Oi! New York Gallery Week returns, bringing over 60 solo exhibitions and loads of related talks, screenings and free stuff, and lasts this FRI through SUN. Check the program site for full info and schedule, and look for entries tagged "+ added awesomeness" for my picks.
* Georg Baselitz "The Early Sixties" @ Michael Werner Gallery / 74 E 77th St. Major paintings and drawings from a pivotal early moment in the postwar Neo-Expressionist's career, following his move to West Berlin.
* Keith Haring @ Gladstone Gallery / 530 W 21st St. The gallery's debut exhibition of this downtown legend's oeuvre is particularly vital: owner Barbara Gladstone commissioned Haring to produce a series of lithographs (the artist's first prints) back in '82. Those and other early, never-before-seen works on paper figure into this exhibition.
* Katy Moran @ Andrea Rosen Gallery / 525 W 24th St. A breathless new body of work from the British artist, small-scale gestural abstract paintings in various treatments and washes on MDF board.
* Pterodactyl + Sweet Bulbs @ Silent Barn / 915 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood (L to Halsey, M to Myrtle-Wyckoff), 8p/$8. Your NY indie primer split over two levels, w/ the speed-rock and Paleolithic rhythms of Pterodactyl and fuzzy noise-pop quartet Sweet Bulbs upstairs and Human Resources leading the lo-fi drama downstairs. At least six bands and lots of awesomeness await. w/ Guardian Alien and Antimagic
* John Chamberlain "New Sculpture" @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. Whoa: depending on your knowledge of and thirst for art-world gossip, this exhibition occurs w/ a loaded meaning. Two avenues away, The Pace Gallery staged a gallery-career survey of Chamberlain's crushed auto classics. Now repped by Gagosian, the gallery unveils their own cache of Chamberlain sculpture, an entirely new body of work (w/ a followup at Gagosian's Britannia St location in a few weeks). Look, I'm an aesthete, so I'll love it.
* Eric Fischl "Early Paintings" @ Skarstedt Gallery / 20 E 79th St. The postmodern artist's early body of work, eight figurative paintings and two studies on glassine from '79 to '86, many incorporating Fischl's deft take on banal Americana and subversive voyeurism.
* Gillian Wearing "People" @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. Wearing's big return to NYC since her 2003 solo exhibition fills both gallery floors, w/ the massive seven-channel "Snapshot" video installation on the ground floor, balanced with her latest video work "Bully" (drawing from her feature-length film "Self Made") and the installation "Secrets and Lies" upstairs.
* Subodh Gupta "A glass of water" @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. Gupta exploration of the transformative quality of everyday objects — in his sculptures, incandescent paintings and installations — segues into measurement devices, from tromp l'oeil "dough" to water brimming off a metal cup.
+ added awesomeness: a discussion w/ Gupta at the gallery on SAT 11a-noon.
* Hilary Harkness @ Mary Boone Gallery / 745 5th Ave. A new array of Harkness' impossible paintings — like Hieronymous Bosch cut w/ Prohibition Swing and '50s sci-fi — after her previous solo show three years ago. Even cooler, she's been keeping a blog on the NY Academy of Art's forum leading up to this exhibition, so it sounds extra dope.
* Songsik Min "Two Faces" @ Doosan Gallery NY / 533 W 25th St. Paintings and an installation reflecting Min's creative process, using unassembled toy guns as the jumpoff motif.
* Sonya Biesofsky "Tenement" @ Mixed Greens / 531 W 26th St. In her debut solo exhibition at the gallery, Biesofsky injects some telltale NYC apartment details, rendered entirely in fragile, subtly transparent paper.
* Robert Greene @ Robert Miller Gallery / 524 W 26th St. New textural abstract paintings and works on paper, composed on acid-free vellum and mounted on thin aluminum panels.
* Leon Kossoff @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash / 534 W 26th St. New landscape paintings from the last decade by the British artist, focusing on an old cherry tree in his garden.
* Gideon Rubin "Shallow Waters" @ Hosfelt Gallery / 531 W 36th St. A new body of work from the Israeli artist, constituting figurative paintings and a video animation originating from early 20th C found photographs.
