There are undoubtedly many stories attributed to the founding of ZERO in post-World War II Germany, as there were with the inception of Dada during the earlier Great War that raged outside the Swiss borders from 1914–18.
I was surprised when Mark Greenwold gave me his address, because it was, like my own apartment, in “upstate Manhattan,” a far remove from the center of the art world.
Radio Waves: New York “Nouveau Réalisme” and Rauschenberg at Sperone Westwater is a long-overdue exhibition revolving around the enigmatic Swiss artist Jean Tinguely.
Ever since Mark Greenwold first began exhibiting in 1979, a lot of gibberish has been written about his highly detailed, modestly scaled oil paintings of disquieting domestic situations. One critic, willfully forgetting that there is a difference between fact and fiction, viciously attacked his first solo exhibition — it was comprised of a single large oil painting, “Sewing Room (for Barbara)” (1979) — because the artist depicted a man who resembled himself murdering a woman that looked liked his wife. What would this same critic have made of the six-year-old James’ sudden murderous fantasy about his father in Virginia Woolf’s novel, To The Lighthouse (1927)? I doubt she would have excoriated Woolf. Denouncing Greenwold was easy — he was unknown at the time.
Sometimes the quietest and most unassuming exhibitions turn out to be the most fascinating, if not the strangest.
Tucked away on the third floor of Sperone Westwater’s Bowery building, there’s a show titled Post-War Italian Art: Accardi, Dorazio, Fontana, Schifano. That’s it. No jazzy tagline like “Treasures of Proto-Arte Povera” or “Secrets of Euro-Neo-Pop.” Just Post-War Italian Art: Accardi, Dorazio, Fontana, Schifano.
The ADAA Art Show marked its 25th anniversary this year, and the 2013 edition at the Park Avenue Armory was definitely a very mature, stately fair, with only the slightest of dark undertones to its otherwise unsurprising, but elegantly sleek, presentation.
Last year at this time, Sperone Westwater staged a show called Marble Sculpture from 350 B.C. to Last Week. Included in that exhibition was “Infinite” (2011), a pair of intertwined automobile tires carved with exacting verisimilitude by Fabio Viale.
I can’t say I wasn’t charmed by Marble Sculpture from 350 B.C. to Last Week’s title, though it’s a tad overblown. And I was pleasantly surprised by the almost gauche clutter I encountered on the gallery’s routinely Spartan first floor, with thirty-one midsize-to-extra-large artworks from wildly different historical periods crowded together like refugees from an intergalactic conflict.
A towering nude man greets every visitor to Sperone Westwater gallery on the Lower East Side. This ten foot tall figure, also known as “Jim Revisited”, made in 2011, looks so realistic that it stops nearly everyone dead in their tracks upon entering the gallery. The people-watching is great as viewers trade surprised glances and funny comments, all while staring wide open with disbelieving eyes. This is the type of art that boggles the mind; it provokes the question of how the hell the artist pulled it off. Rattling off the list of banal materials — silicone, pigment, hair, aluminum and fabric — does little to capture the convincing illusion that artist Evan Penny conjures, but it does testify to his deft artistic mind that achieves much more than most with these materials.
The Bowery isn’t the first place in New York you’d think of to run into a Baroque Old Master painting, but then when the “old master” in question is actually one of the pre-modern era’s only iconic female artists, maybe a little bit of downtown attitude should be expected. “Portrait of an Unidentified Man” (1630-1640) by Artemisia Gentileschi is now on view at Sperone Westwater gallery.
You’ve heard of the White Cube. No, not that London gallery, the idea: that art thrives best in a blank white box, removed from any context and given its own domain of pure space to dominate as the work and the artist see fit. Well, Sperone Westwater’s new gallery space on the Lower East Side, an attenuated tower on the same stretch that hosts the New Museum, stakes a claim for the white castle instead of the white cube. Designed by Norman Foster, this gallery is as much a power play for the LES as for Sperone Westwater. The space, currently showcasing a Bruce Nauman solo exhibition, is like Chelsea minimalism gone mannerist, clean low-key gallery spaces turned into a show-offy art fortress.