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Ken Johnson of the New York Times yesterday criticized the gallery Triple Candie for its show of Cady Noland re-creations. His review appears to contain significant factual errors, based on what I learned from a call to the gallery. For example, was Cady Noland contacted about the show before they did it? The gallery says no. Johnson says she was, and that she "rebuffed" the gallery. Where did he get this information? Also, he says Triple Candie was similarly rebuffed by David Hammons about doing a show of his work before they went ahead and did it, also apparently not true. These facts are important because Johnson's review reads like a smear job on the gallerists, suggesting they do shows motivated by personal spite. Here's what the Times published:
"Cady Noland Approximately'": Sculptures & Editions, 1984 to 1999
461 West 126th Street, Harlem
Through May 21
When the artist David Hammons recently rejected an invitation to do a show at the nonprofit exhibition space Triple Candie, the gallery's directors, Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett, did one anyway. They mounted an unauthorized retrospective in the form of photocopies of Mr. Hammons's works taken from books, catalogs and magazines.
Now, similarly rebuffed by Cady Noland, the influential sculptor known for refusing to cooperate with commercial galleries, Ms. Bancroft and Mr. Nesbett have simulated a Cady Noland exhibition. They invited four artists — Taylor Davis, Rudy Shepherd and two who asked not to be named — to copy 11 of Ms. Noland's darkly acerbic Neo Pop constructions, assemblages and installations from the 1980's and 90's, using reproductions in books and magazines as guides. The works on view include an installation of Budweiser beer cases, steel scaffolding, auto parts and American flag bandannas; a cut-out and perforated figure of Lee Harvey Oswald being shot; and a wooden, silver-painted Minimalist sculpture of stocks, the old instrument of public punishment.
The show might be seen as a chance to think about an oeuvre that, while mostly inaccessible, remains pertinent to what young artists like Banks Violette, Josephine Meckseper and Kelley Walker are doing these days. Unfortunately, it is easier to see it as an attention-seeking stunt. No one who values Ms. Noland's work is going to care about seeing inexact substitutes, and no serious critical judgments about her art should be based on such ersatz objects.
The show might raise interesting questions about art and commerce, but Ms. Bancroft and Mr. Nesbett should make it clear whether they are running a gallery or doing their own conceptual art. Otherwise their project comes off as confused, confusing and duplicitous. KEN JOHNSON
An earlier post I did on Triple Candie's Noland show (more specifically, its intentions announced in the press release) is here. Johnson's review is scolding, judgmental, and apparently inaccurate. His theory that the gallery is motivated primarily by backbiting and "attention-getting" lets him off the hook from actually doing much thinking about the show. Possibly he has a bee in his bonnet about artists appropriating other artists' work. As noted here a year ago, when he reviewed Elaine Sturtevant's Duchamp re-creations at Perry Rubenstein he somewhat dismissively remarked, "They love her in Europe."
Update: This post was revised from its original form. I'm looking at the show this afternoon and hope to post more thoughts later.