Matt Freedman's deviled tricks and Matthew Barney's drawing feats factor into these highlighted shows for the coming weeks. From our 5/22 issue.
MATT FREEDMAN: THE DEVIL TRICKED ME
Studio 10, 56 Bogart St., through June 16th
A variably mediated portrait of misfortune that is both intimate and broadly cultural, this mysterious and mesmerizing exhibition is the product of a grave sickness, a consequently debilitating treatment, a subsequently suggested form of memoir-like narrative, and an idiomatico-folkloric amplification of all of the same. What you'll find as you navigate the show's book-bound graphic account and sculptural installations is not just an intimation that bad luck is everywhere to be found, not merely that we have many curious ways to perhaps presage or evade it, but also a brilliant survey of how it grips us with its unexpectedness, seizes our minds and bodies, forces our language to adapt and—most notably, in this context—metastasizes. A most iniquitous aspect of bad luck, that is, is that its harm and terror can build upon themselves. What Freedman transforms all of that into here, however, is a frightening and uplifting display of mixed fortunes and formal beauty.
PAUL KLEE: EARLY AND LATE YEARS
Moeller Fine Art, 35 East 64th St., through June 14th
Featuring pieces spanning nearly four decades of Klee's artistic output, this exhibition focuses on the first and third decades, give or take, rather particularly—the 19-teens, that is, and the 1930s. What one finds, then, are early works perhaps slightly less than trademark Klee-like, as they evidence cubist tendencies and other circumstantial stylistic influences to varying degrees, alongside fully mature works bearing the artist's eventually unmistakeable stamp. Indeed, the latest pieces in the show eschew outside influences quite entirely, as Klee's creative impetus becomes both internal and absolutely personal—a mortal sickness breaking down, from within, his physical being, granting the artist greater reason to convey, in his latter-life marks, the individual and the spiritual at once.
SUBLIMING VESSEL: THE DRAWINGS OF MATTHEW BARNEY
The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Ave., through September 2nd
Ruminating on Barney's rather materially sprawling, deeply mythopoetic oeuvre might lead one to think of writhings, torques, emissions, musculatures, remnants, structures, struggles, feats—and a whole lot of then-somes, not to mention prodigious amounts of petroleum jelly. And maybe animal hides. At any rate, his work brings to mind certain menacings and massivities, spatial or otherwise, that make the Morgan Library & Museum seem an unlikely setting for his mixed media creations. For precisely this reason, this exhibition of drawings and assemblage-like storyboards—as well as a new DRAWING RESTRAINT performance and its visual yields—is all the more epically intriguing.
ANSELM KIEFER: MORGENTHAU PLAN
Gagosian, 522 West 21st St., through June 8th
There was a time when dramatic demilitarization was only one of several proposed consequences Germany should suffer for its aggressions in World War II. Another proposal—put forth by Henry Morgenthau Jr. for the Roosevelt administration, and thus known as the Morgenthau Plan—aimed to tamper Germany's potential as a military threat via dramatic de-industrialization instead. Considered seriously though ultimately scrapped, this proposal might have rendered Germany an agricultural state, if not a failed one, rather than the heavily industrialized economic force it has become. German artist Anselm Kiefer continues to mine the visual possibilities of the alternate history that such a 'solution' might've begotten by crafting oppositional binaries—formal, material, sociopolitical—to summon forth, in his words, the "complexity of things," in which darknesses loom as flowers dare to bloom.
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