9:47 am Sep. 5, 2012
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No more days at the beach, no more Friday half-days, no more picnics in the park, no more sunscreen, no more barbecues, and no more reading the newspaper by natural light at eight o’clock in the evening. Summertime is over. But instead, we can look forward to bonfires, Halloween, brisk walks, light jacket weather, changing leaves, golden light, and the annual explosion of gallery and museum shows, including these (likely) gems.
Louise Fishman’s suite of new paintings at Cheim & Read, opening on September 13, were inspired by a recent residency in Venice but executed, in oil paint on large linen or jute canvases, in New York. The compositions are titanic: broad strokes of oceanic or Marian-blue color, marked here and there with curving teeth, or small splotches of yellow and red like psychedelic pigeon droppings on St. Mark’s Basilica, are fitted together like tiles to create stable tensions that stop distinctly but only just barely short of open conflict. The smearing and overlapping of those colors, meanwhile, highlight paint’s most ordinary function of covering a surface, but the surface itself is never exposed, so that the pieces function simultaneously as paintings and performances of painting—but the performance, in this case, is firmly subordinated to the paint.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and so did Picasso. Picasso Black and White, opening on October 5 at the Guggenheim Museum, is dedicated to the artist’s use and investigation of a chromatic constraint usually associated with the past, with technological limitations, with dry romance, with ethereal modernism, and especially with early photography's challenge to painting. So it promises to be an enlightening look at both a particularly carnal artist, and at the paradoxical tensions between observed and imposed systems, ideals and their material expressions, and an artist and his materials. Is it fair to call a bronze bust, Head of a Woman (Dora), “black and white” because it happens to be black? Or what to make of 1942’s Reclining Nude, which does create a distinctly black-and-white impression, but uses brown, tan, yellow, green, and blue (in addition to black, white, and gray) to do so? In the end, because this is Picasso, the material will defeat the ideal: black will stand for neither death nor power, but for soot; white for neither purity nor death, again, nor even light, but for pallor; and his black and white together will still be in full color.
Painter Becky Kolsrud’s debut solo gallery show, opening September 7 at JTT on Suffolk Street, will also be the first solo painting show at the gallery, which opened earlier this year. Ms. Kolsrud’s paintings of anonymous female figures, built up from studies of small gestures, use colorful, snaking strokes that work within, but never quite fill, implicit outlines. Where Ms. Fishman’s surfaces are monumental walls of color, things to be rocked, scaled, or detonated, Ms. Kolsrud works within a ubiquitous coloring book pasted together from mass media and fashion photography. It can’t be changed or denied, but it can be laughed at, or, like a razor blade under a too-persistent bumper sticker, deftly slipped behind.
Mickalene Thomas’s first solo museum exhibition, Origin of the Universe, showed this spring at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, but for its opening at the Brooklyn Museum on September 28, the artist added a mural for the entrance, installations of domestic interiors, and more than seventy other new works. Ms. Thomas’s large, boldly colorful surfaces, built up from sharp-edged segments of color and often divided, in imitation of collage, with additional overlaid lines, use the illusion of fracture as merely another mechanism of profusion. For her 2012 homage to Courbet’s Origine du Monde (The Origin of the World), Ms. Thomas painted her own naked, cropped midsection, which performs the neat trick of making the piece about black identity, art’s historical relationship to the female body and female desire, and the problems of subjectivity, without being unduly preoccupied with any of those things. The artist uses herself as material instead of as a subject. Qusuquzah, Une Très Belle Négresse 2 (2012) shows a woman with bright blue eyeshadow that matches her blue hat and the short, mesh veil covering her eyes: the fracturing lines of the mesh only emphasize the wholeness of the face behind it.
The sculptor Alina Szapocznikow survived three Nazi ghettos and two concentration camps to begin studying art in 1946, navigate the widely varying professional obstacles presented by Communist Poland and '60s Paris, and become posthumously somewhat famous, after an untimely death at 47, for a series of black-and-white close-ups of sculpted wads of gum on little shelves. She will get a much belated partial retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, beginning on October 7, in Alina Szapocznikow: Sculpture Undone, 1955-1972. As if creating characters for a new, post-rational and post-monotheistic mythology, equally capable of grappling with the dehumanizing horrors of the death camps and the dehumanizing, anti-feminist banalities of postwar consumerism, Ms. Szapocznikow used unconventional materials to build sculptures of separated body parts—lips, bellies, breasts. But because the parts themselves remain recognizable, the whole body—like an ideal or hope that no amount of disillusionment can extinguish from the mind, or like a ghost—remains present.
And, more briefly:
Gerhard Richter’s Painting 2012, opening at Marian Goodman on September 9, will use digital software and endlessly generative chance operations to produce a series of fragmentary reconsiderations of one of the painter’s untitled 1990 "Abstract Paintings"; Ernst Wilhelm Nay will open simultaneously at Mary Boone Gallery and Michael Werner on September 7; Gladstone Gallery will fill itself, for Thomas Hirschhorn’s "Concordia, Concordia,” with a tilted-sidways, tacky cruise-ship interior inspired by the Italian shipwrecked Costa Concordia (opening Sept. 13); The Frick Collection will exhibit fifty-eight drawings, from the Middle Ages to the present, borrowed from The Courtauld Institute of Art in London, the most the gallery has ever lent out (Mantegna to Matisse: Master Drawings from The Courtauld Gallery, opening Oct. 2), and The Morgan Library & Museum will be showing almost twice as many drawings, from Titian, Michelangelo, Dürer, and Rembrandt up to Max Beckmann, Pablo Picasso, and Sigmar Polke (Dürer to de Kooning: 100 Master Drawings from Munich, opening Oct. 12); The Metropolitan Museum of Art will celebrate the centennial of its arms and armor department, the shiny lure that draws many a young boy into a lifetime of museum attendance, with a small show of photography and ephemera relating to the life of the department’s founding curator, Bashford Dean (Bashford Dean and the Creation of the Arms and Armor Department, opening Oct. 2); Japanese installation artist Tatzu Nishi has already started surrounding the six-story-high statue of Christopher Columbus at Columbus Circle for "Discovering Columbus" with a full living room, enabling visitors to see what kind of views the statue would have if it were an apartment (Opens Sept. 20); and at The Drawing Center starting November 3, Cornelia Lauf and Susan Hapgood will curate In Deed: Certificates of Authenticity in Art. You’ll be able to see examples of the magical talismans that hold together the heavily conceptual world of contemporary art firmly attached to the more literal world of money, ranging from Dan Flavin’s graph-paper drawing and Yves Klein’s swatch of his ultimately unverifiable blue to a three-page legal document of Andrea Fraser’s, as well as examples from Josiah McIlheny, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Yoko Ono, and Sol LeWitt. But what may, in fact, be most illuminating is that you won’t actually see any of these things—you’ll see facsimiles.
More by this author:
- Drawing from the outside in: 'Keith Haring: 1978-1982' at the Brooklyn Museum of Art
- Cindy Sherman's MoMA retrospective contains many guises, but is all about the gaze