* "Looking at Music 3.0" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). I totally dug the previous iteration of this music/art mashup, so props to the gallery for doing another, focused this time on NYC in the '80s and '90s. You bet there is a fertile lot to draw from, Beastie Boys and Le Tigre to Keith Haring, Run DMC, Steven Parrino and more.
* "Warhol Soup" @ Armand Bartos Fine Art / 25 E 73rd St. The final exhibition for the gallery, before it transitions into private dealing, is MAYJAH: the 1st survey of Andy Warhol's unequivocal Campbell's soup cans, from his some of his earliest prints in the '60s to his weird-color paintings in the '80s, to a soup box sculpture from his late period works.
* "Zero Bridge" (dir. Tariq Tapa, 2008) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). Take note: "Zero Bridge" is billed as the 1st film from Kashmir in 40 years, and it's the debut of the Kashmiri/Jewish-American director. It's shot reportage style, keeping an noninvasive yet unrelenting gaze on the two poor protagonists, he a nervy pickpocket with bigger dreams and she a contemporary young woman fleeing an arranged marriage.
* Beans @ Santos Party House / 96 Lafayette St (ACE/NR/6/JZ to Canal St), 8:30p/$10. Hell. Yes. Beans is one of THE MOST talented MCs around, way experimental but still delivering similes and metaphors to knock you back off your feet. w/ Edan (you know, that guy that DJs and freestyles simultaneously, etc)
* She Keeps Bees @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 8p/$7. The White Stripes taught us that all you need is a guitar, a drumkit, some well-written lyrics and someone to sing 'em, ideally whilst playing the guitar. She Keeps Bees swaps instruments, w/ Jessica strumming away and singing better than 90% of Brooklyn bands. w/ We Are Country Mice
* Donald Judd "Works in Granite, Cor-ten, Plywood & Enamel on Aluminum" @ The Pace Gallery / 534 W 25th St. This one's got me all excited: it's like the gallery framed it AND named it w/ my interests in mind. Check it: thirteen wall and floor pieces from the stalwart industrial minimalist, from 1978 through 1992, as he continued pushing the envelope of creative materials.
* "Minor Cropping May Occur (selected diaries 1962-2011") @ Lombard-Freid Projects / 518 W 19th St. Lea Freid and photographer Nick Haymes co-curated this international show of realist photographers, from Keizo Kitajima's iconic postwar b&w compositions and vintage prints from Walter Pfeiffer's (Zurich) personal collection, to family imagery via Takashi Homma, Daifu Motoyuki and Haymes' own Russian in-laws, to the endearing edginess of Hiromix and Mike Brodie.
* Pat Steir "Winter Paintings" @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. A perfect coda to the impending thaw and warming weather (I'm serious: it has to happen), via Steir's meditative and ephemeral splashed, dripped and poured paintings.
* Stefano Cagol "Stockholm Syndrome (always with you)" @ Priska C. Juschka Fine Art / 547 W 27th St. Cagol presents his latest video "Evoke/Provoke", created during his residency in Norway, a preview to his solo project "Concillo" and participation in the 2011 Venice Biennale.
* Marcel Dzama "Behind Every Curtain" @ David Zwirner / 525 W 19th St. The gallery debuts Dzama's film "A Game of Chess", which incorporates his cast of elaborately masked characters, plus related drawings, sculpture and dioramas that open the show and prepare the viewer for the vividness within.
* Michael Riedel "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" @ David Zwirner / 533 W 19th St. The exhibition title is a hint to Riedel's methodology in his "click-aesthetic" poster paintings: it's a sentence using every letter of the English alphabet that happens to make sense. That won't last long, as his silkscreens incorporate copy-pasted text from websites mentioning his works, flowed willy-nilly (algorithms and nonsensical search keywords included) into InDesign text-boxes and printed.
* Heimo Zobernig @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 537 W 22nd St. New grid and monochrome paintings and two new sculptures, bearing some reference to Yves Klein and Zobernig's continued trawling of post-Modernism, Geometric Abstraction and Minimalism.
* Sze Tsung Leong "Cities" @ Yossi Milo Gallery / 525 W 25th St. This New York-based photographer's previous exhibition "Horizons" wowed the crowds: a wraparound horizon-line of all sorts of different worldly landscapes. This time Leong focuses on urban formations, ancient to contemporary, shooting them from high above in context of their surrounding natural environments to highlight the geometries of city planning.
* Hiraki Sawa "O" @ James Cohan Gallery / 533 W 26th St. "Coming full circle is movement without displacement. In that time, you simple are, and all change is in the looking," says the London-based Sawa in his A/V installation "O", depicting past and present, outside and inside, plus meditations on the moon's cycle via pencil drawings.
* Wei Dong @ Nicholas Robinson Gallery / 535 W 20th St. Wei's Old Master influence and visceral figurative style may remind you of another New Yorker's technical, provocative oeuvre (cough, John Currin) — but this new series satirizing the post-Cultural Revolution in contemporary China is among Wei's most realistic and subtle.
* Angel Otero "Memento" @ Lehmann Maupin / 201 Chrystie St. Otero's process-based abstraction will move you — unless you're made of stone. I mean, he scrapes and abrades his oil paintings, inundated with Spanish Baroque imagery, creating glittering textural reliefs in their wake. He's also my age, so props for young artists! Major.
* Sue de Beer "Depiction of a Star Obscured by Another Figure" @ Marianne Boesky Gallery / 509 W 24th St. Following de Beer's filmic work "The Ghosts" that debuted at the Park Ave Armory, she reveals an installation with short videos that rekindle aspects of her earlier work while furthering her work in perception and dream narratives.
* "Shanna Waddell "Misshapen Chaos of Well-seeming Forms" @ Thomas Erben Gallery / 526 W 26th St, 4th Fl. The young Philly artist's debut here rides on a wave of impasto and organic semi-figuratism, like Cecily Brown crossed w/ Francis Bacon.
* Seung Ae Lee "The Monstrum" @ Doosan Gallery / 533 W 25th St. Lee's vivid large-scale pencil renderings of monsters manifest from inner conflicts in her daily life, so by depicting them perhaps she reins them in and tames them?
