Dennis Adrian

  • The Art of H.C. Westermann

    H. C. WESTERMANN’S ART PRESENTS to the critic numerous problems of stylistic definition and classification, but not merely within the context of mid-20th-century art movements which, if anything, offer an embarrassment of choices among Procrustean beds. The difficulties really lie within Westermann’s oeuvre itself, which, since its beginning in about 1953, has presented extremely varied facets of form and imagery, and has developed, not through the systematic working out of a formal vocabulary and syntax, but through the relentless and nervy exercise of a specific sensibility. While it is

  • Sidney Tillim

    Sidney Tillim’s exhibition of paintings this past spring at the Robert Schoelkopf Gallery raises, as it is meant to, questions about the current viability of realist art, the meaning of the term “realist” nowadays, the formal integrity of any sort of realist painting, and, of course, the visual interest of Tillim’s painting in and of itself.

    Since Tillim is a critic as well as a painter, it seems best here to put his criticism aside, for the moment at least, as no more than oblique to his own painting since criticism, if it is not diffuse, presents evidence of the operation of esthetic principles

  • Jack Beal

    Several still lifes in previous exhibitions, involving deliberated elaborated dealings with light, signaled, for Jack Beal, a new vision of the subject as clearly ambivalent between pattern formed by the light on the color of things, and the arrangement of the things themselves. Space in these works was tipped up, congested, and Manneristic. In Beal’s current show, the four earlier of the eight figure paintings progressively forced this clear ambiguity to a point of ruptured coherence in the large Nude with Four Vertical Patterns.

    In the paintings of this group, the subject consists of a female

  • George Bireline

    George Bireline’s show at the Emmerich Gallery belongs to that category of contemporary work which seeks, within defined and published critical boundaries, to take up the challenge of forming and projecting an original voice. Bireline’s paintings are all in long rectangular formats, principally horizontal, although the show was strikingly punctuated with big, narrow, vertical pictures. He composes with rectangular bands of matte colors stained precisely into the rough canvas. In the horizontal paintings, the bands and parallel blocks of color produce an illusion of deep color fields framed by

  • “Language to Be Looked At and/or Things to Be Read”

    “Language to Be Looked At and/or Things to Be Read” at the Dwan Gallery stumbles the gamut from Du-champ mss. and Futurist typography through a vintage Magritte oil to a stenciled Indiana log (HUG EAT DIE). The pleasant little gimmick is a quick and reasonably thorough survey of the use of letter forms in painting and objects since about 1914 to the present day. It has been pretty clear that letters are things to look at in their own write at least since the time of the Book of Kells, and Western painting has made considerable use of this fact through the early Renaissance. From 1450 to the

  • David Von Schlegell

    At the Royal Marks Gallery David Von Schlegell shows two immense pieces coursing and flung the length of the gallery. Each piece is conceived as intervals of swooping planes. One piece has three such large off-square fins which scallop off curving chunks of space as the forms progressively decline. These fins are kept apart and together with struts, cables and turnbuckles. The sloop-like progression of forms has aerated intervals whose tensions and dynamic interrelations are diagrammed by the aluminum struts and steel cables.

    The second and longer piece consists of two smaller planes, more sharply

  • Juan Gris

    The exhibition of drawings and gouaches by Juan Gris at the Saidenberg Gallery presents an important group of nearly fifty works from the period 1910–1927. In it, the special nature of Gris’ approach to draftsmanship is made unequivocally clear. One sees throughout the impulse toward a classic idea of form and composition—solid, stable, architectonic, cleanly contrasting volumes and planes, and with images set on and within the page with great care. Among the major Cubist painters, his drawings are unique in that they are almost wholly autonomous. Their relationship to the paintings is rarely

  • Drawings From New York Collections

    The second of the exhibitions of Drawings from New York Collections, organized jointly by the Metropolitan Museum and the Pierpont Morgan Library, is now at the latter of these institutions, and represents very well indeed The 17th Century in Italy. The preceding exhibition, that of Italian Renaissance drawings (held at the Met), had dealt exceptionally well with a field made extremely problematic both by the rarity of the material and the consequent limitations of local collections whether public or private. With 17th-century Italian drawings, there is a happy abundance of material and a

  • Fairfield Porter

    Fairfield Porter’s exhibition at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery presents a complete exposition of the different currents in painting with which the artist has been involved over the years. Porter’s approach to painting is not to scatter his shots over a group of only tangentially related modes, but rather, within the tradition of painting from nature and life, to frame and resolve pictorial questions suggested by his various genres.

