One paragraph reviews on art, movies, books, and pop culture by a know-nothing who knows it all

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Coming Home to Roost

Rachel Harrison Alexander the GreatRachel Harrison Rainer Werner Fassbinder detailRachel Harrison's exhibit at Greene Naftali gallery is a tour de force. Examining (or rather savaging) male power, Harrison's sculpture and assemblages are both humorous and dead serious, over-the-top and subtle. Her target is America with Dick Cheney (whom else?), Arnold Palmer, Alexander the Great and many others as its stand-in. To really "get" this show, the viewer must read a press release at the gallery that includes quotes from famous men who inspired the artwork. For instance, the Alexander the Great quote is: "When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer." The sculpture features a boy mannequin wearing a superhero's cape. (Images via Greene Naftali gallery)

Rachel Harrison Al Gore


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Don't Believe the Blurb

Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin Colgate Comedy HourBaby got burned. I rented "Where the Truth Lies" because I read a capsule review that described its leads as based on Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. Wrong! After reading Jerry Lewis's memoir last year, I consider myself a curious fan of this duo. (I've even rented the DVD of the Martin & Lewis Colgate Comedy Hour.) Thinking I was going to see a flick about the Martin & Lewis working relationship by one of my favorite directors (Atom Egoyan), I was utterly disappointed. The main characters are based very, very, very, very loosely on M & L. This is a lame murder mystery (think "Murder She Wrote") that taught me not to believe the blurb. (Image via Popmatters)

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Insider Art

Cary Leibowitz I love Warhol Piss PaintingsCary Leibowitz's exhibit at Alexander Gray Associates is very inside baseball, very wink-wink, and, surprisingly, less irritating than you would think. For instance, wood blocks and large campaign buttons pronounce, Cary Leibowitz Fran Drescher hat"I Love Warhol Piss Paintings," referring to a period of Warhol's work that a lot of people hated. In addition, the artist riffs on Frank Stella's "Rainbow," with a painting of upside down and right-side up '70s-style rainbows. Also on display are winter hats with the slogan "Fran Drescher Fan Club" knitted into them. This show is supposed to be humorous, but I was straight faced throughout...until I saw the $75 price tag on one of the knit hats. (Images via Alexander Gray Associates)

Cary Leibowitz Sad Rainbow, Happy Rainbow


Monday, March 26, 2007

"Shining" Slices

Making the Shining Jack NicholsonMaking the Shining Stanley KubrickMemo to Kubrick fans: If you haven't already seen "Making the Shining" (yes, just "Making," not "Making of"), definitely check out this 1980 documentary by the director's daughter, Vivian. Here are some of my favorite bits: 1) Jack Nicholson getting into character while swinging an ax -- and almost knocking over an assistant director -- and growling, Making the Shining Blood in Hall"Death to [female genitalia]; 2) Kubrick typing up script notes at the same table where Scatman Crothers and Danny have their "Shine" conversation; 3) a set worker tossing a bucket of fake blood on the wall; and 4) Jack N. demonstrating how he marks up his script lines, a style he says he copied from Boris Karloff.

Making the Shining Jack Nicholson script


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Drive-in Saturday

In this weekly feature, I review in one sentence or less videos/DVDs of movies that you either have seen already or wouldn't bother to see.

"The Haunting" (1963 ), directed by Robert Wise: Got bored.

(Image via Tintype)

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Crafty Work

joan snyder symphony VI I really wanted to like Joan Snyder's new work on display at Betty Cunningham Gallery. Snyder has been painting for 35 years and she seems to doggedly follow her own personal muse. I like the "painting" part of these works; it's the mixed media element that I could do without. Seeds, twigs, rosebuds, and papier mache are glued onto the linen canvas and painted over. Unfortunately, this is a little too "arts and crafts" for me. Ponds are a motif here, and even these get the crafty treatment of bunched-up burlap creating the pond's edge. Fortunately, the mixed media doesn't come across in these reproductions. (Images via Betty Cunningham gallery)

joan snyder alizarin and ice
joan snyder all the things


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Yen for Yue

Yue Minjun GoldfishThe New York Times can smell a winner. A few months ago, I questioned the Gray Lady's obsession with Chinese artist Yue Minjun. Within a week and a half, the Times published three articles or items on the artist. Well, yesterday Yue Minjun's "Goldfish" was sold at Sotheby's for $1.4 million, a record for the artist. Yue Minjun's paintings feature multiple self-portraits with a big smile and laughing. Not really my cup of tea. (Image via