* Coke Wisdom O'Neal "Blue Nude" @ Mixed Greens / 531 W 26th St. O'Neal's latest photo project is perhaps his most claustrophobia-inducing: a constraining transparent container and its contorted, posing figure within.
* Herb Jackson "Firestorm in the Teahouse" @ Claire Oliver / 513 W 26th St. The intriguing effects and (de)textures to Jackson's abstract compositions require as much paint de-application and abrading as it does brushing them onto the canvas' surfaces.
* Jonas Wood @ Anton Kern Gallery / 532 W 20th St. Wood's latest show w/ the gallery takes his contrasty, extremely detailed and realistic, but somehow quirky (collage-like?) style to new energetic heights w/ a wild series of interiors.
* Asobi Seksu (album release party/tour kickoff) @ Mercury Lounge / 217 E Houston St (F to 2nd Ave), 7:30p/SOLD OUT (oops)! The finest contemporary shoegaze/dream-pop lovelies deliver a solid statement in "Fluorescence", retaining those singeing guitars and Yuki's ethereal vox but with more dynamism than ever. Like when Cocteau Twins released "Heaven or Las Vegas". This is Asobi Seksu's "Heaven or Las Vegas", and it rules.
* Dream Diary (album release) @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p. Dream Diary, I like 'em. I like how they coat their sound in warm feedback and reverb, which may recall everything from Glasgow's jangle-pop scene to, locally, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. But so what, more cuddly dream-pop isn't a bad thing. w/ Telenovelas (LIST favorites, if you didn't know that by now)
* The Beets (album release) @ 285 Kent, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 7p/$10. Yes, you read that correctly: THREE big local album release parties on the same night, this one for Jackson Heights' best and brightest garage rockers The Beets (celebrating 2nd album "Stay Home"). I remember way back seeing these guys at Glasslands, seemingly a few months after they began playing live. My how they've grown, but they're still loads of fun. w/ German Measles & Big Troubles
* Tamaryn @ Don Hill's / 511 Greenwich St (ACE to Spring St, 1 to Canal St), 8p/$8. This is the fierce and fashionable Tamaryn's final "proper" NY show this month, before embarking on a tour w/ the Raveonettes, which is a genius way to cap off the NY fall/winter collections (if you haven't been paying attention, it's Fashion Week!). She performs again Saturday at MoMA PS1 (the Saturday Sessions), which should be compelling, but not quite the same as foggy, sweaty downtown Don Hill's, no? w/ Religious to Damn
* The Homewreckers + Clinical Trials @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, G to Lorimer), 8p/FREE. Fiercest local girl-punk that you will love b/c it's the closest you'll ever get to reliving the mid-'90s the way it SHOULD be relived.
* Marc Ribot @ The Stone / 16 Ave C (F to 2nd Ave), 10p/$20. The local guitar legend, whose playmanship spans Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and John Zorn (amid legions more) — and whose super-trio Ceramic Dog melted minds last month at (le) poisson rouge, capping off a monthlong residency there, regales in a solo set tonight, so close you can touch him!
* "Seriously Ecstatic: Joshua White at the Fillmore East, 1968-70" @ ISSUE Project Room / 232 3rd St, Gowanus (D/NR to 9th St/4th Ave), 8p/$10. Soundscreen Design presents the Joshua Light Show's legendary two years at Bill Graham's Fillmore East in an incredible archive, feat. music tonight by Gary Panter, Devin Flynn and Ross Goldstein in collaboration, plus White's own multi-channel video environment, ideal for ISSUE's performance space.
* Paul Gabrielli "Generally" @ Invisible-Exports / 14A Orchard St. The deconstructionist sculptor plays with perception in compressing 3D objects and applying trompe l'oeil to his readymade works.
* Film Comment Selects @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St). Rawer than NYFF, more international than the, uh, region-specific film festivals, and 1000% cooler than Tribeca. FCS returns w/ over two dozen new productions and classics, many w/o stateside distribution (translation: see 'em now or maybe never see 'em again). The festival lasts through MAR 3 so I'll update w/ my favorites, and read on for this week's picks (each bears a FCS slug).
* "Sword of Doom" (dir. Kihachi Okamoto, 1966) screening @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to Lexington/53rd, 6 to 51st St), 7:30p. Okamoto's bracing jidaigeki plunges into the darkest recesses of the samurai oeuvre, with Tatsuya Nakadai as the tortured-soul badass taking it to the end of days.
* "Domaine" (dir. Patrick Chiha, 2009, France/Austria) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of FCS, 3:45p. Like closeup familial discomfort? Welcome to "Domaine", w/ the ineffably bizarre Béatrice Dalle as an alcoholic mathematician and object of her gay teenage nephew's fascination.
* "Hobo with a Shotgun" (dir. Jason Eisener, 2011, Canada/US) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of FCS, 11p. The winner of the Rodriguez/Tarantino "Grindhouse" fake-trailer contest has been expanded into, well, just like the title says: a crime-fightin' hobo w/ a lethal-ass shotgun, delivering brutal justice one shell at a time.
* "We Are What We Are" (dir. Jorge Michel Grau, 2010) @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). The fact this tight-knit family practices a highly ritualized cannibalism is more underlying plot point than impetus for full-out carnage and cheap shock value. Grau plays it restrained and dark, permitting the family's own intrinsic drama to break into bleakest depravity.
* "Putty Hill" (dir. Matt Porterfield, 2010) @ Cinema Village / 22 E 12th St (NRW/L/456 to Union Square). A beautiful, haunting film set around a funeral in working-class Baltimore, by the director of the exquisite, meditative, hot-summer's-day "Hamilton". Finally in a proper NY screening run, too, so don't miss Porterfield's innate talent for framing a scene and letting the onscreen events naturally, organically develop.
