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Will Heinrich

Koons Kountdown 2014

The Koons Konundrum

Jeff Koons, 'Made in Heaven,' 1989. (©Jeff Koons)

I don’t know how to write about Jeff Koons. His retrospective at the Whitney, which lopes quickly around the whole of the soon-to-be-lamented Marcel Breuer building, begins with an acrylic, vinyl, and fluorescent lightbox sign titled The New, on which heavy black sans serif letters, set against a blood-red background and climbing jauntily uphill, spell out “THE NEW.”This was also the title of Mr. Koons’s first major appearance, a show at the New Museum in 1980 that included readymade vacuum cleaners in vitrines, smaller appliances set against white fluorescent tubes, and inflatable toys posed on or against mirrors. There’s an interesting paradox at the heart of novelty: The less purchase a piece takes on what came before it, the more distinctly it carries an aftertaste of having been seen before. Read More

On View

‘Daughter of Bad Girls’ at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery

'Untitled (Hag)' (2012) by Vaginal Davis. (Courtesy the artist and Klaus von Nichtssagend)

The compact spread of this nine-artist group show, inspired by a bicoastal “Bad Girls” exhibition organized by Marcia Tanner and Marcia Tucker in 1994, manages to suggest both the diversity of the conversations currently taking place about the experience of being a woman and the need, unfortunately almost as urgent now as it was 20 or even 50 years ago, for those conversations to be louder. Read More

On View

‘My Old Friend, My New Friend, My Girlfriend, My Cousin and My Mentor’ at Shoot the Lobster

A work by John Ingiaimo. (Courtesy Shoot the Lobster)

After the kegger as après le déluge. An untitled, seven foot high transparent Chinese screen of hollow steel girders by Carol Bove snakes through the middle of Shoot the Lobster’s basement space on Eldridge Street, around a drain in the concrete floor, between two duffel bags fabricated by JPW3, the young painter who also organized the show, and Sara Gernsbacher, working together under the name “Patches,” from discarded canvases of his, almost scraping the ceiling. Next to it is RPT1, a debauched popcorn maker installation by JPW3. Read More

On View

Nicholas Buffon at Callicoon Fine Arts

'124 Forsyth Street' (2014) by Nicholas Buffon. (Courtesy the artist and Callicoon Fine Arts)

To close out the gallery’s three-year run at 124 Forsyth Street, Nicholas Buffon has turned Callicoon Fine Arts inside out. A single room that already feels something like an alleyway, with close-set white walls and a rough concrete floor, it’s now hung with Mr. Buffon’s exacting but fanciful models of the yellowish-white wooden house in the town of Callicoon, in upstate New York, where the gallery was founded; the steel gates that protect the gallery’s much larger new space on Delancey Street; a stop sign, a paper shopping bag, a streetlight, a cast-iron gate, a blue plastic bag of recycling, a red bicycle with a stolen front wheel, three Dr. Seuss trees, and the five-story, red brick Forsyth Street building itself, all made from paper and foam core. Read More

On View

Matthew Monahan at Anton Kern Gallery

Exhibition view. (Courtesy Anton Kern Gallery)

Matthew Monahan is either Circe or Ulysses. For the sculptures and works on paper at Kern, he sliced up nymphs—or one nymph repeatedly—and then put her back together, along with one or two sleeping giants and a fallen god, using bronze, steel, fire brick, rebar, photocopy toner, aluminum leaf, oil paint, polyurethane foam, cast epoxy resin, and tall, narrow tables that look like hollow steel light boxes. The theatrical, comic-book cubism that results is either thrashing out the violence and misogyny suffusing the relentlessly unreflective visual culture we’re all stuck with or attempting to turn it against itself. Is the half-present ballerina of Bright Lament, for example,demurely tilting her head with the help of the armature, or has the eternal spirit of the feminine been impaled by a piece of rebar? And is she a woman, or is she a symbol of the unbearably ubiquitous image? Read More

On View

‘Ragnar Kjartansson: Me, My Mother, My Father, and I’ at the New Museum

Exhibition view. (Photo Benoit Pailley/New Museum)