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Having It All

Sarah Anne Johnson Swimming with SharksSarah Anne Johnson's exhibit at Julie Saul gallery has a little bit of everything: photography (both realistic and staged), sculpture, and drawings. On top of that, this show, entitled "The Galapagos Project," has a serious premise that's executed in a whimsical and playful way. Johnson looks at individuals trying to live an ideal symbiotic relationship with the environment. Guess what? The fantasy, illustrated by dolls, looks like Eden, while the reality, represented by photo-journalistic images of an agricultural rehabilitation mission, looks nasty. (Images via Julie Saul Gallery)

Sarah Anne Johnson Tegan
Sarah Anne Johnson The House


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Month of Magical P.R.

Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion back stageThe P.R. machine has revved up for the Broadway version of Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking," and I'm eating it all up. Like a few other million people, I was entraced by this memoir on grief. The New York Times recently ran Didion's diary-like article about working on the Broadway show, and New York Magazine just published evocative behind-the-scenes photos of the play. The one-woman show, starring Vanessa Redgrave and directed by David Hare, opens March 29. (Photos by Brigitte Lacombe via New York Magazine)

Year of Magical Thinking Vanessa Redgrave and David Hare
Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion in audience

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I thought I was fan, but now I'm not quite so sure. I recently came around to embracing Marc Jacobs' ads featuring Juergen Teller's photos. However, for the past three months, M.J. ads appearing in fashion mags have continued to spotlight Dakota Fanning. One of these ads even appeared in Artforum (the one on the far right) amid promos for exhibits by Jeff Wall and Kristen Baker. All I can say is: No.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Small Paintings, Big Colors

Bill Jensen Luohan (Persona)Here are a few qualities that set Bill Jensen's abstract paintings at Cheim & Read gallery apart from other like-minded painters' work that I've seen recently: 1) Jensen's paintings are comparatively small (the biggest one is four feet high), and 2) no globs of paints here; the paint is so thin that it looks like a light wash. Jensen's technique seems almost too perfect. Many of these paintings look like machine-made fabric prints. However, no machine could create the intensity of the vibrant reds and oranges in most of these works. (Images via Cheim & Read)

Bill Jensen Luohan (Light Step)
Bill Jensen St. Sebastian


Monday, March 19, 2007

Lives of Others Part II

The Lives of Others Spying The movie is not even out of the theaters yet, and Hollywood is already talking about a remake. "The Lives of Others," a dark drama about the East German secret police's surveillance of average citizens, seems relevant to the U.S. in terms of Homeland Security and the Patriotic Act. Wouldn't it be great if the remake by the Weinstein Company was Americanized and featured a demonic Dick Cheney eavesdropping on a law-abiding Muslim family? Doubt that will happen. Probably this film will be a poor facsimile of the original with George Clooney as the innocent writer who is spied upon, and a dead-eyed Kevin Spacey as the Stasi agent who does the spying. Ugh.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Drive-in Saturday

In this weekly feature, I review in one sentence or less videos/DVDs of movies that you either have seen already or wouldn't bother to see.

"For Your Consideration" (2006), directed by Christopher Guest: Each subsequent film by Guest becomes less funny than its predecessor.

"This Film Is Not Yet Rated" (2006), directed by Kirby Dick: Documentary that will make you hate Jack Valenti even more.

(Images via Adweek and Rotten Tomatoes)

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Buy the Postcard Instead

Larry Poons You Ain't LivedLarry Poons's new paintings at Danese gallery left me a little disappointed. These large abstract-expressionist paintings are full of dense squiggly lines. Some areas of these acrylics are full of thick globs of paint, while in other parts, the paint is so thin that the canvas fabric is visible. Despite all the various colors and different brushstrokes, these works look very flat and uniformed. Surprisingly, reproductions of these paintings look better than the real thing. (Images via Danese gallery)

Larry Poons Oblique Reunion
Larry Poons Lady from Augusta


Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Wolf in Ceramic Clothing

Huang Yong Ping VasesSee those large glazed ceramic pots? They look harmless, don't they? That's what I thought until I looked inside these urns created by Huang Yong Ping on display at Gladstone Gallery. Crouching within each one is a taxidermic animal. I was not prepared to peer into the eyes of a wolf bearing his teeth. I literally shuddered. (I would've screamed if I were alone. By the way, this is the second time that I've gotten the be-jesus scared out of me at Gladstone. First time: Thomas Hirschhorn's photos of decapitated Arabs.) In spite of almost going into cardiac arrest, I found Huang Yong Ping's show quietly thought-provoking. The other sculptures are mini-replicas of the Coliseum and the Pentagon. The artist, however, has recreated these symbols of war and violence as fertile sites for vegetation, or are these buildings just forgotten ruins and grave sites? (Images via Gladstone Gallery)

