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Posts Tagged ‘David Zwirner’

Alice Neel’s Brothers Karamazov

February 24, 2015 | by

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Alice Neel, Untitled (Karamazov, His Three Sons, and the Servant Gregory), ca. 1938, 14 ¼” x 10”. © The Estate of Alice Neel. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London.

Alice Neel, who died in 1984, is remembered best as a portraitist—her paintings present friends, lovers, and other intimates with an astonishing, often forbidding guilelessness. Your average Neel portrait is penetrating, flip, scary, and more than a little funny, depending on how long you’re willing to hold its subject’s gaze. Neel’s people all look to be plodding through the Stations of the Cross with a kind of decadent resignation—this is the world we live in, and oh well. “Alice loved a wretch,” her daughter-in-law told the Guardian in 2004. “She loved the wretch in the hero and the hero in the wretch. She saw that in all of us, I think.”

When Neel wasn’t painting, she was sketching. Alice Neel: Drawings and Watercolors, a new book with a corresponding exhibition, collects this interstitial work, some of it polished and some hauntingly restive. “There is an essential melancholy to Neel’s work,” Jeremy Lewison writes in the book’s opening essay. “She presents a world of hardship, of tenement buildings and shared bathing facilities, of underprivileged and underclass immigrants, of humanity weighed down by the burdens of living in the harsh metropolitan environment, of human loss and tragedy.”

All of which makes her a natural candidate to reckon with the Russian classics, those icons of gloom. Read More »

Behind the Curtain

January 7, 2015 | by

New paintings by Mamma Andersson.

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Mamma Andersson, Stays, 2014, oil on panel, 39 3/8" x 56 3/8". Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

Mamma Andersson’s new exhibition “Behind the Curtain” opens tomorrow at David Zwirner. Andersson, who was born in Sweden and lives in Stockholm, paints with a muted palette—she tends to draw from old photographs and films, theater sets, and well-preserved interiors. There’s a look-but-don’t-touch quality to her subjects, as if she’s visited some quiet museum, or snuck backstage, and has decided to flout the no-photography policy by simply painting the view instead. And so what should feel aloof or antiquated feels intimate, almost even illicit. These are things we’re used to seeing at a remove or covered in dust: busts, stays, thrones. Looking at her paintings reminds me of that voguish phrase, secret history, that’s cropped up in dozens of titles and subtitles lately.

“All of us who’ve become artists, musicians, poets, dancers, film directors—God knows what—we were all once children who loved to delve into our other ego, where anarchy and limitlessness reigns,” she told BOMB in 2007: “If (healthy) schizophrenia can keep capitalism at bay, maybe we all should be much more schizophrenic than we are. I think it’s nice to be muddled.”

“Behind the Curtain” is at David Zwirner through February 14. Read More »

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“At the Well”: Four Paintings by Neo Rauch

November 6, 2014 | by

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Neo Rauch, Marina, 2014, oil on canvas, 98 1/2” x 118 1/8”. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

Neo Rauch’s “At the Well,” featuring new small- and large-format paintings, opens today at David Zwirner Gallery.

Rauch was born in Leipzig in 1960; his parents died in a train accident when he was four weeks old. Growing up in East Germany, he wasn’t exposed to much of the Western avant-garde, and though he’s denied that reunification influenced his development, I think it’s no coincidence that his show comes now, on the eve of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

His aesthetic couches the East with the West, and they make for strange bedfellows: the work is full of doom, but it’s never quite nefarious. If anything, a disquieting calm obtains. “My pictures supposedly have a vital quality, like an animal, a living thing,” Rauch told the Art Newspaper in 2011. “There is no need to understand, only to feel that this creature is, to the greatest possible degree, at peace with itself.”

Whether we’re at peace with it is another question. Looking at Rauch’s paintings, you feel as if you’ve gotten lost in the corridors of a vast, oppressive Soviet bloc building and opened the wrong door: you’ve stumbled upon the neon guts, the recondite boiler room, of social realism. Everyone is hard at work—but what are they working on? Again and again, his paintings find stone-faced men and women in dutiful pursuit of some arcane greater good. They plod through slanted, parti-colored worlds of clock towers and quaint rooftops, abrading the land without doing violence to it. This is labor as ritual, or ritual as labor. As a statement by the gallery says,

His paintings are characterized by a unique combination of realism and surrealist abstraction. In many of his compositions, human figures engaged in indeterminable tasks work against backdrops of mundane architecture, industrial settings, or bizarre and often barren landscapes.