* "Thor" (dir. Kenneth Branagh, 2011) preview screening @ Museum of the Moving Image / 36-01 35 Ave, Astoria (E/M/R to Steinway St, NQ to 36 Ave), 7p/$15. Calling all fanboys (and fangirls?), b/c you know you want to attend this, esp. b/c it's in 3D. Take one muscle-bound blond (Chris Hemsworth) as the titular Marvel comic character — not precisely Norse mythology — take one cutie (Natalie Portman) and a huge cast of big-name good guys and big-name bad guys, each in costumes more ridiculous than the last…. it's the Battle for Asgard, baby. Film officially opens tomorrow in wide release (incl IMAX) but you won't see me covering that.
* Donald Judd @ David Zwirner Gallery / 525-533 W 19th St. Epic awesomeness. The gallery stages its inaugural exhibition of this seminal postwar American artist — call him a Minimalist, call him an philosopher, he's a visionary through and through. The installation recalls Judd's classic '89 exhibition at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany and is the first time this array — floor-mounted anodized aluminum open boxes, shot through with vivid Plexiglas color — has been reassembled at the vast '89 scale.
* Jasper Johns "New Sculpture and Works on Paper" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 522 W 22nd St. There are a LOT of awesome 'destination' gallery shows on right now, but I've gotta say this one, Johns' most prolific body of work in a five-year span, transcends in importance. I've got wild hopes for this exhibition, which includes his experimentation w/ Shrinky Dinks (hello '80s!) and his unparalleled gridded numerals. See you there.
* Jack Smith "Thanks for Explaining Me" @ Gladstone Gallery / 515 W 24th St. Neville Wakefield curates what should be an incredible survey of the creative iconoclast's oeuvre, from his experimental films ("Flaming Creatures" is just the beginning) to drawings, collages and photographs. Three collaborative works by younger artists Ryan McNamara, A.L. Steiner and T.J. Wilcox elucidate Smith's wide-ranging influence on the contemporary generation.
* Arshile Gorky "1947" @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. The gallery stages an exhibition on a "master of the gesture" (I'm taking that straight from a Gagosian Beverly Hills group show last year, which incl Gorky's work), focused on his brilliant late-period lyrical abstractions, just before the master hung himself, cutting short his tragic genius.
* Louise Lawler "Fitting" @ Metro Pictures / 519 W 24th St. Lawler takes photographs of art in museums, galleries, homes, and auction houses and stretches them to fit the proportions of Metro Pictures' walls, printing the altered results on adhesive wall vinyl to create some dope wallpaper.
+ added awesomeness: screening of Lawler's "Birdcalls" (1972/81), every 1/2 hour at the gallery, SUN 11a-6p.
* William Kentridge @ Marian Goodman Gallery / 24 W 57th St. The first public exhibition of "Other Faces" from Kentridge's series "Drawings for Projection", created with a 35mm camera and charcoal drawings and feat. that Johannesburg antihero Soho Eckstein.
+ added awesomeness: a book-signing with Kentridge at the gallery on SAT, 11a-1p. (RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org)
* Jesus Rafael Soto "1955-2004" @ Haunch of Venison NY / 1230 Ave of Americas, 20th Fl. The Venezuelan artist's first major NY survey since his '74 exhibition at the Gugg. Expect strong colors and optical illusions, plus works blurring the line b/w painting and sculpture, from this Group Zero champion's oeuvre.
* Garth Weiser @ Casey Kaplan Gallery / 525 W 21st St. Razor-sharp geometric abstracts and cunning minimalism from a guy I dig very much b/c he portrays each very well.
+ added awesomeness: discussion b/w Weiser & Charles Wylie (curator of contemporary art at Dallas Museum of Art) at gallery, SUN 1-2p.
* Damian Loeb "Verschränkung and the Uncertainty Principle" @ Acquavella Gallery / 18 E 79th St. New sexy photorealistic paintings that elicit an active dialogue w/ voyeurism and subject...and in this case swap "subject" w/ "artist's wife". Ahem.
* Ashley Bickerton @ Lehmann Maupin / 540 W 26th St. New eye-watering paintings w/ custom carved frames from the Neo-Geo stalwart, all cosmic-y and like "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", visualized.
* "Idée Fixe" @ Winkleman Gallery / 621 W 27th St. A group show of black and white drawings created from intense, time-consuming gestures, feat. Man Bartlett, Astrid Bowlby, Jacob El Hanani, Dan Fischer, Shane Hope, Joan Linder, Aric Obrosey, Michael Waugh and Daniel Zeller.
