Colin Westerbeck

  • 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,

  • Louis Faurer

    In 1948, refugee director Robert Siodmak made his best movie for 20th Century-Fox. It’s called Cry of the City, and in it a hood named Martin Rome (Richard Conte) is on the run in New York after having been wounded in a shooting. At one point Martin gets a rather flashy ex-girlfriend of his, Brenda (Shelley Winters), to help him find medical attention. As she drives the semiconscious Martin around the city at night, an unlicensed doctor who has demanded cash up front operates on him in the back seat of the car. At last the doctor tells Brenda she’ll have to pull over. She does, on a crowded side

  • Frederick Sommer

    Frederick Sommer’s career is as elusive as the images that comprise it. This is partly because Sommer has put very few of those images into circulation over the years, but more because he has employed such a range of techniques. He has done landscapes, portraits, nudes, and even some street photography. He has accordioned reproductions of Albrecht Dürer prints and photographed the results. He has done paper cutting as if it were a form of automatic writing, and photographed that result with light playing through the slits. He has done superimpositions and collages and assemblages in great variety.

  • John Horgan, Jr.

    The surrealism in the photographs of John Horgan, Jr., is the kind with a small s, the sort that is unintentional. Often, it is a result of the peculiarities of composition when you have to fill a very large picture of a very large landscape. Horgan made albumen mammoth-plate photographs of Southern plantations around 1890. Most of his pictures were done from a distinct elevation to show the sweep of the country, like those establishing shots from a crane in Gone With the Wind. The effect this creates is one of compartmentalization. There are sometimes two or three geographically separate areas

  • Tod Papageorge

    Tod Papageorge has a way with words. In the introduction to the catalogue for the Evans and Frank show, which Papageorge put together as an homage, there are moments of real eloquence. They come when he addresses himself directly to the photographs. He takes a surprisingly persuasive view of Frank’s The Americans, for instance, as a kind of group portraiture in which “heads are drawn with the sculptural brevity of those found on worn coins.” A phrase like that makes clear the truth of what Papageorge says in his first paragraph: this exhibition was “born of love and respect.” Only someone who

  • Ed Fausty, Brian Rose

    The warm weather always seems to bring out the street photographers, not only on the street, but in the galleries. There are many good ones in shows this year. They range from a couple of kids just starting with that oldest of photographic instruments, the plate camera, to a couple of old-timers who began 50 years ago with what was then the newest gadget, the hand camera.

    The two young photographers, Ed Fausty and Brian Rose, work as a team. They are good, really good. The marvelous thing about their work is that they wield their four-by-five-inch camera, with color-sheet film, as facilely as if

  • Humphrey Spender

    Humphrey Spender is another photographer new to America. This is his first show here, even though he did his work as a photographer between 40 and 50 years ago. Spender, brother of poet Stephen Spender, was a British photojournalist who signed on in 1937 as “official” photographer for the Mass Observation project. This was a sociological study of everyday life in England begun by a group of artists and intellectuals. Under its aegis, Spender became a one-man Farm Security Administration in the “black” town of Bolton in the industrial north. This was the region of George Orwell’s The Road to

  • Robert Doisneau

    In Paris, since the time of the Haussmann renovations, the swells have lived in the central city and the working class has lived in the suburbs. Robert Doisneau began documenting working-class life in one of those suburbs a little before Spender went to Bolton. The resulting series of pictures show Doisneau to be the equal of Brassai. The suburbs where Doisneau photographed were the ones in which he had grown up and still lived, so the pictures sometimes strike me as running, like those in one’s family album, a bit on the nostalgic side. But really, it was just in the nature of Doisneau’s