Bruce Boice

  • After the Quality Problem

    WHILE QUALITY ASCRIPTIONS ARE MEANINGFUL only as emotive expressions in response to an art work, they say very little about that response of the speaker to the art work. And this holds as well for expressions, such as “the painting is good,” “I like the painting,” or “the painting is interesting.” Such expressions are no more than signals of approval accomplished just as effectively by the Roman signals “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down”; but except as signals of approval these expressions say nothing, and as such, they hardly constitute discussion about art work or anyone’s response to it. To insist

  • Richard Nonas

    The difficulty in Richard Nonas’ work at 112 Greene Street is in not thinking of Carl Andre’s early work, especially the wooden pieces stacked in various ways, and Nonas seems to be after the same physical “thereness.” Nonas’ works tend to stay simpler than some of Andre’s similar works, which at times and within a narrow context, became somewhat Baroque. There are 13 works on the floor of the gallery, and most of them have the same general arrangements of lumber, the size of which varies with different works. Two pieces of lumber of the same size are placed on the floor parallel to each other;

  • Edward Avedisian

    Not too long ago, to talk about painting was to talk about the great issues of painting, and then, there may have been something to those great issues, but if so, there doesn’t seem to be much to them now. Generally, to speak of the great issues now seems not so much a lapsing into poetry as into metaphysics. The point is not to wage a monthly assault on formalist painting, for the assaults were made quite some time ago, but remarkably, formalist paintings continue to be churned out, which is admirable if you look at it one way, and ridiculous looking at it another way. Edward Avedisian’s

  • John Hoyland

    John Hoyland’s paintings at Emmerich downtown are subject to the same nonproblems, but there does seem to be some evidence of thought in his work, and his work can be considered as something of a commentary on these nonproblems. Basically, three sorts of things go on in Hoyland’s new paintings: staining and drip-staining which forms the ground of each painting; squeegeed rectangular shapes of thick acrylic; and thick blobs of acrylic which appear to have been splattered against the canvas. Within this methodology, there are, at the extremes, two kinds of paintings. Some of the paintings are an

  • Gary Bower

    Hoyland’s show consisted of two kinds of paintings only when considered in terms of the extremes, but there was a middle ground between the extremes so that his paintings could be seen as a progression. However, Gary Bower’s show at O.K. Harris was a case of excluded middle and consisted of two distinct kinds of paintings, which are supposedly not chronologically distinct. Four of Bower’s paintings were a continuation of his earlier work based on horizontal-vertical-diagonal grid structures; but the new grid paintings are made of layers of gestural brushstrokes within which the grid of masking

  • Group Show

    The group of artists forming the group show at Weber also showed as a group there last winter, but without Hans Haacke.

    Nancy Holt’s work Locator With Spotlight and Sunlight was much simpler than what is necessary to describe it would indicate. A sharp-focused spotlight is aimed at a wall at an angle forming an oval of light on the wall. At the same angle to the wall, but on the opposite side, is a similarly shaped oval of daylight formed by an oval cut in a piece of board covering the window. Between these two ovals of light, a “T”-shaped steel pipe stands on the floor positioned in such a way

  • David Stoltz

    DAVID STOLTZ’ sculpture at Tibor de Nagy doesn’t raise any new problems or solve any old ones, though it gets increasingly more difficult to remember what the old problems were. Stoltz’ sculptures are of bent steel bars of varying widths bolted or welded within the formalist conventions established more or less by Anthony Caro. Caro’s domination of formalist sculpture is apparent in Stoltz’ work not because Stoltz’ work looks like Caro’s, but because Stoltz’ sculptures appear to be trying not to look like Caro’s while remaining with .in formalist conventions. Stoltz’ sculptures would not be

  • Frederick Sommer

    The Light Gallery showed over 60 photographs by Frederick Sommer from 1941 through 1972. Sommer was born in Europe in 1905, grew up in Brazil, studied landscape architecture at Cornell, took up painting in the early ’30s, and photography upon meeting Stieglitz in 1935. For the last 30 years, Sommer has worked and taught in Arizona. Sommer’s photographs seem to fall into three general categories: allover landscape photographs of Arizona; architectural photographs under which photographs generally tied to a ’30s view of Constructivism and Biederman’s structuralism can be included; and experimental

  • Robert Duran

    Robert Duran seems to be in a similar situation though there is no dominating Caro equivalent in painting. Duran showed six large new paintings at Bykert in bright juicy fruit colors (whatever that means, take it literally rather than as the color of chewing gum) and six watercolors which are pale prototypes of the paintings. In Duran’s paintings, a layer of watery acrylic is soaked into the canvas as a pastel colored ground; over this ground, irregular sort-of-geometric shapes are painted in watery acrylic so that as color-shapes touch, each bleeds into the other causing areas of “dirty” color

  • Vincent Inconiglios

    Two of the six paintings shown by Vincent Inconiglios at West Broadway looked like paintings of Carl Andre’s metal plates. The depicted metal plates have the same scrubbed, spill-stained, and generally roughed-up look as Andre’s plates. In the larger painting, the whole is formed of 18 2’-square panels, each of which is quartered by depiction so that the module appears to be a one foot square. lnconiglios’ other paintings are also grid structured, two in windowlike configurations and two others in irregular diagonal grids. The grids, in the latter case, are formed by painting or rubbing graphite

