MAGAZINES

Issues and Commentary: Attraction Pricing

Once, New York and the institutions that defined the city hoped to lead the world—not only in the ambition of the institutions’ programs or the scale of their holdings, but in the quality of the city’s democratic culture.…Read more
MAGAZINES

The Practical Precariat

Instead of competing against their peers for the occasional, unreliable adjunct teaching position in a prestigious MFA program, these artists are more than happy to teach community art classes to teens, amateurs, and seniors. …Read more
MAGAZINES

First Look: Michael Stamm

While other young gay painters often trade in erotic imagery, Stamm sublimates the libidinal drive in more cerebral activity, coding quotidian objects with queer history and imbuing them with the status of archetypes. …Read more
MAGAZINES

Composite Realities

In some of von Wulffen’s paintings, a crackled varnish applied to the surface splits like dried skin; the works want to look old. Some motifs may be traced back to sources like a late nineteenth-century farmhouse interior by Austrian painter Franz Defregger or a landscape from a blatantly kitsch kind of Parisian street-market impressionism. …Read more

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Reviews

Chicago artist Michael Rakowitz’s work often foregrounds his heritage as the son of an Iraqi-Jewish mother and an American father. Familial rituals—cooking, hosting, and archiving the ephemera of personal histories—closely inform his processes and subject matter, as do the cycles of contact and conflict between Arab and Occidental cultures. In a wall text introducing “Backstroke of the West,” his first museum survey, Rakowitz emphasizes th

e intertwined relationship between “hospitality and hostility,” effectively inviting American viewers to immerse themselves in the recent history of military interventions in Iraq as guests in his proverbial house. Rakowitz’s houseguests, however, find themselves in something of a hoarder situation upon entering the gallery. The exhibition includes multiple installations in which textually and materially dense displays articulate little-known, often bizarre, and exhaustively researched chronicles of cultural interchange between the Middle East and the West. Narratively rich and witty, these installations would have been much better served by a partitioned space that provided a bit of physical and conceptual distance between them. Instead, they crowd one another in a too-small space....

Alison Elizabeth Taylor is known for making painterly compositions using the centuries-old technique of marquetry, in which pieces of wood veneer are fitted together to form decorative designs or images. For many of the mostly Las Vegas–themed works in this striking exhibition, Taylor (who grew up in the city and knows her subjects well, including the glitzy casinos, the gaming enthusiasts, and the stark yet impressive Nevada landscape) has extend

ed the technique into what she calls a “marquetry hybrid,” combining wood veneer, photographic images, and painted forms. These works, with their intricate mesh of colors, textures, and materials, are gorgeous. They’re also appealingly bewildering—it’s tough to distinguish between the wood, photographs, and paint, or even, at first, to decipher portions of the complex scenes.Only Castles Burning . . . (2017) shows a colorful rock formation in the foreground. Taylor constructed it from a wild assortment of wood veneer and snippets of photographs, including images of the desert floor, marquis lightbulbs, and casino signage: this desert rock is a hypermediated version of sublime nature. Through an opening you spy a shadowy, pensive figure heading out into the desert toward a dark urban skyline way in the distance. The city looks somber and desolate, while the painted sky, shading ...

With an unusual gerund for a title, “Unholding” dwelled in the tension between the tenses used to describe Indigenous presence. “We were here”: prior occupancy. “We are still here”: survivance. “We will always be here”: resurgence. Organized to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of “We the People,” an exhibition of work by Indigenous artists at the same venue, “Unholding” straddled the past and a present inflected by it. O

f the eighteen works on display, three were made in 2017 and only three more were from this millennium. Most of the other works either appeared in or were from the same period as “We the People” and the 1986 “Ni’ Go Tlunh A Doh Ka” (We Are Always Turning Around on Purpose) at SUNY Old Westbury’s Amelie A. Wallace Gallery. Both of those shows were curated by British art critic Jean Fisher and artist Jimmie Durham, who has faced increased scrutiny in recent years for his refusal to address the alleged lack of documentation or family ties connecting him to the Cherokee Nation. The title of “Unholding” comes from a poem in Layli Long Soldier’s 2017 collection Whereas, which twists the language of treaties and official apologies by the United States to Indigenous people, apologies that cannot be accepted because the colonial time they frame as past is still present. The dis...

In the early 1980s, Kenny Scharf, barely out of art school, emerged as a central protagonist of the short-lived, much mythologized East Village scene—a milieu that was celebrated as a neo-neo-avant-garde that collapsed the divide between high and low in its embrace of street culture and, alternately, derided as a bunch of publicity-hungry dilettantes whose bohemian posturing was aimed mostly at the market. By the end of the decade, the scene had b

een declared dead. Some of its best artists were dead, too. Unlike the work of many of the ex–East Villagers, Scharf’s has remained ubiquitous, but his signature cartoonish retro-futurism was, until recently, found less often in museums than in commercial collaborations: Zippo lighters, Rosenthal china, Swatch and Movado watches, Zara T-shirts, Louis Vuitton scarves, Saks Fifth Avenue holiday windows, a Tour de France bike for Lance Armstrong, Kiehl’s gift packaging, and, most perplexingly, a pair of preppy-staple Jack Rodgers sandals. Too young to remember the heyday of Fun Gallery and Gracie Mansion, I barely thought of Scharf as a painter at all, considering him more like an ornamentiste in the Rococo mold, someone who applied his designs to a seemingly indiscriminate range of surfaces, of which canvas was merely one option. ...

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