Art in the City 

Small is Beautiful

The Small and the Mighty
Matthew Marks Gallery
Through October 28

If not for its didactic title, you might overlook the very simple theme linking the nine disparate objects in this show. Such straightforward curatorial ambition (or lack thereof) is refreshing. Viewers are left to peruse the diminutive pieces with very little guidance; we’re not being asked to see these works in any particular light beyond the fact that none of them are bigger than a breadbox. Nevertheless, threads emerge. Robert Gober’s trompe-l’oeil model of a battered Benjamin Moore paint can makes obvious reference to Jasper Johns’ paintbrush-filled coffee tin and is located next to the latter artist’s bronze sculpture of a light bulb, switch and wire. Katharina Fritsch’s velvety-black resin Pistol is linked by its striking opposition to the nearby Charles Ray piece, the pure white Handheld Bird curled into a fear-filled fetal position. It’s an all-star cast, with the likes of Ellsworth Kelly and Vija Celmins flexing their small-scale muscles. Turns out neither size nor curatorial genius much matters.

John Miller: Total Transparency
Metro Pictures
Through November 4

“Until recently I still had two of my baby teeth, and I can advise you on your screenplay option,” reads one of the many sentences printed across a photograph of a suburban street in John Miller’s current show. The artist joined internet dating service, not to troll for hot singles but rather “to acquaint [himself] with the protocols of internet dating and to see what this burgeoning trend might mean.” (We all need a good justification for joining the hordes of web-daters.) Fifteen photographs of locations within a ten-mile radius of West Hollywood are superimposed with excerpts collected from Miller’s sociological inquiry. What the show most successfully conveys is the contrast between physical public spaces — in which people are unlikely to talk to strangers about breast size or preferences in bed — and the public realm of the internet, where thousands engage in wildly candid self-exposure. While the show offers a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of the mate-seeking and sex-hungry, the theme gets tiresome quickly. A sculpture in the middle of the gallery presents groupings of bright plastic fruit next to miniature barren landscapes, mimicking the walls’ pairings of licentious language and spare spaces.   

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