Uncanny Materiality: Donald Judd’s Specific Objects

Uncanny Materiality: Donald Judd’s Specific Objects

Mignoni, New York.
Starting on 16 Jun, 2020.

It was at an exhibition in 1964 that Donald Judd came across one of Dan Flavin’s illuminated neon tubes for the first time. Placed ‘at a diagonal on an approximately eleven by eleven (foot) wall,’ Judd was enthralled by the simplicity and singularity of this work. For him, this solitary neon tube embodied all of the formal, self-asserting and stand-alone qualities that he was then seeking from a work of art. But more than this, he later remarked, what impressed him most was the way in which this singular form had made ‘an intelligible idea of the whole wall.’

Uncanny Materiality: Donald Judd’s Specific Objects; Courtesy of Mignoni Gallery.

In the years that followed, this almost magical ability of a solitary object to transform, disrupt and also to articulate the space into which it was placed was to become one of the defining features of Judd’s own work. Judd was, in fact, to become the absolute master of this approach, creating sculptures of such formal simplicity, precision, and purity that the actuality of their physical presence became startling. Indeed, such was the perfection of Judd’s works that they often came to look like materializations from another world.

Judd’s creations attained this quality, the critic Robert Hughes would write, because they were objects that were manifestly ‘in this world but told us nothing about the world.’ So perfect, harmonious, and beautiful was the sublime geometry, open-form structure, and immaculate, industrially-manufactured finish of Judd’s sculptures that they came to attain what Robert Smithson described as an ‘uncanny materiality.’ This was a physical sense of presence so incisive and particular that it seemed to affect and even alter the space into which the works were set, infusing it with an activated air of potency and even mystery. This effect was what Judd defined as the innate power of the ‘specific object.’

Uncanny Materiality: Donald Judd’s Specific Objects; Courtesy of Mignoni Gallery.

‘Specific Objects’ was the title of Judd’s now famous 1965 essay in which he first argued that it was the singularity of an object and the physical actuality of its presence in real space that established not only its formal identity but also its power and efficacy as a work of art. Following this rationale, Judd argued that the simpler the form of the object, the stronger and more profound would be the power of its presence upon the space around it.

‘Most works of art… only have one quality’ Judd wrote, and should therefore assume only ‘one form. It isn’t necessary for a work to have a lot of things to look at, to compare, to analyze one by one, to contemplate. The thing as a whole, its quality as a whole, is what is interesting. The main things are alone and are more intense, clear and powerful. They are not diluted by an inherited format, variations of a form, mild contrasts and connecting parts and areas.’

Uncanny Materiality: Donald Judd’s Specific Objects; Courtesy of Mignoni Gallery.

Judd’s Stacks and Progressions are the logical consequence of this reductive philosophy of form to its absolute essence and were to become the twin pillars of his artistic production over the next two decades. Believing that it was the thing in itself that was most important in a work and that nothing should detract from its representation of itself, Judd became one of the first artists to insist on having all his works made by industrial means and to use only cold, impersonal, industrial materials. Only in this way, he believed, could the absolute precision necessary for his work to be seen only for what it was and not for the craftsmanship or means by which it had been made be achieved. Similarly, an absolute singularity of form was required in order to articulate these ideas in the most direct and non-elaborate way.

The linearity of the ‘Progression’ and the open box-form of the ‘Stack’ were the perfect structures for Judd because these are the two forms that intersect all sculptural notions of space in the simplest and most direct of ways. Each form is essentially a material measurement of real space – one vertical (in the Stacks), the other horizontal (in the Progressions). Each also takes the form of a linear, mathematical sequencing of alternating solid form and empty space. In the Progressions, the gaps of space and the blocks of form are derived from simple additive progressions such as 1,2,3,4 etc., or the Fibonacci sequence, 1,1,2.3.5….for example. In the Stacks, especially the transparent, colored Perspex box versions, a self-demonstrable, simultaneously open and enclosed space is introduced. As a result, each of these singular, wall-mounted forms presents, in a different way, a precisely-measured intervention or interruption of the space around them: one that is both formal and conceptual. And, they do so with such clarity and mathematical exactitude that they often startle the viewer into a more acute appreciation of the nature of the spatial environment which they themselves inhabit.

Uncanny Materiality: Donald Judd’s Specific Objects; Courtesy of Mignoni Gallery.

In its presentation of a sequence of singular, wall-mounted Single Stacks and Progressions from various stages of Judd’s career, Uncanny Materiality: Donald Judd’s Specific Objects at Mignoni is focused directly on this underlying sense of singularity running throughout Judd’s oeuvre. Comprised only of six solitary, single-form, wall-mounted sculptures – three Single Stacks, two Progressions, a ‘Swiss’ work from 1984 that showcases the new enameling techniques (discovered that same year) that allowed Judd to indulge his love of color – the exhibition offers a sequence of the artist’s ‘specific objects.’ Each one of which – ‘alone,’ ‘intense,’ ‘clear and powerful’ – can also be said to make ‘an intelligible idea of the whole wall.’

In addition to the aforementioned sculptures, a three-unit plywood wall piece is showcased in the gallery’s private room.