* "Jaws" (dir. Steven Spielberg, 1975) midnight screening @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). Good thing this is playing in February, b/c if it were July it'd dissuade you from going to the beach. I'm serious. If you've never seen "Jaws" (let alone on the silver screen), you owe it to yourself. From that early scene at dusk to the mayhem and bloodletting that transpires, it's one killer shark film that still resonates today. ALSO SAT/SUN
* Crystal Stilts + Beach Fossils @ 285 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to March), 7:30p/$10 (advance tix available at Record Grouch / 441 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg). Those lovable Brooklyn surf/garage boys Beach Fossils have a new EP "What a Pleasure" dropping on the 22nd, so share in the preview tonight, w/ a hotter-than-hot lineup helmed by the glamorous and mighty Crystal Stilts (who ALSO have an album due, sometime). w/ Widowspeak
* Andrzej Zielinski "Seven Screens" @ DCKT Contemporary / 237 Eldridge St. Can you handle garish Day-Glo color and funky, gritty textures?? If you caught the Berlin-based artist's previous show, well he takes it even further into color-cacophony land, filled w/ dead-screen laptops and sinister ATMs.
* Jane Fox Hippie "Blanks and Holes" @ DODGEgallery / 15 Rivington St. The NY debut for the Boston-based artist, whose textured and reductive palette paintings succinctly disturb their respective soothing minimalism by a foreign object, just like the title says.
* Corey McCorkle @ Maccarone Gallery / 630 Greenwich St. The NY-based artist's third show extracts from the spacious and eerie Desert de Retz, the 18th century garden near the Forest of Marly. The centerpiece of McCorkle's presentation is a five-channel projection "Zoetrope", incorporating still and tracking shots of the Desert's Broken Column.
* Sweet Bulbs @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$7. Recurring LIST-favs Sweet Bulbs whip up a maelstrom of fuzzy noise-pop in their live acts, w/ vocalist Inna the eye of that hurricane. w/ White Laces & Arches
* Mona Lisa Overdrive: La Big Vic + Mala Strana etc etc @ Silent Barn / 915 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood (L to Halsey, M to Myrtle/Wyckoff), 8p/. If the William Gibson reference didn't get your juices flowing, maybe you don't want to attend. But if you're cool, you won't want to miss this double offering of raw, electro and sci-fi inspired performances by La Big Vic, Mala Strana, Tiberius, Winks and more, w/ cosplay and live visuals figuring into the mix. Not quite the Sprawl, but the Barn's a close bet.
* Saturday Session @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to 23rd St/Ely Ave, 7 to 45th Rd/Courthouse Sq), 4p. Feat. Tamaryn & Mirror Mirror dead-center in a sweaty audiovisual miasma, courtesy Thunder Horse Video and presented by NY-based creatives Lauren Devine and Patrik Sandberg. This should be VERY crowded, so claim your tix early (beginning 2p).
* "Sweatshop" (dir. Stacy Davidson, 2010) screening @ Fat Black Pussycat / 130 W 3rd St (1 to Christopher St, ACE/BDFM to W 4th St), 5p (RSVP) + q&a w/ writer/producer Ted Geoghegan, producer John Torrani and Fangoria managing editor Michael Gingold. I'm going out on a limb here, so stay with me! Heard of "Mikadroid: Robokill Beneath Disco Club Layla", that Tomoo Haraguchi cyber-splatter classic from '91, that starred future J-horror director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, amid a cast of mostly quick-dying girls? That's…not exactly the same as "Sweatshop", a heavy-hitting horror flick feat. a welder-masked baddie busting ravers' cute heads w/ an oversized sledgehammer during a dodgy warehouse party. Super indie and insanely violent. I can't wait.
* "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" (dir. Werner Herzog, 2010, USA/France) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of FCS, 5:30p. Herzog in 3D, exploring 32,000 cave paintings in Chauvet, France. Nuff said.
* "I Saw the Devil" (dir. Kim Ji-woon, 2010, S. Korea) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of FCS, 1p. You are not ready for this. Ahead of its proper screen-run at IFC Center in two weeks is a dark sphere of depraved, gruesome energy, a revenge tale so sickening that it pushes the envelope way further than you'd ever dare. That said, I loved it. If you've seen Park Chan-wook's "Oldboy" and wondered what happened to that rugged slice of man-muscle named Choi Min-sik, well he's back as the evilest sociopath since Hannibal Lecter.
* Knyfe Hyts @ Secret Project Robot / 210 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. Brooklyn's heaviest, weirdest, fashion-iest no-wave noise-rockers Knyfe Hyts continue their monthly residency at SPR, feat. a super-limited hand-screened cassette release at each show. w/ Alien Whale
* Air Waves + Easter Vomit @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$7. Slip into a heavy blanket of lo-fi psychedelia, courtesy of Easter Vomit, before singer/songwriter Nicole Schneit brushes back the haze in her triumphant return to Brooklyn, w/ band Air Waves.
* Pablo Picasso "Guitars: 1912-1914" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). The titular instrument, represented here as a fragile paperboard setup and a ferrous sheet-metal construction, bookend this tightly focused gaze on the modern genius' pioneering cross-media Cubism. This is an incredibly brilliant show. MoMA's taken the time to inform via this detailed chart of the various mediums Picasso used in the exhibited collages, drawings, paintings and constructions, from mixing grit into oil paint for textural differentiation to highly detailed faux-bois and faux-marbre painting — mimicking woodgrain and marble — to incorporating newsprint and wallpaper as stand-ins for figuration. In short: everything here is badass. His "Guitar, Sheet Music, and Glass" (1912) barely looks like a guitar at all, but rather several floating contoured bits against a vivid wallpaper and detailed charcoal-drawn glass. "Bottle and Wineglass" (1912) is even more reductive, a matrix of charcoal and pencil lines echo cut-glass with a skinny rectangle of newsprint as the bottle. "Man With a Hat and a Violin" (1912, which I'm nearly positive was at the Met's Picasso exhibition), has the human form dodging in and out of fractured lines and planes of newsprint, the violin traced in F-holes. "Siphon, Glass, Newspaper and Violin" (1912, from Stockholm's Moderna Museet) incorporates newsprint in everything but the neatly drawn violin's neck and pegbox, though the "newspaper" itself is just the JOURNAL nameplate. "Guitar on a Table" (1912, from Dartmouth College's Hood Museum of Art) explodes into varying planes of faux-bois, green, pink and blue, recalling I guess a spring day. "Guitar, Gas Jet and Bottle" (1913, from the Scottish National Gallery) is all verticals and varying matte and shiny surfaces, thanks to Picasso's inclusion of varnish. Plus, he depicts a bottle of Catalan liqueur, Anise del Mono, with almost 3D semblance. The extraordinary "Box Table with Guitar" (1913, from a private collection) is "just" cut-paper and wallpaper pinned together and floating in its frame — it's incredibly ethereal and frail and a must-see. I could go on. There are like six dozen works on display, including the two guitar constructs. Take your time and revisit, b/c it's drawing crowds.
