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Gallery Shows NYC

THE NEW YORK LIST 12/19/11

by Emily Nathan

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Richard Pousette-Dart, "East River Studio," installation view, Luhring Augustine
Luhring Augustine
531 W 24th Street
Oct. 28-Dec. 21, 2011
Richard Pousette-Dart (1916-1992), half-heartedly celebrated for mural-sized paintings of pointillist cosmic orbs in the 1960s and '70s, began his career as a pioneer of large-scale abstraction, making the 12-foot-wide Symphony Number 1 (1941-42), now in the Metropolitan Museum. "East River Studio," co-organized by painters Joanna Pousette-Dart (the artist's daughter) and Christopher Wool, features dawning Ab-Ex paintings and notable sculptures -- staked brambles of painted wire, twisted and tortured -- from the five years following WWII. It's the surprise hit of the season.

Jack Strange, "Deep Down," installation view, Tanya Bonakdar
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
521 W 21st Street
Oct. 27-Dec. 22, 2011
Is taxonomy destiny? Jack Strange, a young artist from London (b. 1984), lives up to his name by animating the gallery’s cold, beautiful space (with its polished concrete floor) with whimsical odds and ends: fish cartoons playing on iPods in plastic bags, origami creatures made from dollar bills, walnuts wearing earphones, and vegetables -- peppers, squash, rutabagas -- attached to the wall with little drawn-on curlicue tails. It’s like a mashup of Richard Tuttle and commodity culture. Or, as Strange might say, a metaphor for consciousness.

Michael Cerletty, Quiet Grace, 2011, Algus Greenspon
Algus Greenspon
71 Morton Street
Nov. 5-Dec. 23, 2011
Seven fab new paintings from New York artist Mathew Cerletty, whose renderings of interior details -- complicated (a living room getting a new coat of paint) or simple (a bit of cinderblock wall) -- can be so crystal clear that they devolve, here and there, into pure patches of paint, kin to the long-ago decorations of the Nabis, which pretended to free color and shape from narrative and allusion.

Bianca Beck, Untitled. 2011, Rachel Uffner Gallery
Rachel Uffner Gallery
47 Orchard Street
Oct. 30-Dec. 23, 2011
Abstract art has its roots in violence, or so suggest the gouged and scraped paintings and sculptures in “Body,” Bianca Beck’s first solo show. The small paintings have surfaces that are flayed or perforated or smudged and swirled with wet pigment like blood, while the stump-like sculptures aren’t so much made as they are hacked at and attacked.

Ann Liv Young, video still, n.d., Louis B. James
Louis B. James
143 B Orchard Street
Dec. 7, 2011-Jan. 7, 2012
Who could forget Sherry, the trailer-trash psycho who burst into public consciousness in early 2010 when she tried to sell her urine at P.S1, prompting a melee that led curator Klaus Biesenbach to pull the plug on her performance? Now she’s back in a “mid-career retrospective” at this new Lower East Side gallery. Don’t miss the basement gift-shop bazaar and video lounge, with Sherry herself offering “Sherapy” sessions and masturbation lessons, among other delights (a schedule of events can be found here).

Mary Reid Kelley, The Syphilis of Sisyphus, installation view, 2011, Fredericks & Freiser
Fredericks & Freiser
536 W 24th Street
Nov. 11, 2011-Jan 7, 2012
Our very own Sisyphus! In her new black-and-white video, Mary Reid Kelley is a very pregnant 19th-century Parisian, whose skeletal face -- painted white with a gaping nose and black eye sockets -- suggests that she is in the final stage of syphilis. Kelley guides us sardonically through the male-dominated annals of history with a witty, rhyming narrative, introducing us to Marat and Daumier and Paris’ pre-Hausmannized streets.

Sean Slemon, “The Sun Stands Still,” installation view, 2011, Magnan Metz
Magnan Metz
521 W 26th Street
Dec. 1, 2011-Jan. 7, 2011
If the sun stopped dead in its tracks, what would you have? According to the Brooklyn-based South African artist Sean Slemon (b. 1978), shadows made solid in polymer gypsum, our most effortless product made tangible, like ghostly forms that recall the tragedies in Pompeii and Hiroshima. In the center of the gallery is a tall glass vitrine, its compartments filled with the chopped-up parts of a peach tree, slowly rotting. Slemon calls Goods for Me, as it is titled, a kind of organic flat-screen TV. Curator Mahon Slowe wrote the catalogue essay.

Hans Bellmer, Untitled (p. 107, variant), 1946, courtesy Ubu Gallery, in “Dark Christmas,” Leo Koenig
Leo Koenig Inc.
545 & 541 W 23rd Street
Dec. 8, 2011-Jan. 14, 2012
A Piss Christ by Andres Serrano, a sketch for The Big Night Down the Drain, the painting that shut down the 1962 debut show of Georg Baselitz, and plenty more blue-chip bad boys in a smart survey of works that were judged obscene or otherwise socially unacceptable when they first went on view.

Paul Sharits, 3rd Degree (film still), 1982, Green Naftali
Greene Naftali
508 W 26th Street, 8th Floor
Nov. 23, 2011-Jan. 14, 2012
Two experimental films and their “intermediary realizations” -- film scores, large-scale drawings and Frozen Film Frames -- by Paul Sharits (b. 1943), the dean of Structuralist film and the celebrated inventor of the “flicker” genre. Included in the presentation is the artist’s landmark “locational” film 3rd Degree (1982), a three-projector installation that examines the materiality of film, as well as the hypnotic Apparent Motion (1975), which reduces celluloid film to its smallest, atomic components -- grains of flashing color.

Trisha Brown, Untitled(Montpellier), 2002, Sikkema Jenkins & Co
Sikkema Jenkins & Co
530 W 22nd Street
Dec. 9, 2011-Jan. 25, 2012
What goes on a canvas is not a picture but an event, noted Harold Rosenberg about the Action Painters. And so it is now with the large-scale drawings by the acclaimed dancer and choreographer Trisha Brown, made with charcoal or pastel held in her hands or feet. The works were made during Brown’s dance/drawing series from 2002-08, “It’s a Draw,” performed with her whole body, emphasizing the fleeting and momentary preserved on large sheets of paper placed on the floor.

EMILY NATHAN is assistant editor of Artnet Magazine. She can be reached at Send Email