Tseng Kwong Chi: East Meets West

Tseng Kwong Chi: East Meets West

Yancey Richardson Gallery, NYC

Until 12 June, 2020

East Meets West, a selection of photographic self-portraits made between 1979 and 1989 by Tseng Kwong Chi (1950 – 1990). Combining performance and photography, political satire and personal identity, Tseng’s pioneering series exemplifies the art of the eighties while anticipating the social, political and philosophical themes of the present day.

Disneyland, California, 1979. Gelatin silver print, 16 x 16 inches.

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver by exiled Chinese nationalists, Tseng studied photography at L’Académie Julian in Paris. In 1978, Tseng moved to Manhattan, becoming a fixture of New York’s downtown art scene and a close friend of Keith Haring whose work and activities he documented. Soon after arriving, Tseng began the series East Meets West, photographing himself at iconic tourist locales throughout America, wearing a “Mao suit”, dark sunglasses and an enigmatic expression. Pictured at the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and other monumental sites, Tseng’s persona suggests that of an austere, visiting dignitary, paying homage to sites signifying American greatness.

Grand Canyon, Arizona, 1987. Gelatin silver print, 16 x 16 inches.
New York, New York, 1979. Gelatin silver print, 16 x 16 inches.

The series was partly inspired by Richard Nixon’s diplomatic trip to the People’s Republic of China in 1972, where the visit consisted largely of a series of carefully staged appearances meant to generate the greatest possible visual impact, including the infamous Nixon-Mao handshake. In spite of the immutability of his Mao ensemble, Tseng responds distinctly to each locale, gazing contemplatively at the Grand Canyon, leaping raucously into the air at the Brooklyn Bridge or assuming a stiff, patriotic stance next to a rocket at Cape Canaveral. Describing himself as both an “ambiguous ambassador” and an “inquisitive traveler”, Tseng mischievously and subtly investigated core issues of outsider and identity politics.

Cape Canaveral, Florida, 1985. Gelatin silver print, 16 x 16 inches

Deceased in 1990 at age thirty-nine from AIDS-related illness, Tseng’s work has been widely exhibited and published. His work is in numerous public collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Tate Britain; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., and many others. In 2015, a retrospective Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing For the Camera was held at the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, and the Grey Art Gallery at New York University.

New York, New York, 1979. Gelatin silver print, 16 x 16 inches.

Jonathan Horowitz, We Fight to Build a Free World

We Fight to Build a Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz 


Coming Soon

This exhibition, organized by artist Jonathan Horowitz, explores artists’ responses to social injustice from the early 20th century to now, featuring works by Horowitz as well as Huma Bhabha, Robert Colescott, Adrian Piper, Ben Shahn, Kara Walker, Andy Warhol, Max Weber, and others.

Jonathan Horowitz, Power, 2019, UV print on PVC board, vinyl sticker. Artwork © Jonathan Horowitz. Courtesy of Sadie Coles HQ, London. Photo: Robert Glowacki.

Artist Jonathan Horowitz (b. 1966) is known for combining the imagery and ambivalence of Pop Art with the engaged criticality of conceptualism. Throughout his three-decade practice, his work in video, sculpture, painting, and photography has examined the deep-seated links between consumer culture and political consciousness.

Bernard Perlin, Orthodox Boys, 1948, tempera on board. Tate, presented by Lincoln Kirstein through the Institute of Contemporary Arts 1950. Artwork © Bernard Perlin. Image courtesy of Tate.

We Fight to Build a Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz looks at how artists have historically responded to the rise of both xenophobia — including anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry — and authoritarianism. The exhibition also addresses issues surrounding immigration, assimilation, and cultural identity.

Robert Colescott, George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, 1975, acrylic on canvas. Private collection. Artwork © Estate of Robert Colescott  / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image courtesy of Blum & Poe. 

Featuring approximately 80 works of painting, sculpture, photography, and video, the exhibition will include examples of American social realism from the 1930s and 1940s, new works by Jonathan Horowitz, as well as 36 newly commissioned political posters by contemporary artists, including Judith Bernstein, Marcel Dzama, Rico Gatson, Kim Gordon and Jason Smith, Cheyenne Julien, Christine Sun Kim, Guadalupe Maravilla, and Marilyn Minter.

Malaquias Montoya, Cristobal Colón, 1992, offset-lithograph. Artwork © and courtesy of Malaquias Montoya.

The exhibition’s title, We Fight to Build a Free World, is adapted from a painting by Ben Shahn, which will be on view. Also included are works by Asco, Huma Bhabha, Enrique Chagoya, Robert Colescott, Philip Evergood, Luis Jiménez, Rebecca Lepkoff, Glenn Ligon, Abraham Manievich, Bernard Perlin, Adrian Piper, Fritz Scholder, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Henry Sugimoto, Kara Walker, Andy Warhol, Max Weber, and Charles White, among others.

Horowitz’s installation places disparate works in dialogue, making connections across time and place. Pointed juxtapositions of artworks and exhibition graphics raise questions and foster dialogue.


The exhibition is a project by artist Jonathan Horowitz, organized in consultation with Ruth Beesch, Senior Deputy Director, and Shira Backer, Leon Levy Assistant Curator, The Jewish Museum. The exhibition and graphic design are by Topos Graphics.
We Fight to Build a Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz is made possible by Toby Devan Lewis, the Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg Foundation, the Leon Levy Foundation, and other generous donors.
Additional support is provided through the Centennial Fund and the Barbara Horowitz Contemporary Art Fund.

