Charles Hagen

  • Eileen Cowin

    In her earlier photographic tableaux, Eileen Cowin cast herself and members of her family in domestic dramas that suggest frozen moments from upscale soap operas. Here she extends that interest, tracing a sort of family tree of melodramatic narratives. In an installation that filled half the gallery, long bands of black and white images, suggesting enlarged strips of movie film, circled the room; emerging from black backgrounds, the images in each band borrowed the ominous lighting, ambiguous themes, and radical spatial shifts and focus changes of film noir. Featured were such staples of noir

  • Peter McClennan

    In his large color photomontages, Peter McClennan gives the old cliché of photographing sleeping derelicts a surrealist slant. McClennan cuts the recumbent figures out of their squalid backgrounds and places them against new, more pleasant backdrops—leaves, beds of moss, or sandy beaches. In some cases, he simply transposes the sleeping men onto softer bowers, while in others, he turns the figures 90 degrees before printing them in pastoral settings. Presented vertically, the men seem to writhe and twist like Michelangelo’s slaves, floating in dreamy, Edenic scenes. Several pictures are almost

  • Bernard and Anna Blume

    For more than a decade, the Cologne-based couple Bernhard and Anna Blume have collaborated on performance-based photographic works that take the mores and mishaps of the German petty bourgeoisie as their subject. In one remarkable black and white series entitled “Im Wahnzimmer” (In the room of madness, 1984), a pun on the German word for living room, the Blumes—Bernhard roly-poly in a loud sports coat, Anna blurry in a dowdy patterned dress—try to recover their sense of balance while the cheap furniture and dishes in their apartment fly madly about.

    In the series the Blumes exhibited here entitled

  • Judith Joy Ross

    There’s an antique air to Judith Joy Ross’ portraits, a quality produced partly by the photographer’s technique—she uses a large-format camera with an old-fashioned shallow-focus lens, shoots with black and white film, prints the images on printing-out paper, and then gold-tones them to bring out subtle shades of lavender and red in the shadows. The poses of her sitters also seem to come from another era—or at least from a contemporary version of one. In the best pictures here, the people Ross photographs seem to have lost all shyness before the camera; indeed, they seem to gaze into the lens—and

  • Willy Heeks

    Willy Heeks continues to display a laudable, even thrilling ambition in his paintings, with each successive show pushing into fresh abstract territory. His snarls of thickly applied paint from a couple of years ago, with their science-fiction overtones suggesting dangerously pulsating molecules, seemed to burst off the canvas, like a chain reaction run amok. Now Heeks has dispersed this same energy over the surfaces of his paintings, moving from a distinctly figurative style to a more allover mode. The new images suggest networks, traffic grids, electronic circuit boards, on the one hand, or

  • Jan Groover

    At a time when many photographers are primarily concerned with subject matter, Jan Groover’s insistence upon the centrality of the formal, visual aspect of the medium is salutary. As she remarked in a handout accompanying this show, “It is the forms and the attitudes and the space of things which make meaning for me.” Nevertheless, in the work presented here, Groover edges increasingly toward the theatrical, presenting tense arrangements of objects that are associatively as well as formally evocative within a shallow, stagelike space. The backgrounds are painted in muted pastels and carefully

  • Carroll Dunham

    When Carroll Dunham turned from wood panels to a more conventional ragboard ground in his previous show, the bulbous cartoony forms, which had played off the knotholes and wavy grain of the support, suddenly seemed to face the world directly rather than getting caught up in a self-referential game. In the current show of works on canvas, the hints at bad taste, which Dunham previously leavened by thinning his strident palette and feathering his line into graceful curves, have blossomed into truly bombastic glory.

    There’s a playfulness about the images that sometimes descends into adolescent

  • Cliffton Peacock

    From a distance Cliffton Peacock’s colors—typically grayed-out purples and blues—seem dull and leaden, but on closer examination they take on the character of bruised flesh. Peacock works up flat overall backgrounds, applying these colors in thick, broad strokes, and then floats emblematic figures in front of them or depicts them emerging from the shadowy depths. In one painting (all works untitled 1990), a ghostly head, its features blurred into a blank mask, is positioned in the center of a flat off-grey background like the image on some primordial Shroud of Turin. In the most elaborately

  • Kenneth Snelson

    Using a motor-driven, rotating Hulcherama camera, Kenneth Snelson photographs scenes that lend themselves to the sort of spatial manipulation characteristic of the panorama process: small places in Paris where several streets converge, the intersections of canals and alleyways in Venice, and so forth. These images offer a surfeit of information, providing a tantalizing sense that the camera is showing everything that can be shown about a given scene. The frame, which usually delimits the photographed world, is pushed so far at the edges of the image as to lose its defining power. The sense of


    THE SMOOTH, IMPENETRABLE SURFACES of David Reed’s paintings, the precisely placed overlaid rectangles that articulate the play of composition within each piece, the carefully pitched color, all combine to give them an effect of monumentality—a quality of being both timeless inevitable. But their swirling forms, seemingly self-generating, repeated across the long expanses of Reed’s narrow canvases—occasionally vertical and pillarlike, more often the wide horizontal sweep of Cinemascope—suggest anonymous decor, with the rhythmic, reassuring sameness of pattern: craftlike, unpretentious, and

