Kate Clark makes stand-alone sculptures that look like they belong in a fairy-tale.
There aren’t many gallery openings in December, which makes Nathalie Djurberg’s opening at Zach Feuer Gallery on December 10th stand out all the more. The young, Berlin-based, Swedish artist’s stop motion animations star cartoonish characters crafted from plasticine, but their child-like innocence stops there. Darker than Grimm fairy tales, Djurberg’s films don’t necessarily have a redemptive quality as they skewer humanity’s baser instincts, but as stark expose, they’re unbeatable. If anything, Djurberg’s first New York solo show was too crowded with these dubious morality plays. Her second effort – a new film and ceramic sculptural installation – promises to deliver a more concise message.
Several museum shows are timed to close at the end of the holiday season; don’t let your chance to see Elizabeth Peyton’s and Mary Heilmann’s solo shows at the New Museum slip away. To much publicity, Peyton added a portrait of Michele Obama to her exhibition after November 4th, but the artist’s best work comes when she indulges her obsession with wan and pretty men. Plenty of female artists have depicted men in feminizing ways to in order to critique conventional portrayals of women, but Peyton doesn’t demean her subjects, instead giving them their own aura of exquisiteness. Downstairs, forty years of painting, ceramics and furniture by Mary Heilmann refreshingly demonstrate this much admired artist’s ability to conjure a range of moods - – electrifying, humorous, or serene – through her abstract canvases. Highlights include ‘Lovejoy, Jr.,’ a day-glo grid inspired by the stained glass windows in the church on The Simpsons and a row of blue and white paintings in the lobby gallery, which riff on the meeting of land and sea.
Nevermind the global financial turmoil (finally starting to be reflected in the art market), a bevy of new Chelsea gallery shows are making November and December good months for gallery goers. At 303 Gallery, Anne Chu – who New York Times critic Roberta Smith called “one of the best figurative sculptors around” – has toned down the aggressive style that once led her to make Tang Dynasty style ladies with chainsaw and wood, but the results of her more conceptual approach are still a must-see.
Meanwhile, splash and burn painter Barnaby Furnas opens his fourth solo show at Marianne Boesky Gallery with distressed canvases loaded with poured and splattered paint. His long-running portrait series of Civil War abolitionist John Brown is starting to wear thin and the outraged political caricatures from his last show are unfortunately no where to be seen. But abstracted images of spot lit rock concerts and ‘black flood’ paintings are provocatively discordant mixtures of pleasure and disaster.
On the same block, don’t miss Cindy Sherman’s gargantuan new photos of herself in the guise of various aging society matrons at Metro Pictures. Glitzed up and surrounded by markers of status, these ladies will no doubt look mighty familiar to many of the art community’s power lunching gallery hoppers.
Olaf Breuning turns serious issues into a laughing matter.