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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bored with Neverland

Not only is "Live from Neverland," Paul Pfeiffer's video installation, 10+ years too late, but it is technically shoddy as well. The exhibit takes place in two rooms at The Project gallery. In the first room is a soundless video of Michael Jackson's reading a statement about child molestation accusations. In the second connecting room, on a large film screen, a chorus of Filipino adults--who look like children--shout out his words. The film and video are in sync, so the Michael Jackson video is slowed, and M.J. is all digitally jerky. On top of that, the quality of the audio is horrendous. I was not able to understand a single, solitary word. The idea behind this installation is mildly interesting, but its execution is subpar. (Photo by Erma Estwick, Courtesy Paul Pfeiffer/The Project)


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What's In a Name?

If a photograph comes to life only after you read its title, is that still a good image? Most of Tina Barney's large-scale photographs, which document a visit to China, at Jane Borden gallery feel stilted, posed, and average. However, after I read the image's title, I took a second look and warmed to it. For instance, the bottom two photos seem run-of-the-mill but become interesting after you learn that the two women are golf caddies and the man is a jiggle writer. The above image, on the other hand, stands out from the rest because I feel that the Barney captured a moment that doesn't feel stagy. It jump starts itself without background info. (Image via Jane Borden, Inc. gallery)


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Puppet Master

JIM DINE Two Thieves One LiarJim Dine's fascination with Pinocchino is no little whim. He's spent a good portion of his life being obsessed with the puppet, and the culmination of that curiosity is his new show at Pace Wildenstein gallery. Dine seems to have a love/hate relationship with the story of Pinocchio. Dine really abused these wooden sculptures. Some are sandblasted, and one is carbonized with a blowtorch. With most of the figures, Pinocchio's face is cracked, his eyes smeared away, and his limbs are raw, sharp edges. This exhibit sucks you into that spooky world of children's tales where metaphor becomes very real. (Images via Pace Wildenstein gallery)

JIM DINE Pink Wash


Friday, May 25, 2007

Reality Fiction

Andrew Wagner's "The Talent Given Us" turns the idea of reality TV on its head. Wagner's film stars his own family members in a scripted, fictional story. However, I kept wondering which scenes or conversations were real or ad-libbed. With reality TV, on the other hand, I find myself thinking every scene or piece of dialogue is fake. "The Talent Given Us," which was released in 2004, is about an older couple who on a whim travel across the U.S. to visit their son. During the journey, the couple's past, present, and future are all dredged up. Wagner made a wise choice to use his family as actors, because I don't think that this by-the-numbers storyline would've have come to such vibrant life if he hadn't cast his real-life parents.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Zen Warholism

After seeing Takashi Murakami's show at Gagosian Gallery uptown, I understand why people describe the artist as "Japan's Warhol." Like Warhol, Murakami's work for this show uses iconic imagery, repetition, and large canvases. And, like Warhol, Murakami's paintings feel cold. That icy feeling drains meaning from his series of portraits of Daruma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. But who knows perhaps Murakami's production-line Daruma riff will be a hit. I wouldn't be surprised to see Daruma's image on next season's Louis Vuitton's handbags, Murakami's other gig. (Image via here and here, and New York Times)


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Judges, Clowns, and Whores

GEORGES ROUAULT Fille Femme aux Cheveux RouxNot only is Mitchell-Innnes & Nash's exhibit of 26 paintings by Georges Rouault a museum-quality show, but the gallery's staff is wonderfully welcoming and friendly. As a lowly blogger, I am typically met with heads-down, no-eye-contact Chelsea gallerists when I ask for a press release. At Mitchell-Innes & Nash, on the other hand, the gentleman working the desk quickly called the staff for a press release to be printed and seemed genuinely interested in arts blogs. And this is an Upper East Side gallery! This show, called "Judges, Clowns, and Whores" (great title!), introduced me to a master whom I had never heard about. As well, Rouault's rich autumnal palette and his stained-glass style images turned me on too. (Images via Mitchell-Innes & Nash)



