When the Fur Flies

Like an ostentatiously spare boutique, L&M's front gallery is a desert of dark parquet floors and understated molding leading to a large showroom where five fur coats are on display; a lonely sixth dominates an elegant upstairs chamber. But something is desperately wrong: The backs of these luxurious raiment have been splattered with paint, save for the solitary chinchilla, which has been burned (imbuing the second floor with a faint, charnel-house stench). In an age when man-made fabrics keep Everest climbers toasty, fur coats rank with penthouses, and Maseratis as talismans of conspicuous wealth. Only "fine" art, devoid of the covering excuse of providing warmth, shelter, or transport, is a more outré certification of one's net worth. But while Matisse offered his sumptuous canvases as easy chairs for the tired "brain-worker," Hammons gives today's information class no comfort—his "paintings" (viscerally beautiful blobs of yellow on black mink, pink splatters on gray wolf, charred brown clots against black and white chinchilla) are draped over threadbare, stained, and battered dress dummies. As usual, Hammons is hammering away at the frontiers of perception, thrilling the eyes but challenging the brain and gut as well. You'll leave the gallery as flummoxed as a Fifth Avenue matron whose sable has just been vandalized by PETA guerrillas.


Robert McCurdy
A vaguely organic figure rests on a pitch-black ground; on other walls, a ghostly galleon and a small passenger plane materialize from enveloping gloom. McCurdy sets found toys against black backgrounds and uses long exposure times and monochrome film to gather in their dim contours, capturing the sensation of one's eyes slowly discerning shapes within darkness. The photograph of the strange figure that opens the show is an exception, filling its entire frame. The mysterious organic shape turns out to be an astronaut doll, and this indistinct figure personalizes the sense of vulnerability found in the more distant vistas of lost ships and planes. Venetia Kapernekas, 526 W 26th, 212-462-4150. Through February 10.

Untitled (astronaut)
photo: Robert McCurdy/courtesy Venetia Kapernekas Gallery
Untitled (astronaut)


Mario Schifano
These paintings (1960–66) ransack any number of post-war movements: Rusty orange or gray monochromes are reminiscent of Schifano's countryman Lucio Fontana's copper and aluminum expanses; appropriated corporate logos speak of Ed Ruscha; quick and dirty graphite images recall the pop-realism of Larry Rivers. Yet this Italian artist displays a brute elegance of his own in the contrast between a sketchy Coca-Cola logo and a thickly painted row of chromatic stripes running down one edge of a large painting, or in the clouds, landscapes, and rectangles cut from colored Plexiglas that add sweeping tints to his large, vivacious drawings on canvas. Sperone Westwater, 415 W 13th, 212-999-7337. Through February 17.


Cameron
Poet, occultist, performer (she stars as the Whore of Babylon in Kenneth Anger's Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome), Cameron (née Marjorie Cameron, 1922–95) was also a skilled artist. Her drawing is at its best when most fanciful: a unicorn fossil delineated in white ink on black paper or a fairy king with hair like ochre flame spread over a background the color of dried blood. Her use of quick, repeated ink lines to define contours in the series Pluto Transiting the Twelfth House resembles dancers drawn with the wavery lines of a seismic graph. Nicole Klagsbrun, 526 W 26th, 212-243-3335. Through February 10.


Daniel Buren
The work inside the gallery—preprinted stripes on off-white fabric, some with scalloped edges where they have been adhered to rectangular canvases—are coolheaded artifacts from the tumultuous mid-'60s, when they were created. The outdoor space next to the gallery, with its one-point perspective courtesy of the rusty, decrepit High Line overhead, is enlivened by Buren's installation of suspended rows of brightly colored Plexiglas squares. Depending on your mood, these swaying swatches of chromatic plastic may be seen as a eulogy for the battered ideals of that earlier time or as a harbinger of their resurgence. Bortolami Dayan, 510 W 25th, 212-727-2050. Through February 15.


Amy Yoes
Yoes's huge red and yellow installation—a cross between a skateboard ramp and a fashion-show catwalk—exudes weird fun. Above it, shelves jut from the walls, ostensibly supporting video projections, one of right-angle lines that appear and disappear as if being endlessly devoured by invisible Pac-men, another of a writhing clay figure. In a smaller room, an exuberant black and white stop-motion animation features wedges and dots that dance across curving platforms while sinuous pipe cleaners entwine and clay lumps shimmy—it's Gumby meets Busby Berkeley on a silvery soundstage that never was. Michael Steinberg, 526 W 26th, 212-924-5770. Through February 10.

 
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