If irony is the antithesis of sincerity, Ragnar Kjartansson might represent their synthesis. A black-and-white photo of the artist at the age of 14, taken on the occasion of his confirmation, hangs alone on the wall that meets a visitor emerging from the New Museum’s elevators into Mr. Kjartansson’s current exhibition there, “Me, My Mother, My Father, and I.” Over and around this wall, 10 voices arranged in multipart polyphony by Kjartan Sveinsson (formerly of the Icelandic pop band Sigur Rós) come singing, while in the photo, young Master Kjartansson, sitting between his father and mother, thoughtfully waits it out with eyebrows raised and eyes downcast. The parents, Kjartan Ragnarsson and Guðrún Ásmundsdóttir, were costars in Iceland’s first feature film, Morðsaga (Murder Story, 1977), and Mr. Kjartansson—or so he was told, or so he tells us he was told—was conceived during shooting in May 1975. Read More

On View

‘Alain Biltereyst: Geo Land’ at Jack Hanley Gallery

Exhibition view. (Courtesy Jack Hanley Gallery)

Alain Biltereyst appropriates fragments of design he finds on the street to make acrylic-on-plywood paintings that read as a kind of left-handed minimalism with a strong undercurrent of Japanese heraldry. They come in two sizes, hardcover novel or dictionary, and are all unframed and untitled. He uses bright, primary reds and blues, as in one piece that stacks five X-acto blade shapes horizontally, in opposite directions, as if for a poster advertising a train station; a bilious yellow-green like millet porridge; light blue; lavender; pastel green; dark green; and a plastery, fingerprinted, hard-won, speck-marked white, through which red or blue gleam like blood under skin. But most of the work in the current show depends on indigo. Read More

On View

Vincent Fecteau at Matthew Marks Gallery

'Untitled' (2014) by Fecteau. (Courtesy the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery)

Vincent Fecteau wears his heart on the wall. At certain angles, it reveals a protean burst of mad gargoyles and respectful silhouettes. But its construction depends so heavily on the flat plane at its back that it would feel disingenuous to look into it any way but head on. Constructed in resin clay from overlapping petals, sharp elbows and obtuse turns and painted in the utilitarian colors of a Scandinavian garbage truck, it’s an organ of its own becoming, the free-form but laborious construction of a complex body around a center of nothingness. Read More

On View

‘Peter Dreher: Day by Day, Good Day’ at Koenig & Clinton

'Tag Um Tag Guter Tag Nr2441 Day' (2012) 
by Dreher. (Courtesy the artist and Koenig & Clinton)

Painting the same water glass over and over, as Peter Dreher has been doing since 1976, isn’t only a conceptual gesture. (Mr. Dreher first painted the hard-edged, heavy-bottomed cylindrical tumbler in 1974, but he didn’t conceive of making it a series, which he ultimately named “Day by Day, Good Day” and which now consists of more than 5,000 panels and canvases, until two years later.) Read More

On View

Stephen Lichty at Foxy Production

'Untitled' (2014) by Lichty. (Courtesy the artist and Foxy Production)

Stephen Lichty’s knockout solo gallery debut centers on an untitled monolith of columnar basalt sourced from Grand Coulee in Washington State. Six and a half feet tall and pale gray, it has a footprint naturally shaped like the trapezoidal pentagon on Superman’s breast. It is speckled with maroon dots and a few white patches, with a blackish water line whipping down its left edge like lightning; viewed from the gallery door, it looks simple and rectangular. Another facet is more liberally water stained, and a third is the purplish-black color of a bruise up to the top fifth or so, where it narrows slightly and then offsets, like the point of a stone axe, and is dappled with orange oxidation. Unweathered, the stone itself would be the color of a prehistoric night, as you can see in the brief, restrained curve that Mr. Lichty has polished onto the tip, just visible to either side of the taxidermied tomcat draped over it. A gray tabby with black spots, black rings on its legs, blond highlights and gently closed eyes, the cat stretches out in a curiously human position, its hind legs and tail hanging straight, its back relaxed, its forelegs extended to embrace what is at once its tombstone and its foundation, and its muzzle resting to one side of the corner like a napping child on its father’s shoulder. One tiny fang pokes out. Read More