Monday, May 21, 2007

Split Images

A woman's fractured state of mind leads to nightmarish choices as she becomes unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Sounds like the plot for every David Lynch film since "Twin Peaks." But Robert Altman beat Lynch to the punch with the 1972 "Images," starring Susannah York. While watching the flick recently, I had to keep reminding myself that Altman was the director and writer. This psychological study in which past and present, imagination and reality are all blurred together feels very much like a Nicholas Roeg film. Like a waking dream, "Images" plays with time, space, and reality, which all add up to an unsettling account of a woman gone mad.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Carpet Stains

JIM LAMBIE WigwambamwamwigThe main focal point of Jim Lambie's multimedia exhibit at Anton Kern gallery are defaced (or let's say "modified") Persian rugs on the walls. Attached to the rugs are tear-drop or round cutouts of aluminum, silver trays, and mirrors. The craftsmanship looks pretty shoddy, and the concept is too elusive to grasp unless it's printed in black and white in the gallery's press release (something about "creating an environment that suggests the possibilities of change"). In the back room, I did see an intriguing assemblage, however: pocketbooks made of jagged, shards of mirror dangle on broken down chairs.

JIM LAMBIE Jesus and Mary Chain 2


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Still Bad to a Few

You and I may think that Michael Jackson is a washed-up has-been, but apparently he's still a creative inspiration for a few artists. Flipping through the most recent ArtForum, I spied not one but two ads for galleries whose artists' shows focus on M.J.: Paul Pfeiffer's exhibit, "Live from Neverland" and Meredith Danluck's "Michael Jackson, Jesus Christ...Coca-Cola." I went to Pfeiffer's show at El Proyecto (a review soon), and Danluck's opens this weekend at Renwick gallery. New York Magazine profiled Danluck who is pictured with M.J. in the ad. The most interesting thing about that photo is that the artist looks almost as creepy as the singer. Using Michael Jackson as source material is a little too '90s for me (and even then he was too easy a target) and will probably inspire mostly yawns from gallery-goers.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Blueberry Kisses

Wong Kar Wai's "My Blueberry Nights" debuted at Cannes, and Variety's Anne Thompson found it to be "a delicious mood poem." I was wildly disappointed with Wong's last film, "2046." I'm rooting for Wong to make a comeback, but why does it have to star Norah Jones and Jude Law? According to Thompson, the movie's highlight is " a soft, sumptuous, slow kiss." My upper lip curls as I imagine Jones and Law going in for the kill. Only Wong will be able to pull this one off. (Image via Thompson on Hollywood)


Alice in Darkland

SEONNA_HONG_Self_DefeatingI'm not the only one who likes Seonna Hong's recent paintings at Oliver Kamm/5BE Gallery. All of the works that feature her little girl protagonist were sold soon after the exhibit opened. Hong's dark allegories portray a youngster in an ominous world of black birds and shadowy forests. Like Alice in Wonderland, however, the venturer in these paintings seems completely confident in the realm of endless riddles and twisted logic. (Images via Oliver Kamm/5BE gallery)



Monday, May 14, 2007

Subversive Sell

Josephine Meckseper NYT MagazineThe photo of artist Josephine Meckseper modeling in the New York Times Magazine may be the artist's cleverest creation yet. The magazine's Mother Day spread featured women wearing something that belonged to their mother along with top designers' clothing. In her installations, Meckseper likes to mix images of consumerism and political protest. Although the image of Meckseper is subtler than her art, it still hits the same plot points. Meckseper wears two necklaces: her mom's star pendant and her own creation, which she created by "[converting] the gold chain that the pendant was hanging on into an artwork called 'CDU-CSU,' mocking German right-wing politics by turning the two parties' logos into pendants," she says. Completing the high concept image, Meckseper wears a $2,290 Stella McCartney suit.