Beate Wheeler / The 1970s: Transition to Color Painting

Beate Wheeler / The 1970s: Transition to Color Painting

David Richard Gallery, New York

Mon 18 May 2020 to Fri 19 Jun 2020

David Richard Gallery presents its first solo exhibition of paintings by Beate Wheeler (1932 – 2017). The presentation includes 13 paintings that focus on her studio work leading up to and through the 1970s, an important and transitional decade in her career. The presentation chronicles a shift in her formal approach that had been brewing back in the 1960s, as well as a change in her color palettes and compositions that became more evocative of nature and gardens. During the 70s, Wheeler transitioned from her Abstract Expressionist “mark making” to more vibrant “color painting”, which defined the remainder of her studio practice.

Throughout nearly all six decades of Wheeler’s career, her paintings were about color and form, the influences of nature, and her feelings and emotions towards these topics. One can feel her energy and passion in the thousands of intentional and individual marks of pigment, each one deliberate to create stunning arrays of color and passages of pattern, forms and abstract imagery. Wheeler made specific marks, she did not scrub the canvas in a brushy back and forth or agitated manner. She made distinct marks, echoing the profound influences on her work by Impressionistic masters with their bold use of color as well as the subtle and elegant exploration of hues in Milton Resnick’s work, with whom she studied under in the 1950s in Berkeley, California. Wheeler had an intuition about color, she understood color adjacency and the interaction of hues in compositions, how the colors could meld and from a distance mix in the viewer’s eye allowing them to see something different than when close up and dissecting each hue in their respective shapes and placements. Wheeler’s color sensibility made her paintings dynamic, vibrant, almost alive and very distinct in appearance. Hence, the strong feeling that they are derived from nature and her keen ability to observe the subtle interplay of color in the natural world.

Beate Wheeler – Untitled (BW-5225)
1984, Oil on canvas, 112 x 117 cm – Courtesy of David Richard Gallery

Wheeler’s mark making was methodical and became rhythmic, which allowed distinct passages to emerge within areas of her compositions that became multiple individual foci of abstract forms. However, collectively, they created a dialogue that evoked organic forms and shapes, almost like leaves or blocks of colorful flowers that transition from one to the other effortlessly in a perennial garden.

Installation view – Courtesy of David Richard Gallery

The paintings from the early 1960s had compositions with a centrally located focus or bi-partite areas with thicker applications of impasto pigment distinct in color and palpable. The perimeters of the compositions had flatter and wider applications of paint, more atmospheric and fading to the background, thus creating distinct figure and ground relationships. In a number of paintings from the 1960s the distinct marks coalesced and became larger areas of color as opposed to distinct marks, and some with gritty textures across most of the surface that created an all over composition without a central focus. In several of the smaller paintings from the late 1960s the palettes became reduced to only 2 or 3 hues to generate elongated and curvaceous interlocking brush strokes that were nearly uniform across the canvas and creating subtle patterns. Both of these techniques essentially flattened the painting surfaces and made the compositions consistent across the canvas. Thus, reducing the forms to vessels for pigment and thereby making the color the only real distinction within her paintings.

Installation view – Courtesy of David Richard Gallery

Through the 1970s, Wheeler expanded on these developments, the forms became larger, more distinct with an organic feeling, yet the shapes were clearly non-objective and abstract. The all over compositions filled the canvases and spilled off the edges, in most cases. In many of the paintings it is clear that Wheeler reduced the detail, neutralized the colors and compressed the distance between the shapes to create a fade around the perimeter to always keep the viewer’s attention on the interiors of her paintings. It seemed as though she fixated on a specific aspect of a garden or landscape reference and expanded and increased the scale of that area so as to make it purely abstract with no specific reference, leaving only the essence of something from the natural world, a hint of something organic. While the individual marks were distinct and abstract, in the aggregate, the overall feeling of her paintings is that of a lush garden.

Installation view – Courtesy of David Richard Gallery

About Beate Wheeler (1932 – 2017):

Beate Wheeler, born in Germany in 1932, fled with her family in 1938 and arrived at Ellis Island in New York. She studied at Manumit in Pawling, New York until 1945, an experimental Christian socialist boarding school for refugee children. After receiving her BFA degree at Syracuse in 1954, Wheeler earned her MFA at the University of California, Berkeley under Abstract Expressionist painter, Milton Resnick. While in the Bay area, she met Mark di Suvero and the two moved to the East Village in New York. Together with Robert Beauchamp, Elaine de Kooning and Patricia Passlof, they formed the March Gallery, one of the eight galleries and artist cooperatives that were known as the 10th Street Galleries. Wheeler married the writer and artist Spencer Holst. They were some of the early residents at the Westbeth Artists Housing in New York’s West Village. Wheeler lived and worked there the rest of her life. She painted regularly and produced drawings and artworks for Spencer’s publications. She exhibited primarily at the Wesbeth galleries and had many dedicated private collectors, including Nelson A. Rockefeller. Following a 15-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, she passed away May 14, 2017.



