MAGAZINES

In the Studio: Alan Michelson

You could say that the Indigenous site is almost always a nonsite, an abstraction or documentary representation of a site that may no longer exist. …Read more
MAGAZINES

Trust Survey 2018

Adrian Piper has taken care to explain that her work in philosophy, her “day job,” as she writes, is not a mirror image, in another guise, of her work in visual art.…Read more
MAGAZINES

Taste Venues

Pat Hearn and Colin de Land's galleries were deconstructing themselves and received art history in real time, operating in a constant state of autocritique.…Read more
MAGAZINES

Atlas San Francisco: Rebels in the Palace

in late April 201, my wife and I noticed the lights aglow over the golf course and recalled that the Legion of Honor was having an opening—for Urs Fischer, of all people!…Read more

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Reviews

Over a third of the works in Sarah Lucas’s first stateside retrospective are from her early years as part of the Young British Artists (YBA) group, beginning with the sculpture Au Naturel (1994), from which the exhibition takes its title. The now infamous tableau made from found objects and perishable food was an early enactment of the kind of abject shorthand for body parts that has since defined her aesthetic. The work features a yellow-stained

mattress sitting on the floor, slumped against the wall. Two melons positioned above a metal bucket and an upright cucumber stuck between a pair of oranges are set on top, completing the visual pun. Yet perhaps because of the dubiousness of the YBA legacy thirty years on, the exhibition’s wall texts and catalogue essays downplay the association in favor of more gender-based readings that also sidestep the role of class intrinsic to much YBA work. A group of brash DIY-styled artists who came of age in a post-Thatcher world marred by economic recession, rancorous class divisions, and tabloid sensationalism, the YBAs were defined by their shared use of found objects, shock tactics, and mass media. Their interest in the base realities of sex, death, and materialism channeled a working-class cynicism toward high art that artists like Lucas expressed through crude humor and accessible metaph...

Nikita Gale’s sculptures and installations explore systems of power and oppression using objects like barricades and musical equipment and motifs of American social protest. For the past couple of years—a period in which the Women’s March and countless demonstrations against travel bans, immigration policy, and gun violence took place—her pieces have been notably silent (a pair of unplugged guitars figured prominently in a sculpture, Big Bad

Pickup, shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2017; empty microphone and instrument stands wrapped in soundproofing foam were scattered throughout Proposal: Soft Surround Sound, her installation at this year’s Made in LA biennial). As if the artist had been waiting for the right moment to amplify her message, or perhaps had just gotten fed up, her latest solo exhibition offered a kind of personal battle cry. Titled “Descent”—a quasi-homonym of “dissent”—and comprising works made this year, the show publicly revealed the choice she made long ago to disavow her legal surname in favor of her chosen last name, Gale. A subtly but palpably violent atmosphere ran through the show. The name-change seemed to be placed at the nexus of a revolt against legacies ranging from fraught family dynamics to slavery and colonialism. ...

In a career spanning more than thirty years, German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans (b. 1968) has tried his hand at a range of genres, including landscape, street photography, portraiture, still life, and abstraction, producing work that is consistently fresh, stylish, and (at least in later years) pleasingly composed. He’s best known for his photographs chronicling European youth culture, particularly the LGBT scene, in the late 1980s and ’90s.

Shot at picnics, parties, concerts, and the homes of friends and acquaintances, these images have a diaristic feel, even if they were often staged. Lacking the bite or astringency of, say, Nan Goldin’s work, they exude an aura of uncomplicated happiness and calm—which can make them either appealing or cloying, depending on your vantage point. Even loyal admirers, however, were likely to have been underwhelmed by the images of people in his sprawling exhibition of new and recent work at David Zwirner. These lacked his signature buoyancy, seeming simply boring. Most of them were hung in the show’s cavernous first room and were straightforward portraits of people from places around the world. They appeared tenderly shot, but also willfully incurious and not at all penetrating. Karl am Tisch (2016) shows a casually dressed man sitting at a table and conveys something of his gentleness....

Most artists exhibiting in the Secession’s main gallery leave the space a perfect white cube. Not Anthea Hamilton. For “The New Life,” her first solo exhibition in Austria, she covered the floor, walls, and ceiling of the room in a dizzying large-scale tartan pattern in red, blue, and purple: the Hamilton tartan. The patterning gave one the impression of having walked into a setting from an early video game or a scene from a David Lynch movie.

Its gridded quality—which echoed that of the ceiling lights and the rectilinearity of the architecture—also highlighted the nature of the gallery as a sort of stage defining where and how artworks should be displayed. Playing with such logic, the Turner Prize nominee populated the space with surreal, humorous sculptures and assemblages. Three giant fabric butterflies appeared to have alighted on the walls, while a fourth, perhaps having crashed, lay at the foot of a steel sculpture resembling a hashtag. A plump stuffed moth—the butterflies’ homelier cousin?—slumped against a wall, as if it had gorged itself on too many clothes (Cloak Moth, 2018). Themes of food and fashion commingled throughout the show. At the entrance was a work in which a life-size cutout (from a 1973 Helmut Newton photograph) of a young singlet-wearing Karl Lagerfeld reclining on a bed is set on a pedestal...

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Bruce Nauman, Pat Hearn and Colin de Land, Adrian Piper, Alan Michelson

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