TimeOut New York

Rubber – Robert Miller Gallery
 — By Carol Kino


Like several other 57th Street galleries, Robert Miller has been flirting with new artists for the past year or so, spicing up the familiar blue-chip mix with younger names in tightly-curated group shows. This one, organized by gallery associate Anna O’Sullivan, high­lights several artists who have used rubber as a sculptural medium. The oldest work dates from the mid-’60s, when Eva Hesse, Bruce Nauman and Louise Bourgeois—who are all included here—uti­lized rubber to push the envelope of Minimalism; newer pieces by the likes of Rachel Whiteread, Chakaia Booker and Melissa McGill demonstrate how that legacy is being built on today.

“Rubber” opens with a vitrine of Hesse’s early piece & a small array of amber colored latex leaves and half-­globes resembling relics of an ancient civi­lization. In the same room are brand-new works by Jeanne Silverthorne that suggest relics of a different sort. Two ornate rubber frames hold casts of Silverthorne’s own highly magnified fingertip, as if she were putting ironic quotation marks around the idea of the artist’s touch.

This juxtaposition suggests that the curator’s aims are mostly conceptual, but while there’s certainly an intellectual thread, the show owes its overall success primarily to its aesthetic appeal. In one room, a big teardrop-shaped piece by Bourgeois hangs nonchalantly from the ceiling. Next to its velvety black surface, Robert Overbys delicate latex door frame, encrusted with charred wood, practically glows with color. I loved the way McGill’s sculptures—casts made from the insides of pockets—trail along the floor like small blind creatures. And at the end of a hallway hangs Booker’s stunning Lyrical Gestures in Space. Although Booker generally makes three-dimensional forms using slashed and twisted tires, here she has massed her flayed scraps of rubber against a canvas shaped piece of wood, so that its surface seems to pulse with energy. I came away thinking that it must feel terrific for a newer artist to be showcased in such an authoritative way—and I also left believing that things are getting interesting again on 57th Street.