In "Life Drawings, Poseurs, and ‘thirteen oil paintings on canvas,'" the ambitious solo debut by New York-based Greg Parma Smith at Balice Hertling & Lewis, the artist takes on the history of painting and the stratified social structures around it. Comprising oil paintings on canvas and mirror, wall appliqué and an illuminated manuscript of sorts, made of bound canvases covered in a text written in graffiti, the works explore art subcultures—academic figure painting and autobiographic zine comics—that fine art has yet to cannibalize. Visually, they are jarringly dissimilar, but thematically, they are a balancing act between opposing concerns—content vs. aesthetics, self-reflexivity vs. interconnectedness, and the idealized human in a world without any unified norms.
"Marble Sculpture from 350 B.C. to Last Week" and "Portraits/Self-Portraits from the 16th Century to the 21st Century," currently on view at Sperone Westwater, Gian Enzo Sperone's gallery with Angela Westwater on the Bowery, combine two of the 71-year-old dealer's passions: collecting and history. With 90% of the works coming from Sperone's private collection, the shows spread over four floors-the marble exhibition is on the ground floor and balcony; and the portraits are on the two floors above.
"I do exhibitions like these to explore how good our great artists are in comparison to the Old World Masters," Sperone told A.i.A. "I have expectations for how I think the language of the art world should develop."
Nick Van Woert's cavernous studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is filled with all manner of good, clean fun, including a foosball table and a work surface that converts to a ping pong table. Walking through the studio, the tone becomes serious, littered as it is not just with wooden statues of religious figures but a cage modeled after a solitary confinement cell in a Supermax prison and the personal belongings of Ted Kaczynski, which he bought at an auction and has spread neatly on the floor like finds in an archeological dig. With such objects he explores the transcendentalism of Henry David Thoreau, the anti-industrial guerilla tactics of the Luddites and the homemade bombing techniques of the Monkey Wrench Gang.
For 37-year-old, New York-based artist David Altmejd, sculptures, like human bodies, generate a certain energy. Altmejd's current show, at the Greenwich, Conn., Brant Foundation-established by Brant Publications chairman Peter Brant-includes work from the past 10 years and announces Altmejd's adoption of a new favored motif: the giant. He's transformed the foundation's sleek galleries into body parts-the chest, the heart, the central nervous system and the head. The show remains on view through April 2012.
Two slide carousels, 80 slides each, approx. 9-minute loop. Courtesy Callicoon Fine Arts, New York.