+ "Staging Action: Performance in Photography since 1960". This is less about performance captured in photography than photography involving some sort of performance. Does that make sense?? I liked some of it: Robin Rhode's "Untitled, Dream Houses" (2005) a 28-frame stop-action suite of the artist juggling a cascade of charcoal-drawn objects on a brick wall (table, TV, chair, bed, car) before capitulating under the weight, is both a sharp comment on consumerism and the omnipresent American Dream (though importantly he shot this in his native S. Africa) and brilliant display of technical mastery. There's a lot of nastiness elsewhere: one creepy wall goes from Bruce Nauman's slightly disquieting self-portraits to a Matthew Barney "Cremaster 3" still (its Vaseline frame eliciting a security guard and barrier), to Otto Muehl's painful and kinky "Transparent Packing" (1964). I was surprised to read the 'recent acquisition' tag that accompanied VALIE EXPORT's famous "Genital Panic" (1969) action, but props on MoMA for acquiring nonetheless. Plus there's four polaroids from Laurel Nakadate's "Lucky Tiger" (2009), six shots from Adrian Piper's disquieting series "Food For the Spirit" (1971), and the classic "Man and Woman #20" (1960) from Eiko Hosoe, a contrasty b&w print of the woman's head cupped in a headlock and, for all intents and purposes, appearing to be decapitated, preempting "Tomie" and all sorts of J-Horror classics.
* "Found in Translation" @ Guggenheim / 1071 Fifth Ave (456 to 86th St). An exhibition of eleven youngish international artists using translation as a tool for revisiting and re-appropriating history, sociopolitical issues, culture etc all via moving-image works (video, film, slides), separated into four annexes? Sounds like fun, right? I'll be honest: this one takes some time, particularly in teasing out the layered meanings and points-of-view from the works here (which run from a brief 4+ minutes, plus Sharon Hayes' indeterminately timed slide installation, to over an hour). But there's enough neat source material and creative output to warrant your time, esp. b/c many of these works are on loan from institutions abroad (and those owned by the Gugg are mostly debuted here). The "opening", if you count the lowest level as that, includes Hayes slide installation "In the Near Future" (2009), 13 projectors of the artist holding agitprop placards (both historically accurate and made up) in five cities in the U.S. and Europe, like "I am a man" (New York), "Wir Haben Ein Recht auf Arbeit" (Vienna) and the cheeky "When is this going to end" (London), filmed between 2005 and 2009. Next level up is the busiest, w/ another multi-screen work by Carlos Motta, "Six Acts: An Experiment in Narrative Justice" (2010), involving performers in Bogota, Colombia reading from assassinated left-wing radicals' speeches in the same public squares where they were murdered. You don't have to use the headphones to get the point, but you can. Sharif Waked's "To Be Continued…" (2009) is a long-player, but you may well get wrapped into it. He's dressed and acting the role of a soon-to-be suicide bomber, but instead of reading his last will and testament to the camera, he reads tearfully from "1001 Nights", using Scheherazade's words for an intriguing gender twist. Lisa Oppenheim's "Cathay" (2010) dual-projection is pretty cool, echoing Ezra Pound's titular 1915 text on Li Bai's classic 8th C. poem w/ images from NY's Chinatown, against a current word-for-word translation. Next level is the cinematic one, Keren Cytter's striking "Les Ruissellements du Diable" (2008), based off Julio Cortázar's story "Las Babas del Diablo" (the basis for Michelangelo Antonioni's "Blowup"), a 10-minute plunge into noir-surrealism that you should sit through. Plus Patty Chang's "The Product Love" (2009), a two-channel projection of people live-translating critic Walter Benjamin's text on Anna May Wong, thereby blurring his German w/ their English, plus a Chinese film crew and actors dramatizing 1928 meeting in Berlin. This played at Mary Boone Gallery in summer 2009 but it's dope to see again. Finally we reach the top and Steve McQueen's powerful coda "Once Upon a Time" (2002). Its completion date pins it as the oldest work here, plus it's got the longest runtime and you don't need to sit for all 70 minutes to "get" it. But "get" it you will: McQueen's taken imagery from the Golden Record, which accompanied Voyager I and II on their deep-space flights in 1977, in search of extraterrestrial life. But instead of the original scratchy soundtrack, McQueen's subbed in recordings of glossolalia, hyperbolizing what aliens "might" hear us as when those probes reach a faraway star. Immersed w/in this dark room, enveloped in words we cannot understand whilst viewing a blur of human accomplishments, earthly animals and landscapes.
* David Hammons @ L&M Arts / 45 E 78th St. The thought-provoking and elusive New York artist returns to the gallery from his spare and brilliant 2007 fur-coats exhibition with a show literally shrouded in mystery. Wildly colorful — or even garishly, tackily colorful, if you want to go that far — abstract paintings hang like in just any gallery exhibit, except Hammons' has concealed them in layers of torn plastic, or burlap, or drop-cloths. An antique dresser is shoved up against one, and what looks to be wetly-applied garbage bags climb up another. Two works upstairs are actually JUST plastic, one a ghostly, translucent layering, the other augmented by shiny black…but don't be surprised if you catch yourself contemplating these closely. Hammons upends boundary of art as hung and displayed and trash on the curb, hinting at the "beauty" wrapped within while maintaining a sly artsiness to the enveloping elements.