Huang Yong Ping Pentagon
Huang Yong Ping Coliseum


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

From Suburban Ennui to Urban Exuberancy

Richard Yates is my new favorite writer. I savored and devoured Yates' "Revolutionary Road." Why aren't Yates and this 1961 novel about suburban angst more well known? Perhaps they are, and I'm just out of the literary loop. Next up on my list is Kurt Andersen's "Heyday," a historical novel about the excitement of the New World in the mid 1800s. Within the past week, "Heyday" has received a ton of press, and I got sucked into the hype and decided to pick it up. If interested, here's Geoffrey Wolff's take on "Heyday" in the New York Times Book Review.
(Images via and


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bunny Unmasked

This morning, I spied the mysterious Pink Bunny who protests outside Gagosian Gallery without his costume. Looking a bit like John Leguizamo, the protester was pulling on his bunny pants when I saw him on 11th Ave, right around the corner from the gallery. The bunny head, which looked filthy, was inside a large black duffel bag. For the past couple of years, the Pink Bunny has marched back and forth in front of the gallery in all types of weather while wearing sandwich placards questioning the gallery-artist relationship. (Image via Yusunkwon)


'Tween Freaks

Hellen van Meene Untitled #184 LatviaHellen van Meene's photographs of adolescents at Yancey Richardson gallery have a genuine "made cha look" quality. But after looking, the viewer may feel he's seen these types of freak-show-parade images before. Still, these photos draw you in on their own merits. Although van Meene has posed these kids, these 'tweens seem more in control of the image than the photographer. In the throes of the awkward years, Meene's models exude that period when childhood confidence turns to teenage self-consciousness. (Images via Yancey Richardson gallery)

Hellen van Meene Untitled #196 Russia
Hellen van Meene Untitled #197 Latvia


Monday, March 12, 2007

One of These Exhibits Is Not Like the Others

Although "Barcelona and Modernity: Gaudi to Dali" is one of those exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that would seem to deserve an exclamation point after its title, I'm more intrigued with the museum's much smaller show, "Closed Circuit: Video and New Media at the Metropolitan." (Gasp!) Yes, video art at the Met. As the NY Sun points out, the Met began collecting video art only five years ago. Here's how the NY Sun describes a piece by Lutz Bacher that I'd like to see:
[For 10 months,] a surveillance camera [was] mounted above the late art dealer Pat Hearn's desk, just after she was diagnosed with liver cancer....while I expected people to change — hairstyles, clothing — I did not count on inanimate objects having a life, too. Pictures on the wall appear and disappear; chairs arrive and leave; stacks of paper on the desk grow and then disappear.
(Image via


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Drive-in Saturday

In this weekly feature, I review in one sentence or less videos/DVDs of movies that you either have seen already or wouldn't bother to see.

"Sin City" (2005), directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez: Style over substance.
(Image via

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Friday, March 09, 2007

And Christo Wept

The Richard Serra retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art doesn't open until June, but sneak preview events will take place next month that would make Christo weep with envy. On April 7 and 14, MoMA will begin installing Serra's mammoth steel sculptures in its Sculpture Garden. A crane will hoist these colossi ("Intersection II" and "Torqued Ellipse IV") over the wall on 54th Street and into the garden, and the public is welcome to check it out. Witnessing these works flying through the air in midtown Manhattan will rival any type of public art performance. (Image via


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Weather Underground

Rosemary Laing weather #12When I see an image of a body free-falling through a flurry of shredded papers, I can't help but think: 9/11. Entitled "weather," Rosemary Laing's show at Galerie Lelong is about "current shifts in climate, both global and political." I like Laing's choices in these staged photographs: the color of the paper, the positions of the woman's body, her clothing, what's in focus, what's not. Contrasting with these pictures are photos that depict a Brothers Grimm's version of Eden. No where is safe, not heaven up in the sky nor utopia down on the ground. (Image via Galerie Lelong)

Rosemary Laing weather eden #1
Rosemary Laing weather #9