Tuesday, September 19

Daniel Lefcourt

I first came across the work of Daniel Lefcourt in a group show at the Swiss Institute that I reviewed for the Brooklyn Rail website a year ago. I didn’t write about this artist there because I couldn’t make sense of the work (pictured here), which consists of images pulled from the internet and presented it as digital photographs (I can’t be sure of the particular medium.) The gallery assistant tried but really couldn’t explain the work. In retrospect I cannot remember exactly what he said, but I think the images chosen were “random.”

It was a few minutes to 6:00 p.m. the Saturday before last when I briefly saw Lefcourt’s current show at Taxter and Spengemenn. Reading the press release a couple days earlier, I was baffled by the Mel Bochner– or Sol Lewitt–looking wall sculptures in the gallery’s two floors. There seems to be, as De Selby often says, somewhat of a gap between the artist’s statement and the work itself. The first sentence of a review in this week’s New York Flavorpill confirms what De Selby told me when we left the gallery:
Inspired by photographs and text fragments reporting a political over the diversion of funds to a cultural institution, Daniel Lefcourt’s minimalist sculptures recall lines of censored information. The artist outsourced his production to stage prop company Scenicorp to create the black, wooden wall pieces that populate the first and second floors. Apparent Misconduct, the largest work, is comprised of 24 lines—some of considerable thickness—while other pieces, like Final Explanation #1, resemble blacked-out haiku. Lefcourt’s deadpan humor shines through the austere work; over-hiring for a simple prop construction is frivolous and so reveals the falseness that high capitalism brings to both the art world and the greater political arena.
That day I had no time to inquire further about the works with the Taxter staff, but it looks like the reviewer did and got some additional information, which is impossible to gather looking directly at the work. I’m not so sure how Lefcourt demonstrates a falseness that high capitalism brings to the art world and politics at large. If this is the case, then the connection seems quite tenuous—I’m not sure how much of it can be supported by just the sculptures themselves. These issues can certainly come about through dialogue and conversation, but this may be moving away from the art.

Jerry Saltz wrote about Lefcourt’s last show in late 2004, which has completely different-looking work than that in the current show, the one at the Swiss Institute, and in Greater New York 2005. As someone who applauds the lack of signature style in art, I’m interested to know more about this artist.

1 comment:

Christopher Howard said...

Who am I kidding, really. There's a huge gap between what art looks like and what it means in most contemporary art....