* Josh Smith @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. What is painted, what is silkscreened and what is printed versions of the original works? Smith continues blurring that line in his extensive, exhaustive output of similar-sized abstract canvases and panels, luxuriously painted (or not?) with fiery maple leaves and medieval skeletons, plus some recurring fish and of course his name. A few instances include grids of works apparently assembled that way, then painted, creating overlapping swaths of color and imagery throughout. Plus, Smith's added oversized enamel-on-aluminum renderings of stop-signs, perhaps an echo of his prodigious output or a call to the viewer to slow down and look closer: as "same" as these paintings may appear, there's a lot of compositional refinement occurring just beneath the surface.
* Liz Larner @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21St St. Larner's debut at the gallery is a beauty, a methodical investigation into the formative practice of sculpture with Michelangelo Antonioni's modernist classic "The Red Desert" as reference. Everything is dope about this. The show itself works seamlessly as an installation, with each autonomous work purposefully placed and holding court in reference to its kindred. From the indeterminate sunset hues of vinyl coating the floor and snaking up the gallery walls and ceiling, to the cracked slabs of resin-y black, to the wall reliefs "Blue and Green" and "Lentous Rust", undulating, organic ceramics. Indeed, color is at much at play here as form and space.
+ Jason Meadows. Time for some fun. Meadows offsets the theory and focus of Larner's downstairs grouping w/ a sculpture of his own, "Weekend Project", which looks sort of like a Mustang engine (had to look that one up!), replete w/ actual wrench. He diffuses this ultra-macho display w/ riffs on Peanuts characters and "Holly Golightly", a suspended melange of tartan-patterned geometric planes, evoking the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" heroine and fashionistas today.
* Geoffrey Farmer "Bacon's Not the Only Thing that is Cured by Hanging From a String" @ Casey Kaplan Gallery / 525 W 21st St. I found this Vancouver native's NY gallery debut infinitely clever, far overshadowing my initial fears of the intended, uh, puppetry. Think of photocollage but 3D, equally fragile and feverishly meticulous. That's the beginning of his cheekily titled installation "Pulling Your Brains Out Through Your Nose", a forest of Pop-referential cutouts taped to cut coat-hangers occupying two gallery walls plus a bit more. Or his grouping of faux "lamp posts", these battery-powered LED posts painted then outfitted with a slew of dinky little cut and printed oddities, fabric and found objects (hats, shoes, purses, glasses) that slowly reveal themselves as you cycle about them.
* Francesco Vezzoli "Sacrilegio" @ Gagosian / 522 W 21st St. Understand something going into this Milan-based titillater's debut NY solo exhibition: it's gaudy and it's meant to get a rise out of you. If you can't hang w/ digs at religious imagery and pop idolatry (or if you've like never heard of Francesco Vezzoli before), I caution you: you might not dig it. That said, I didn't mind this, but then anything involving supermodels (rendered here in needlepoint, spewing dollar-sign tears, and riffing off classical Renaissance Madonnas) I'm good w/. He's transformed the gallery into a chapel, sorta, replete w/ "crypt of memory" video installation, feat. the artist's mother and a child echoing the Madonna (and thereby Vezzoli) even further. The walls lined w/ supermodel reinterpretations can be considered, then, as celebrity worship, literalized.
* "The Parallax View", curated by Manuel Gonzalez @ Lehmann Maupin / 540 W 26th St.This is definitely one of those shows where you need to see it in person, walk amidst the art, see how one relates to or plays off another — even across generations, b/c while the bulk of this is those mesmerizing light and space minimalists (Robert Irwin, Dan Flavin, Robert Smithson…uh, Robert Morris, to add another "Robert"), the situation transforms into something refreshingly different here. Like: I am coming around to digging Teresita Fernandez, really, despite my earlier bad experiences w/ her too-shiny, too-precious art. Her untitled 1997 work, which I swear looks like a perfectly still pool of water but is actually a floor-set mirror and scrim bordered in wood, plays well off Smithson's "Island Maze" (1971) drawings, which are then echoed in shape by Morris' serene lead and steel "Observatory" (1972), which is doubled by Eva Hesse's brilliant, textured plate and tubing. The side gallery provides a brilliant combo, Flavin's green fluorescents from 1975 shimmying up the wall, against spiky metal "Dibujo sin Papel" frames by Gego: her physicality and danger balance Flavin's colored gas, in an unlikely but totally perfect match.
* Tara Donovan "Drawings (Pins)" @ The Pace Gallery / 510 W 25th St. Donovan has really achieved something brilliant here in these "drawings" composed entirely of thousands of steel pins, which resemble textured reliefs up close (or substitute pins for pixels, and think of super-enlarging a low-res web image) and slightly fuzzy gradients and soap-bubble patterns from a distance.
* Alyson Shotz "Wavelength" @ Derek Eller Gallery / 615 W 27th St. The Brooklyn artist returns w/ a gorgeous viewer-interactive exhibition, grounded in the wall-spanning "Standing Wave", a thousand dichroic acrylic strips attached in stepped increments, creating this aurora borealis effect on the gallery wall that is among the baddest-ass installations I've seen in awhile. Her huge drawing "Sine", composed of yarn and pins, is an intriguing conversation-point to Tara Donovan's exhibition at The Pace Gallery, as this one too looks more physical (i.e. in ballpoint) than it actually is.
* Janet Biggs "The Arctic Trilogy" @ Winkleman Gallery / 621 W 27th St. Gallery debut by this NY-based artist, following her travels and filming in the extreme Svalbard islands, located between Europe and the North Pole. Three films, "In the Cold Edge" and "Fade to White" (both 2010) and the disarming "Brightness All Around" (2011), are featured. These screen huge, plunging you into the icy seas, glacial walls and admittedly claustrophobia-inducing ice caves. "Brightness All Around" was the immediate winner for me, interspersing shots of Bill Coleman performing in a dark theatre to a guitar-heavy soundtrack w/ coal-miner Linda Norberg navigating a newly excavated ice cave.
