Bruce Boice

  • Problems from Early Kupka

    And only a cowardly consciousness and meager creative powers in an artist are deceived by this fraud and base their art on the forms of nature, afraid of losing the foundation on which the savage and the academy have based their art.

    —Malevich

    That he has broken an object or placed a red or yellow square in the center of his canvas will not make his work new; what will make his work new is his grasp of the creative spirit infusing this outward appearance.

    —Léger

    The artist should now know what, and why, things happen in his pictures.

    —Malevich

    FRANTISEK KUPKA HAS ALWAYS seemed a minor figure in

  • Claude Yvel and Henri Cadiou

    The Museum of Modern Art’s modest exhibition “Collage and the Photo Image” seems to have been mounted as a pleasant way to pass the summer, but it forms a surprisingly effective confutation of a dead serious, reactively polemical exhibition at the New York Cultural Center, “Reality and Trompe-L’oeil,” “by French New Real Painters.” The French New Real Painters are but four in number, and of the four Claude Yvel gets the most space and makes the catalogue statement. Those paintings in the show that are not a direct ripoff of Harnett, Peto, and 19th-century American trompe-l’oeil painting in

  • “Collage and the Photo Image”

    “Collage and the Photo Image” is a classic (meaning typical) Museum of Modern Art small survey show from its own collections. Most of the work in it is already familiar, and could have been predicted to be in a MOMA show with such a title. Thus it is no surprise that a show of this kind includes works by Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Heartfield, Moholy-Nagy, and Christo, etc. George Grosz’s The Engineer Heartfield was a surprise only because I had never noticed its collage elements, which is to confess never having paid much attention to it. Interesting for me in this show was the category

  • Richard Francisco

    Richard Francisco’s work, like that of Don Johnson to some extent, indirectly plugs into the traditions of Joseph Cornell, Lucas Samaras, and H.C. Westermann, and more directly into the work of William Wiley, which by now seems almost to mean the San Francisco tradition. This doesn’t say much about Francisco’s work except to roughly describe the sort of work he does. The primary difference between Francisco’s works and the works of those artists mentioned, with the exception of Cornell, is in its subtlety and delicacy. Francisco’s works are physically delicate, minute, and lightweight. There is

  • On Quality in Art

    Jacob Rosenberg, On Quality in Art (Princeton, N.J.: Bollingen Series, Princeton University Press, 1967).

    —————————

    The problem is that I am, in a sense, speaking to Jacob Rosenberg, but if he is speaking to me, he doesn’t know it, or he didn’t know it until now. And of course there is a certain unfairness to this sort of dialogue, all of it in my favor; for in a sense, I choose what he says, though my choice of what I may have him say is restricted to the 232 pages of his text (plus his introduction).

    1. “Artistic value” or “quality” in a work of art

  • Robert Ryman

    Probably more than any other paintings, including Ad Reinhardt’s, Robert Ryman’s fulfill Reinhardt’s claim of what paintings should be by saying what they shouldn’t be. In one sense, it is easy to approach Ryman’s paintings in terms of what they are not, because so much that is conventionally present in paintings is absent from his. Perhaps this absence of many conventional elements gives a clue as to why painters, generally speaking, tend to disregard Ryman’s work, and artists who otherwise have no use for painting make his paintings an exception. In the usual sense, there is not much in a

  • Robert Whitman

    Art and technology seems to have had its day. Much activity called “Experiments in Art and Technology” has produced little that could be followed up. But when experiments are really experiments, eventual practical applications (“practical” is used rather oddly here in referring to art or art-making) are not the point, but are only happy side effects. In this sense, an experiment that yields nothing useful is necessarily neither a failure nor a waste of time; at a minimum, the knowledge is gained that such experiment yields nothing useful or interesting. Nevertheless, there was a certain amount

  • Miriam Shapiro

    Miriam Shapiro has, except for a few lingering traces, abandoned the illusionist, hard-edge paintings of a few years ago. Her new paintings are motley collages of snips of fabric and acrylic. Schapiro’s political activities are fairly well known so there is a temptation to read some sort of feminist connotation into her choice of materials, but whatever interpretation this choice doesn’t seem a matter of great consequence. Most of the paintings are complicated with a ground of a simple configuration covered by many quiltlike bits of fabric, whose placement seems not so much random as arbitrary.

  • Hans Haacke’s Gallery Visitors' Profile

    Hans Haacke

    DURING AN EXHIBITION OF WORKS by Carl Andre, Hans Haacke, Nancy Holt, Laurie James, Brenda Miller, and Mary Obering, October 7–24, 1972, the visitors of the John Weber Gallery were requested by me to complete a questionnaire with 20 questions. Ten of these questions inquired about their demographic background and ten questions related to the visitors’ opinions on sociopolitical issues. They were either multiple choice questions or had to be answered by writing in a figure or a word. The questionnaires were provided, with pencils, in two file trays on either end of a long table in the

  • Barry Le Va

    Barry Le Va’s work 12 to 3: Ends Touch-ends Cut (Zig-zag end over end), seems an interesting case of chaos and coherence, as if a metaphor for putting a construct on the world. The work is materially uncountable inch/half-inch sections cut from a 1 1/4” wooden dowel, all over the rough uneven floor of the new Bykert downtown gallery. It looks like a late ’60s scatter piece. However, the work is obviously the product of a system, and the fact of a system can be inferred from the work. But, grasping what system is determining the placement of dowel sections on the floor is extremely difficult.

