Amy Goldin

  • The Body Language of Pictures

    TRADITIONAL COMPOSITIONS ARE ANALYZED, in terms of form, as part/whole relationships. Untraditional compositions tend to be described as grids, wholes, modular systems or “collage,”1 and they are discussed in terms of the artists’ intentions. Maybe the implication is that esthetic theory now does the job of formal analysis, or that contemporary art transcends mere visibility. Both artists and critics treat composition like a throwaway when the disposition of component units is anonymous and unstressed—for example, in Duane Michals’ text-and-image pieces. Still, visual organization can be ignored

  • Problems in Folk Art

    THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM IS to be congratulated on having mounted a large exhibition of folk art—sculpture, specifically—that takes a point of view. Most folk art shows are compendia of everything from quilts to gravestones, blithely presented in a spirit of nationalistic celebration. Despite museum settings, art is moved from stage-center and set to mingling with the crafts. Herbert W. Hemphill, Jr., guest curator for the Brooklyn Museum, rejects that displacement. By mounting an exhibition of folk sculpture he makes the full claim for art. He eliminated quasi-commercial types of production, like

  • Islamic Art: The Met’s Generous Embrace

    THE METROPOLITAN’S NEW ISLAMIC GALLERIES give us the gorgeous East we always hoped to find. Could any audience fail to be awed by the McMullan carpets and charmed by the Houghton miniatures? Art, we know, comes in many flavors, and we learn that Islamic is just as delicious as the rest.

    We may not learn much more, for the installation is nondidactic, except for the rooms containing finds from the Metropolitan-sponsored dig at Nishapur. This section is gratifyingly crowded with words, fragments and things. Here you will find almost all the Metropolitan’s stuccos on view and better labels than

  • Patterns, Grids, and Painting

    PATTERN, FOR AMERICANS, HAS NEVER even been an esthetic issue. Our artistic self-consciousness: developed out of painting and, perhaps, architecture. Associated with decoration and the machine, pattern was always outside the area of legitimate artistic concern. The stylistic revisions of the last decade or so—remember the defense of boredom?—might have been expected to alter that situation. Yet to artists now working with pattern (especially women, who may feel it as something particularly their own), it still seems to imply a lack of inwardness and freedom, and they are often defensive about

  • “Macrostructures”

    The pastoral ideal has a field day at the exhibit of sketches for monumental structures at the Feigen Gallery. Everyone wants to humanize the landscape. The plans included here attack a wide range of sites: the countryside, the city, the ocean, the desert—even a crater of the moon, which becomes a nest for Willenbecher’s daisy shaped set of ten giant metal balls. The most romantic structures are those intended for deserts or other desolate areas: Ronald Bladen’s set of three giant slabs continually moving back and forth in parallel tracks and Tony Smith’s Tower of Winds, a pierced hollow zigurrat

  • Elie Nadelman

    The Elie Nadelman show at the Zabriskie Gallery is large, consisting of 40 drawings and 20 pieces of sculpture. Some of the sculpture was borrowed from museums and consequently was familiar, but other pieces, including two painted wood figures from the Hirshhorn Collection, have not been seen in public for a long time. New Yorkers whose idea of Nadelman comes chiefly from the twin giantesses at Lincoln Center will surely be struck by three small models from the ’30s. Like the original of the Lincoln Center figures, these were designed for mass production as decorative objects for the home, to

  • Robert Duran

    A young Californian, Robert Duran, in his first one-man exhibition (at Bykert) embraces the minimal style, but with reservations that imply a feeling for sculptural space. Each piece consists of a group of two, three or four closely related elements. Despite his flat painted surfaces and strictly axial relationships, Duran’s work is more plastic and active than is usual in this astringent mode. His forms are not flimsy or wholly banal. The small self-contained wall-piece, for all its strict complementarity, generates a lot of tension with its harsh diagonal. In several of the pieces, however,

  • Wolf Kahn

    Wolf Kahn’s show at Borgenicht gives us nature diluted by a temperament. His controlled understatement encourages intimacy; we are encouraged to imagine more than we see: brooding presences, dimly apprehended. A talented and deft painter, Kahn has always been interested in atmospheric effects and close-valued color. The new oils and pastels show him working toward a greater opacity and simplicity, especially explicit in the sailboat series. In these grey silhouettes, poised vertically against a grey sky and a little quiet grey water, poetic feeling is balanced by the weight of the color and the