* Ellsworth Kelly "Reliefs 2009-2010" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 522 W 22nd St + 532 W 24th St and "B&W Drawings" @ 526 W 22nd St. Way to draw sharp focus from these spectacle-heavy PYTs: have 87-year-old legend Kelly distill his palette to the nitty gritty (in this case, nearly totally b&w) and totally conquer most everything else out there. He expands on his prior restrictive-modicum w/ a new set of relief paintings, plus a slew of works on paper spanning 20 years, the modus and archive for these new works. You need to see everything, obvs: the upstairs 24th St space is more experimental and acts almost like an inclusive installation, five large canvases of gumdrop-shaped curves spanning blank canvas, except for the "Black Curve Diagonal" (2010) which I found cartoony and like a super-reductive nigiri rendering. The main 22nd St space is a solid octet of pointy reliefs, seven black polygonal shadows on white and one sharp "White Relief" that most resembles his hardedge style from decades earlier. Kelly throws everything into a whirl w/ the opening "White Curve" (2010), this glistening painted aluminum form both alienesque and enigmatic, that opens the show. The little 22nd St space adjacent housing his drawings his present methodology's time-capsule, as early collage studies from the mid-50s already had him pairing white planes over black, or vice versa, and the all-graphite "Study for 'Black Curve IV'" (1971) very closely echoes its 2010 kindred.
* Olivier Mosset @ Leo Koenig, Inc / 545 W 23rd St. The ceaselessly intriguing Conceptualist assembles 38 same-size black paintings covered in glossy truck-liner paint! Hell yes.
* Terence Koh "nothingtoodoo" @ Mary Boone Gallery / 541 W 24th St. Koh opened his solo exhibition by slow-circling an enormous hill of rock salt, shuffling on his knees, clad in requisite all-white. There was a spotlight on him and the room was full of rapt, bewildered and magnetized onlookers (some sharing these characteristics). He's still circling that salt mountain. There may be a change in this durational performance as it takes a toll on Koh's legs and the salt level drops, or he may keep going until the end. Just don't peek in and leave if you don't see him: his revolutions are in extra-slo-mo, so he may well be hidden behind the salt's rise, shuffling along.
* John Beech "The State of Things" @ Peter Blum Chelsea / 526 W 29th St. Beech is still encasing painted rags and work-gloves in Plexiglas and creating "coated" images, though his shinily taped prints of Reutlingen Factory Yard and Stagg St, Brooklyn feel even more "found" than his earlier enamel-covered photography. And while he retains that industrial vibe throughout, his Tang orange "Rolling Platform", half off its casters, recalls both Tony Price's original 6-ft "Die" and Charles Ray's luminous similar-sized cube of ink.
* Los Carpinteros "Rumba Muerta" @ Sean Kelly Gallery / 528 W 29th St. The Cuban duo return to the gallery w/ more transformative works involving really neat materials, w/ perhaps "Cuarteto" the most immediately obvious. It's a salsa band — drums, congas and upright bass — "melted" into brightly colored pools on the floor, recalling both an energetic performance and a psychological breakdown. "Sala de Lectura Ovalada", filling the back gallery w/ its skeletal MDF framework, is an empty reading room taking its shape from panopticon prisons. The glare off "Luces del Estadio del Pueblo", meanwhile, reflects both Havana's PanAmerican stadium's lights and the acute financial crisis that followed afters its realization in '91.
* Larry Poons @ Danese / 535 W 24th St. I draw your attention to "396" (2010), one of several new vibrant paintings by Poons that actually has a title (easier to denote that way, instead of "that big greenish one on the south wall"), to call out his wonderful methodology as a figurative painter. Confused? His works are not just about texture and lots and lots of layered color, like a painting left out of the rain. Poons' style, gestural though it may be, captures brilliant landscapes and "moments", like this one, abstract enough to warrant multiple responses, but I see it as a late Monet footbridge, almost, in the evening, with with this festive energy. The lolling hills, a blur through a train window, or just that soft-focus you get from rousing yourself from an after-picnic siesta, embodies "Louisville, Nashville, Montgomery" (2009), those townships in one huge horizontal. Or an untitled vertical work from 2009, all fiery yellows on top and deeper hues underneath, again like a late Monet (his allé of trees) but as a cropped-in detail. Fantastic!
* Lee Lozano "Tools" @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. Just plain excellent. Put this exhibition high on your must-see list and do just that. Lozano was a brilliantly tortured soul, brimming with genius, whose life WAS her art, as she pursued stricter conceptualist practices in the '70s that drew her away from the art-world (and thereby the public eye). So her surviving physical oeuvre is limited, but terribly intense, and it is fortuitous of the gallery for hosting this rare collection of drawings and paintings of tools from 1963-4, during Lozano's raw expressionist "comix" period in NYC. Think massive clamps and shadowed screws, a hammer-head blurred into motion, wrenches so biomechanical to make Giger blush. One hardcore razorblade titled "hard". More macho and sexier than Claes Oldenburg's suggestive tools. Lozano would eventually turn to Minimalism, in her late-'60s "Wave" paintings, and then fully into the Conceptual practices that moved her into obscurity. I really wish she were alive today, or had still been "making art" in the '70s and '80s. While Eva Hesse died young (against her control) and therefore had a brief career and Lozano self-truncated her own career, I still strongly note this connection of originality and vitality b/w the two artists. Few exhibits move me like this one.
* Piotr Uklański "Discharge!" @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. I wanted to like this exhibit way more than I did, in the end. It's been a few years since NY had an Uklański show (his last, "Biało-Czerwona", lit. "white-red", practically christened the gallery's 21st St space), so I was ready. There's some spectacle here, but no mammoth resiny paintings, no soaring sculpture, no gruesome mixed-media installation (nor any thought-provoking video). No, this chameleon's entire output is a bunch of nouveau tie-dyed paintings. Not that spin art that Damien Hirst did (or still does): stretched cotton bedsheets attacked with fiber-reactive dyes and bleach, producing saturated starbursts and corrosive pattens. He sourced his fabrics at Ikea and Bloomingdales (according to the gallery's press release) and made these eye-watering works — plus had fun naming them, if "Orgasmatron" and "Atomic Ovum" are to be believed. The odd one out, a garish pottery relief called "Kinda Kinky", echoes the tie-dyes in 3D, and it's meaty enough to sink ones teeth into. Overall, not my cup of tea. Maybe yours?
