DAVID COHEN, Editor           


December 2008

posted 12/24/2008
DAVID COHEN on Marlene Dumas and Elizabeth Peyton

Dumas and Peyton are united in their limitations as well as their strengths—and, arguably, in their capacity to ensure that their limitations are strengths. Dumas’s photo-dependency gives her imagery political edge. Denial of sensory depth almost punishes viewers for yearning for it, reminding them of the urgencies of injustice and exploitation that this art – and their consciences – should be addressing. Peyton’s style wallows in its own patheticism, as if cloying, ephemeral, illustration-technique are symptoms of self-pity. Such knowingly retarded means sit perfectly with the basically adolescent emotion she taps, which is that of star-struck infatuation.

posted 12/22/2008
DIANE THODOS on Magdalena Abakanowicz at Northwestern University, Illinois

These monumental drawings consist of interwoven lines made with charcoal or gouache that tangle and bind together to form strange organic beings. Forms allude to a tree trunk, a human torso, a flower, or an insect; they explore the ambivalence between nature’s capacity to produce the mysterious pulsating of life which is simultaneously haunted by the treachery of  death.

MORGAN TAYLOR on Alexi Worth at DC Moore

The grainy, opaque paint surfaces and austere earth palette bespeak an unfashionably non-ironic desire to produce ‘quality’ paintings. And there are learned references and quotations from art history and photography.

JOHN GOODRICH on Max Weber at Gerald Peters

Woman Holding Tablet (1946) pleasingly and convincingly locates a seated figure within a geometric environment, with ochre tints and warm blacks set deftly against notes of bright coral and medium blue. The rather strenuous engineering of the pose and surroundings, however, give the impression of an exercise – a demonstration of the plastic re-creation of a generic event.

posted 12/19/2008
DAVID COHEN on William Tillyer at Jacobson Howard

There are few abstract painters at work today who manage to push both metaphor and literalism so hard, simultaneously, as William Tillyer. 

posted 12/16/2008
David Stern at Yeshiva University Museum

Stern’s phenomenological angst registers as a kind of kinetic painterly energy palpably present between the viewer and the figures depicted.  This is true despite the way the paint remains defiantly clogged and overtly physical. In this respect, the paintings strain against the nature of matter, like a wounded lion in an Assyrian bas relief which writhes against its own mortality.

posted 12/14/2008
DAVID CARRIER on Wang Hui at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The attractiveness of the towering, tree covered mountains in Landscape after Wang Meng’s “Travelers amid Autumn Mountains” is self-evident. But if you cannot also see how this is a copy of a fourteen century imitation of Dong Yuan’s 10th century Travelers amid Autumn Mountains, then who knows what you are missing.

posted 12/9/2008
MERVE UNSAL on Lorna Simpson at Salon 94 and Salon 94 Freemans

The tensions between intimate and public, between information and interpretation, in Simpson's drawings of women's hair take on a different meaning in a second body of work in what the artist calls the “orchestrated theatrical disaster” of war.

posted 12/4/2008
PIRI HALASZ on Willard Boepple at Lori Bookstein

The author finds unexpected links between Boepple and the Surrealist phase of Alberto Giacometti

posted 12/4/2008
DREW LOWENSTEIN on Unknown Blakelock at the National Academy Museum

In addition to his spontaneous brushstrokes, Blakelock explores a decalcomania-like technique of load, press, smear, and lift. This emphatically material-based process creates a raised, textural web of paint activity with a few scattered reds, oranges and yellows flecking a surface that is eerily similar to Jackson Pollock’s and as interesting to ponder.

posted 12/4/2008
BRYAN BALLA on Zero in New York at Sperone Westwater

Working outside the gallery system, these artists made single-evening exhibitions, often in their own studios, issuing manifestos with these events.   While some artists involved with Zero, like Lucio Fontana, are well recognized in America, this is the first survey of the lesser-known group in the States.

posted 12/12/2008
JONATHAN GOODMAN on Miguel Trelles at the Gabarron Foundation
Much of his earlier work has been involved in reconciling his interests in Chinese traditional painting with his very contemporary reading of his own outsider status as a bilingual Latino artist in America.

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