Swiss artist Gina Fischli presents works in sculpture and photography which explore fantasy, fakery and the allure of the consumable object.

Installation view, Viewing Room: Gina Fischli, 303 Gallery, New York, 2020. Photo: John Berens
Installation view, Viewing Room: Gina Fischli, 303 Gallery, New York, 2020. Photo: John Berens
Installation view, Viewing Room: Gina Fischli, 303 Gallery, New York, 2020. Photo: John Berens

Gina Fischli (b. 1989, Zurich) studied at the Royal Academy of Art, London (2018) and the University of Fine Arts Hamburg (2015). Solo exhibitions include Interior Living, SUNDY, London (2018); Molto Suggestivo, DELF, Vienna (2017); and London Today, Forde, Geneva (2016). Group exhibitions include A house is not a home, Fri Art, Fribourg (2019); ON SITE, Swiss Institute, New York (2019); NEW RUINS, Soft Opening, London (2019); and Way Out, Jenny’s, London (2018). In 2018, she published Bad Timing (Hacienda Books, Zurich). Fischli lives and works in London.

Installation view, Viewing Room: Gina Fischli, 303 Gallery, New York, 2020. Photo: John Berens
Gina Fischli
Schloss Steinsberg
Fimo clay
12 5/8 x 23 5/8 x 23 5/8 inches (32 x 60 x 60 cm)

Most often, you bake a cake for someone you love. You mix all the stuff together and put it in the oven and wait. Sadly, when you open the oven again and look inside, the cake doesn’t look how you feel about that person at all. It’s a disappointment. Still, you can try and fix it with icing sugar and food coloring and marzipan. You are doing the best you can.

Sometimes you don’t bake for someone you love specifically but, for instance, a bake sale or a get-together. A cake can be made to impress or even intimidate your guests. The most unfortunate bakers cook in an outspoken competition like on TV. 

You believe the most exquisite cakes must have only been witnessed by a handful of people, because their life span is so short. (Unless you are thinking of some kind of practical German fruit loaf, which lasts for a week, but that’s not the same thing at all.) 

A person dedicated to their cake must build a dummy for display and conservation purposes. Another thing you remember as important is that when you serve cake, you pretend as if you don’t care what the person you love thinks of it.

Gina Fischli
Schloss Babelsberg
Fimo clay, plaster
14 1/8 x 15 3/4 x 15 3/4 inches (36 x 40 x 40 cm)
Gina Fischli
Comlongon Castle
Fimo clay
25 5/8 x 23 5/8 x 23 5/8 inches (65 x 60 x 60 cm)
Gina Fischli
Schloss Herzberg
Acrylic, plastic, clay
10 1/4 x 15 3/4 x 15 3/4 inches (26 x 40 x 40 cm)

Images > Courtesy 303 Gallery, NY and the artist / > VIDEO

Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Studies On The Ecology Of Drama, online at Marian Goodman Gallery NY.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Studies On The Ecology Of Drama, online at Marian Goodman Gallery NY.

by Kostas Prapoglou

The main focus of Helsinki-based artist/filmmaker Eija-Liisa Ahtila involves aspects of identity and the ways these are formed and are interpreted through personal and interpersonal relationships. Her films and cinematic installations are survey studies on the human condition and its fluctuations depending on and dictated by external societal forces and introspective emotional realms.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila Studies on the Ecology of Drama, 2014. 4 channel projection installation; 27 min. 40 sec, Installation view at Marian Goodman Gallery, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

Ahtila’s visual lexicon embraces the cartography of poetics as these are embedded into esoteric as well as exoteric experiences. Her work often challenges the subconscious, bringing it to the fore, simultaneously activating and stimulating a dialogue with present situations.

In light of the covid-19 pandemic coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, Marian Goodman Gallery explores new avenues to bring its artists closer to a wider audience during a period of lockdown and social distancing. Online viewers now have the unique opportunity to experience Studies On The Ecology Of Drama, Ahtila’s 26-minute moving image work made in 2017. Based on the homonymous 4-channel projected installation that she presented in 2014, the film embraces two previous works, The Annunciation (2010) and Horizontal (2011), both delving into notions of ecology and symbiosis as well as the essence of existentialism within the context of our external world.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Studies on the Ecology of Drama, 2017 (video still)
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

In the form of a lecture-performance, an actress demonstrates and investigates through an eloquent vocabulary of diverse techniques, mechanisms and performative practices (such as mimicry), different approaches of representation of living forms. Assisted by other co-performers (a juniper tree, a bush, a swift bird, a horse, a butterfly and a small group of human acrobats), the actress redesigns a landscape of the polymorphic relationship between image and reality, which is being understood and constructed through the subjective qualities of space and time according to the presence of human or non-human objects.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Studies on the Ecology of Drama, 2017 (video still)
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

The visual documentation of the natural environment as the artist’s chosen terrain to pronounce our compassion and love towards the planet and omnifarious living organisms, rapidly becomes a topical subject once again. At times when everything has been brought to a standstill, we suddenly begin to observe nature and the planet as a living organism that is being automatically reset to its original factory settings, momentarily liberated from pollution and catastrophic human intervention.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Studies on the Ecology of Drama, 2017 (video still)
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

Eija-Liisa Ahtila is a former professor at the Department of Time and Space-based Art at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Finland. She has presented solo exhibitions at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne, Australia (2017); Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain (2016); Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York and Oi Futuro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (both 2015); the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2014); Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland (2013); Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (both in 2012); Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois (2011), Parasol Unit, London, UK (2010) and Tate Modern, London, UK (2002).

