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Staff Picks: Cinema, Sebald, and Small Surprises, Elinor Hitt, The Paris Review

Nick Mauss, Compilation, 2020,

Nick Mauss, Compilation, 2020


Nick Mauss, though a visual artist by trade, is a scrupulous scholar of modernist dance. With each new work, he tests the limits of his form, capturing, in paint, the ephemeral nature of bodies in motion. Mauss is no stranger to Chelsea, having made a home at both the Whitney and 303 Gallery, where his latest solo show is on view through April 11. In a new collection of sketches and paintings, as in his other work, Mauss pays homage to the mid-century aesthetic. His architectural compositions recall the neoclassicism of Balanchine and Stravinsky. And his tender representations of the male body evoke the poetry and portraiture of Frank O’Hara and Fairfield Porter, respectively. Upon entering through a painted door, the viewer is immediately disarmed by a sketch of nearly life-size nudes in foreshortened perspective. These figures, rendered in ink on enamel paper, appear unfinished. Like others in the gallery, the work seems as if it has been torn from an oversize sketchbook. Neighboring pieces are even stained with coffee and ring-shaped marks where cups of paint once rested. The art, seemingly a record of Mauss’s own dynamic process, brings to mind dance notation. I left the gallery imagining the artist at work, in motion, as much a dancer as he is a choreographer. —Elinor Hitt