* Ivan Witenstein @ Derek Eller Gallery / 615 W 27th St. Continuing his political and cultural imagery with Witenstein's takes on "jazz diplomacy" circa WWII, imbued w/ confrontational pop imagery.
+ added awesomeness: conversation b/w Witenstein & rockstar artist Barnaby Furnas at the gallery, SAT noon-1p.
* Olga Chernysheva @ Foxy Production / 623 W 27th St. The contemporary Russian experience, depicted in photography, film, drawings and combinations thereof.
* Li Songsong @ The Pace Gallery / 534 W 25th St. Pretty neat: this is the debut U.S. solo exhibition of the Beijing-based artist's large-scale paintings, heavily impastoed and recalling photographs and film stills (albeit significantly and texturally transformed).
* Robert Mapplethorpe "50 Americans" @ Sean Kelly Gallery / 528 W 29th St. 50 works by the legendary American artist, selected by 50 Americans from all states, backgrounds and generations, perhaps commenting on the unexpected universality of Mapplethorpe's challenging history.
+ added awesomeness: panel discussion "New Directions in Curatorial Models", at the gallery SAT 3-5p.
* "15 Years" @ Thomas Erben Gallery / 526 W 26th St 4th Fl. A trajectory of the gallery's history through its solo shows, feat. iconic works by Haeri Yoo, Adrian Piper, Jenny Scobel, Tejal Shah, Dona Nelson and many others.
* Martin Kippenberger "I Had a Vision" @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. Mixed-media sculptural work that partially reconstructs two of the late artist's large-scale exhibitions from the summer (San Francisco) and fall (an unused tunnel b/w two Vienna subway stations) of '91.
* Torben Giehler "Lateralus" @ Leo Koenig Inc / 545 W 23rd St. So I totally hear Tool in this exhibition title, though I realize it's going to be nothing like progressive metal. Rather, think tasty grayscale geometric abstracts.
* Sean Landers "Around the World Alone" @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 537 W 22nd St. Apparently this is the prolific artist's 50th solo exhibition, and it evokes some of his classic earlier imagery of the solitary clown and the Golden Globes, via paintings, bronze sculptures and more.
* Richard Long "Flow and Ebb" @ Sperone Westwater / 257 Bowery. Once again the gallery uses its unique layout to an advantageous solo exhibition, permitting the Bristol-based artist to enact a wall-scaling, 27-ft tall site-specific drawing, plus mud-on-slate paintings and earthy sculpture.
* Paul Sietsema @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 523 W 24th St. New process-driven works, including newspaper drawings and these multistep photo-drawing-sprayed ink compositions that add a strong materiality to digital age renderings.
* Jesse Willenbring "Left to the Darkness" @ Laurel Gitlen (Small A Projects) / 261 Broome St. What I'm calling 'figurative abstract' paintings, on canvas and mounted tablecloth, by the NY-based artist.
* "Hobo With a Shotgun" (dir. Jason Eisener, 2010) @ Village East Theatre / 181 2nd Ave (L to 3rd Ave), w/ The Plague & dir. Eisener attending nightly screenings FRI & SAT. Eisener's feature-length adaptation of his own "Grindhouse"-winning fake trailer has been blowing up the festival scene in double-barreled bursts since SXSW, and it lands in uncut, Technicolor glory (or should it be "gory"?), w/ action legend Rutger Hauer leading the charge as the titular antihero. "Hobo" carries a LIST-certified badge of dopeness. And to take this over the top, true exploitation style, Eisener joins dir. Jeff Lieberman (of "Blue Sunshine", "Just Before Dawn" etc) FRI at midnight and dir. William Lustig ("Maniac", "Vigilante") SAT at midnight for unfettered post-screening discussions! Splatter buffs (self included) love this.
* "Caterpillar" (dir. Koji Wakamatsu, 2010) @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). Wow, I am surprised and intrigued that Wakamatsu's latest scorching takedown of right-wing nationalism receives a proper screen-run. It's adapted from Edogawa Rampo's grueling short-story "Imomushi" (1929), though it's perforated w/ Wakamatsu's indictment of Japanese propaganda and militarism — and you better believe it's graphic as hell.
* "The Peach Blossom Land" (dir. Stan Lai, 1992) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 9p. Lai's debut (which premiered here as part of New Directors/New Films in '93) is a psychedelic historical affair, thanks to Christopher Doyle's dreamy cinematography.
