Carter Ratcliff

  • Sam Francis

    Sam Francis has made some adjustments in his most recent style. Broad multi-colored strips still crisscross each other on broad blank expanses of canvas—most of the works exhibited in his latest show are in the vicinity of six by nine feet. Five years ago, these color strips had retreated to the edges, where they framed a central emptiness. Since then, they have moved inward and multiplied until now sets of them appear in radiant or parallel formations.

    These developments have affected Francis’ color. In the paintings just previous to these, unmixed acrylics were allowed to float, to expand along

  • The Paint Thickens

    IMAGINE THIS—SOMETHING WHICH would have been unlikely, if not unimaginable, five years ago: at the Metropolitan Museum, an ambitious, well-informed young New York painter is concentrating exclusively on the heavily laden surfaces of Velasquez or Goya or Delacroix or Courbet. Certainly these masters have not been accepted beforehand as mentors. For new painting they are being reseen in ways that reinvent the master as an ahistorical figure, an immediate presence, whose work is prized solely because it shows a minutely inflected, richly virtuosic control over oil paint. Evidence of this control

  • Notes on Small Sculpture

    THROUGHOUT THE MODERN PERIOD, small sculpture has been tainted with connotations of preciosity, luxury, unearned privilege and even secrecy. In the conflict between the artist and the world (which is often represented by the patron), small sculpture can take on the look of a capitulation: to produce small objects, it is assumed, is to claim no power for oneself or for art. Yet one thinks immediately of exceptions to this attitude. Giacometti’s small figures are respected, as are Cornell’s boxes and Picasso’s Glass of Absinthe. Modernist theory and practice, in all its pluralism, has both sustained

  • Walter Darby Bannard

    In 1972, Walter Darby Bannard changed the style of his paintings. He stopped alternating matte and shiny passages on smooth surfaces, and started to make the entire surface shiny and rough. This new look was gotten by covering the canvas with an ooze of alkyd resin, then inflecting it with long, narrow, squiggly, scraping strokes. In his next show, these strokes got wider and more carefully aligned with the vertical edges of the canvas. In his most recent show, the alignment is more careful and the strokes wider still. Colors extend in layers across the surface, as Bannard’s scrapings reveal.

  • Scott Burton

    When artists employ ordinary pieces of furniture—tables and chairs—they generally employ in addition a formal strategy to lift these objects out of their ordinariness. Lucas Samaras imposes obsessive Transformations on his chairs. George Brecht presents chairs in mysterious conjunction with other common objects. Ree Morton makes her own chairs, giving them a stylistic correspondence to the privatist tableaux where they appear. And so on. The point is that the common sort of intelligibility offered by ordinary furniture is destroyed, to be replaced by intelligibility more acceptable in one or

  • Patsy Norvell

    Patsy Norvell’s show at A. I. R. had two parts. The first included a number of enclosures ranging in diameter from 13 inches to ten feet. In the second, there was one parabolically shaped fence made of plexiglas rods and wire mesh. This work measures 20 feet at its deepest. Norvell’s art falls into three stages, roughly. From 1970 to 1973, she made wall pieces in which strips of paper, satin, vinyl and other materials were pleated and sewn together in rows. Next, from 1974 to 1975, she made wall pieces from hair. The best known of these consists of a series of curls scotch-taped in horizontal

  • Jack Youngerman

    Jack Youngerman offers all-white sculpture—three-dimensional fiberglass and resin versions of the shapes made familiar by his paintings in recent years. These shapes are vaguely floral, usually one to a painting, with strong affinities to Matisse’s late cutouts. Youngerman employs only outline to suggest the interior configurations of his painted shapes. Thus, the transposition from two to three dimensions opens silhouettes up into fully articulated forms. This is not necessarily a gain. Whatever interest Youngerman’s recent paintings have had lay in their graphic ambiguities. By removing

  • Jake Berthot, Jim Huntington And Harvey Quaytman

    The recent three-man show at the David McKee Gallery was in the nature of an interim report on the artists featured: Jake Berthot, Jim Huntington And Harvey Quaytman. In summary, Huntington has made a change, Quaytman has stayed put, and Berthot has done some of both.

    Berthot made his mark with Rothko-esque color expanses set in “frames” of a related color. Last season, he shifted to a smaller format. The surface became less atmospheric; the framing device took on overtones of carpentry. In other words, a door- or wall-like effect was achieved. One of these paintings appeared in this show. Along

  • On Contemporary Primitivism

    ONE CAN SEE THAT “THE ’60s” have taken on a symbolic meaning against which certain contemporary artists are reacting. As a symbol, “the ’60s” refers to a short period—roughly 1963–1968—when the orthodoxies of color field painting were constantly challenging and being challenged by the orthodoxies of Minimalism.

    Toward the end of the decade, there was a variety of reactions against coolness and rationality. Most of them had counterparts outside the art world. The late-’60s revival of painterly painting was guided as much by “youth culture’s” taste for amorphous color as by memories of first-generation

  • Larry Poons

    Larry Poons showed more of his heavily textured abstractions at Rubin. Not much different from last year’s, these are more calculatingly cropped, more often interrupted with wide scraped areas serving as elements of balance. The question of allover painting has disappeared from Poons’ work: these are large abstract machines whose internal workings are traditionally compositional. They have aningratiating energy, an aura of per sistent struggle and unrelenting concern to establish a purity of esthetic motive, but this is their least interesting quality. They are more striking in their innocence,

  • Tom Wesselmann

    Tom Wesselmann’s latest show at Janis included ten large oil paintings, eight oil studies, several charcoal drawings, and a maquette. The central works were more of his Bedroom Paintings, and nearly everything on view contained the imagery of that series—a woman’s face in a picture frame, a woman’s body foreshortened, roses, toes, an alarm clock, a perfume bottle. Wesselmann is automatically given a place among the founders of American Pop art. Furthermore, his persistent reliance on the original tenets of his style has earned him the reputation of the last of the hard-core Pop artists still

  • Gregory Turpan

    Gregory Turpan’s show at the Hundred Acres Gallery was similarly eclectic. He draws, however, on different sources—with one exception: both Wesselmann and Turpan employ or have employed found objects. This points to Duchamp, the source underlying so much assemblage, European and American. Turpan’s works are put together from household objects, always very clean and new: “hard-edge” in effect, even where they are not literally so, as with his mops and Gainesburgers. In Grill Mop, these two materials, or objects, are enclosed in an outdoor barbecue grill. It’s as though slightly disorderly