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Exhibitions

Construction-mania: Our choice of New York contemporary galleries

And a group of exhibitions, about Duchamp, Balthus and Basquiat, coincides with new art book releases this autumn

o Monica Bonvicini plays with feminism and architecture in work that is intermittently inspired and hilarious. One recent project was an absurd and terrifying video of a naked woman wearing a small white house on her head, banging back and forth between two walls. At Anton Kern this month, the artist offers “I believe in the skin of things as in that of women”, an installation of sheet rock covered in quotations and drawings. Monica Bonvicini is among the Italian artists at this year’s Venice Biennale.

o There is more architecturally derived work this month at Alexander and Bonin. Jennifer Bolande exhibits “Appliance house”, a photo-sculpture that muses on architecture and representation. The work examines Lever House, an 1850 building by Gordon Bunshaft, using a series of contact sheets organised into a sculpture.

o Andreas Slominski exhibits sculpture at Metro Pictures. The German artist makes spindly constructions that he calls “Traps” and other installation work. In the past, he has occasionally gone to great lengths to achieve simple effects. In a piece for a German museum, “Golf ball,” he removed the museum’s roof and had a crane lift a dump truck over the museum. A golfer then banked a golf ball off the truck and onto the museum floor. The lonely golf ball was the only remnant of the process. His work also features in the Venice Biennale.

o Dan Peterman explores ecological and environmental themes in his work, which looks at the detritus of a consumer society driven by a desire to spend and waste. Peterman’s latest installation at Andrea Rosen is “Recent economies”, which combines textile samples, fungi, and the top of a truck sheared off in an accident.

o At Brooke Alexander, thirty-three year-old London artist Fiona Banner takes the 1966 film “Don’t look back” as her starting point for a series of vast screen prints. While the title alone is an apt motto showing for the millennium, the film itself is a brilliant documentary of Bob Dylan’s first tour of England, showing his moods, ranging from surly to churlish, satiric to nasty. The prints are covered with the artist’s text, which describes the film in detail. Banner’s offering is more homage than analysis of this modern master.

o Taking advantage of Lombard-Fried’s relocation to Chelsea, five artists have put together a group exhibition at the gallery’s vacated, soon-to-be-boutique-ised space in SoHo. “Five easy pieces” features work by Heike Bartels, Elise Ferguson, Stacy Greene, Aimee Mower, and Sally Etta Sheinfeld. Greene photographs the craft of women’s fingerpainting, which has blossomed in recent years as an eccentric art-form for the masses. Mower and Sheinfeld meander around the borderlines of kitsch statuary. Bartels and Ferguson toy with Jungian symbolism, Bartells offering mandala-like forms generated by computer, made up of weaponry; Ferguson modelling alpine mountains and lost lambs. The opportunistic exhibition was organised by Maciej Toporowitz and Steven Brower, with assistance from Lombard-Fried.

o A loopy Japanese photography/performance mélange is promised by Hiroshi Sunairi, featured at Andrew Kreps Gallery. “To deceive is to transform, dodge, imposture, ruse, sell, sleight, stratagem, subterfuge, take-in, trick, force the enemy, ripe to it’s estrous state...” notes the artist. The exhibition is called “Deception.”

o Many of Brad Kahlhamer’s paintings and drawings and “Western curios” take the American West as their theme. His work, at Deitch Projects this month, makes use of the low-brow energy found in cartoons, carnival posters, and children’s paintings.

o “Foul play”, a group show at the Threadwaxing Space, explores issues of sinister ambiguity confronting the thwarted desire “to know what really happened.” The exhibition features Collier Schor’s photographs suggest missing information or misinformation. The show reintroduces the work of Fabio Mauri, an older Italian artist, who projected a Pasolini film back onto Pasolini himself, and documented the results in photographs. “Foul play”, curated by Cheryl Kaplan and Asia Ingalls, also includes works by Matthew Antezzo, Jeff Walls, and Lawrence Weiner.

o Lest we forget the roots of much contemporary art, Achim Moeller presents an exhibition devoted to Marcel Duchamp. Curated by Francis M. Naumann, this is the first show in the US devoted to Duchamp’s works created in multiple form. Included will be deluxe and regular editions of his “Green box” from 1934 and versions of his “Boîte-en-valise” (his portable museum in a suitcase). Among the extensive graphic works represented in the exhibition will be a facsimile publication of notes he compiled for “The large glass” (now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and examples of his contributions to various surrealist and Dada publications. The exhibition will also feature etchings by the printmaker Emile-Frédéric Nicolle, Duchamp’s grandfather, which Naumann includes in an attempt to contextualise the artist’s fascination with reproductive techniques in art. The show coincides with a book written by Dr Naumann, Marcel Duchamp: the art of making art in the age of mechanical reproduction, published by Ludion Press in Belgium and distributed by Abrams.

o Tony Shafrazi maintained a link with Jean-Michel Basquiat throughout the artist’s short, meteoric career. They included him in a 1983 group show and hosted the critically-dismissed, but crowd pleasing, “Warhol-Basquiat” collaboration in 1985. Their new exhibition of the paintings by the artist, who died in 1988, aged twenty-eight, also features several new books on his work. Jean-Michel Basquiat, edited by Franklin Sirmans, includes essays by Hilton Als, Glenn O’Brien, Ted Joans, and an interview with Fab Five Freddy. Richard Marshall, Bernard Blistene, and Elene Ochoa contribute essays to Jean-Michel Basquiat: works on paper.

o Finally, immortal, vampiric Balthus is showing his lush figurative paintings and drawings of secret lusts and sweet dreams at the Beadleston Gallery this month. This will be the first retrospective the elusive artist has had in the US since an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum over fifteen years ago. The show will include seven oil paintings and twenty drawings and coincides with a rash of publications being released at the moment: a biography published by Knopf, a catalogue raisonné from Abrams, and a monograph of his drawings published by the French Édition Adam Biro (distributed in the US by teNeues).

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 96 October 1999