Michael Wilson

On View

Amy O’Neill: ‘HLUSA’ at the Swiss Institute

Amy O'Neill, 'OMG,' 2012.

Ever since Claes Oldenberg proposed making a teddy bear large enough to obstruct a Manhattan intersection, shading the banal into the monumental has been a favorite sport of artists with a liking for the absurd—and the requisite Koonsian ego. This month, Soho nonprofit the Swiss Institute plays host to another variation on the time-honored theme, with uneven results. Elements of Amy O’Neill’s “HLUSA” are striking enough, but, while not without its subtleties and potentials, the project as a whole doesn’t add quite enough to the inherent fascination of its subject to make for something likely to endure as an independent meditation. Read More

On View

Guillermo Kuitca: ‘Diarios’ at the Drawing Center

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Guillermo Kuitca, Diario (25 May – 20 October 2005), 2005

Plenty of artists have sought to present art-making—painting and drawing in particular—as a “daily practice,” an activity that is meditative and sustaining as well as exploratory and expressive. The idea reflects well on its proponents, who appear a little less focused on fame and fortune as a result, and closer to joggers or monks in their relentless quest for self-improvement or self-realization. The problem is that the results of all this self-discipline are not inherently interesting to look at. When quality control ceases to be an issue, the rough inevitably cohabits with, and sometimes pushes out, the smooth. Guillermo Kuitca’s intermittently enjoyable but ultimately forgettable “Diarios” at the Drawing Center is a classic example of this all-too-familiar outcome. Read More


Odd Couples: Frank Benson/Peter Fischli and David Weiss at Andrew Kreps, Al Taylor and James Welling at David Zwirner

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James Welling, FD105C3, 2012

In these days of endlessly proliferating biennials, triennials and mega-exhibitions, contemporary art curatorship tends to be equated almost exclusively with the ability to gather works by dozens of artists under one roof while maintaining at least the illusion of a convincing theme or thesis. And while this skill is nothing to be sniffed at—it implies administrative mastery if nothing else—there is perhaps just as much to admire in the successful juxtaposition of two artists not generally associated with one another, or even with a particular approach or sensibility. Two current Chelsea exhibitions make a convincing case for the satisfactions of such pairings. Read More


Let the Music Play: Susan Philipsz at Tanya Bonakdar, Michael Rakowitz at Lombard Freid Projects, Karen Kilimnik and Kim Gordon at 303 Gallery

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Installation view of Karen Kilimnik & Kim Gordon at 303 Gallery

The seemingly innate capacity of music to fuse direct emotion with a more ideational connection to the culture at large is the envy of many a visual artist, so it’s unsurprising that it remains a thematic touchstone even as styles push relentlessly forward or circle back to their roots. Three Chelsea galleries are kicking off the fall season with exhibitions centered on creative explorations of the myriad contexts, uses, and meanings of organized noise. While both Michael Rakowitz at Lombard Freid Projects and the pairing of Karen Kilimnik and Kim Gordon at 303 Gallery deal in the cultural reverberations of rock and pop history by way of artifacts and performances—playing too with the notions of authenticity that invariably surround them—Susan Philipsz at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery looks further back and ponders a different tradition, drawing on early twentieth-century avant-garde classicism in the service of a quieter, more introspective narrative. Read More


Other Voices: Annette Messager at Marian Goodman Gallery; Sharon Hayes at the Whitney Museum of American Art

An Ear to the Sounds of Our History

On the face of it, French artist Annette Messager and American Sharon Hayes could hardly be more different. Ms. Messager, using a rich formal and symbolic palette, delves deep into the magic and mystery of early childhood; Ms. Hayes, with a visual vocabulary that is stripped to the bone and an emphasis on the sense of sound over sight, focuses on the communication of some decidedly grown-up social and political issues. And yet, there is a kind of common ground: both artists involve the viewer in an investigation of oft-hidden facets of the psyche and their intermittent emergence into the light of the everyday. Read More