Top 5 Monday, Sept 16–Sunday, Sept 22
For the first-ever facade commission at the Met, Mutu fills the niches flanking the museum’s entrance with four monumental bronzes that put an Afro-futuristic spin on a classical architectural feature known as a caryatid, a column or pillar that takes the form of an allegorical female figure.
The artist behind The Clock asks the question, “War, what is it good for?” in a new video compilation of Hollywood battle scenes superimposed on each other in a concentric array of rectangles. The clips blare their respective soundtracks, which blend into a cacophonous roar. In another take on humanity’s infinite capacity for violence, an adjoining gallery features a group of large-scale woodcuts depicting tight close-ups of screaming faces borrowed from Japanese Manga and Western comic books.
A key figure in Germany’s Cologne art scene of the 1980s, Oehlen was a student of Sigmar Polke, and one of the first painters to allude to digital technology in his work. In 1990, he created his “Fn” (for footnote) series, a group of compositions distinguished by chaotic skeins of Expressionistic marks and figurative fragments. A reflection on the “failures of painting,” as Oehlen put it, “FN” wrung good taste from bad, marking a seminal development in his career.
Mockrin brings Old Master tradition up to date with disjunctive canvases (as in a group of diptych panels that seemingly meld together, though, in fact, they depict parts of disparate scenes) rendered in the classical style of late-17th century “Poussinist” painting. Most of the work is populated by female figures wearing Greco-Roman robes, with almost all of them holding daggers to their chests. It’s unclear whether they’re about to commit suicide or just pretending to—a metaphor, perhaps, for the way women can internalize the violence perpetrated against them.
As a rule, air dancers—those tall, inflatable noodle figures animated by a fan at the base—are usually found in the parking lots of tire stores and other roadside retailers out to get your attention. But for a while now, Paul Chan has been bringing his versions of these goofy, nylon-fabric objects into the gallery. Sometimes, they resemble puffer jackets come to life; other times, they look like Stay Puft Marshmallow Men who’ve joined the KKK. Here, Chan uses them to channel a subject familiar from the work Cézanne and Matisse: the bather, that arcadian incarnation of the human form in nature. As presented here, Chan’s bathers take on a double-edge meaning, as they billow and collapse like figures buffeted by the surreal tumult of Trump’s America.