  • Edward Weston

    By focusing on Edward Weston’s work in two traditional photographic genres, the portrait and the nude, this exhibition offered an unusually complex view of the photographer’s work. Best known for his pioneering abstractions of natural forms—peppers, halved cabbages, seaweed, and the like—Weston produced a wide range of work in which subject and form assume equal importance. Throughout his career, Weston devoted special attention to nudes and portraits; the work assembled here, from his early pictorialist work to his late, ironic tableaux vivants, allows viewers to see the shifts in his vision

  • Frank Majore

    In Frank Majore’s new photographs, women’s faces veiled by TV scan lines peer out from behind jittery patterns of light suggesting hand-held shots of traffic at night. The light scrawls read as both “modernist,” in their free-form calligraphy, their seeming record of the chance waverings of an unsteady camera, and high tech, like the jagged line of an EKG. It’s interesting that the free-form line, once synonymous with spontaneous experimentation, has come to seem decorative, even campy.

    For Majore this work represents a big shift. His earlier images mimicked the pictorial strategies of advertising,

  • Robert Ryman

    Marked by an ascetic denial of such traditional artistic devices as facture and narrative, Minimalist sculpture and painting emphasized the absolute qualities of materials, rather than what the artist did with them. Frequently focusing on the interplay of random or found arrangements with the sensuous qualities of industrial materials, Minimalism reacted to the self-conscious emotionalism of second-generation Abstract Expressionism, positing the artist as a sort of Zen factory worker.

    Quieter than Pop art, Minimalism, rather than reveling in the circus of consumerism, ignored the ambient noise—or

  • Elena Sisto

    Elena Sisto’s new paintings combine the media imagery of Pop art with a luscious, painterly expressiveness. On small canvases, each a foot or so square, Sisto bunches various image fragments culled from sources ranging from comic strips to trompe l’oeil drawings, against swirling white or pastel backgrounds.

    One of Sisto’s favorite sources is the late Ernie Bushmiller’s classic comic strip “Nancy.” In Sisto’s hands the frizzy-haired heroine becomes a kind of surrogate self, in essentially surrealist narratives. In Stinker, 1989, for example, Nancy pulls back a theater curtain above a pair of

  • Elliott Schwartz

    Even on the level of object identification, Elliot Schwartz’s photographs are puzzling. He depicts various odd things—a broken light bulb, a model of Rodin’s Thinker with a wedge-shaped head, a pair of bent wires—framed in such a way that they’re obviously the “subjects” of the pictures, even if it’s not quite clear what they are. Many of these images bear a nominal relationship to portraiture—there’s something that looks like a rotting baseball with a cigar in its mouth, while what might be two sticks of dynamite become a pair of eyes beneath a checkered scarf. Printed in various sizes, in

  • Anthony Hernandez

    In his cool studies of the unseen corners where Los Angeles’ homeless sleep, Anthony Hernandez adopts the stance of an archeologist, or maybe a police photographer. In only one setting is the resident at home—a blanket-covered figure sleeps under the Hollywood Freeway surrounded by his collection of junk. These sites have the air of transient ruins—the residents scrabble together walls out of cardboard boxes, old car seats (this is L.A., after all), and broken-off planks, scrunching their possessions into the spaces beneath freeway overpasses or simply spreading out a soiled blanket in a bower

  • “The New Vision”

    What unites the work in this mammoth exhibition is the seemingly unshakeable faith in the optical that nearly every picture demonstrates. Not here will you find the contemporary suspicion of the image, or of the manipulative and coercive nature of the photographic exchange. Instead this work demonstrates a striking brashness, an apparent belief that the world can be understood by depicting it; further, that it can be changed by seeing it in a new way. However foolhardy such confidence in pictorial progress may seem now, looking back from an age battered by mass media, these pictures remain

  • “L’Oeuvre Ultime”

    At first blush the premise of “L’Oeuvre Ultime” (The final work)––to present works by 24 artists, all renowned Modernist masters, made in the last years of their lives—teeters on the brink of a patronizing sentimentality. (It might be subtitled a “celebration of the human spirit,” or some such.) But it raised pointed questions about notions of style and creativity, problematic subjects that the recent churn of the art market, with its emphasis on novelty, has tended to obscure.

    Given the theme of the show—curated by Jean-Louis Prat, director of the Fondation Maeght, and featuring 124 paintings

  • Rebecca Purdum

    In shifting the palette of her large abstractions, Rebecca Purdum has managed to avoid the too-easy transcendence that her earlier work seemed to threaten. The paintings in Purdum’s last show, with their brushy bunched-up clouds of blues and whites and grays, suggested nothing so much as swirling turbulent mists of color about to part and reveal—what? Any answer seemed doomed to anticlimax. Now, though, Purdum has brought a broad range of color into her work, from reds and oranges to purples and greens. As a result there’s a new sense of emotion in these paintings, some of which seem impressionistic

  • Louise Fishman

    Like a number of other current painters, Louise Fishman makes brushstrokes themselves the figures of her paintings. But where David Reed, for example, sculpts his fetishized brushstrokes into smooth, sinuous forms, Fishman keeps her marks raw, direct, seemingly unmediated in their record of their own making. Brushy, with hints of undercolor coming through their broken-up surfaces, these broad strokes—usually limited to verticals and horizontals, echoing the edge of the canvas—necessarily suggest veils. Like membranous planes, they separate the painting’s surface (where the image resides) and