Quite a few artists I know made a pilgrimage to Germany to see the 2018-19 retrospective by the sculptor Cady Noland at the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt. That says two things: First, their work, a mix of post-punk minimalism, installation art, and institutional criticism, is critical to some artists; the other is that the show did not travel to the United States, even though Noland’s work is a dire criticism of American history and politics.
Now it can be seen in “The Clip-On Method” in Buchholz, a compact solo exhibition that is being published at the same time as the publication of a two-volume monograph of the same name by Noland and the art historian Rhea Anastas.
Six new sculptures are here, all “Untitled” (2021) and using well-known Noland languages. There are two galvanized steel chain link fences and four plastic barricades. A freshly laid gray carpet covers the wooden floor and has the chemical smell of glue that adds to the unsettling feeling of the gallery as a detention cell or place of imprisonment. Three works from the early 1990s are also included: enlarged black and white images from a police patrol handbook annotated with anonymous handwritten text.
Recognition…Cady Noland and Galerie Buchholz New York
The “Clip-On Method” books on display take up the straightforward design of the police handbook and contain Noland’s writings and photographs of her work as well as sociological essays on sex, death, celebrity, race and psychopathology (a special Noland topic) selected by the artist . The title is not explained, but many of Noland’s sculptures include objects – weapons, handcuffs, American flags – dangling from steel rails, as in the enlarged photo of a man with two pairs of plastic rings made from Budweiser six-packs hanging from his belt by Noland’s work “Clip-On Man” from 1989. (The cover of one of the two volumes of “The Clip-On Method” features a picture of William Randolph Hearst with accompanying text describing how he ushered in an era of yellow journalism and sensation. )
Noland was forward-looking in the 90s, translating the cool 60s minimalism into dark, politicized criticism of power and violence and showing how these phenomena are shrouded in myths that advocate patriotism, social mobility and achievement society. To rethink your work after the presidency of Donald Trump and the ongoing epidemic of police violence and mass incarceration and to think about it together with other artists like Cameron Rowland, Mona Hatoum or David Hammons is a shocking confirmation of how important and necessary your work is – here too rarely seen – is.
Until July 21st Eva Presenhuber, 39 Great Jones Street, Manhattan; 212-931-0711, presenhuber.com
Like Emily Dickinson with her narrow meter, like Miles Davis with his muffled trumpet, the experienced painter John Dilg from Iowa knows the power of whispering; his small landscapes, painted in a limited palette of thinly applied cool colors, have an intimate beauty that can only emerge from restraint. Fourteen barren, imagined views of land and water, each newly painted, each barely larger than a notepad, each in murmuring tones of sky blue and camel and artichoke green, are now in the Presenhuber exhibition “Flight Path. “Together they are as intimate and captivating as a private chamber music concert.
Dilg, born in 1945 and teaches at the University of Iowa, loves to bring the world outdoors into rough symmetry, to cut his canvases in half with a river flowing from top to bottom, or to center a ravine between two escarpments. But these Midwestern landscapes barely match the Manifest Destiny ideal. Water and sky usually appear in the same washed-out blue or green, and the economical application of oil reveals the rough weave of the cotton canvases, which gives the landscapes a bumpy materiality, almost like a fresco.
With their repeated, stylized evergreen trees or ice floes, these landscapes are more general signs than specific locations; the restriction to a few small standard screen sizes also forces us to regard these views as explicitly constructed. His narrow color spectrum is based on the color research of Giorgio Morandi, Agnes Martin and Luc Tuymans, whereby Dilgs celadon green initially reminded me of classic Korean ceramics: beautiful because they are fragile, priceless because they can break.
People are rare in Dilg’s landscapes, but their influence is not; In “Improvements”, large tree stumps sprinkle the bank of a river like pockmarks. And for New Yorkers who’ve spent the last week or so crouching around overexcited air conditioners and scrolling past fireballs erupting in the Gulf of Mexico, Dilg’s bleached landscapes can have a sense of disappearing or retreating – as if these little, faded canvases bid farewell to what we once called the natural world. A painting here, of a river valley, the green of which has been swallowed into white, has a title that could apply to all: “Approaching Future”.