July 19, 2008

NY Times Art in Review: Hopper, Ellis, "Constraction," Pearlstein

"Edward Hopper: Etchings," Craig F. Starr Gallery, New York, NY. Through Aug. 15. Ken Johnson: "Early in his career, when the demands of commercial illustration left him little time to paint, Edward Hopper turned to printmaking and produced some of the most moving and memorable graphic images in 20th-century American art. This small gem of a show presents 13 of those works from 1915 to 1923. Framing his scenes like a movie director with a keen sense of visual and narrative intrigue, Hopper drew with vigorous directness, conjuring emphatically black-and-white imagery out of densely layered hatching. His prints tell stories of existential loneliness and the search for emotional connection."

"David Ellis: Dozens," Roebling Hall, New York, NY. Through July 25. Roberta Smith: "The show's tour de force occupies a separate space: “FAMS 1 (Fine Art Moving and Storage)” is one of Mr. Ellis’s exhilarating stop-action painting performances which uses the floor as the canvas and is shot from above. During this 10-minute work, Mr. Ellis and the occasional assistant transform the floor with rapid-fire sequences of cartoons, speech balloons, graffiti lettering (words like okay, fly and see) and abstraction (geometric, monochrome and swirling deluges of color)....Two less ambitious videos and a mass of large drawings in which the flow motif swirls across collages of letters and manuals pertaining to the construction of the work in the show are handsome but understandably inert. His best efforts operate in terrain populated at various points by Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Tim Hawkinson, Tom Friedman, Jon Kessler, Christian Marclay, Aaron Young and Ian Burns. His particular kind of Rube Golbergian, street-wise Guy Art veers closer to pure entertainment than any of his neighbors, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of the running."

"Constraction," Deitch Projects, New York, NY. Through Aug. 9. Curated by Kathy Grayson. Artists include Tauba Auerbach, Joe Bradley, Peter Coffin, Xylor Jane, Mitzi Pederson, Ara Peterson. Ken Johnson: "The title of this diverting group show organized by Kathy Grayson, conjoins the terms conceptual and abstraction. The overall experience, however, is more visually fizzy than intellectually challenging."

"Philip Pearlstein: Then and Now," Betty Cuningham, New York, NY. Through Aug. 8. Karen Rosenberg: "Those who think Philip Pearlstein’s art has changed little (or not at all) over the last four decades may be surprised by this pairing of the figurative painter’s early and recent works. His nudes are as smooth-skinned and glassy-eyed as ever, but in the newer paintings they are surrounded by a garage sale’s worth of toys and lawn ornaments. Curiously, all this clutter only emphasizes Mr. Pearlstein’s clinical treatment of the body."

Read the complete NY Times "Art in Review" column here.

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