By the Summer of 2020, the quarantine over New York City became the dominant theme of everyday life. The rapid spread of disease was accompanied by protests calling for social justice as well as an end to misrepresentations of monumentality. The urban fabric of New York City and its ephemeral, fleeting nature was under a re-examination that remains in process. During this time five books in limited edition were published, creating not only a basis for new starting points, but also renewing the tangible role of constructive critique.

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Ethan Shoshan, SIGNS (2020). Disiterate, First Edition of 150.

The overwhelming emptiness that enveloped the streets of New York City appear in a series of new drawings by Ethan Shoshan. Collated into a tome titled Signs, Shoshan began portraying the overnight changes that began in March with the statewide lockdown, followed by protests and the destruction of private and public property. Signs presents the before-and-after effects, showing abandoned storefronts that are offset by silhouettes of grease and grime. The refinement of architectural details — damaged or not — reveals a city that was instantly eroded from desertion and disease. …


When Experience Was Art

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Jill Conner. Empire State Building, December 10, 2019.

Just south of Paris on October 19th, 1960 Yves Klein and his wife visited the suburb of Fontenay-aux-Roses. It was a slightly overcast day and the Kleins were meeting with friends at 5 rue Gentil-Bernard in order to coordinate the artist’s most stunning yet perplexing act of art to date. Pictures were taken by the artist’s two most-admired photographers, John Kender and Harry Shunk. Soon after, Kender and Shunk provided Klein with a combination of their photographs that took the form of one stunning print measuring about 10” x 7”.


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Exhibition view of “Shape/Shifters” by Annette Cords, curated by Jill Conner at Project:ARTspace, January — February 2020. Image courtesy of the author.

I was standing at my kitchen sink on Saturday morning when a bright red color caught the corner of my eye. It was a sticker on the bottle of dish soap that read, “ATTACKS” in capital letters. I looked at it again because the term seemed like quite an affront, given the current context that has caused us to shelter-in-place.

“ATTACKS” remained on my mind throughout the day, even while traveling to an in-person studio visit — the first in many months — to see new tapestries by Annette Cords. Cords’ studio is in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and her textiles bear patterns that grow out of graffiti tags seen along the streets of New York. Like “ATTACKS,” street writing has always caught the public’s attention. …


a cinematic portrait of Hilma af Klint

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A scene from Beyond the Visible, a film by Halina Dyrschka

Beyond the Visible: Hilma af Klint, directed by Halina Dyrschka, is a thorough, vivid portrait of a reclusive artist whose legacy has not been well represented due to the events of early 20th-century Western history. Born in 1862, the artist grew up at a time when secularism was still new to Europe. Throughout her life, af Klint spent very limited amounts of time in artistically vibrant centers such as London and Paris. Instead, the beautiful rural landscape of Sweden took up the majority of her time.

While this film takes viewers to these stunning hinterlands, a sharp argument against Wassily Kandinsky and the Museum of Modern Art emerges, which is unusual given that the Guggenheim Museum carries an equal weight of influence upon the canon of Modernism, and Modernism itself has never been restricted to New York City. Stylistically Hilma af Klint was particularly resistant to the notion of imperfection at a time when the ugly and the unpoetic (per Walter Scheidig) had emerged in European art schools as a new manner to pursue. Regardless, Beyond the Visible is an awe-inspiring account of an early 20th-century romantic who never managed to get away. …


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Gretchen Scherer. “Awaiting the Return”. 2019. Oil on canvas. 18" x 24". Image courtesy of Monya Rowe Gallery.

While galleries, museums and art fairs have retreated into the depth of the virtual world, the artist’s studio is becoming a far more significant platform than before. As we find ourselves confined to home, we are also much closer to genuine reasoning — something that is a rare form to find during a fast-paced daily life.

