1. Rachel Whiteread: Looking is open at Luhring Augustine until December 20, 2015.
Rachel Whiteread is one of the preeminent artists of her generation. She is best known for casting the spaces inside and around objects, be they bathtubs and mattresses, architectural elements such as doors, floors and windows, or entire buildings. Whiteread uses materials such as resin, rubber, concrete and plaster to preserve each surface detail, and the resulting sculptures are remarkably faithful to their source molds, but also uncannily foreign in that they represent an inverse of the original object and require a constant reorientation of perception. Absence is made present, interior becomes exterior, and the invisible is rendered visible. In foregrounding that which is unseen, Whiteread often focuses on the domestic and prosaic. Detached III is a concrete and steel sculpture cast from a prefabricated, wooden garden shed. It recalls previous monolithic works such as Ghost (1990) and House (1993) to the more recent The Gran Boathouse (2010), a cast of a local boathouse that sits on the water’s edge in Røykenviken, Norway. The latter represents the first in a series of “shy sculpture” – works cast from unassuming structures and situated in remote locations. Detached III continues in this vein with its humble origins, its modest proportions, and its quiet dignity. The title alludes to a shed’s status as a building that is separate, and more broadly, to an artist’s position as one who deliberately secludes herself from the world in order to reflect upon it.
2. Joseph Kosuth: Agnosia, an Illuminated Ontology is open at Sean Kelly Gallery until December 7, 2015.
Featuring over forty works dating from 1965 to the present, the installation simultaneously chronicles Joseph Kosuth’s fifty-year investigation into the role of language and meaning in art, and his consistent use of neon. The exhibition includes historic early works, featuring one of the most important neons Kosuth ever made, ‘Five Fives (to Donald Judd)’ [blue], (1965), alongside more recent works such as his ‘Camus Illuminated’ series (2013). Installed in a response to the gallery’s specific architectural space, ‘Agnosia, an Illuminated Ontology’ will employ areas never before activated for exhibition purposes, creating an all-encompassing and profound experience for the viewer. A radical pioneer of conceptual and installation art, Kosuth initiated appropriation strategies, language-based works and the use of neon as a medium – considering it a form of ‘public writing’ without fine art associations – in the 1960s. Kosuth’s ongoing investigations into language and perception, and the appropriated use of literature, philosophy and psychology have characteristically taken the form of works in series, a format that opens up space for play and reflexivity in multiple directions. Key examples from the artist’s most iconic neon series will be on view, including elements from Kosuth’s renowned ‘Freud’ series (1981-1989), in which the artist puts the psychoanalyst’s texts regarding unconscious function-ing meaningfully into play using wall pieces and installations, and from his acclaimed ‘Wittgenstein’ series (1989-1993), which illustrate the fervent influence of the philosopher on Kosuth’s foundation of thinking, and belief that art should ask questions about itself, as a language engaged in the production of meaning.
3. Keith Sonnier: Portals is open at Maccarone Gallery until December 19, 2015.
Keith Sonnier’s by-now iconic work is emblematic of a generation of artists who sought to liberate the artistic encounter from the formal constraints of Modernism to produce a sensory and emotional experience that also extended beyond the Spartan affect of Minimalism. The omnibus category of “post-Minimalism,” however, does not adequately describe both the unique wit and visceral impact that his work evinces. In his latest series, Sonnier has taken the orphic allegory of the portal and explored its many different historical manifestations. Whether the portal serves as an entrance or an exit, the plane itself is a threshold — a doorway that contains both nascency and termination. Taking this metaphor to its logical end, the works in PORTALS can be thought of as doorways to various different periods in human design — whether it be the neoclassical extension of a line into space or Romanesque arcading, each work is a luminous referent to specific architectural pathways.
4. Ryan McGinley: Winter is open at Team Gallery until December 20, 2015.
Over the years, Ryan McGinley’s camera has become more a tool for invention than documentation, conjoining the corporeal, narrative aspects of photography and cinema with their more orphic qualities. His images hover deliriously between reality and utopian fiction, characterized as much by apparent authenticity as obvious impossibility. This shift is crystalized in his most recent exhibitions: Winter at 83 Grand Street in New York, and Fall at 306 Windward Avenue in Los Angeles. To create this work, the artist and his team photographed nude figures in upstate New York during the eponymous seasons. While the resultant images have precedent in the oeuvre — both thematically and aesthetically building upon McGinley’s expansive and culturally pervasive Road Trip pictures — they also represent a multifariously momentous change within his practice. Past works have been created across the country during summer; by concentrating on a single region during specific times of the year, McGinley transposes the axis on which his works operate: rather than exploring the American landscape through the lens of geographical variation, these images scrutinize and poeticize its temporal metamorphosis. On view in New York are McGinley’s groundbreaking Winter photographs, which portray his nude figures in frozen landscapes. There is virtually no photographic or cinematic precedent for these works: to capture naked bodies in such extreme conditions took profound measures of precaution, audacity and sacrifice on the part of all involved. The artist and his team invented and improvised manifold contrivances, employing the likes of ice-fishing tents, propane tanks and rock-climbing gear, in order to enable the production of these images.