My first brush with the sculptures of Richard Nonas was actually a missed opportunity. James Fuentes mounted a solo exhibition of new and old work in the spring of 2013 but unfortunately by the time I became aware of it all I got to see was images after the fact on the web.
If in Paris you would be well served to stop by the new outpost of Taka Ishii Gallery Photo where a solo exhibition of vintage prints by Keiichi Tahara recently opened. Tahara, now in his 60s, learned photography from his grandfather in his early teens and has pursued an exploration of light as material – in photographs, installations and light sculptures – tenaciously since. The show at Taka Ishii Gallery presents works from two photographic series, Fenêtre (1973-1984) and Éclats (1979-1983), both of which Tahara completed early in his career shortly after moving to Paris.
It is a happy thing that in the Morgan Library & Museum, in the heart of Manhattan, you can have the place – and the art — so to yourself as to actually hear your footfalls on the gallery floors. For a small museum begun as the personal library of financier Pierpont Morgan and principally dedicated to drawings, manuscripts and books, the Morgan punches well above its weight class and in that respect it deserves to be thronged but lucky for us it isn’t.
Those of you without easy access to New York galleries can secretly cheer this missive: this show at Marianne Boesky closes in a couple of days and, thus, it is of little use as “timely news” to those who do enjoy such access. That said, “Image and Matter in Japanese Photography from the 1970s” merits attention, even if delayed, not so much for introducing us to a fascinating and pretty much unknown array of photographers (invaluable in itself) but for presenting them in the context of an intellectual proposal – the show presents itself more as a question than as an answer, or an unearthing – and that is bracingly refreshing.
The New York Times headline caught my eye: “Michael Alig, the Former King of the Club Kids, After Prison.” That news article and an inconspicuous plaque bolted on the wall outside the Cheim & Reid gallery on far West 25th street that I had somehow never noticed before got me thinking again about a little, but powerful photobook titled “Bound by Night” by Elegance Bratton and published, as his wont, singlehandedly, by Steve Terry and his Wild Life Press, who we have covered before.
The gallery release reads, “Bruce Silverstein in collaboration with Sonnabend Gallery is pleased to present August Sander / Bernd and Hilla Becher: A Dialogue, curated by Hilla Becher.” Packed into that one sentence is plenty to put a grin on the face of a fan of conceptual art, straight photography or even fashion (Yohji Yamamoto being a devotee of Sander). The typological but also the technical and the sensual are in play and there is the unique plus that Hilda Becher herself curated the show and flipped the typical installation such that August Sander’s photographs are presented in grids while the Bechers’ are hung one-by-one. In a delicate way, it is also a show about family bonds: his grandson safeguards Sander’s work and it is well known that the Bechers worked (Bernd died in 2007) as a husband-and-wife team over 50 years ago.
We would like to bring to your attention Todd Hido, “Excerpts from Silver Meadows” at Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York.
Bruce Silverstein Gallery is mounting its third solo show of new works by Todd Hido. According to the gallery, the show coincides with the publication of Hido’s latest book, “Excerpts from Silver Meadows,” (Nazraeli, 2013) and “the gallery will feature a selection of images from this highly personal yet fictionalized body of work that surrounds his return to the ‘architecture’ of his childhood and a particular street in suburban Ohio where the artist was raised. The works displayed introduce a new larger format for the artist and are printed in an edition of one.”
It’s often revelatory and requires a bit of self-discipline to step into a contemporary art gallery and take in the show without having first resorted to the gallery release to get one’s bearings. It’s revelatory because, every so often, the intellectual and emotional tenor of the art at hand is transparent and immediate without the guiding voice of the gallery release. It’s also somewhat unfair because it’s not saying anything new to note that the nature of the game in much contemporary art is the intellectual context in which the artwork was created and within which it was intended to be contemplated.
The biggest of Ryan McLaughlin’s abstract paintings up at Laurel Gitlen in the Lower East Side measures 25 ¾ inches wide by 35 ½ inches long so, properly wrapped, you could probably manage to transport it by bicycle. In that regard, the show as a whole is imbued with a humanizing scale and pace. Eight paintings are on view, the biggest noted, the smallest comes in at 10 by 8 inches, all are abstract or, perhaps more accurately, levitating at the edge of the representational. The palette is toned down, there are instances of color but as if sun-bleached, and a slight tobacco-stained hue hangs over it all. There is no pictorial depth: all the action is on the surface. These modest essayistic paintings invite and reward close viewing. From what I can gather, this New York show marks McLaughlin’s solo American debut.
As Richard Armstrong, Director of the Guggenheim, noted in his introductory remarks to the press, Christopher Wool stands as one of the “last of the non-ironic artists.” In that regard, what you see in Wool’s work is what you see or, in certain instances, read or, to crib from one of the paintings that closes out the Guggenheim’s survey of his work, The Harder You Look the Harder You Look.