  • Alighiero Boetti

    Alighiero Boetti’s show at Weber consisted of 42 sets of 120 stamped and canceled envelopes, mounted and framed under glass, and filling the large front room of the gallery. Within a 43rd frame, by the elevator doors, the same size as the other 42, was the announcement:

    Untitled—Victoria Boogie-Woogie 1972 5040 Envelopes 35280 Stamps All permutations of seven Italian stamps The letters were mailed by the artist from different cities to himself in Turin

    What interests me in Boetti’s work is not so much that it represents “all permutations” of the relative positions of seven stamps in a horizontal

  • John Salt

    Looking at John Salt’s paintings at O.K. Harris feels a bit like being a character in Godard’s Weekend. The symptom of feeling like a character in a movie is particularly appropriate to Weekend since the characters in that movie also feel like characters in a movie. The common denominator in the two cases is the presence of persistent automobile wreckage. Probably connotations of the degenerate built-in obsolescence of the capitalist system are the meaning metaphors implicit in Salt as well as in Godard. The case was so overstated in Weekend that however nightmarish the endless flow of wreckage,

  • Bill Beckley

    Bill Beckley’s work at the John Gibson Gallery seemed an example of California “joke art,” even before I learned that Beckley operates out of California. What identifies the work as “California” is the apparent connection with John Baldessari. Generally, Beckley’s work has literary affiliations. One piece, Short Stories for Popsicles, Get Them by the Bunch, consisted of a small refrigerator mounted on the wall, with six wrapped and two unwrapped popsicles inside. The short stories (more accurately “story”—each was an instance of the same story) were printed on the wrappers:

    I am sleeping and I

  • Ed Moses

    Ed Moses’ four new paintings at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts are different from his resin, canvas, and powdered pigments paintings of the last few years, but they are like the earlier works in certain basic respects. The new works are also paintings that are tacked directly to the wall without supports. They are generally rectangular with rough, erratic edges, and, like the earlier works, consist of sets of colored parallel lines.

    The new works are made of Japanese tissue paper and acrylic, with the paper playing an active role in the formation of the works. The works are formed by sets of parallel

  • Isaac Witkin

    Isaac Witkin showed six new steel sculptures in a space rented downtown by the Robert Elkon Gallery. The problem for Witkin, and formalist sculpture generally, is finding a way to get away from Anthony Caro’s dominating influence. Witkin seems to have taken a clue from Frank Stella’s newer work by trying to solve the problem in terms of increasing complication. Papageno uses forms which are literally out of Stella’s recent work. The work is a conglomeration of sharp triangular and rhomboid planes, with interior similar shapes cut out. These planes even have a 3” or 4” perpendicular lip like that

  • Paul Wiesenfeld

    The problem with representational art is not its unreality, nor its exploitation of what Greenberg calls “sculptural illusion.” One kind of illusion is as real as another, and illusion is as real as any other allegedly real entity. A still-life painting is not less real than Carl Andre’s fire bricks. Illusion is a possibility, and in a certain sense, a necessity. Illusion is a necessity in the sense of the peculiar meaning that must attach to a notion of eliminating illusion: What would be eliminated, and what sort of thing would remain? As illusion exists as the product of the mental construction

  • Jack Beal

    There’s a lot more flash in Jack Beal’s paintings, in his obviously contrived compositions (“contrived” is not intended as a negative term), and in his garish colors. Beal’s show of four paintings at Frumkin also presents two similar paintings for comparison, but in this case, the distinctions are sharp ones. It’s not difficult to see Beal’s two versions of Danae, of 1965 and 1972, as developing from Titian’s painting of the same title, at least, in terms of the poses and the positioning of the figures. As Beal leaves out any suggestion of imminent impregnation by a shower of gold, it can be

  • Roy Lichtenstein

    Roy Lichtenstein’s show at Castelli uptown was, for me, something of a disappointment. After his successive shows of the “Mirrors” and “Entablatures,” the new still-life paintings seem to be a retreat in the direction of the modern old master, Matisse in this case, done in comic-strip style. Matisse is everywhere in the new paintings, and where he isn’t, images from earlier stages of Lichtenstein’s career appear in the form of a Matisse device. Artist’s Studio is like a strange detail of Matisse’s The Red Studio complete with a comic-strip style Art Nouveau plant in a vase on a table in the

  • Saul Steinberg

    Saul Steinberg has been known for a long time as an extremely unconventional cartoonist. In his books of more than a decade ago, the next page always represented the unknown. Steinberg’s drawings were never jokes with punch-line captions, and what appeared within balloons demonstrated its form, but was never legible. Penmanship became a linguistic alternative to syntax and semantics. Steinberg’s concurrent shows at Sidney Janis and Betty Parsons don’t contain this kind of constant surprise, but they are not without small, quiet ones.

    There are basically three kinds of work at the Janis Gallery:

  • Jim Dine

    Jim Dine’s work once seemed to lie somewhere between the constellations of Johns-Rauschenberg and Pop art. His persistent use of objects in, or dangling from paintings put him on the side of Johns and Rauschenberg, while his subject matter, such as neckties, shoes, toothbrushes, and red bandanas, often brought him closer to Pop imagery. This is not to establish Johns-Rauschenberg and Pop art as opposing poles, but only to establish Dine’s work as generally existing between two major forces. Dine’s earlier work is probably closest to Oldenburg. Their work shares almost no common physical