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Studies on the Ecology of Drama, 2017 (video still)
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

She has participated in numerous international art exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale (2005 and 1999); Documenta11 (2002), Manifesta (1998), Bienal de São Paulo (2008) and Biennale of Sydney (2018 and 2002). Her work has been featured in numerous group shows around the world including the Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, Germany (2019); the M Museum, Leuven, Belgium and the Serlachius Museum Gösta, Mänttä, Finland (both 2018), MoMA, NY (2006) and SFMoMA, San Francisco (2003). She has been honoured with several prizes over the past three decades that include, most recently, becoming an Academician of Arts in Finland (2009); The Prince Eugen Medal for Outstanding Artistic Achievement, Sweden (2009) and Artes Mundi, Wales International Visual Arts Prize, Cardiff, Wales (2006).

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Potentiality for Love, 2018 (Partial installation view). Moving image sculpture in 3 silent parts.
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

Ahtila’s work has also been shown at numerous film screenings and festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival, Utah, USA; Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland; Hong Kong International Film Festival, Hong Kong, China, and film retrospectives at MoMA, Centre Pompidou, Paris and Tate Modern, London. Her works are included in the collections of the Tate and MoMA and other major public and private collections worldwide.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Horizontal – Vaakasuora, 2011 – 6-channel projected high definition installation; 6 min; Dolby Digital 5.1; Installation view at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, 2011.
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

You can watch Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Studies On The Ecology Of Drama (2017), online at the Marian Goodman Gallery website by clicking here.

Kostas Prapoglou

Joiri Minaya. I’m here to entertain you, but only during my shift

Joiri Minaya. I’m here to entertain you, but only during my shift

BAXTER ST The Camera Club of New York, NYC

Exhibition Dates to be announce

Organized by curator Corrine Y. Gordon.

Joiri Minaya sees her work as a reassertion of self, in which she uses her cultural background as a base to explore and reconcile her experiences of growing up in the Dominican Republic and living and navigating the United States. I’m here to entertain you, but only during my shift examines the construction of the female subject in relation to landscape, looking particularly at “tropical” environments. The exhibition features new works from her ongoing Containers series initiated in 2015, where Minaya takes photographs of women wearing custom head-to-toe printed bodysuits that mimic tropical flora and poses them in seemingly natural environments that have been altered by man. Theoriginal series stemmed from a Google search of “Dominican Women,” where Minaya found specific poses repeated throughout her findings and appropriated these poses through the structure of the bodysuits, forcing the performer to adopt the pose. By doing this, Minaya looks to the parallels drawn between nature and femininity, as both have been imagined and represented throughout history as idealized, tamed, conquered, and exoticized entities. 

Container #4, 2020
Joiri Minaya

The title I’m here to entertain you, but only during my shift aims to establish a relationship between the viewer and the work, drawing attention to the performative nature of her subjects and the audience’s position as an active observer. It is also a line pulled from one of the original scripts Minaya wrote when she started to experiment with the series beyond photography. She converted the images into a performance, incorporating voice recordings and written text that were strategically paired to the location and bodysuits. As the series continues to be reimagined through new mediums, this exhibition will be the first to present collage alongside her continued photographs, video, and text.  

Joiri Minaya (1990) is a Dominican-United Statesian multi-disciplinary artist whose recent works focus on destabilizing historic and contemporary representations of an imagined tropical identity. Minaya attended the Escuela Nacional de Artes Visuales in Santo Domingo (2009), the Altos de Chavón School of Design (2011) and Parsons the New School for Design (2013). She has participated in residencies at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Guttenberg Arts, Smack Mellon, the Bronx Museum’s AIM Program and the NYFA Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists, Red Bull House of Art, the Lower East Side Printshop and Art Omi. She has been awarded a Socrates Sculpture Park Emerging Artist Fellowship as well as grants by the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation and the Nancy Graves Foundation. Minaya’s work is in the collection of the Museo de Arte Moderno and the Centro León Jiménes in the Dominican Republic.

Corrine Y. Gordon is a curator and programmer who was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Currently based in Brooklyn, Gordon served as the co-curator of the inaugural Southeast Queens Biennial at York College and has organized exhibitions at Welancora Gallery, Rush Arts’ Corridor Gallery, and Bishop Gallery, all located in Brooklyn. Gordon is also the co-founder and Director of Art & Programming at MYÜZ Inc., a visual content label that pairs visual artists with distinguished academics to produce a catalogue of original content. Lastly, Gordon works in the Special Events department at the world-famous Apollo Theater. Gordon received a Masters of Arts in Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art at the University of Virginia, with a minor in Media Studies.