* NYU Strawberry Festival @ NYU LaGuardia Place b/w W 3rd & W 4th St (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St), 1-5p/FREE. So there's like strawberries at this thing, but whatever, loads of dope bands make it a must-go for me (beer or no beer): Lightning Bolt headline the event w/ their broiling blitzkrieg of percussive noise, preceded by Matt Mondanile's lulling Ducktails and the speed-rock harmonics of Pterodactyl. w/ The So So Glos
* The Pains of Being Pure at Heart @ Webster Hall / 125 E 11th St (NR/L/456 to Union Square), 6p/SOLD OUT!. Frequent LIST-readers know well my love of local darlings The Pains. I've seen 'em over a dozen times now and still wait anxiously for this knockout show. See, they've got a sweet new album out "Belong" that's super fuzzy-scuzzy & I can't wait for these cuties to translate that love live. w/ Big Troubles
* Richard Tuttle "What's the Wind" @ The Pace Gallery / 510 W 25th St. A far more complex output from Tuttle than I'm used to, six "space frame" free-standing sculptures that incredibly synthesize five decades of Tuttle's oeuvre.
* Laurel Nakadate @ Leslie Tonkonow Art Projects / 535 W 22nd St. Nakadate's thought-provoking career survey is currently running at MoMA PS1 through August 8 and includes part of her yearlong body of work "365 Days: A Catalogue of Tears". That's the jumpoff for her latest solo exhibition, large C-prints of her crying each and every day throughout 2010, plus the debut of her newest video "Lost Party Guest" (2011).
* David Salle @ Mary Boone Gallery / 541 W 24th St. Salle follows up his exhibition of classic '80s paintings last year w/ new works, deftly combining unlikely imagery in feats beyond James Rosenquist (who I consider an unlikely-combining master) and exemplifying his fortitude and influence on younger artists. Here he revisits earlier subject matter of iconic women.
* David Shapiro "Money is No Object" @ Sue Scott Gallery / 1 Rivington St. This is the result of Shapiro's year spent redrawing and repainting all of his bills and receipts; the innate juxtapositions and ironies should be illuminating.
* Aaron Young "Built Tough" @ Bortolami / 520 W 20th St. Though he eschews skidding motorcycles this time (his infamous "Greeting Card" performance at the 7th Regiment Armory in '07), Young christens the gallery w/ his continued take on contemporary American culture, via silkscreens, paintings and sculpture.
* Sheila Gallagher & Robin Nagle "Trash Talk" @ DODGE Gallery / 15 Rivington St, 6p. A discussion b/w gallery artist Gallagher (whose melted plastic trash renderings line the walls and beguile the mind) and Dr. Robin Nagle, an anthropologist focused on rubbish and its labor and infrastructural requirements in urban contexts.
* "Marfa Voices" (dir. Rainer Judd, 2010) screening and talk @ Bumble & Bumble / 415 W 13th St, 3rd Fl, 4p. Donald Judd's daughter (and co-executor of his estate) directed this collage of the incredible Central Texas town, home to the Chinati Foundation. Space is limited, so RSVP: email@example.com to guarantee your spot.
* "Cape No. 7" (dir. Wei Tei-Sheng, 2008) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 6:15p. The directorial debut of this young Taiwanese filmmaker, who's over a generation younger than Hou Hsiao-Hsien, has created a very Hou-like meditation on Taiwanese postwar history, linked by love letters and Taiwanese pop music.
* "A Time to Live, A Time to Die" (dir. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1985) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 8:45p. The 2nd of the Taiwanese New Wave powerhouse's coming-of-age trilogy, focused on the aftermath of the Chinese Revolution and inspired by Hou's own experiences.
* Japan All Night! @ Knitting Factory / 361 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, G to Lorimer), 10:30p/$15. AWESOME: a punk rock benefit for Japan relief, w/ all proceeds going to Second Harvest Japan, aiding those in the affected Tohoku region. The lineup is all-star and fierce, w/ all-girl knockouts The Suzan (maybe you've heard of them??) headlining, plus Care Bears on Fire, Uzuhi, The Homewreckers and more.
* Peelander-Z + Hard Nips @ STUDIO at Webster Hall / 125 E 11th St (NR/L/456 to Union Square), 8p/$14. Your favorite color-coded East Village-residing Japanese punks (Peelander-Z) and your other favorite Brooklyn-based Japanese all-girl punks Hard Nips, together again and on a trajectory to rock your socks off.
