When confronted with a technical difficulty that you don’t know how to handle or faced with a small but black-and-white decision and unable to make up your mind, you can often take refuge in a noncommittal ambiguity. In Elizabeth Peyton’s current show at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, this strategy works best in watercolor. Jonas Kaufmann, March 2013, NYC, a watercolor just over letter-paper size, is a close-up of the subject’s face, with paper white for skin, as in a blown-out fashion photo, neat inky strokes for eyebrows, carefully placed stains for under-eye shadow and darker stains for the beard. The inherent looseness of the medium, the supple overlap between a stroke, a stain and a drip, lets Ms. Peyton take full advantage of the viewer’s imagination by working within a similar overlap between constructing a figurative image and simply opening the space to project one.
There are young to mid-career artists today who jump nimbly across mediums and delight in the rich phenomenological possibilities of found objects and images. They tend not to work in a recognizable style, but instead create artworks that are united by sensibility—sly, mysterious, ironic, poetic. Think of Ryan Gander, Darren Bader, Adriana Lara and English artist and filmmaker Nick Relph, who is currently having his second solo show at GBE.
THE UPPER EAST SIDE ART SCENE sure is getting wild. Long the preserve of the staid and genteel (old masters, modern masters and the like), the neighborhood has recently been seeing more adventurous fare. Three gallery shows that exemplify the trend—and a fourth farther uptown—are of work by artists who share elements of the same profile: the bad-boy avant-gardist with machismo to spare, rebelling against aesthetic conventions, social norms or both.
Look at This!
We’re working around the clock, trying to beat it, racing against it. We’re never clocking out. It’s how the world works. Meanwhile, time-based works, as they’re termed these days, are increasingly appearing in galleries and museums. Time itself is appearing in many instances. An art-clock boom is on.
So carved in stone are New York’s gallery hours—10 a.m. to 6 p.m.—that one gallery actually named itself after them. Casey Kaplan 10–6 is now simply Casey Kaplan, but for the most part those hours have persisted, with some exceptions, like those Lower East Siders who can’t bother to arrive before noon. These days, however, there are so many shows around town that it’s become difficult for gallery-goers to fit them all in during business hours. Mercifully, some have blasted through the iron walls of 10 to 6, and a few have gone so far beyond them that one could take a 24-hour tour of the city’s art scene. Let’s do it.
TUESDAY, JUNE 26
Opening: Hannah Weinberger, “Le Moi Du Toi,” at Swiss Institute
Basel–based artist Hannah Weinberger’s first show in the United States promises to be a supremely minimal affair, at least visually: just white curtains along the walls and multidirectional speakers spread throughout the space. Aurally, though, the gallery will be filled: those speakers will play electronic loops composed by Ms. Weinberger that viewers can navigate on their visits. “There is no beginning or end to the permutations that the exhibition incites,” the SI’s release states. Should be interesting to see how the opening goes with all of that sound playing. —Andrew Russeth
LAST WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, a slight woman with grey hair styled in a short, spiky, pixie-ish cut was sitting on a sofa at the West Village gallery Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, overseeing the installation of a three-part video piece she made that features short clips from television and the Internet, including flags waving, preachers preaching, Betty Boop singing, a frog jumping and a couple ballroom dancing. She is 82 years old and commanding. Her name is Elaine Sturtevant, but she prefers to be called Sturtevant. That’s what it says on the announcement card for her exhibition, which features a close-up of the face of an inflatable sex doll. Sturtevant.
“Are we gonna go on video?” the artist Frances Stark asked us when we caught up with her on Skype a few weeks ago. She was back in Los Angeles—she teaches at the Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California there—after being in New York for the opening of “Osservate, leggete con me,” her show at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village that runs through April 21.
“I didn’t know if that was the plan,” we typed back. “Your call!”
“Well let’s start out this way…”
Spencer Sweeney’s loft and paintings serve as the home and works of Willem Dafoe’s artist wife in the new apocalyptic Abel Ferrara movie 4:44 Last Day on Earth. This isn’t news, per se, but it’s an interesting little piece of trivia that J. Hoberman drops in his column over at Blouin Artinfo.
Let’s assume for a moment that Amazon.com is the best way to sell something to someone else online, the Platonic ideal of website retail. Imagine a version of Amazon.com that exists for just one week a year and requires you to have a little instant message conversation with a salesman as the first step to any transaction. If he likes you, or you’re known to him, he might take you to a “private room,” identical to any other inventory page, but where they keep the really good thriller novels. Fair warning! This version of Amazon.com has a reputation for being a little quirky technically as well. The chat function isn’t reliable, and the whole site once had to be taken offline for several hours, during that week of its existence.