The history of art in New York during the consequential decade of 1967 to 1977 could be (and has been) narrated in myriad ways, but there’s something especially moving about seeing it represented through a biographical lens in the intimate confines of Galerie Buchholz. This wide-ranging exhibition, which features work by artists from Joseph Cornell to Cindy Sherman to the Cockettes, celebrates the publication of Douglas Crimp’s memoir Before Pictures, an account of his arrival in the city, where he quickly established himself as a critic and curator. The memoir is itself an art history text, embodying Crimp’s deft ability to interweave aesthetic analysis and subjective experience—a practice that made him a major voice in the 1980s, during the AIDS crisis. Crimp’s 1977 exhibition “Pictures”—long understood as a watershed in the rise of postmodernist art—bookends both the exhibition and the memoir. The critical positions that emerged in the wake of that show have hardened and simplified over time. Yet the Buchholz exhibition amounts to a generous and at times surprising reintroduction to many of the “Pictures Generation” artists Crimp championed, positioning them alongside Alvin Baltrop’s erotic photographs of life on Manhattan’s abandoned piers, Daniel Buren’s stripe paintings, and Agnes Martin’s meditative compositions. —William S. Smith
Pictured: Installation view of “Douglas Crimp—Before Pictures New York City 1967–1977” at Galerie Buchholz, New York.