    The show is dominated by three large canvases, each striking a different note. Columbus Day gives us the familiar Porter landscape with houses, with a large flickering

  • David Weinrib

    At the Royal Marks Gallery David Weinrib has a good sized spread of pieces in the new manner and technique seen in the just-past Whitney Annual. Superficially, the novelty of Weinrib’s new pieces is in the material. He is now using a clear, or at least translucent plastic that can be solid-cast quite freely. Right off, this produces several unique effects, in that light is not only reflected from the surface of the work, but may penetrate into and through it as well. Happily, it is the spatial implications of these phenomena which Weinrib has chosen to work with; that is, now that the works not

  • Edward Avedisian

    At the Robert Elkon Gallery, Edward Avedisian shows seven large canvases which continue the line of simplified color abstractions he has concerned himself with for several seasons now. In this show, the ideational framework of each canvas is the same: into a square or rectangular color field, we see the intrusion of several forms which read as part of a very large striped circular disk. These stripes are in two colors only, and there are always three of them in an a-b-a arrangement. All the color, of both field and stripes is stained on the canvas, there is no trace of brushwork. However, the

  • Jason Seley

    Jason Seley’s current show at the Kornblee Gallery has taken a decided step away from his earlier open, predominantly frontal manner to a confrontation with the massy problems of working fully in the round. The compositions are still additive, in that they are assembled from the automobile bumpers which are his trademark, and the knobs, thickish flanges, bulletlike mammary projections of the raw material make up a basic repertoire of forms which the artist uses again and again in different ways.

    The three largest pieces in the show form a group in themselves by virtue of the particular way they

  • Fahlstrom: “The Three Faces of Oyv”

    OYVIND FALSTROM’S EXHIBITION OF DRAWINGS, collages, and constructions at the Sidney Janis Gallery provokes some reflection upon the question of artistic function in a number of its possible meanings, particularly the meaning of the artist’s activities and products, the observer’s relationship to the latter, and whether the artist’s function (here defined as activities plus products) has, or ought to have, separate or even only differing meanings to various classes of observer.

    Fahlstrom’s work precipitates these considerations by its pronounced even texture on most levels, rococo variety of form

  • William Giles

    William Giles’s debut with the Allan Frumkin Gallery is surely one of the strongest shows of the New York winter season. In his offering of twenty-four canvases finished over the past year, Giles presents a particular kind of abstract invention that felicitously harmonizes two distinct approaches to pictorial formulation.

    First, each of the paintings makes use of forms which are, or appear to be, capable of mathematical definition. These forms are on the whole relatively simple ones: broad stripes, segments of circular bands, wide spirals, triangles. They are overlaid and intertwined in careful

  • Mark Di Suvero and Edwin Ruda

    At the Park Place Gallery Mark Di Suvero and Edwin Ruda share the premises in a two-man show having the novel fillip of a couple of works done by the two men in collaboration. As has happened before in painter-sculptor two-man efforts where Di Suvero has been the sculptor, he completely dominates and steals the show. I have remarked upon this before, when another “wall artist” was the victim, pointing out that the sculptor always has the advantage in such a situation, but presumably the parties involved know what they’re doing.

    Ruda’s work is modular, “systemic” if you like, in that each piece

  • Edward Kienholz

    At the Dwan Gallery, Edward Kienholz, under the touted description “Concept Tableaux” shows one of his macabre mock-ups, together with projects for a dozen additional ones. To back off from these latter for a moment, the main thing to see in the exhibition is the artist’s The State Hospital. This piece reproduces with grisly fidelity a room, or rather a cell, in the hopeless ward of a state mental institution. One peeks into the room through a small barred window in the padlocked door to discover a brown varnished figure of an elderly nude man. He reclines, facing the observer, on an iron cot

  • Robert Howard

    At the Royal Marks Gallery, Robert Howard shows six pieces of recent sculpture in polychrome welded steel. The show breaks down into three pairs each of which has a specific kind of composition. In one group (Landscape XXII, Landscape XVIII) lenticular pods are perched on tubular flexing arms to suggest a spare and enlarged fantastic botany. The polychromy in these pieces, respectively blue and violet, and shades of ochre, is very carefully modulated to dictate one’s sequential experience of the forms. All of Howard’s pieces are marked by a nice sense of balance, a balance which involves not

  • Grace Hartigan

    Grace Hartigan’s current show at the Martha Jackson Gallery is welcome testimony that the artist has herself well in hand after some mushiness of formal content and thoughtless coloristic forays in past seasons. Now there is again the brisk and jarring presentation of a well thought out composition given just the meanness of palette necessary to remind one of how difficult it is to rassle with a big canvas. The gist of Hartigan’s ideas in this show is that the free invention of abstract form, given a certain cast of mind, results in a bewildering slash of biomorphic and environmental suggestions.

  • Red Grooms

    Red Grooms’s current manifestation at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery consists of a hilarious movie, Fat Feet, the props and whatnot for this flick, and some not really nostalgic evocations of past filmdom luminaries. These last are either big gouaches, some of which are freely adapted from period photographs, and carpentered and painted tableaux and wall pieces, layered and articulated in a way which produces strange analogues to the grainy still or contrasty close-up. Grooms’s interest in his theme, the Adamic era of movie production, is not the saccharine campy retrospection pandered to in

  • “The Nude—Now”

    The January show at Allan Frumkin Gallery is a strange kind of survey called “The Nude—Now,” made up of a painting or two by fifteen contemporary American artists, most of them youngish and of some reputation. The extremes of age and fame are, respectively, de Kooning, who has a following in these parts, and Johann Sellenraad, who I believe here shows in New York for the first time. The point of the show is not too easy to divine if one looks for some unity beyond simply that of the subject. A goodly number of the artists represented do not concentrate on the nude as a theme in their production,