I should chime in here to mention that Serkan Özkaya’s reconstruction of Duchamp’s Étant donnés as a camera obscura is open til Satuday at 54 Franklin. Convinced that the light of the diorama beyond the eye holes projected an image in darkness, he naturally received no cooperation from the folks at the Philly museum, so he remade the entire work. Duchamp welcomed interpretations of his works that he didn’t intend, but Özkaya has managed to produce, for himself, the gallarists, the adoring critics, and the contributors to the literary journal devoted to the discovery, a matter of faith: did he or didn’t he mean this? I count myself amongst the faithful: he was, during these years, keeping regular company with Man Ray, with whom he endlessly discussed optical and cinematic devices, suggesting cinematic projects early on that didn’t come to fruition. He produced films like Anemic Cinema, but as with the chocolate grinder and the bicycle wheel he was interested in the machine itself. Save for an installation manual, he left no explanations of the work and kept it a guarded secret, but the title came from his Green Box notes of 1912-15. Cabanne wrote “Given.. is neither painting, sculpture, environment, nor an exercise in mechanics or optics. It offers a synthesis of several recurrent themes in Duchamp’s work” but the camera obscura angle commences a whole new realm of speculation about it’s meanings. I didn’t see the face (below) as Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy so much as I saw, standing in the dark room for a while, a ‘portrait’ of works by two friends: the faces of Brancusi’s marbles and the African masks photographed by Man Ray, illuminated by a lantern of what d’Harnoncourt and Hopps called ‘the allegorical view of human forms as the molds for invisible aspirations (gas).’
I first saw the David Smith show at 548 22nd right after arriving early and waiting an hour and a half for Yayoi Kusama, a line of two blocks mostly consisting of new outfits donned for the Instagram, about which the staff lectures the viewers ‘take the picture immediately; the time inside goes fast.’ Whatever concessions this show has to easily absorbed psychedelia it is real art and worth waiting for. The paintings on 19th street of her micro/macroscopic imagery can be seen by those in a hurry, I think, a rope separating them from rooms promising Infinity, while the uptown gallery of dot paintings is a quiet place to think. I see the Infinity Rooms primarily as collective portraiture for the internet age. A sculpture of hers is in the Delirious show at Met Breuer along with two scrolls of Spero’s Artaud Codex. Nothing is really “Must see,” one would be forced by such a voice to “Think” of infinity were it possible, an impossibility that is in general what I make the trip up for - other people’s tragic consciousnesses. But, as David Smith appears in the topic sentence, one predicts that I will lament (or rejoice) how quiet the show seems after the Yayoi scene two blocks away where the line ends. Predictable, but astonishing nonetheless - the Smith show is a huge offering of his early sculptural paintings and painterly sculptures. As it is the early work of a vital mind, you don’t have to recall earlier works to verify that it’s ‘real art.’ At 541 22nd do check out Rita McBride’s Particulates early and often - it will be there til June. On 24th there’s Pistoletto til Friday, Pace’s tribute to the 1964 collaboration between Richard Avedon and James Baldwin which displays no quotations from Baldwin, and til Jan 9, Jim Shaw’s Hillary Clinton as Mad Meg..
..along with various contortions of Trump’s face, a tribute to Courbet, Titian, The Cute Behemoth and religious ceremonies at 519, and Anna Conway’s narrative tableau at 514 West 26th til Saturday. At Goodman Guiseppe Penone places fossils and grains of sand next to their reproductions. But most of all, if you haven't seen the landscapes from the last five years of Arshile Gorky's life, mostly from private collections, put that at the top of your list (32 e 69th til Sat).