Three sets of photorealist drawings with a Conceptual Art spin make up English artist Richard Forster’s first solo show in New York. In Incoming sea’s edge on fourteen consecutive occasions at random time intervals Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Jan 5, 2010; 11:30am–11:37am, we see a beach from above, the leaden dark of both water and sand relieved by the impressively rendered white foam of the breaking surf. The drawings meticulously reproduce photographs taken near the artist’s hometown over the course of seven minutes one morning, giving them a diaristic charge, as if Forster had crossed On Kawara with Vija Celmins.
Visit to Bauhaus archive January 6, 2010; film of construction replicates soft-focus stills of manly labor—workmen pushing loaded carts and cranes hoisting girders—from a 1920s documentary about the construction of a housing project designed by Walter Gropius. Two incongruous images in the middle of the series—a woman in a kitchen and a tabletop still life with a tea set—produce an ostensible critique of the gendered division of labor within the tragically failed utopian project of the Bauhaus, yet the sequence was determined by chance, using the incoming waves of an absent series of seascapes as a guide.
A third group of drawings, American Pastoral, pairs Pictorialist photographs of naked women with East German wallpapers featuring geometric patterns derived from Russian Constructivism. These vintage items seem to suggest early-20th-century aspirations—liberated lady or proletarian paradise—that went unfulfilled, and Forster’s exacting copies engender a compellingly idiosyncratic meditation upon both.—Joseph R. Wolin