The last time I saw the conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheim, he had just dyed a portion of his hair purple. He was 71 at the time, although he was hard-pressed to admit his age. I recall celebrating his 70th birthday three years in a row.
Oppenheim worked in performance, sculpture, land and body art and video. But he is best known for public projects that incorporated complex architectural elements, like the controversial Device to Root Out Evil (1997), an upside down sculpture of a church with its steeple jutting into the ground. This commissioned work was rejected by Stanford University for its iconography, and later permanently installed in Vancouver.
Chuck Close says he's not a fan of public art—which should come as a surprise considering the American painter has just unveiled his most accessible endeavor to date, a fleet of New York City taxis bearing his imagery. It's estimated to be viewed by over five million people. ART ADDS is the brainchild of Art Production Fund and John Amato, an avid art collector and president of Show Media, a company that owns nearly half of the city's taxi-top billboards. As a holiday present to himself and art lovers, Amato donated ad space on 500 yellow cabs, valued at approximately $100,000, to host the work of Close and the painter Kehinde Wiley through the month of January.
Joe Bradley says that one of his new oil paintings depicts a "cock and balls," but I'm having trouble seeing the reference in a small work that hangs casually in his Greenpoint studio. Looking closer, I've walked across a massive, primitive-looking composition on the floor, and while stepping on paintings makes this interviewer nervous, Bradley insists that collecting studio grit is part of the fun. It was fun, after all, that he was looking for when he abandoned the sutured Color Field panels that he showed at the 2008 Whitney Biennial and began making large-scale, pared-down Expressionistic paintings.
The new works, whose vocabulary draws from Basquiat, Guston and Paleolithic cave paintings, are for "Mouth and Foot Painting," Bradley's first show at Gavin Brown Enterprise. A separate show, "Human Form," opens across town at his longtime gallery, CANADA, a week later. After graduating from RISD in 1999, Bradley's work has shown subtle variety in size and levels of referentiality, but he's always left their symbols and impacts open to the viewer. This loose approach to his droopy canvases might make you imagine Bradley as the underdog, even as he approaches universal themes and codes.
2012, aluminum, wood, sublimation print on polyester and concrete, 71 3/4 by 122 1/2 by 135 inches overall. Courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New Yor