Colin Westerbeck

  • Robert Lostutter

    When I first saw Robert Lostutter’s paintings three years ago, I found it difficult to imagine the man who had made them. Contradictions abounded in them with such absoluteness, such refusal to permit any resolution or compromise, that I felt I needed to meet him to assure myself that only one person had done them. (Usually it works the other way around for me: the art makes a singular impression that knowing the artist tends to fracture.) Although I have now had several conversations with Lostutter about painting, and find him a very sensible, straightforward person, this hasn’t helped me to

  • Nicholas Africano

    There’s something modest and unadorned about this new work by Nicholas Africano. The sculptures that were in the show are cast glass or bronze figurines small enough to set on a table. And although the paintings done in relief are large in some cases—as in three diptychs in which each panel is 90 inches high—the subjects and renderings are simple. These are studies of brown men who are either nude or wearing only baggy pants and, sometimes, a straw hat.

    In the paintings they appear mostly against a brown ground the same hue that they are. Titles like Lost boy, laughing man, 1986, His Tears,

  • Jenny Holzer

    One of the key terms from the ’60s has a renewed significance in the art world of the ’80s. The term is “co-optation,” the ability of mainstream, capitalist culture to appropriate any idea, no matter how avant-garde or radical, for its own pleasure and profit. When Jenny Holzer pasted on building walls or hung in bank windows the dictionary of clichés she called “Truisms,” she turned the tables on the co-opters. Holzer’s unique form of corporate raiding peaked with her appropriation of a whole new mass medium, electronic signs, on which she has displayed her word art from Times Square to the

  • Don Baum

    There’s an aura of the ’50s and early ’60s that hovers over post-Modernism. It can be seen, for example, in David Salle’s allusions to the era’s pulp-magazine style of illustration, behind Eric Fischl’s early-TV melodramas, and within Cindy Sherman’s re-creations of glamour dolls. The mixed media assemblages of Don Baum, made of pieces of patterned linoleum and canvasboards from paint-by-number kits, take a similar glance backward. In the works seen here, which are from 1986 and 1987, Baum recycles this imagery from the pop culture of an earlier decade by cutting it up and using it as the siding

  • Seymour Rosofsky

    Seymour Rosofsky was born in Chicago, where he grew up and received most of his art education. Although he went away several times—as a soldier in World War II, on a Fulbright grant to Rome in 1958, and on a Guggenheim Fellowship to Paris from 1962 to 1964—he remained a Chicagoan all his life, and died here in 1981 at the age of 57. Perhaps because he stayed at home this way, his art has an unmistakably domestic and enclosed feeling to it. His is not the imagery of grand ideas that the Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists created. On the contrary, at a time when the dominant esthetic was

  • William Hawkins

    In the midst of a seminal essay entitled “Perception and Mind,” Henri Bergson suddenly stopped to point out that nobody could get through day-to-day life by looking at the world as metaphysicians do, because if you did, you would be unable to cross the street without being run over. I’ve always thought that this remark might also apply to primitive painters. It seems tome a mistake to regard the imagination of an artist like William Hawkins as being somehow childlike, for his vision strikes me as speculative, rather than merely intuitive; it is meditation carried to the point of impracticality.


    IT HAPPENS THAT THE offices of Artforum in New York are on the top floor of the Bayard Building, which was, according to Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis H. Sullivan’s favorite example of his own work. Thus might the magazine be said to rest, fortuitously, at the very pinnacle of the early history of Modern architecture. Until only a few years ago, occupying these premises would not have made anyone feel that they were in a privileged position. On the contrary, the triumph of Modernism in the form of the International Style made Louis Sullivan’s work look like the last hurrah of an earlier era, a bit

  • Dan Gustin

    At one point in this recent sequence of pictures, Dan Gustin’s palette dimmed, the light went out of his colors, and the figures in the painting were plunged into murky waters and had to learn to swim below the surface as well as on it. This happens in Equestrian Pool I, 1986, in which a woman dives down so that only her feet still break the surface of the water near the top of the canvas. Yet she appears to be in midair as well, as if she had just launched herself from the diving board above the pool located at the bottom of the painting. She is an enigmatic central figure; her body is streaked

  • Roger Brown

    The title given to this show, “For Consenting Eyes Only . . . ,” appeared in the gallery’s back room on a cabinet door behind which was a painting Roger Brown calls Boy Startled while Jerking-Off in the Woods, or What’s the Use of Beating around the Bush?, 1985. What, indeed? Although Brown may have thought of this provocative painting as the core of his show, as the painting’s placement suggested, my interest lay elsewhere.

    The fact is that I tend to locate Brown himself not in the bushes this painting contains. Rather, the gesture most characteristic of his work for me, its spiritual center,

  • “A New Generation from SAIC”

    Although none of the artists in this show are my former students, I recognize in them aspirations to uniqueness that I see everyday at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I teach. All these artists are recent graduates, and their work reflects a continuing commitment to Ezra Pound’s now-ancient dictum, “Make it new!” The results are at the least engaging and idiosyncratic, and in one instance—a seven-channel video performance by Miroslav Rogala—truly brilliant. Inspired by the need to learn English as well as video, Rogala explores the question of whether his new medium is also a

  • Wesley Kimler

    Developing in a period that was politically and socially conservative, Abstract Expressionism was an art of wild abandonment, a Dionysiac art. Minimalism developed during a period that was radical and libertine; it, therefore, was the contrary—a disciplined, conservative, Apollonian art. Modern schools of painting always go against the grain. The problem nowadays is that we’re living in a period that has no grain, which makes it hard for artists to define themselves. Take Wesley Kimler, who has been making quite a splash here lately To hear him talk, you’d think he had his mind all made up. In

  • Esther Parada

    When the Museum of Modern Art did its “Big Pictures by Contemporary Artists” exhibition a few years ago, Esther Parada’s Past Recovery, 1979, was almost the only image that deserved the wall space it took up. Since I remembered the piece vividly 1 was glad that N.A.M.E. Gallery decided this past spring to honor Parada with the mid-career retrospective it gives each year to a Chicago artist. The show revealed how Parada’s work both led up to and, unfortunately, has since departed from this central picture, which remains her masterpiece. It is still the pinnacle of her career, the only vantage