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.

  • LOUIS SULLIVAN’S CLAY GARDENS

    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

  • Chicago

    COLUMNS||139

    #page 139#

    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

  • 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

  • Chicago

    REVIEWS||138

    #page 138#

    When the Museum of Modem Art did its “Big Pictures by Contemporary Artists” exhibition a few years ago, Esther Parada's

    Pas t Recovery, 1979, was almost the only image that deserved the wall space it took up. Since I remembered the piece

    vividly, I was glad that N.A.M.E. Gallery decided this past spring to honor Parada with the midcareer 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

  • Christopher Wool

    REVIEWS||139

    #page 139#

    The contemporary art scene is so frantic that young painters must feel as if the ground opens up beneath their feet

    every time they try to stand still a second to collect their thoughts. They have one foot planted in the past, and with

    the other they are trying to keep a toehold on the future. Meanwhile, the present is a bottomless chasm over which they

    are suspended and into which they are trying not to fall; sweat beads break out on their foreheads as they do impossibly

    wider and wider splits. Almost all seem to be trying to hang onto their own place in history, attempting to bridge a

  • 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

  • Christopher Wool

    The contemporary art scene is so frantic that young painters must feel as if the ground opens up beneath their feet every time they try to stand still a second to collect their thoughts. They have one foot planted in the past, and with the other they are trying to keep a toehold on the future. Meanwhile, the present is a bottomless chasm over which they are suspended and into which they are trying not to fall; sweat beads break out on their foreheads as they do impossibly wider and wider splits. Almost all seem to be trying to hang onto their own place in history, attempting to bridge a gap

  • Phyllis Bramson

    Phyllis Bramson straddles two worlds that are far apart, her private domestic life and the public, artistic one. She engages in a balancing act while juggling responsibilities. She has to bend over backward to make these ends meet. These are the postures that the women in her paintings also assume.

    In the earliest pieces this retrospective contained, which were done over a decade ago, Bramson seems to have been searching here, there, and everywhere for her style. She left behind one experiment after another, the way someone searching for the right pair of gloves might leave behind rooms full of

  • Roland Ginzel

    Roland Ginzel is a painter of many parts—too many, perhaps. On the one hand, you have to admire his grit. The retrospective at the University of Illinois’ Circle Campus, where he used to teach, summarized a career of over 40 years in which Ginzel continually addressed the most urgent issues of modern painting. The exhibition of current work at Dart Gallery showed that this “Chicago” painter, who is remembered and still highly respected in his hometown, though he now lives in New York, continues to be as serious about the medium as ever. There’s a youthful vitality in everything he’s done, as if

  • James Welling

    On entering James Welling’s show, I came to a photograph that seemed a little obscure. The top three-fourths of it were absolutely black, so nothing could be made of that part of it at all. And across the bottom there was a field of . . . or no, perhaps it was more like an activation, or even a manipulation. Whatever it was, it was white, a broken pattern of whiteness—snow on a mountain, lightning in a vacuum tube, angel dust in a crumpled glassine envelope. It occurred to me that it might just be some game Welling was up to in the darkroom. Maybe he had scratched an unexposed negative with a

  • STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND: TIMOTHY O’SULLIVAN AND HENRY ADAMS

    FROM 1867 UNTIL THE end of 1872, Timothy O’Sullivan worked almost exclusively for Clarence King as the photographer attached to “the Geological Explorations of the Fortieth Parallel,” a survey of the Western territories administered by King under a $100,000 appropriation from Congress. O’Sullivan’s only Western expedition not made for King during that period was in 1871, when he accompanied Lt. George Montague Wheeler on a trip across Death Valley and up the Colorado River.

    This was unfortunate, for had he been with King that year, O’Sullivan might have had the privilege of meeting Henry Adams,