Barry Schwabsky

  • Ellsworth Kelly

    Piet Mondrian painted flowers; Ellsworth Kelly draws plants—has done so regularly since the late ’40s. The selection of “Plant Drawings” in this show included works from 1960–69, and from 1980 to the present; apparently Kelly did fewer of these in the ’70s. There is little sense of development over time in these works, which only adds to their air of objectivity, to the feeling that they are exercises in something other than style. What draws “absolute” abstractionists to the botanical? When Kelly says, “I found an object and ‘presented’ it as itself alone. . . . It had to be exactly as it was,

  • Farrell Brickhouse

    Farrell Brickhouse is clearly unafraid to make a mess. In a statement about one of his paintings a few years ago, he spoke of a “need to dive into the muck to come up with my jewel of truth.” Somewhere along the line, Brickhouse’s brand of gritty yet lyrical gestural painting went out of fashion, probably because too many of its practitioners seemed to have convinced themselves that pushing paint around was enough. Brick-house clearly knows better. His impasto shows signs of both unaffected self-indulgence and genuine struggle, but usually he stops short of letting either one become an end in

  • Marilyn Lerner

    As many critics have noticed, Marilyn Lerner’s eccentrically shaped, hard-edged abstract paintings often seem like playful yet exacting conflations of Russian Constructivism and Suprematism, on the one hand, and South Asian art—particularly Tantric—on the other. It’s a rare synthesis—centrifugal dynamism from one source, contemplative metastasis from the other—but one that’s compellingly achieved in her best work.

    An inveterate traveler to Asia, as well as a long-standing admirer of its traditional arts, Lerner, in early 1991, became more actively involved with Asian art by studying Indian gouache

  • Jim Dine Drawings

    Constance W. Glenn, Jim Dine Drawings (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1985), 223 pages, 110 black and white illustrations, 52 color plates.

    Some artists challenge criticism because they seem so much in need of interpretation; Jim Dine, however, does so because he seems to render interpretation superfluous. It is difficult to see past the facility, permeability to influence, and beauty of Dine’s work. Perhaps that’s why the artist gets luscious reproductions but a lightweight introduction in this book.

    Too bad, because there is an interesting story buried here: that of a successful artist swerving

  • Archie’s Parlor

    Archie’s Parlor

    The park at Versailles has a little connection to God.

    (pick up: For I made it quite plain) For I made it quite


    about what and why I was calling.

    A landscape on the wall

    is a different way of thinking.

    That’s where our story begins: a colloquy

    among figures captivated by blue, punctuated

    by a sequence of touches like lipstick,

    like nail polish. They’re what you see

    with a sidelong glance, catching the light

    that obscures all the rest.

    The day

    is a zero-sum game. It has

    only twenty-four hours and

    is extremely unlikely

    to change overnight. The sun,

    moon and stars

    make an expensive