* Yuck @ Bowery Ballroom / 6 Delancey St (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 8p/SOLD OUT! These Brits are beyond adorable — it took 'em ages and visa hangups to arrive stateside, but I want 'em here all the time. Listen to like 20 seconds of "Holing Out" (that snarling-yet-bright guitar, Daniel's pitch-perfect slang, Mariko's fashion-y sway) and you'll fall in love, too.
* Francis Alÿs "A Story of Deception" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St) + MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to Court Sq/Ely Ave, 7 to 45th Rd/Courthouse Sq). Allegory and social action permeate the Belgian artist's Conceptual cross-media oeuvre. I'm talking complete ends of the spectrum here, long-process video performances that take years to make, related communal performances captured in photos and installations, and subtly surreal paintings recalling another famous Belgian artist two generations before him. The related PS1 exhibition focuses on Alÿs' 2002 piece "Modern Procession", which documented MoMA's temporary relocation to that Long Island City former schoolhouse during the museum's 2002-4 expansion project.
* "Time Again" @ SculptureCenter / 44-19 Purves St, Long Island City (E/M to 23rd St/Ely Ave, 7 to 45th Rd/Courthouse Sq). A survey of repetition, whose works' results often twist temporal notions of history, generations and our understanding of narratives. Including Emily Roysdon (whose "Untitled (David Wojnarowicz Project)", 2001-7, references and redirects Wojnarowicz's earlier "Arthur Rimbaud in New York" from '78), Troy Brantuch's "Stamps", 1975-2007, a gathering of his used figurative rubber stamps used in works over the past three decades, plus Rosalind Nashashibi, Manon de Boer, Charline von Heyle, Blinky Palermo and many more. You'll necessarily need to spend some time w/ this one, but I am betting that's a good thing.
* Kara Walker NYGW exhibition walkthrough @ Sikkema, Jenkins & Co / 530 W 22nd St, 2-3p. Walker and American theatre critic Hilton Als lead a walkthrough of the artist's latest exhibition, "Dust Jackets for the Niggerati—and Supporting Dissertations, Drawings submitted ruefully by Dr. Kara E. Walker".
* Debo Eilers "In Your House. X" @ On Stellar Rays / 133 Orchard St. Love Debo Eilers. He's bonkers and that's awesome. The Greater New York alum unfurls more of his "Screengrab" series and elements of his performances (almost like digital cookies).
* Hilary Harnischfeger @ Rachel Uffner Gallery / 47 Orchard St. Wall-based abstractions incorporating rocks and plaster w/ the usual ink and paint, extending the sculptural envelope and relating back to her freestanding sculptures.
+ added awesomeness: discussion b/w Harnischfeger & art historian/writer Suzanne Hudson, on SAT (eve of opening) 1-2p.
* Michael Williams "Straightforward as a Noodle" @ Canada / 55 Chrystie St. I keep returning to "Big Picture" a visually searing group show held co-curated by artists Ryan Schneider and Tom Sanford and held at Priska Juschka's gallery in W. Chelsea last summer. Williams was part of that exhibition, an eye-watering gaping maw on a mural-sized canvas. He brings that mix of wildly abstract and brutally figurative paintings to his third solo show at Canada.
* Joel Morrison @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. Found-object sculptures that force you to look twice (or thrice, or more), everything from a bubblewrapped "McCracken" to a fallen shopping cart, cast in stainless steel or painted fiberglass.
