Square Dance: Josef Albers at the Morgan Library

'Color Study for Mitered Square [Homage to the Square]' (not dated) by Josef Albers. (Morgan library/© 2012 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society New York)

Walking through “Josef Albers in America: Painting on Paper,” a revealing show at the Morgan Library consisting of over 60 messy, rarely seen studies by the famed painter and educator, is a bit like peeking into the medicine cabinet of a sleek, high-end modernist bathroom. What at first looks smoothly impersonal is revealed to contain a pharmacopeia of neurotic, experimental and even mystical obsessions. Albers’s nested squares are modernist icons, but you would be surprised at what goes on beneath their surfaces. 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


Back on the Map: ‘Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan’ at the Museum of Modern Art


If you want to see the Museum of Modern Art’s atrium gallery looking better than it ever has before, go now. Walls and floor alike are covered with handwoven rugs in an installation that forms part of a retrospective of the late Italian artist Alighiero Boetti. Since the museum opened its Yoshio Taniguchi-designed building eight years ago, this tricky atrium has foiled curators and artists alike, but the team responsible for the Boetti show—MoMA’s Christian Rattemeyer, along with Lynne Cooke, chief curator at Madrid’s Reina Sofia, and Mark Godfrey, curator at London’s Tate Modern—has transformed it into an intimate space. The museum’s heart finally looks warm and inviting rather than mall-like, a place where a small caravan might encamp, or a group of schoolchildren sit in a circle. Read More


The Boys (and Girls) of Summer: ‘Context Message’ at Zach Feuer and ‘Side Show’ at Greene Naftali

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The critic Dave Hickey once cited his friend and fellow critic Peter Schjeldahl’s prescription for making it as an artist: “You move to a city. You hang out in bars. You form a gang, turn it into a scene, and turn that into a movement.” Movements may be a thing of the past, but social networks are very much a part of the present, and two current group exhibitions at Chelsea galleries, “Context Message” at Zach Feuer and “Side Show” at Greene Naftali, offer an opportunity to check in with some promising young artists who are in the midst of fomenting vital scenes. Read More


Who’s on First? No, They’re All on at Once: Star Curators Take to the Galleries for Summer Group Shows

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"Dogma" at Metro Pictures | Installation view

Riding out the summer doldrums with a guest-curated group show is standard practice for name-brand galleries. Handing over the exhibition-making reins to an outsider—preferably a bleeding-edge tastemaker—allows for some quirky deviation from familiar pair programming. And the game of mix-and-match can, when the chemistry is there, cast selector and selections in a revealing new light. Three current examples of this appealingly unpredictable subgenre—all organized by men-about-the-not-for-profit-art-world for established Chelsea powerhouses—represent divergent approaches to the task. But while varied in their ambitions, all set an easy-going tone—too high-minded to be trashy beach reads, they’re still page-turners. Read More


Spot On: Between Louis Vuitton and the Internet, Yayoi Kusama Is Everywhere

(Courtesy the Whitney Museum)

It should be impossible to make a dull exhibition of work by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, a feisty 83-year-old whose scale-defying work—”infinity net” paintings, polka-dot installations, happenings, as well as dabblings in media, fashion and commerce—might play equally well in a closet and an arena. Yet the Whitney Museum has managed to put on a tepid retrospective: a dutiful and limited presentation of an artist who is larger than life. Read More


Bollinger, Unchained: Long-Overdue Retrospective at SculptureCenter Proves Late Sculptor’s Influence

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Bill Bollinger, Graphite Piece, 1969/2012

Sprawling across SculptureCenter’s main gallery right now is an ordinary chain-link fence that lies flat for nearly the length of the space, rises to a torqued wave, and then lies flat again. You may feel foolish to have trekked all the way out to Long Island City to see such a workaday object, but you shouldn’t. Cyclone Fence 1968 (2012), a reconstruction of a piece by the late, relatively obscure artist Bill Bollinger, has much to tell us about sculpture being made by young artists today.

Over the past five years sculptures that are, superficially at least, totally banal—barrels filled with water, pipe pieces connected by rubber tubing, columns covered with sheets of linoleum tile, shelving units—have come to be commonplace in galleries. Bill Bollinger, who died in 1988 and was the kind of artist who might shop for his materials in a hardware store, is a patron saint of this school, and he is finally getting a posthumous, long overdue retrospective in “Bill Bollinger: The Retrospective.” Read More


‘In What Distant Deeps or Skies': Lu Magnus Summer Show Mines Blake’s ‘Tyger’

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Fawad Khan, Of Lions, Lambs, and Valleys, 2012

The literary world has been flooding into the art world in myriad ways lately. Gagosian is publishing James Frey, and Ed Ruscha is finding fruitful material in Kerouac’s On the Road. Perhaps the most recent example is Lu Magnus gallery’s current show, “In What Distant Deeps or Skies,” the title of which is taken from William Blake’s “The Tyger,” and is part of the first batch of summer group shows that opened earlier this month on the Lower East Side. It features the work of Fawad Khan, Jonathan Allen, Tofer Chin and Emily Noelle Lambert. Read More


Snap Judgments: Photography Exhibitions Not to Miss

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Richard Avedon, Abbie Hoffman, Yippie, New York, September 11, 1968, 1968

IN TERMS OF SHEER SIZE AND SEX APPEAL, Gagosian Gallery’s mammoth Richard Avedon show is easily the photography event of the summer. Installed in a flashy layout by architect and in-demand exhibition designer David Adjaye, it’s headlined by four huge group portraits. The one of Andy Warhol and his entourage is more than 30 feet long and 10 feet tall, and is pretty much guaranteed to stop you dead in your tracks. Read More