...Manhattan market tends to encourage and perhaps
compel artists to continue working in defined territory. Early John Currin
paintings of grotesque women are not all that different from recent John
Currin paintings of grotesque women. He may have developed, but there
have been no radical shifts in substance or style. The same goes for Elizabeth
Peyton, the lauded portraitist, who has been making similar works for
the last decade or so; and I'd also say it is true, too, of Matthew Barney.
The "Cremaster" cycle can be seen as a kind of niche art in
By contrast, in the early 1990s, Roxy Paine, a dropout from Brooklyn's
Pratt Institute, made a ketchup-flinging device at Brand Name Damages
and, at the short-lived but influential Herron Test Site, a column of
soap that, when dripped on from a leaking pipe overhead, left an oily
film of scum on the floor. Within a few years, such devices had morphed
into Paine's acclaimed painting-making and sculpture-producing machines.
He was also creating installations of meticulously painted synthetic fungi
and plants; and more recently he has produced a series of gleaming metal
trees. In the mid-1990s, Ward Shelley was building, among other
things, a series of kinetic sculptures incorporating household items.
Now in his 50s, Shelley has since made sculptures doubling as living environments,
including Mir (2001), a rickety rendition of the Russian space station
made of found materials, presented at Smack Mellon (a nonprofit exhibition
space that also runs a studio program for artists) in the DUMBO (Down
Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighborhood; and he continues to escalate
his risks, as in a recent installation at Pierogi, where he lived for
a month behind the walls, "like a mouse," as he said...
...Ward Shelley was
represented by a colorful vendor's cart from which he and his collaborators
have dispensed Rice Krispies Treats in the streets of Williamsburg (Vendor,
2004). The Plexglas-paneled cart is fitted with, among other things, wooden
toys,kitchen implements, red and yellow neon lights, and several videos
chronicaling its sojourn in the streets. On view elsewhere was Shelley's
Williamsburg Timeline (2002), a lithograph charting the evolution of the
neighborhood's art scene in loving detail....
Even Fred Tomaselli, who is probably the preeminent
painter to have emerged from Brooklyn, has gone through his own changes.
In the late '80s he was making offbeat installations, including one on
the floor in the basement at P.S. 1, in which Styrofoam cups strung on
threads and blown by two fans looked like ocean whitecaps. When he returned
to painting, his works were often highly patterned, incorporating over-the-counter
and prescription pills (for instance, columns of aspirins) neatly sealed
behind layers of highly polished resin. This became a signature style
for several years. Today, his intricate collages are wide-ranging: teeming
landscapes and abstractions, figures composed of representations of packed-together
body parts, nature vignettes suggesting 19th-century folk art. He also
creates conceptual works involving the juxtaposition of systems of information.
Many of the best artists to emerge from Brooklyn display this tendency
toward diversity....Eve Sussman, for example, whose video 89 Seconds at
Alcazar, an in-motion tableau vivant of Veldzquez's Las Meninas, was highly
regarded at this year's Whitney Biennial. Yet Sussman has long been engaged,
as well, with architectural interventions and experimental, decidedly
nontheatrical videos. A sense of more or less permanent discovery is integral
to art-making in Brooklyn and is a big reason for the "vibrancy"
of its "scruffy"and "alternative" scene.