Gender Benders

From left, Nicole Eisenman, Janine Antoni, Tauba Auerbach, Sarah Morris, Justine Kurland, Roni Horn, and Sylvia Sleigh.
Photographs by Andreas Laszlo Konrath

One argument goes that recessions are good for female artists because when money flies out the window, women are allowed in the house. The other claims that when money ebbs, so do prospects for women. Given this season’s abundance of female gallery shows (36 percent, up from 17 percent in 2005), I’ll go with the former. Seven of the most exciting are pictured here, and one of them, Roni Horn, is deservedly having her first full-scale museum show.

Nicole Eisenman
Leo Koenig Inc., Oct. 30 to Dec. 23
Eisenman’s sharp, satirical eye, dashing graphic style, and glowing metallic colors pull you into dark but touching imaginary lands. Her large panoramic paintings alternate between figures sprawled in orgiastic mounds, Goya-inspired nightmares, and other semi-scandalous yet yummy and funny lesbian love scenes. Think of a twisted Norman Rockwell with old-master technique. Courtesy of the artist and Leo Koenig, Inc. Gallery (“Winter Solstice Twenty Twelve Dinner Party,” 2009)

Tauba Auerbach
“Here and Now/And Nowhere,” Deitch Projects, through Oct. 17
In previous outings, this young painter”cum”metaphysician has contrived alphabets and covered floors with 100,000 black-and-white tiles laid down in random order. This time, she’s providing a haunting soundtrack to ethereal trompe l’oeil paintings of folded canvas: Tuesday to Saturday at 5 p.m., Auerbach and Cameron Meslrow of the band Glasser play their so-called Auerglass, an immense wooden pump organ that only works when two people play. Sounds like life. Adam Reich/courtesy of Deitch Projects (“Here and Now/and Nowhere” Installation view).

Sarah Morris
Freidrich Petzel Gallery, Oct. 23 to Dec. 5
For more than ten years, in eye-popping, architecturally inspired geometric paintings and mesmerizing films of our postmodern metropolises, this peripatetic artist has mapped out what Rem Koolhaas called “Junkspace,” that seamless border-to-border network of airports, malls, big-box stores, and air-conditioned arenas. This month, Morris unveils Beijing, a spellbinding journey through hotel rooms, TV control booths, the “Club Mao,” and much more. Showing you what “now” looks like can be an optical grindstone; Morris lifts you up. Courtesy of the artist and Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York (“Beijing,” 2008).

Justine Kurland
“This Train Is Bound for Glory,” Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Oct. 15 to Nov. 14
Kurland is known for being a stalker of wild things. Her photographs of young girls in Arcadian glades have a feeling of contemporary fairy paintings. For her latest pictures, she and her 5-year-old son traveled West in a van, capturing fellow nomads”Americans looking for America. The wistfulness and longing within this work resonate beyond the frame, perhaps because they say as much about Kurland’s own wanderlust. Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash (“Doyle, CA: Cuervo Saying It Won’t Come and to Quit So We Can Drive to The Gas Station and Buy More Wine,” 2007).

Roni Horn
“Roni Horn a.k.a. Roni Horn,” Whitney Museum of American Art, Nov. 6 to Jan. 24, 2010
Horn’s art turns the repeating images of Andy Warhol into perceptual clusters of uncertainty and clarity. In this largest overview of her work to date, look left, then right, at a photo of her niece or of Horn herself. Suddenly, you wonder: Is the figure pictured different or”and this is where her work turns diabolic and absorbing”have you changed? Horn’s Apollonian aesthetic will take you miles into the poetics of perception. © Roni Horn and courtesy of the Whitney Museum Of American Art (“You Are the Weather [detail],”1994-95).

Sylvia Sleigh
I-20, Oct. 31 to Dec. 19
“There were always pictures of beautiful women but very few of handsome men, so I thought that it would be truly fair to paint handsome men for women,” Sleigh once said. And she continues to do so, with panache and something like outsider purity, at the age of 93. The show will include early portraits of art critics, artists, and friends, many with seventies Jew ’fros, all of them psychologically intense, vulnerable (how many women have painted flaccid penises?), and sweetly sexual. Sleigh’s been overlooked for too long. Courtesy of the artist and I-20 gallery (“Max Warsh Seated Nude,” 2006).

Gender Benders