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 11, 2007

Living Masses

KATHY BUTTERLY GrabberI can't put my finger on it, but there's something creepy about Kathy Butterly's sculpture on view at Tibor de Nagy gallery (and I mean that as a compliment). These ceramic pieces are like living masses that are trying to find their form. The smooth, rounded shapes seem both humanly vibrant but also dilapidated and diseased. The seven earthenware and porcelain sculptures are small, only about 7 inches by 7 inches. On a few pieces, Butterly has also included necklace-like beads and pendants, but there's nothing Crafts 101 about these works. (Images via Tibor de Nagy gallery)

KATHY BUTTERLY Mesmerchandize
KATHY BUTTERLY Between a Rock and a Soft Place


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Worth the Heat

DANA SCHUTZ How We Would DriveDana Schutz is hot, hot, hot, and the overflowing crowd at her exhibit of new paintings at Zach Feuer Gallery proves it. I find her work somewhat seductive. There's a little Francis Bacon vibe going on here mixed with David Hockney. Not all the paintings in this show work, however. In a few, holes are cut into the canvas, revealing blackness. Seemed kind of amateurish. Overall, an "event" exhibit that's worth checking out. (Images via Zach Feuer gallery)

DANA SCHUTZ How we would give birth


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Steps Above Cliche

Katherine Bowling ShineKatherine Bowling's paintings at Greenberg Van Doren gallery venture into cliched subject matter territory (moonlit nights, birds in flight, desolate beaches). Thankfully, Bowling's technique and colors are intriguing enough to keep the viewer looking. Bowling paints on spackled wood panels; the brushstrokes are smooth and flat. Her color palette is both ominous and dreamy. How I wish, however, that she had eliminated the moon or the crashing waves from these images. I found her monotypes of moths in flight, which look like vertebrae, a case in which subject worked well with the artist's technique. (Images via Greenbery Van Doren gallery)

Katherine Bowling Storm
Katherine Bowling Moths


Monday, May 07, 2007

Piece of Poiret

If the Met is just too far uptown for you to check out the Paul Poiret exhibit, which starts this Wednesday, you can get a taste of Poiret in Midtown. Bergdorf Goodman at 5th & 58th has dedicated its window space to celebrate the visionary designer. As I walked by the store this weekend, the tourists and natives were crowded around admiring the displays. (Image via

Labels: ,

Waiting for Monet

The Place: Wildenstein & Company gallery, 19 E. 64th Street
The Time: 3 p.m., Saturday, May 5.
The Exhibit: Claude Monet: A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff
The Reviews: Raves
The Price: $10
The Line: Really, really long, stretching down 64th and snaking around Madison Ave.
The Decision: Skip it and come back on a weekday instead
(Image via New York Times)


Friday, May 04, 2007

Good Enough to Eat

Vik Muniz Action Photo, After Hans NamuthLast chance to check out the Vik Muniz exhibit at P.S.1 in Queens. Muniz uses everything under the sun--including spaghetti, caviar, wire, and trash--to recreate both famous and common images. He then photographs those creations. The above image of Jackson Pollack is made with chocolate syrup, the middle picture with gumball machine-sized toys, the bottom with marinara sauce. Although some may think that Muniz's technique is one big gimmick, I find it consistently playful and clever. The exhibit ends May 7. (Images via,,

Vik Muniz Self-Portrait
Vik Muniz Medusa Marinara


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Clothes Candy

Dior Haute Couture Evening CoatIn the past, I've frowned upon the Metropolitan Museum of Art's mounting exhibitions that spotlight fashion. However, a recent Vogue spread in which contemporary designers reimagined the clothes of Paul Poiret has me chomping at the bit (or hemline) for the opening of "Poiret: King of Fashion" on May 9. Poiret (1879-1944) is known primarily for liberating women from the corset. The textures, the cuts, the details in these photos leave me salivating. (Images via Vogue magazine)

Thakoon Pin Tuck Dress
Proenza Schouler Jacquard Coat

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

In the Soup

Rirkrit Tiravanija FreeThis isn't a makeshift soup kitchen; this is art. Artist Rirkrit Tiravanija has turned part of David Zwirner gallery into an insta-cafe that serves up free homemade soup (Thai curry and chicken noodle--both excellent). Like my fellow gallerygoers, I was more interested in eating than in contemplating this high-concept installation, called "Free." Much more successful is a recreation of Gordon Matt-Clark's "Open House," which is a graffiti-sprayed dumpster that is subdivided into nine or so separate rooms with a fun-house series of doors. (Images via Zwirner gallery)

Gordon Matta-Clark Open House