April 4, 2009

NY Times Art in Review: Richard Tuttle, Richard Phillips

"Richard Tuttle: Walking on Air," PaceWildenstein, New York, NY. Through April 25. Ken Johnson reports: Richard Tuttle’s new fusions of painting and sculpture are a joy to behold. All 12 pieces in this buoyant show have the same basic structure: two narrow, horizontal lengths of fabric, one above and slightly overlapping the other, are fitted with rows of grommets by which they hang from projecting finishing nails. Each diptych is 10 feet long and 1 foot high. From a distance they resemble Color Field paintings in which the upper and lower halves harmonize or play off each other formally. In “Walking on Air, 4” both pieces are lime green except that the lower one is stained chocolate brown along its bottom edge. No. 6 has mottled purple above a black panel punctuated by six red spots. As you draw closer, the optical, painterly aspect gives way to the tactile, sculptural dimension. You notice the grommets, the nails, wrinkles and creases in the fine cloth, machine stitched lines of colored thread and, in a few cases, added pieces of rope....Tie-dyed textures and blurry white lines nostalgically evoke hippie consciousness, and the sensuously philosophical marriage of the material and the immaterial is at once austere and sweetly seductive.

"Richard Phillips: New Museum," Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY. Through May 2. Ken Johnson reports: Richard Phillips is known for large-scale paintings based on pornographic photographs of women, which he copies in a flatfooted, photorealistic style. His intentions are ideological, not erotic. Here he has taken the opportunity of exhibiting at one of the world’s most powerful galleries to initiate a remarkably offensive and simple-minded attack on the art industry. In the show’s most striking painting, a woman lies on her back with a rolled copy of the art magazine Frieze protruding from her vagina. It suggests that art criticism is just a way to funnel money into a business that is always ready to sell its soul. It is an appalling image and a dumb idea, but it certainly has a vivid impact....

Read the entire "Art in Review" column here.

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