Rauch said in a 2009 interview,

What finally condenses on the canvas is highly subtle and in need of protection. Sometimes I am surprised by the result of my art. There is a figure, which appears again and again: it might be a revenant or a reincarnation. He finds his way on to my canvas subconsciously. Only when I look at the finished work I realize: here he is again. It is true, his is the face of a decade and that decade is the fifties.

“At the Well” is up through December 20. Read More »

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112 Greene Street

July 25, 2012 | by

Exterior of 112 Greene Street. Photo by Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone.

I met with Jessamyn Fiore in the air-conditioned back offices of David Zwirner’s Chelsea gallery in late June to discuss her new book, 112 Greene Street, a series of interviews with artists who helped found or were associated with the eponymous location, one of the first alternative art spaces in New York City. Opened in 1970 by artists Jeffrey Lew, Alan Saret, and Gordon Matta-Clark, 112 Greene Street served not as a commercial gallery but as a space in which artists could create and exhibit works collaboratively. Their participation in the burgeoning SoHo art scene also included cofounding FOOD, a pay-what-you-wish restaurant known for its delicious soups. Back then, the neighborhood more closely resembled a small village, rather than the glamorous, high-end shopping district it is now, and all of the artists associated with 112 Greene Street who were interviewed by Fiore remember that communal period fondly.

Fiore has a direct lineage to the groundbreaking gallery: her mother, Jane Crawford, was married to Gordon Matta-Clark, who died from pancreatic cancer in 1978 at age thirty-five. Known for his daring “building cuts”—literal dissections of buildings slated for demolition—Matta-Clark was, by all accounts, charismatic and widely admired and loved. Fiore herself ran a nonprofit art gallery in Dublin for several years before relocating to New York, where she curated an exhibition at Zwirner about 112 Greene Street last winter. She is warm, easygoing, and candid; it’s easy to see why the artists, whom she considers her friends, would trust her to preserve their memories in print.

Read More »

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What We’re Loving: Giant Dollhouses, Literary Art, Sade

June 29, 2012 | by

Literature is trending in the New York art world right now. One show in Chelsea takes its cue from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, and another borrows its title and raison d’être from Henry Miller’s “Stand Still Like a Hummingbird.” In the latter show, at David Zwirner, a work by Mason Williams from 1967 consists of a life-size silkscreen print of a Greyhound bus that can either be hung on the wall as a mural or folded and placed in a box. It seems, to me, to be analogous to much of literature—a picture of the larger world that is neatly held within an object whose diminutive size belies the limitless scope within it. The work weights more than ten pounds, which means it’s still heavier than a six-pack of Proust or a hardcover Larousse Gastronomique. —Nicole Rudick

This week, I revisited Richard Rodriguez’s memoir, Brown: The Last Discovery of America, and found that it’s as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 2002. Rodriguez explores the problem of being read primarily through his racial and sexual identity. He argues that the belief that only your demographic doppelgänger can address or portray you is counter to the function of literature, which allows moments of recognition between two very particular—and therefore different—lives. “Auden has a line,” he writes. “Ports have names they call the sea. Just so, literature will describe life familiarly, regionally, in terms it is accustomed to use […],” but ultimately, has “only one subject: What it feels like to be alive.” Rodriguez’s politics, when you agree with them and especially when you don’t, are stimulating and certainly worth the patient reading they demand. —Alyssa Loh

There are a few things I love so dearly that finding out someone doesn’t like them can make it instantly very difficult for me to relate to that person. “By Your Side” by Sade is one of them. The song has magical soothing powers. It’s a bit like being inside during a summer storm, wrapped in a blanket and watching rain graze the windowpane. (You probably shouldn’t tell me if you don’t like it.) —Anna Hadfield

Even though Thessaly recommended Leanne Shapton's Swimming Studies last week, I have to pile on! I've rarely been so wholly consumed by a reading experience. Shapton’s vivid description of a moment during a swim practice brought me back to my own high school pool on one of hundreds of winter nights: the soupy chorine-thick smell, the familiar feeling of sweating while in water, and the refreshing wave of winter cold hitting me as I made a flip turn at the far end of the pool. I dog-eared the passage; by the end I had folded down more page corners than were left unturned. In evocatively describing things like sliding around in sheets after shaving your entire body or the ability to know one’s status by the type of goggles, Swimming Studies brings the solitary activity of swimming into everyday life.  It isn’t a sports book; in Swimming Studies the author has created a place for athlete and artist to coexist. —Emily Cole-Kelly

Several friends who know me well sent me this photo gallery, and they were right on the money: I’m enraptured by Canadian artist Heather Benning’s conversion of an abandoned farmhouse into a giant, open-sided dollhouse. —Sadie Stein

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