What is remarkable about [Oscar] Wilde’s formalism is that it is so absolutely human. This may come as a surprise, because we’re inclined to think of Wilde’s aesthetics as hothouse stuff. Nothing could be farther from the truth. With Wilde, the unto-itselfness of formalism (and, yes, maybe even the hothouse preciosity of some formalism) is a response to a human problem, a response to the slavery of facts, truths, first impressions. This is not a formalism of necessity but a formalism of free choice—born of the desire to be oneself, to turn away from the world not because history has forced you to do so but because you have chosen to. Wilde’s formalism surely helps to explain what is wrong with Gossart, who knew too little about the art of lying, who was incapable of creating the parallel universe that is a work of art. But Wilde may also show us what is wrong with “Counter Space,” because from his vantage point the elegant formalist look of the show is merely a cover-up, a mask for what amounts to a sociological literalism. Come to think of it, maybe Oscar Wilde, not Walter Benjamin, would be the ideal reviewer for “Counter Space.” I can imagine him anatomizing the artistic virtues of a tinned steel collapsible salad basket before dismissing the entire show as faux formalism and advising everybody to head to Ikea—where, if realism is your thing, the stuff is not only for sale but is actually affordable.