In much the same way that Charles Dickens's writing brought to life the roiling-and frightful-humanity of London in the 19th century, Gilbert & George have used the city as the main subject in their work since the early 1970s. In their exhibition "London Pictures," currently on view at Sonnabend, and the Chelsea and Lower East Side locations of Lehmann Maupin, they bring the streets of East London to the walls of the galleries. By doing so, they elevate the violence, the horror, the oddity and the quotidian of urban life to the status of high art, and in the process, cement a place for it in history.
Based on 3,712 newspaper posters announcing the most sensational headlines of the day in bold, block lettering—mostly culled from the London Evening Standard—which the artists stole from the front of kiosks and newspaper stands on the streets near their shared home in East London, the works are marked by Gilbert & George's characteristic insertion of selfportraits into each image. In their studio, the artists photographed five years' worth of posters and then collaged them together according to recurring subjects , including "Killing," "Playboy," "Muslim" and "Terror Plot." The resulting works are the 292 "London Pictures."
If you're going to watch anyone sleeping in a raised glass case, it might as well be actress Tilda Swinton, whose fey and androgynous beauty lends itself well to an act that's fairy tale-like in nature. Swinton has spent two full days this past week dozing—at least ostensibly—in a translucent box in a gallery at New York's Museum of Modern Art, as part of a performance piece titled The Maybe, which she first presented at London's Serpentine Gallery in 1995. While Sleeping Beauty's glass coffin was watched over by seven dwarves—or at least that's how it went in the Disney movie—Swinton was observed on Monday by visitors who chanced upon her performance in the back corner of a second-floor gallery.
Real estate developer-turned-philanthropist-turned artist Janna Bullock takes on the power elite in the Putin regime in her exhibition debut, "Allegories & Experiences," attempting to expose them for perceived sins against the Russian people.
Staged in a gutted Beaux Arts mansion a half block from the Metropolitan Museum on the Upper East Side, the show comprises 24 found images. Each photo is accompanied by a text in English and Russian, consisting of editorials by Bullock that ostensibly serve as biographies for each person depicted. They are peppered with personal invectives and opinions such as, "I would vote for him," regarding Mikhail Prokhorov, an independent, pro-business candidate who finished third in the Russian presidential elections this past weekend. She describes him as "Russia's most charming billionaire bachelor."
"Still" seems like a paradoxical title for Ryan's McNamara's solo exhibition at Elizabeth Dee Gallery, which the artist has set up as a carnivalesque Sears portrait studio. The show is part of the artist's ongoing inquiry into the quiet bourgeois contemplation that the white-cube gallery typically demands. "When you are looking at art in Chelsea, you go into autopilot," McNamara says. "Your movement is choreographed and you turn your brain off. My hope is that I can break people out of that."
Two slide carousels, 80 slides each, approx. 9-minute loop. Courtesy Callicoon Fine Arts, New York.