In the Studio: Stan Douglas

Stan Douglas’s massively scaled images bear the weight that history paintings once did. …Read more

In the Room

Captioning an image is the task of both the photographer and those who preserve the image in perpetuity.…Read more

We Have Decided Not To Die

It was wrong to die, held Arakawa and Gins, and they knew how to avoid doing so.…Read more

Digressive Sensitivity

No matter what genre Tillman is working in, her style suggests an endlessly unspooling talking cure.…Read more

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In the six large paintings on view in Elizabeth Malaska’s exhibition (all works 2017), female nudes in strange interiors smoke, sleep, sob, or stare at smartphones. Shunning furniture, they sit, kneel, recline, or crawl on the floor. Most have cats, as witches have familiars. All appear to possess turbulent inner lives. Painfully distorted and conveying severe unease, the nudes arouse compassion, not desire, rebuking the art historical traditions

from which they descend. The lounging woman in Apocrypha mimics Matisse’s 1907 Blue Nude (Souvenir of Biskra) in her contorted, hipshot pose but is otherwise the odalisque’s miserable foil. Wearing fishnet panties and sweat socks, Malaska’s middle-aged blonde exhibits small breasts with distended nipples atop a flaccid, lumpy torso. Grimacing, she brings a pawlike hand worriedly to her brow, above one sideways, Picassoid eye; life’s cares weigh heavily on her body and mind. A green vase in the foreground emits branches with monstrous leaves....

The hallmark of LaToya Ruby Frazier’s photographic work has been its blend of the political and the everyday. Often cited as an heir to Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks, she uses her artistic practice to advocate for racial and economic justice, particularly on the part of communities blighted by deindustrialization. Frazier began photographing her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, when she was still a teenager, producing a series

of photographs that would help earn her a 2015 MacArthur fellowship. Over the years her photography has brought her as far afield as Belgium, where she created a series centered on a former coal-mining community in the Borinage region. For her recent survey exhibition, she covered the exterior of Gavin Brown’s four-story gallery in Harlem with a forty-by-twenty-foot vinyl print of three vertically arranged photographs, each depicting a single word spelled out in water bottles inserted into a chain-link fence alongside a commercial thruway in Flint, Michigan. Together, the words read, WATER IS LIFE. It’s an SOS from the Midwestern town that has become an emblem of gross municipal negligence in this era of extreme inequality.  ...

Elizabeth Catlett explored themes of race, gender, and class in her prints and sculptures, not only portraying the types of injustices she knew all too well as the granddaughter of slaves but also focusing on strategies of empowerment. Chelsea gallery Burning in Water’s recent exhibition “Elizabeth Catlett: Wake Up in Glory” brought together twelve of her sculptures and two of her prints in an impressive selection spanning 1946 to 2008. Althou

gh the gallery should be commended for assembling this mini retrospective, the venue is exceedingly small, and the works would have been better served by one of the more ample white cubes nearby. Navigating among the tightly arranged plinths, one couldn’t help but think that the situation in general spoke to the way the art world and art history have treated work by black female artists: not allotting it enough space.Catlett was born in Washington, D.C., in 1915 and died in Cuernacava, Mexico, in 2012. She did her undergraduate work at Howard University, after having been accepted to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon) but ultimately denied entry because she was black. She was the first African American woman to earn her MFA at the University of Iowa, where she studied under painter Grant Wood. (This past July, the school named a residence hall in her ...

Upon entering Magalie Guérin’s exhibition at Corbett vs. Dempsey, “bunker,” one may have wondered whether the Chicago-based painter’s modestly scaled abstractions were assertive enough for the roomy venue. The eight paintings and nine drawings (all 2017) were nearly dwarfed by long stretches of wall space. The drawings, which hung in a row to the left, appeared at a distance to be a dull collection of graphite whispers. Further investigatio

n proved how thoroughly wrong such initial impressions were. In the drawings, for instance, Guérin’s mark-making is richly varied, joining subdued passages of cross-hatching in fine, soft pencil with bolder thatched areas and portions carved out with an eraser. Jet-black lines appear in different configurations: here a structuring grid, there a spiking zigzag. In Untitled (D1620-2017-10) bold pencil strokes laid in a basket-weave pattern hold down the lower register of the drawing, while ghostly frottaged circles float above. Guérin produces patterns not only through relief rubbings but also through hand drawing, and it can be tricky to determine which components she made by which method....


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