* "Rooms With a View" @ Metropolitan Museum of Art / 1000 Fifth Ave (456 to 86th St). It's a wonder what a little wall-paint can do for an exhibition. The Met eschews its usual denser hues (which contribute a shadowed reverence to its spotlit, cerebral special exhibitions, naturally a given for this museum) for a sun-streaked pale gray, the color of bedsheets caught in morning rays. It's totally appropriate, as this exhibition of European paintings and drawings all feature some sort of illumination, in their embodied rooms and open windows. Another point I loved about this exhibition beyond the construction is the scale of the works: little is large-scale here. The installation comes off sparse and regal in that respect, w/ modest-sized renderings adding an airiness to the already light-suffused atmospherics. Georg Friedrich Kersting featured his wife in his single-person compositions, plaiting her hair in "In Front of the Mirror" (1827) and sewing something against a drawn screen in "Young Woman Sewing by Lamplight" (1823). I'm not sure how many compositions young Louise-Adéone Drolling executed — she's daughter of portraitist Martin Drolling — but her "Interior With Young Woman Tracing a Flower" (1820-22) is an achievement in mise-en-scene, from the tulips in the foreground to the urban Parisian backdrop and church out the window. Johann Erdmann Hummel's pen & ink drawings with washes elucidate his deftness in perspectives, like "Sitting Room" (1820) and its various mirrors and reflections. For empty rooms, I quite liked Johann Gottfried Jentzsch's "The Artist's Studio in Dresden" (1820), a watercolor, with a tiny Argand lamp throwing vivid, butterfly-like shadows on the wall and floor. Carl Ludwig Kaaz's "View from Grassi's Villa toward the Plauensche Grund near Dresden" (1807) is probably the largest work here, its central picture window soaring out into the horizon with arches and trees, foregrounded with an open book on the ledge. And to dispel any impressions that the exhibition is too sweet, there's Adolph Menzen's spooky "Staircase by Night" (1848, one of the later works) near the conclusion.
* "Locations" @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 534 W 21st St. The earliest works in this loosely Conceptual group show appeared decades before GPS, but there is still this underlying notion of "here I am" and "this is where I've been" — plus the sociopolitical notions that follow. I have to relinquish the fact that Stanley Brouwn's unarchivable oeuvre is appearing more and more in exhibitions (ever since his part in MoMA's wonderful "In and Out of Amsterdam", I've seen him at least twice a year), as it does in this gallery show. But I'm not complaining! His bound books of his movements and his "This Way Brouwn" series — consider his statement "Ich bin Richtung geworden (I have become direction)" — are the rawest essence of geographical location and mapping as framework for art. John Baldessari's "California Map Project" (reappearing from his "Pure Beauty" retrospective at the Met) is another excellent example. If this is Baldessari's take on "impos[ing] language on nature, and vice versa" (i.e. forming CALIFORNIA in giant letters with local materials in their approx locations as they appear on a map of the state), it's an achievement. In an early Sol LeWitt photograph, he excised an obtuse triangle from a map of Manhattan, removing the locations of where he's lived. Catherine Opie's series of C-prints of Glacier Bay, the remote national park and preserve in SE Alaska, feels otherworldly with its terrifically tall and sharp rocky walls.
* Mark di Suvero @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 465 W 23rd St. Three new small-scale steel twists, each a kinetic sculpture, which totally suits di Suvero's cursive lines and limblike shapes. He includes a series of works on paper in various media from recent years, each surprisingly w/ an acid-toned palette.
* Folkert de Jong "Operation Harmony" @ James Cohan Gallery / 533 W 26th St. This Dutch sculptor's unsettling tableaux, typically composed in lurid styrofoam and polyurethane foam, tend to get under my skin. If the charred figures and reveling grotesquerie in his monumental eponymous work don't mess w/ your head, then you aren't looking closely enough. Yes he's still disturbing as hell. That was an easy one! The titular large work, with its headless figures splayed against a pink wood-like structure, let alone the dancing figures entitled "Trader's Deal" elsewhere, will haunt your dreams. Have fun!
* SeaHyun Lee "Between Red" @ Nicholas Robinson Gallery / 535 W 20th St. At first glance, Lee's crimson multitiered landscapes against a blanked out "sea" are totally fantastical, until you peer through the layers and realize the blend of Koreas here. Lee paints mountains and land fragments from the North and South, alongside Korean architecture and some modernized buildings, representing his recollections of living in the demilitarized zone during his military service, plus his youth before that. Take it as political if you like, this utopian vision of a combined Korea, or as Lee's personal memories and nostalgia for the past.
* Christopher Daniels "People Doing Different Things" @ Number 35 / 141 Attorney St. This young NY-based artist wowed my pants off at 2010 VOLTA NY w/ his incredible, large-scale crayon landscapes on canvas. You read that correctly: super-detailed, pop cultural-referential CRAYON works. His new series incorporates some pencil too and is way starker, but his deftness in encapsulating the mundane and everyday in these vividly conceived renderings is super fantastic. Many come straight from Daniels' photography — guy with a push-cart, woman drinking wine, dude being chased by a hippopotamus…?
* "Staging Action: Performance in Photography since 1960" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). 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. ENDS MON