these, the aforementioned Paris-based Robert Janitz and local Suzanne Goldenberg's particularly personal tableaux, then follow w/ Lauren Luloff's translucent stretched-fabric mockups and Jess Fuller's sagging, sliced-fabric reliefs, channeling Eva Hesse in her execution.
* "Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). For the brief overlap b/w this beautiful, experimental glimpse at a modern master and the expansive Abstract Expressionist show a few floors beneath it, MoMA claims an almost unparalleled art-viewing experience. Since this exhibition opened over the summer, it has challenged and modified opinions to the artist, that his oeuvre isn't all "just" a bunch of pretty, softly-composed girls and saturated color palettes. Even the casual gallery-goer has rubbed elbows w/ a Matisse painting before (whether the early Post-Impressionist still-lifes echoing Cézanne and Signac; the lushly colored studios and ecstatic dancing nudes of his "prime" period in the early 20th C.; or the late-period Jazz-series gouaches and cut-outs, also richly colorful), so most have an opinion of what a Matisse "should" look like. Let yourself take it all in while viewing this experimental show, which despite a room of lead-in styled works from the turn of the century focuses on 1913-1917, Matisse's time b/w Morocco and departing for Nice.
The large canvas "Bathers with a Turtle" (1907-8) in the opening gallery is a good primer for later on: his characteristic shapely nudes move in front of a startlingly minimalist three-banded color backdrop, emulating a shoreline and horizon in the simplest terms. And the degree of reworking and overpainting! You don't even need to read the accompanying placard to ID it: the background once was quite detailed, and the placement of the nudes (particularly the middle figure) shifted, resulting in a very visible ghosting effect. These elements of reduction and reworking figure into many of the later works, culminating in a grand way w/ the final massive canvas "Bathers by a River", whose dates span 1909 to 1917 and features both a grid system (vertical stripes this time, in a very reduced palette of black, white and blue-gray, plus simplified greenery) and four Cubist-style gray nudes. In between this we get shots of color (several works from his Moroccan days, like the stunning "Zorah in Yellow" (1910), the literally drenched "The Blue Window" (1913), whose blue tones threaten to immolate a vase of flowers by the window) amid increasing degrees of abstraction (check both "Portrait of Yvonne Landsberg" (1914), w/ its scratched white lines and curves on black, and "The Italian Woman" (1916), a heavily painted-over, modelesque Laurette, surrounded on all sides by a flat field of putty-gray). As the years progress, so does the somber nature of Matisee's palette, as black lines ("lines of construction", like in the Landsberg portrait) play more a role, and yellows and reds (beyond a suite of simplified Moroccan-style still-lifes) are omitted for cool grays, blues. Two of the final works in the show really locked me in, though: the startlingly abstract "Shaft of Sunlight, the Woods of Trivaux" (1917), a combination of green planar shapes and black shadow literally evaporating in the foreground in a wedge of silvery gray, and "The Studio, quai Saint-Michel" (1917), my overall favorite and Matisse's final rendering of that iconic, recurring room. In it, the floor-to-ceiling window overlooks the township, the wall is a slickened gray (overpainted many times) w/ abstracted canvases hanging on it, and there's a nude Laurette curled up on the flower-patterened sofa. Adding the nude injects that sensual Matisse touch that I identify most with him.