April Kingsley

  • “Labyrinths”

    Labyrinths have, throughout history, been associated with ritual murder and ritual sex. The Cretan Minotaur devoured Greek youths, Egyptian kings were often buried, and Rosamond met her death while trysting with the King of England, all these in a labyrinth. Currently we encounter such forms in amusement-park mirrored rooms and horror houses,and are aware of their use as sites for laboratory psychologists to experiment with rats. Why, then, do they interest cool, contemporary Conceptual and Minimal artists? The fact that they do, and the reasons why they do, challenge previous critical attitudes

  • Salvatore Romano

    Nonfigurative sculpture usually refers either to architecture or to nature. Post-Minimal sculpture, for example, has largely been concerned with making a return to nature (random principles of distribution; accidental, gestural structuring; loose, organic, unmanufactured looking materials, etc.) in reaction to the rigorous architecturally oriented Minimal work of the mid-’60s. One of the problems Minimal sculpture often failed to solve involved its competition with architecture when located in an exterior urban setting. As a stand-in for architecture, it functioned to maximum effect when it

  • Don Cole, Richard tum Suden

    In the current period of post-Minimal impurity, a tendency to overdo is beginning to emerge that may undermine recent gains in pictorial complexity. There was considerable evidence to this effect on the walls of the Whitney Museum during the Biennial where overly detailed and redundant paintings seemed to predominate. Much the same must be said for the recent show of paintings by Don Cole and Richard Tum Suden at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery.

    What possessed gallery or artists to mount a joint exhibition of two such similar painters is beyond my comprehension. Both artists use a wide variety of

  • Ed Ruscha

    Charles Sheeler, who was a photographer as well as a painter, is often hailed as the father of recent developments in photo-Realism. His true son and heir may be Ed Ruscha, a painter, draftsman, and photographer living in Los Angeles. One can’t help feeling their similarities in front of Ruscha’s 14 recent drawings of stained sheets of paper. Precisely toned in gunpowder, single or stacked, their sharp, clean linearity, lucid light, and distinct shadows recall Sheeler’s watercolors of sunlit factory walls. Their metallic silvery tonalities also conjure up his stark light contrasts.

    Whereas Ruscha

  • Ray Parker

    Ray Parker, like Al Held, Ellsworth Kelly, Sam Francis, Grace Hartigan, Paul Jenkins, Joan Mitchell, Jack Youngerman, and Kenneth Noland, belongs to the second generation of “New American Painting.” His stylistic brother in this group is Jack Youngerman, with whom he is often linked. They seceded together from the rest of their generation, sharing a reverence for Matisse, especially his late collages, that encouraged them to get close to Matisse’s style. In so doing they separated themselves from the Constructivist orientation in current American painting.

    In the late ’50s and early ’60s, Parker’s

  • Donald Judd

    Don Judd’s two new plywood multiunit works, one cubic, the other rhomboid, are among his largest to date. The taller of the two is 6’5“ high, larger than most people, and as a result, the new work represents a major jump in his internal scale and volumetricity. His usual pattern with floor or wall pieces (that were not stacked or ”Stacks") was to establish their height below or congruent with the average person’s line of sight. This prevented the objects from looking flat against their ground while it stressed their humanness and underplayed their quasi-architectural role.

    One of the major

  • Ernest Briggs and Edward Dugmore

    Ernest Briggs, born 1923, Edward Dugmore, born 1915, and Michael Goldberg, born 1924, are members of the second generation of Abstract Expressionism. They all flourished during the ’50s, working out of the pioneering efforts of the first generation of American art pioneers. Briggs and Dugmore were influenced by Clyfford Still, Goldberg by Willem de Kooning. Briggs studied with Still at the California School of Fine Arts and was a close follower of his work. Though his paintings in The Museum of Modern Art’s “12 Americans” show in 1956 have a powerful diagonal thrust and a fractured New York kind

  • Michael Goldberg

    Michael Goldberg’s linear gestures no longer register with Abstract Expressionist emotional intensity. He was a close de Kooning follower in the ’50s, like Milton Resnick but not so consciously or so effectively. The counterinfluence of his teacher Hans Hofmann probably did a great deal to stabilize Goldberg’s imagery. He has undergone the most stylistic change of the three artists. In this year’s show at Paley and Lowe he has moved into opulent vertical configurations in gold and dark green which have a self-consciously screenlike appearance. They are oddly reminiscent of turn-of-the-century

  • Harry Kramer

    Harry Kramer is another. His show at 55 Mercer Street of very large black-and-white geometrical paintings was dedicated to Izaak Walton, who wrote a great deal about fishing, because Kramer is an inveterate angler himself. The paintings (full of angles) are wittily titled with lines about fishing. Kramer has been painting Neoplastically during much of the ’60s, consciously trying to invest his former Kline-like imagery with the structural inevitability of a Mondrian. He alternates between black-and-white and color paintings, but for the past few years he has been working primarily in black-and-white.

  • “Women Choose Women”

    With Women in the Arts, The New York Cultural Center published a catalogue, Women Choose Women, essay by Lucy Lippard, 126 pages, 109 black-and-white illustrations.

