LEO KOENIG INC.
DECEMBER 8, 2011-JANUARY 14, 2012
Dark Christmas, at Leo Koenig, gives us an alternative view of the holiday--something like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas meets Caligula. andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" (1987) comes off looking greeting-card friendly when placed in the context of Cindy Sherman's "Untitled #122" (1983), a Mommy Dearest-looking, bleached-blonde, and slightly egg-noggy drenched self-portrait. Hans Bellmer's photographs of broken toy dolls from the 1930s and '40s add a poignant but creepy touch. Paul McCarthy's "Hot Dog" (1974), a series of photographs of an early performance, is both fascinating and repulsive-though something from his Santa Claus series would have been a better fit. Of particular note in this lively grouping are several examples of outstanding painting, including Georg Baselitz's seminal "The Big Night Down the Drain" (1962-63) and Nicola Tyson's "Self-Portrait with Friend" (2011), a radiant double portrait in cheerful hues. The latter is reminiscent of Matisse's "The Conversation" (1908-12), in which Matisse depicts his wife Amelie in a black and green housecoat, seated in a throne-like armchair, while he wears his signature striped pajamas. Tyson simplifies her background into two flat planes of color-yellow for the walls and blue for the ground. In an exhibition dominated by darkly-themed works, Tyson's "Self-Portrait with Friend" is a welcome gift, indeed.