  • Susan Lewis Williams

    Susan Lewis Williams showed two works at A.I.R. under the general heading “Sculpture Recycled.” Within this general heading “Watermill (a summer experience recycled)” is comprised of about 100 glass quart jars stacked pyramid fashion against a wall; the wall is papered with reproductions of a photograph of the jars stacked similarly against another wall. In the photographs, nearly all the jars are filled with sand, but in the physical situation, about half the jars are partially filled with sand while nine jars contain a folded piece of paper. In a brief statement accompanying the piece, Williams

  • William Wegman

    Without worrying whether William Wegman is a Conceptual artist or not, his show at Sonnabend belies the notion that art focused on concepts is without humor. I found watching Wegman’s video tapes to be watching the funniest TV show I had ever seen. However, Wegman’s art is joke art only if by “joke art” we mean any art that makes us laugh; but Wegman doesn’t tell jokes, nor does he satirize art, the art world, or anything else. A knowledge of contemporary art is not a prerequi site to laughing at Wegman’s show; and unlike much of what gets included in “joke art,” Wegman’s humor is not a matter

  • Richard Calabro

    An adequate description (dodging questions of determining adequacy) of Richard Calabro’s work at Hutchinson is not impossible but necessarily of enormous length and probably not useful. The exhibition is essentially in two parts: what is in the front room of the gallery and what is in the back room. The work in each room could be described as an aggregation of lesser aggregates, with sticks, glass, neon light, rope, wire, tungsten light, cloth, video, and furniture parts being the basic constituents of the lesser aggregates. The discrete aggregates in the front room seem as constituents of a

  • Group Show

    The problem in group shows in general, and in the group show at 112 Greene Street, is that work is exhibited one per artist leaving the focus of the artists’ intentions to guesswork. Such shows are often lively, as indeed this one is, but they just about exclude the possibility of serious criticism. But exhibitions are not mounted, one hopes, to provide subjects for criticism. With the possibility of serious criticism excluded, perhaps it is safe to try. Rosemarie Castro’s Tored, graphite and gesso on masonite, looks like a giant brushstroke mounted on the wall recalling Lichtenstein and therefore

  • Harriet Korman

    There seem to be two kinds of paintings in Harriet Korman’s show at LoGiudice. One kind is composed of a single specific shape, red or black in color, on a ground of raw canvas. The other kind contains black painted lines parallel at regular intervals on a white painted ground forming a shape or shapes on the ground of raw canvas. In one untitled painting, for example, the painted area of black and white stripes forms a rectangular “U” shape in which the base is much thicker than the vertical legs, and the parallel lines run horizontally. There seems to be a suggestion in this painting, and in

  • Mel Bochner

    There is a tendency for art work to present a kind of puzzle which the viewer attempts to solve; often in such cases, once the art is understood, it has lost its challenge and therefore its interest. Mel Bochner’s art reverses this operation; one immediately gets Bochner’s work, and at that point the real interest begins. At the Hartford Art School, Bochner showed Nine Demonstrations From the Theory of Sculpture: Counting. The Nine Demonstrations are similar to work shown in New York last year. White pebbles are placed in certain relations on the concrete floor on which corresponding numbers,

  • Suzanne Szlemko

    The James Yu Gallery is new, large, handsome, and spotless, and it opened with an exhibition of paintings by Suzanne Szlemko, which outside of New York would be categorized as “semi-abstract.” The paintings are compositions with brightly colored organic geological forms like a close-up of a cross section of the earth. One can decide whether or not the paintings are attractive but that’s about all there is to think about, and I’m not sure whether such decisions constitute thinking at all. Szlemko’s paintings might have been interesting in 1914, but they were done in 1971 and 1972, and from this

  • The Quality Problem

    If you wish to know how difficult it is to judge a work of art, please read three or four critics’ judgments of one work of art: you will find three or four standards of appraisal. Because there is only one true judgment, the others are merely partially true and therefore false. How is one to understand which is true and why it is true?

    —Lionello Venturi

    JUDGING ART, OR THE PROBLEM of determining quality in art as it is practiced today in formalist and nonformalist criticism carries over from the connoisseurship of Ruskin, Berenson, and Fry. The notion of connoisseurship is founded on the

  • Harry Lum

    Lum’s exhibit consists of about a dozen largish canvases, which were originally conceived and are arranged here so that they can be viewed either singly or in sequence, as variations on a theme. Bowing slightly in the direction of Jasper Johns, Lum sets both his pictorial and dramatic idea with a “Tenement,” painted in a sort of “New Realist” manner—broadly brushed but plainly representational. As an allegorical image, this dreary container for Everyman embraces the two antithetical motifs figured in the other works: “ovens” and “bodies.” The rectangular image of the “Tenement” also sets the

  • Twelfth Annual Oil and Sculpture

    For many years the Richmond Annual has enjoyed a popularity among local artists that is usually reserved for larger and more famous shows. Partly because the gallery sets no constricting size restrictions and partly because the jurors were given complete freedom of choice, these shows have always attracted a much larger and more professional group of entries than might be expected at an art center of this type. Its reputation is, however, only local, and, although the show is open to any California painter, and the jury commonly includes at least one member who “makes it” on the New York scene,