Josh Smith, Untitled, 2008, Mixed mediums on panel. 60 x 48 in
My latest review is up at The L Magazine. An excerpt below:
I'm probably the only professional in the city who doesn't find fault in the New Museum’s tongue-in-cheek triennial title, Younger Than Jesus. Sure — it identifies an impossible task of finding “God-like talent” under age 33, but its irreverence matches the youth culture it represents (even if the absence of religion in the show is confusing to some). Certainly, that ambiguity hasn't been enough to thwart visitors; the title and show's concept have been remarkably effective in drawing new audiences to the museum. What's more, curating generationally makes a lot more sense to museumgoers, rather than trying to draw themes among artists working so diversely that any emerging thread is easily stitched.
While an artist's profile predictably influences critical response, until the museum's staff figures out how to hang a show in their new SANAA-designed galleries, only the work that literally sticks out will be reviewed. Not to state the obvious, but that's a very serious problem. Poor exhibition design inevitably results in the spatial privileging of certain artists and creates the necessity for repeated viewer visits. Considering the strong grouping of work that curators Lauren Cornell, Massimiliano Gioni and Laura Hoptman put together, it's a real shame. Not only do parts of the show disappear, but people consistently respond to the same work.
This is not, however, to place all the blame on the exhibition layout — some of the lower quality work fails to make any lasting impression. Josh Smith received only a descriptive mention for his work in the show this year in the Times, despite the prominent placement of his large messy painting on panel grids. Supposedly, his ugly mass-produced originals act like prints and purposely appear impoverished, but that's just another uninteresting discussion in support of empty investigations. Similarly, The Times gave Ryan Gander,an expository nod for his performance of a gallery attendant wearing a track suit with embroidered blood stains. Careful construction of the accidental isn't funny or poignant, though; it's just dumb.
To read the full piece click here.