Until April 19 2020

COVID-19 UPDATES > open by appointment only until further notice

Schnyder began producing experimental objects in the late 1960s within the context of pop art and has since gone on to create a broad oeuvre encompassing photographs, sculptures, paintings, objects, and installations. Conceptually and radically open in his artistic process, each series of works he creates leads to a new experimental arrangement. Accordingly, Schnyder does not simply adhere to an overarching concept, but rather meticulously focuses upon his subject, thereby coming up with ever-new concepts. The result of this unique openness is an oeuvre full of discontinuity; some of his approaches are so different from each other that they seem to be all but mutually exclusive.

In this exhibition, Schnyder gives us an overview of his paintings from the 1970s up until 2000, and shows the room-installation Hüter der Schwelle (Guardians of the threshold) from 2014. In the 42 predominantly small-format pictures, which the artist has arranged especially for this presentation, one can witness surprising continuities and breaks in Schnyder’s work, which offer a glimpse into his thinking process. 

The only large-format canvas on view, Stillleben (Still Life) from 1970, is one of Schnyder’s first paintings. It was initially shown in 1971 at La Biennale Paris together with the pictures Akt (Act) and Landschaft (Landscape). This exhibition was a sensation in more than one way. Just two years earlier, Schnyder had displayed conceptual objects in the exhibition When Attitude Becomes Form at Kunsthalle BernTherefore, paintings constituted a new medium for the artist, and displaying paintings in Paris meant going against the grain, as the medium was considered passé in the early 1970s. The Paris show was indeed not attuned to painting, so much so that Schnyder displaying paintings was interpreted as a unique conceptual statement, even though the works were not created under the guise of a concept, but rather reflected the artist’s genuine interest in a medium he was beginning to discover for himself. Many important aspects of later works can be found in Stillleben (Still Life). 

Stillleben, Akt, Landschaft (Still Life, Act, Landscape) represent the three most common motifs in art history. This interest in existing and common practices is typical of the artist. It is almost impossible to discern a stylistic development within Schnyder’s oeuvre; style never being an aspect of the painter’s individual development, but rather a means the artist draws upon for each painting or series. For this reason, his works are stylistically highly heterogeneous. 

From 1982 to 1983, Schnyder created his first series of plein air paintings: the Berner Veduten (Vedute of Bern), encompassing 128 paintings. At the time, the artist had no studio, which is why he adopted the tradition of plein air painting and began to work outdoors in Bern and surrounding areas. Drawing upon veduta motifs typical of the works of painters like Ferdinand Hodler, he again turned to the commonplace. However, he did not act as a copyist, being primarily interested in the process of painting itself. The landscapes are precise; he did not exclude a single pylon or vapor trail, which might have been removed from a romantic landscape. Inversely, Schnyder not only discovered new details in the landscapes but also in the paintings he referred to. Thus, he over accentuated artistic effects such as the corona of a sunrise in a work by Hodler, thereby reflecting the beholder’s own vision of art history.

In his subsequent plein air studies, Schnyder intensified and expanded this focus on art history and the Swiss landscapes depicted. His Bänkli-Bilder (Pictures from Benches —five of which are on display (So liebt Gott die Welt, Bei Kerzers, Stürmische Winde aus Nordwest, Das Prättigau bei Grüsch, Milten bei SchleintheimThus God Loves the World, At Kerzer’s, Stormy Winds from the North-West, The Prättigau near Grüsch, Milten near Scheinheim)—were all painted from the vantage points of different public benches. In this group lies an irresistible logic typical to Schnyder’s approach:

on the one hand, the painter does not have to choose a specific section of the landscape; on the other, these are exactly the perspectives that hikers and those walking encounter daily. Moreover, a large selection of benches allows for an encyclopedic capturing of his subject. It is part and parcel of Schnyder’s exact practice and his photographic vision that the view, which might have been unspoiled before the bench was installed, is not untouched by the time the painting was produced.

The precision and totality with which Schnyder captures his motifs lead to an ambiguity, which does not stem from an ironic attitude, but an exact perception of reality. His perspective brings something repressed to the fore like pylons or motorways, which do not fit into the archetype of romanticized Swiss landscapes but have become an accepted part of these landscapes. 

In his studio works, which include figurative and abstract pieces, Schnyder carves out this difference between the pictorial and the symbolic order. This is most obvious in the abstract Studie XVIII (Study XVIII) in which a canvas primed in green bears an also green relief spelling the letters ROT, German for red. ROT is not red.

In this extraordinary way, Schnyder projects theoretical discussions onto the canvas itself. His interest in practical solutions lets him create certain archetypes, such as a torso featuring color as the body of painting, or one of the golden rules of painting—“Fett auf Mager (fat over lean)”—painted over a canvas he did not paint himself but bought. Schnyder’s solution of how to paint another classic motif, flowers, is to draw upon a static system of pixels reminding one of early digital aesthetics as well as of color field paintings of the beginning of the 20th century. These floral paintings seem so lucid that they amount to a color theory one can perceive with one’s senses.

The paintings are accompanied by the 22-part lamp installation Hüter der Schwelle (Guardians of the threshold), which consists of banana cartons bearing holes resembling faces, but also reminiscent of typical box handles. Thus, an everyday object becomes a form. Schnyder and his family moved around Switzerland often and, in the course of these relocations, accumulated many boxes. In 2012, Schnyder decided to use the boxes as material for his sculptures and, in doing so, repurposed every part of this moving good from the cardboard to small metal brackets. The notion of reusing materials and giving them new life can also be seen in certain of Schnyder’s abstract paintings, where he saves leftover pigment from other works and then applies them with a scraper in a burst of riotous color.