* Mika Tajima "New Humans" @ Elizabeth Dee / 545 W 20th St. A lovely chromatic chaos, as Tajima deconstructs a 1970's Herman Miller Action Office system into a modular installation of mini painted cubicles (or prisons), some doubling as bulletin boards for additional paintings, and vintage ergonomic kneeling chairs. Accessibility denied! Her gridded spray-painted acrylic frames lining the gallery walls, "Furniture Art" (after Erik Satie's "Musique d'ameublement") are as much architectural references as mindless visual eye-candy, meant perhaps to make office hell a bit more bearable. Though if she were called in to redesign a proper office, I would be down for that.
* Christian Marclay "The Clock" @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 534 W 21st St. This is a brilliant "time waster". That's tongue-firmly-in-cheek, obvs, b/c I loved Marclay's new 24-hour film. The concept is terribly simple: Marclay has culled tons (thousands? more?) of film footage of timepieces — wristwatches, clocks of all kinds — and sewn them into a flowing realtime narrative synchronized to the actual time it's screened. Meaning: I went at 6:20p, stayed until 6:45p, and all the excerpts I viewed occurred during those 25 minutes in the evening. People around the dinner table, people leaving work in a downpour, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson quixotically staring at a Mac computer in "Zoolander", Keanu Reeves leaving the Oracle's kitchen in "The Matrix"…and so on. Plus, the gallery-hangar converted into a screening-room was like a cozy charcoal-colored cocoon, and a full-house to boot. The final 24-hr screening begins this Friday and you KNOW there will be a queue (hint: it's worth it).
* Gia Edgveradze "Stolen Blanket & Other Short Stories" @ STUX Gallery / 530 W 25th St. A career-spanning exhibition from the Georgian-born, German-based Conceptualist, the 1st of its kind in N. America — indeed yet again an instance of a challenging, creative artist who shows widely across Europe (and Russia!) but not in the states. Don't miss it: Edzgveradze tiptoes on gender-bending and patriarchy-busting anthems in his "Dancing Bride" series (from the late '90s), his mammoth, brushwork-like "The Big Bra" (1990), even his stunning, mixed media triptych, created from sketched projected enlargements of other sketches, perforated paper and confetti on wood panel, the entire effect mimicking Georgian calligraphic script. He continually superimposes image over image, and himself into these images, resulting in a blanketed text so interwoven with history and personal reflection that, like alluded in the show-title, you might want to claim it for yourself.
* Seth Price @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. Take your pick in Price's latest A/V installation, a bank of video booths containing the artist's own narrated ghost stories (like "The Rolling Skull", shown against religious extremist video) and music videos (like "Happy Boots" a cheery psychedelic 2 1/2 minutes).
* Joe Bradley "Mouth and Foot Paintings" @ Gavin Brown's Enterprise / 620 Greenwich St. Bradley goes Paleolithic with his debut at Gavin Brown, slathering on the paint and scraping out brutally figurative abstracts on raw, dropcloth canvas. He worked the elements out on his studio floor, hence the dribbles, foot-tracks, markings and other loving, historical elements imbued in their respective surfaces.
* Joe Bradley "Human Form" @ Canada / 55 Chrystie St. The second of concurrent Bradley solo shows in NYC (the other Paleolithic affair is at Gavin Brown's Enterprise) is way subtler, but still ballsily masculine. It's a set of black-ink silkscreened silhouettes in full-on Bangles posing on white canvas. He alluded to this in a billboard outside Gavin Brown, but the arrangement and potential movement of the figures in Canada's bunker-like space (everyone poised in stop-animation like Keith Haring characters) amplifies the experience.
* David Stephenson "Light Cities" @ Julie Saul Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. This veteran photographer's management of light over nighttime urban skies is really enthralling. The triptych of Melbourne around the Rialto Tower bears a "Blade Runner" luminescence, and Tokyo seen from its bay and Tokyo Tower is a futuristic wonderland.
* Patrick Jacobs "Familiar Terrain" @ Pierogi Gallery / 177 N 9th St, Williamsburg. I love this exhibition's title: it felt totally appropriate as I practically dove face-first into the warm, endless meadows realized in Jacobs' awesome works — they're a combo of meticulous diorama and convex Claude glass lenses, so they appear as 3D photographs. I count myself the requisite city-dweller, a hardcore urbanite who likes his parks but is most comfortable on pavement, transit platforms and structures several stories off the ground. But I was beyond charmed by these swaths of greenery, recalling everything from some English glade to upstate New York, just off the beaten path. "Fairy Ring with English Daisies" (2010) bears a flattened oval of grass in its foreground. The tiny "Dandelion Cluster" (a 2-inch lens) is stuffed to the brim w/ thistles and that blossoming weed, like seeing it from the POV of tall grass. Water features, distant powerlines, water-towers, and other elements slowly reveal themselves in Jacobs' compositions, as our eyes soar back toward the horizon. This Cali-born, Brooklyn-based enchanter is featured in the upcoming "Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities" group exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design — but those feelings of delight when peering into a Jacobs' lens are totally natural.
* Robin HIll "Case Discussions" @ Lennon, Weinberg Inc / 514 W 25th St. I like the concept: Hill incorporates decommissioned lab equipment from the University of California at Davis' flea market (she's a member of studio faculty) in this exhibition, turning out wax- and cloth-filled projectors and desks reminiscent of Piero Manzoni crossed w/ Rona Pondick. Only thing is, Hill's telltale cyanotypes (a few are present here) are totally lost in the noise.