    “WOMEN CHOOSE WOMEN” AT The New York Cultural Center is a pioneering enterprise with repercussions for the entire art-institutional structure. It is the first example of a large-scale exhibition held in a major art museum and organized entirely by the members of a minority group within the art community. We have often heard in the past few years, since women artists have been forming politically active groups, that hundreds of talented

  • Adolph Gottlieb

    Adolph Gottlieb’s first one-man show in New York since 1967 rounds out the series we’ve seen this fall of new paintings by major Abstract Expressionists. Despite his recent serious illness his familiar images—the blasts or burst and the imaginary landscape—look stronger than they have in many years. He has even broken with his expected vertical format to create a huge horizontal triptych. The usual system is to bisect the canvas horizontally into broad areas of nuanced ground. He then activates one or both sides of this separation with sky or earth symbols. Gottlieb’s retinal color operates to

  • Harold Bruder

    Some interesting aspects of the handling of subject matter are raised by three exhibitions of representational painting. Harold Bruder is the most problematic of the three artists. His attitude toward the subjects he depicts is abstract. Rhetorical gestures abound, but no specific messages are being conveyed. The paintings recall the work of Puvis de Chavannes—many figures standing about in studied poses dressed in voluminous classical robes but not communicating with one another. In Celebration, with figures in dance-like positions, he raises more questions than he answers. We are given no

  • Willard Midgette

    The cool detachment of Bruder’s approach is similar to that of Willard Midgette. Midgette is quite specific about his subject matter, however; in Choreography: The Paul Taylor Company, for example, he intends each head to be a likeness and renders each environmental detail as exactly as possible. The endeavor eliminates all significant traces of the artist’s sensibility normally discernible in color and touch. Neither has any independent existence in his work. They are completely subjugated to the illusionistic rendition of his subject. The ingenuousness of Midgette’s approach, like that of an

  • Wolf Kahn

    Wolf Kahn, working in an Impressionist style, takes a disinterested attitude toward specificity of his subject. He is more interested in painterly means than either Bruder or Midgette. Some of his country barn and house paintings are practically abstract, having been blurred out of focus. This is especially true of the gray, fog-enshrouded earlier landscapes. Kahn aligns barn edges with the picture edge, eliminates detail, and uses strong compositional thrusts in many of his paintings; these formal devices save the paintings from banality. The painterliness of his impasto operates to advantage

  • Louise Nevelson

    Louise Nevelson has returned to the black wooden conglomerate constructions which are her hallmark. She exhibited similar black sculptures at the age of 59 in her 1958 “Moon Garden Plus One” exhibition. This was her first “environmental” exhibition of the work of her mature style, which coalesced in the (and in her) mid-’50s. The current show, entitled “Houses,” but not confined to that configuration alone, includes dollhouses, armoires, columns, plaques, a table, and two large wall-size reliefs. All the work is cluttered; every cavity is filled and each surface is articulated with wooden trim,

  • Agnes Denes

    If diligence, intellectual curiosity, a good heart, and attention to detail are qualities necessary to produce a work of art, Agnes Denes has them all. Her encyclopedic simplifications and systemizations of everything from evolution to esthetics, from truth to traffic patterns, are occasionally so densely compacted that they seem fictional (her Dialectical Triangulations, for instance). At other times they are so open and simple they seem naive, like her x-rays of art works to “get at” the artist’s hidden meaning. The recent show at A.I.R. contained the results of a whole range of her investigations

  • Giovanni Anselmo

    Giovanni Anselmo’s exhibition consisted of several small gray framing projectors located within the large room at John Weber’s and a single, wall-sized photograph on canvas in the smaller gallery. The photograph shows the artist from an aerial view running away from the camera in a field of grass on which the figure is centered. Entitled Entering Into the Work, it is an obvious play on the Abstract Expressionist notion of being “in the work” which is half pun and half a misreading of the idea of Action Painting. The huge size of the canvas, of course, includes the viewer in the work too, which

  • Ronald Bladen

    Ronald Bladen occupies a sculptural position that is exactly opposite to that of Louise Nevelson. His work is holistic, fully threedimensional, and clean of surface. But the unbroken black skins of his pieces hide an Expressionist heart that his resolutely Minimal stance rarely permits us to see. His recent show of plywood prototypes and drawings, however, exposed this interior world in a small model for Coltrane, 1969, which bristled with aggressive nails and splinters of roughly cut plywood. Looking for all the world like a Piranesi prison, it is a maze of engineering complexity so dense it

  • Thomas Bang

    Thomas Bang’s repertory of small, floor-bound plaster block and wire coil sculptures has been augmented this year. The new works, also small in scale, are six wall pieces in wire and black rubber. They play similar kinds of competition, connection, and counting games with the viewer, but stress the flexibility of their materials and coloristically incorporate the whiteness of the wall in a pictorial way as well. Bang’s work explores interesting nonfigurative, nonarchitectural, and sculptural ideas. One is grateful for the lack of histrionics.

    ––April Kingsley

  • Gordon Matta-Clark

    Many aspects of some recent Conceptual art or Arte Povera seem to me to be naturalistic, since they are involved in a direct way with depictions of the real world. Yet these aspects have gone largely unrecognized. Hans Haacke’s recent poll of the visitors at the John Weber Gallery, for instance, or Doug Huebler’s many variations on the theme of a snapshot, Vito Acconci’s self-probing, Donald Burgy’s Rock Piece—all of these try hard to be true to nature and to render it without distortion. However, when such work is viewed through the dark glasses needed for linguistic Conceptualism, the issues