The installation and the 42 paintings on display are so diverse that their assembly does not seem to make sense at first sight. However, the logic exists precisely in the fact that single works and series are the results of a rigidly methodical process, while the whole goes far beyond these systems. In the series themselves, insanity has found its system while Schnyder’s work defies any kind of systemization.

Jean-Frédéric Schnyder was born in 1945 in Basel, CH. He lives and works in Zug, CH. His first solo exhibition organized by Eva Presenhuber at Galerie Walcheturm in Zurich took place in 1993, followed by another in 1996. A solo exhibition at Galerie Hauser & Wirth & Presenhuber took place in 1999. At Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, Schnyder has had solo exhibitions in 2004, 2010, and 2019. In 2018, Eva Presenhuber, New York showed the body of works Am Thunersee in a solo exhibition. Schnyder contributed to the La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, IT (2013); La Biennale Paris, Paris, FR (1985 and 1971); Documenta 5, Kassel, DE (1972); and Documenta 7, Kassel, DE (1982). Recent solo exhibitions have taken place in international institutions including Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, CH (2014); Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, CH (2013); Ca’ Corner della Regina Venice, Venice, IT (2013); Le Consortium, Dijon, FR (2012); and The Swiss Institute / Contemporary Art, New York, US (2011). Group exhibitions in major museums include Zeitgeist, MAMCO – Musée d´art moderne et contemporain, Geneve, CH (2017); Das Fotobuch und seine Autoren, Swiss National Library, Bern, CH (2015); Drawings from the Ringier Collection Chapter I, Villa Flora Winterthur – Sammlung Hahnloser, Winterthur, CH (2015); and Ferdinand Hodler, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, CH (2014).

Tillmann Severin

Photo: Matt Grubb, Installation view, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, Eva Presenhuber, New York, 2020. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / New York

Tuan Andrew Nguyen, A Lotus in a Sea of Fire

Tuan Andrew Nguyen A Lotus in a Sea of Fire

James Cohan, New York

28 February – 03 May, 2020

Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s work explores the power of storytelling through video and sculpture. His projects are based on extensive research and community engagement, tapping into inherited histories and counter-memory. Nguyen extracts and re-works dominant, oftentimes colonial histories and supernaturalisms into imaginative vignettes. Fact and fiction are interwoven in poetic narratives that span time and place.

The Boat People (still)
Single-channel video, 4k, Super 16mm transferred to digital, color, 5.1 surround sound
Ed. of 5 + 2 AP

The centerpiece of the exhibition is The Boat People, a single channel video installation displayed alongside hand-carved wooden sculptural objects. Set in an unspecified post-apocalyptic future at the precarious edge of humanity’s possible extinction, the film follows a band of children led by a strong-willed and resourceful little girl. Calling themselves The Boat People, they travel the seas and collect the stories of a world they never knew through objects that survived over time. The group replicates the objects they discover in wood as a way to piece together a history they are trying to understand. They then burn the carvings and scatter the ashes in the ocean to set the objects free. The little girl, who we discover is the last woman on earth, comes face to face with a mysterious statue head buried in the sand on the beach. They engage in a dialogue that explores concepts of a future and a past world through an existential lens. This dialogue, both literally and figuratively, brings the dead object to life again.

The Boat People (still)
Single-channel video, 4k, Super 16mm transferred to digital, color, 5.1 surround sound
Ed. of 5 + 2 AP

The video centers itself around a series of objects found in and around Bataan, Philippines and anchors itself to the multiple layers of history in wars, migration, and perseverance contained in the land itself. Several of the beautifully hand-carved and charred wooden replicas that populate the video are displayed in the gallery. Ritual burning has a long and complex history throughout Southeast Asia, both in the Philippines and in Vietnam, where today people burn paper currency and votive replicas of contemporary luxury items—houses, cars, smartphones folded from paper—as an offering of good fortune to their dead. In The Boat People, fire is used as a metaphor for remembrance, creating a porosity between the realms of the living and the dead. It acts as both an agent of destructive change and of transformative liberation. 

The Arrival of The Boat People, 2020

Nguyen is interested in objects that have survived through time: objects that humanity has created, and in turn inherited. His work parses both the stories objects contain and our memories of the objects themselves. In The Boat People, the children discover and engage with artifacts from a refugee crisis, a world war and its attendant atrocities, and some of the earliest human migrations. They encounter Japanese machine guns, American-made gas-masks, a memorial to a World War II massacre, refugee boats, the hands and head of a Quan Yin, the female buddha of compassion, and a kampilan, a traditional Filipino blade that resembles the famous sword the hero Lapu Lapu used to slay Magellan. When the children recreate these objects, their actions highlight the nature of the replica, of the copy as a reflection on the authenticity of experience and the transference of memory. 