A few weeks after New York State issued an order for shelter-in-place along with the closure of non-essential businesses, Monya Rowe Gallery launched a solo exhibition of 8 new paintings by Gretchen Scherer titled Love Letters that show empty museum interiors with walls covered in art. Scherer’s paintings bring to mind Frédéric Bazille’s painting of his own studio (made in 1870 and currently on view at the Musée d’Orsay) that shows six suited men socializing within an ornate blue-walled interior that is covered with what-was-then-known-as contemporary art. …


a film review

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Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (2019) is an overdue act of recognition that revives the biography of a woman who came of age in the late 19th-century Belle Époque. In 1895 the Lumière brothers unveiled the cinematograph to the public in Paris, France. Their new, technological discovery projected the moving photographic image when operated inside a dark theater. This historic event changed culture forever.

At this time Alice Guy-Blaché procured a job at the film studios of Gaumont and began making films that moved beyond documentation and, instead, conveyed whimsical narratives. …


An Interview with Pia Sawhney

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Pia Sawhney. Candy Burger. 2019.

At a time when reality seems to be too much to take in, Pia Sawhney takes the concrete world for a spin. As an artist who has succinctly unveiled American desire as a series of fantasies, Sawhney suggests that we have failed to take our dreams seriously enough. If that still does not sound too paradoxical, her paintings are created digitally and by hand. Like a mirrored lightroom, her work can either be infinitely reproducible or made as one-of-a-kind — giving art collectors and viewers anything they would want. Figuratively speaking. …


Where the Studio is the Standard

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Exterior facade of the Museum of Modern Art, October 2019. Photo: Jill Conner

When the Museum of Modern Art re-opened in October 2019, it seemed to have turned Modernism on its head while dedicating even more of its mission to the Contemporary era. With a new building, more exhibition space and more integrated programming, this couldn’t be more true. Now, the museum’s permanent collection unfolds into a flow of art historical narrative that is global in context and vast in scale. The once-divisive ‘isms’ no longer stand out so sharply and appear very much like punctuation marks that subtly guide viewers from room to room.

However, aside from presenting a completely new organizational structure, the significance of the new MoMA is grounded within a small group of interactive spaces: a street-level gallery that is curated by The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Creative Lab located on the 2nd floor, The Studio located on the 4th floor and Artist’s Choice on the 5th Floor. …


A Retrospective
March 1 — July 11, 2020

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Donald Judd. Untitled. 1969. Clear anodized aluminum and blue Plexiglas; four units, each 48 × 60 × 60″ (121.9 × 152.4 × 152.4 cm), with 12″ (30.5 cm) intervals. Overall: 48 × 276 × 60″ (121.9 × 701 × 152.4 cm). Saint Louis Art Museum. Funds given by the Shoenberg Foundation, Inc. © 2020 Judd Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

The Museum of Modern Art’s vast retrospective titled Judd unveils the entire scope of Donald Judd’s art career that focused on color and modularity from the early 1960s to the early 1990s. Judd opens with a series of sculptural negotiations, painted in cadmium red light, that investigate the limits and interrelations of the circle, cylinder, square and rectangle. …


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Ejay Weiss. View from Richmond, England, 1967. Pastel on paper. 12” × 16”. Courtesy of The Estate of Ejay Weiss.

Ejay Weiss became an overnight success in 1967 with his first solo exhibition, “New Landscapes,” at the Oeste Gallery. Kim Levin wrote a review for the Summer issue of ARTnews and described these early compositions as, “ovoid cave-like areas that contain embryonic landscape or cityscape; the surrounding canvas fades away in a pale haze. The effect is less contrived when he makes a strip of these landscape caves, creating a reference to the horizon.” The colors that resonated throughout “New Landscapes,” reflected a unique abstract style that emerged from Bauhaus color theory.

Although Weiss had studied architecture and painting with Sibyl Moholy-Nagy at Pratt Institute from 1960 to 1963, the late 1960s were part of a turbulent era. Protests swept the world in 1968 and, as a result, a very constructive aesthetic that had explored the foundations of democracy, through collaboration and color, were replaced with wave after wave of identity politics. Ejay Weiss’s paintings from 1968 became large and dark. Details continued to appear as small colorful squares, but the visual space was overwhelmed with very dark hues, suggesting an ominous, unknown abyss. …

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