Art In America


Pleasure, Pain, and Politics: Ellen Cantor in New York

Amid a resurgence of interest in the New York art scene of the 1990s, the recent reappraisal of the work of feminist artist Ellen Cantor feels particularly timely. She first gained critical attention—and notoriety—in the early ’90s, deftly combining porno…Read more


Film: Pornography of Power

In her last film project, the late artist Ellen Cantor mixed documentary and soap opera genres to expose the perversity of US support for the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.…Read more


Stop, Look, and Listen: Testing SFMOMA’s Visitor App

As I downloaded the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s new visitor app to my phone, I paused to savor my final moments of one particular innocence.  In three decades of museum-going, I had never downloaded a museum app before. I hadn’t even used an audi…Read more


The Social in Practice: A Conversation with Nina Simon

Engagement is a hot topic in the museum world. Buzzwords like “collaboration,” “participation,” and “inspiration” are used often across the sector, from grant applications to professional conferences. In today’s connected and fast-paced cultural landscape…Read more

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Lines of Thought

Examining Agnes Martin's traveling retrospective, her recent biographer considers how the formal and spiritual universals the painter sought arose out of the personal conditions she suppressed.…Read more


Muse: Pentimenti

An émigré to New York, Russian-born painter Sanya Kantarovsky argues for the fluid openness to pictorial change that he perceives in the half-obscured surface traces left by such masters as Leonardo, Matisse, and Picasso.…Read more


Up Close: Narrative Painting

The representational paintings and drawings of New Orleans artist Willie Birch echo traditional African fractal patterns, reinforcing his solidarity with local “bottom up” social organizations.…Read more


This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of Dada, and so it seems fitting that Galerie Gmurzynska, which is situated on the same block as the original Cabaret Voltaire, held an exhibition dedicated to Kurt Schwitters, one of the movement’s protagonists. It also produced a three-volume catalogue. Schwitters was a veritable artist’s artist: though his influence can be discerned throughout art of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, his name does not carry the luster of Picasso or Duchamp. This is surprising, given the forms he pioneered and the sheer variety of works his anarchic, free-for-all approach to art-making enabled. Still, while having garnered the respect of his peers worldwide, Schwitters died impoverished and in exile, residing in the UK’s Lake District and painting commissioned portraits of locals for extra...Read more

Sadie Benning’s exhibition “Green God” took over Callicoon Fine Arts on the Lower East Side and Mary Boone in Midtown with two dozen works (all 2015 or 2016) that hover ambiguously between sculpture and painting. Each was constructed from various fitted-together pieces of jigsaw-cut wood covered with layers of resin, casein, and acrylic sanded to a matte, leathery-looking finish. The works have a graphic appearance and the rich tactility of children’s toys but allude to a complicated subject: the ways in which collective belief manifests in contemporary society, from religious practices to secular phenomena like commodity fetishism and celebrity worship.

The exhibition title was announced in green neon lights in the window of Callicoon; inside the gallery, the show’s eponymous painting greeted viewers w...Read more

Sharon Hayes’s exhibition “In My Little Corner of the World, Anyone Would Love You” presented the activist “speech acts” for which the Baltimore-born, Philadelphia-based artist is known. The focus of the show, installed at a slight angle to the walls of Studio Voltaire (a former chapel), was a five-channel video projected onto an L-shaped structure made of plywood. Each channel shows a room in a house: bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen, and office. Performers from the feminist and queer community in Philadelphia appear in the rooms reading aloud from newsletters printed between 1955 and 1977 by American and British groups fighting for women’s liberation and gay rights. Together, the performers, whether seated at the kitchen table or resting on a quilt-covered bed, convey a sense of domestic harmony; one person...Read more

The sculptures, paintings, and costumes in Raúl De Nieves’s exhibition “El Rio” conjure an intricate world of glittering coral reefs, ornamented cathedrals, epic military campaigns, ancient ceremonies, and lush jungles. A series of four compositions in colored beads, paper, and confetti on plywood served as a compass for the show. Using a symbolic visual vocabulary that evokes Medieval European tapestries, the series depicts virtues—including diligence, justice, and generosity—espoused in the Buddhist mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum.” In Wisdom (2015), a trinity knot floats over the head of a symmetrical owl; in Justice (2015), pink and purple flowers surround St. George while he tramples a serpent with his horse. The works suggest narratives of crusades and violent conversions. But rendered...Read more

Feb. 1989

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