Not The Smell of Napalm, 2019
Hand-carved gmelina wood
23 in. high (58.4 cm)
Wooden base: 13 x 12 x 2.5 in. (33 x 30.5 x 6.4 cm)
Pedestal: 30 x 30 x 4 in. (76.2 x 76.2 x 10.2 cm)

The coastline of Bataan has borne witness to waves of migration and the movement of people both reaching for their freedom and of people seeking to take that freedom away from others, and carries the physical traces of all these journeys. The ocean that abuts this coast is a space of transition and of opposition. It is into this ocean that the children scatter the ashes of their totemic objects, in order to set them free, rendering the ocean a repository for memory. 

The Boat People was co-produced by Bellas Artes Projects and James Cohan, New York. 

Tuan Andrew Nguyen received his BFA from the University of California, Irvine in 1999 and an MFA from The California Institute of the Arts in 2004. In addition to several awards in both film and visual arts, including an Art Matters grant in 2010 and best feature film at VietFilmFest in 2018, his work has been included in international exhibitions including the Asia Pacific Triennial 2006, Whitney Biennial 2017, and the Sharjah Biennial 2019. In 2006, Nguyen co-founded The Propeller Group, a platform for collectivity that situates itself between art collective and advertising company. Accolades for the group include the grand prize at the 2015 Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur and a Creative Capital award for its project Television Commercial for Communism. Besides a major travelling retrospective that began at the MCA Chicago, the collective has participated in international exhibitions including The Ungovernables [2012 New Museum Triennial], 2012 LA Biennial, Prospect3 [2014 New Orleans Triennial], and the Venice Biennale 2015.

Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sarah Charlesworth, Sherrie Levine

Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sarah Charlesworth, Sherrie Levine

Paula Cooper Gallery, NY

29 FEBRUARY – 04 APRIL , 2020

Paula Cooper Gallery announces an exhibition of works by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sarah Charlesworth, and Sherrie Levine, curated by Sherrie Levine, the exhibition brings together three related approaches to conceptual image-making, (post-)modernism, and the genre of the still life—understood both as a depiction of everyday inanimate objects, foods or flowers, and in a broader sense, as a formal representation of a specific time and place through its cultural artifacts.

Sherrie Levine, Salubra 3, 2007, oil on mahogany and wall paint, 14 parts: 27 x 27 in. (68.6 x 68.6 cm), overall dimensions variable; painted rectangle on wall 65 in. (165.1 cm) height, length variable

Beginning in 1959, Bernd and Hilla Becher pursued a project of systematically documenting industrial architectural forms—an objective that took inspiration from the precisionist approach of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) artists August Sander, Karl Blossfeldt, and Albert Renger-Patzsch of the 1920s. Post-war Germany’s ubiquitous cooling towers, gas tanks, blast furnaces, and grain elevators—remnants of a fevered industrialization—provided the Bechers with the raw matter for their “typologies,” an effort to visually organize and render comparable the unique details of each structure and the intricate relationship between form and function. For the artists, these typologies were conceptual categories based on the general ideas used to sort a large body of information. “We didn’t really see it as artists, we saw it as something like natural history,” Hilla Becher noted in 2012. “So we also used the methods of natural history books, like comparing things, having the same species in different versions.” In the twilight of the industrial age, this loving census of steel and cement structures charts the outlines of a still life of modernity.

In 2006, Sarah Charlesworth produced her Concrete Color series—still life inspired photographs of precisely ordered dishes of hand-mixed paint. Set against white or gray backgrounds and completed with lacquered frames, the images visualize classical theories of color as well as contemporary tools in digital photography. “I’m interested in the idea of using art materials, the medium, as the subject and really examining the formal elements of art-making as content,” the artist noted. In Munsell Tree and Ostwald Triangle, Charlesworth reproduces early twentieth-century color systems, respectively theorized by the American inventor Albert H. Munsell and the German chemist Wilhelm Ostwald. In RGB Cube, she punctuates the eight corners of a Necker cube with various pigments—a nod to Gestalt psychology and the study of spatial interpretation in visual representation. Within other works, such as CYM Gray and Color Patch, Charlesworth embeds a Kodak Gray Scale or Color Control Patch that is mirrored in the configuration of the potted paints. Reflecting and questioning commercial tools and standards, the works reveal the constructed nature of photography—a conceptual investigation that Charlesworth pursued throughout her career.

Sarah Charlesworth, Dress Macleod (Lewis), 1982-1983, black and white print, mounted with color adhesives and lacquered frame, 33 1/4 x 25 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (81.9 x 65.4 x 3.8 cm)

Sherrie Levine’s Salubra 3 reference color charts produced by renowned architect Le Corbusier for the Swiss wallpaper company Salubra in 1931. Published as an interactive design guide, Le Corbusier’s collection included twelve ‘Clavier de couleurs,’ or ‘Color Keyboards’—each consisting of a different combination of the forty-three ideal tones in his suite. The architect believed that specific shades produced specific effects and could thereby alter a person’s perception of space. Identifying functions that could be applied to different shades—including psychological effects, weight, depth, perception, and unity—he created the color palettes, or keyboards, to reflect each of these. The fourteen monochrome panels of Salubra 3 represent Le Corbusier’s third color keyboard. Levine’s postmodern revisiting of Le Corbusier, a kind of über-realistic still life, proposes a heightened, sensuous experience of the architect’s chromatic range, while also laying bare for reappraisal the utopian ideals at the core of High Modernism and the International Style.


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