* "L'insoutenable L'egerete de L'etre" @ Yvon Lambert / 550 W 21st St. Translation "The unbearable lightness of being", but it sounds way cooler en Français. This is a joint group show at the gallery's NY and Paris locations, named after Milan Kundera's 1984 novel, and feat. a genre- and generational-spanning cast of the sublime and nightmarish. The artists conjure a range of human emotion, and there's no clean path through, so take your chances. Lawrence Weiner's "1/2 Empty, 1/2 Full, Whatsoever", w/ its sharp diagonal plummet into the circled "whatsoever", is typical of some feelings stirred up here. It faces a wall of vivid Andres Serrano prints, some softer portraits but also Klansmen, morgue "portraits" and the unsettling "The Interpretation of Dreams", from the University of Chicago's Renaissance Society's 2008 "Black Is, Black Ain't" exhibition. Of the several videos here (all in TVs placed directly on the gallery floor), if you should accidentally look at Hermann Nitsch's classic grueling bacchanalia "6 Tage-Spiel" (1998) (replete w/ animal slaughter, marching bands, a pseudo crucifixion, mass intoxication), then I encourage you to seek out David Claerbout's lulling "Cat and Bird in Peace" (1996), which is just what it sounds like, a cat and a bird sharing the same space, not messing w/ one another. It's fantastic.
* Ulf Puder @ Ana Cristea Gallery / 521 W 26th St. Neo Rausch might be the best-known name of the 1st Gen. Leipziger Hochschule, but Puder's debut stateside puts him firmly in the need-to-know for younger Eastern European artists. I love these stark, uninhabited landscapes, filled w/ ramshackle buildings seemingly poised at either post-aftermath or approaching unseen destruction.
* "Offset Summary" @ Rachel Uffner Gallery / 47 Orchard St. Oh I dug this. The exhibition title and concept stems from spatial intervention and reconfiguration. Back in the day, a different space occupied this gallery, and in it was a Lawrence Weiner work "A 36" x 36" Removal to the Lathing or Support Wall of Plaster or Wallboard from a Wall" (1968). That 40+year old Weiner remains here, sort of, as a covered-over remnant, and it's the jumpoff for a five-artist intrigue. Begin w/ Yves Klein's iconic "Le Saut dans le Vide/Leap into the Void" (1960), retained here as yellowed newsprint from the front page. The literal removal and doubling in this early photomontage harkens back to the semi erasure of the Weiner. LA-based Kathryn Andrews adds some contemplative action w/ one heavy-metal sculpture, a mirrored dresser described w/ a b&w portrait seemingly discarded/forgotten on its surface. Zak Kitnick's metal-on-MDF 'collages' are like Constructivist-style microchips blown up to memoir-size. Mary Simpson collaborates w/ curator/writer Fionn Meade on the very short film "Marsyas", its own abstract of the music-savvy satyr from Greek mythology.
* Ray Caesar "A Gentle Kind of Cruelty" @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery / 529 W 20th St. I never thought I'd use "painterly" in the same breath as Ray Caesar, the dark alchemist of macabre babydolls rendered in 3D modeling software, but that adjective is apropos in his latest body of work. He's softened the edges of many of his creepy, biomorphic girls, not so much treated them w/ the blur presets in Photoshop but rather this overall weathered, muted old-style drama. Then again, the varnish treatments on the final UltraChrome on Dibond prints, like "Second Sight" (w/ its amorphous green-gas backdrop) and the diffuse spotlight on "Totentanz", works wonders, too. Though compare w/ the untreated UltraChrome prints, like the fine mist hanging over "Day Trip", and that softness remains. It puts his trademark slick production skills, like on "Silent Partner" (devilishly kinky, but more throwback to Caesar's earlier works), into razor-sharp focus.
* Heinz Mack "Early Metal Reliefs, 1957-67" @ Sperone Westwater / 257 Bowery. I like to call this "heavy metal reliefs". But seriously, it's a great array, all shiny steely surfaces that reflect or protrude their pointy edges. The bulk of the exhibition is hung salon-style between the 1st and 2nd Fls (this occurred during Bruce Nauman's show, too, and I wonder if it's a blessing and curse of the gallery's taller, skinnier structure), making so you have to ascend the 2nd Fl to clearly see the top row, and even then you can't get close to them. The range here, shreds of aluminum like a metal-coated piano ("Meine kleine Klaviatur", 1960) or marking a wooden surface like a shark's prickly dermis ("Große Lichtrelief", 1965), or the amusing frozen explosion of shards of glass and aluminum enclosed in Plexiglas ("Grosses Splitter-Bild", 1966), seemingly cueing Anselm Reyle three decades before the fact. The 2nd fl is a quickie, some pretty cool Op-ish works on paper, or rather silver spray on silver foil, and the delicate "Box of Light Spirals", 1966. The 3rd Fl. contains the frightening MOVING Mack sculpture, forays incl. the rough-hewn "Nacht-Licht-Skulptur", 1970 (resembling a screwdriver's head magnifying like 10000), plus the regal "Stele mit Lichtpunkten", 1987, an obelisk of Plexiglas and transparent foil, facing out onto the Bowery's rooftops.
* "Paintings & Sculptures" @ Skarstedt Gallery / 20 E 79th St. Beyond that innocently vague title lies a monster, in the form of Mike Kelley's classic "Torture Table" (1992) his macho do-it-yourself woodworking apparatus grounded in pain and emasculation. Upstairs is relatively kinder, a rather gorgeous (if perhaps quite visceral) Carroll Dunham "Sixth Pine" (1987), painted on pine veneer, a textural Christopher Wool enamel on aluminum, crackling with dark energy, plus a ghostly Albert Oehlen from '89.
* Brendan Flanagan "Sightlines" @ Thierry Goldberg Projects / 5 Rivington St. Flanagan's debut stateside solo show is a B-movie success, far as I'm concerned. He's got an excellent handle on controlling his media, coating panels with hazy gradients of oil paint, then introducing his melty, multicolored figures on top, oozily ominous monsters and victims in wet acrylic, practically sliding off the surface. The tiny gallery echoes the creepshow factor, making this more a cohesive installation than just a bunch of paintings hung in a white-box space. Really dope.