heikemoras

151 articles written by heikemoras

Slipping into the cool and glam world of Florine Stettheimer feels like a refreshing dip in the pool during the summer heat. The beautifully arranged show at the Jewish museum, brings together 71 works of the spirited Jazz age polymath, including set and costume designs for her fantastical ballet Orpheée des Quat’z’Arts. Nonetheless, the true gems of the exhibition are Stettheimer’s intricately rendered and colorful depictions of the wealthy New York avant-garde during the heady 1920s and 1930s. Often, Stettheimer’s energetic, richly symbolic, and vibrantly colored scenes of daily life of the rich and glamorous are thinly disguised attempts at satire; such as this brilliant painting of beach revelers at a segregated resort in New Jersey, where a vivacious mixed-race crowd parties without a care in the world. At the Jewish Museum through September 24.

In the olden days, that is in the time before circa 1990, dialogue between artists often had to involve a physical get-together. It may have taken place in a dive bar, like between Pollock and de Kooning, in a fancy restaurant where Freud and Bacon liked to meet, or it involved an old-fashioned studio visit as frenemies Manet and Degas preferred. The advent of the smart phone and the widening net of social media platforms made physical contact superfluous. All of a sudden, artists could share impressions and swap ideas instantaneously, often involving multiple parties – even over several continents. In an interesting experiment, the photography department of the Metropolitan Museum paired up twenty-four artists over the course of five months and asked them to record their visual dialogue on their phones. The participating artists were Cynthia Deignault and Daniel Heidkamp; Rob Pruitt and Jonathan Horowitz; Manjari Sharma and Irina Rozovsky; Nicole Eisenman and A. L. Steiner; Sanford Biggers and Shawn Peters; Cao Fei and Wu Zhang; Teju Cole and Laura Poitras; Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Nontsikelelo Mutiti; Nina Katchadourian and Lenka Clayton; Christoph Niemann and Nicholas Blechman; and Ahmet Ögüt and Alexandra Pirici. The result is an exhilarating glimpse into the minds of artists: a direct graphic response to everyday tedium, fascinating visuals, homelife, artistic output, and politics. Highlights include the conversation between Manjari Sharma and Irina Rozovsky, who discovered they were both pregnant and due around the same time and an exchange of photographs of paintings created especially for the project by Cynthia Daignault and Daniel Heidkamp. Here is a sample of the painterly exchange between the two artists. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art through December 17.

Often labeled as “The Greatest Artist You Have Never Heard Of”, Ray Johnson, American prankster, obsessive mailer of things and all-around enfant terrible of New York’s avant-garde, still has a cult-like following among youngish art hipsters that grapple with a contemporary art world that can’t seem to laugh at itself. Twenty-two years after his baffling suicide-cum-artwork, Matthew Marks Gallery is now showing some of the collages, objects and complex word plays that occupied the artist during the last years of his life. Increasingly isolated and grappling with crushing depression, Johnson’s savvy photomontages invite artist friends and idols onto the same page and often morph into bitingly sarcastic commentary such as this composition from 1972 “Untitled (Cage, Picasso, Magritte, Donald Tru) in which our current president is making an impromptu appearance. At Matthew Marks through August 18.

“Aspects of Abstraction”, a rewarding group show currently on view at Lisson Gallery brings together four superb but vexingly underrated colorists. Marina Adams’ masterly paintings and gouaches fuse uncomplicated, supple biomorphic forms with sophisticated color compositions of burnt orange, brilliant aqua blues and soothing olive greens. Paul Feeley’s alluring watercolors follow along the same lines with a less dramatic but equally refined effect. Crisp and energetic, Joanna Pousette-Dart’s imbricating lines morph into bulbous forms that expertly play with light in soft color compositions of vanilla, pale blues and earthy browns. Bold, Mondrian-like yellows, blues and reds define the geometric color compositions of the late minimalist Leon Polk Smith whose riveting shaped canvas “Constellation C” from 1969 is the undisputed showstopper of this exhibition. At Lisson through August 11.

Mercifully lacking a contrived theme, the summer group show at Petzel Gallery simply features a fine selection of deftly executed figurative sculptures by six gallery artists. Greeting the viewer at the door, Jon Pylypchuk’s sculpture “allright I guess I can’t be sincere to you anymore” is simply the sum of its parts: a figure on a pedestal made with tennis rackets and lightbulbs for eyes; Keith Edmier’s “Medea” is cast from pink dental stone and rises from the exploded kiln of the late artist Lowell Grant;  Sean Landers’ casts a beautifully menacing god Pan; Heimo Zobernig‘s take on the classical contrapposto is a 3D composition of three sculptures; bulky, elegant and graceful, Georg Herold’s “Brown Betelgeuze is a beautifully imagined bronze of the second-brightest star of Orion. Here is Nicola Tyson’s two graceful dancing figures made from pieces of hollowed out firewood. At Petzel through August 4.

