Art Fag City at The L Magazine: Braving the Elements for Art

by Paddy Johnson on January 22, 2009 · 3 comments The L Magazine


Nick Cave, Installation view, 2008

This week at the L Magazine I review five shows across the city. The teaser below.

Three blizzards will hit New York shortly after publishing this review because that’s life’s way of making it difficult for anyone wanting to see great shows. Over the past week I visited three different neighborhoods, witnessing excellent exhibitions in each, all of which were viewed in the midst of a snow storm or some other unfavorable viewing condition. Given that my experience also included looking at a bunch of crappy art, I expect anyone following the distilled list I’m providing here will encounter the worst weather imaginable.

Those who manage to visit more than one borough however will find their time well spent. Nick Cave at Jack Shainman in Chelsea for example has been making sound suits for over 15 years, and I’m still not tired of them. Named after the noise they make when worn, many of the garments resemble furry colorful space suits from the sixties. In addition to these familiar works, a number of new found object sculptures in the front room usher in the show. Amongst the more powerful, an untitled piece combines what appears to be an antique lawn statue of a black man with a ship he carries above his head. The boat might well have born his ancestors, the work plainly yet poignantly remarking on the weight of that history.

Just up the street, Bortolami presents a Richard Aldrich show worth a fair amount of viewing time. His new paintings are uneven — those with exposed stretchers particularly poor — but there’s enough work walking the good-bad line to make the viewing experience challenging. Looking with Mirror Apparatus, a painting depicting the back of a man’s head and shoulders with the canvas removed from the lower quarter of the piece demonstrates this aptly; I’m still unsure if he’s resolved the relationship between the pictorial space on the canvas and the sculptural elements of the stretcher, but that uncertainty betters the work.

To read the full review click here.

  • Jill

    This show didn’t sway me. From the minute I noticed the artist’s over-fetishization of the object, I started thinking of an Oceanic art history class, from years ago, and how the object, in those cultural contexts, is incorporated into the customs of daily life. Most of this is not documented in either museum or Westernized art history but rather in the scope of “ethnic craft” which is also a farce. So while Cave can be commended for bringing awareness of other cultural practices into the restricted space of Western art, his work appropriates too much and glamorizes something that is not as shallow as, say, fashion.

  • Jill

    This show didn’t sway me. From the minute I noticed the artist’s over-fetishization of the object, I started thinking of an Oceanic art history class, from years ago, and how the object, in those cultural contexts, is incorporated into the customs of daily life. Most of this is not documented in either museum or Westernized art history but rather in the scope of “ethnic craft” which is also a farce. So while Cave can be commended for bringing awareness of other cultural practices into the restricted space of Western art, his work appropriates too much and glamorizes something that is not as shallow as, say, fashion.

  • Jill

    This show didn’t sway me. From the minute I noticed the artist’s over-fetishization of the object, I started thinking of an Oceanic art history class, from years ago, and how the object, in those cultural contexts, is incorporated into the customs of daily life. Most of this is not documented in either museum or Westernized art history but rather in the scope of “ethnic craft” which is also a farce. So while Cave can be commended for bringing awareness of other cultural practices into the restricted space of Western art, his work appropriates too much and glamorizes something that is not as shallow as, say, fashion.

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