Bob Dylan wrote that there are “maybe a thousand kings in the world,” and for a time in the nineties, the Mexican-born artist Gabriel Orozco was one of them. Orozco was a primal navigator—a canny artist who effectively inspected the gap between physicality and immateriality, the micro and the macro, the industrial ready-made and everyday detritus. Few contemporary artists mined the space between the ordinary and the strange better than Orozco did. These days, however, his work often feels more ordinary than strange, and the Museum of Modern Art’s twenty-year survey provides the perfect window to compare the good and the bad. Arresting works are spread out over two floors, among too many tasteful objects and a flock of medium-size mediocre found-object sculptures. The show is sometimes stirring and surprising, sometimes only elegant, and occasionally empty, knowing decoration. You see the good Orozco right up front. His photos from the early nineties show the artist finding his art in the world and turning the world into his art. They give everyday things the weight of thought: A sleeping dog looks dead, and stacked stuff eerily mimics New York’s skyline (with the World Trade Center). An empty shoe box just sits there, like Duchamp’s urinal but more casual—still confounding viewers, transcending itself restlessly.
more from Jerry Saltz at New York Magazine here.