Art Gallery Shows to See Right Now

More than a few artists I know made a pilgrimage to Germany to see the 2018-19 retrospective of the sculptor Cady Noland at the Museum o...


More than a few artists I know made a pilgrimage to Germany to see the 2018-19 retrospective of the sculptor Cady Noland at the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt. This says two things: one is that her work, an amalgam of post-punk minimalism, installation art and institutional critique, is crucial for some artists; the other is that the show did not travel to the United States, despite Noland’s work being an excoriating critique of American history and politics.

Now you can see it in “The Clip-On Method” at Buchholz, a compact solo show that coincides with the release of a two-volume monograph of the same name edited by Noland and the art historian Rhea Anastas.

Six new sculptures are here, all “Untitled” (2021) and employing well-known Noland vernaculars. There are two galvanized steel chain-link fences and four plastic barricades. A freshly installed gray carpet covers the wood floor and has the chemical reek of glue, which adds to the unsettling sense of the gallery as a holding cell or place of confinement. Three works from the early 1990s are also included: enlarged black-and-white images taken from a police-patrol manual, annotated with anonymous handwritten text.

Credit…Cady Noland and Galerie Buchholz New York

The “Clip-On Method” books themselves, which are on display, echo the no-nonsense design of the police manual and include Noland’s writings and photographs of her work, as well as sociological essays selected by the artist and addressing sex, death, celebrity, race and psychopathology (a particular Noland subject). The title is not explained, but many of Noland’s sculptures include objects — guns, handcuffs, American flags — dangling from steel rails, as in the enlarged photograph of a man with two sets of plastic rings from Budweiser six-packs hanging from his belt in Noland’s work “Clip-On Man” from 1989. (The cover of one of the two volumes of “The Clip-On Method” features an image of William Randolph Hearst, with an accompanying text that describes how he ushered in an era of yellow journalism and sensationalism.)

Noland was prescient in the ’90s, translating cool ’60s minimalism into dark, politicized critiques of power and violence, and showing how these phenomena are shrouded in myths championing patriotism, social mobility and meritocracy. Revisiting her work after the Donald Trump presidency and the ongoing epidemic of police violence and mass incarceration, and thinking about it alongside that of other artists like Cameron Rowland, Mona Hatoum or David Hammons, provides a chilling reinforcement of just how important and necessary her work — too rarely seen here — is.

MARTHA SCHWENDENER


Through July 21. Eva Presenhuber, 39 Great Jones Street, Manhattan; 212-931-0711, presenhuber.com

Like Emily Dickinson with her straitened meter, like Miles Davis with his muffled trumpet, the veteran Iowa-based painter John Dilg knows the power of a whisper; his small landscapes, done in a restricted palette of thinly applied cool colors, have an intimate beauty that can only be born from restraint. Fourteen sparse, imagined views of land and water, each recently painted, each hardly bigger than a legal pad, each in murmuring tonalities of sky blue and camel and artichoke green, are now on view at Presenhuber, in a show called “Flight Path.” Together they’re as intimate and engrossing as a private chamber-music concert.

Dilg, who was born in 1945 and teaches at the University of Iowa, likes to discipline the world outdoors into rough symmetry, bisecting his canvases with a top-to-bottom river, or centering a gorge between two escarpments. But these Midwestern landscapes hardly conform to the Manifest Destiny ideal. The water and sky usually appear in the same washed-out blue or green, and the sparing application of oil reveals the rough weave of the cotton canvases, which gives the landscapes a bumpy materiality almost like a fresco.

With their repeated, stylized evergreen trees or ice floes, these landscapes are more like general signs than specific sites; the limitation of a few small, standard canvas sizes also compels us to see these views as explicitly constructed. His narrow range of tonalities builds on the color research of Giorgio Morandi, Agnes Martin and Luc Tuymans, though initially Dilg’s celadon greens had put me in mind of classical Korean ceramics: beautiful for being fragile, priceless because they may shatter.

Humans are rare in Dilg’s landscapes, though their impact is not; in “Improvements,” large tree stumps speckle the bank of a river like pockmarks. And for New Yorkers who have spent the last week or so huddled around overtaxed air-conditioners and scrolling past fireballs erupting on the Gulf of Mexico, Dilg’s bleached landscapes may have a sense of disappearance, or withdrawal — as if these small, faded canvases were valedictions to what we once called the natural world. One painting here, of a river valley whose greenery has been swallowed up in white, has a title that could apply to all of them: “Approaching Future.”

JASON FARAGO

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