A year's worth of late-career carvings as paintings and reflections of Armory shows past and present bracket this set of art picks from our 3/13 issue.
ALBERTO BURRI: BLACK CELLOTEX
Luxembourg & Dayan, 64 East 77th St., through April 20th
In this exhibition of materially spare and patently interrelated works from one year of seemingly fervent productivity late in Burri's curiously variegated career—the Italian medic cut his earliest teeth as a painter, for example, during WWII, while pent up in a POW camp in Texas after his unit was seized in north Africa—the focus is on a series of unpainted paintings, as it were: painterly compositions of various sorts carved into and out of the rather rugged, fibrous cellotex material that had long served the artist as a substrate for chromatically richer, at least relatively, mixed media abstractions. Burri's expressions are here chilled and distilled, and given his excavational method of formal exploration, consider these works a late-period recutting of teeth after they've grown quite long.
SEAN HEMMERLE: RUST BELT
Front Room Gallery, 147 Roebling St., through March 17th
The socioeconomic woes of factory closings, industrial downsizings and manufactural outsourcings that plagued, or rather almost irremediably ruined the once briskly productive and prosperous stretch of the United States known as the Industrial Center, making of it what would soon be dubbed the Rust Belt, are both historical backdrop and contemporary subject matter in Sean Hemmerle's suite of photographs. Delving into depths of desuetude with an eye for the once-grandiose, the photographer captures the shell of an industrially robust America that was while conveying an air of the industrially troubled landscape that at a significant part of America still is.
MARKO VELK: WHAT IS LEFT
Slag Contemporary, 56 Bogart St., through March 20th
Marko Velk wields his draughtsman's tools and hand with such deftness and skill that his renderings in charcoal sing with gritty elegance and gravitas. Plumbing depths at times violent, at times tinged with ephemeral grace, Velk references hallmarks of art history and human endeavor—on scales ranging from intimate to grandly robust—with sufficient self-contained narrative force and stylistic variance to challenge all conceivable aesthetic reaches of his medium of choice. Whether his renderings depict decapitations or angelic presences in throes of sublimation, Velk's blacks could be no blacker, his whites no whiter, his gradations no more dramatic or delicate. You might well forget, in viewing the results of so many fine and necessary marks, that the process behind them could even begin to make a mess.
NUDE DESCENDING A STAIRCASE
Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, 24 West 57th St., through March 29th
Planned with enough perspicacity and practicality to open on the very day of The Armory's 100th birthday on the 15th of February, 2013, this deep-rostered nod to the controversy, sensation and eventual sublimation of Duchamp's then less-than-unanimously loved painting features a broad range of pieces by a broad range of artists all aiming to achieve the very same thing: to somehow respond to such a watershed work. Peter Saul, Richard Prince and Yoko Ono are in the homage-rendering mix, as are exactly 28 others. Space concerns aside, then, one is forced to wonder: Why not just extend the roster and go for 100? No shortage of artists in town, after all.
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