Brought together under a vaguely literary pretext with apocalyptic undertones, some of the works assembled in Metro Pictures summer group show “A New Ballardian Vision” are nevertheless worth a visit. Under the direction of Shanghai-based curator Leo Xu, artists are strictly divided by gallery affiliation: Meto-Picture artists command the larger downstairs space and Leo Xu Project gallery artists are shown upstairs. The show opens patriotically with Robert Longo’s shiny warped aluminium mirror flag from 2015, moves along Trevor Paglen’s ominous color study of the San Quentin State Prison from 2016, stops by Jim Shaw’s Hanging Legs with Toes Bitten Off, turns to three works in Cindy Sherman’s ill-boding Disaster Series from 1987, takes a funny detour with Camille Henrot’s Study For Nightmare from 2017, before heading upstairs to explore the angst and misery of our Chinese compatriots. Here the calamitous push towards a new tomorrow and the resulting take-no-prisoner urban development is brilliantly explored by a set of Cui Jie’s painting and sculpture of impersonal high rise developments, whereas Pixie Liao’s photograph “In One Dress” laments the loss of individuality as a price for progress. The show lingers briefly on those left behind by the boom in Cheng Ran’s single channel HD video before ending with a ray of hope in Cheng Wei’s monumental photograph “Light Box”. Here is Martin Kippenberger’s “Lonely American in the corner who is not allowed to speak”. At Metro Pictures through August 4.

In

There was more than a fair share of adults at the recent opening of Alexander Calder’s “Hypermobilty” at the Whitney, despite the fact that the artist once famously said: “My fan mail is enormous. Everyone is under six.” Calder is, of course, more than just whimsy and fun. Aside from the technical and mathematical intelligence, his “Mobiles” demonstrate an unsurpassed poetic communion with nature, color, weight and balance. Also on display are several of Calder’s motored objects. Newly restored and operated by specially trained handlers several times a day, they lack spontaneity and improvisation – a reason why Calder preferred autonomously moving designs where air or a slight touch determines their visual effects. Some of the more arresting pieces are hovering delicately above the crowd – a few parts touching each other ever so slightly activated merely by a breath of air or an imagined human touch. At the Whitney Museum of American Art through October 23.

 

“Dream Machines”, a summer group show currently on view at James Cohan gallery, brings together a group of artists that employ politics, the body, and the mind to explore the boundaries between the real and the imagined. On par with our current political climate and its proliferation of fake news, the show opens with an 18-minute-long video loop by Omer Fast featuring CNN anchors speaking one single word which morph into increasingly urgent personal pleas. Perched in a corner, and the lone artwork in an otherwise empty gallery, the video reminds of the inescapable tyranny of the 24-hour news cycle with its bewildering burden of sifting facts from fiction. OMER FAST, CNN Concatenated, 2002, Single channel video. At James Cohan through July 28.

Josef Albers looms large in Julian Stanczak’s work. The late Polish artist, who escaped the horrors of the Soviet Gulag and ended up in Albers’ class at Yale University, took to geometric abstraction with a passion that rivalled his teacher’s. Eventually, Stanczak ventured beyond the rigid square format of his master and started to explore more complex color relationships within parallel lines, waves, and grids. Stanczak’s was a master of nuance – some of his best works contain a myriad of shades eliciting the most personal emotional responses and that decidedly humanize his paintings, like an old friend you know well. Lines, shapes, colors, and materials “should know about each other,” Albers once famously said, “they should pay attention to each other.” Just as friends should. At Mitchell-Innes & Nash through July 14.

There are only a few works on view in Ceal Floyer’s elegant new exhibition at 303 gallery but they nevertheless bag a real punch. Floyer toys with simple objects, changing their innate perception into something vexing. A typical small desk balance ball meant to relieve stress is knotted up into a discombobulated mess – the stress relief withheld for the viewer. A row of dominos set up to be knocked over in to a cascading elegance is unsatisfactorily set up too close – the yearning for action denied. Try to reach the back gallery and find your way blocked by a menacing saw blade cutting a hole through the floor – a hint of caution, perhaps, for an overly eager collector. Floyer’s best work is her video “Plughole”, prominently projected onto the back wall of the gallery. A stream of water is precisely repositioned to fill each hole of an ordinary drain but the water does not comply and emerges back through the other holes – a cunning reminder of irritating people, things, thoughts and feelings that just don’t want to go away. At 303 gallery through July 14.

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