Writings by David Cohen

Alan Saret at the Drawing Center, Richard Pousette-Dart at Knoedler


Physical gesture means the artist’s hand is present yet transcended: there is no question that the arcs or circles are handmade, but an unforced, lyrical all-overness creates a cosmic, suprapersonal sense of order and well-being.


Katy Grannan at Salon 94 Freemans and Greenberg Van Doren; Lina Bertucci at Perry Rubinstein


There is a pervasive ambivalence in Katy Grannan’s portraits: the gaze that returns the viewer’s is a mix of coyness and exhibitionism. The images themselves oscillate between similar extremes, building a visceral sense of the present through precision while succumbing to a remoteness that results from theatricality.


Alberto Burri at Mitchell-Innes & Nash


However raw and rude his torn, scorched and crudely sewn-together burlaps, his molten plastics, or his randomly cracked ceramics might have been, he was a consummate aesthete, incapable — seemingly — of inelegance. In the case of Italian artists, the national stereotype happens to be true — they have a Midas touch with beauty, even when they are attempting to convey poverty, trauma or angst.


Alberto Burri, Rosso Plastica L.A.,1966. Plastic, acrylic, combustione on Celotex, 11-3/8 x 14-1/2 inches Courtesy Mitchell-Innes & Nash

Alberto Burri at Mitchell-Innes & Nash


Burri is famous for the poverty of his means and the richness of his results.


Thomas Demand at 303 Gallery and Merlin James at Sikkema Jenkins & Co


Merlin James and Thomas Demand might seem as different as two contemporary artists can be. But a coincidence of means begs a comparison between shows of overtly contrastive mood and art-world temper. For both artists make their final images from models of their own making.


Karen Yasinsky at Mireille Mosler, Alex McQuilkin at Marvelli, Isaac Julien at Metro Pictures


Where Yasinsky accesses early girlhood through dolls and dinky illustration technique, McQuilkin seems dedicated to a perpetual state of teenage angst. The specific identification of both with early cinema relates to a broader trend in feminist-influenced art.


Anthony Caro at Mitchell-Innes & Nash


These hefty yet open-form, emphatic yet enigmatic assemblages of prefabricated, found, and adapted components show a youthful, spry, curiosity-filled artist at the top of his game.


R.B. Kitaj


R.B. Kitaj’s work broke a modernist taboo – before it became fashionable to do so – by being unabashedly literary. Hilton Kramer once complained that his paintings were “littered with ideas.” But as referential as he could be, Kitaj was always a consummately visual artist.


Lynda Benglis, Quartered Meteor, 1969. Lead, 57-1/2 x 65-1/2 x 64-1/2 inches, edition 1/3. Courtesy Cheim & Read Gallery

Lynda Benglis and Louise Bourgeois: Circa 1970, at Cheim & Read


Louise Bourgeois and Lynda Benglis are both inveterate explorers of sculpture’s soggy underbelly. They are doyennes of a dark sexuality and of the nebulous space between the personal and the universal.


Neo Rauch: para at The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Neo is perfectly forenamed for an artist in whom, to paraphrase architectural theorist Charles Jencks, the wasms have become an ism. Rauch’s paintings, fusing elements of romanticism and realism from the last two centuries, resist the idea that anachronism and rejuvenation might be at odds with one another.