On View

‘Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010′ at the Museum of Modern Art

'Raster Drawing (Portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald)' (1963) by Polke. (Estate of Sigmar Polke/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn)

This retrospective of the German artist Sigmar Polke finds profound coherence in what is often termed his eclectic style. Unlike previous Polke surveys it mixes mediums: alongside painting and drawing there’s photography, sound, video, film and collage.Their combination proves key in assessing Polke’s reinvention of painting. From his rasterized halftone dot paintings, to paintings in photographic silver bromide (a light-sensitive chemical that darkens over time) on Bubble Wrap, and even uranium-exposed photographs, Polke effected a tectonic shift in how we think about what a painting can be. Read More

On View

‘What Is a Photograph?’ at the International Center of Photography and ‘A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio’ at the Museum of Modern Art

'What Is a Photograph?' at the International Center of Photography. (Courtesy ICP)

The curator of this exhibition, Carol Squiers, turned to work by 21 artists to investigate the ontological reality of a photograph. Does a photograph represent the world? Is it an investigation of light-sensitive chemistry? Does it deal with landscape or with time?

The title of the show poses a good question. Unfortunately, the works chosen to investigate this question, which date from the 1970s to the present, are, simply put, not very strong. What’s worse, while many of them are cartoonishly bad, a few are magical and get it just right. The resulting exhibition is maddeningly close to being good, but it is hobbled by some serious and almost headache-inducing failures that can only be blamed on a lack of curatorial judgment. Read More

On View

‘Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador for the New’ at the Museum of Modern Art

187.96Luna Imaging, Inc.800-452-LUNA (5862)

Two years ago, when the late Ileana Sonnabend’s family donated Robert Rauschenberg’s famous artwork Canyon (1959) to the Museum of Modern Art, a condition of the gift was that the museum put on a show about the legendary art dealer, who died in 2007. Curator Ann Temkin has now fulfilled that promise, and the exhibition she has assembled will remind you how audiences experienced new art in the second half of the 20th century—and how sharply this contrasts with art’s reception today. Read More

On View

‘There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33″’ at the Museum of Modern Art

'Classico 5' (1968) by Robert Ryman. (©2013 the artist/The Museum of Modern Art)

Is John Cage’s 4’33” the most radical artwork of the 20th century? When it premiered at a concert hall in Woodstock, N.Y., in August 1952, the 39-year-old composer had already proven himself an indefatigable avant-gardist, but this was adventurous even for him. Written for “any instrument or combination of instruments,” it famously asks for four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. But as this delectable show’s title, borrowed from a letter by Cage, suggests, he wasn’t really after silence, but rather all of the other sounds that, by chance, would accompany it. (He reported that, at that first performance, with David Tudor sitting at a piano, there was wind, raindrops and “all kinds of interesting sounds as [audience members] talked or walked out” before it ended.) Read More

On View

‘Isa Genzken: Retrospective’ at the Museum of Modern Art

'Hospital “Ground Zero”' (2008) by Genzken. (Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art)

Isa Genzken’s retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, organized by a royal flush of curators (MoMA’s Sabine Breitwieser and Laura Hoptman, the MCA Chicago’s Michael Darling and the Dallas Museum of Art’s Jeffrey Grove, with Stephanie Weber) is one of the best major shows the museum has put on in a long time. Sculptors especially will find much of interest in Ms. Genzken’s approach to materials, and those curious about German postwar art have a lot to celebrate in the show, which puts on view many works never before seen in the U.S.

Like the work of a pop star skilled at self-reinvention, Ms. Genzken’s career is a bit of a hat trick. A thoughtful post-minimal sculptor in the late 1970s, she morphs momentarily into a painter only to become, in recent years, a political installation artist. With shows entitled things like “Fuck the Bauhaus, New Buildings for New York” (2000) and artworks that deal with terrorism and oil dependency, she is always topical. Read More

On View

‘Dorothea Rockburne: Drawing Which Makes Itself’ at the Museum of Modern Art

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Your eyes may burn for a moment when you first enter this tight little survey of drawings by the still-underrated New Yorker Dorothea Rockburne. It’s because she has painted the walls a super-bright white and installed extra lights with a higher-than-standard wattage for the museum. Once your eyes adjust, though, you’ll be well prepared to take in a quiet, subtle stunner, one of the highlights of the fall season. Read More